Mariners Defeat A's, Establish Selves As Kings Of AL West's Second Tier

hey, you, play John Jaso

Respective starts aside, I don't think too many people would quibble with the idea that the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels are the best the AL West has to offer. Even players on the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics would presumably acknowledge that the competition is stiff. The Rangers are already well on their way to 100 wins, and the only things that stand to slow them down are injuries or drivers getting lost on the way to the stadium. The Angels have sputtered a little more, but the talent on that roster should take them to great heights in time, setting up a fight for first place.

Based on what we know, the Rangers and the Angels make up the AL West's first tier. Which leaves the Mariners and the A's for the AL West's second tier. Neither is significantly more talented than the other, so they go in the same group. The Rangers and Angels are set to fight for first place, and the Mariners and A's are set to fight for third place.

If the Mariners and A's are going to be gunning for the same thing, it stands to reason that the most important games will be the head-to-head games. There will have been 19 of those by the time the season is finished, unless something happens like Major League Baseball deciding they don't need to be played because why? We're through seven of them already, and with Sunday's win, the Mariners have dropped the A's five times, while the A's have dropped the Mariners twice.

The headline here isn't completely right, because the Mariners haven't established themselves as kings of the second tier. That'd take more than five wins in seven games. But the Mariners have strongly suggested that they're the kings of the second tier, and the A's have yet to issue a compelling response. So far the Mariners have been like "we own the second tier of this division" and the A's have been like "well wait no hold on you see-" and then they trail off. You'll have to stop muttering and start getting your shit together if you want to be able to hang with the Mariners, Oakland. Because the Mariners have looked like a lean, mean, polished third-place machine, while the A's have looked like the Astros. I haven't actually watched an inning of the Astros so far this year but I'm comfortable with my assumption.

This wound up being a 5-3 Mariners win I was comfortable with all along, even after the A's tied it in the fifth. During the game I never really worried about the outcome because I don't think you worry about the outcome when you're playing the A's, and then if your team loses to the A's, you're like "wait what?" They are just that non-threatening. But while I settled into a comfort zone after the first few pitches, I entered incensed, but not really incensed, because Miguel Olivo was starting behind the plate and John Jaso was sitting on the bench.

I know that Olivo technically only half-started on Saturday, since he DH'd while Jesus Montero caught. But Olivo still started the baseball game, and then Sunday's baseball game was against a right-handed pitcher. Miguel Olivo is right-handed and bad. John Jaso is left-handed and maybe not so bad and in his one start he was heroic. I wasn't really incensed because baseball doesn't stir the emotions that playoff hockey does, but I felt like, if I were somebody who gets incensed about baseball, I would've been incensed today.

Eric Wedge from last night:

Wedge was asked if he would like to get No. 3 catcher John Jaso a start behind the plate soon. Jesus Montero made his second start at catcher Saturday.

"I would like to, but we're going to have to get into the season a little more," Wedge said. "I'll try to get him in there in some capacity tomorrow."

What does that even mean? Let's ignore the second part of Wedge's quote. He didn't get Jaso in there in some capacity, but whatever. More focus on the first part. "We're going to have to get into the season a little more"? Is it too early for Eric Wedge to make good decisions that increase his baseball team's odds of winning a game? I guess Wedge might not want to convey to Olivo that he's going to be more of a part-timer, but that's just the thing - he should be more of a part-timer. No, Olivo doesn't do everything wrong. Yes, he's tough, and he's probably a good leader of men. But Olivo's feelings don't matter more than overall team success, and Miguel Olivo doesn't always give the Mariners the best chance. At the worst, this Wedge/Olivo thing is evidence of gross mis-evaluation. At the best, it's evidence of proper evaluation, but Wedge won't disclose how Olivo is good when the numbers say the opposite.

You can tell that I was worked up because I just dedicated paragraphs of a game recap to something that didn't matter in the end because the Mariners won by two. It isn't all that interesting when, say, the Yankees win by two or the Cardinals win by two because the Yankees and the Cardinals are the Yankees and the Cardinals, but when the Mariners win by two it's practically a Mariners blowout and some local establishment should give out free or discounted fare to fans with ticket stubs in recognition of the feat.

