The unfortunate thing about “chaos” is that everything eventually regresses to the norm. You can get a bunch of blips in every direction, and maybe they average out to an end result that resembles something normal. But as you accrue data points, blips become less and less likely. That’s why they’re blips, after all.
The past couple of games have seen the Mariners regress to the norm, in a sense. You can only score so many runs when nobody outside of your top three hitters is running a positive offensive value on the year.
I guess there are no hard-and-fast rules for when regression has to come. Years ago, I heard that it takes about 40 baseball games to find out who a team really is. The 2019 Mariners are a famous example of a team that looked great after 15 games, but not so great after 40 games.
Well, this team is at 31 games. Even if they go 3-6 over their next nine games, they’ll still be sitting at 20-20. By all accounts, they have no business being anywhere close to .500 when you actually look at the players who are, well, playing. And yet.
For most of tonight, the Mariners looked like a team bound for a swift regression. They were facing a true replacement-level “talent” in Jorge López, a journeyman who hasn’t done much of anything in five MLB seasons. It didn’t seem to inspire the Mariners, who put up three innings of groundouts, strikeouts, and weak flyouts.
On the other side of the ball, it seemed like everything Justin Dunn could do to prevent the Orioles from scoring. Dunn dodged four walks as he danced his way out of trouble, highlighted by an escape from a second inning jam with the bases loaded and one out.
Finally, in the fourth inning, Kyle Seager broke the stalemate.
The swing gave the Mariners one (1) run on two (2) hits, a ratio which has become consistently weird enough to keep track of for this team.
Unfortunately, the Orioles answered with a dinger of their own the very next inning. Justin Dunn, who ended up allowing four walks tonight, was lucky that it was just a solo dinger. Two innings later, he needed something a bit more than luck.
Dunn opened the sixth by allowing a single to Trey Mancini, inducing a flyout, and walking DJ Stewart to put two on. Scott Servais decided that he’d seen enough and brought in Kendall Graveman to try to extinguish the fire.
Graveman, who has made a strong case this season for “most valuable Mariner”, was nothing short of phenomenal.
Two dirty sinkers to Ryan Mountcastle resulted in a soft lineup to first base. Graveman, who was a bit wild, did walk Freddy Galvis to load the bases. Another sinker to Chance Sisco (who is apparently a real player) induced an inning-ending groundout. At least one person was appreciative of Graveman’s work.
justin dunn was fired up after graveman escaped the sixth. the passion on this team runs so deep and it’s great to see it on display on a near-nightly basis pic.twitter.com/mpfAS4O2Wy
— Connor Donovan (@kennerdoloman) May 5, 2021
Graveman’s excellence continued into the seventh inning, during which he made short work of the Orioles’ 9-1-2 hitters.