Wednesday August 30, 2023
Julio- and Kirby-less M's Look Feeble Against A's
The M's touted Julio's 4-hit streak pre-game, announced him in the starting lineup, but he wasn't there.
Is it me? I'm beginning to think it's me.
The last game I'd gone to was the infamous Felix game, where they inducted King Felix Hernandez into the Mariners Hall of Fame and then truly honored his Mariners career by scoring zero runs, wasting a great start by George Kirby, and losing 1-0 in 10 innings.
They wound up losing the next two games, too, including one against a not-good KC squad; but after that they went on a truly blistering hot streak, winning 12 of the next 13, with Julio Rodriguez setting a MLB record with 17 hits over a four-game stretch. He was suddenly everything we'd hope he'd be. For August, he's slashed a .429/.474/.724 line, and was national news, and the Mariners, who had been creeping toward a wild-card spot, were taking the '95 Buhner approach and saying screw the wild card, we want the division. And they TOOK it. They leaped past both Texas teams and it felt a bit like '95 again. PLUS, in last night's game, we were starting George Kirby, our No. 2 and maybe even No. 1 pitcher. PLUS we were playing the Oakland Athletics, who, at 38-94, were not just the worst team in baseball but one of the worst teams in basebally history. PLUS they were starting a guy with an ERA over 6.00! So I was feeling about as confident as I've ever felt about a Mariners game as I walked to the park last night in the pregame drizzle.
And then I see our starting pitcher. “Wait, that's not George Kirby. Where's George Kirby?”
“Out,” Jeff said. “Undisclosed illness.”
“And this is...?”
“Some callup, I think.”
[Editor's note: We picked him up August 22, a few days after he was released by the Cincinnati Reds, and since then he'd pitched three innings in relief, giving up 1 run. But for the season his ERA was over 6.00.]
They hit him early and often. Even the outs were tagged. One of them went to the warning track but our centerfielder settled under it.
“Wait, that's not Julio. Didn't they announce Julio was starting?” I looked at the scoreboard. Eugenio Suarez was batting second. No Julio. “Where's Julio? What happened?”
Jeff got out his phone and went to a Lookout Landing thread. Sore left foot. And suddenly, without George and Julio, our mighty team didn't seem so mighty. After two innings it was 3-0, A's, and we were lucky it was only 3-0. We didn't get our first hit until the the bottom of the 4th, a leadoff single by Teoscar Hernandez. Then we mixed in some outs with some walks. Then Cade Marlowe walked with the bases loaded for a run. Then Jose Caballero popped to short for the third out.
And that, it turned out, was the ballgame.
The A's kept bringing in pitchers with ERAs over 5.00 and we kept doing nothing with them. We didn't get our second hit until the bottom of the 8th—an infield single from Mike Ford. We didn't get our third hit until the bottom of the ninth with two outs—a bloop single to right by Jose (Who?) Rojas. Then J.P. Crawford followed with a double to left and the place was on its feet. A base hit would tie it! A homerun would win it! All would be right with the world again!
And on the seventh pitch Eugenio Suarez struck out. And there went the game and the recent 4-game win streak.
It's me, isn't it?
Final sad note: Last night is probably the last time I get to see the Oakland A's, the team that ruled the baseball world with their long hair and staches when I was a kid. Next season they're supposedly moving to Las Vegas to play in a dinky stadium in 110-degree heat before hungover gambling tourists. The national pastime. Somewhere, Shoeless Joe is spinning in his grave.