This Mariners' run feels personal

Did I stay up to watch the end of the Mariners' 4-2 victory over Oakland? Well, it's not like I had a job to go to in the morning.

It’s 1:19 a.m. and there’s someone who didn’t fully appreciate the importance of Seattle’s 4-2 victory over Oakland: Simba, our three-year-old Shar-Pei. See, he prefers to have taken over the couch by this time, asleep on the blanket we set out for him.

But I’ve been parked in that spot for more than three hours, watching the Mariners climb within a game of the wild-card berth. No Larry Salk rule tonight. You watch through the end of any game that holds this significance. So now I’ll go ahead and set out a blanket and turn over the couch for Simba, but first can I ask one favor before you start today’s entry: If you’re enjoying the newsletter, would you pass it along to one person that you think might enjoy it? Thanks.

Waiting up past midnight isn’t that big of an ask. Not when we’re talking about a postseason drought that’s old enough to vote and a year away from drinking.

It does come with its own complications, though, given that I live in Manhattan. It’s a bit lonely watching West Coast games to be honest because while New York is known as the city that never sleeps, people aren’t staying up to watch the Seattle Mariners play baseball. I am, though, and it’s not out of professional obligation but entirely personal interest. I’m just like you, watching and hoping that the Mariners continue to defy every single statistical indicator or at least every single statistical indicator other than fun differential.

We’ve learned enough by now to understand it’s impossible to forecast what will happen next for this beatiful, inexplicable, utterly ridiculous team.

Tyler Anderson started against Oakland on Tuesday, pitching on short rest after he gave up nine runs in two innings on Saturday against the Angels. So what does he do against the A’s? Pounds the zone, throwing 40 strikes in 46 pitches and allowing a single run in four innings. Of course he did. Nothing about this team is predictable.

Falling behind to Oakland on a solo home run to straight away center in the top of the fourth? That just added a little drama for Jake Fraley’s two-run double in the bottom half of the inning after the Mariners had failed to capitalize on two leadoff doubles from J.P. Crawford in the first three innings.

Of course, there are logistical considerations when you’re watching on the right-hand side of the country not just because it’s late and there are neighbors. It’s late and there’s a spouse, who — unlike me — has a job to perform in the morning. That means it’s fist pumps instead of shouts to celebrate. Facial contortions and clenched teeth are the best method for expressing agony. But then again, this is a team whose postseason chances we’ve declared dead at least three times, right? So I consider even the angst to be a blessing at this point.

And honestly, I’ve largely abandoned rational thought when it comes to these Mariners because this team refuses to make a lick of sense. They were projected by many to lose 90 games. They’re probably going to win 90 despite being certain to allow more runs than they score this season. Their postseason chances have been pronounced dead on at least three different occasions. Turns out they were only mostly dead, though. Huge difference.

Hope floats was a movie. Hope hurts has been the reality for Mariners fans too often these past two decades, and while I can rationally explain to myself that I shouldn’t be disappointed if the Mariners’ mad dash doesn’t put them in the playoffs, that didn’t make it feel any better when Tony Kemp’s two-out single in the top of the seventh cut Seattle’s lead 3-2. This may have caused me to have uncharitable thoughts regarding Diego Castillo, and believe that he was placed on this team to deliver suffering. But then Paul Sewald comes in and totally redeems everything by getting the next better to fly out to center field, leaving two Oakland runners stranded. When Mitch Haniger homered in the bottom of the seventh, his third homer in two games, I was right back to believing these Mariners are just blessed. At last.

If only there were more people to share it with here in New York though earlier in the night, before we pushed past midnight, I did get a chance to thank a Yankees fan that lives in my building. I told him we appreciated the effort against Toronto and wouldn’t mind a little more of the same on Wednesday.

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