It's only fitting that the Mariners drowned their season on Felix night.
It had been a rough couple of games since the All-Star break, and the Mariners came back looking lethargic and tired, as if they forgot that there are two halves to each inning in baseball and that you can't win by just making life hard for the other team's bats. We all knew they were holding to a tenuous lead, perhaps with a record they never really deserved.
We all knew it was only a matter of time until it caught up to them, sending Kyle Seager and Endy Chavez and Robinson Cano packing for their winter residences with duffel bags filled with clean underwear and The Wire complete series DVD sets because they had nothing to do for five months and ostensibly wanted little to do with another postseason of Cespedes dingers and the Cardinals sneaking back into the wild card and being stupid.
Some of us optimistically thought it would happen in the final days September. Some of us held out hopes for October.
Too bad it happened on Friday, July 25th. The end of the season.
Okay, let me stop you right there. What the shit is wrong with you? I get it, I really do. The Mariners are bad. Honestly, they are. Four runs in the past four games? That's bad. A 36-year-old leadoff hitter with a weighted on-base percentage of .273? That's bad. An outfield comprising of a busted top infield prospect, Stefen Romero, that guy from the 2006 NLCS, and a centerfielder that is only in the majors because their first centerfielder was only in the majors because they didn't have a centerfielder? That's not bad, that's grounds for divorce.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to burn the ship down after this week of vomit-inducing baseball The Mariners have just gifted us. Hell, I just ralphed up a bit myself, leaving an April Michael Morse home run ball and a fifth inning Erik Bedard special to float in the john in the process. But it's fucking July 25th and the Mariners have a winning record and have a bunch more games to play. Leave your apocalypse at the door--or at least on ice for a few weeks.
Sure, this probably sounds like empty platitudes, and you're all going to let me have it in the comments. But it's true. The Mariners have been on a really shitty streak of shitty baseball, and in the process have only landed 1.5 games out of the wildcard spot. It has been common knowledge that this team was overperforming, but the point of a baseball team overperforming is that they can also underperform--and that's where they are today.
I don't say this to say that Endy Chavez is going to bring that wOBA above .300, or that James Jones is going to suddenly learn how to route fly balls, or even that Mike Zunino will suddenly learn how to square his bat against pitches that change direction on their way to the plate more than once every 187 times.
I say that because there are potentially trades left to bolster the offense. I say that because Robinson Cano is 3-21 since July 19th and that's abnormal. I say that because Kyle Seager has a wRC+ of 87 since the All-Star Break and that's also abnormal. These are all small sample size statistics, and if you're going to use small sample size to shrug off a hot streak from Endy Chavez in June, you need to be able to use small sample size to realize that the Mariners playing a week of shitty baseball might not be the end of the fucking world.
I mean it could be. Honestly, it totally could be. This could literally be the end of the season. But it doesn't have to be, and pretending otherwise is fatalistic and absurd, and also not fun.
And at the end of the day, baseball doesn't mean a single thing in the scope of mortality and the existence of the universe, and if you're the one making it not fun you have nobody to blame but yourself. And Stefen Romero.
Alright, enough of that. On to the game's bullet points.
