Ms. Jeff is a sports fan. But, in stereotypically female fashion, she doesn't like watching people lose. Even after a satisfying, dramatic victory, she has trouble looking at the faces of the players on the other side. There's too much pain, too much dejection, too much heartbreak. Like The Afters, she - and countless others - just wishes that everybody could win.
This was pretty much the complete opposite of that.
The M's lost the game, thelost the player, and the fans lost the celebration. At 4:05pm, there was jubiliation in the A as the M's walked off, defeated. And at 4:06pm, there was silence. I've watched a lot of games in my life, and this was one of the stranger conclusions to which I've ever borne witness. I honestly don't know which side feels lower.
- Eric Karros, paraphrased, after a Mariner double steal:
The M's right now, they can afford to be aggressive and to take chances. What's going to happen? Is it going to get worse?
The have the second-lowest OBP in the American League, and by a good margin the worst offense. We are literally the last team in the AL who can afford to take chances. If a team that scores a lot of runs makes an out on the basepaths, they might score one fewer run. If the Mariners make an out on the basepaths, they might score zero runs.
Eric Karros also spent 30 seconds of air time what a 'precautionary x-ray' is.
- This wasn't quite Felix Hernandez at his best. Would've been hard to expect Felix at his best against a lineup with six (and, later, seven) lefties. But, once again, Felix below his best still managed an excellent pitching line, with one run and seven strikeouts in eight innings. He had some early trouble, as the Angels managed three two-out baserunners in the first, one in the second, and two in the third, but after Kendry Morales' third inning single, Felix retired 13 of the next 15 batters he faced, with five strikeouts and nobody reaching second base. He turned it up a notch, and one mistake to Bobby Abreu shouldn't have been enough to cost him a win.
Of note is that Felix managed "just" nine swinging strikes, on 111 pitches. However, the Angels only took 41 swings, as they attempted to wait him out. Felix also managed 28 called strikes, and while we don't talk about those as often, the league average is 17%. The Angels have a patient offense, and they were trying to wear Felix down, but Felix wouldn't cooperate and stayed in and around the zone. Only three of his strikeouts were of the swinging variety.
After the first few innings, watching Felix was a treat. He didn't let the Angels do much.
- It's weird to say now given what transpired in the tenth, but Felix knocking Torii Hunter out of the game sure felt like a good break at the time. Hunter's right-handed while Reggie Willits is left-handed, but Hunter is good while Willits is bad, and Felix made sure to insert that annoying little runt right in the middle of the Angel order. Seeing him at cleanup is the sort of thing that happens in extra-innings in the NL. Willits, of course, responded with a bunt single and a diving catch in the outfield, proving that, while you can take the meat of the order out of the Angels, you can never take the Angels out of the meat of the order.
- In the first inning, Jose Lopez fell behind Jered Weaver 0-2 and got a fastball that was literally at the same level of SimTower as his chin. Following is a list of improbable events that followed:
1) Lopez swung at the pitch
2) He hit it hard
3) On the ground
You can either get mad at Jose Lopez for swinging at that pitch, or you can choose to sit in wonderment, astounded that Lopez is one of maybe a few dozen people on the planet who could swing at that pitch and make solid contact.
- The Mariners scored one run. They scored it on what should've been a double play. With Jose Lopez on first, Matt Tuiasosopo hit a grounder to Erick Aybar, but rather than flip the ball to Howie Kendrick, Aybar attempted to beat Lopez to the bag. Which he couldn't. And then the throw to first was approximately 50 feet too high. So instead of two outs and none on, the M's had none out, a man on second, and a run. It seems the throwing error granted each runner two bases. It was such a confusing play that Gameday decided not to bother with the details.
It is worth noting, however, that the M's had their chances. They had two in scoring position in the first with one out before Milton Bradley struck out and Lopez grounded out, and Bradley struck out again with two on in the third. And also, after reaching on the Aybar error, Tui advanced to third on a fly ball but overslid and got tagged out. The M's didn't get a runner past first after the fourth. Jered Weaver is an excellent pitcher, and at risk of sounding cliche, you need to take advantage of what opportunities you get to score against him. The Mariners didn't. Then they didn't do anything against a pair of mediocre relievers.
- Bobby Wilson hit a line drive to straightaway center in the second that turned Franklin Gutierrez around and made him look clumsy as Wilson coasted into second for a double. The response to that play is evidence of how spoiled we are. We expect Gutierrez to be able to snag anything and everything, but the most difficult play for any outfielder is a line drive directly over his head, and the midday sun certainly wasn't doing Guti any favors. I would've been legitimately astonished had he made that catch.
- As FOX showed a clip of David Huff getting hit in the head by an Alex Rodriguez line drive, Chris Rose warned the viewers that the clip they were about to see was "very graphic." As Rose uttered the words "very graphic," video showed Huff getting hit in the head by a line drive.
- In a 1-1 game in the top of the ninth, Milton Bradley led off with a first-pitch bunt attempt, and then, following a Lopez single, Matt Tuiasosopo batted against Francisco Rodriguez with everybody available on the bench. The leverage at this point was 3.14. The highest it'd been in the game to date. And Don Wakamatsu let the right-handed Tuiasosopo swing away against the right-handed Rodriguez despite having many other options. Wak did get Mike Sweeney up to pinch-hit for Rob Johnson, but Rob Johnson never came to the plate. I just don't understand the logic. Tui being able to hit there pretty much serves as proof that Wak thinks Tui is good, yet Tui is bad.
The Bradley bunt was really bad too. The whole top of the ninth was bad.
- Brandon League's ninth inning was good. Brandon League's tenth inning was bad. Erick Aybar hit a ball that a stronger hitter would've sent over the fence. Maicer Izturis hit a ball that a stronger hitter would've sent over the fence. And Kendry Morales did send a ball over the fence. Chone Figgins, of course, didn't help matters at all by fumbling what would've been an easy groundout, but League simply hasn't consistently pitched as advertised, and he's getting a reputation.
- In the fifth inning, Reggie Willits got an inside fastball and very nearly took Felix out of the park.