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Mariners, Indians Follow Standard Template

Carlos Santana is capable of smiling
Carlos Santana is capable of smiling

Growing up in San Diego and paying some attention to baseball, I was always told I should hate the Dodgers. That's what Padres fans were supposed to do, and I wasn't a Padres fan, but I was interested. It was my first exposure to what I figured was a rivalry. I figured fans of the Padres must have hated the Dodgers, and fans of the Dodgers must have hated the Padres, and that gave games between the two teams a certain intensity that other games couldn't match. Intensity is good! Rivalries are good! Rivalries make sports more interesting.

It wasn't until later in my life that I realized that, while Padres fans hated the Dodgers, Dodgers fans didn't really care so much about the Padres. They didn't like the Padres or anything, but they were kind of wrapped up in their other rivalry, their real rivalry with the Giants. I went to a Dodgers/Giants game in San Francisco once, and the atmosphere was tense and electric. I've been to a number of Dodgers/Padres games, and while they're certainly different from, say, Astros/Padres games, of which I've been to too many, they don't feel like rivalry games. They feel like games with fans of both teams in attendance. When they're played in San Diego.

I realized it was kind of a one-way rivalry. Not all of the time, but a lot of the time. I didn't understand the concept. Why hate a team when those guys don't hate you back? Isn't that kind of..."embarrassing" doesn't feel like the right word, but I'm going to go with "embarrassing". Doesn't it seem desperate and generally unbecoming?

I'm starting to get it now. A one-way rivalry still doesn't look very good, but I'm starting to get how these things can develop. I'm developing a deep-seated hatred of the Cleveland Indians. I'm damn sure not the only one. Plenty of Seattle Mariners fans are coming to dread games against the Indians - not because the Indians have the Mariners' number in any meaningful way, but because the Indians have built a track record of devastation. The Indians just keep generating dramatic moments at the Mariners' expense. I resent them for it. Other people resent them for it. Indians fans don't care. Indians fans don't hate the Mariners back. Indians fans are probably rather fond of the Mariners, on account of all the losing.

This is a one-way rivalry. It hasn't always been this way, and it won't always be this way. Eventually, the Mariners will deliver some payback. The Mariners did eliminate the Indians in the first round in 2001. That's something. And there'll be more. There'll be comebacks that go the other way, revenge we can spin as revenge even though it won't be actual revenge. In time, we'll stop hating the Indians so much, and they'll blend in with the rest of the invisible AL Central. But that time isn't now. Right now, God dammit, Cleveland Indians, you have got to knock it off. What have the Mariners done to you lately? This is needlessly mean.

As you've figured out by now, and as I'm only just mentioning, today the Mariners lost to the Indians 6-5 in 11 innings. The Mariners had a lead in the eighth inning, and then they didn't. The Mariners had a lead in the 11th inning, and then they didn't. Steve Delabar made the first one go away. Brandon League made the second one go away. If it feels like League has had a ton of trouble against the Cleveland Indians, that's because he has, and while it's probably not something particular to League and the Indians, what's happened has happened. This is a thing that League has done.

Brandon League pissed me off today, as he does too often, and as soon as Carlos Santana drilled his walk-off single, I prepared to write up something nice and angry. I can't remember a decent-to-good Mariner, at least over the last several years, that got on my nerves as much as League does. League is effective, or at least League has been effective in the recent past, but God damn he ought to be a lot better than he is. That was the initial course of this game recap. Brandon League angried up my blood. I was going to spill that blood on the page.

Then, as I was getting prepared to start writing, I saw a tweet. It didn't have anything to do with the Mariners, or the Indians, or the American League, or even really baseball in a way. Bees had assembled in Coors Field. A Rockies game had to be delayed for a few minutes while the situation was figured out. I put the recap to the side and booted to see what was going on. Within moments I started making maybe my favorite .gif I've ever made.

I couldn't stop laughing. Then there was a blown-call incident in Texas, and I .giffed that, too. I figured these things were higher priorities than the Mariners game, so I dealt with them before the Mariners game. When I finally returned to Lookout Landing and clicked on the story editor, I found that I just wasn't that mad anymore. Maybe it was the bees. Maybe it was just time. Immediately after the Mariners game, I wanted to write up something angry about the Mariners. Well after the end of the Mariners game, I'm writing this instead.

