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Today's wrap-up is brought to you by the kind folks at Google. I was going to post a picture of me punching myself in the balls but I figure Swisher's home run already gave them enough of a beating for one night.

Biggest Contribution: Mark Lowe, +19.9%
Biggest Suckfest: Rafael Soriano, -42.8%
Most Important At Bat: Broussard homer, +17.7%
Most Important Pitch: Swisher homer, -53.5%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -38.3%
Total Contribution by Position Players: -11.7%

(What the fuck is this?)

It's taken a while to get here, but I think I'm finally at the point where losing just doesn't faze me anymore. I mean, obviously I'd prefer that the Mariners knock it off and start playing better baseball, if only to reassure me that I'm not completely wasting my time, but in the end I just feel different now than I did a month or two ago. The rationalizations kick in almost instantly - the wins don't matter anyway, the loss hurt the Angels, it'd be a shame to see this streak end when it's so close to the record, and so on and so forth. I don't sit here motionless because I'm too blinded by anger and frustration to type; I sit here motionless because I've written about Mariner losses so many times that I don't even know what to say anymore. All these games are running together.

It sucked when Swisher went yard in the eighth, but it's not like I was doubled over in agony like you'd expect me to be. I saw the hit, I frowned, and I moved on. If the Mariners came back in the ninth, great. If they fell short in part due to a puzzling substitution, whatever, I'll get over it. This team has just completely desensitized me to the emotional highs and lows of being a baseball fan. Now I feel like a sarcastic zombie, mindlessly wandering the streets, feeding on snark, and maintaining an impassive expression on my face because, being dead, I've lost the ability to feel feelings. The season's over in less than seven weeks. And I, for one, can't wait.

(Completely unrelated side note: a year ago today, I spent the bulk of the game wrap-up bitching about Gil Meche's nature as a tease, Julio Mateo's extreme flyball tendencies, and Mike Hargrove's lack of imagination. Some things never change. Unfortunately.)

Baseball makes me a sad panda, so let's just get right to the bullet points:

  • Between Broussard's homer against a lefty and Willie's homer against anyone, it just felt like this was the game that would finally break Oakland's streak. Unable to defeat the A's under any normal circumstances, the Mariners would need something extraordinary, and that's exactly what they got. Twice. At least, that's the way it felt while I was watching. Looking back, though, I should've known better - those two homers were just setting the stage for a heartbreaking meltdown by the one strength on the team. You see, like everything else on the planet, this losing streak is evolving, going from the one-sided pitcher's duels of April to games of the more nerve-wracking, dramatic variety in August. Even God gets bored with routine. In hindsight this game played out almost perfectly, and since the winning homer came in the eighth instead of the ninth, there's still room for further evolution in the future. Sorry, JJ, but it's out of your hands.
  • Seriously. Willie. In 35 career at bats against Barry Zito, he's got a .286/.324/.514 batting line with a pair of homers; in 801 career at bats against everyone else, he's got a .258/.313/.326 batting line with another pair of homers. Tonight's bomb wasn't cheap, either, as Willie deposited an offspeed pitch over the inner half a good 30-40 feet beyond the left-center fence. I'm being completely serious when I say it might've been the hardest-hit ball of his professional career. That alone is hilariously awesome, but even hilariously...awesomer...was the scene when Willie returned to the dugout after running the bases, where he got the cold shoulder treatment and gave air-high fives to no one.

    Also pictured, from left to right, are (A) obscured man with jacket, (B) Jarrod Washburn, the only guy on the team who actually gave Willie a high five because he's glad to see him finally hitting someone else for a change, (C) Jeff Pentland, who's having a rather jowly chuckle over what just took place before his eyes, and (D) a life-size wax replica of Mike Hargrove, which has stood in Grover's place in Major League dugouts ever since his untimely passing in September 2003.

