Ichiro takes the smallest lead in baseball history
Earlier Wednesday, in the Time Before Ackley, the Dustin Ackley's promotion. Had the Mariners lost, the story now would be that Dustin Ackley's joining a relevant, near-.500 baseball team. Because they won, the story now instead is that Dustin Ackley's joining a relevant, near-.500 baseball team that's slightly closer to first place.played a baseball game. I don't blame you if you've forgotten about it, because it has been surpassed as the night's big baseball story. It was, of course, an important game as it was being played, as it meant the difference between 34-35 and getting swept and 35-34 and building momentum, but now that it's over and news has been announced, it's just part of the background. It's just one of 69 games that make up the setting for
Still, even though the result of the game no longer matters a whole bunch, it's worth talking about it, if only because that's what I do. And, of course, if we're going to talk about the game, it's impossible not to talk about the way it was decided.
You'll remember that the last time the Carlos Peguero lifted a fly ball that Torii Hunter lost in the sun. Kind of shitty, but they all count just the same. This time around, Peguero came to bat with two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh inning of a scoreless game and rolled a grounder up the middle. It looked like a routine grounder for Erick Aybar, but just as Aybar got in position, the ball deflected off of second base and well out of Aybar's reach into the outfield. Aybar put his hands on his hips, two runners came around to score, and the Mariners eventually won 3-1.came to town, the Mariners walked off when
I usually don't like the word "lucky" when it's used in an explanatory fashion. I don't think teams are "lucky" if they win a bunch of one-run games. I don't think pitchers are "lucky" if their ERAs don't match their peripherals. I don't think hitters are "lucky" if their BABIPs are inflated. I tend to err towards "unsustainable," because "lucky" implies simple good fortune, and most of the time I don't think that's sufficient.
But there's no denying that the Mariners have gotten lucky against the Angels. I don't think there's any shame in admitting that. They were lucky that Peguero hit the ball just so, twice, and who knows if they win either of those games without the good breaks? The luck was right there, obvious in front of our eyes, and we just get to smile because the luck was in the Mariners' benefit.
Was the luck the only reason the Mariners won? Thankfully, no, on either occasion, and that's why we don't come away feeling totally sheepish. Tonight, Erik Bedard was awesome. He blanked the Angels for seven innings, lowering his ERA to 3.16. Greg Halman also checked in with his first career Major League home run, a blast to dead center. The Mariners had other positives aside from a grounder that kicked off a bag.
But a grounder did kick off a bag, and it made a huge difference. Obviously, that's great news for the Mariners in the standings, as they pull to within one game of first. But next time they lose in a chance, fluky way, if there is a next time - I won't be thrilled, but I'll get it.
After all those years, it sure is nice to see the M's beat the Angels all stupid-like, though.
Some quicker bullet holes, since it's been a busy night:
- The wildest thing about Erik Bedard's seven shutout innings is that he threw them without having a real good feel for his offspeed pitches. He leaned heavily on his fastballs, and still he made it work. 71% of his pitches were strikes. Since May 8th, he has 47 strikeouts and ten walks in 44.1 innings.
- Greg Halman went deep to center against Rich Thompson to lead off the eighth. The interesting thing about free-swinging guys like Peguero and Halman is that seldom do they look as lost as you expect them to. I don't think Halman is ready to make a big Major League contribution, but hitting the ball out to center in Safeco is no joke. With power, defense and versatility, he is not without his uses, even now.
- The Geico Quote of the Game was a video highlight of Halman's home run. There was no quote, aside from a man in the background shouting "YEAAAHHH!!" So the Geico Quote of the Game was either nothing, or a man in the background shouting "YEAAAHHH!!"
- Tonight we saw Eric Wedge bat Peguero cleanup, even though Wedge explained earlier in the year that he was reluctant to move Justin Smoak up in the order because of the pressure. I liked a comment I read here before the game. Maybe Wedge was afraid that the pressure would have a negative effect on Smoak's selectivity. Peguero has little selectivity. If Carlos Peguero were feeling the pressure, how would we be able to tell?
Mike Carp kind of robbed Mark Trumbo of a home run in the top of the second. It was a very good play - those plays are harder than they look, even when the balls hang up forever - but the lingering image isn't so much Carp's catch as it is Carp's leap. I've seen more air under a bookcase. You know how, when you put a piece of paper flat on a surface and blow on it, it lifts up a little? That's how high Mike Carp jumped.
- Ichiro went 2-for-4 with a pair of line drive doubles, and it's almost absurd how quickly he's had all of us forget all about his little slump. Chone Figgins, meanwhile, went 2-for-3 with a walk, and one of those hits was a rocket to right. Even Figgins has made some solid contact lately, and while a few good hits aren't enough to erase eight months of being bad, it's nice to know that ability's still in there. Figgins is still going to play, even with Ackley up, so here's to him not maintaining a .500 OPS.
Jack Wilson was asked to drop down a sac bunt in the bottom of the seventh. Dropping down a sac bunt is the ultimate team move. Does Jack Wilson still think of himself as being a part of this team, or does he kind of have one foot in and one foot out? What an awkward position to be in.
David Pauley walked Peter Bourjos in the top of the eighth, just to see if he could. Peter Bourjos keeps himself in shape by waking up every morning and racing daybreak.
- In the bottom of the eighth, the Angels had Russell Branyan playing third base. Ichiro was the only Mariner to try and lay down a bunt.
- Brendan Ryan looks bad at the plate these days, but his defense has never been better. In the ninth inning, he charged a slow chopper by Mark Trumbo, bare-handed it, adjusted his grip on the ball, and threw in time to first, all in one motion. Root Sports' super slow-motion replay got a great shot of Ryan moving the ball around in his hand immediately prior to throwing, and I don't know how anybody does that. I don't know how anybody does that and doesn't throw the ball into the seats.