It’s the J-Rod Show, and we’re all just lucky to be in the audience
I’m not well-versed on the philosophy of anti-mimesis, but I do get a kick out of when the Mariners’ performance imitates my own life circumstances. Sometimes that means sinking in to the gloom – and there is a certain satisfactory comfort to be had in giving yourself over to a bad day – but in the case of this week we both were on the up and up. I’m feeling far more Act II Cinderella than Act I, and the Mariners have demonstrated a rare sustained stretch of competence. I certainly wouldn’t say that the M’s have catapulted themselves into second place in the division, but they have done a sort of flailing long jump into proximal proficiency. There was a lot of grunting and some shenanigans, but somehow they’re four games back from a Wild Card spot and flirtatiously near to closing the deal on .500.
Record for the week:
That one loss was a frustrating Friday night clunker against the A’s, wherein Marco Gonzales and that fearsome bullpen triumvirate of Penn Murfee, Erik Swanson and Ken Giles allowed just two runs, but the offense simply could not be bothered to hit.
Player of the week:
This should, realistically, go to Robbie Ray. The Cy Young winner and marquee signing for the M’s this off-season has been brilliant lately after an exceptionally disappointing beginning. His two starts this week featured a no-hit bid through 6 2⁄3 innings and a season-high 12 strikeouts.
But unfortunately for Ray, he too must play in the Shadow of Julio.
This week, Julio Rodríguez was named Rookie of the Month for June, his second consecutive month receiving that title, the latest AL rookie to earn back-to-back honors since Yordan Alvarez in 2019 and the first Mariner to do so since Ichiro Suzuki in 2001. Both of whom, of course, went on to be Rookie of the Year in their respective seasons.
This week alone he had eight hits in 21 at-bats, including three home runs and just four strikeouts. And yesterday, with this absolute obliteration of a baseball, Julio became the fastest player in MLB history to reach 15+ home runs and 20+ stolen bases.
JULIO RODRIGUEZ HITS ONE ONTO THE METAL SUPPLY BUILDING pic.twitter.com/kcERkjEDoa
— Gravel (@Gravel_sense) July 4, 2022
Play of the week:
It’s not technically a play, but as an enduring Cal Raleigh fan (we love a caretaking catcher who can swing the bat) I had to include his absolutely hilarious Little League home run. Everything about this clip is perfect.
At-bat of the week:
Scarcely much of an at-bat at all, given that he jumped on the first pitch he saw, but this week’s ABoW goes to Justin Upton and his subsequent game-tying dinger. There are – obviously – a lot of hard things to do in professional baseball, but I’ve always felt like we don’t give enough credit to pinch hitters – particularly those who come up in the eighth or ninth innings. It would be like if my boss rang my doorbell at 4:59 pm, and told me I had to pitch a quarterly integration plan to our exec team at 5 pm and if I messed it up our numbers for the quarter would automatically tank. It’s a lot of pressure! So for all that we might not love the circumstances that have led the Mariners to give Upton all these plate appearances lately, I am very grateful for his big Seattle moment (particularly since I was there, celebrating a dear human’s birthday).
Nemesis of the week:
The AL East. It’s barely July, but already feels borderline inevitable that the three Wild Card spots this season will be taken exclusively by teams from this division and that just sucks.
Favorite Mariners content:
Lookout Landing has a wonderful history of pulling beauty from the most unsung of places, and the site’s coverage of MLB debuts always produces really lovely work – and Lou Fish-Sadin’s piece on Marcus Wilson’s debut was a worthy addition to the genre. A special shout-out to the Mariners fans in the crowd during that plate appearance who chanted his name.
Still on the site, but not the traditional ilk, there were two FanPosts I want to highlight from the week. [For the uninitiated – or those who simply haven’t explored the annaLLs of the site – FanPosts are posts created by community members. Staff writer Eric Sanford does a great job sparking discussion and fostering these contributions through FanPost Fridays, and they’re a great, accessible way of publishing your writing. When I worked for the Hall and could not technically contribute for LL, I turned to FanPosts to pour out some of my own more Mariners-specific thoughts.]
- Commenter flygutifly put together an excellent, and extremely detailed, post on Jarred Kelenic’s Triple-A pitch data. Small sample size warning, of course, but I love how thoroughly and accessibly this writer weaves together statistics to create a cohesive and compelling narrative.
- The return of the Off-Topic thread! Since my long ago lurking days, these have always been my sneaky favorite threads on LL. They bring some additional humanity and forge connections well beyond baseball, and really cement the community feel of this space. I’ve shamefully slacked on putting one up again myself, but thankfully greentunic has got another one rolling. Hope to see you in there!
Favorite thing I ate while watching/listening to a game:
I’m trying to become more of a sauces and condiments gal. Generally speaking, I’d rather just have… better tasting food, that doesn’t need to be hidden and/or masked, but as a summer bowl buff I do recognize they can have real value in their own right. I made this sauce to go with tofu bowls on Tuesday, and I’m pretty sure I’ve eaten it every day since – it makes a ton, and is as spectacular drizzled over a pile of carbs and protein as it is as a dip for veggies. (Note: I am both lazy and the caretaker of a cantankerous stomach, so I omitted the garlic, went light on the honey and heavy on the chili paste.)
Bold prediction for next week:
My Kyle Lewis prediction last week was a bit bold, BUT he did start his Triple-A rehab assignment! This week, I think…
breathe in, breathe out
… I think the Mariners reach .500.
And I’m willing to be the scapegoat should they crater.
The M’s close out this funky two-game series with the Padres tonight, then fly back home for a four-game series against the Blue Jays. This will be the first time since 2019 that Canadian Jays fans will be able to attend games at T-Mobile Park, and while I’m happy for them I am worried about the nigh-inevitable impending invasion. Beyond that, it’s a major opportunity to gain some ground in the Wild Card race and – knock on wood – we at LL may have a little something extra to offer this series.
This week in Mariners history:
Forgive me for diverging from the actual week in Mariners history, but I journeyed deep down a Blue Jays at Mariners rabbit hole and simply have to share this iconic “This is my house” game – and the legendary piece it inspired Kate Preusser to write. If you read nothing else today (beyond SUS, obviously), read this.
Long live the King.