  • A Moment in the Life of Greg Dobbs:

    Dobbs (to himself): Damn, I look good.
    Dobbs (to himself): Whoever put a mirror in this end of the dugout was a genius.
    Dobbs (to himself): Looks like I was just poured into this jersey.
    Dobbs (to himself): And who can resist my swing? Just like Johnny O, man, just like Johnny O.
    Dobbs (to himself): Great swing, solid body, job in the big leagues...yep, everything's coming up Dobber.
    Wax Hargrove Replica: Dobbs, you're up.
    Dobbs: What?
    Wax Hargrove Replica: You're hitting for Yuni.
    Dobbs (to himself): This is you, Dobber, this is what you're good at.
    Dobbs (approaching plate): Hey Kendall, don't call the wrong pitch! Ha ha!
    Kendall: Whatever queer.
    Duchscherer: throws ball over 90 miles per hour
    Dobbs: Curses!
    Duchscherer: throws ball over 90 miles per hour
    Dobbs: Good heavens that's fast!
    Duchscherer: throws ball over 90 miles per hour
    Duchscherer: throws ball over 90 miles per hour, induces groundout to shortstop
    Dobbs (agonized): Pitching, my only weakness!
    Wax Hargrove Replica: Nice job. Willie, you're up.
    Bloomquist: Wait, this guy doesn't throw left-handed.

  • I've said it before and I'll say it again - Yuniesky Betancourt is an awful and borderline pathetic base-stealer. Let's review his success rates at every level:

    Cuba: 54.4%
    San Antonio: 63.2%
    Tacoma: 58.3%
    Seattle: 50.0%

    This year he's 10-for-18, with a cumulative Win Probability Added of -.105 for his attempts. Put simply, he's not helping the team when he runs. I don't know why this is - maybe he gets bad leads, has a lousy first step, or struggles to read the pitcher - but until he gets things figured out, there's no reason for him to be running unless the ball's already in play. He's fast enough that he can still contribute with his legs without trying to steal by picking up triples or scoring from second on singles. The whole deal is only a minor nuisance since Betancourt doesn't take off all that often, but like many things pertaining to Mike Hargrove's managerial ability, it's a little, completely unnecessary problem that only serves to frustrate everyone watching while offering little in the way of upside. I'm looking at you, frequent hit-and-runs...

  • Ben Broussard has three home runs in four days and is slugging .500 as a Mariner. He's good.
  • Jarrod Washburn is the exact same pitcher he was a year ago. Literally. His strikeout rate's the same, his walk rate's the same, his GB/FB's the same, his BABIP's the same, his HR-per-flyball rate's the same...you see where I'm going with this. The only difference? A full 110 points of ERA, which can be almost solely attributed to the fact that Washburn is no longer stranding runners at the freakishly anomalous rate that he did a year ago. He allowed the same number of baserunners in 2005 as he is this season, but managed to escape due to some timely pitching (.279 BAA with bases empty, .267 with men on, .238 w/RISP). Unfortunately for Jarrod, "clutch" pitching isn't a skill that he's demonstrated over the span of his career, so 2006's regression has brought his ERA back into line with his peripherals. With that pesky "3.20" out of the picture, now everyone can see Jarrod Washburn for what he truly is - an incredibly overpaid #4/5 starter with zero potential to improve as he ages. Thank goodness he's only under contract for next year and the year after that and the year after that.

Now an announcement - Thursday morning I'm going to be headed out of town for a quick weekend road trip that'll take me to Angels Stadium and AT%T Park, and I won't be back until Monday or Tuesday. I couldn't bear the thought of leaving you guys all alone for the duration of the four-game Anaheim series, though, so I've brought in a substitute - for as long as I'm gone, I'll be leaving you in the very capable hands of LL-favorite Deanna, author of the daily Marinerds blog. If you don't already read her stuff, you'll find out over the weekend that you've totally been missing out. She's great, you'll love her, and the site won't miss a beat. So be nice and don't break anything.

Joel Pineiro and Kirk Saarloos tomorrow at 7:05pm PDT, when we hope to answer the age-old question of "which crappy starter deserves his job less?" And, in happy personal news, I've already got plans for tomorrow night, so I don't think I'll be around to find out.

So here's to lucky number fourteen! After all, it's not worth losing if you don't lose big.