I'm still disappointed, obviously. It would've been nice to win. I invested 247 minutes in watching the Mariners play the Indians beginning at 9:05 on a Thursday morning, and it would've been great if minute number 247 weren't so very shitty. We could've talked about the Mariners busting their streak, and winning because of Michael Saunders, and, I don't know, other things that aren't Brandon League blowing a game. Instead we get to talk and think about Brandon League blowing a game against a familiar opponent. You know whose numbers aren't very good? Brandon League. You know who's damaging his trade value? Brandon League. You know what the Mariners are going to be looking to do? Trade guys like Brandon League.

But the rage is all gone. Not that I would've described it as rage in the first place, but in the big picture, the game was fairly entertaining, it came down to the last pitch, and wins and losses simply don't matter that much right now. Instead of being 7.5 games behind the Rangers, the Mariners are 8.5 games behind the Rangers. One baseball game is a drop in a bucket. A bucket that will eventually contain 162 drops of whatever is dripping. Why would you ever let one drop, one drop in the middle of May, get under your skin? Unless it's a drop of dimethylmercury and there's nothing you can do about it. You probably shouldn't have been messing around with dimethylmercury.

The Mariners could've won this game and they didn't. At the end, it was Brandon League, but the Mariners could've done more to win earlier. Plenty of people are at fault. This game made a lot of people mad. I was mad, then I took a mental break, and then I wasn't mad anymore. You want to learn a lesson from this? You want something to take away from every game in the season? A good lesson is that, if something is making you really angry, do what you can to remove yourself from the situation. Leave it for good, or come back to it later. You won't be so angry, and you'll see how bad you look when you're angry. Anger is ugly, and anger is irrational. It's fun to give in when you're in it. Liberation comes from not being in it anymore.

Don't be angry. There are some things worth being angry about, but they are few and far between. The first step is recognizing when you're angry. The second step is learning how to get out. And this is how a terrible outing from Brandon League allowed us all to learn a lesson about life. And you thought Brandon League did bad. Brandon League did real good.

Time for the bullet holes now, and based on the notes it looks like I've got a lot of them. Right after the game, I probably would've made some joke about how I wish I could leave some real bullet holes in something. Maybe it would've been a good joke, but it would also be a scary joke. I'm not going to shoot guns. I would like to shoot a handgun sometime, but not at anything, and I'm not looking to make it a habit. All right, back to the baseball. Here comes the baseball!

  • The Mariners and Indians played baseball for nearly 11 full innings, and because of what happened in the last of them, it's pretty easy to forget that Hector Noesi pitched the first many of them. If you're curious how he did, the short of it is that he was fine. There you are, now you don't have to read the rest of this bullet hole if you don't want to. If you're sticking around, prepare for details!

    The overall numbers paint one picture. In the end, Noesi had thrown two-thirds of 101 pitches for strikes, and he allowed just one run while doing a decent job of keeping the ball on the ground and avoiding squared contact. Eric Wedge was pleased with Noesi's effort, which he hasn't always been, and when Eric Wedge said that he wasn't in a good mood. So Noesi's start was Wedge-approved.

    To get more granular, Noesi had his comfortable innings and his less comfortable innings. In the second, he walked two batters and worked out of trouble. In the third, he walked a batter and left the bases loaded. The other innings went more smoothly. Noesi's a case where a pitcher throws a lot of strikes without always inspiring confidence that he knows where the ball's going to go. Basically, this is that control-isn't-command point we've made several times in the past. Noesi's control is good enough for him to pitch in the Majors. Improved command would allow him to flourish in the Majors.

    Will he improve his command? Hell if I know. How long has Jonathan Sanchez been trying to improve his command? Some people take massive steps forward, some people take little steps forward, and some people take no steps forward at all. And it's all kind of unpredictable. Noesi will get better or he will not get better and we're not going to be able to figure out which it'll be based on the information we've collected through today.

    It's good to see Noesi looking more like a pitcher worth trading for. Especially with Jesus Montero being prone to his rookie moments. I'm calling them rookie moments because calling them undisciplined moments makes me more nervous about his future and I don't like that.

  • In the bottom of the fourth, Carlos Santana pulled a line drive to right-center, and Ichiro flagged it down and made a leaping catch on the track. If Ichiro has lost any steps, as people love to suggest, he hasn't lost very many of them. As there was a runner on base at the time, you could say that Ichiro's effort saved Hector Noesi's bacon, but that wouldn't make sense, because it was the score that was in jeopardy, not Hector Noesi's bacon. If Hector Noesi has bacon it probably wasn't even at the ballpark.

