The Mariners have spent a half a decade teaching us to survive on a meager diet of 1-3 runs per game. Feasts are rare and when they do occur they often consist of empty, non-nourishing caloric intake in games with little meaning, long after the season had been lost. How then to deal with tonight, as the Mariners shoved 30 oz of Kobe quality runs right into our eating orifice? I know how I did.
When Endy Chavez drilled Andre Rienzo in the sternum and drove in the 11th run with a line drive I choked. A little nasal drip zigged when it should have zagged, went down my windpipe and I spent about 2 minutes gagging, wheezing and scaring the crap out of my wife. It was purely coincidental but the discomfort felt appropriate. There are more ignoble ways to pass than death by shock.
The Chavez line drive was merely a data point in an ever rising trend chart of happiness. Scoring began with the surprisingly predictable occurrence of Dustin Ackley hitting a dinger, his 4th in the past 7 games. Scott Carroll didn't have command tonight. He fell behind Ackley 3-1 on a trio of pitches with too much tail and so he threw what I imagine the scouting book said was "The Dustin Ackley Groundout Pitch" which was any pitch thrown by any pitcher. So Carroll threw it here, no doubt feeling little to none of either fear nor trepidation:
"Was." New shit has come to light.
The rest of the game blends together in an unceasing tumult of positive things. Roenis Elias was good. Endy Chavez hilariously hit the absolute piss out of a baseball and spent the rest of the game flexing his arm and guaranteeing that he'll be around for the rest of the year. More home runs were hit. The White Sox played terribly. Long residing ghosts were at least partially exorcised. Some players MAY have been hit and there MAY have been some pretty blatant retaliation by the White Sox and Lloyd McClendon MAY have had the wrong game circled as Lou Piniella Hall of Fame Night and got tossed.
The ever compressing season has shrunk to 48 games. The bad 2014 Mariners survived long enough to give the at least average 2014 Mariner a chance at squeeking through baseball's newly insecure attic window to the playoffs. They have better run prevention than anyone in the game. The offense, a day after McClendon imparted the baseball manager equivalent of "my knee's actin' up rain's a comin" put a complete mollywhopping on a team. There are 4 teams within a half game in the American League. Four 45 year old 10k runners trying to beat each other at a marathon. It's kind of weird, but strangely beautiful. Also this is the best shape the Mariner have been in in ages.
- It's weird when our sample sizes are so neatly demarcated for us but Dustin Ackley's pre and post All-Star Break number are stark:
It's easy to scoff at that walk rate since the break (although he did have a walk tonight) but what jumps out is the slugging. In 298 PA in the 1st half Ackley had 20 extra base hits. In 83 PA since the break he has 12. Matthew Carruth noted on a podcast awhile back that the one thing greatly differentiating current Ackley from Lightbringer 2011 Ackley was his ability to pull the ball in the air. That has not been a problem for weeks now. We've been down this road with players like Justin Smoak before so many times. You don't want your heart broken again. Neither do I. Dustin Ackley is playing like a marauding swashbuckler, kicking ass and he doesn't care even a little bit about your feelings.
- There are many ways that Roenis Elias and James Jones remind me of each other. They both are older than I feel like they should be. They both have plus left-handed fastballs. I knew next to nothing about either of them coming into this season and both were emergency call ups early on this year, in the times of Great Calamity. From there the paths diverge wildly. Jones spent approximately 2 sitcom episodes being useful before being way, way, waaaaaay over his head. Elias has to varying degrees thrived, gotten by and kind of sucked at times. What he's never been is a disaster. Regardless of his post game, very temporary demotion to Tacoma and probable reduced innings the rest of the season he's given the team 135 IP of slightly above average production.
For the longest time the Mariners have been held back equally due to a lack of stars and due to huge, gaping wounds of festering suck dragging the team to hell. Without those 135 innings from Elias this team may have had and have one of such wounds. His contribution has helped prevent the rotation equivalent of Jeff Weaver, Anthony Vasquez, and Carlos Silva from reappearing. Never, ever doubt the almighty power of not terrible.
- Did you know: Robinson Cano is super rad? To whit:
To further elucidate his greatness that pitch was located here:
There just aren't a lot of players who hit that pitch for a dinger. Especially not hitters who bat .330. Especially hitters who play for the Mariners. I can think of Ichiro and this guy. Robinson Cano has a 143 wRC+. He's going to be an ~6 fWAR player. His teammates love him. He's one of the 5 greatest hitters in the history of this franchise at this exact moment and he's played less than a season. He's going to cause us a lot of squirming discomfort in the future. I plan on basking in the radiance of the present.
Tomorrow Hisashi Iwakuma and
Hector NoesiJose Quintana face off. The easy narrative is to wait for the Mariners to trip over their shoelaces and continue to be haunted by a former failed asset they possessedbe overcome by another left handed starter (fact check you idiots. Always.) If my cripplingly narrative-focused brain were to assign descriptors to this Mariner team one of them would be "Narrative Defiers". Another would be "Endy Chavez Starters" but when Endy goes yard and you rack up that infallible pythag advantage you focus on the positive.