Aaron Sele got the win, Jeff Nelson recorded an important hold, and Pat Borders smacked a solo shot that would end up being the difference in the game. For one day, the Mariner strategy was executed flawlessly.
In lieu of a typical game recap, for which I have neither the time nor the subject material, I'll present to you a wrap-up straight out of the Baseball Book o' Cliches, in press conference form. Try to spot the difference between the book and Mike Hargrove! Oh, and there's also this thing:
That seventh inning swing was one of the more dramatic sequences of events that we've seen so far this season. With two on and none out, Travis Lee lined a double that made it a 3-2 game and put runners on second and third. At that point, Tampa Bay was in good position to take the lead and win the game. Instead, Josh Phelps hit into a fielder's choice and Aubrey Huff was gunned down at home, leaving men on first and second with one out and boosting our odds of winning right back up by more than 20%. The inning would end quickly thereafter, and the Devil Rays would mount nary a charge for the rest of the game.
The offense was pretty much garbage yet again, collecting five hits and needing an Alex Gonzalez error to get on the board. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the four pitchers who made an appearance finished in places 1 through 4 in terms of Win Probability Added, with Aaron Sele finishing #1. He spun another good one, needing just 80 pitches to get through 6.2 innings and only really getting in trouble because of a Willie Bloomquist throwing error. Behind him, in order of importance, were Guardado, Nelson, and Villone, who combined to throw 2.1 perfect innings of relief. Whether you're a homer-prone middle reliever or a starter struggling with your command, the Devil Rays will always be able to cure what ails you, with a level of offensive aggressiveness bordering on the self-defeating. The most important play of the game was actually Travis Lee's double (-30.2%), but Phelps' fielder's choice that followed (+20.6%) made up for much of the damage. The best thing to come off the bat of a Mariner was Pat Borders' no-doubt-about-it home run, which registered at +12.9%. If you're a pitcher, how do you sleep at night knowing that Pat friggin' Borders pulled your fastball into the left field seats?
Anyway, time for a post-game press conference with the book of cliches:
Reporter: "Tell us a little bit about what you saw from Aaron Sele today."
Mgr. Book: "I thought Aaron looked real good today. He knew what he wanted to do out there, and he did it. You know, it all starts with strike one, and he was throwing pretty well early in the count. He really made his pitches."
Reporter: "Pat Borders has now caught each of Sele's last two terrific starts. What do you think he's brought to the team so far?"
Mgr. Book: "Well, y'know, Patty's been around baseball for a while. I think he has a lot of experience and he's played with younger guys before, so he's a pretty good teacher. He brings some maturity and level-headedness to the clubhouse, and today, I think he just called the right pitches at the right time. You expect that from a guy like Pat, he does a real good job of connecting with the pitcher."
Reporter: "What can you say about Eddie Guardado? He's been real sharp of late."
Mgr. Book: "Eddie, he had some problems early in the year, but we all had confidence that he'd turn it around, because he had confidence in himself. Y'know, he's been around this game for a while and he knows what you need to get the job done in the ninth, and he's been doing that a lot for us lately. He really made his pitches, staying lower in the zone."
Reporter: "What about the fact that he allowed two fly balls, one of them hit hard to the track in deep center?"
Mgr. Book: "Eddie did his job out there. He had a plan of letting the guys behind him do the work, and he executed."
Reporter: "Willie Bloomquist had a rough day, going hitless at the plate, making a mistake on the basepaths, and committing an error that started a dangerous rally. What do you have to say about his performance?"
Mgr. Book: "Willie, he's got the right attitude, and he keeps his head up. With Willie, you know that when he makes a mistake, he'll come right back the next time, because he loves to play the game. He brings a lot of energy to the team when he's in the lineup, and is real good at doing those little things like running the bases and dropping down a bunt. So I don't think today means anything in the long run, he'll be right back out there in a day or two."
Reporter: "How about Bret Boone? He's been in a bit of a funk for the past week or so."
Mgr. Book: "Bret's a candyass."
Reporter: "Can you lend any insight into why Adrian Beltre hasn't really hit so far?"
Mgr. Book: "Adrian's had some rough at bats, but he's still right on pace to drive in his 90-100 runs, so I don't think it's fair to say that he's not hitting. He's in a new place, facing new pitchers in a new league, so you really need to give him some time to figure out what he needs to do to succeed. Adrian, though, he's a professional, and he'll do what needs to be done."
Reporter: "Have you considered dropping him down in the lineup to try and get him going?"
Mgr. Book: "Right now, Adrian just needs to be comfortable, and moving him all over the lineup isn't going to do that. Besides, we're happy with what he's done, and he's probably saved about 20-30 runs already with his glove down there. He's not getting down on himself and he's contributing both on the field and in the clubhouse, and I think he's really going to heat up pretty soon."
Reporter: "Thanks for your time, Mr. Book. Good luck tomorrow."
Mgr. Book: "Tomorrow's another day, and as long as we take this one game at a time, I think we can climb back into this thing."
Joel Pineiro against Doug Waechter bright and early tomorrow morning (11:15am PDT).