In the foothills of ancient Greece, gods and goddesses clash. Ares throws a spear at Athena. The spear passes cleanly through a puny mortal before bouncing harmlessly on Aegis, Athena’s famous shield. They both hear thunder and look up in panic. Lightning strikes the ground between them, burning both eyebrows. The spectacle of the battle is beyond what a mortal can bear to watch without dying of shock.
Not far from there, a smaller battle is being waged. A battle the deities train in as well, but not with legendary lightning shields. No, these warriors use broken-point spears, wooden shields, and worn sandals. They try not to let the frightening rumors of a bigger war being waged distract them from their own personal battle: not to be the worst in Greece.
As the deities of Major League Baseball wage a bitter war, as Fernando Tatís Jr. ogles Trevor Bauer and Shane Bieber tries to take out Yoán Moncada, the fighters are surrounded by several lesser battles that take place each. day. Few are as lesser than those who fought between the Tigers and the Mariners.
As frustrating as the Mariners’ rebuilding efforts have been, what Detroit Tigers fans have faced has been even worse. A year and a half before the Mariners began their rebuilding effort, the Tigers sold JD Martinez, Justin Verlander and Justin Upton among others. Every year since, they have ended with a worse record than the Mariners. In fact, since the start of 2019 (when the Mariners began their own rebuild), the Tigers have been a 28.5 games worse than sailors.
Despite this, the Mariners were unable to take advantage of their superiority over the lowly Tigers. Before tonight, the team was 0-4 against Detroit that year. And as desperate as the Mariners have been to join Zeus, Ares, and Athena in an immortal fight, it’s pretty hard to be admitted to the Winners’ Club when you continue to be beaten by Hector, the legendary Trojan wimp.
It was against the backdrop of repeated humiliations from the Tigers that the Mariners entered this game on a mission to win, or at least not to lose. Casey Mize, who throws for the Tigers tonight, has clearly felt it. Mize wasted no time planting both Mitch Haniger and Ty France, giving the former a brief fear of injury after a wrist slider.
Thankfully, Mize’s violent incompetence didn’t last as he settled in just enough to keep the Mariners scoreless for five straight innings.
On the other side of the diamond, Chris Flexen put in a very Chris Flexen performance. He wasn’t that good, but he wasn’t that good either. A walk and a single set the stage for the Tigers to have a run with a sacrifice fly in the third inning, and a dinger and double tackled two more in the fifth.
Eventually, however, Kyle Seager broke through against Mize in the sixth. He worked seven shots against Mize before the young Tigers right-hander finally slipped, leaving a fastball straight down the middle for Seager. Seager cleared the ball, tying the game three.
The relievers’ pens, both capital-T-Terrible, traded three scoreless innings to send the game to extra innings. The dominance of the bullpen pens raised vital questions about the quality of the participating queues. However, the match looked set to end in settlement before Jake Fraley achieved the most impressive home run steal since. Guillermo Heredia is from 2017.
With a runner in the front row, Isaac Paredes sent a well-hit ball over Fraley’s head into left field. Fraley backed up to the wall, bent his legs, and betrayed his leg day criminal negligence by jumping three inches off the ground. It was the perfect number of inches. The ball hit the canvas of Fraley’s glove, and he sent the ball back into the infield to pass Eric Haase on the first at nearly 300 feet.
With the teams now playing Manfred Ball, a recently dominant JP Crawford scored with a one-out single before a Mitch Haniger double play ended the tenth. True pitcher JT Chargois induced a ground ball and a strikeout to set up the quick and easy win in the tenth inning. Unfortunately, he scored a pitch, which quietly passed Tom Murphy to the safety net. The Manfred Runner scored from the third, sending the game to the eleventh inning.
Fortunately, the Tigers had exhausted all of their pitchers other than Daniel Norris in the first ten innings. This gave the Tigers no choice but to use Daniel Norris. Norris looks more like a true Greek deity than any other player that has appeared in this game, but can also be more powerless than all of them.
The round started off fairly innocently, with Kyle Seager taking off and pushing the Manfred Runner forward. Norris intentionally stepped on Ty France to set up a potential late-inning double play, bringing athlete Jake Fraley to the plate, who is the player who most resembles a Greek deity.
Fraley delivered, tearing a center single that Akil Baddoo almost caught with his shoelaces. Luckily he didn’t and the Manfred Runner returned home. Only up one point, the Mariners would likely have at least one more. It took an unlikely hero to open the floodgates with two exits.
It was a hell of a situation for Dillon Thomas to record his first Major League success. Thomas easily wins the title of player who is third most likely to be a Greek deity, but it was his crush that ultimately won the match. The singles produced two more runs to give the Mariners a three-point cushion that sealed the game.
Equally important, it gave us all that image of a 28-year-old who had spent ten years working hard in the purgatory of professional baseball, only to finally have the debut of his dreams.
Tom Murphy scored two more points with a double to make it a five-point game, which was more than enough for the Mariners to survive a dinger dropped by Keynan Middleton in the bottom of the eleventh. Bloodied, exhausted and admittedly disoriented, the Mariners emerged victorious from the rubble of a now destroyed suburb of ancient Greece.
I like to imagine a day when the Mariners throw lightning on other suitors. A day when Jarred Kelenic mocks Shane Bieber, where Taylor Trammell has an October at bat against James Karinchak. I have faith that day will come, and soon. Until then, however, at least we get games like this every now and then.