Well today the Mariners and the Rangers went out onto Main St and drew their silver guns and pointed them at each other and there was dust blowing in the wind and a rattlesnake and their eyes and then they decided to just put their guns away and go home. Kind of makes you wonder why they even bothered to do anything in the first place! Yes, the M's ended the day with a 4-4 tie, and although the score really doesn't matter, it should have provided us with some very titillating baseball fun to remind us that opening day is right around the corner.
On one hand, this could have been a somewhat encouraging outing from Roenis Elias, who finished the day with four strikeouts in his four innings pitched. It would have been encouraging and also mysterious, but mysterious in that good way where some unknown Cuban lefty comes out of nowhere with crazy pitch movement and nerves of steel to strike out Adrian Beltre, even though he did it with baseballs up here and over to the right and wait, what are you doing, don't throw it there!
My use of the word encouraging here may be a bit of a misnomer, however. I mean the reality is that we went through this whole dance last spring, and by now we realize that for all Elias' strengths--breaking stuff, mixing pitches well, generating these surprising strikeouts--he's still only played a single game in AAA, and for every Wait How Did He Strike Him Out? there is a oh
And, of course, you can't forget that he's not battling for a rotation spot with an injured Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker, with a whiny Randy Wolf and a bunch of huge question marks floating ominously over the pitching mound because they are blocking out the sun, that damn sun that makes this whole duel pointless. No, Elias is now battling for a rotation spot against a pitcher who has 13 strikeouts in 12 innings, four hits, no runs, and um...well...yeah. This is a strange conversation to be having. The Rainiers have great new uniforms, though.
Texas got two runs on Elias today, and although he gave up a triple to Elliot Johnson in the first at-bat of the game, he was able to get out of devastating trouble a few times. The first run came in the third from a sac fly to that same Johnson, and although two more runners reached before inning's end, he escaped with only a single run of damage. Another run came in a busy fifth, after Elias put Nomar Mazara and our friend Mr. Johnson (seriously who the hell is this guy) on base with back-to-back walks, and was pulled for Charlie Furbush, who walked in a run a few batters later.
All these events happened, and fascinatingly, the only way the really had an impact on the rest of the major league season was that they did not provide us with something like Elias striking out every single batter he faced or throwing a baseball 125 mph. Those would have arguably been the only things to dramatically change the course of his season--his spot in the rotation was already a longshot, Furbush walking in a run isn't going to lose him the job that he clearly has. Tom ran into a little bit of trouble after a scoreless sixth in which he hit Ryan Rua, but both the two-run homer he gave up to Mitch Moreland in the seventh--and the stupid retaliatory beaning to Jesus Sucre right in between those two things--were little more than numbers on a scorecard at the end of the day. A stupid scorecard that ends with the same number repeated twice, and you look at it and think wait is that a typo? but it's not because ties are STUPID.
I mean don't get me wrong, I don't want them to keep playing after the ninth. Everyone wants to go home, it's just a bunch of kids playing, spring training doesn't matter anyway. But there should be some other criteria for providing a victory, like how many feet each team's collective home runs traveled, which team threw the most strikes, hell, I don't know, rock paper scissors. Shirtless grease wrestling. Fight to the death. Something.
Of course, we did have a few events that made the day worthwhile, such as, oh I don't know, Mike Zunino hitting two dingers in the game. His first, pulled to left, tied the game in the fourth inning and his second was straight away to center. In order to step up his game this season, Zunino needs to start reaching base more either through learning how to walk (3.6 BB% last season!!!) or learning how to not strike out every time he sees a pitch that does a bendy thingie (33.2 K% last season!!!).
Although, you know, you do get to touch four bases when you hit a dinger, so maybe his problem isn't reaching base, it's just getting to the first one more often. You can see that first dinger here if you'd like to. Or not! Don't let me tell you what to do.
In other news, Alex Jackson walloped what sounded like a mammoth dinger to tie the game in the eighth, and as some would like to remind us, that is kind of an insane thing, even though the Mariners ended up leaving the game with just a tie, the lazy bums.
Damn, Alex Jackson just homered to very deep right-center field. He's 19— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) March 20, 2015
We all were (or are) capable of very divergent things at 19 years of age. I learned how to sleep 15 hours a day after getting mono. Mozart wrote all his violin concertos, which are still considered staples in the repetoire. Alex Jackson hit a dinger that apparently could have cleared the batters' eye. I'm certainly not complaining, but all I'm going to say is it was a lot easier to identify with Alex Liddi, personally.
The Mariners had a chance to win it in the bottom of the ninth after Jackson's tying dinger, but after the man himself came back up for a chance at glory, he simply grounded into a force out to send it to the bottom of the ninth. Then everyone packed their bags and said their goodbyes and the groundscrew swept some sunflower seeds into oversized trashbags, the only evidence that there was even a game of baseball played on these very grounds today and the judge was dancing, dancing, he says he will never die. Because if you don't win a baseball game, and you don't lose a baseball game, did it even happen?
Actually, of course it did, and it may be one of the few times the Rangers don't lose to the Mariners this season. So there you have it.