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Mariners Retain Bragging Rights Over Superior, Inferior Giants

9 out of 10 psychiatrists recommend Munenori Kawasaki for depression
9 out of 10 psychiatrists recommend Munenori Kawasaki for depression

The all-time series between the Mariners and the Giants now stands at 14-11 in Seattle's favor. But that doesn't quite tell the whole story. On second thought that does tell the whole story, but that doesn't tell the whole recent story. The Giants won the first series, in 1997, three games to one. The Giants won the second series, in 1998, two games to one. The Giants won the third series, in 1999, two games to one. At that point, the franchise matchup looked lopsided.

But the Mariners haven't lost a series to the Giants since, and there have been five of them. Two out of three in 2000, with Paul Abbott and Aaron Sele winning. Two out of three in 2001, with Arthur Rhodes and Freddy Garcia winning. Three out of three in 2006, with Felix Hernandez, Gil Meche, and Jamie Moyer winning. Two out of three in 2009, with Sean White and Felix Hernandez winning, and now I remember about Sean White again. And as of today, two out of three in 2012, with Hisashi Iwakuma and Tom Wilhelmsen winning.

The Giants are, without question, a better team than the Mariners. Are now, have been for a while, and will probably be for more time still. They won a World Series! They went to another! But they haven't won a series against the Mariners dating back as far as the year 2000. They've lost 11 of 15 games. As far as Mariners fans can be concerned, the Giants have won a lot of games, but they haven't beaten Seattle, so they haven't been better than Seattle. There's no more direct, telling competition than head-to-head competition.

This is miserable logic and I'm going to have to cleanse my brain with a moistened q-tip when I'm done writing this, but this is what trolling is. Trolling is knowingly or unknowingly confronting others with miserable logic, and subsequently holding firm. Mariners fans can brag to Giants fans that the Mariners are better. Giants fans, naturally, will respond with something along the lines of "no not really at all," but then Mariners fans can say "couldn't beat us! couldn't beat us!" and there's really no response to that because it's so stupid and dumb. And this'll hold until at least the next time the Mariners play a series against the Giants, which might be another three years. If the two teams don't play in 2013, the Mariners still won the most recent meeting. If the two teams don't play in 2014, the Mariners still won the most recent meeting. It's so flawed that it's flawless, and this is the shit we get to cling to.

Friday night, the Mariners lost 4-2, and it wasn't really that close. It was the Mariners' sixth consecutive loss and sixth consecutive loss at home, and pretty much no one was hitting. Spirits were at or around a season low, and fans were complaining and talking about checking out. Two days later, the Mariners have won two games, and they've survived Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner in doing so. Compare your state of mind now to where it was Friday or earlier Saturday. About the Mariners, I mean, not in general, because who knows what shit has gone on in your life. I don't know what's going on inside your brain, but I'm willing to bet you feel a hell of a lot better, about the Mariners.

This is why we should be careful with our opinions and decisions when we're feeling low. The same goes for when we're feeling great, but when you're feeling low, you're convinced that so many things are as negative as you see them. You're convinced that you're aware of the truth, and that the truth sucks when it's stripped of its shiny coating. Sometimes that can be the case, but most of the time, nope, you're just being negative and you don't realize how negative you sound. From Friday to Sunday, this weekend has been a study in contrast. It began with misery, or even worse, mounting disinterest, and it ended with all the Mariners chasing one Mariner beyond the infield. Not because he'd done something really horrible or because he had candy in his pockets, but because he'd lined a walk-off single in front of a lively crowd. The feeling then was unlike many of the feelings last week.

The whole ninth inning was unlikely baseball at its best, but the game only got there at 1-1 on account of some terrific pitching, or poor hitting, or both, and seriously we still can't isolate one from the others. So much of everything is results-based analysis. Madison Bumgarner and Felix Hernandez finished with outstanding numbers, but we absolutely cannot say with certainty that they pitched well. Baseball is so much more complicated than people give it credit for! We don't know anything!

But let's follow traditional lines and say the pitching was good. Bumgarner is a hell of a lot better than you probably know, since Tim Lincecum has been the primary attention-grabber in the Giants' rotation, and Matt Cain has gotten most of the attention as the guy who doesn't get enough attention. There's not much shame in scoring just one run against Bumgarner in Safeco Field, although maybe the Mariners could've tried not making 18 consecutive outs between the second and the eighth. There's some shame in that.