- Felix was Felix. I've written that sentence a lot on this website, and it never ceases to be true. Today the King tied Tom Seaver's all-time record of 13 consecutive starts with 7+ innings and two or less earned runs. That's kind of a silly statistic, but it's also great because woah Felix! And aside from a stupid line drive dinger off the bat of Nelly Can't Hit Dingers At Safeco Cruz in the second inning, he was absolutely dominant. He went seven innings, striking out...oh, ten Orioles hitters without a single walk. That's good. But of course, you already know that. I'll just leave it at this quote, which if you're anything like me, will make you go from Ha-Ha-Felix-to-Oh-No-That-Pit-In-My-Stomach-I-Don't-Deserve-The-King:
Felix on tying Seaver's MLB record: "It means a lot for myself, but I don’t care about myself. I just care about the team."— Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) July 26, 2014
- After Cruz' home run, the game passed without incident. The way this is supposed to work, however, is without incident on one side: Felix was dealing and making the Orioles look foolish, giving the Mariners' offense ample time to load up some runs in the process. But the Mariners' offense made Orioles' starter Kevin Gausman look like Felix himself, except wiry, younger, and with glasses. Gausman was far from sharp, walking three (well one, it was Brad Miller three times) and putting someone on base in every inning but the second. Of course, once the Mariners got on base, it was another story. But we've heard that one too many times so something something ♫ Sequencinggggggg! ♫ bad-at-battttssss!!♫
- Seriously, though. Usually at this point I would go find a visualization of someone's at bat to break down a particular pitching/hitting matchup to try and tell a closer story about the game, but I'm so sick and tired of finding screengrabs of 93mph fastballs right down the middle of the plate fouled off Mike Zunino's bat, Logan Morrison mistiming a high 92, or Brad Miller staring at a curveball breaking right in his hot zone. We all know the Mariners have about as much luck looking like a competent offensive baseball team as I do trying to pry open that stupid silver liner bag inside Golden Grahams that is glued shut like World War Three. Just visualize a couple of those at bats, know they happened, and that the Mariners lost. Saved us all some time.
- The Mariners did score, though. In the bottom of the sixth, Robinson Cano whapped the second pitch he saw into right field, making it all the way to third after Nick Markakis tried to time it on a hop. Kendrys Morales came up to the plate and earned his first 2014 Mariners RBI on a shallow sac fly that saw him pumping his fist in excitement on his way back to the dugout. Everyone is a little skeptical of what Kendrys is actually going to add to this team's offense, and the circumstances of his return are certainly something worthy of actual irony, and not the Alanis Morissette kind. But I've never heard anything outside of how great of a guy Kendrys is, or how professional of an athlete his reputation speaks of. There was certainly reason to wonder how he would take being a Howard Lincoln employee again, but seeing him celebrate this run and then bum around with the team in the dugout afterward assuaged any fears I may have had, and in fact, only reminded me that we are pretty lucky to at least have his personality on the team. Then again, we did all this with Raul last year, and look where that got them. Please, Kendrys. Please feel free to do more than that.
- The game went into extras after Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth, and Charlie Furbush came out to face Chris Davis in the 10th. Last year everyone thought Chris Davis was going to hit 62 home runs, and then he didn't but he hit 53 and holy shit, that's a lot of home runs in the 2010's. Chris Davis is having a bit of a down year, but you still should probably be a little smarter than this in a 1-2 count:
This dinger would be the difference maker, and the Orioles would go on to win it. And honestly, it wasn't a terrible pitch. It could have been a called strike or hell, even a ball. But with a hitter like Chris Davis, even in a so-so year, especially in a 1-2 count...there is no reason to do this. Because what will happen is what happened and the M's lost and now everyone thinks baseball is dead in the Pacific Northwest. Cascadia is on the way, the Sonics are never coming back, and Marshawn Lynch hates us all. THANKS, CHARLIE.
So, look. Please, feel bad and annoyed about the Mariners. After a week like this you have earned every right to.
And to be honest, it's a good thing to be upset over. That people are reading the eulogy of M's baseball in 2014 on the internet means that there were people that believed something different was going to happen in the first place, and that's progress. I just don't think it's over yet, and feel free to flame me in the comments all you want.
Here is my last and final point: as I've said before, we all knew the M's were over performing in the early part of the year. That they did what they did with Endy Chavez and Stefen Romero should be commended. That they shit the bed this week with Endy Chavez and Stefen Romero and a slew of other underperforming warm bodies should be a shock to the system that something needs to change, because otherwise they wouldn't have changed a damn thing and it would actually be over, and over quick.
Instead, there is hope. And if not hope, then opportunity. It's not too late to make that change, and by all accounts, it will be happening. Well, it will be too late in a week. But you get my point.