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Mariners Gain Ground, Lose Ground By Beating Royals

See, there's two ways of looking at this. On one hand, the Mariners got out the sticks and battered the Royals with them like the Royals were on fire and the Mariners were incompetent fire-putter-outters. On the other hand, the Mariners beat the Royals for the second night in a row and thus lost ground in the draft standings, inching closer to the Padres and falling further from the top four. It is up to you to pick which is more important, but if nothing else, at least this was a different sort of baseball game.

Around 4:30 or so this afternoon, I navigated my way to and watched a bit of the Marlins and Pirates, specifically because it was a pointless, non-compelling matchup. The Marlins were in the process of posting a nine-run third, and they won 13-4. It was all very irrelevant. But it was weird to think of that game as irrelevant and non-compelling when Blake Beavan and the Mariners were getting set to take on Jeff Francis and the Royals at 7pm. This just felt like the kind of game no one would watch. It's September, it's Friday night, it's football season, the teams are bad, and the pitchers were unexciting. This game would draw writers, the ill, and people who just really, really love baseball.

But while the game had little drawing power going in, I think it's safe to say those who watched got something out of it. Even Royals fans, but especially Mariners fans. For Mariners fans, this game was a hell of a lot more entertaining than anyone would've expected it to be.

I can't go on about it at length, because we still have guests and besides, it's Friday night for me, too, but quickly on a few of the major points:

  • One pitch into the game, the Royals had a lead. Four pitches into the game, the Royals had a lead and a runner on third, and the Mariners had a shaken-up center fielder. I always confuse auspicious and inauspicious, but confirms that Blake Beavan got off to an inauspicious start. He'd allow two more hits in the frame, too, before escaping on a line drive to short. But where it looked early on that Beavan wasn't long for this one, he'd settle down and ultimately finish with a strong line, for him. He threw 73% of his pitches for strikes, and he generated nine whiffs, which is straight up Fister territory. Nine is a lot better than the four and five we've seen from Beavan in the past.

    First-pitch leadoff home runs are so strange. They happen so suddenly that they barely register. Alex Gordon knocked his dinger, and it took a guest walking in and observing that "hey you're already losing" for me to realize that hey the Mariners were already losing.

  • Dustin Ackley finished 0-for-4, but it's worth noting that he finished with one of the most impressive 0-for-4s that at least I've ever seen. In the first, he lined out to Melky Cabrera in center. In the third, he had a home run taken away by Jeff Francoeur in right. And in the fourth, Francoeur took away a probable double. Ackley easily could've had three hits, and two of them would've gone for extra bases. It's frustrating, but it's also not, because it's good to see Ackley stinging balls like this, even if they don't go for hits. Over time, they'll go for hits.

    Francoeur's home run-saving catch was incredible. You can watch it here. The timing was perfect. I can't help but note that he got a little help:

    The ball actually touched a fan's glove first before deflecting slightly into Francoeur's. Still, it was an amazing display of athleticism, and the way Francoeur came back all smiles was a delight.

  • This is probably worthy of a longer post in the near future, but Ichiro continued his desperation run towards 200 hits by going 4-for-5. The fourth hit was something of a cheapie, a fumbled grounder to second in the eighth that was originally ruled an error, but it goes as a hit in the box score, meaning Ichiro stands at 167 with 18 games to go. Working through the math is discouraging. Don't work through the math. Just sit back and watch and cross your fingers.

    One of Ichiro's hits was another home run, and he added a pair of stolen bases. Even if Ichiro can't get to 200, he could still leave us with more positive feelings about his 2012.

  • Alex Liddi came through with his first Major League hit, a ringing double to left off a Jeff Francis changeup. Liddi finished 1-for-4 with a double and three strikeouts, making this the most Alex Liddi game of Alex Liddi's two Major League games. We'll see if he has a more Alex Liddi game the next time out. He'll be hard-pressed. This was pretty him.

  • Miguel Olivo had the three hardest parts of the cycle out of the way by the fifth inning. He'd get two opportunities to complete it, popping out and grounding into a double play. As such, Miguel Olivo had maybe his best offensive game of the season, and still fans came away disappointed.