Mariners Nearly Lose By Less Than Six; Lose By Six

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Let's begin by agreeing that it doesn't make sense to pass judgment on attendance. So the A's aren't drawing very well, and they haven't drawn very well for a while. The Rays know what's up. A lot of people critically refer to that as being "embarrassing," but really, who cares? There are perfectly valid reasons for why people don't show up. The A's have their die-hard fans and their more casual fans, just like everyone else. If there are a lot of A's fans who don't go to the ballpark, so what? If the A's just have a really small core fan base, so what? It isn't "embarrassing" that the A's struggle to draw. It is what it is. It strains the business side of things for the organization, but a crowd is a crowd and what's relevant is what takes place before it.

Now then, obviously, the A's are in the thick of the playoff race. They occupy a commanding position, having really taken off in the second half of the season. Two Fridays ago, they hosted the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles were and are a wild-card rival -- it's 2012! -- and that evening the A's made big news because they sold more than 35,000 tickets. A big letdown followed on Saturday and Sunday, but they still cleared 20,000 each time. There were signs that the A's were going to get more ballpark support, as the team fought to extend its season.

After that weekend series against the Orioles, the A's went on the road and stayed in front of the race. Tonight happened to be their first night back, as the A's hosted the Mariners and looked to preserve their lead. Officially, a total of 16,376 tickets were sold. Fewer people than that actually showed up, which always goes without saying. Playing the Mariners doesn't mean what playing the Orioles meant, and that's part of a sentence that I just typed, but you'd think the A's could've done better than this. It was a Friday night, it was a winnable game, and the A's are closing in on a one-game playoff berth. The best explanation I've got is that A's fans were aware of the Blake Beavan thing and just elected not to bother.

Similar to how many of us just elected not to bother. I should say many of you, because I bothered, for some reason. We figured that Blake Beavan against the A's on a Friday night would be fairly uninteresting. It seems A's fans felt the same way. Be critical of the Oakland attendance if you want, but realize you're being critical of people for not paying to see Blake Beavan pitch. It's like when people are critical of bandwagon fans. When you actually pause to understand the thought process, it's perfectly sensible. Don't be so reactionary.

Blake Beavan faced the A's on a Friday night in late September, and the Mariners lost by six. Of the two teams, the Mariners aren't the one playing for something, so I'll forgive you if you bail on this recap right now. Honestly I'm shocked you made it this far. If I could have you for two more minutes, though, I will highlight two positives. First, here's Trayvon Robinson against A.J. Griffin in the top of the second:

Robinsonhrcf

Good job staying back on a breaking ball, right? But maybe a little too much loft? Trayvon Robinson hit that ball out of the yard to straightaway center field. It only barely eluded a leaping Coco Crisp, but it did still elude him, and we're talking about straightaway center in Oakland's home ballpark. That is not a cheap home run by any means, and that is not a home run I knew that Trayvon Robinson was capable of hitting. That's a power hitter's home run. Robinson's overall numbers are pretty poor and he's got obvious holes in his game, but, look, weird and impressive dinger, one that no one saw coming. After that home run the game was tied for several minutes, and a glorious several minutes they were.

Later, Michael Saunders hit a home run, to the right side of center field. He hit it off a lefty, and more specifically, he hit it off Sean Doolittle, who this season has been outstanding. Saunders is now one home run back of the team lead, and he's two home runs shy of being a 20/20 guy, but three home runs in front of being a 15/20 guy. Everybody can hit statistical milestones if you simply re-define the statistical milestones. This was also Saunders' first home run since he saw his own newborn baby, so he probably nicknamed the baseball "baby", which is stupid. Why nickname the baseball? Why not nickname it the actual name of the baby instead of just "baby"? Canadians.

So, those were positives. Also, Justin Smoak lined a single batting lefty, and ripped a would-be home run just foul. Jesus Montero lined into a couple outs, and those are short-term positives that will be forgotten when we simply look at his year-end batting average. Hector Noesi of all people turned in some shutdown relief, retiring five batters and striking out three of them. He put away Jonny Gomes on three pitches. He whiffed George Kottaras with a wicked changeup. He froze Stephen Drew with a changeup. Noesi always had some focus and immaturity concerns, and he was called into an 8-2 ballgame. The opportunity was there for Noesi to just not give a shit for a while. Instead he threw some of his best pitches of the season and now I don't dread his next appearance so much? I knew I kept watching this game for some reason. I kept watching this game so I could watch Hector Noesi in mop-up relief.

It's odd that the Mariners have now homered in 17 games in a row. That's the second-longest streak in franchise history, behind 1999's 19. Seven of these 17 games have taken place in Safeco Field. That streak in September 1999 included 11 games in Safeco Field. The Mariners never had a streak this long in their Kingdome days. They did have a streak of 16 in their Kingdome days, and 16 is almost 17. But 16 isn't 17. If it were, it would be 17, and then when people were counting out loud, they'd say "...14...15...17...17...18..." Or maybe they wouldn't repeat the 17. I don't know what they would do because that is a different reality.

So those are paragraphs of positives and semi-positives following a game the Mariners lost by six. They didn't have to lose by six -- they didn't have to lose at all -- but they did, with the game coming apart in the bottom of the seventh. Charlie Furbush loaded the bases with a pair of walks and an infield single. Stephen Pryor subsequently brought home a run by walking Yoenis Cespedes, which six months ago I didn't think could be done. Two batters later, Dustin Ackley had a chance to throw a runner out at home, but instead he threw no one out anywhere, and then Josh Donaldson grounded a two-run single back up the middle. Donaldson's single is what made this a blowout, but the game felt lost before then so Donaldson's single functioned as more of an annoying delay than anything else.

In his start, Blake Beavan threw 86 pitches and missed four bats. He found the fattest part of two bats, meaning his home-run-to-swinging-strike ratio on the night was 0.5. It's not technically impossible to succeed like that and as a matter of fact I'd like to see a guy try so kudos to Blake Beavan, in the noble name of science. Beavan finished with two strikeouts and they were back-to-back, with Donaldson whiffing and Seth Smith then whiffing in the bottom of the fourth. Donaldson's at-bat lasted three pitches and featured two swinging strikes, and Smith's at-bat lasted 11 pitches and featured one foul tip. So in the contest between Josh Donaldson and Seth Smith, neither won, because both of them struck out against Blake Beavan.

Beavan's strikeouts over his last ten starts:

4
2
4
3
2
1
1
2
2
2

There was a time earlier this season at which I entertained the possibility that Blake Beavan could be different. Turns out it was me who was different, because that version of me was willing to entertain the possibility that Blake Beavan could be different. I'm back to normal now. Beavan never changed. You always think consistency would be a good thing in sports until you realize some of the ways in which a player can be consistent.

Tomorrow afternoon, Jason Vargas opposes Dan Straily. If the Mariners win, great, the Mariners won! If the Mariners lose, haha Angels, shouldn't have been counting on the Mariners. You got yourselves in this mess. Maybe shouldn't have waited until the end of April to call up Mike Trout. Welp!

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