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Mariners Sabotage Rivals' Draft Standing, Lose Unloseable Game

recruiting young fans in enemy territory?
recruiting young fans in enemy territory?

At 21-41, the San Diego Padres came in with the worst record in baseball. The team with the worst record in baseball drafts first overall the next season, and there's no better draft pick to have than the first one. I don't know how next year's draft is shaping up, since this year's just happened, but I bet the Padres wouldn't mind further stocking an already fully-stocked farm system.

At 22-41, the San Diego Padres now have the second-worst record in baseball, a half-game in front of the Cubs. Or, from the Padres' perspective, a half-game behind the Cubs. The Padres probably didn't think they could win on the road with Jason Marquis on the mound. Jason Marquis just got his first taste of American League baseball and was cut by the Twins with an 8.47 ERA. He returned to the comforts of the National League, but this was a game in an AL ballpark. Things weren't looking good for the Padres coming into play. But the Mariners take this rivalry seriously. There's nothing more dangerous than a man or a group of men willing to hurt themselves for a cause.

Why would the Mariners willingly lose to a rival, you might ask, rather than establish their present dominance over the rival? You're not thinking enough in the big picture. Pull back. Pull back some more. One game is one game. Prospects are for years. Years contain plenty of games.

This crap intro is all I could come up with. It's the best I can do, because as you might have heard, Matt Cain threw a perfect game Wednesday night, and I had to watch and deal with that as a part of my job. Paying attention to Cain took my attention away from the Mariners, and having to deal with Cain afterward meant I couldn't deal with the Mariners immediately afterward. Now it's late, the Mariners lost 1-0, and even if I had anything to say, I wouldn't have the energy to say it. If you were really looking forward to reading thousands of words about the Mariners' 1-0 loss to the Padres, blame Matt Cain for that recap not existing. As this game became its most intense, the other game became its most intense, and, yeah. I couldn't tell you that much about how the Mariners finished, although I could guess.

Every so often, when I'm struggling, Ms. Jeff volunteers to write the Mariners recap. I laugh, and she laughs, and I write the recap. Tonight she volunteered and I didn't laugh, so she volunteered again and I said, sure, why not? So she wrote up a Mariners recap. I was strongly considering publishing it, but then she said she'd prefer if I didn't, and she makes the rules. So you're not going to see Ms. Jeff's recap of tonight's Mariners game. But it was funnier than what you are reading right now. In case you were wondering if Munenori Kawasaki really is easy to mistake for Ichiro, or if you were just forcing that impression, no, it really is easy. From many angles they're virtual twinsies, especially when Kawasaki is swinging the bat like an actual baseball player.

What happened in this game, in short? Yonder Alonso hit a solo home run. That wasn't the only thing that happened, but that was the only thing that changed the scoreboard. That led off the seventh, when Hector Noesi threw a first-pitch curveball. Noesi was trying to back-door the curve, but it crept over the plate, and Alonso pummeled it. Ballgame, basically.

So Noesi made a mistake and lost. But every pitcher makes mistakes in every start. Matt Cain made mistakes against the Astros. Taking Noesi's outing overall, it was encouraging, as he generated swinging strikes and pitched better when ahead in the count. You have to account for the Safeco factor and for the Padres factor, but Noesi made some quality offspeed pitches and spotted fairly well aside from a brief sequence. Noesi's stock with the team is up a little bit from wherever it was before.

The last out of the bottom of the sixth was Justin Smoak flying out to the track, again. He hit the ball well, the ball died in front of the fence, and Smoak spiked his helmet out of frustration. Minutes later, Alonso went yard. This isn't an impossible ballpark, and the Padres' hitters probably think the Mariners' hitters have it real easy, but more and more people are talking about Safeco now like it has to be changed. This subject comes up every year, if the conversation ever even stops, and while objectively Safeco's dimensions shouldn't have any meaningful effect on winning, it's hard to know what it's doing to heads, so maybe it's not entirely without merit. The Mariners demonstrated a while ago that they can succeed in Safeco Field. Safeco Field might cause players to develop bad habits. It can be a very simple discussion, and it can be a very complicated discussion, and nothing's getting solved any time soon. For the time being, complaining about Safeco is being used as an alternative to complaining about the Mariners.

As for the rest of this actual game, the Mariners stranded some baserunners. Most notably, they had the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the seventh after Alonso flat-out dropped a throw at first base, and didn't score. Ichiro bounced out, and Dustin Ackley was frozen by a perfect fastball from a side-arming lefty. In the eighth, John Jaso struck out on a ball in the dirt with two down and runners on the corners. But in the ninth, the Padres loaded the bases with nobody out and didn't score, so each team missed glorious opportunities. This game could have been different, but it was not. In the long run it will make almost literally zero difference, if not literally zero difference.

I'm out of steam, material, and interest. Erasmo Ramirez and Franklin Gutierrez will play on Thursday. That'll be interesting to watch and write about, provided some shithead doesn't throw another perfect game and take me away from what I want to be watching. Why would I rather watch the Mariners than a perfect game? That's a good question, and I am not going to think about the answer.