“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” The oft-quoted third law of Arthur C. Clark explains in part that what we see is often more interpretable than it seems to be more measurable. As baseball has evolved, there are more efforts than ever to quantify the reasons behind the seemingly random. Nevertheless, there are still some aspects to it that seem unclear, that is the escape route. Those moments of chaos are still there in the 2022 Seattle Mariners, but even though their 4-2 win over the Texas Rangers today felt like magic, it was far from delusional.
Even measured magic can feel, or at least feel like some kind of trick that we are unable to grasp the true logic behind. Enter Marco Gonzales. Coming into tonight’s game, Marko was sporting some truly head-scratching season numbers that were anything but confidence-driven. His ERA of 3.74 sat against XERA of 4.82 and FIP and XFIP of 5.27 and 5.01; His K-BB% was an absolutely disappointing 4.4%, which was the worst he has ever seen in his career with the Mariners.
Marco’s place was still far from ideal today. This did not stop him from going seven innings, scoring five runs, only one walk, and giving away only two earned runs on four hits. Fifty-six of his eighty-eight pitches were thrown for strikes, as he leaned too heavily on his change and threw it 40% of the time. Yes, a little help from the home plate ump, but nothing too serious, and of course the Mariners’ stellar defense played a factor, but today Marco was once again a workhorse pitcher, making a quality start and then from the pitcher There was something better. Appears to be on paper. His location would have been far from ideal overall, but all five of his strikeouts The edges of the zone as a whole came from pitches dotted.
As good as Marco was today, Rangers had an easy answer in their starter John Grey. He used his slider more than any other pitch, and most of the time it looked unmistakable, producing jerks (10) on 63% of swings. His fastball was reaching 99 mph, a season-long velocity upward. Still, the three-pitch Monte he was working on wasn’t enough to fool the Mariners from getting on board earlier and early.
At the bottom of the second JP Crawford managed to drop a hanger into shallow center field for a single, setting up Adam Frazier, who put down as perfect as a bunt can be,
To bat next? Sam Haggerty. The same Haggerty who has been a threat on the basepath, coming off with a clutch hit, and vehemently fighting any conversation about being sent back to AAA. Sam Haggerty who was ahead on the count, and fought a 98 mph fast ball on the inner edge of the field an RBI double Bottom of the left field line to give the Mariners an early lead.
The bunt single was Frazier’s only hit for the night, but Crawford and Haggerty both had strong games, each running 2-for-3 and Crawford running as well. Both of Haggerty’s hits were doubles, and his batting average for the season now stands at .303 with .843 OPS.
Unfortunately for the Mariners it was all loss they would do in that innings, and Gray settled in well for the next several innings. By the time Gray came in seventh, he had seven strikes under his belt, and had not dropped any more hits since allowing three in the second. He was also allowed to run three times so far in the game, and it was another starting seventh that would begin to undo the game.
After Torrance was dismissed in his two at-bats, he pinched off for Cal Raleigh. Dear Cal Raleigh, Be patient and keep going. Perfect set up for anything else than anyone else Sam Haggerty DoubleThis time under the right field line.
Julio Rodriguez was next, and even though he’s had an elite rookie season, it’s easy to forget that he’s actually a rookie. He was hitless when it came to the innings, and had an ugly strikeout chasing a slider in the dirt. It’s easy to forget, because Julio keeps on doing things hence,
A three-run, 108.5 mph bomb that gave the Mariners a 4-2 lead, and no less than a John Gray slider. That’s all the Mariners will get, and they’ll need to cruise to victory from there.
Marco’s quality start got him through seven, with Swanson and Munoz scoring jointly in eighth, and Matt Festa shut the door after getting into a bit of trouble with a hit and a walk. The pitching set up the move, and Haggerty and Julio provided the Prestige.
The magic of this year’s team, its inexplicable beauty, goes far beyond the story the Metrics will tell you. Take, for example, this gem from a story by Servais on the transformation Julio made for Home Run.
Omg Julio took a different bat up to the plate when he hit a home run as his usual “sleeping, it’s a day’s play” pic.twitter.com/ATT66iEWVn
— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) July 27, 2022
The magic of this team is not in what the team is on paper, although they are much better as such than in many recent years, but in the spirit that embodies the players who make it. I’m sure there’s some sufficiently advanced science that explains why this team keeps finding so many impossible heroes, or why Julio is so inherently good at baseball. We don’t need to look for reasons to accept the obvious. This team has discovered a mojo that Seattle hasn’t seen in decades, and it truly feels like magic to see them sweep the Texas Rangers into perfectly capable opponents like they do today.