I'm going to let you all in on something and say that I'm writing this paragraph half an hour after the last paragraph because I was interrupted by some other things. As such I don't know how to make things flow, so I'll change up completely. In playoff hockey action today, the Nashville Predators beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2. It was 2-1 Predators at the end of the second period when the Red Wings applied pressure and put a puck in the net, seemingly to tie. Slow-motion replays showed that the goal scored less than one-tenth of a second after the clock ran out, and so the referees waved the goal off. The Predators took a lead into the intermission, barely, and won by the same margin. If you're a Predators player or fan*, you're probably feeling mighty lucky. We, on the other hand, don't have to feel lucky that the Mariners beat the A's. The Mariners didn't beat the A's because of a lucky break; the Mariners beat the A's because they played better and the A's also made a couple costly errors. Can you tell that I pre-planned to mention the hockey game before the Mariners' game even started? I thought so. Rats.

* hahahaha

Here's a selection of bullet holes as we prepare to enter a Monday off-day. "Are the bullet holes any different when they're written before an off-day?" is a question you might reasonably ask. "No, why would they be, that wouldn't make any sense," is a response I might reasonably give. I mean come on, be serious. I know we live in a society that encourages its members to think for themselves, but maybe some of you should outsource your thinking to better thinkers.

  • Yesterday, we saw Hector Noesi rebound from a miserable outing against the Rangers to have an outstanding outing against the A's. Today, we saw Blake Beavan not do that. Beavan was quite good against the Rangers last week, as Blake Beavan goes, and today he was also quite good against the A's, as Blake Beavan goes. I wouldn't say he made just one mistake, since he probably made a lot of mistakes bigger and smaller, but he was only really made to pay for one mistake in his seven innings.

    Interestingly, I figured that Beavan would be about as good a right-handed matchup for Yoenis Cespedes as anyone, since he throws a lot of unexceptional fastballs and stays around the zone. Cespedes went 1-for-3 against Beavan, but his one hit was a blooper that fell between Mariners, and he also struck out swinging. It's possible that I was wrong about how good a matchup this was. It's possible that truths aren't often revealed over a three-at-bat sample. Anything's possible. I'm just kidding, lots of things aren't possible, sorry kids. If anything were possible you wouldn't have been created because your parents would've been doing shit I can't even imagine.

    Through two starts now, against very different lineups in very different ballparks, Beavan's at 67 percent strikes, and 87 percent contact. It took two starts for Blake Beavan to achieve Blake Beavan. In reality, it took about one start for Blake Beavan to achieve Blake Beavan, but you always have to re-test to confirm. Confirmed: Blake Beavan is very much himself.

    As usual when I'm writing about Beavan, this might all sound too negative. Beavan is a perfectly acceptable fringe Major League starter, whatever that means. You just want to be wary of being too kind to a pitcher following a strong start against the A's, just as fans of other teams should be wary of being too kind to a pitcher following a strong start against the Mariners. Beavan did a pretty good job again of avoiding solid contact but of course we all know how sustainable that actually is, no matter what a coach or catcher might tell you.

  • The mistake for which Beavan was punished was a 90mph fastball with two on in the top of the fifth. The usual screenshots:

    Beavansogard_medium

    It's a 3-and-1 count, and Miguel Olivo wants a fastball over the plate at the knees. Beavan's delivery:

    Beavansogard2_medium

    That's a fastball in, at the belt. That's a more punishable pitch, even for a guy like Eric Sogard. Let me tell you, when you start paying attention to how often pitchers miss their spots, you can't stop noticing it. Pitchers miss their spots all the time! Even most of the best pitchers in the world! Pretty much no pitcher ever throws a good game, they all throw some variation of a mediocre game and get differing degrees of lucky. Your worldview, it's shattered.

    You might be expecting me to make an Eric Sogard joke, given my track record of Eric Sogard jokes. But I was warned that the next time I made an Eric Sogard joke he would go home and code a virus to upload to the SBN mainframe.

  • The Mariners got on the board in the bottom of the second when Brendan Wood Ryan took Graham Godfrey out to left field for a two-run homer. That's a sentence you probably never expected to read, mostly because I included Ryan's middle name. I'm not going to bother with the photographic evidence so just take my word for it that Godfrey missed his location high, because whoever Anthony Recker is wanted a heater at shin-level. Recker probably wasn't too concerned when he saw that Godfrey was going to miss. But this ain't your grandpappy's Brendan Ryan. This is the actual Brendan Ryan, who exists now. He is capable of hitting a home run.

