Part of the problem with the way this whole weekend went down is our own fault.
Now, sure. We had very little to do with Fernando Rodney's shocking inability to locate the strike zone last night, and if any of us had decided to hop on down to that field to try and salvage today's 4-0 loss to the Athletics, we would have just made it all worse.
I know you're also all frustrated that Kendrys Morales went 0-3 and grounded into his gajillionth double play this afternoon, but he's about a million times better at baseball than you are, and for better or worse he's what they have right now. I know you're upset that Corey Hart was in left field, and that Michael Saunders and Brad Miller saw a confusingly short amount of playing time this weekend, but none of that is really up to us. It's not your bad that today's Mariners strung together seven hits and five walks without pushing even one across the plate.
No, what I'm talking about is that pit in your stomach, expanding out from the already critical mass it achieved after last night's dumpster fire. The pit in your stomach as you watched Chris Young lose in six innings of the kind of baseball few thought he could pull off after his last meltdown in Oakland. The pit that is growing because the Mariners stranded eleven baserunners today and went 0-13 with runners in scoring position. I know that pit is there in your stomach because it's in mine, and as we reflect on this weekend, our professed "biggest series in a decade," it kind of feels like the whole season is in the books.
Well the reason you feel that way is because we were somewhat erroneously convinced that these two weekend games mattered more than any other game since the millennium was only a year old. So of course watching the Mariners lay a classic northwest-green speckled egg was the worst outcome you could possibly imagine in that paradigm. Nobody had fun watching Justin Smoak swing at balls in the dirt today, or trying to come down from the high that is having Austin Jackson reach third on a stolen base and wild throw into the outfield from A's catcher Derek Norris, only to watch Kendrys bumble back into the dugout after thee pitches to end the inning.
It's getting down to crunch time, for sure. And yes, this weekend had emotional resonance beyond the scoreboard making it a big series--an attempt to convince weary Seattle fans that the Mariners may be made of something special again, that Felix could win a meaningful game in late September in front of a sellout crowd, that they could take two out of three from the flailing A's to get within an arm's reach of the first WC spot. That much is certain.
But the Mariners have lost to the A's more than twice this season, and statistically speaking, those two losses count just as much as these did. The amount of handwringing over this is directly correlated to the amount of giddy excitement spent thinking that this was going to all go another way, and as it turns out, no one is owed anything in this stupid game that some jerk made up in or around New York before the Civil War in order to spend time away from whatever it is people did back then.
If you want a recap, here it is: The Mariners lost to the Athletics today. Chris Young proved he might have some gas left in the tank after striking out five in six innings, but the Mariners' bats came up short. Austin Jackson encouragingly hit a few. Endy Chavez is still surprising everyone. Taijuan had a little trouble, but escaped without worrying mechanics. There's your details.
But what I want to do instead is to have you think again about your recent feelings of terminality, the futility of more baseball after this weekend. Think about how much of that is related to how hyped this series was, and then think about what kind of fortitude it would actually take to make a realistic push towards the off-season with a team that everyone knows shouldn't be doing what it has done this season. How should they take it? Here's Lloyd, speaking to the press in today's post-game comments:
"Listen--I've always said this, and I think it bears out...when you start making too much of a series, you get bit in the next one. For me, the biggest series is the one before and the one after--not that one...You don't argue for your limitations. We haven't been good at home, this was not a good homestand, what the hell (are you) gonna do? You're gonna go on the road and try to win."
If the Mariners made as big a deal over this weekend as we did--and then had this happen--I can't imagine there being much gas left in the tank for any sort of strong push to finish this thing with a straight face. And from the sounds of it, they aren't thinking that way. This kind of shit is done one day at a time, and that's what they are going to keep doing, even with questionable lineups, complete refusal to acknowledge reverse splits, and an apparent viral infection that only attacks when runners are in scoring position.
After last night's abysmal vomit-stain of a baseball game, Patrick wrote that these Mariners don't have the magic that surrounded the famed Mariner crews of yore. He's absolutely right. But somehow this bizarre coterie of unfit rejects and a quarter-of-a-billion-dollars have managed to turn in the best season of baseball this city has seen in a long, long time, and they might not even need it. What they need instead is to keep doing what they have been doing all year: quietly raising eyebrows and surprising baseball with value squeezed out of players who shouldn't be doing what they are doing, as a team built around quality pitching and a surprising ability to brush struggle off their shoulders like beads of rain off a waterproof jacket.
I know that that sounds about as exciting as "25% more!" in your $8.99 stack of bulk printer paper you bought at Office Depot last weekend. But to hell with it. Because even if magic is off the table, this has been working a whole lot better than anyone could have thought so far.