Whenever anything even remotely surprising happens in a baseball game, there's always at least one guy out there who feels compelled to say "that's why they play the games." That's why they play the games! That's why they actually play the games, instead of determining the outcome with math! Because baseball is a human endeavor that cannot be predicted! As if there's anybody out there who wishes that they wouldn't play the games. That is a lobby group that does not exist.
But if certain occasions call for a reminder that that's why they play the games, it follows that certain other occasions call for a reminder that that's why they probably shouldn't have bothered playing the game after all. These occasions would be those occasions that are completely predictable. Kyle Davies getting lit up. Zach Duke getting lit up. Barry Enright getting lit up. And the 2011 Boston Red Sox defeating the 2011 Seattle Mariners.
I know that this was also John Lackey versus Felix Hernandez, which helped to even things up a little bit. But still, this was a matchup so lopsided, with the Red Sox playing so well and the Mariners playing so poorly. Boston's lineup was stacked, the Mariners' lineup was less stacked, and for good measure, the game was played in Fenway Park, giving the Sox the additional boost of home-field advantage. This game was not surprising. The fact that Felix only generated two strikeouts was a little surprising, but the outcome was not. The Red Sox held a narrow lead, then eventually pulled away and won. I'll be damned, I can't believe it.
We've got company this weekend so I'm not writing a full recap tonight, and I don't think I'll be around at all tomorrow. That kind of bums me out, because tomorrow's is a game I'd like to watch. Either the Mariners will win unexpectedly against a dominant ace, snapping their streak, or they'll lose their 14th game in a row. It's really kind of win/win, in terms of both outcomes being incredibly interesting. But then, there are more important things than a baseball game between one team that obviously isn't going anywhere and another team that obviously is, so I think I'll survive. And if they lose, which they probably will, then it really doesn't matter, because Sunday will bring similar viewing opportunities.
As for tonight, I might as well say a few words as long as I'm here. Felix clearly wasn't at the top of his game, as he'd been in previous starts at Fenway. I don't know why that might be. Maybe it was just an off night. Maybe he was having trouble with the 100-degree weather. Lackey certainly didn't have any trouble, but weather affects different people in different ways. In any case, Felix kept 17 of the 24 balls in play he allowed on the ground, suggesting that he knew he wasn't working with his best stuff and just wanted to get quick outs. It almost worked for him, too, as the Sox had two runs through six innings thanks to double plays in the second, third, fifth, and sixth. Ultimately, though, the game was put out of reach when a fifth potential double play grounder off the bat of Adrian Gonzalez sneaked in between Brendan Ryan and Dustin Ackley in the seventh to score two runs. That made it 4-1, and then it was 7-1 when I woke up, because apparently I fell asleep.
It wasn't a complete lost cause on the mound. Josh Lueke showed up to handle the eighth, and he worked a 1-2-3 frame, striking out Jarrod Saltalamacchia and then getting a grounder and a routine fly. More importantly, Lueke threw seven fastballs and averaged 96mph. You'll recall that he was throwing 91-93 in his earlier stint. The velocity is back, and even though Lueke's command isn't perfect, his stuff is where it needs to be now in order for him to succeed. That is, obviously, very encouraging.
Meanwhile, offensively, Ichiro stole some bases and Ackley drove him in, but the one true highlight was a three-run homer by Mike Carp in the eighth. It was garbage time and he was facing Franklin Morales, but then Morales is a lefty, and Carp turned on an inside 1-2 slider and put a real home run swing on the ball, launching it out over the bullpen in right. It was the kind of swing you expect to see from a slugger, and while I'm not ready to anoint Mike Carp as a big league slugger, he's certainly been a slugger with Tacoma, and so it was great to see him knock one out. Knocking one out suggests the potential to knock more out. Mike Carp is not an exciting player, but it sure would be neat to see him finish with an .800 OPS.
There were other hits, but whatever. The Mariners have now lost four straight games in which they've scored at least four runs. That's why they play the games!
And they've lost 13 in a row overall. I still haven't actually processed this. I feel like it's probably way more humiliating than my brain currently gives it credit for. Thirteen losses in a row! After being .500 into July! But it all just blurs to me. The Mariners haven't won in a while. That is not an unfamiliar feeling. The extent of this streak won't sink in until long after it's over, if ever it is over.