Game notes—9/5/20

Another edition of Notes While I Watch the M's, hopefully less stream-of-consciousness and more cogent-observational-insight. But we'll see.

First off, waiver claim Phil Ervin is here a day ahead of prediction, and instead of optioning down José Marmolejos, as seemed certain, the Mariners instead gave another middle finger salute to Jake Fraley and sent him back to the satellite camp. I don't get it.

Anyway, Justus Sheffield on the mound against the abysmal Texas Rangers. Let's see how it goes...

  • Ervin, the new guy, starting in right field; France starting at 2B. Moore in left. OK. I missed the lineup announcement, so I don't know the DH yet, but I assume it's Marmo since they kept him around.
  • The Rangers seem to have a get-him-early approach going, first-ball swings. That can work out quite nicely if Sheff stays away from meaty fastballs on the first pitch.
  • Sheff through the first in good shape, though the last out was a comebacker that seemed to hit him fairly hard; seems fine, though.
  • Quick bottom of the 1st as Gibson, the Texas starter, has a good inning.
  • Top 2nd features as pretty a double-play as you'll ever want to see—slow chopper to Seager, rushed throw to White, then a quick return throw to third as Shin-soo Choo has been running from 1st on contact and Seager tags Choo out without breaking a sweat. The ol' 5-3-5 DP. Never seen it before, may well never see one again. Nice! Evan White makes the entire infield significantly better.
  • Sheffield now through two frames on just 17 pitches. Thanks, Texas, for making quick outs!
  • I see the Rangers have moved CF Nick Solak to second base with Stinky Odor on the injured list; Solak's a good player, but his name puts me in the frame of mind of a different branch of nerddom.

    Sonak, Solak, and Solok. One of these things is not like the that one does not play baseball.
  • In the third now, Sheffield was cruising through another quick inning until he and Torréns opted for three straight changeups to Taveras; bad pitch-calling there, you needed to mix that up. Taveras walked, having seen six pitches when the prior two outs were gotten on a total of five.
  • Sheff has lost a little of his mojo here, starting with those three changeups he's not close to the plate on anything. Oh, now he's got one, chopped to Seager for an easy third out. Whew.
  • ... viewing delay ...
  • Back now after taking a lengthy phone call. Thankfully, we live in the future when I can pause ostensibly live broadcasts of games.
  • New guy Ervin has a patient AB before fouling out, then Torrens comes up and laces a line drive for his first Seattle hit. Good to see.
  • Nice at-bat from Lewis that results in a solid hit to drive in the first run of the game. Prior Mariner regimes would have wanted Lewis to swing for the fences in a situation like that, this is a much more satisfying approach. 1-0 M's.
  • Seager hit by a pitch again to load 'em up for the French Connection. (No? I'll keep working on it.)
  • This is a really good at-bat from France; patient but not adversely so, two close pitches called against him and a good protect-the-plate foul off. Now it's evolved into head games of stalling and time-out calls; my gut says the end result will be walking in a run, though.
  • My gut is correct. 2-0 M's.
  • Marmolejos has an AB reminiscent of some of my better softball at-bats: Works the count into your favor, then really smoke one that goes just barely foul, then tap out to the pitcher. Only Marmo's was more of a soft liner than a tap. Bases left loaded, but Sheffield does now have a two-run lead.
  • 4th inning and Choo bunts against the shift for an easy hit. OK. He's been struggling, he wants not to have another 0-fer, and he's one of the few guys left that actually knows how to bunt well. I think shifts are overused, but didn't mind it here. Oh well.
  • Double steal with no throw? Torrens too concerned with holding his frame to try and get a strike call? You've got to make a throw there, don't you?
  • The Vulcan scores on a grounder to make it 2-1. Big stolen base.
  • Sheff gets the call on a close pitch for strike three and out three to keep it 2-1. Still looking good despite the spark of life from Texas.
  • Hang on, the Mariners made another waiver claim today?! Man, the bullpen tryouts aren't going to yield any results if you keep churning guys in and out of it without giving them a chance. The bad seeds are gone already, do we need to swap out any others? Right-hander Casey Sadler claimed from the Cubs.
  • Ervin now 0-for-2, he looks to be a bit of a free-swinger. Not impressed so far.
  • Moved along now to the home 5th and the broadcasters are interviewing tomorrow's starter Justin Dunn. Dunn clues the general public into a heretofore unknown fact: Justus Sheffield "is a clown." He's getting a good workout with his use of Crash Davis press phrases, but at the same time is showing himself to be pretty sharp and more collegiate thinker than "jock." He and Marco Gonzales might be the elite brains of the team, at least so far as use of language goes.
  • Crawford with a hit, Moore with a hit.
  • Dunn apparently refers to every teammate except Gonzales—Marco's just Marco—by a nickname of some sort. Sheff. "Pete" or "Peep," for some reason, for J.P. Crawford, whose middle name is not, in fact, Pete. "Hags," why I can't fathom, for Kyle Lewis (though maybe he's referring to a talk with Sam Haggerty about Lewis?). "D-Mo" for Dylan Moore. I like it, make the team your own. 
  • Crawford breaks for home on a would-be wild pitch and is tagged out despite Dunn's emphatic "safe" call from his seat above the first-base dugout. Replays aren't conclusive, but the challenge is on.
  • Call stands, inconclusive on replay. Oh well.
  • Lewis down on strikes, disappointing Dunn who promised a home-run call for him.
  • France tries to stay alive by fouling off a tough pitch and ends up with an infield hit when it stays fair; loads the bases and knocks Gibson out of the game. Texas' bullpen is actually OK, but let's see who they bring out.
  • Brett Martin. He's pretty good. I predict Marmolejos will leave the bags full making the third out. Prove me wrong, José!
  • Nope. Struck out. We go to the 6th.
  • France Facilitates Twin-Killing as Intermediary Between Parties 6 and 3 (Eh. Still trying to have fun with "France" headlines...they're not all winners.)
  • Sheffield keeps on cruising, gets three outs on around 10-12 pitches despite two hits.
  • Erp? Evan White tries to drag-bunt his way on and it does not go well. Way too much force on the bunt. Why try? Is there some scouting report on Martin I don't know about?
  • Free-swinging Phillip Ervin now 0-for-3. If this is how he is all the time, I see another DFA in his future.
  • Torrens a deep fly to the track to end the frame very quickly. C'mon, we need to get to a different reliever here.
  • Anderson Tejada goes deep for Texas to tie this one at 2-2. All those runners left-on-base becoming a big, big factor.
  • Sheff through seven innings, and he's likely done for the night; he was fantastic, yet he leaves with a tie. C'mon, guys, put up a run or three and get him the victory.
  • New Rangers reliever Rodriguez is down and in serious pain; not sure why, maybe twisted his ankle? He's out of the game after getting two really quick outs.
  • Lewis out quickly and we go to the 8th. Sorry, Sheffield, you deserved a win. The M's have to make these guys out of Texas' bullpen work a little harder.
  • Sheff is done and Joey Gerber in to pitch. He's not ready for the Majors, but then, the Rangers aren't really playing like they belong in the Majors either, so it should be a wash.
  • Leadoff hit, not a surprise, but Kiner-Falefa cut down trying to make it a double by a nice throw from Ervin. So he's contributed something tonight.

