As we discussed last night, yesterday thewere all "we're gonna play our game." So then the were like "fine, we can play your game." Then the Blue Jays were like "well then let's play our game!" and the Mariners were all "we're already playing it!" and then the Mariners won. It was all very clever, and unexpected.
But the Blue Jays didn't take kindly to it. Scoring teams don't like to be out-scored by non-scoring teams. It kind of feels like identity theft. So the Blue Jays came out on Tuesday looking to send a message.
Tonight, the Blue Jays were all "we're gonna play our game, again." So then the Mariners were like "fine, we can play your game, again." Then the Blue Jays were like "no seriously you won't be able to keep up this time," and the Mariners were like "watch us" and the Blue Jays were all "you don't know what you're getting into, we're doing this shit to the max." Then the Mariners were like "whoa whoa settle down" and the Blue Jays were like "warned you!" and the Blue Jays were like "yeah!" and the Blue Jays were like "yeah!" and the Blue Jays were like "suck on that one!" and the Mariners lost. It was all very deserved, and it's safe to say the message was received. The Mariners should stick to what the Mariners do, and leave the Blue Jaying to the Blue Jays.
Truth be told, a part of me is glad the Mariners didn't rally a second time and win this one. For purely selfish reasons, so don't worry. Don't get me wrong - that would've been an awesome game to watch, and it was awesome to watch the Mariners rally from the first massive deficit. But if the Mariners had won, the game would've taken at least four hours, and then there would be more attention paid to this recap. That would translate to me feeling more pressure while writing this recap about a four-hour baseball game that ended after 11 at night. For me, I don't know if the benefit of a big comeback win in an otherwise pointless game is worth the cost of added pressure and fatigue.
Maybe it is. I guess the key is that I don't know, and I won't ever know. Because the Mariners didn't rally a second time. They did a phenomenal job of erasing the early 6-0 hole, obviously. Toronto went up by six in the top of the first and gave it all away before the top of the fourth. But you can't count on these M's to keep beating the crap out of the ball forever, nor can you really count on this team's collection of middle relievers. It wasn't a surprise when Tom Wilhelmsen ran into a heap of trouble, it wasn't a surprise when Aaron Laffey ran into a second heap of trouble*, and it wasn't a surprise when the Mariner hitters had a harder time against the Blue Jay bullpen. The second and third innings were great, but I was less than astonished by how the rest of the game played out.
* one hopes it was a second heap of trouble. How embarrassing would it be if he ran into the same heap of trouble?
Laffey: What happened?
Wilhelmsen: I ran into a big heap of trouble!
Laffey: Are you okay?
Wilhelmsen: I don't know! I hurt!
Laffey: Well maybe if you-
Wilhelmsen: What happened?
Laffey: I ran into a big heap of trouble!
Wilhelmsen: That's the same heap of trouble! I'm right here next to you!
Laffey: Why didn't you warn me?!
I'll say this - even though this was a game the Mariners lost by six, and even though this was a game in which the Mariner pitchers got knocked around, it did still have some really great moments. Fun guys delivered big hits and the M's staged a giant comeback. It wasn't nearly enough in the end, but it's the second big comeback against the Blue Jays in Seattle, and they've each been treats. A good chunk of this game was not unentertaining.
Holy shit, 12:08am, really? God damn these bullet holes. God damn these games. God damn my brain. Stupid brain. Do exactly what you do, but two times faster! Then everybody wins. It's your own fault you don't sleep enough, brain.
- The last time Jason Vargas faced the Blue Jays, he lasted three innings, allowing five runs on six hits and five walks, with zero strikeouts. You might remember that game, because it was only a few weeks ago. Between that one and this one, I'm not sure which was worse. Tonight, Vargas went 4+, and though he did well to even continue pitching after the six-run first, it's not like he was pitching great. Two runners reached in a scoreless second. There was a double in a scoreless third. There were some well-hit balls in a scoreless fourth, and more runs scored in the fifth. A manager might say that Vargas battled, but he certainly wasn't good.
The most damage was done by Colby Rasmus, when he cleared the bases on a cutter in the middle of the zone. In fairness to Vargas, Aaron Hill hit his homer on a cutter that might've been a ball, but this was just a weak effort. It's not like Vargas was just getting hit. He issued four walks, too, albeit three to Jose Bautista. A successful Vargas needs to work with more precision than he had tonight.
