Today I went swimming at Seattle’s Coleman Pool, a saltwater public pool located in the best place in the world, Lincoln Park. Saltwater, if you didn’t know, makes you extra light and bouncy in the water. For hours I swanned around in the water feeling like a misplaced mermaid, lighter than air, buoyant as a balloon. Then it was time to get out, and back on land, I felt heavier than ever—like my limbs were made of lead, my legs magnetized to the Earth’s core.
That’s what it feels like playing the Astros after the Mariners have soared against lesser competition: a high suddenly cut short, a dismal reminder of how earthbound we are. The endless moving-through-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 double-digit lead against the Mariners, and Dusty Baker finally, reluctantly pulled him. Verlander has seen the Mariners more than any other club, and he knows exactly how to attack them; the Mariners’ “swing early and often” approach was ineffective, but then again, so was it when they attempted to wait him out in counts. Justin Verlander owns the Mariners, and until his body says Enough!, that will be the case. These are hard truths, but true nonetheless.
Robbie Ray, on the other hand, was eminently know-able to the Astros, who seemed entirely unperturbed by anything he threw at them. They laid off all the pitches they needed to lay off and hit every pitch they needed to hit and built a 4-0 lead against Ray before he’d cleared the third inning—which he didn’t, because at that point, Servais and Co. smartly pulled the plug and sent out a slate of pitchers that ran the gamut from Penn Murfee (admirable and serviceable, as always) to Matt Brash (got yelled at by Cal Raleigh) to Tommy Milone (terrible) to Ryan Borucki (less terrible, still not great) to Luis Torrens (somehow only gave up one run, maybe this is his way into finding more playing time?).
Maybe that’s why, midway through the game, it was announced the Mariners have acquired Luis Castillo from the Reds, strengthening that famous Cincinnati-to-Seattle pipeline. Personally, I am extremely bummed that it took both Marte and Arroyo to land Castillo—but that is by far the minority opinion among the Lookout Landing staff. At the very least, the Mariners have now hopefully acquired the ace-level pitcher they thought they were getting in Ray, but who has at times failed to show up for that designation this season, tonight’s outing being another example.
But anyway. Mariners pitching getting the doors blown off by the Astros lineup, that’s nothing new. Justin Verlander giving Mariners batters a swirly, that’s nothing new. Let’s talk about something that was new and interesting:
Hello, Cal Raleigh! I don’t know how closely you were watching these past two games but Cal Raleigh has been SPICY. He was so mad about the hit yesterday against Muñoz he threw his mask off in disgust. Despite trying to hand-hold Robbie Ray against the Astros, things didn’t go well tonight. And by this point, our CalBoy has HAD IT. He does NOT want Matt Brash shaking him, and he’s not having it. He wants Brash IN THE ZONE and to THROW HIS F’N PITCH, and he gives his fellow rook some stern but necessary words. There was not a lot to be happy about with this game, but Cal Raleigh’s growing confidence at the plate and behind it is absolutely a storyline to watch. Now he’ll get a new challenge in working with Luis Castillo, and I personally am excited to see what happens next as Cal continues to take more of a driver’s seat role with his various batterymates.