I love the Coen brothers. I say this both as a person studying film at a University and as a person who just likes to watch a good movie now and then. The Coens always find ways to breathe life into the most unlikely of characters, then pit them inside some surreal and bizarre nightmare beyond their control, echoing classical Greek literature, Kafka, or even Raymond Chandler detective novels from the 1930's. The point is that their films are always about more than just the stories themselves, which are borrowed from archetype out of time. They are about people doing things, strange things and uncomfortable things, sometimes finding meager moments of beauty but more often than not realizing that the great, dark, unknown is staring back at them like a dung beetle rolling along in the solitary expanse of the Mojave desert.
See, that's also kind of the Mariners story, isn't it? I can't help but feel the spirit of the Mariners' long and storied history would make a good Coen brothers film, wrought with despair and bleak pessimism broken up by few moments of surreal joy and earnest hope. Today, they won a game against the Minnesota Twins, making it a nice little moment of joy. The rest of the story has yet to play itself out, but if I've learned anything from watching Walter Sobchak accidentally dump the ashes of a human being into the wind and onto The Dude, it's that well, just enjoy a win when you get one, you ungrateful idiot.
Felix Hernandez had himself a pretty good day, and it appears he finally has either gained back those nine pounds he lost or figured out how to pitch without them. Before the game, Rick Waits said that he told Felix to go eat a bunch of steaks every night in between starts, and I for one think that's actually really terrible advice. Everyone knows that consuming too much red meat increases ones risk for heart disease, and besides, steaks are really expensive. I know he signed that big contract extension and everything, but come on, man.
The King lasted eight innings today, giving up seven hits and only two runs. He struck out five Twins hitters and only had one walk, and was looking pretty sharp all day, but not quite as dominant as he can be. Which, you know, it's a long season, May, etc blah blah blah and so on.
The game was at blanks until the third inning, when Felix walked Aaron Hicks to start off the inning. It was a nice walk. Look.
Nice. Nice. Then, an overturned force play from Danny Santana, who was awarded with a single. The newly-dreaded Brian Dozier struck out, and the runners advanced a moment later on a wild pitch from Felix. After Joe Mauer struck out, the two runners were sent in on a Trevor Plouffe rocket to center, and the game was 2-0 Twins. Another early lead. Small but seemingly insurmountable. As scheduled. Hang up your hats.
But no! The Mariners decided to reach deep into their pockets and find a little extra gas, and scored in every remaining inning of the game except for the eighth. In the fourth, it was Robinson Cano, who rocketed a 3-1 pitch into centerfield followed by a walk to Cory Hart. Justin Smoak lined out, sending Cano to third, and up walked Kyle Seager. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Hart noticed Cano standing on third and got a little jealous. Hm. 240 million dollars tagging up being all athletic huh? So he did the seemingly unthinkable, and took off for second. Perennially-injured sasquatchean Corey Hart digging in for second on a breaking ball from Ricky Nolasco. Thing is, he was safe. Other thing is, that he pulled his hamstring in the process, and didn't even wait for a trainer to walk out of the dugout before calling it a day, barely able to stand to his feet. A few moments later, Bob Dutton tweeted that Franklin was pulled from his start in Tacoma. I don't know what a Coen brothers baseball movie would be like, but I can guarantee something like this would fit right in one.
It was a pretty productive rest of the inning, and eventually Brad Miller made his way up to the plate with the bases loaded. He struck out and looked kind of silly doing it. There's not much else to say about this that hasn't already been said, so I'm just going to recommend you watch Fargo and think about William H. Macy, and our poor butt-of-a-cosmic-joke-of a shortstop.
Speaking of Fargo and William H. Macy, the reason I brought up the Coen brothers in the first place is that a)this game took place in Minnesota and b) I'm pretty sure Jerry Lundegaard was at the game today. It was in the sixth inning, and the Mariners had scored three runs over the past two innings to take the lead. Ricky Nolasco was done, destroyed by a surprisingly effective Mariners offense, and was replaced by Twins' reliever Anthony Swarzak, who promptly put Dustin Ackley on base with a few misplaced fastballs. Ackley got to second on a Mike Zunino groundout, and up walked Brad Miller, who basically had an 0-2 count before he even stepped into the batter's box. But then it was like something clicked. He decided he wasn't going to swing his way back to Tacoma, deciding to lay off a few pitches. That, or Swarzak just fell apart. Regardless, by the time it was 2-2, Swarzak was waiting a good half-minute between pitches, caught in his own Kafkaesque nightmare of being unable to strike out Brad Miller.
Suddenly, a gift. A beautiful, rapturous voice echoing down from the heavens. Some voice with the thickest Minneeesohtaaa accent you could ever imagine seemingly stood up next to the press box and cupped his hands over Dave Sims' mic and decided right then and there that he was going to have his moment of glory. It was Jerry Lundegaard himself, in the flesh, trying to enjoy a baseball game but still squashed under the eternal thumb of bad luck.
"Why are ya waistin yur time, go out there and getim!"
A brief moment of transendence, tangible and present--then...gone. Brad Miller walked and the Mariners scored a run with a deep fly ball from Michael Saunders. All the runners advanced, and then Brad Miller got caught up on the basepaths and was needlessly thrown out by a mile. Meanwhile, Jerry looked on from the stands, smiling. Finally, it was someone else playin the gol durned fool. Darn Tootin.
The Mariners did a whole bunch of neat things over the last few innings, which included but were not limited to Justin Smoak doubles, Mike Zunino singles, and an actual red-blooded sacrifice bunt that was kind of useful. They won the game 6-2 today after Rodney closed out the ninth, and finally put an end to their four-game losing streak that was bound to get worse if it didn't get better. That's impressive. Oh, and Robinson Cano was 4-5 on the day. No big deal.
Tomorrow is a day off, and then the Mariners head to Arlington for a two game series against the Rangers. I'm sorry if I spoiled any of these Coen brothers movies here, but they've been out for like fifteen years, so I think the ball is in your court on this one. Watch one Monday or something if you're upset.