Yeah, okay, I'll be that guy. Sure, Garrett Olson wasn't very good. Sure, Roy Corcoran did an awful job of stopping the bleeding. Sure, the lineup did far too little until far too late. But to me, you can't talk about this game without talking about Ichiro's foul grounder with the bases loaded in the second. Replays showed pretty conclusively that that was a fair ball (I'd take a screenshot but the MLB.tv archives aren't up yet), and had Randy Marsh made the opposite call, we're looking at a 3-0 or 4-0 game with Branyan coming to the plate. Instead, Marsh signaled foul, Ichiro went on to ground out, and the Mariners came away with a meek one run. I know, I know. That's baseball. I get it. Sometimes you have to live with a bad break. But I find that "that's baseball" is a line of reasoning often offered to cover up for a really bad call, and while, yeah, "that's baseball", it shouldn't have to be. Players shouldn't have to live with some guy incorrectly determining that they didn't do something they did.
I imagine that, to outsiders, this sounds like nothing more than sour grapes, but let's be honest - after the last few years, I've gotten pretty good at accepting the reality after a Mariner loss. We all have. Mariners fans aren't sore losers. Fans of teams that lose as frequently as this team has have no reason to get all uppity over another loss, and I'll happily grant that, outside of Ichiro's grounder, the Padres played the better game tonight. But that grounder was fair, and Marsh's call changed the whole course of the contest. If that double scores two, then Marsh dropped our Win Expectancy by 21.5%. If that double scores three, then it's 26.2%. That's huge. For the sake of perspective, Gonzalez's homer improved the Padres' Win Expectancy by 22.9%. Calling that ball foul was like taking away our equivalent of the Gonzalez home run, and while you'd still like to see your team rebound from adversity and maybe not go on to fall behind 9-1 to the Padres, that adversity shouldn't have happened, and it pisses me off. A system that accurately gauges balls hit down the line would be so easy to implement that...Jesus, it just makes me resent the human umpiring side of baseball so hard. I don't care if they're usually right. I don't care if it's tradition. Tradition might have just cost us a ballgame.
- In case you're wondering, yeah, that very well might've been the best statistical effort of Chad Gaudin's Major League career. He faced 27 batters, striking out 11 of them while allowing just one walk and four hits. That gives him a 19/3 K/BB in 13 innings against the Mariners, and a 46/31 K/BB against everyone else. How gracious of us. The key to his start tonight was - and please stop me if you've heard this before - getting ahead with his fastball and putting people away with his slider off the plate. Mariner hitters swung through nine low and away Gaudin sliders. Those were the whole key to his near-Houdini act in the second. With the bases loaded, both Johnson and Yuni got themselves out on sliders off the plate, and the only reason we scored was because Ronny Cedeno was too afraid to swing the bat.
Eleven strikeouts. Ten of them swinging. You know what the distribution was on the putaway pitches? One fastball, ten sliders. I understand that Gaudin's always had talent, and that his problem is command, and I'm willing to give him a lot of credit for knowing how to attack this team and executing his game plan, but this effort was as much the doing of the Mariners as it was the doing of Gaudin. That was laughable. I'll give Branyan a break on account of being awesome and all, but Wlad, Johnson, Yuni, and Cedeno - these guys just don't have a clue against right-handed pitchers.
- Actually, I don't think Ronny Cedeno has a clue against anyone. In-season ZiPS projects him for a rest-of-season line of .246/.289/.366, but I think this might be one of those times where we have enough visual evidence to overrule the computer forecasts, because Cedeno has looked as bad as any Major League hitter I have ever seen in my life. If a professional scout were seeing him for the first time, there isn't a single thing he would like. Ronny doesn't have a great eye. He doesn't have a good swing. He sure as hell doesn't have much of a hitter's body. He - and I mean this quite literally - goes up there and hits like I imagine I would hit against big league pitching. The only difference is that he has the strength to have muscled out a few dingers. Other than that, he's just a total disaster. According to Fangraphs, he has hit three line drives. It's June. I supported the Cedeno acquisition at the time, and I don't think he's a lost cause, but he doesn't belong in Seattle right now. This team could use both a better starter and a better backup.
- To be fair to Yuni, neither of the strikes called against him in his second inning at bat were in the zone. He took the first four pitches he saw, and all of them missed outside. He wound up making a stupid out, but the last thing this team needs against a righty with a slider is a strike zone that favors the pitcher. I wouldn't be surprised if Angel Hernandez is the guy calling the game when we eventually get no-hit.
- I wonder if anyone's noticed that Tony Gwynn Jr. looks a lot more like Milton Bradley than his father. I guess the jollies aren't genetic.
- Sometime during the middle innings, the Padres announcers were talking about Safeco's outfield wall and trying to figure out whether it was concave or convex. That discussion led to the following exchange in my living room:
Mark Grant: I think concave is in and convex is out. I know there's a way to remember that.
Me: By knowing the definitions?
A minute or two later, Grant decided that concave meant in, and confidently exhaled and shuffled his papers. He was wrong.
- We were also privy to a broadcast conversation about AP classes, as the new Padres announcer who isn't Matt Vasgersian but who sounds just creepily enough like Matt Vasgersian to not arouse any suspicion from the viewing audience who's only half paying attention in the first place couldn't believe that it was common knowledge that AP stands for Advanced Placement. This broadcaster got outsmarted by a broadcaster who claimed to have taken AP Lunch.
- They talked about AP classes and geometry, but not AP geometry, which I thought was weird. You might as well at least pretend that you have a broadcast plan.
- In case you've never heard of Everth Cabrera, it's because he's a Padres prospect. I can't believe that team recently ripped off four consecutive winning seasons despite getting so damn little from its system. One of the reasons that team has been so boring for so long is that it doesn't seem to have the slightest clue how to develop young players and turn them into guys that don't suck. I have hope for some of the players they have now, but ye gods, has this ever been quite the dry spell.
- So I assume everyone's in agreement that Griffey is the ideal player to have hit the franchise's 5000th home run. I was kind of hoping it would be Felix or A-Rod, but this is probably what the greatest number of people wanted, so I'm glad Griffey was able to salvage the evenings of so many fans. Even cooler is that the fan who caught the ball only requested a Griffey autograph in return, so this won't become some big to-do. The whole thing was a perfect moment in a level 5 poop tornado of a game.
- Erik Bedard spends a lot of time on the top step of the dugout, and he spends it wearing this merry but distant expression on his face like he's making an effort to look more approachable while at the same time thinking about how much he'd like soup.
- In the top of the fifth inning, Everth Cabrera picked up the first stolen base of his Major League career. He then immediately picked up his second. Everth Cabrera did twice in three pitches what Johnny Estrada never did once in eight years.
- The Mariners might be the only team in baseball capable of getting beat twice in one week by a guy by whom they specifically planned on not getting beat. Trying to pitch around Adrian Gonzalez has pretty much given us two losses in two games. If they don't want him to keep getting pitches to hit, maybe tomorrow they should try to throw him strikes.
Morrow again tomorrow. It's funny how quickly we've all gone from "WHY IS HE STILL UP HERE" to "well whatever". Anybody feel like getting mad again? Why is he still up here?!