Have you ever knelt down to double-knot your shoelaces and had to repeat the process several times as it keeps coming undone when you pull to tighten, and then you finally get it right and feel like the king of the world for accomplishing the remarkably simple task of tying a knot? That's kind of what these last three days have felt like. Late wins are absolutely exhilarating, but I'm still waiting for this team to inspire some confidence, because holy crap have these ever been needlessly tense. And yet, beggars and choosing and all that, I suppose. Besides, in a season that's all but finished, you might as well pack your last few weeks with as much excitement as possible. These games have been a lot of things, but they haven't been dull.
Biggest Contribution: Felix, +18.8%
Biggest Suckfest: Yuniesky Betancourt, -10.7%
Most Important AB: Beltre single, +22.0%
Most Important Pitch: Velandia double, -26.1%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): +40.3%
Total Contribution by Hitters: +9.7%
Total Contribution by Opposition: 0.0%
The Mariners are trying to get me to write full recaps again, but I'm not falling for it, not this time. My excessive verbosity is a privilege, not a right, and this team has to earn it back. Until that happens, I give you three points:
(1) Tampa Bay's lineup is aggressive, strikeout-prone, and mediocre. Felix couldn't dream of a more favorable matchup. Until wearing down in the eighth, he was just toying with these guys.
(2) 32 year old Jorge Velandia came into the game with a career .660 OPS in the minors and all of nine Major League extra-base hits. The ball he sent over Ichiro's head came way the fuck out of nowhere. Amateur manager critics will say that Ichiro was playing Velandia far too shallow, but if I were in McLaren's position and got to do it all over again, I would've had Ichiro standing about five feet behind second base. That was just one of those random flukes that you have to laugh away without trying to make sense of what happened.
(3) The Mariners do a lot of things wrong, but some of these guys could teach a graduate-level course on how to properly celebrate a walk-off win. Getting to watch Guillen, Lopez, Betancourt, and Felix all beat the crap out of each other in revelry and merriment on the field a few times has easily been one of the highlights of the season, final record be damned.