Today I went for a swim in Seattle’s Coleman Pool, a public saltwater pool in the best place in the world, Lincoln Park. Salt water, if you didn’t already know, makes you extra light and resilient in the water. For hours I wandered in the water, feeling like a misguided mermaid, lighter than air, floating like a balloon. Then it was time to go out and back on land I felt heavier than ever—as if my limbs were made of lead, my legs magnetized to the Earth’s core.
That’s what it feels like to play against the Astros after the Mariners take on lesser competition: a high that is suddenly cut short, a bleak reminder of how earthy we are. The endless quicksand feeling of playing the Astros.
It was a Verlander start in Houston, so you already know how this went: The Mariners did little to nothing against Verlander until late in the game, when he was inexplicably still in the game despite a two-figure lead against the Mariners , and Dusty Baker finally reluctantly pulled him toward him. Verlander has seen the Mariners more than any other club, and he knows just how to attack them; the Mariners’ “swing early and often” approach was ineffective, but so were the attempts to bid him down in counts. Justin Verlander owns the Mariners, and until his body says enough, it will. These are hard truths, yet true.
Robbie Ray, on the other hand, was eminently knowledgeable about the Astros, who seemed totally unperturbed by everything he threw at them. They put down all the pitches they needed to stop and hit every pitch they needed to hit and built a 4-0 lead against Ray before clearing the third inning – which he didn’t, because on that time Servais and Co. cleverly pulled the plug and sent out a series of pitchers that spanned the gamut from Penn Murfee (admirable and useful, as always) to Matt Brash (called out by Cal Raleigh) to Tommy Milone (terrible) to Ryan Borucki (less terrible, still not great) to Luis Torrens (somehow he only gave up one run, maybe this is his way of finding more playing time?).
Perhaps that’s why, halfway through the game, it was announced that the Mariners had taken over Luis Castillo from the Reds, bolstering that famous pipeline from Cincinnati to Seattle. Personally, I am deeply bummed that it took both Marte and Arroyo to land Castillo, but that is by far the minority opinion of the Lookout Landing staff. At the very least, the Mariners have now hopefully acquired the top-level pitcher they thought would bring Ray in, but who sometimes failed to show up for that designation this season, tonight’s outing is another example.
But in any case. Mariners pitching and having the doors blown off by the Astros lineup is nothing new. Justin Verlander gives Mariner’s batters a swirly, that’s nothing new. Let’s talk about something new and interesting:
Hello, Cal Raleigh! I don’t know how closely you followed the last two games, but Cal Raleigh was SPICY. He was so angry about yesterday’s goal against Muñoz that he threw off his mask in disgust. Despite trying to keep Robbie Ray against the Astros, things didn’t go well tonight. And at this point, our CalBoy HAD IT. He does NOT want Matt Brash to shake it, and he hasn’t. He brashly wants to THROW HIS F’N PITCH INTO THE ZONE, and he gives his fellow rook some stern but necessary words. There wasn’t much to be happy about with this game, but Cal Raleigh’s growing confidence on the record and behind it is definitely a storyline to watch. Now he’s getting a new challenge teaming up with Luis Castillo, and personally I’m excited to see what happens next as Cal increasingly takes on the driver role with his various battery mates.