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Mariners Win Nightcap, Drag Indians Down With Them

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Brendan Ryan comes to the sudden realization that his glove is stuck to Anthony Vasquez's butt
Brendan Ryan comes to the sudden realization that his glove is stuck to Anthony Vasquez's butt

When they woke up Monday morning, the Indians gave a good lick or two to their wounds, as they were fresh off getting swept over the weekend by the Tigers. In terms of the Indians' chances of making the playoffs, the sweep was devastating - according to, it dropped their odds from 38% to 16%. In the span of three days, the Indians went from good shot to long shot, and they knew they'd have to get to work immediately to make up the lost ground.

At 4.5 games back with the Mariners coming to town, though, the situation wasn't hopeless. All the Indians would need to do was take three of four, or maybe even four of four, to get the ball rolling. There was, as they say, a lot of baseball left.

Well, now the Indians are going to bed Tuesday night, and where 36 hours ago they were 4.5 games back, now they're a full six games back. It could've been worse than that, too, what with Tuesday's earlier heroics, but six games back is bad enough. The Indians' playoff chances are down to 8%, cut in half from where they were at the start of the series. And in Wednesday's finale, they get to face Felix Hernandez.

One of the alleged delights of following a go-nowhere team is their being presented with opportunities to knock competitive teams down a peg, and by winning two of the first three games, the Mariners have most certainly knocked the Indians down a peg. Not that I have any strong feelings for the Tigers, but at least the Tigers have Doug Fister, who I like. The Indians have plenty of former Mariners, too, but I don't like them as much, and I don't like the rest of the Indians as much. For a variety of reasons, I'd personally rather the Tigers win the division, so it's been fun to watch the Mariners win two in Cleveland, and very nearly three.

May they finish the job tomorrow. Nothing that happens tomorrow could officially eliminate the Indians from playoff contention, but another loss would only bury them ever deeper. Here's to Felix dumping a shovelful of Ben Broussard's ashes atop the Indians' coffin.

Oh my God I'm so tired. I'm so sleepy and so tired. God damn you day/night doubleheaders. God damn you Cleveland weather for forcing this day/night doubleheader. God damn you Cleveland. Bullet holes:

  • Before tonight, I had never watched Anthony Vasquez pitch in my life. I knew some things about him, and I knew some things about his repertoire, but I hadn't seen anything with my own eyes. Then he took the mound and the first pitch he threw Ezequiel Carrera was an 83mph fastball at the letters. I instinctively reached for my cell phone and tried to call the bullpen.

    It got better after that. Vasquez's second pitch was 84. His third pitch was 85. His fourth pitch was 87. But here's all you really need to know about Anthony Vasquez's velocity: Vasquez threw 98 pitches tonight, and according to Gameday, 70 of them were changeups.

    Suffice to say, Vasquez didn't go on to impress. What he did do, though, was probably achieve more than a lot of people expected. He managed to pitch into the sixth. He threw a good number of his pitches for strikes. He actually picked up a very respectable nine whiffs. There was a ton of solid contact, and Vasquez got hit, but his assignment was to out-pitch Zach McAllister, and he out-pitched Zach McAllister. (Zach McAllister was terrible.)

    Vasquez didn't inspire confidence. Watching him pitch felt like watching Barry Zito pitch with a head cold. One couldn't have expected Vasquez to inspire confidence, though, and the important thing is that he made his Major League debut on the road against a playoff contender and lived to tell about it. There have been many better debuts, but there have also been many worse, and I'm not going to complain that Anthony Vasquez didn't blow me away. I'm not disappointed with him. I'm actually happy with him, and happy for him.

  • It's every minor leaguer's dream to get called up to the big leagues, but I wonder if the thrill is reduced any for players like Vasquez, who are only coming up for an emergency. Presumably a player would prefer to force his way into the long-term picture with an excellent performance. Is it different if you know your stint is going to be temporary? Does it matter? Does the elation of getting promoted overwhelm all the other details?

    I'm guessing that Vasquez was as excited as he's ever been when he first got word. And even if he's aware that the odds are against him, at least he won his debut. He'll always have at least one win in the Major Leagues. Max Scherzer didn't win until his 14th start. Jordan Lyles didn't win until his 12th. Joe Blanton didn't win until his 11th. Anthony Vasquez won his first. Anthony Vasquez wasn't great tonight, but Anthony Vasquez probably had the time of his life.

  • You have to assume that one's perception of this team is heavily influenced by the time of one's arrival. Anthony Vasquez has been around the Mariners for one day, and he's seen them go 1-1. He probably thinks they're all right. Casper Wells has seen the Mariners go 10-11. He probably thinks they're all right. Dustin Ackley has seen the Mariners go 20-38. He probably thinks they're godawful. Maybe it's you, Dustin! Maybe it's you!

  • In the third inning, Mike Carp turned on an inside McAllister fastball and clobbered it deep into the right field seats for his seventh home run. He applied one of those classic slugger home run swings that makes me optimistic that Carp could mash 30 dingers in a season if given the chance. After he rounded the bases, Carp exchanged some high-fives, and then he and Felix Hernandez shared a hug. Only in baseball does a guy like Felix Hernandez share a hug with a guy like Mike Carp. Only in baseball does a guy like Mike Carp even go outside.

  • Let's just go ahead and get this out of the way now: Trayvon Robinson is overachieving. He isn't going to sustain his .321 average or his .885 OPS. He has a BABIP of .457. That's nutballs. But forget about Robinson's actual numbers. Focus on the skills that he's shown in his time with the Mariners to date. He's shown tremendous defense. He's shown plus footspeed. He's shown a fair amount of selectivity. He's shown pull power. And, maybe most impressively, he's shown power to the opposite field. Tonight, batting lefty, he chased Ezequiel Carrera all the way back to the wall in left field with a fourth-inning double. There aren't a lot of guys Robinson's size who are capable of doing that.

    Robinson's always had all the tools, and it's important not to fall into the trap of just assuming they'll coalesce. Robinson is a work in progress. But what he seems to be showing is that he needs to make less progress than a lot of us thought. It might be in my best interests for Robinson to go into a little slump now because I can see myself becoming irrational about him if this keeps up much longer.

  • In Tom Wilhelmsen's last two appearances, he's struck out seven batters over 4.2 scoreless innings while throwing 53 of his 74 pitches (72%) for strikes. It's two appearances. It doesn't really mean anything. But the reason this is remarkable is because, prior to these two appearances, Wilhelmsen was one of the wildest pitchers I'd ever seen. In his first eleven games, he threw just 57% of his pitches for strikes. Then, all of a sudden, BAM! Competence! I'm not going to delude myself into thinking it's progress just yet, but it's not not progress, which is the next-best thing.

  • In the top of the eighth, Kyle Seager turned on an inside Chad Durbin fastball and deposited it in the first row of seats in right field for his second home run. It wasn't the day's most impressive home run, but it also wasn't the day's least impressive home run (Eric Sogard!), and it capped off a doubleheader that saw Seager go 6-for-9 with three extra-base hits. He came in with one extra-base hit. His OPS is all the way up to .719, and even though I don't think he's a great option at third base in 2012, the Mariners are giving him an opportunity to make a case, and right now he's seizing it. I'm not used to seeing young players seize opportunities. I'm used to young players like Jeff Clement.

  • This was the third time all season the Mariners' run total has reached double digits. The first two times came against Detroit. The Mariners probably don't have a case to move to the AL Central right now, but if the east coast keeps getting earthquakes, who knows. 

Felix and Josh Tomlin at 9:05am tomorrow morning. Tomlin has the AL's lowest walk rate, at 3.1%. I'm sure we'll notice.