I hang out with a lot of people who do not enjoy baseball. I'm not sure how it happened, but it is an aspect of my life I've been forced to accept. They find it dull, boring and a waste of time. I can argue until I'm blue in the face about why baseball is worth watching, following and enjoying, but those pleas fall on deaf ears. Those deaf ears are bolstered by games such as tonight.
If you consider the length of the regular season baseball schedule, it is reasonable to conclude that every now and then, out of the 162 games you are going to get a clunker. The Mariners served up a clunker in almost every sense of the word. Even if you were an Orioles fan, tonight's affair was a turd of a game. Yeah, you got to celebrate the win, but the celebration took place in the third inning and wore off over the next six.
Part of the problem with games like the one Mariners lost tonight is that it is all too recent of a memory. Those scars of enduring game after game of such nonsense like tonight are all too real -- mainly because those scars haven't even had a year to heal yet. As a sports fan, it is really hard not to try and read too much into one game, because one of the trademarks of a sports fan is to abandon as much logic as possible for passion. Logically, the Mariners demonstrated tonight what a lot of us have feared this whole time: the first half of the season was the good part and the second half is going to be the bad part.
For a little bit now, we could safely tell all of our friends beholden to playoff rich teams, "If the season ended today the Mariners would be in the playoffs." It never meant much because the season was never going to end today, and if it did the circumstances would most likely negate the playoffs even happening in the first place. But it was a nice little cloud to sit upon. A little cloud of happiness that the Mariners are finally becoming relevant again.
After tonight, if the season ended, the Mariners would no longer be in the playoffs. That is a big bummer. But considering where the Mariners used to be and how the season has progressed, it isn't that much of a bummer. Unfortunately, the season doesn't end today either. Instead, we are left wondering after another poor offensive performance if the Mariners are just slumping or if that horrible word regression has finally taken hold. Don't worry too much though, I hear help is on the way.
This game was terrible on all accounts. It started out with James Jones getting called out on a head first slide into home plate where it appeared the catcher was illegally blocking the plate. The umpires eventually called Jones out (eventually being the key word) because it took close to five minutes to come to that decision. That should have been the sign to turn the TV or radio off. But it is baseball so we keep on watching. Robinson Cano maybe launched the ball 90 feet on his hardest hit of the game. The Mariners' offense struggled mightily again and made a decent pitcher look like a fantastic pitcher. Wei-Yin Chen pitched the longest he has all year, as the Mariners were able to muster five hits and allowed Chen to throw 109 times in eight innings.
Hisashi Iwakuma ran into some trouble in the third inning and gave up three straight hits. Then he just absolutely hung one out to dry over the plate and Delmon Young clobbered it for a three-run home run. The whole situation was made worse by the fact it was Delmon Young and not any of the eight other batters in the Orioles lineup. That was the entire offense for the entire game and it happened before the sun had any motivation to start setting. From then on out, it was just six innings of something resembling the rules of baseball.
- There has been a lot (ok some) chatter about the changes in Jesus Montero's batting stance. This GIF showcases it way nicer than I could ever put together. For what it is worth, Montero finished the game 0-for-3
but he didn't strike out, struck out once and didn't look overwhelmed either. It is easy to write him off, but maybe there is some tiny bit of use still residing in that play dough body of his.
- James Jones stole his 20th base of the season in the first inning and he is now the fourth rookie in franchise history to hit that mark, joining Ichiro, Phil Bradley and Donell Nixon. If there is one thing Jones does well, it is stealing bases (lets ignore the home plate fiasco that immediately followed).
- Iwakuma had a fantastic July, tonight kind of included. Take out a bit of bad luck combined with one bad pitch and Iwakuma was pretty solid the whole game. After the third inning, Iwakuma settled down and allowed one base runner in four innings before he was pulled prior to the eighth inning. He has now gone 35.2 innings without issuing a walk. He is still a bit short of Bill Fischer's 84.1 consecutive innings without a walk record.
There aren't any sure fire cures for anything in life except for Felix Day. Tomorrow is Felix Day and that is only a good thing.