Let's just get this out of the way up front - there's no one who should be disappointed by the outcome of this game. The Mariners had their lineup and David Pauley going up against the Red Sox, their lineup, and Josh Beckett. That's a bad matchup, and probably seven times out of ten or so, that's a matchup that results in a Mariner loss. When you're facing a disadvantage from the start, and you end up on the losing end, that's something that should be met with acceptance.
But I do find it interesting that, a day after I talked about the matter of a player's performance control, we were given a game like this. A game whose outcome was in large part dependent on the Red Sox getting two lucky breaks, without which they easily could've lost.
It was in the bottom of the sixth that the Red Sox finally broke things open. In a scoreless game, they loaded the bases against Pauley, and two singles and a sac fly later, they had a 4-0 lead. The first of those singles, though, was a grounder off of Pauley's right foot, placed on the left side of the mound during his follow-through. The ball bounced off into foul territory and gave Adrian Beltre an RBI infield single. Were it not for the foot, that grounder was headed straight for Chone Figgins, and it was hit sharply enough that it probably would've been a routine, inning-ending double play. Beltre hit a DP grounder, and the Red Sox came away with four runs.
The Mariners then rallied a bit courtesy of a pair of home runs, and they were down 4-3 in the top of the eighth when Russell Branyan stepped in with two on and two out. Branyan pulled a first-pitch Daniel Bard heater on a line into right field about as hard as you can pull a ball. If that ball's elevated a little more, it's a three-run homer. If it's pulled a little more, or a little less, it's down for a go-ahead double, since Chone Figgins was running from first. Instead, it was pulled exactly as much as it was, at exactly the angle it had, and J.D. Drew was able to snare it to end the inning.
In the sixth inning, Adrian Beltre did the worst possible thing for a batter to do in that situation, and the Red Sox wound up scoring four runs. In the eighth inning, Russell Branyan did one of the best possible things for a batter to do in that situation, and the Mariners went scoreless. You can't credit Beltre for finding a cleat, and you can't condemn Branyan for finding a glove. Beltre hit a grounder, Branyan hit a scorching line drive, and the Red Sox got two big breaks.
Don't take this as me complaining that the Mariners got screwed out of a win by bad luck, or that the Red Sox didn't deserve to come out on top. The Mariners are 49-77, and I'm long past giving a shit. Rather, take this as just the latest bit of evidence that there's an awful lot of stuff that happens down there that's out of a player's control. Over time, you expect these things to even out - and they most certainly will if given the opportunity - but when you're talking about one week, or one game, or one at bat, there's so much that's out of their hands. Given two breaks - two breaks that, had they gone the other way, wouldn't have felt like breaks at all - the Mariners easily could've won this game. They didn't, but how much can you blame them?
When you sit down and think about it, baseball's really weird.