Even if I hadn’t been born to be ten pounds of awkward stretched out in a seven pound sack, my mom would have taught me the lesson of humility early on with one of her favorite sayings: “There but for the grace of God. let me go.” Want to show off a stranger with a wedgie at the supermarket? Firm brow, and “there but for the grace of God.” Someone eating pavement trying to show off on their BMX bike? From the depths of her inimitable handbag flew a bandaid, and a harsh reminder: there but the grace. My mom taught me a lot about humility, and even more about the importance of gratitude—related, as it is, to the word grace, to be gracious and grateful.
It’s hard not to have some sympathy for the Tigers, especially when you think about how the Mariners have rebuilt along very similar lines: pitching-heavy, with some proven college bats anchoring the lineup. Except, the Mariners’ seasoned college hitters haven’t really panned out, with Evan White and Kyle Lewis both suffering injuries that have limited their effectiveness, and while it’s early, Spencer Torkelson, the no-miss college bat, has so far. …missed, both figuratively and literally. However, the strong pitching core the Tigers have tried to assemble – Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Spencer Turnbull – has so far not had the same impact as Seattle’s squad of rookie pitchers – Logan Gilbert, George Kirby, Matt Brash, with more to come. . . There but for grace.
Tonight, one of the Mariners’ success stories in George Kirby showed the Tigers exactly why a major investment in scouting and development is important, as Kirby kept the Tigers’ lineup quiet for five innings, allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out five . It was an early hook for Kirby tonight, to save his arm, but Kirby allowed just two hits with no runs and cruised through the mostly-feeling Tiger lineup, striking out five over five innings. The Literal Tigers, yes, but it just looked so easy for Our Boy George tonight, who has garnered plenty of national accolades:
And maybe some from your humble summary:
Meanwhile, the Mariners offense jumped all over Detroit starter Matt Manning, perhaps in revenge for their young starters, Kirby and Logan Gilbert, who never earned a higher placement than Manning on Top-100 lists. After going down like sleepy kittens in the first, the Mariners roared to life in the second, as Ty France continued to embody the “I lived, bitch” meme with this 438-foot blast:
France had four balls in play tonight: one that went for a single that only registered a 78 MPH exit velocity when he stroked it straight back up the middle, but all the other balls off his bat tonight were hit at 103 MPH or harder, put that wrist injury story to rest for good. That homer went at 107 MPH with a 25-degree launch angle, which is absolutely what you want to see from France, especially in the cool tomb that is Comerica Park. Welcome back, Ty. Boy, we missed you.
They say hitting is contagious, and, well, the Mariners’ third inning didn’t disprove that. Cal Raleigh started the inning with a a great single shot of its own:
That set off a chain reaction, as the Mariners would crush hit after hit after hit in that inning to build a 7-0 lead, out-rebounding Matt Manning in the process as they power-slided around the bases like a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Boogie woogie woogie.
Seattle added two more runs in the fifth after Ty France singled (again, in the strongest possible terms, welcome back) and Carlos Santana hit the Mariners’ third home run of the day to extend the lead to 9-0.
That’s right, the Mariners won in this game with both home runs and good old fashioned station-to-station hitting. The old saying is that you don’t want to have your cake and eat it too, but what’s the point in that, honestly? Shouldn’t you both have your cake and eat it too? Otherwise, what do you do besides starve and create a haven for ants? Or snapping your jaws at empty air? It doesn’t make sense, anything.
Another thing that makes no sense: instead of just letting Daniel Norris or someone carry this game after Manning was suspended, AJ Hinch chose to machine first poor former Mariner Will Vest, then another pitcher, then Daniel Norris for three innings (it was him which allowed the homer to Santana) before then calling in a position player — Kody Clemens, Roger’s son, though — to end things. A rough start to a series for the Tigers, to be sure. (Kody’s lucky he doesn’t play in the AL West, or he’d definitely be getting Ckhole Kchalhoun’s treatment.)
Meanwhile, the Mariners bullpen would consist of one pitcher: Chris Flexen, making his much-anticipated “piggyback start” behind a barely taxed Kirby. It was a major outing for Flex, who officially triggered an $8M dollar vest option for next year instead of a $4M team option. None of these are amounts of money to sneeze at, but for Flexen—a late pitcher who went to pitch in the KBO, rebuilt his body, overhauled his pitching repertoire, and generally did whatever the Mariners asked/needed him to do—it’s a huge and well-deserved payday . And seeing his teammates all lining up to congratulate him in the bullpen only added to how special the moment was. Reader, I cried.
High fives all around for Chris Flexen, who just triggered an $8 million buyout option for 2023 by completing 300 innings from ’21-22. pic.twitter.com/5rAGWV17l0
– Daniel Kramer (@DKramer_) 31 August 2022
The Tigers would scrape together another three runs making—oh, who cares, they’re not the story tonight. Ty France is the story, George Kirby is the story, Chris Flexen is the story. The Mariners are the story. And with apologies to the Tigers—and to super-talented prospect Riley Greene, who struck out badly a few times earlier in the game before showing the superstar he’s in for a triple, and reason for hope in the Motor City—it’s about time. for the Mariners to be the story. It is high time they had their greatness and their grace.