I'm undecided. On the one hand, I really hate the macro approach to dealing with games like today's. Saying stuff like "a 3-3 road trip isn't bad and we all would've been happy with a 13-9 April before the season" undersells the fact that the Mariners could've done a lot better. We've lost games we should've won, and today was another, as we went in with a pitching matchup lopsided in our favor and a White Sox lineup still without Jim Thome. Using the team's record to relieve the pain of a bad loss shifts the focus away from the fact that the team could've done more, and that bothers me.
But on the other hand, I can't help but think that maybe that's more sensible than flipping out. Even the best teams in baseball lose 60-70 games every year. Most of those games are close. Nearly every loss comes as the result of blown opportunities. To get all up in arms whenever your team has a frustrating game, then, is to wish that it were better than it is, and that isn't realistic. A team that never loses a competitive game would go like 158-4. So perhaps it's healthier to step back for a broader view. The Mariners have lost some games they shouldn't have lost, but they've also won some games they shouldn't have won, and the overall picture is one of a team in first place.
Right now I'm caught somewhere in between. I'm happy that the Mariners have put themselves in front a seventh of the way through the season, but a game like today's just really eats at me. While I know that you can't expect an ace to be on top of his game every time he takes to the hill, you never see a game like this coming ahead of time, and 13-9 with the 3-4-5 guys coming up feels so different than 14-8. The Mariners had the advantage in this game and probably should've won, and the fact that they didn't is simultaneously forgivable and a huge pain in the ass.
Not a whole lot to point out about another game that took place while I was at work:
- I'd almost forgotten how quickly a pitcher's numbers can change this early in the season. One lousy outing brought Erik Bedard's strike rate back down to Earth and his swinging strike rate down to its lowest mark since 2005. Were I to evaluate him today, rather than a little while ago, I'd be more inclined to say that he's still not all the way back. I don't know if that's fair, mind you, since he was absolutely amazing through his first four starts, but such are the vagaries of small sample statistics. You can use them to say one thing today, but come tomorrow morning the picture could easily be different.
Bedard just didn't have any shred of command this afternoon. He walked three guys, twice gave Carlos Quentin the ol' how-do-you-do, and only threw 59% of his pitches for strikes. It wasn't his breaking ball, either - it was his fastball that was darting all over the place, and when you're a guy who sets up his out pitches by working off his heater (you know, like every pitcher in baseball), it's bad news when you can't consistently put that 90 somewhere in the general vicinity of where you'd like it. Rather predictably, Bedard didn't last very long. This was a bad start, and though I won't be concerned until it becomes a pattern, it'll certainly remind everyone that our 1-2 starters are far from invulnerable. Curiously, I have yet to hear an explanation for his substandard start. I choose to blame the weather, but is it possible that he was pitching the whole game while under the influence of drugs? Sure, why not.
- Fitting that Shawn Kelley blows up right as I'm singing his praises. I wonder if pitchers ask for the game balls after things like this so they can take them home and light them on fire. I'm not going to blame him for Quentin's home run - that was a well-located 2-2 fastball that Quentin was able to take the other way - but I'm not sure he could've given Jermaine Dye a worse fastball if his name were Kris Benson. Or Vicente Padilla. Or pretty much anyone on the Rangers, really. It might be a while before Kelley throws another two-strike fastball to a right-handed hitter.
- Ichiro, Mike Sweeney, and Yuniesky Betancourt have gone a combined 181 plate appearances without drawing an unintentional walk. Jamie Moyer has drawn three.