I mean, once you're beating another baseball team 8-1, you've already made your point. "We are better than you." "We are seven better than you." Why bother making further points when that point's already established? The Mariners proved to the Indians that they can whip the Indians, and then they just let the Indians win because then it didn't matter. This isn't about the standings. This is about respect. This is about being alpha dog. The Mariners gave the Indians all they had, and once they demonstrated that the Indians were no match, they let up and played like a parent shooting hoops with a five-year-old son. Oh wow, son, you're really good, you're better than me at sports.
So anyway, clearly, this game ended pretty tense. The Mariners had the tying run 90 feet away with one out in the bottom of the ninth, and Michael Saunders missed a few meatballs. Saunders should've driven in that run. And then later on, the Mariners had the winning run 180 feet away with two outs, and John Jaso got into a 2-and-0 count against a wild Chris Perez. Jaso got a pitch to hit and he hit it well, but just not well enough. It looked promising off the bat, and I'm pretty sure Jaso thought he did more damage. But, Safeco. Some people might criticize Jaso for swinging when Perez had thrown six straight balls. Perez threw a hittable strike. Jaso applied a hit swing. He just missed it. Nothing objectionable.
As frustrating as the conclusion was, though, one can't forget that the Mariners got lucky. With one on and one out, Jesus Montero bounced a routine double-play ball to short. I had the TV remote in my hand when the ball took a wicked bounce off Jason Donald's face. That should've been a double play and the game should've been over, so because of that we probably shouldn't be too upset that the Mariners failed to cash in.
But of course, there's the matter of the Mariners having once had an 8-1 lead. This was a handful of baseball games in one. This was a normal baseball game at first, except with a Mariners home run in it. Then for a little while this was a baseball game between the 1996 Colorado Rockies and the 1999 Colorado Rockies. Then this was a normal baseball game again, bearing the scars of the fourth and fifth innings but conveying every impression that such offensive vivacity wouldn't repeat. For 16 half-innings, the Cleveland Indians and the Seattle Mariners tied 2-2. For two half-innings, the Cleveland Indians beat the Seattle Mariners 7-6.
The fact that the Mariners' big inning came before the Indians' big inning makes it worse, obviously. Win expectancy says that the Mariners once had about a 98 percent chance of winning this game. A game like that you don't want to lose more than once every 50 times. You actually don't ever want to lose that game, but you can tolerate it once every 50 times. Any more than that and it's problematic. The Mariners could've moved to 7-5 by simply not allowing the Indians to come back from a seven-run deficit, and while 7-5 isn't loads better than 6-6, it's better, by one more win and one fewer loss. It happened, and now we get to dwell on another lost winnable game, and we'll dwell until the Mariners fall so far out of the race that these losses don't matter anymore, like with Brandon League's slump a year ago. That was the worst, until it was irrelevant.
A thing to say would be that weird things tend to happen when the Mariners play the Indians. I don't know if that's actually true, and I suspect that it is not, but there have definitely been some memorable things. One can't forget the comeback, one won't ever forget the comeback, and one probably shouldn't ever forget the comeback. People remember the Arthur Rhodes incident with Omar Vizquel. People remember all of the horrible Cleveland weather, which I'm pretty sure is the only Cleveland weather that exists. Cleveland played as the home team in Seattle. And so on. Weird shit. What we don't know is whether this game will be remembered or forgotten in time. It might stand a better chance were it not for that other comeback, since that other comeback erased a deficit that was 71 percent bigger. You see, in a way, that comeback haunts us, and in a way, that comeback is a blessing.
I guess from a little-picture perspective, this was a frustrating game, because the Mariners should've won. We care about wins right now because it's early enough that the Mariners aren't out of the race, and the more often they win now, the longer we get to pretend that they're actually playoff-level good. The fact that this was an exciting game is of some consolation, but not enough. It's hard to come away feeling like a three-and-a-half-hour investment was worthwhile when you watch your team lose.
But from a bigger-picture perspective, the Mariners put together a pretty solid game at the plate against talented pitchers, and most of that seven-run fifth inning came against Kevin Millwood. When you think about the 2012 Seattle Mariners, Kevin Millwood matters. When you think about the Seattle Mariners: Rebuilding Organization, Kevin Millwood doesn't matter. This sounds mean to Kevin Millwood, but Kevin Millwood is the folded stack of papers you put under a wobbly table until you have the time to go buy a new leg, or do whatever it is you do to more permanently repair a wobbly table. Millwood's going to be in and out like the wind, and I'd rather he have the team-high ERA come July than anybody else. Except Ichiro. I'd love for Ichiro to have the team-high ERA come July, because that means Ichiro pitched, and I look forward to that day like few days.
Today the Seattle Mariners played a baseball game. There were good things and there were bad things, and you can choose to feel as good or as bad about the game as you want. Tomorrow the Seattle Mariners will play another baseball game, and there will be good things and there will be bad things. You ever feel like you're a little too aware to be a sports fan sometimes?
I'm never real thrilled when games go late because it means writing goes late and I hate when writing goes late. Right now, as I'm typing this - I should be asleep right now. Asleep, resting and preparing to write about baseball again tomorrow. Instead, I'm still awake, writing about baseball today. Nothing against you, baseball, but why don't you give me a break? Why can't you be more like your friend hockey, or your distant cousin football? Here are some bullet holes, but they will not be the finest bullet holes I've ever written.
- We're all still dreaming the dream that the Mariners could hang in contention. That's what you're supposed to do in April, because it gives the whole pastime some fun and significance. Rationally and reasonably, though, we all understand that the Mariners are a long-shot, if not an improbable-shot. And once you come to terms with that, it's weird to sit down and watch Kevin Millwood.
