Mariners Lose To Blue Jays, Still Better Than Astros

Yay, they're not the Astros!

With rare exception, every baseball game is a game you want to see your team win. We watch for a variety of reasons, but one of the big ones is to see your team succeed, because a successful team is more fun than a less successful team. There are times when you might go in rooting for a loss, but those are pretty much limited to the final few weeks when you're hoping for a high draft pick, and they are few and far between.

So, yeah, I wanted the Mariners to win today when I turned on the TV, just as I wanted them to win all the earlier games. The same, I imagine, goes for all of you. It's way too early to start rooting for losses. This is still a season that can somehow be salvaged, and you salvage by winning.

When the M's came out swinging the bats, it was exciting. It wasn't exciting-exciting, but it was different-exciting, and happy-exciting. It was about as exciting as any non-historical sequence of events can be for a team that's out of the race. I wanted them to win, and at that point, it looked like they were going to.

Then the M's stopped swinging the bats, and the Jays came back. Then the game started to drag. Then the game went to extras. It was around then that I became aware of a shift in my desires.

The longer the game went, the less I cared about who won. To put it as best I can:

9th inning: Come on, Mariners!
10th inning: Just do it, Mariners.
11th inning: I mean, if you're going to do it, now would be a good time, Mariners.
12th inning: I'm getting kind of tired of watching you, Mariners.
13th inning: I want a run. That's it. Just end. End this game.
14th inning: I just want somebody to end this game, it doesn't even matter.

Everybody has their limit, and by the 13th, I no longer had a rooting interest. Or, I did have a rooting interest, but it wasn't in either of the teams. I was rooting for Run, and I was rooting against Not Run. It would have been one thing if the Mariners were playing for something, but they really weren't, and four hours was enough. Four hours was enough Mariners baseball.

Of course, this all would've shifted back up had the game continued. If I may make an attempt at a plot:

Rootinginterest_medium

As extra innings begin to mount, I care less and less about who wins, to the point at which I'm pulling for each team equally. But then, were extra innings to continue to mound, I think that would reverse. As the game transitions from "dreadfully long" to "epically long," I think I'd find myself firmly back in the Mariners' camp, since at that point everything's absurd and I won't want to reflect on six wasted hours. Who among us doesn't look back fondly on Mike Cameron's walk-off homer in the 19th?

But the game didn't continue, because in the bottom of the 14th - right around my rooting interest trough - the Jays finally pushed across the winner. It was momentarily disappointing, just because I felt bad for the various Mariners who tried so hard for this to not happen, but the disappointment was countered by the thrill of being able to turn off the TV for the first time since 4. I love you, Mariners, but I don't always want to watch you, and sometimes that means I won't really care when you lose. What's another loss?

It's funny that the Mariners scored five runs and still managed to string together twelve consecutive scoreless innings. The team's best offensive effort in weeks was also one of its worst. I guess that's how you make the least of a good situation.

Going to throw together some shorter-than-usual bullet holes since I've already spent enough time thinking about this game:

  • It's hard to remember that this was even a Michael Pineda start, given how much game there still was after he came out. It wasn't his best, and it was bookended by some ugliness, as he started off by allowing a two-run homer in the first, and then left after allowing an RBI double in the seventh. But in between, he was solid, and he threw several fastballs in the upper 90s to shake any concern that he might be fatigued. In the three Pineda/Jose Bautista showdowns, Pineda did a good job of staying away, and even struck Bautista out swinging with high-away heat.

  • Eric Thames is a player on the Blue Jays whose name is pronounced Thaymes, instead of Tems. That pronunciation is one reason he is interesting. This is another reason he is interesting:

    118737425_extra_large_medium
    Thames' sideburns form little arrows that point to his mouth, as if to say "this is where food goes." Of course one hopes that Eric Thames is never the first person to fall asleep at a party.

  • In the second inning, Greg Halman got a 2-0 changeup out and over the center of the plate from Brett Cecil, and he crushed it into left for a three-run homer, which was only the sixth three-run homer the Mariners have hit all season. They have yet to hit a grand slam. It was, to be sure, a terrible, terrible pitch, but if more Mariners had shown the ability to make pitchers pay for throwing terrible, terrible pitches, they wouldn't be in this situation. So good on Halman for standing out by achieving a minimum level of competence.

  • Two batters after Halman left the yard, Brendan Ryan left the yard, yanking a 3-1 fastball just over the left field fence. It was around that point that I checked and saw that Brett Cecil allowed 15 home runs in 12 starts in triple-A earlier this season. The home run was Ryan's first, although you wouldn't have known it from the way he strutted out of the box, and he was given the inattentive treatment when he returned to the dugout, either as a prank or because he died while circling the bases and became a ghost that nobody saw.

    The best home runs are always the home runs hit by non-home run hitters. Chicks dig the longball, from an unexpected longball source.

  • The M's had men on the corners and two out in the top of the eighth, with Shawn Camp on the mound. Camp got to two strikes against Greg Halman, but just as the crowd was getting into it, he stepped off to try that fake-to-third/look-to-first move. He returned to the rubber to look in, but just as the crowd was getting into it again, he stepped off to try another fake-to-third/look-to-first move. I made a note to write about how much I hate this move because it's so pointless and stupid and deflating. Then Camp picked off Chone Figgins and the inning was over.

  • That wouldn't be all, mind you. Mike Carp led off the 11th with a ringing double to the gap, but as Jason Frasor worked against Chone Figgins, J.P. Arencibia threw down to second and caught Carp off the bag. Mike Carp hit a leadoff double and was picked off of second base in the 11th inning of a tie game. There is no excuse at all for that, and the real shame is that it'll be what people most remember, instead of the fact that Carp went 3-for-6 with two doubles. At least Carp had the decency to reach base before making an out.

  • Dustin Ackley's RBI single in the first came on a check swing.

  • After a few months of getting infrequent work as a low-leverage mop-up man, Jeff Gray was summoned into a 5-4 game to face the best hitter on the planet with the tying run on second. Gray fell behind Jose Bautista 2-0 but then actually threw a good pitch that Bautista simply lined back into center anyway. That was good enough to tag Gray with a blown save, and though he posted zeroes in the eighth and the ninth, the M's still lost, meaning Gray still has yet to pitch in a win in a Mariner uniform.

  • Miguel Olivo has reached base 19 times in his last 28 starts. 

Tomorrow it's Jason Vargas and Brandon Morrow, as the M's face Morrow for the first time since dealing him away. I am legitimately excited to see how this goes, and not just because I have the no-hitter post already written up.

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