Mariners Spend Lazy Saturday Reflecting On Awesome Friday

Brett Lawrie's arm looks like a 15th century map

One of the best and worst things about a fresh-baked lemon bar is that it contains so much butter. One of the best and worst things about having a dog is that the dog always wants your attention. And one of the best and worst things about baseball is that it's just always going, it's always moving forward.

Baseball is among the world's slowest-paced games, but if you think about it, it's also one of the world's fastest-paced games, in that when one game is over, there's another game the next day, if not later the same day. Baseball doesn't give you a whole lot of time to stand still. Literally, baseball gives you tons of time to stand still. But it doesn't give you a whole lot of time to think about what's happened, because something new is always about to happen.

I touched on this during last night's recap, and Jay touched on this again today in the USSM game thread. Last night's win for the Mariners was absolutely breathtaking. It was one of those baseball games where you just want to keep watching the highlights over and over and over. It was improbable - the Mariners should've lost. They effectively did lose, when Brett Lawrie's throw hit Adam Lind's glove. But then the ball bounced off of the glove, and everything else that happened happened. Last night's win for the Mariners is a memory that's going to survive the week and the season, kind of like the Luis Rodriguez game last April, or Brandon Morrow's starting debut against the Yankees, or the time Mike Cameron homered in the 19th.

I woke up this morning still thinking about last night's win. I wrote a post about Michael Saunders' first home run during last night's win. I wanted to keep dwelling on last night's win, because it was such a great feeling. That was a game I would've liked to think about for a number of days.

But after last night's win, the Mariners played the Blue Jays again today in the early afternoon. With a new game, we couldn't keep dwelling on the old game. We had to switch to thinking about the new game, which couldn't possibly hope to follow the last one. In the new game, the Mariners couldn't do much of anything against Brandon Morrow and they lost 7-0. It wasn't quite that bad - the score jumped from 3-0 to 7-0 in garbage time - but even just the three runs felt nearly insurmountable.

As I write this sentence, it was about 21 hours ago that Michael Saunders hit a tenth-inning grand slam. Four hours ago, that game was my most recent baseball memory. Now a new game is my most recent baseball memory, and it was much much worse. I can still think about last night, and so can you, but something's lost, with the Mariners having lost. The pace of baseball has pushed last night into the history books.

That kinda sucks. Of course, it works both ways, and this is an unusual position for us. Most often we've been on the other side, thankful for new baseball so that we could forget about old baseball. The Mariners have played a lot of bad and uninteresting baseball over the years, and the pace of baseball has allowed for us to try to put it in the past. It's only fair that this is a double-edged sword. That's a weird expression. Wouldn't a double-edged sword just be a more awesome sword? How terrible do you have to be with swords for a double-edged sword to be dangerous to your person? If you are that bad with swords you probably shouldn't be using swords.

Last night, baseball worked out for the Mariners and it didn't work out at all for the Blue Jays. Due to the scheduling, though, the Blue Jays and their fans were given an immediate opportunity to forget, while the Mariners and their fans were forced to keep looking ahead. Most of the time, I've liked that aspect of baseball. This time, I could've lived without that aspect of baseball. I would've been content with a couple postponements.

Not that I think the Mariners got caught dwelling, of course. I don't think the Mariners lost because their minds were on Friday. I think the Mariners lost because Brandon Morrow is really good and the Mariners can look really bad. This whole game is different if Kyle Seager scoops up Jose Bautista's grounder in the bottom of the third, but then, maybe this whole game is still the same. Maybe the Blue Jays score and the Mariners don't. At no point did the Mariners look like they were going to score.

But I would've liked to keep dwelling. Alas, now I've watched the Mariners get shut out and lose by seven. I think this game provided one, maybe two or three chances for me to cheer. It was an empty three hours, given that Brandon Morrow's starting success doesn't mean to me what it used to. Tomorrow a little after ten in the morning, there'll be new baseball. A chance to wash this one from the brain. So we have that working in our favor. Sometimes I really hate you, baseball. Sometimes you're all right.

At a certain point I looked at my notes and thought, "uh oh, I don't have any notes." I need notes so that I can write bullet holes. That tells you a little something about what kind of baseball game this was. Desperate for notes, I got a little less picky, and following, you may read the results. I'm not real proud of this but it's the Mariners' fault I don't know what to write about down here. You had three hours to do something interesting! Because you failed to do something interesting for three hours, now I get to fail to write something interesting for an hour and a half. Stupid Saturday Mariners, why can't you be more like Friday Mariners?

  • Kevin Millwood did a nice job of bouncing back from consecutive rough outings with a less rough seven innings. Statistically, I mean, in that he allowed three runs, and might've allowed zero runs with better defense. I don't know if this Millwood performance was better than the last two Millwood performances, since that would require grading each individual pitch on its own and ignoring whatever the hitter might've done, but it's customary to be polite to the starting pitcher when he generates numbers like the ones Millwood generated today, so kudos to him on his numbers. Kevin Millwood from last time would be jealous.

