A common refrain after a mismatch like this goes something along the lines of, "playing Team B makes it starkly evident how far away Team A is from World Series contention." We, the fans of the comparatively lousy team, are supposed to ooh and ahh at the impressive accumulation of talent on the comparatively awesome team. Look how good they are! Look how much better that team is than this team!
But whatever. Theare awesome. The Red Sox are way better than the , who are not awesome, or who are at least awesome in a very different way. Tonight, though, the difference wasn't great. The Red Sox didn't outclass the Mariners. The Red Sox didn't blow the Mariners out of the water. The Red Sox rallied from a deficit, and hung on.
Granted, once the Red Sox went to Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon, things felt hopeless. And granted, the Red Sox were starting John Lackey, who is bad (ed. note: and under contract through 2014!). But it's not like the Mariners were countering with Felix or Michael Pineda. They came with Blake Beavan, who has the same skillset as a batting cage pitching machine. The Mariners generated a bunch of opportunities - ultimately wasting too many of them - and the outcome here was in doubt until the bottom of the seventh. For a while, this was close.
And closer than it probably should've been. Playing the Red Sox should make it starkly evident how far away the Mariners are from World Series contention, but that wasn't the case tonight, so while the M's are probably frustrated that they came up short, on some level they should be pleased that they hung with a team that's much better than they are. Playing the Red Sox is about as hard as it gets, and for a team like the Mariners, staying competitive is an accomplishment.
A very limited assortment of short bullet holes tonight, since I'm in a bit of a rush:
- Matthew mentioned in the series preview that Blake Beavan's missed bat and strikeout rates are perilously low, and tonight didn't help matters any, as he finished with four swinging strikes and one strikeout. He now has 18 strikeouts through seven starts, spanning 47.2 innings. If you prefer percentages, he's struck out 9% of the batters he's faced. Beavan has admitted that he's not a strikeout pitcher and is usually looking for the hitter to put the ball in play, but while that's a common line, other guys who aren't strikeout pitchers still end up with more strikeouts than Beavan does.
I'll forgive him for having a harder time against the Red Sox, since Red Sox, but the fact of the matter is that Beavan needs to put more guys away on his own if he wants to have sustainable success as a starter. I don't know how he could do it, but he needs to do it. It helps that he's only 22. He has time to improve. I'd just like to see signs of improvement. Being a strike-throwing dynamo is great, but it isn't enough.
- In the first inning, Mike Carp drove a low-inside fastball up the middle for a sharply-hit RBI single. In the fourth inning, he drove a low-outside slider into the left-center gap for an RBI double. In the seventh inning, he drove a low-inside fastball into right for a line drive single. And in the ninth inning, he drove a low splitter into center for a sharp fly out. Mike Carp struck out one time, but made solid contact four times, and hit to all three fields. The double was particularly impressive. The double came on a pitch that early Michael Saunders would've missed or popped out.
- I know what pretty much all of the Mariners are like. Or at least, I know what pretty much all of the Mariners are like when the cameras are rolling. I have no idea what Mike Carp is like. I can imagine what he's probably like, and he's probably pretty boring, but I can't be sure. Everything about Mike Carp just fascinates me right now.
- Not to be outdone, Dustin Ackley walked and lined singles to both left and right field. The single to left was exactly the kind of Ackley hit that I think is going to drive opponents crazy for years. Lackey put a 2-2 changeup in the perfect spot down and away, but Ackley stayed back and just served a low line drive over short. Ichiro used to collect 300 of those hits every season.
- In the bottom of the ninth, Kyle Seager advanced from first to second by the ol' defensive indifference. There is no better term in sports.
Pitcher: /looks in
Runner: So hey
Pitcher: /looks in
Runner: So hey
Runner: So hey, just so everybody knows, I'm gonna go from first to second on this pitch
Catcher: Nobody gives a shit
Justin Smoak was knocked out (of the game) in the top of the second when a Jarrod Saltalamacchia grounder took a weird hop and caught Smoak in the nose. Smoak went down and shortly became something of a bloody mess, and the last we've heard is that he has a nose fracture. I suspect we'll hear about any further damage by midday tomorrow. Let this be a reminder to you that, the next time you yell at an infielder for not getting his body in front of a ball, you should put yourself in his position, because it's really hard to make yourself get your body in front of a sharp grounder, because it really fucking sucks to get hit by a sharp grounder in the face.
- I've discovered one upside, and one upside only to Red Sox games lasting so long: once a year, they can help fill the time between eating and going out to watch the Perseid meteor shower. Goodnight!
(Felix and Beckett tomorrow. You watch.)