Kevin Millwood is not a part of the long-term future. He's not a part of the medium-term future, and he's not a part of the short-term future, depending on your definition of short-term. He's a guy who's in there until another guy is in there, another guy who might have more promise and youth. And Millwood isn't someone like Jarrod Washburn, who could conceivably return real value in a trade. A healthy, effective Kevin Millwood might fetch a toolsy outfielder or a live-armed young reliever. There aren't any blue-chippers coming the Mariners' way.
So to watch Millwood, you kind of have to forget that there's no great reason to watch Millwood. Interesting game drama and distractions can be sufficient, but when they're not, or when they're not there, it's like, hey, hold on. You could say that you're watching just because you really like watching baseball, but when's the last time you watched an Astros game just because?
The Kevin Millwood experience makes me think too much. I don't like thinking too much when I'm watching sports, because it always leads to the same place. I'm not going to mind when the Kevin Millwood experience is over. I feel like I'm floating, looking down on baseball from above.
Millwood: So listen, guys, we're playing the Indians.
Millwood: I can't stand the fuckin Indians.
Millwood: Played there once, and...
Millwood: I can't wait to rub it in their faces.
Luetge: Didn't you say that about the Rangers last week?
Millwood: The God damn Rangers, yeah, love to beat the Rangers.
Millwood: Only team I hate more than the Indians and the Rangers is the Braves.
Millwood: And the Phillies.
Millwood: Don't even get me started about the Phillies.
Jaso: Why do you hate the teams that you've played for
Millwood: I kind of think of the Phillies the way I think of the Orioles.
Millwood: Worthless, no-good, sons-of-bitches Orioles.
Millwood: And the Rockies, my god!
Millwood: Don't want to beat anybody like I want to beat the Rockies!
Jaso: Have you played for every team
- John Jaso got his second start of the season, and in his second start of the season, he took a Justin Masterson sinker out to right field for a two-run homer in the bottom of the third. Jaso doesn't have a whole lot more power than he showed right there, but he's a lefty in Safeco, and I haven't seen Miguel Olivo go yard yet this season. Disciplined hitters just make me feel so much more confident than undisciplined hitters, even if they don't actually swing the bat particularly well. We went through this with Jack Cust, where his swing was broken but his eye was terrific. We felt a different, better kind of hopelessness with Cust than we did with Olivo. And there's no reason to believe that Jaso's bat is as dead as Cust's was. He's only impressed so far, and even his ninth-inning fly out was fine, given the pitches and the swing. We don't know if Jaso will be much but he deserves the chance to make his case.
- They say that the 25,000th run in Seattle Mariners history scored tonight, which isn't true, because if you can believe it the Seattle Mariners have actually been in the playoffs before. I'll never understand why those numbers aren't included. Nevertheless, the 25,000th regular-season run in Seattle Mariners history scored on Brendan Ryan's bases-loaded walk. That was one of four Brendan Ryan walks on the game. Ryan came in with two walks. The Mariners as a team came in with a season-high of four walks. The last Mariner to draw four walks in one game was ... Ryan Langerhans, against the Indians, last April. But before that it'd been several years. I was expecting the Mariners to draw some walks tonight with Justin Masterson on the mound. But if anybody was going to have a game like this, I wouldn't have thought it'd be a righty.
- They also say that the 50,000th hit in Seattle Mariners history came tonight. The same complaints apply. You can pretend that you've never been in the playoffs, but the fans will remember! They will expect you to return to them eventually! You can't just sweep the very existence of the playoffs under the rug and hope that fans forget that some teams keep playing baseball after the Mariners' baseball is finished!
- Audible fan complaint after a ball call during Carlos Santana's at-bat in the sixth:
Come on blue, this is the American League.
- Speaking of Santana, he hit a home run, and in so doing he showed off what I can only call easy power. There are pitchers, like Matt Moore, who are said to have easy velocity because they throw hard without looking like they're throwing hard. Santana can just hit the ball all smooth-like, so smoothly that the pitcher might not even mind. The pitcher just chuckles and goes, that Carlos, he's so smooth.
- In the bottom of the seventh, Michael Saunders killed a fly ball to straightaway center field that died on the track. In the top of the eighth, Michael Saunders hauled in a fly ball that Carlos Santana had killed to center that died on the track. Saunders was all frustrated at first so I bet he enjoyed catching Santana's fly more than he usually does. I'd suggest that Saunders and Santana could chat over coffee about how Safeco's a real bitch, but then earlier Santana had put Safeco in its place. I'm going to quit writing this bullet hole before it sounds like I'm advocating domestic abuse.
- I'm officially now all out of energy so I'll close by saying the pitch Jason Donald hit for the winning single off Tom Wilhelmsen was a good pitch, and Erasmo Ramirez was all over the place. He wasn't all over the place like Rick Ankiel was all over the place that one time, or like soup is all over the place if you leave it in the microwave too long, but Ramirez was wild by Ramirez standards, and it's not the first time he's looked like that. Ramirez made this team because he can throw strikes. Ramirez gets innings instead of the forgotten and possibly dead Hisashi Iwakuma because he can throw strikes. If Ramirez doesn't resume throwing strikes soon, he's losing that spot. Strikes are Ramirez's whole game. I know people were trying to teach him how to throw balls, but dammit Erasmo, pick your spots!
Tomorrow it's Derek Lowe and Jason Vargas. Derek Lowe is a right-handed sinkerballer so we automatically know that John Jaso should be starting and Miguel Olivo should be sitting, but Eric Wedge won't sit Miguel Olivo for two games in a row, so go ahead and rev those anger engines. And then stop and take out the keys because remember how the Mariners probably aren't going to the playoffs regardless? The Mariners probably aren't going to the playoffs regardless. If Olivo starts, maybe he'll do something funny, or maybe something funny will happen to him.