The Mariners spent the first part of the season finding new and unique ways to lose ballgames. First it was the 16-9 routing by the Houston Astros on April 9th. Then there were the three games in Cleveland with those stupid walkoffs and the gut-wrenching late throw home from Brendan Ryan that just--just missed getting the M's out of of trouble after Jesus Montero took his foot off the plate. And of course, it seems (at least right now because I'm still pissed off about it) as if Felix's implosion last night will be one of, if not The, most defining moments of the 2013 Seattle Mariners' season.
All this makes games like tonight's seem like just another movie we've all seen before. Hisashi Iwakuma has been one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, but I still couldn't help but watch the 3 home runs leave the walls of Safeco Field and just think oh well yeah I mean that makes sense because mariners.
Truth is, he didn't even pitch all that awful. He lasted 7 innings and didn't walk a single Athletics batter (ed. note- shout out to Bob Melvin for resting Jaso tonight so I could type that last sentence), and still threw 70 of his 98 pitches for strikes. And that was with this ol' friend rearing his head again:
Nathan talked about this a bit after Tuesday's victory over the Angels in Anaheim, and tonight's zone wasn't all that different. It's obnoxious, and the worst part is that I can't really think of a way to fix it beyond telling the infringing umpires to cut it out. How would you even enforce it league-wide when most umpires' strike zones are nebulous bubbles that change over the course of the game?
But although the LHH strike zone is certainly A Thing, the Mariners really lost tonight's game because Hisashi Iwakuma gave up home runs to Yoenis Cespedes, Jed Lowrie, and Coco Crisp. The Mariners lost tonight because Cespedes jumped on a Tom Wilhelmsen fastball in the top of the 9th for his second homer of the game, bringing the A's up to 6 runs and making that kid that got hit by Nick Franklin's bat feel true pain by seeing the universe for what it really is-cold, indifferent, upset at Jack Zduriencik for some reason. The Mariners lost because Bartolo Colon is a robot shaped like a box that somehow knows how to throw a baseball 90 MPH.
One of the worst parts of tonight's game was watching Kyle Seager and Michael Saunders make two baffling, inexplicable base-running brain-farts that got them thrown out in the 6th and 7th innings respectively. Rounding second after A's catcher Derek Norris went to pick up a passed ball, Kyle Seager took off for third with all the speed he could muster, turning his face in the direction of the home plate camera as he ran. You could actually pinpoint the exact moment he realizes he blew it, and after getting called out, he walked back dejectedly into the dugout, knowing full well Eric Wedge was going to do whatever it is Eric Wedge does when he gets mad.
It wasn't rated R for the whole game though. In the bottom of the 3rd inning, Nick Franklin hit his first Safeco homer off a 1-0 changeup from Colon, planting the Mariners' only three runs into the right field seats, about ten rows away from where Ichi-meter lady would sit. Franklin is quickly becoming one of my favorite Mariners to watch during whatever it is this season is, and seeing this on the same day that second-round draft pick Austin Wilson hit a few bombs in a pre-game BP visit surpasses my neocortex and goes right to the Feel part, and I start to forget about everything that has happened for the past four years. It's a vicious cycle, but that's why we do all of this in the first place isn't it?
Tomorrow evening, the Mariners take on the A's with Aaron Harang on the mound, versus Dan Straily. Straily was once considered a top prospect for the A's, putting up terrific strikeout numbers in the minors, averaging over 11 K/9 between AA and AAA ball in 2012. Since coming up to the majors (and improving his fastball, according to Athletics Nation's Alex Hall) he started giving up dingers by the bucketful. It's probably just indicative of a young pitcher learning to hit his spots better against big-league hitters, but I know this is probably going to mean more Raul Ibanez and now I'm going to just shut up and enjoy it because why bother complaining at this point.
Go M's! Dingers!