    That pitch was the eighth pitch of the at-bat. To that point Ryan had made things annoying with five fouls. As Ryan was busy fouling pitches off, I thought to myself, "his swing is so long, he's just going to whiff or pop the ball up." He did pop the ball up, just with like 350 feet of horizontal distance, too.

  • The Mariners added on an inning later when Justin Smoak yanked a Godfrey changeup out to right on a line. The left-center scoreboard flashed "SMOAK BOMB", as it does for such occasions, and it got me thinking that when Justin Smoak hits home runs in Safeco a giant smoke bomb should go off somewhere such that it makes a scene but doesn't injure anybody. It would probably cause a significant game delay while people waited for the smoke to clear, but then that would just give people an extended opportunity to dwell on a Mariners home run, which we should probably all do. I hate when a Mariners player hits a home run and then another pitch is thrown 40 or 50 seconds later. It's like, do you know what just happened, we should probably contemplate this.

    Of course, a smoke bomb might be a terrible idea when the roof is closed since the smoke wouldn't have anywhere to go. But they set off fireworks in Anaheim after home runs and that smoke doesn't clear for minutes, yet they play through anyway. The Mariners and their opponents could just play through the smoke and in time the Mariners would adjust to playing in the smoke. The opponents might not adjust to playing in the smoke, but then they shouldn't have allowed a home run to Justin Smoak, now should they have? Quit complaining, opponent, and throw better pitches, like high fastballs, or breaking balls just above the dirt.

  • Probably once a game, the ROOT Sports broadcast will pick up a player audibly swearing, and Dave Sims will apologize to the audience. During the early innings of this one, it sounded like someone on the field was shouting "FUCK" after almost every pitch. I noticed it, then I stopped noticing it, then I resumed noticing it, and then Dave Sims clarified that it was just home-plate umpire Eric Cooper calling strikes, and not anybody being obscene. I was pleased to gain clarity, and also, Dave Sims is fantastic. All y'all Dave Sims haters are perfectly entitled to your opinions, but your opinions are wrong, according to my opinion.

  • In the bottom of the eighth, Ichiro hit a hard shot up the middle that looked like a single until Brian Fuentes got his body in the way. Fuentes threw Ichiro out. In the top of the ninth, Cliff Pennington hit a hard shot up the middle that looked like a single until Brandon League got his body in the way. League threw Pennington out. From our perspective, it all balanced perfectly and quickly. From Oakland's perspective, it didn't balance, because Pennington's single would've been more important, but Oakland can't communicate its entire perspective because they need to insert a quarter to keep talking and they're out of quarters.

  • After the game, Jen Mueller interviewed Brendan Ryan on the field and asked him to walk the viewing audience through his second inning at-bat. Ryan stammered out a bunch of words saying, effectively, "it was a normal at-bat and I was trying to hit the ball hard." I never really understand this question, whenever it's asked. Nearly every at-bat is the same. The hitter is trying to get a good pitch to hit and then hit that pitch hard, and sometimes it all happens for him and sometimes it doesn't. What was Brendan Ryan going to say? That he was looking to club a dinger? Ryan got pitches that he fouled off. He got a pitch that he didn't foul off. Even Brendan Ryan couldn't give an interesting answer to this question.

  • The bottom of the fifth was the decisive inning, as the Mariners pulled ahead 5-3 with two runs. It involved an ugly throwing error by Jemile Weeks, and a defensive mistake by Graham Godfrey when he fumbled a comebacker and had to get an out at first instead of at home. It also involved a walk of Chone Figgins, so based on all this you might think the A's were all "fuck it give 'em runs", but the fifth also featured a double that Ichiro ripped on a line into right, and you'll never believe what Graham Godfrey did with his spot. He missed it! Pitchers are terrible! How are we just now talking about this!

The Mariners are off tomorrow. All of the players will be active in some capacity, but they will not play a baseball game together as the Mariners. Meanwhile, most of you guys will have to go to work. Many of the rest of you will have to go to class. The Mariners get all of the breaks.

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