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Mariners Run Aground, Get Savagely Beaten

almost got it there Chone
almost got it there Chone

There used to be a magnet on our family refrigerator that read "do one thing every day that scares you." I remember there were no inspirational magnets, and then one day, I went to the refrigerator and found multiple inspirational magnets. I never asked, but looking back, something must have happened. Anyhow, this magnet credited Eleanor Roosevelt with the quotation, but I'm going to guess off the top of my head that the origin is actually unknown and somebody figured somewhere along the line that Roosevelt was believable enough.

Taken one way, that's advice for deliberately leading a terrifying life. You'd be terrified of something every single day! That's horrible! Taken another way, the intended way, it's advice for personal growth. If you never get scared, you'll never overcome your fears, and you'll have a difficult time changing and improving as a person.

I don't follow that advice, or at least I don't do so consciously. I don't have a marker and a whiteboard where I tally each frightening thing I do on purpose. If I were a follower of that advice, though, then I'd say the thing I did today that scared me was watch the Seattle Mariners play as the Houston Astros. Or, if you prefer, watch the Seattle Mariners play as certain past versions of the Seattle Mariners. This kind of game hadn't happened in a very long time. I'd kind of forgotten it was possible. Now I remember. Now I remember what it's like.

I should hope that, even if you were watching this or listening to this at the beginning, you weren't still following by the end. There was plenty of reason to tune in. The game was at a good time in the afternoon, not too late and not too early, and it was against a team the Mariners have been thrashing. Previously, it didn't look like the Twins had any prayer of beating the Mariners, so this looked like a promising game for the Mariners to win. It's fun to follow the Mariners when they win.

But it was 3-0 Twins in the bottom of the third and 5-0 Twins in the bottom of the fourth. The Mariners were doing almost literally nothing against Sam Deduno, and on the other end, the Twins were scoring runs. 5-0 is one of those scores where you just can't sustain any realistic hopes of a comeback. It's not impossible to come back from down 5-0, and just last Friday the Mariners came back from down 7-2, but five runs is a lot of runs, and at 5-0 in the bottom of the fourth this game felt like it was just going to plod along to the end without anything interesting happening. It felt like the game was already over and what was left were two hours of paperwork. There were five more runs scored in the game. They all belonged to the Twins.

This was just...I mean, I've already probably written more than enough. The Mariners lost a baseball game ten runs to no runs and no one of note did anything of note. Carter Capps had moments where he was good and bad. The lineup scratched out two singles and zero walks. For seven innings the lineup faced Sam Deduno.

It's hard. Statistically, Deduno came in as an absolute pile of crap. It would be difficult to hold a job and pitch worse than Sam Deduno had been pitching. He entered with 41 free passes and 30 strikeouts. He entered with about the same FIP as Hector Noesi, and you remember what it was like to watch Hector Noesi pitch. There was very little reason to believe that Deduno was even capable of an excellent outing.

But Deduno is in the majors for a reason, and he's showed up in the majors with three different teams for a reason, and while tonight probably had a lot to do with the Mariners' hitters, I also think it had a lot to do with Sam Deduno. It's essentially impossible to separate pitching from hitting but this time, Deduno looked like he had a clue. The last time Deduno pitched against the Mariners, he looked like someone was creeping up behind him and surprising him every time he was about to throw a pitch. Maybe it was Jamey Carroll and his eyebrows.

Tonight Deduno was actually hitting spots and staying around edges, and he turned in a line of results that would make Felix Hernandez glance over and give a thumbs-up. Of 14 balls in play, a dozen were grounders. Deduno didn't walk anyone and struck out nine of 23 batters. Yes, this was a Mariners lineup that included Miguel Olivo, Chone Figgins, Munenori Kawasaki, and Justin Smoak, where I still can't believe I have to include Smoak with guys like Olivo, Figgins, and Kawasaki. But let's not act like the Mariners gave Deduno these numbers. It was each of their faults, and Deduno was solid. He couldn't get squared up.

In fact, for an indication of how Deduno was pitching, John Jaso didn't reach base. In the first, he struck out swinging at a low fastball. In the fourth, he struck out looking at a borderline curve. In the seventh, he grounded out to short. We can use John Jaso as an indicator of how a lineup of actual good hitters might've done. Against Deduno, Jaso had the platoon advantage, and he couldn't do anything. Because of John Jaso, I'm comfortable giving Deduno a lot of credit.

You want more? I don't know why you'd want more. In the bottom of the fifth, Jason Vargas allowed a home run to Josh Willingham and immediately started yelling at the home-plate umpire. Some people thought it was because the umpire didn't grant a borderline strike on the pitch before, and some people thought it was because the umpire didn't immediately throw a new baseball back to Vargas on the mound. Generally in these situations I side with the players because all umpires are self-important, antagonistic assbags, but this is less about the details of the confrontation than it is about the fact of the confrontation. I don't remember ever seeing Jason Vargas lose his temper on the field and while things never got explosive, this was relatively explosive, for Vargas. Vargas is the guy the broadcast always talks about as being cool and composed, never letting anything on the field get to him. Something today got to him. Things probably get to him often. People don't always show their feelings.

As just a touch of fart icing, I thought that Danny Hultzen was finished pitching with Tacoma. Turns out he started for Tacoma against Las Vegas tonight. Hultzen went 2.1 innings, allowing six runs and five walks. It's not the worst thing in the world to allow runs in Las Vegas since the field is five miles above sea level and the air is more dry than a delicious Ritz cracker, but again, the walks, still with the walks. Hultzen threw just 45 of his 77 pitches for strikes. You hope he's just tired after a long season of professional baseball. You hope he'll take something away from this and show up next year in fantastic physical condition. Fatigue might be the whole, simple answer. But what I didn't need tonight was for one of the Mariners' top pitching prospects to pitch like the old Sam Deduno while the Mariners themselves were getting destroyed by a new Sam Deduno. This was not a banner night for the Mariners organization, unless the banner read...actually I think I've made this joke before. This was not a banner night for the Mariners organization.

Tomorrow, in a very early game, Blake Beavan pitches against Brian Duensing. Who knows what could happen? Sam Deduno just went seven innings with zero walks and nine strikeouts. Based on the Sam Deduno example, literally anything could happen in tomorrow's baseball game. Literally anything could happen. Tune in, so that you might see something you didn't expect, or might not have even thought would be possible. Will Jesus' face appear in the baseball game? Because of Sam Deduno, I can't say "absolutely not"!