A chronological rundown of the Mariners' most exciting or otherwise satisfying victories of the season:
-April 14th: Down 4-0, Ichiro and Jose Lopez power M's to eventual 9-5 comeback win
-April 20th: Carl Everett three-run walkoff homer caps off five-run ninth inning rally against Ranger bullpen
-April 24th: Yuniesky Betancourt's eleventh inning walkoff single erases the memory of Brian Anderson's tying homer in the ninth
-May 8th: Jose Lopez helps M's erase late 3-1 deficit to beat Tampa Bay 6-3
-May 13th: Richie Sexson blasts a go-ahead thirteenth inning homer to lead the M's to a 5-4 comeback win over the Angels on their own turf
-May 21: M's use eight-run second inning to overcome a shaky start by Felix Hernandez to earn a sweep against the rival Padres
-June 7th: Another Carl Everett walkoff homer - this time in the eleventh - helps everyone forget about Minnesota's five-run eighth
-June 11th: Felix Hernandez's first career complete game nails down M's sweep of Angels in Anaheim
-June 17th: JJ Putz strikes out Barry Bonds as the tying run with two outs in the ninth to preserve a 5-4 win over San Francisco
-June 21: M's erase late 5-2 deficit by rallying for six runs against the Dodger bullpen. Win pulls team to within one game of .500
-June 25th: Eighth inning tie-breaking homer by Richie Sexson leads M's to 9-4 win in San Diego
-June 27th: Four-run ninth leads M's to 11-7 win in Arizona and a .500 record
-June 30th: Raul Ibanez and Yuniesky Betancourt lead ninth inning rally against Jorge Julio, wrapping up a series sweep in the desert and pulling the M's to two games over .500
-July 1st: Ichiro leads the M's to a remarkable comeback from a 7-2 deficit and a narrow victory over Colorado
-July 19th: Mark Lowe escapes a jam in the seventh, and Raul Ibanez's eighth inning sac fly gives the M's a 3-2 win in the Bronx after a great start by Gil Meche
-July 23rd: Richie Sexson's leadoff/walkoff homer ends a wild affair and gives the M's a thrilling series win over the Red Sox
I don't know which was the best, but today's game has to be way up there. It was the kind of game that makes you think about this 47-51 team in a way that you usually wouldn't expect from fans of a 47-51 team, that the M's are perfectly capable of hanging with the big boys in the league, and that maybe they're not quite out of the race after all. I mean, what's four games, really? It's been this long and still nobody has bothered to run away with the division, so why not the Mariners?
Presumably I'll come to my senses tomorrow morning and realize that Seattle's still a longshot to see October baseball, but for the time being, today was one hell of an important win. All of a sudden the M's are a series win against Toronto away from finishing at least 6-6 on the most difficult two-week stretch of schedule they'll face all season, and you can't help but think that's pretty encouraging. I'm not ready to punt 2006 as a lost cause quite yet.
We're not coming back every day because we feel obligated; we're coming back every day becuase it's late July and the Mariners actually have the chance to do something. That's neat.
Biggest Contribution: Richie Sexson, +32.3%
Biggest Suckfest: Julio Mateo, -23.6%
Most Important Hit: Sexson homer, +36.5%
Most Important Pitch: Varitek homer, -36.2%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -49.1%
Total Contribution by Position Players: +65.1%
You'll note that over the past two days the Mariners have accumulated a sum total of just 39.6% of Win Probability Added, when they needed 100.0% to get the pair of victories. The reason for this is that the vaunted Boston defense (referred to by many people as "the best in baseball" because of its fielding percentage) pretty much handed the games to Seattle on a silver platter. Observe:
Gonzalez throwing error that hit Perez: +21.2%
Cora/Crisp bad communication: +5.2%
Ramirez slides and kicks Johjima's double: +8.8%
Crisp/Ramirez screw up Beltre's "homer": +25.2%
(I gave Beltre credit for a triple on the play, but there's no way he would've been able to score had it not been for some terrifyingly awful defense.)
Think about it - the Mariners only "earned" 40% of these two wins; Boston gave them the rest. I actually don't know if it's more satisfying to pummel the Red Sox or to let them pummel themselves, but I suppose I'm in no position to complain. By all means, Boston, feel free to keep this up for the rest of the summer.
Anyway, I had a whole recap written up and just about ready to publish when I tried to load up MLB.tv to double-check something. However, instead of loading up MLB.tv, my computer decided to freeze everything and require a reboot, resulting in the loss of everything I wrote. What's above this paragraph is the stuff I bothered to re-write, but I'm going to be honest, there's nothing in the world more frustrating than losing a post, and I just don't have the will to do it all over again. Sorry. Instead I'll just leave you with these pictures from Yahoo! to give you happy dreams and a pleasant Monday (after the jump):
(Not as happy, but still hilarious, is this shot of JJ Putz post-homer. No, I'm not worried. You shouldn't be, either. Keep in mind that the homer was preceded by strikeouts of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. The bomb came on a slider that wasn't located very well, which shouldn't come as much of a surprise considering it's arguably JJ's worst pitch. I don't know why Kenji called for a pitch that breaks right into a left-handed batter's wheelhouse, but whatever, he's the catcher, and I'm just some guy.)
Joel Pineiro and Casey Janssen tomorrow at 7:05pm PDT. Keep it going.