Welp...the Mariners lost today, but it wasn't quite the loss you may have expected. Well, in a way it was. The M's were riding two hits into the middle of the eighth, and Jason Vargas was showing his true colors through a difficult lineup that matched one Brad Miller and a Dustin Ackley against a lefty arm that has found its way to fifteenth all-time on the Mariners strikeout list behind a bunch of weirdos like Jim Beattie and Gil Meche and someone named Felix Hernandez.
Unfortunately, this Felix Hernandez was unavailable to pitch today, and the M's threw out Brandon Maurer, who was about as Brandon Maurer as you could've expected. He gave up a whopping fourteen hits in his seven innings pitched, including six total runs (four earned) with absolutely not a single strikeout. It's going to take a while for Maurer to notch up a few spots on the all-time Mariners strikeout list, but hey, what are you going to do.
Ultimately, it looked very little like the games we've been enjoying over the past few days. The Mariners challenged a call in the middle of the first inning, which thankfully went their way but ultimately didn't matter for the rest of the game despite scoring a run. And the scoring came early for the Royals, who ended the game with six runs to the Mariners' one, because aw hell why not. In fact, for a hot minute, it seemed like each top of the inning was a nice opportunity for a Royals run or two and each bottom was a nice cold Mariners swing-and-a-miss to send everyone home. The second Royals run came in the third after an Eric Hosmer sac fly that scored Alcides Escobar, who singled his way on base and stole second in a heartbeat because Brandon Maurer.
Then in the fourth, the Royals continued their run deluge. Johnny Giavotella reached thanks to yet another Brad Miller bobble, which scored a run and put a man on base without an out, and then the bases were set for a run-scoring double play only moments later. It kind of just continued like this throughout the night.
End of the day, the Mariners saw themselves with five hits on the evening, including an exciting James Jones double and then a bunch of oh-why-not-dribblers that you get to do every five days because baseball is weird. Jones' double, which ended up sending him to third thanks to weird defensive indifference/a sixth run eighth inning looked pretty sexy but ultimately meant quite little. Right before the play Dave Sims was rambling about the draft. Jones made his way to third and the Safeco crowd stood up in rapturous ecstasy. The game was now 6-1. Eh. Even the best baseball teams lose a bunch of games.
And that's the weirdest thing about this game. Had this been played the exact same way it was played in, oh, say mid 2013, it would be indicative of a terrible philosophy that saw high power/high strikeout hitters matched up against a fundamental lefty that knew how to get strikeouts and groundouts. Had this been in 2012, we would have found something awful that Chone Figgins did to damn the team and blow it all to hell. Had it been in 2011, Jason Vargas, who pitched against the M's today, would have pitched for the M's and blown something or other. But today's game was none of those things and was instead, just another lackluster loss in the middle of a season on a team that is actually playing pretty decent baseball.
In a way, I like to imagine it this way. The Mariners have won eighteen games this year. They have lost seventeen. They are going to lose, what, at least sixty-five more games by the end of the year? I mean, even at the most conservative estimate that feels accurate. That's a lot more losing. That's a lot more games like this. I could get mad, but...eh...this stuff happens.
End of the day, the Mariners lose, and it's not the end of the world. James Jones gets a pinch hit double that sends him to third in the eighth, Robinson Cano sneaks a hit out, Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley and Mike Zunino prove they still have gas in the tank, and somewhere, James Paxton is racking up bullpen pitches to come back and make a run in the majors. Tomorrow Chris Young faces the Royals at Safeco and it's not quite so exciting, but at the worst, the M's fall back to .500. When is the last time you were disappointed at the M's being at .500 in mid May?
I'll take it.
But forget me for a minute--tell me what you thought about today's game. Let's have a few comments of mini-recaps here: ~250 words, first to ninth inning, let's go. Give us your experience over the past nine innings. Lets do this together, because when losses become...well, meh's, then we have only good places to go from here. Annnnddd....go!