This morning, every Mariners beat writer tweeted and wrote a bunch of interesting stats and dates about the last time the team swept the Texas Rangers in Arlington. It was determined that the last time this happened was in 2002, and although the Rangers had put out a pretty crappy series of teams during a few of those years, they have been stupid good as of late. So the thought of the Mariners coming to Texas to take every hit out of the Rangers' bats in a 2013 series featuring Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler, and Nelson Cruz was naive at worst, silliness at best.
Then, sometime around 11:45 AM, Eric Wedge emerged from the visitors clubhouse under Rangers' Ballpark with a lineup card that included Henry Blanco and Brendan Ryan because Platoon Splits. Hisashi Iwakuma took the mound sometime around 5:10 PST, and the following things happened:
- Adrian Beltre hit a home run off Hisashi Iwakuma in the bottom of the 2nd during a 6-pitch at bat. After grounding out in the 4th, he came up and hit another home run in the bottom of the 7th. Iwakuma has been giving up a lot of homers lately--7 in his last 4 starts--but 2 of them came today against someone who is really good at hitting baseballs, so I don't know how much we need to be worried. Still, if the AL's WHIP leader were to hypothetically go strike out every single batter in the American League while giving up dingers to the top 10 hitters during each of their at-bats, you would start to get worried. Excuses can only go as far as the words can last, and while Kuma has been dominant all year, his past couple of starts have been quite different from his first ones. I don't know what to think. Someone answer this for me.
- Raul Ibanez hit a home run off a left-handed pitcher. That's all I'm going to say about Raul Ibanez in this game recap.
- If any inning of this game was indicative of a larger truth about the 2013 Seattle Mariners, it was the deciding inning of the 7th, which saw the aforementioned Beltre home run and 3 more runs following a Charlie Furbush hack-job and Danny Farquhar throwing three cut fastballs to Ian Kinsler and David Murphy to end the inning. The last of his pitches left Murphy's bat to eventually find Brendan Ryan, who quickly and surprisingly threw home, completing a double play to get Leonys Martin out with a textbook Brendan Ryan play that I'm going to miss quite a bit in a month. My favorite Brendan Ryan moments rank as follows: 1) Calling Felix "Fi-fi," 2) That incredible behind-Kyle-Seager play that saved Felix's perfect game, and 3) Hitting that home run in Arizona last year and dropping an F-bomb on the ROOT Sports feed before they could block it out. If tonight was one of his last starts in a Seattle Mariners' uniform, what a way to go out: with spectacular defensive showmanship in a heartbreaking loss that seemed surmountable but was realistically out of their reach for half of the game.
- In the sixth inning, Endy Chavez grounded straight to Rangers' second baseman Ian Kinsler, who tagged Justin Smoak between 1st and 2nd without the ball in his glove. The umpire called Smoak out, much to Eric Wedge's chagrin, but the play worked, and it would be the one run that kept the Rangers in the lead. In the middle of Texas' run in the 7th, Nick Franklin caught a Leonys Martin grounder and didn't take the ball out of his glove when he tried to tag Mitch Moreland out between 1st and 2nd. Moreland unintentionally knocked the ball out of Franklin's glove as he was running, and the play was scored as an error for Franklin. Some people compared the two plays to one another, but you know what? Nick Franklin didn't try and cheat, and he is awesome, and calls his glove "The Black Panther," and although he has kind of obnoxious facial hair, um...I'm out of things to say about him other than I like Nick Franklin. This game was a bummer.
Outside of everything that happened on the field tonight, here is the one truly important thing we found out about America tonight during out nation's 237th (though some would say 224th) birthday:
This is a real hot dog they serve at Rangers' Ballpark in Arlington, Texas. It's as big as my entire torso. Here's another stupid picture of this Awful Thing that really exists:
That's like nine pounds of caramelized onions spread out over pure Velveeta cheese sploozed out from a retail-grade plastic tube. In the winter of 1777, general George Washington and his American soldiers ate pepper soup and chunks of bread to survive the cold at Valley Forge, waiting for a day when their efforts would be immortalized in the annals of history for all of Mankind to remember. Facing death, Washington famously recalled that "unless some great and capital change suddenly takes place...this Army must inevitably...starve, dissolve, or disperse, in order to obtain subsistence in the best manner they can."
Between the top and bottom of the 7th inning tonight, a man named Andrew Morton stood up in his Josh Hamilton jersey after the Rangers' PA announcer prefaced the 7th inning stretch. He looked down at his green socks being squished between his toes and his Birkenstocks, and when the singer began to give tribute to America on the great occasion of its birthday, suddenly remembered he forgot to take his hat off. Reaching up to his head, he accidentally spilled some cheese from this four-foot long hot dog on his jersey. Crap he thought. Not again. Not again. But then he looked up to the flag, waving defiantly in the temperate Texas breeze. He saw the scoreboard reading 1-3 Mariners. No. Not tonight, he thought, as he looked down at his Hamilton jersey, now dripping in processed yellow goop. He lifted his voice in unison with the 46,476 Texans and began to sing:
God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
He thought about the one game playoff in October 2012 against the Baltimore Orioles, where Joe Saunders dashed the last hopes of the Rangers' playoff dreams, and Josh Hamilton was baptized in an ocean of boos from the Arlington crowd. Andrew Morton looked down at his jersey. He thought of the 2013 Los Angeles Angels. He remembered the strikeouts, and saw, two rows below, a woman wearing an oversized blue Jurickson Profar jersey. Then he saw the dejected faces in the Mariners' dugout, as they knew that they were about to blow another game, even though they held the lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning. He thought he understood pain, he thought he understood defeat. He didn't. The Rangers were going to win. He continued to sing.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.
God bless America, My home sweet home.