Forget everything I said yesterday. Forget everything I said about every game against a contending opponent presenting an opportunity to play spoiler. I still think it's true, so maybe you shouldn't forget it, but you should forget about it applying to the current. Why? Let me tell you why.
Mariners vs. , 8/8-8/10: 1-2
Boom. Over the course of the past week, the Mariners have been given six chances to play spoiler against the two teams fighting it out in the AL West. And what did the Mariners do? They canceled themselves out. By winning once against the Angels and then winning once against the Rangers, the Mariners made it such that these games may as well have not been played at all. They won't make any difference in the year-end standings. The Angels picked up two wins and one loss, and the Rangers picked up two wins and one loss.
Good for the Mariners for winning tonight and salvaging the series, because I'm sure it makes the whole clubhouse feel better. This way they all get to take a happier flight home, and they don't have to feel like they stood around in that heat for three days for nothing. But now that it's all done, we can say that the M's just played the worst spoiler ever. It's like they don't even get the point.
Some bullet holes from a game I didn't see:
- I was following along with the progress on my phone during a summer concert in the park. I was excited when the M's took the lead, I was disappointed when they gave it away, and I was excited again when they climbed back ahead. I did a reserved little fist pump at the final out. It's weird; when I'm out doing something else these days and checking in on the M's from afar, I care about the outcome more than I do when I'm at home, watching the action live on TV. I don't know why that would be. It seems counterintuitive. The best explanation I can come up with is that watching three hours of the Mariners leaves me incapable of caring about anything anymore. Maybe that's unfair, but you can't argue with science.
- I like the term "salvage" as it's applied to baseball series. I like the image of a big series sinking in the middle of the ocean, with one of the teams desperately paddling around, trying to rescue one solitary win. But then where do the other wins go? The other wins go to the other team, right? Is the other team the ocean? No wonder the first team lost.
- Jason Vargas is getting a lot of credit for battling today, allowing three runs in seven innings while pitching without his best stuff. He's being discussed in such a way as to suggest that he wasn't good, but was good enough. Ordinarily I'm not too keen on these things, because a pitcher who battled is usually a pitcher who got lucky, but for one thing, I couldn't watch this game, and for another thing, it was 100+ degrees outside. Some pitchers are fine throwing in heat, but others are not. Everybody responds in a different way. And if I had to guess, Vargas seems like more of the cold weather sort. Vargas looks like a guy who's no stranger to sweating, but who doesn't exactly enjoy it. I can't bring myself to be in any way critical of a pitcher when he's working in conditions that would render me a whiny lil bitch.
- For real, when it's even 80 degrees outside I am just the worst. Ask Matthew.
Neftali Feliz vs. Seattle, 2011: 6.1 innings, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts
Neftali Feliz vs. others, 2011: 37.2 innings, 20 walks, 24 strikeouts
Mike Carp stayed hot (ed. note: who couldn't! This is a heat joke), and he didn't only extend his little hitting streak - he extended it with a single and a home run. The homer came against a lefty in an 0-2 count, and saw Carp blast an outside slider well beyond 400 feet to straightaway center field. It wasn't the best pitch for Derek Holland to throw in that situation, but it also wasn't a pitch you'd expect to sail 400 feet in the other direction, so credit to Carp for staying back and providing only further evidence that he's turned into a real-life big league hitter. His OPS is up to .861, and I'm feeling good about this run that he's on.
He also walked and played some nifty defense at first for good measure. The walk is nice to see, since Carp hasn't been doing a ton of that. As for the defense, whatever, good for him. First base is already taken care of, Mike. Play some nifty defense from behind the plate and then I'll really be impressed.
Dustin Ackley had the first three-strikeout game of his Major League career, with all coming against the lefty Holland. And still, he managed to reach base twice, as it's just impossible to be in any way mad at the kid. Miguel Olivo has already had seven three-strikeout games this season. He's also had two four-strikeout games. Over those nine combined games, he's reached base a total of twice. Dustin Ackley is an elegant crystal chandelier, while Miguel Olivo is a Maglite on a string.
- The Mariners scored their first run in the second inning when Trayvon Robinson batted with one out and the bases loaded. Robinson tapped a bouncer in front of the plate, but as Holland charged, he couldn't get the ball out of his glove, and everybody was safe. The play was scored a throwing error, as Holland made the error of not throwing.
Ichiro followed Robinson by also tapping back to the mound. Then Luis Rodriguez struck out to end the inning. Duh.
Blake Beavan and John Lackey Friday night after a Thursday offday. Looks like another opportunity for the M's to play spoiler! Kind of.