So much for that positive run differential. A weakened Seattle Mariners lineup -- Eric Wedge fielded Munenori Kawasaki without him batting ninth -- put up the trappings of a fight before being mauled 6-2 by the New York Yankees. Yes, the Yankees were also 'weakened', but their number nine hitter, backup catcher Chris Stewart, emerged from the game with a .275 wOBA. The Mariners are sitting at .288 on the season.
This wasn't a game that held my interest throughout. I sure hope it wasn't one that held your interest throughout, even if you were playing. Although the M's scampered out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning, they gave it up immediately thanks to a combination of dodgy umpiring, poor pitching from Hisashi Iwakuma and poor defending from Kyle Seager, who got the start at second base. Two of those were the Mariners fault, and although Iwakuma was getting squeezed, I have minimal sympathy for anyone whose pitch tempo is so... glacial.
The second inning saw the Yankees grab the lead on thanks to a defensive error from Dustin Ackley, and it was pretty obvious where the game was going to go from there. The lineup wasn't really clicking and Iwakuma wasn't particularly effective, and it was very easy to tune out of the game. If you're anything like me, you find the half-innings with the Mariners at the plate inherently more watchable, because only good things can happen, while watching the pitchers just leaves you worried about the score. With the hitters doing nothing, perusing Baseball-Reference became far more interesting than watching the game in the middle innings.
Iwakuma didn't help his cause at all. He was wild,
slow deliberate and ineffective, doing a very good impression of Miguel Batista without quite managing the aura of vague creepiness. When the game began, it looked like a thunderstorm was about ninety minutes away from hitting Yankee Stadium, although the promised deluge never quite materialised, and it looked for all the world as though Iwakuma was pitching in hopes of a rainout. That probably would have been more fun.
Mike Saunders and Jesus Montero temporarily perked the game up with two outs in the fifth, with the former hammering a double off the right centre field wall and the latter lining a single the other way to plate a run and make it 3-2. That score didn't last for very long, thanks to this pitch to Raul Ibanez:
Montero was calling for a sinker on the outside corner. Anyway, said pitch ended up here:
Let's blame the ballpark for that one.
Armed with a two-run lead, the Yankees looked nigh-on unstoppable, and ended the match as a contest in the sixth when Ibanez lined a bases-loaded single over Munenori Kawaski's head to make it 6-2. Unsurprisingly, the Mariners never did anything that looked remotely comebacky, and their ninth inning consisted of plate appearances by Trayvon Robinson, Kawasaki and Chone Figgins.
Oh well. Bullet point time!
- This game was essentially Jesus Montero in a nutshell. He hit very well, staying back on the breaking ball and going the opposite way with pitches he couldn't pull, which was most of them. He finished 2-4 with both Mariner RBIs, and both singles were solid line drives to right field. Unfortunately he didn't do much else right. His form behind the plate was as bad as I've seen it in a while, stabbing at balls rather than blocking them, but the most Montero-y part of his afternoon came in the first inning.
After dodging out of the way of a tag from Robinson Cano to advance to second base, Montero tried to score on a Kyle Seager base hit to right field. Everyone in the stadium knew what was going to happen, including third base coach Jeff Datz, whose stop sign Montero trundled through on his way to being tagged out by Chris Stewart, who fathered several children in the time between receiving Nick Swisher's throw and applying the tag. Someone should really teach Montero how to run. After that, we can master stopping.
- This was a very, very boring game. That said, it was still worth watching for the second inning. Quick outs by Eric Thames and Trayvon Robinson brought Munenori Kawasaki to the plate, and he was able to draw a walk off of Garcia. His skip towards first was weird enough, but it got stranger -- having caught Garcia's attention, Kawasaki then proceeded to do... whatever the hell this is:
There was some speculation in the game thread that he was deliberately messing with Garcia's head, but I don't think Kawasaki thinks things through that carefully. He just can't not be doing something. He runs when he's standing still. If you averaged him and Jesus Montero, you'd have two normal people.
- Although Kawasaki was the story during that Figgins at-bat, we also received this gift, courtesy of MLB Advanced Media:
Good scouting you guys.
- Ichiro managed to extend his hitting streak to eleven games with a sun-double against Michael Saunders, who can be completely excused for forgetting about the fact that there was a baseball game on account of boring. He also got plunked in the back of the knee in the fifth by what looked like a suspiciously intentional throw from Iwakuma. Ichiro's now been hit twice in six games by Seattle's pitchers, and zero times in his last 335 games by everyone else. Maybe everyone really did hate him.
- Trayvon Robinson led off the top of the ninth inning, having gone 0-3 on the day to that point. He had an ugly strikeout in the second, but his next two at-bats saw a pair of line outs, first to Derek Jeter and then to Mark Teixeira. He continued the festival of line drives by hammering the ball straight into Rafael Soriano's glove without giving him time to move. Robinson grinned ruefully at his luck. The rest of us had some horrifying flashbacks.
- The Mariners have a .467 all-time winning percentage, which is an average record of 76-86 over 162 games. The equivalent calculation for the Yankees gives us 92-70. Hard to get too worked up about this one.
- Jeff's certainly back tomorrow, and he might even return sometime today! Since Lookout Landing started in 2005, the Mariners have gone 560-683, scoring an average of 4.07 runs a game while conceding 4.56. Somehow he's still producing wonderful stuff day in and day out. There are good things about the Mariners -- Felix, Kawasaki and the youngsters spring to mind -- but the best part of being an M's fan is, without a doubt, the fact that we get to read Jeff most days. Shower him with love, for he is wonderful. You can't spell 'Jeff Sullivan is wonderful' without 'Jeff Sullivan'.