Jason Vargas is a perfectly capable Major League starting pitcher. But he is not a great one, so he will have these starts more often than you'd like. There's a reason Doug Fister was more highly valued at the deadline. There are a few reasons, actually.
- In the top of the fifth inning, Edwin Encarnacion swung at a Tom Wilhelmsen pitch, let go of his bat, and flung it a good 120 feet or so down the third base line. A few pitches later, he did it again, covering nearly as much distance. "EE!" shrieked all of the terrified fans in the area who also have an appreciation of wordplay.
- For the fourth game in a row, Casper Wells sent a ball out to left field. This one was an elevated changeup that he drilled into the bullpen. He's only halfway to Ken Griffey Jr.'s record of eight consecutive games with a homer, but this is just the 19th time in Mariners history a guy has reached four. The names range from Griffey to Paul Sorrento to Ruppert Jones. Rarefied air.
What was most remarkable about Wells' homer was, again, his swing. It was such a short, quick swing. It's going to take some time to get used to seeing a Mariner with a swing simultaneously that short and powerful. There are holes in Wells' game, and there are reasons some people think he's more of a fourth outfielder long-term, but his power's legit. And with power and defense, Wells doesn't have to do much else to fit as a starter.
- With Wells having so much success early on, it's only a matter of time before the people in charge give him his own customized and punny scoreboard expression. The one they give him now isn't very specific.
- Speaking of scoreboard graphics:
Did Jack Cust and Jack Wilson ever bat back-to-back in the lineup? If so, did the scoreboard flash the same message? I hope they did, and I hope it did.
Wilson: /stands in
Scoreboard: /flashes graphic
Fan 1: What on earth...?
Fan 2: Back-to-back Jacks!
Fan 1: What?
Fan 2: The guy who just hit is named Jack!
Fan 1: So?
Fan 2: The guy who is hitting now is named Jack!
Fan 2: Back-to-back Jacks!
Fan 1: That is weird and pathetic.
Fan 2: And the only back-to-back jacks we're probably going to see ever!
Miguel Olivo hit his first home run since July 24th, sending a blast into deep center field. It came on a 1-0 86mph fastball from a lefty down the center of the zone. In the very next inning, Olivo batted with two on and two out and walked for the first time since Franklin Delano Roosevelt also walked. Not that he necessarily meant to. Brad Mills missed badly with his first three pitches. His fourth was a 3-0 86mph fastball at the belt that Olivo cut on and missed. Olivo then watched a changeup in the same spot before walking on a high fastball. The umpire didn't have to clue him in about this one.
I don't even have any jokes for the occasion. It's just, thank God. Do this more. Do this more and we won't be so critical.
- The Blue Jays fans in attendance gave a rousing ovation to John McDonald when he pinch-hit in the top of the ninth. They lost their minds when he singled, and they gave him another ovation when he was shortly erased on a force out. When Mike McCoy subsequently pinch-hit, they didn't make much noise. John McDonald is a utility player with a career 63 OPS+ as a Blue Jay. Mike McCoy is a utility player with a career 63 OPS+ as a Blue Jay. The difference is that McDonald has 456 more games of Blue Jay experience. Keep being pretty bad, McCoy, and in time they will love you.
- The Mariners tried to rally back from 10-6 in the bottom of the fifth. They got it to 10-7 and had two on and two out when Ichiro tried to bunt against Luis Perez. Perez darted off the mound very quickly and threw Ichiro out to end the inning, and Eric Wedge apparently spoke with Ichiro later, telling him that he expects Ichiro to swing away.
This is a weird thing that Ichiro's done every so often for years. It always drives a lot of people crazy, and no one's been able to get a straight answer for why he does it. Me, ordinarily I like to give Ichiro the benefit of the doubt. I think it's smart to mix in a bunt here and there to keep the opponent guessing, for game theory reasons. But tonight, Ichiro laid down his bunt in a 2-0 count. I don't think any position player should ever bunt in a 2-0 count. 2-0 counts are really, really favorable.
In the end, it's not a huge deal. Had Ichiro been swinging, he probably would have made an out anyway. But Ichiro caught a lot of criticism even when he was effective. Now that he's less than that, I'm finding myself really interested in the public opinion.
Also Trayvon Robinson and Kyle Seager were good. Tomorrow, the series wraps up with Blake Beavan and Brandon Morrow. When Morrow faced the M's on July 20th, he allowed three runs in seven innings. But those were the old M's. These are the new M's! The new, swingin' M's! I'm thinking three runs in 6.2 innings.