  • Brendan Ryan finished today with two singles and two walks. On the year, he's now up to 15 hits and 18 walks. Just last season, Adam Dunn finished with more walks than hits, but it is most definitely rare, not that I expect Ryan to keep this up. He's batting .153, and he has a .283 OBP. Not that a .283 OBP is good, or even acceptable, but it's a hell of a lot more acceptable than the OBP you'd ordinarily expect Brendan Ryan to have when he's batting .153. Brendan Ryan came in with a miserable batting average and Zach McAllister couldn't throw him one strike. Not all Major League pitchers are surprisingly bad at throwing strikes, but many of them are.

  • Jose Lopez batted against Hector Noesi with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth. Noesi had just walked Casey Kotchman, and while it isn't a good policy to always take the first pitch after a walk, it is a good policy to only swing at a hittable first pitch after a walk. It's a good policy to only swing at hittable pitches in general. Noesi threw Lopez a first-pitch slider several inches off the plate outside. Lopez swung and tapped out to the mound. It's nicer to see that from the other side. Unfortunately I cannot continue making jokes about Jose Lopez on account of what he did later. Jose Lopez is a habitual fun-ruiner.

  • Michael Saunders swung through a 1-and-2 curveball in the top of the fifth. It occurred to me then that the visuals are deceptive when this kind of thing happens. The curveball continued dropping and Carlos Santana caught it in the dirt. At the front of the plate, though, the pitch was barely below the zone, and Saunders was trying to hit it in front of the front of the plate. When batters go after low breaking balls or changeups, they usually aren't as low as they look if the batter misses. Which isn't an excuse to go after them, of course, but it's also more understandably terrible.

  • Kyle Seager led off the sixth with a double, and then the Mariners nearly stranded him on the basepaths. But John Jaso came through with a two-out line drive, and then he stretched a single into a double with his hustle and legs. So, for John Jaso, that's a two-out hit, that's a hit with a runner in scoring position, and that's a hustle double. And that's how a player gets himself in a manager's good graces. Not that Eric Wedge will even remember what Jaso did in the sixth inning. aw dang it

  • There was a rumor over the offseason that Johnny Damon's numbers were dropping because he was focused on getting to 3,000 hits at the expense of the rest of his game. It seemed like nonsense, of course, and Damon's numbers actually dropped because he's getting older and Detroit and Tampa Bay are more challenging offensive environments than New York, but in the sixth, Damon took a first-pitch fastball high and inside that clipped the knob of his bat. A lot of times in these situations, the batter will argue that the ball hit him on the hand, and that he's entitled to first base. Damon made no attempt to sell the pitch and stood in for another. Refreshing honesty, or unrefreshing selfishness??

  • Lucas Luetge allowed a walk and a hit in relief, but he also struck out a guy. Two of the Indians' six swings against him missed. On the year, Luetge has seen 72 swings, and 27 of those swings have whiffed, which is good for a 63 percent contact rate. That is a very low contact rate. Sometimes it can be hard to write about a lefty specialist and in this instance it's still hard to write about a lefty specialist, but it's neat that the Mariners seem to have gotten an effective lefty specialist out of the Rule 5 draft. Luetge throws a lot of balls, but he's also been surprisingly hard to hit. What do you think, Hong-Chih Kuo? Why was this so hard for you?

  • Even beyond the usual strike-zone stuff, this was hardly a banner day for home-plate umpire Adrian Johnson. In the top of the eighth, Justin Smoak hit a high pop-up in front of the plate, and Casey Kotchman couldn't make the catch. Kotchman fumbled the ball in fair territory before the ball and Kotchman wound up in foul territory, but Johnson initially ruled the ball foul and called Smoak back from first base. Johnson had to confer with another umpire before he changed his mind.

    An inning later, Michael Saunders checked his swing on a 2-and-2 slider. He checked his swing more than Brendan Ryan checked his swing against Philip Humber, which is to say he clearly checked his swing. It wasn't even a borderline call. Adrian Johnson punched Saunders out, and refused to check down to the third-base umpire. Saunders immediately got in Johnson's face about it and still Johnson was stubborn. We're very accustomed to seeing Michael Saunders get angry after a strikeout, but we haven't really seen Saunders get angry at someone other than himself. Saunders was right in Johnson's face, and it made me re-consider yesterday's post about how Saunders would've reacted in the Brett Lawrie situation. Saunders might've done something more than curse at himself.

