Now this is a loss I can get behind. Hear me out. Today the Seattle Mariners played the Baltimore Orioles, and lost 11-8. The Orioles are really good at baseball. Well, pretty good anyway, but ultimately, better than the Seattle Mariners. They currently sit in the last Wild-Card spot with a record of 61-49, so the postseason is a very real thing. Today's game mattered incredibly for the birds--barely hanging on to that spot and sitting 4.5 games back from AL East leader Boston. Between those two teams are the Rays, who also happen to sit between them in the Wild Card race. So basically the American League right now is Oakland, Detroit, and most of the AL East. Tonight's game mattered.
I have typed the words "lost season" too many times in the past few weeks to type it again, so--ah crap, I typed it again. But you get it. We get it. Even the Mariners probably get it to a certain degree. In lieu of another anecdotal description of the game, I'm going to talk about a few players and what they did tonight, what it could mean going forward through the rest of the 2013 season, and what it could mean for next year.
Aaron Harang: 5IP, 7H, 7ER, 2HR, 2BB, 1K's
Aaron Harang was shipped to Seattle with a few pages left on his 2012-13 two year contract. In November, he is going to become a free agent unless Jack Zduriencik is driven to drinking nail polish by watching the rest of this season and picks up Harang's $8M club option for 2014 once his brain is fried. Please, Jack. Take it easy.
But seriously. Aaron Harang blew it tonight, and meh, whatever. He was also placed on waivers today, but in August that usually means nothing. Out of everyone on this roster with a chance of being back next year, I feel absolutely confident in saying that Aaron Harang is the least likely to be wearing a Mariners uniform in April. With all the you-know-who's waiting in the ranks in Tacoma, and Joe Saunders with a club option for next year, Harang's spot and his 4.34 xFIP are going to take off for new grounds. So tonight? Whatever.
Brandon Maurer: 3IP, 4H, 4ER, 1HR, 2K's
This was a bit disconcerting. Here's what happened after Brandon Maurer walked out of Camden's bullpen:
1. J.J. Hardy single.
2. Henry Urrutia single. Hardy to 2nd.
3. Flaherty single, loading bases for Nate McClouth
4. What else do you think this list is leading up to? Go look it up.
Since coming back up from Tacoma to take over Hector Noesi's long relief role, Maurer appears to be back to his old self. This is a little disconcerting. He was alright on the 30th in Boston, giving up 2 runs and a dinger, but lasting three innings otherwise unscathed. All things being equal, today's outing from Maurer is the difference between the Mariners losing and Baltimore winning. If Maurer is going to be a reliever now, I guess it might be good to have him face a few high-pressure situations for a time when the games matter. But if all of his outings turn into high-pressure situations he put himself in, well...I don't really know what to say. Today might have been a step backward for Maurer, or at least a step back to where he was in May, sortof. I guess. Brandon Maurer will ostensibly be a part of this team's plans for quite some time, unless Jack Z manages to convince someone there is some unseen project in his arm that will translate into success in another town, in another bullpen, with another pitching coach. And now that I've typed this out, I think I've realized that this is exactly how that They-Leave-Us-And-Then-Get-Better meme gets started in this fanbase. Oh, Mariners. Keep doing you.
Kendrys Morales: 4-4, 1HR
The Mariners are on a 4-game losing streak, and over that very same period, Kendrys Morales has gone 13-17. That's kind of ridiculous. Those kind of numbers don't usually show up on teams that lose the very games they appear in. I guess, unless you are the Joe Mauer to your Minnesota Twins, the one bright light in a lineup that otherwise looks like a dark, bottomless void. But even if the Mariners keep Kendrys, he won't be the team's Joe Mauer. He also won't cost nearly as much as Mauer, but he probably isn't going to be kept on his same $5.2/1 contract he has now. I think a lot of us on this website would agree that if we somehow were able to sneak into Mariners HQ this winter and manage to pass ourselves off as high-level employees (don't know why nobody has thought of this plan before), we would slam Scott Boras' phone number down on the table every time Jack said the words "Michael Morse" and stare him down until he picked up his cell and dialed it.
Forget about future production, forget about next year. And we all know that Kendrys isn't going to put up numbers like this every night for the rest of the year, but if he lifts his average over .300 and keeps putting up consistent at bats, it would be a good thing for this year, next year, and more importantly--the offseason. We can debate if Kendrys should be extendrysed or not, but if he is, we've got a whole hell of a lot less stupid decisions on the table, stuff like giving up Nick Franklin, Taijuan Walker, and Stephen Pryor for Justin Upton. We got a gimme on that one. Lightning doesn't strike in the same place twice.
Michael Morse: 2-4, 1HR
You did a thing! I bet that feels nice. I hope you feel nice more often, Michael Morse.
Nick Franklin: 0-5, 2K's
We've all been asking ourselves when the right time to start worrying about Nick Franklin is and hell if I know. He has been striking out a lot, and today was no exception. He made contact in the 1st and 5th, first grounding out and then flying out. Then he grounded out in the top of the 9th to end the game. I still like watching Nick Franklin play baseball. He's figuring things out right now that you don't get to figure out in AAA, so not only is he right where he needs to be, but I don't feel worried at all. I remember Dave posting something earlier in the year about how we shouldn't be worried about Dustin Ackley, who at the time was riding a ridiculously unfair BABIP and still making good contact.
A lot of baseball has been played since that article was written, and without having him here to ask what he thinks about Dustin Ackley today, I feel pretty confident saying I know what I think of Dustin Ackley, and even Nick Franklin for that matter. It's actually just a stomachache not unlike what you felt like staying up all night on Christmas Eve as a kid, or waiting for a call back after getting a "we need to talk" text. After one of these things you got free toys. After the other, you're sleeping on the couch. But damn if the feeling doesn't feel pretty close between the two. I hope Nick Franklin is a gift-wrapped Nintendo 64.
So, it wasn't quite a thrilling victory, or a victory at all, for that matter. But today's 11-8 loss looked nothing like yesterday's astronomical collapse. Michael Saunders, Humberto Quintero, Kendrys Morales, and Michael Morse all hit home runs, but losing the game doesn't make them lesser home runs. Felix might have something to say about that.
And ultimately, tonight was kind of exactly what I expected a few months ago when Nick Franklin and Brad Miller came up and I jumped right on in the passenger seat of the play awful baseball but think about the future bus. Tomorrow, one of the main drivers of that bus takes the mound for the Mariners. He might crash it into a lake, but you know whatever. There are 53 games of baseball left. It sounds arduous right now, but by January you'll be missing the ever-loving-shit out of these guys. Don't forget that.