Fireballing reliever rescues club from potential doom in..[checks notes] three innings?
Ideally, as we grow older, we also grow as people. “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I thought like a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became an adult, I put away childish things.” Across distance, we learn compassion: we forgive schoolyard bullies, knowing their behavior grew from someplace dark inside them. We learn to see things not in terms of good/evil or smart/stupid, but in terms of motivations, of tough choices, of tough love. We learn to modulate our behaviors: to not throw temper tantrums when we don’t get our way; we learn that ice cream for dinner is fine once in a while but too often leads to a headache and a grumbling stomach the next day; we learn balance.
But there are things we miss, too, about childhood. With balance and careful planning also comes a lack of surprise, or knowing how a story ends before it does. It is less actual surprise and delight, and more Marketing Strategy: Surprise and Delight. Society even invented a word—”adulting”—to cope with this feeling. Ultimately, it’s a feeling of achievement mixed with deep-in-the-bones boredom. As Italo Calvino wrote:
“Childhood boredom is a special kind of boredom. It is a boredom full of dreams, a sort of projection into another place, into another reality. In adulthood boredom is made of repetition, it is the continuation of something from which we are no longer expecting any surprise.”
Tonight, the Mariners put aside their 2019 selves—still very much a work in progress—and reverted to an older version of themselves: the 2018 team, those one-run bandits, thiefing wins away into the night. They dingered and made errors and asked one trusty reliever to make sure everyone got home safe.
Oakland starter Brett Anderson had only given up one home run on the season in 43 innings of work coming into tonight. That mark led all of baseball. And then, in the first inning of this game, Brett Anderson encountered actual child-in-adult’s clothing Daniel Vogelbach:
tfw you have been Vogelbached pic.twitter.com/GLBsVXP81Q
— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) May 15, 2019
Tim Beckham, who doesn’t much stand on ceremony, followed that up with a dinger of his own, and followed said dinger up with a magnificent batflip:
But because the 2019 Mariners are so firmly themselves, even when they’re being their 2018 selves, they gave those two runs back on an error in the fifth when Beckham spiked a throw Encarnación couldn’t handle at first, and two runners scored. It was a fairly tough error, and also a fairly tough result, as Mike Leake had been cruising up until that point, mixing all his pitches and making Oakland batters look foolish:
Mike Leake does not have an older/younger self. Mike Leake sprang into existence fully-formed at age 22, rising from the foam of a SoCal beach and riding to shore on a pearly-white surfboard. Mike Leake is the Eternal One.
Note that this was a two-run shot, which turns out to be important!, and was such because J.P. Crawford had worked a walk in the previous at-bat, as he continues to show well against big-league pitching.
Leake would surrender one more run, although the two previous weren’t charged to him because of the error, giving him a pretty great-looking 6.2 IP/1 ER/6 K/1 BB line on the day. Cory Gearrin entered to try to relieve Leake but provided no relief—perhaps as he’s still struggling to adjust to having to change his delivery—and so in came Roenis Elias to shut down the inning, which he did, striking out the lone batter he faced with the bases loaded.
They say you can’t go home again—home an ever-changing thing, like the self itself—but Roenis was pretty happy to come back to Seattle after having been dealt to the Red Sox and then returned (for Eric Filia, who was also later returned! Never forget the Red Sox essentially gave us Elías for some cash!), as his wife’s Instagram posts showed:
She wrote in a different post about how, despite the trades, the Mariners have always felt like home for the Elías family, the debt they feel to the Mariners for being the team to take a chance on a young lefthander from Cuba.
Tonight, like they did so many times last year, the team, clinging to a one-run lead, asked their reliever to take them home, and Roenis obliged:
Elías doesn’t have Edwin Díaz’s dominant, swing-and-miss stuff. His fastball is no slouch in the mid-90s, but he doesn’t have the wipeout slider. Elías relies on a changeup and his beautiful curveball, the pitch he loves the most but has learned not to throw as much.
It might have been a return to form for the Mariners, but for Elías, it was something entirely new: a surprise, and a delight.