For the first few innings, this looked like it would be a very different game. Yusei Kikuchi had another poor start, lasting just 3.1 innings. He surrendered five runs on nine hits, two of those on home runs, one a particularly juicy meatball on a changeup that hung in the middle of the plate for Niko Goodrum. The 3-1 lead the Mariners had built evaporated over that fourth inning, as Zac Grotz came on to try to staunch the bleeding. Grotz would throw a wild pitch, allowing a run to score, but struck out Brandon Dixon and got Ronny Rodriguez to ground out, evading further trouble. He would allow another run to score after Travis Demeritte reached on an infield single, stole second, and was doubled home by Jordy Mercer, but kept the damage to one run, striking out the side. Still, the score was 6-3, and given the offensive ineptitude we saw out of the Mariners over the weekend (Deadgar Weekend Redux), it wouldn’t be so surprising to be writing up this one as a loss. Especially if I told you Brandon Brennan was removed after throwing two pitches, both balls, clearly pointing to his arm in discomfort. Things would feel bad, right? Things should feel bad.
And yet. That thing about how the Mariners got their three runs? Well, yes, they small-balled one home in the third on a nice little piece of hitting from J.P. Crawford:
But the other runs came courtesy of Kyle Seager and Tom Murphy going back-to-back in the fourth:
So after the Tigers went out ahead again, Kyle Seager and Tom Murphy looked at each other, shrugged, and climbed back on their Doublemint gum tandem bike to do it AGAIN. And this time, they came back to the dugout with some flair, because you get to do that when you hit back-to-back jacks twice in one game.
And then Tom Murphy decided to open up another little window on the Advent calendar of his personality:
I don’t know what’s happening, but I love it. Look, the season is what it is, and everyone knows it. The guys here are the guys who are going to be here for the rest of the season, and who knows what will happen beyond that. They’re playing one of the four teams in Major League Baseball who are worse than them, so why not have some fun with it.
Not that it was a cakewalk! Three runs is still a perilously thin margin with this bullpen. So Kyle Seager decided, hey, why not one more? And Niko Goodrum said, hey I know you’ve had a tough year, let me give you a boost. And Niko Goodrum, who drinks only The Kraken, is extremely literal:
That’s Seager’s first-ever three-homer game, and he also becomes the 11th Mariner to do it. So maybe he felt bad about the team playing poorly on Edgar weekend anyway, and this is his little tribute. Whatever it is, it led to more of the same dugout celebration as above, which I cannot show you because my image capture software quit working (please recommend your favorite image capture software in the comments), but know it was bigger and better than the first.
It feels a little bad to beat up on the Tigers, and specifically the long-suffering Tigers fans, who circle Matt Boyd starts the same hopeful way we circle Marco Gonzales starts. But also, in seasons like this, it’s important to come out of the tailspin every so often and have a night like this: pure, silly, ridiculous fun. Treasure this up in your heart of hearts. There won’t be many more of them.