    I don't know if Adrian Johnson is a bad umpire. Today, he did some things that a bad umpire would do. I'm in one of those phases right now where I really can't stand umpires, and it'll go away, but at the moment, holy crap, do you see how many mistakes they make? They make so many mistakes! And they're such assholes about them!

  • Brandon League is the goat because he blew a one-run lead in the 11th, but Steve Delabar blew a three-run lead in the eighth. He had the sort of outing I expected him to have more of coming out of the minors, flashing good stuff with all the command of a wiffle ball pitcher in a hurricane. Delabar walked the first guy he saw. He threw a first-pitch ball to the next one. He threw a first-pitch ball to the next one. He fell behind Casey Kotchman 3-and-1 before leaving a fastball in the middle of the plate. Then he fell behind Jose Lopez 2-and-0. The second pitch was a fastball, high, that Lopez took for a ball. The third pitch was a fastball in about the same spot that Lopez decided to swing at, which would've been funnier if Lopez didn't slaughter it. Lopez hit the fastball for a three-run home run. I'm not going to describe the home run because you already know exactly what it looked like, and where it went. Jose Lopez hasn't been a Seattle Mariner for some time, but he's still Jose Lopez. Just like old times, except in reverse.

  • Going to the ninth inning, it was all over Twitter and the broadcast that we had a whole new ballgame. But we didn't, because the score was 4-4 and we were going to the ninth inning. It wouldn't make any sense if we had a whole new ballgame. Why would they just start over? The Mariners probably shouldn't push their luck when they're trying to get a game in in Cleveland. Starting all over would be the worst. What would happen to the statistics? Would pitchers be eligible to re-enter?

  • John Jaso batted with two on and one out in the top of the tenth, against Chris Perez. Perez fell behind Jaso 2-and-0, and then he left a fastball right down broadway. Jaso just barely missed it, flying out to right field. I bring this up because it's always important to remember that not all outs are the result of good work by the pitcher, and not all hits are the result of bad work by the pitcher. A lot of beat writers treat things that way, but they are not that way. Chris Perez was bad against John Jaso, and he survived because Jaso hit the baseball a few millimeters away from where he wanted to hit the baseball. Perez got lucky.

  • Beginning the 11th inning, the ROOT Sports camera guy panned over a group of attractive young women somewhere in the stands. He then immediately cut to a shot of Shelley Duncan in left field.

    Wife: Did you take a shower today?
    Husband: Yeah, in front of the television.
    Husband: The hot water didn't work.

  • Brendan Ryan led off the top of the 11th with a single against side-arming righty Joe Smith, bringing Dustin Ackley to the plate. I would like to commend Eric Wedge on not having Ackley attempt a sacrifice bunt. I don't know why he didn't call for the bunt, but he didn't call for the bunt, which was the right decision or non-decision. Ackley very nearly grounded into a double play. Maybe next time he's in this situation, he will bunt. Then I will the opposite of commend Eric Wedge.

  • After what had been a frustrating game, Michael Saunders checked in with a go-ahead RBI double in the 11th, batting after Ackley. In a 2-and-2 count, Smith threw a tailing fastball over the outer edge, and Saunders went with the pitch and drove it off the left-center fence. I am made unreasonably happy by watching Michael Saunders hit the ball hard the other way, so this double made me unreasonably happy. It was an excellent bit of hitting from a guy who lately hasn't had that many excellent bits of hitting. I know it was against a side-arming righty but with Michael Saunders I am very willing to take what I can get.

  • They say the problem with Brandon League is that he doesn't have a good feel for his splitter. I don't know if that's actually the problem with Brandon League, but something is. I made a note to congratulate League for striking out Shin-soo Choo in the 11th with a splitter that was actually in the strike zone. League doesn't really throw his splitter in the strike zone. But after watching the rest of League's game I'm not sure he meant to do that. League had nothing, and he deserved what he got. It's hasty to declare that League has gotten worse given the small samples of data generated by relievers, but our evidence points that way at the moment. People would not be able to tolerate a mediocre Brandon League because people could already barely tolerate a pretty good Brandon League.

Look at all of these words about a horrible game! Tomorrow the Mariners play in Colorado and hopefully that will not be a horrible game. But it might be. Who wants to gamble with their Friday night? Who wants to gamble with their Friday night?