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22-31: Mariners Uphold Tradition, Lose In Walk-Off

This is what road games are now.

Players unused to celebrating home runs.
Players unused to celebrating home runs.
Denis Poroy

Each baseball game provides a spectrum of emotional rewards. The games we live (or lived) for are the late Autumn games with playoff appearances on the line, or being in Safeco for a playoff game with Felix on the hill. Those types of games can inspire a temporal ecstasy or agony that is almost embarrassingly intense. But Mariners-Padres in late May on a Wednesday? Joe Saunders Vs. Eric Stults? A game like that provides an emotional range from "Hey this is the Ethiopian bean. I ordered the Columbian." to "My favorite work shirt is clean and pressed. Yay."

The Mariners lost on the road on a walk-off. It's happens a lot, especially recently. In fact after tonight 4 of the last 7 games the team has played on the road have ended with the other team kidney punching some unfortunate hero amidst shaving cream pies and awkward hugs. The Mariners have been playing the role of MLB's Joy Trampoline, roaming the country and setting up for the gleeful bouncing of triumph for other teams, in other stadiums, with other fans.

It's frustrating, then unbearable and then, finally, nothing. The needle hits the nerve and administers the numbing agent. A ball glances off of Kendrys Morales' glove. Nothing that happens after this will be felt or processed. The ability to communicate is going to be severely hampered but then what's left to say anyway? This game, 1/3 of the way through the season, was the Mariners shooting me up with Novocain.

The Mariners lost on the road on a walk-off. I can't feel my face. I'm tired of baseball feeling like the dentist's office.

  • Michael Morse and Justin Smoak are each nursing a sore quad. Separately. They do not share a quadricep. Jesus Montero, Dustin Ackley and Franklin Gutierrez are in AAA. The National League does not allow the DH. I list all these things to acknowledge that Eric Wedge's options were not abundant when he made out the lineup for tonight's game. Still, for a team that spent so much of the offseason and Spring building expectation for offensive improvement the Mariners, in May, batted Endy Chavez, Jason Bay, Kelly Shoppach and Nick Franklin. Add in Joe Saunders and this lineup was more chewing gum than hull. As a result I get to make this comparison:

    Pitcher A: 8 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 95/69 Pitches/Strikes, 8 K, 0 BB, 68% First Pitch Strikes

    Pitcher B: 8 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 106/68 Pitches Strikes, 12 K, 0 BB, 67% First Pitch Strikes

    Pitcher A is Cliff Lee two days ago. Pitcher B is Eric Stults tonight. Eric Stults is 33 years old. He has 2.6 career bWAR. Cliff Lee had 3.4 bWAR in 3 months as a Seattle Mariner. Also, Cliff Lee was a Mariner.
  • It's getting quite late and this topic has probably spilled too many words but before the game Greg Johns interviewed Eric Wedge and asked him to unpack the intent and meaning behind Ackpocalypse being the fault of all us nerdy nerds. The entire article is necessary reading if you care what Eric Wedge thinks about things but this quote speaks directly to the sense of personal insult many felt by Wedge's "Stopped playing the game at 9 years old" comment:
    "When I bust somebody’s chops or make a joke at it, you can take it in a light-hearted way or you can take it personally,” he said. “Quite frankly, I don’t care either way. But the fact of the matter is, sabermetrics is a part of the game of baseball. It has been for a while. It’s my job to see it from all ways."
    I'm not backing up the really silly statements that Wedge gave yesterday. I'm certainly not of the belief that he's an upper echelon big league manager. But I also don't think the situation was ever "Eric Wedge blames sabermetrics for Dustin Ackley's failure" as was largely portrayed in Tuesday's flavor de internet.

    Baseball managers are often portrayed either as idiots or geniuses, reduced to the binary code that seems to enslave so much of our silly human brains. It's easy to view them that way because, absent better data we're stuck largely evaluating them off a won/loss record , a few quotes and reading the gossip of daily happenings provided by beat writers. Still, being absent such data does not mean that the subtle variances in managers don't exist. Eric Wedge is not a "1" manager on some binary scale. I'd probably assign him a value of, say, .43. But remember, despite our personal affronts and rage against the losses, he's not a 0. And he doesn't hate you, or me. He just wants to win some more damn baseball games.
  • The Rainiers went to Colorado Springs and scored 25 runs today. In 2010 from April 25-May 7, a span of 12 games the Mariners scored 24 runs. Courage, friends. Just, courage.