Let's follow the sequence of events here:
-Mariners feel bad for tough Padres loss on Friday, want to throw game to make them better
-Powerless Raul Ibanez kept in cleanup spot
-Mariners start worst pitcher in franchise history
-Padres struggle to make solid contact off worst pitcher in franchise history, so Mariners punt corner outfield defense
-Padres continue to struggle against worst pitcher in franchise history, so he's removed from the game and replaced by another suckass
-Suckass not bad enough, so Adrian Beltre finds way to screw up David Wells sac bunt
-Padres refuse to take immediate advantage of situation with shallow fly out, so suckass throws one away for free run
-Mariner infield makes little effort towards hits to right, with Jose Lopez deliberately stopping short of fieldable groundball
-Suckass tries to let opponent run away with a laugher by throwing ball over plate, but Padres can't add to freebie 5-1 lead
-To prevent a possible comeback, Kenji Johjima refuses to either stay at third or slide into home in seventh, instead making himself an easy out
-Mariners try to let Padres off the hook in the inning by inserting Jose Vidro in DP situation, but Padre pitcher can't throw strikes
-Jose Lopez tries to give easy out to Adrian Gonzalez, but a lousy backhand attempt results in another run-scoring base hit
-Mike Hargrove does what he can by calling for wildly inconsistent Sean Green, but Padres find a way to strike out three times
-Richie Sexson does his best to help out Scott Linebrink by chasing a breaking ball at his ankles, but pitch is just too fat to miss
...there comes a point at which even the most charitable teams with the best of intentions have to realize that the other guys just aren't interested in taking the game, and seize it themselves. I'm pretty sure that moment finally came in the bottom of the eighth tonight, where, in a 5-5 game, the Padres had put men on the corners with two out against the professional frisbee machine that wears a Sean Green jersey. That locally lovable automaton came to the plate with a fantastic opportunity to win over some of the people who'd been jumping off his bandwagon, but instead he struck out on three pitches, the third being a horizontal slider that was almost embarrassingly outside. The entire stadium groaned, and I think the Mariner dugout did, too, because they'd literally given the Padres every chance to win the game, and they just refused to cooperate.
I think it was then that the M's decided to put San Diego out of its misery with a quick kill. After all, when something has so little life left that it can no longer accomplish even the simplest tasks like "hit Jeff Weaver" or "retire Richie Sexson," there's no point in dragging things out. Resigned to the fact that they'd just have to win it themselves and let the Padres wallow in their own misery, the Mariners took the lead in the span of three batters, and JJ Putz swiftly lowered the ax with another dominating save. They tried to be nice, but dammit, you can only reward the ungrateful for so long before getting fed up and changing the gameplan.
The 2007 Seattle Mariners: good people and good players. What a team to root for.
Biggest Contribution: Jose Lopez, +40.9%
Biggest Suckfest: Jose Guillen, -30.3%
Most Important At Bat: Lopez single #2, +28.8%
Most Important Pitch: Cameron double, -15.9%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): +16.3%
Total Contribution by Position Players: +24.5%
Total Contribution by Opposition: +9.2%
That whole intro just about covers the entire recap, which is good, because I could use some sleep after being up way too late last night. Just a couple other things I want to point out before calling it quits:
- Healthy Jeff Weaver looked an awful lot like 'Injured' Jeff Weaver, armed with the exact same 86-88mph fastball, show-me curveball, and decent slider. He was tattooed in the first (even the ball Guillen dropped was hit on a line), but after that he settled down and actually retired 11 hitters in a row before getting yanked. Some of it was bad hitting and some of it was good location, but a lot of it was Weaver all but abandoning the fastball and just "slinging slop," as one of the Padres postgame guys put it. Weaver threw 25 pitches between the third and fourth innings, and according to the postgame guy, only five of those were heaters. The rest were breaking balls, and they were good enough to make Weaver look like a passable pitcher until he was forced out by back pain. This being just a brief glimpse of Weaver in a huge park against a minor league lineup, I'm not going to go crazy trying to read into his success, but this was definitely a step in the right direction. If Jeff Weaver gets booted from the rotation, he deserves a chance in relief before he has to leave the organization for good. That slider's a useful pitch.
- With two on and none out in the bottom of the fifth, David Wells came up in an obvious sac bunt situation and rolled one to a shallow Adrian Beltre at third. Beltre fielded the ball in plenty of time to get Wells out, but after looking over and seeing Wells' Rorschach of back fat, Beltre hesitated and uncorked a wide throw that pulled Lopez off the bag. I think I figured out how Jose Vidro has so many infield singles.
- In save situations, opposing batters are hitting just .083/.154/.150 off of JJ Putz, with four walks and 18 strikeouts in 60 at bats. In one-run games, that batting line is .107/.167/.143, with two and ten in 28. In twelve plate appearances with two outs and runners in scoring position, Putz has yet to allow a baserunner. On zero days' rest, he's given up one hit in 5.2 shutout innings. I could keep listing off stat after stat, but instead I'm just going to say this: JJ Putz is the best closer in baseball. He's not pitching on a level all his own, but among the elites, he's currently the leader. With the game on the line, there's no one I'd rather have on the mound.
Felix Day tomorrow, as the Mariners gun for a sweep against a team that just two days ago was the class of the NL (and you should be there!). Of course, being the class of the NL is kind of like being the smartest guy in Anaheim, but teams always get up for their rivals, and context never matters for beans when these two clubs get together. Chris Young's home ERA of 0.52 may be impressive, but none of the five sorryass lineups he's faced in Petco come close to matching what ours has been for the past several weeks, so there's reason to be optimistic. I mean, if Jeff Weaver can look good in this place, then how good could Young possibly be, really? I just hope he doesn't start throwing bendy things, because then we're boned. Establish the fastball, Chris!