Mariners play a unique baseball game, give fans unique heart problems

When I first became interested in chess, one thing that initially puzzled me about the game was why it hadn’t been “solved” yet. After all, there are only 16 pieces on each side. The best players in the world are child prodigies who earned the title of Grandmaster before they could drive a car. They themselves are aided in their preparation by supercomputers and chess engines that make the most powerful computers of the 2000s look like glorious toasters. How could there still be room for innovation? For new moves?

Well, it turns out that the nature of exponential growth means that the number of possible chess positions gets out of control pretty quickly—beyond the ability of even our strongest computers to solve. After only seven moves per side, there are over 10 million possible positions. If you consider that games often last more than thirty moves per side, it quickly becomes clear that the number of possible different “games” could be just as infinite.

Similarly, it appears that with the limited number of common outcomes at each at bat, baseball games should collapse to a common state at least with some frequency. It certainly seems like the old Mariner games tended to blend into a homogenous miasma. However, a little math quickly shows how incredibly unlikely it would be for two identical baseball games to exist.

There are an average of 75 plate appearances in a baseball game. Aside from the fact that batted balls can go in different directions, and that even outside of these commonalities, weird things can happen in baseball, we have about seven totals for each plate appearance: home run, walk, hit by pitch, out, single, double, and treble . Assuming that the outcome of each disk occurrence is independent of the outcome of other disk occurrences (not a valid assumption, but for a rough demonstration it works), we end up with 1063 Total Possibilities. Now, not all of these possibilities are equally likely: there will (hopefully?) never be a 75-thing game. Considering that the number of stars in the observable universe is of the order of 1024However, you can see that this is a large number.

All of this is to say: it seems like the Mariners have played many similar games, but each one is unique in its own way.

From the start, today’s game reminded me of the second game of the season. In game two, Logan Gilbert found himself in trouble early on, needing 25 pitches to get through the first inning. However, Gilbert calmed down and eventually advanced through five innings to position the Mariners to come back and win 4-3.

Likewise, Gilbert fought his way out of goal tonight. After beating leadoff man Brad Miller (yes, that Brad Miller hit the leadoff tonight), Gilbert couldn’t fool Marcus Semien or Corey Seager. Neither was fooled by Gilbert’s stuff, and both hit hard line drives for singles. It seemed like Gilbert was in for another rocky start. As Mitch Garver strode to the plate, it seemed the Mariners’ hopes were pinned on the possibility of doubles at the end of the inning.

Ask and you will get.

After Garvers’ Grounder saved the Ms, the Mariners had their say against the thoroughly stunning Dane Dunning, who had gotten off to a somewhat rocky start to the year. Things started off similarly badly for Dunning tonight, with a walk by Adam Frazier and a single by Ty France Line Drive setting the stage for a two-for-all chance for Jesse Winker. Winker, I had to keep reminding myself this season, posted a Mike Troutian 179 wRC+ against righties last year. It should only be a matter of time before it breaks through.

Ah. Spring. About the.

As Aaron Goldsmith went through a similar process, he lamented Winker’s bad luck getting the season started and detailed how the Mariners quantified the fact that he will Flip it, dammit, Winker did that.

That’s right, the first triple play since 2006 went against the Mariners. This one wasn’t quite as cool as the last one, which was a fun strike ’em out, throw ’em out, throw ’em out 2-6-2 affair starring Raúl Ibañez, José López, and Adrián Beltré.

Anyhow, Winker’s run of absolutely crappy luck continued and the Mariners found themselves in a goalless slugfest against Rangers. The two teams combined for 12 baserunners in the first four innings and combined for just one run. For his part, Gilbert settled down quickly after that first inning and compensated for the seeming lack of bite in his switch with superior control of his fastball and slider.

The Mariners squeaked their first run in the third after a double from Abraham Toro set the stage for Cal Raleigh to crack a 105 MPH ground ball that made it past Nathaniel Lowe’s glove on first base. Toro scored from second place, but the Mariners eventually stranded the loaded bases after a soft liner was caught by Eugenio Súarez — the liner had a 50-50 shot of the discard, according to Statcast.

After a scoreless fourth, the Mariners finally broke through in the fifth. The Mariners eventually reached Dunning with an Adam Frazier ground rule double and a Ty France single before reliever John King loaded the bases by allowing a single and a walk. A sacrificial fly from JP Crawford made it a 3-0 game and set the stage for Julio.

Midfielder Adolis García got on the ball quickly and threw home an absolute rocket that should have nailed Winker to the plate. Luckily, catcher Jonah Heim wasn’t able to place the mark on Winker in time. The Rangers challenged the safe call, losing 4-0 to Mariners.

The next few innings passed in blissful uneventfulness. Gilbert continued to be effective, eventually being drawn to a standing ovation in the seventh inning after allowing zero runs over 6.2 innings. For their part, the Mariners didn’t miss opportunities, which was considerate of them.

Of course, one had to wonder if all those missed opportunities would come back to bite the Ms. Diego Castillo went into play in ninth with a four-run lead but faced the heart of the Rangers order: Semien, Seager and Garver. In case you didn’t catch the half-second moment on the show, it seemed like a bad omen that he dropped Abraham Toro’s all-around-the-horn throw before he’d even thrown a pitch.

A bad omen indeed. Semien and Seager each played individually to start the inning, prompting acting manager Kristopher Negrón to frantically call the bullpen and ask Matt Festa and Erik Swanson to start warming up. Things continued in an equally horrifying fashion when Garver hit Abraham Toro with a helicopter that carried the throw to second base in right field. The game, which had been 4-0 a few minutes ago, saw the Rangers with the tying man on home plate and nobody off.

Castillo, who always seems scared on the mound regardless of what he’s actually feeling, took a deep breath and pinned a slider to Nathaniel Lowe. Lowe, appearing to be looking for a fastball to level the game with, rolled around the field and sent a grounder to Ty France for a fielder choice at second base.

To keep the Mariners and their fans from catching their breath, the next man on the plate was slugger Adolis García. García, who also seemed to be looking for a fastball, got his wish. He sat back, swung, and sent a flyball into deep left field. I immediately feared the worst.

The ball, hit at 100 MPH from the start, died in the chilly April air and landed in the glove of a waiting Jesse Winker. Although Castillo still struggled with Nick Solak, the worst of the danger was over. Solak struck uneventfully, and the Mariners walked away with a victory that ended up being terrifyingly difficult to fight.

This game was a microcosm of what made the Mariners so amazing and yet so difficult to watch. Unlike the Mariners of ten years ago, these Mariners refuse to merge their games. The 3-2 weekday-night losses, punctuated by a competent thug or two left behind on base, were replaced by 4-2 weekday-night wins, punctuated by seven or eight competent thugs left behind on base.

It could be 1063 Ways to play a baseball game, and these chaotic Mariners seem determined to find more than 162 of them. The fact that they’ve been unlucky in terms of batted numbers so far seems to indicate that more good things are yet to come. With the next four games coming up against the Rangers and Royals, it’s easy to harbor dreams of topping the division at this time next week.

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