    France Acts as Observer as Representatives From Seattle and Texas Factions Dispute Territory
  • Gerber makes quick work of the next two guys, trying to stick it to me for calling him a minor-leaguer. Home 8th coming up.
  • Seager hit by a pitch again, though he isn't too upset about it, shares a chuckle with the Ranger bench as he turns around to take first. Umpire says it didn't hit him, but a review will show it did.
  • France with a seeing-eye hit and now Marmo has another chance to fail to drive in runs.
  • No! Marmolejos with a base hit and the M's are back on top 3-2. Way to make me eat my words, Marmo! Now he's got himself an 8-game hit streak, how is that possible?
  • Newly-rebranded Dee Strange-Gordon on to pinch-run and show off his new jersey with all the lettering that circles his whole back.

    Dee's skinny frame almost doesn't have enough room for his entire nameplate. Good thing he wears a single-digit number.
  • Evan White up now. Don't bunt, Ev. I mean, I generally like the bunt in strategic times or from especially speedy guys if they know how, but yeah, don't do that again, please.
  • OK, White with a solid drive up the middle to plate France and make it 4-2! Good swing, I really like how Ev is coming around.
  • Ooh, Ervin with a smash down the line; his free-swinging ways connect in this case! 5-2 with runners at 2nd and 3rd, still no outs! This is a fun inning.
  • Dang, Torréns blows his RBI opportunity with a hopper to the first baseman, nobody can move up.
  • Man, JP blew his chance too, chopping one to second that turned into a play a the plate that nails White. Two gift-wrapped RBIs, neither cashed in. Moore flies out and the fun inning switched gears on a dime. To the 9th!
  • Yohan Ramírez in for the save opp. I don't object to this at all, but I do wonder—why bring in these new relievers if you're not going to see what they've got? Ramirez is kinda wild, so I hope someone's backing him up. But, you know, Servais, so I doubt it.
  • Choo with a leadoff homer. How about backing Ramirez up now?
  • Pinch-hitter Dietrich does something I don't think I've ever seen—swings at a pitch that goes to the backstop on one bounce.
  • Lineout to JP in the shift, which I score as L^.
  • Ramírez with a K on a pitch well out of the zone. Great pitch, but risky on 3-2.
  • Three consecutive pinch-hitters for Texas in the 9th. Unusual. Gallo the last hope here, but an easy fly ball ends it. Whoo!

Pretty solid. Great stuff from Sheffield, big hit from White, more bruises for Seager. And France can do no wrong, it seems.

Back at it tomorrow afternoon! Justin Dunn looking to make it five wins in a row for the Mariners.


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