And Felix's results were night and day compared to last week's results. On normal rest and a start further from his back injury, Felix surrendered one run in seven frames, and settled in after a challenging first inning. You don't often see Felix take the mound and throw 70 percent of his pitches for strikes. That's what he did this afternoon, and while he didn't generate much in the way of grounders, Felix was his best in a while, and had some zip. Where last week you might've been prepared to respond to a strong Felix outing by saying "yeah except Padres", the Giants' offense is fine so this wasn't going to be simple.

Brandon League survived the top of the eighth in large part thanks to Justin Smoak. With two on and two out, a first-pitch fastball generated a grounder, but it was a grounder well to Smoak's right. Smoak managed to make a clean diving stop, and he flipped the ball to League at first for the final out. When the Mariners first traded for Smoak there was some scouting talk that he was an outstanding defensive first baseman, and I can't imagine how that ever could've been true. He just isn't that athletic or quick about anything. This may well have been a game-saving stop, though. If Smoak has only so many of these in his quiver, he chose a good time for this one.

So, the ninth. I'm not sure how the ninth inning happened, but I don't think you'll ever see that complete sequence in a baseball game again, especially since the next time these two teams meet the players will be different. Tom Wilhelmsen allowed a hit to Manny Burriss. Burriss came in the proud owner of a career 57 OPS+. Wilhelmsen walked Gregor Blanco, and while Blanco walks often, Wilhelmsen doesn't allow walks often. Wilhelmsen then walked Pablo Sandoval, unintentionally, on four straight pitches, each right off the outer edge. Sandoval didn't swing at a single one of them. Sandoval didn't check-swing at a single one of them. The other day Sandoval struck out on fastball that was literally at the same level as his forehead. Dude swings. Dude didn't swing.

So the Giants had the bases loaded and one out for the league's leading hitter. One of Melky Cabrera's strengths is that he's a very difficult batter to strike out, as he makes a lot of contact. Wilhelmsen struck him out on three pitches, and Cabrera foul-tipped an 0-and-2 curve into Miguel Olivo's glove. Wilhelmsen got out of the jam unscathed by then inducing a grounder.

That wasn't the end of baseball being all weird-like, because Bruce Bochy called on Sergio Romo out of the bullpen, and if you don't know much about Madison Bumgarner, you probably know even less about Sergio Romo. So the thing about Sergio Romo is he's amazing. He owns a career OBP against of .239, and a career slugging percentage against of .295. He's generated 238 strikeouts and issued 38 unintentional walks. That is as many as the strikeouts, minus two hundred. He's held lefties to a .536 OPS. He's held righties to a .533 OPS.

Kyle Seager swung at the first pitch and singled. Jesus Montero fell behind 0-and-2, having swung through a slider like so many batters do against Romo. At that point I very much did assume the strikeout, on another slider low and away, and I saw Buster Posey setting up for it. Romo threw Montero a good slider, low and away, and Montero lined it into center for a single. Montero took a quick cut and made something out of probabilistic nothing.

From there, things were less weird. Michael Saunders dropped down an unsuccessful sac bunt against a side-arming lefty specialist. Justin Smoak batted right-handed and singled against a side-arming lefty specialist. Those are things that happen, and the matchup was definitely in Smoak's favor. The trickiest thing about his hit is that Munenori Kawasaki briefly hesitated after rounding third before continuing on home, and Melky Cabrera has a strong arm in left field, but Cabrera's throw nailed Kawasaki and so didn't nail Kawasaki, and the Mariners walked off. Kawasaki made sure to leap after scoring, arms outstretched, and then he briefly withdrew himself from the mob around Smoak to seemingly wave at the fans. I don't know, I'm beyond trying to know.

The Mariners won, and they didn't score much. Tomorrow they play in Arizona, so they could resume scoring then. That would drive more of the Safeco dimension discussion. For now, we get to reflect on a successful weekend of baseball against a good team in front of large and vocal crowds. It sounded like it sounds when the Mariners are good. Except for all the "let's go Giants" chants. Especially when the Mariners aren't playing the Giants. Then it doesn't sound anything like that at all.