    I don't remember any Millwood pitches from this afternoon in particular. I know that early on he was having a hell of a time trying to hit his location. Miguel Olivo was setting targets, and Millwood was hitting other, un-set targets. But Millwood was surviving, probably because the Blue Jays' hitters are flawed, and because Millwood's pitches have reasonable movement. Millwood is someone who doesn't need to be incredibly precise. Kevin Millwood has never been incredibly precise, and he's had a long and successful career.

    Are people interested in reading about Kevin Millwood? I mean, really, do people care whether or not Kevin Millwood is decent? It would help the team if Kevin Millwood were decent, but if he were a mess, it would force the Mariners to insert another, younger starting pitcher in his place. Do people want Millwood to be terrible? I don't have a read on things. Kevin Millwood doesn't exactly get my writing juices flowing, because I know he's only here for a short while, but then maybe that's my issue. Maybe it's not. I have nothing against you, Kevin Millwood, but you don't make for compelling note-taking. I'll try harder next time?

  • In the top of the fifth inning, Miguel Olivo lifted a towering pop-up behind first base. Adam Lind settled underneath it, but then Kelly Johnson scrambled over, pushed Lind out of the way, settled underneath it, and proceeded to let the ball bounce out of his glove for an error. Yesterday, the Blue Jays made a few defensive miscues, but here a Blue Jays player went well out of his way to make a defensive miscue. How overconfident was Kelly Johnson? How overconfident is Kelly Johnson not anymore? Or is he still overconfident, because he's so overconfident that this incident rolls right off his back? Kind of like how the ball rolled right out of his glove.

  • Brandon Morrow has been talking about improving his changeup and curveball and moving away from being mostly fastball/slider. Today, he was mostly fastball/slider and he was absolutely dominant. Of course, he was absolutely dominant against the Mariners, but two-thirds of his fastballs were strikes, and nine of the Mariners' 15 swings against his slider whiffed. Morrow generated 16 swinging strikes in all. He came in with an uncomfortably elevated contact rate on the season, but now the Mariners have helped him to bump that back down, because the Mariners have always been all about helping Brandon Morrow to flourish.

  • At one point Ichiro grounded a single back up the middle, between Morrow's legs. Morrow's instinctive response was to move his legs more out of the way. With a lot of pitchers, the instinctive response is to move the legs more in the way, in an attempt to knock the ball down or make a kick-save. From this I infer that Brandon Morrow has cowardly instincts. I bet if you sneak up behind Brandon Morrow and clap really loud he'll literally start crying.

  • The Mariners really couldn't do anything against Morrow, with two exceptions. In the second, Kyle Seager ripped a 3-and-1 fastball into the right-center gap for a double. In the fifth, Michael Saunders ripped a first-pitch fastball down the right-field line for a double. Neither Seager nor Saunders would score because of the first sentence of this paragraph, but at least there were doubles, and at least the doubles weren't hit by like Chone Figgins and Miguel Olivo. At least this way we get something positive from the youth. Both were very well struck. I was partial to Saunders' because I am an unabashed Michael Saunders fanboy, and now I'm finally getting to bloom. I'm like a peacock that was locked in a shed. Let me out! Let them see my colors!

  • With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Edwin Encarnacion doubled, and then he tried to steal third base and was thrown out. I don't have anything witty to say about this, I just didn't understand it at all. The Blue Jays' win expectancy with Encarnacion on second was 89.3%. The Blue Jays' win expectancy with Encarnacion on third would've been 89.6%. The Blue Jays' win expectancy after he was thrown out was 87.5%. That gives a break-even rate of about 86%. Encarnacion would've had to be at least 86% confident he could steal third base for that attempt to be worthwhile. I guess maybe the bigger point is that even after Encarnacion was thrown out, the Blue Jays' win expectancy was 87.5%. He made a weird decision, but it didn't really matter. Maybe by attempting a daring maneuver he was sending a message to the Mariners that they were so unlikely to win that Encarnacion was content to be careless on the bases.

  • For the second time this season, we saw Hisashi Iwakuma warm up and then actually enter instead of sit back down again. He allowed four runs over the course of his first nine pitches, and four of those nine pitches were intentional balls. Something tells me we're not going to see Hisashi Iwakuma again for a while. I don't necessarily blame him all that much for Encarnacion's grand slam - it came on a first-pitch fastball that I thought was in a pretty good spot low and away. And after that, Iwakuma recorded a pair of strikeouts and a grounder. But Kelly Johnson hit him hard, Jose Bautista hit him hard, Edwin Encarnacion hit him hard, and the Mariners' whole issue with Iwakuma is that he spent spring training getting hit hard. Iwakuma first pitched on April 20, and we didn't see him again until today even though his first appearance was good. How long is he going to have to wait now? Hisashi Iwakuma is nicknamed "Kuma", or "Bear", and now he'd probably be safe going into hibernation.

Tomorrow morning is Jason Vargas and Henderson Alvarez. Tomorrow morning is Sunday morning. Tomorrow morning will bring a baseball game featuring Jason Vargas and Henderson Alvarez as starting pitchers.

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