The Seattle Mariners in 2015 are just good enough. Good enough to make you forget the errors of the past game, and certainly good enough to play a game worth remembering the next evening. Last night was a game we will all remember for a long time. Tonight was not that game. It was a game of good enough, but not good enough to win. The Mariners lost 4-3. We saw the team for what it has been so far: entertaining but not a juggernaut. This team is worth writing home about but I have no idea what you would say in that letter. Well, I do have an idea what you'd say in that letter but I just wrote one to my ex and this is not the proper forum for discussion of the contents.
I suppose the most imperative thing to get across is that I cannot be angry with the result. I paid good money to attend an event designed to entertain me, and it did just that. We bled runs early, locked it down long enough to make a play at winning, and ultimately came up short. The Seattle Mariners held my gaze for ten full innings and they ultimately lost another one-run game. It is always easy in the aftermath to point fingers through the dust and rubble but all games are played in linear fashion. The errors, quite literally (Brad Miller), are forgotten as the innings go forward and the game continues. I'm still willing to be a little mad at Brad.
Today I watched Mike Zunino hit in the game-tying run in the bottom of the ninth on an 0-2 count. I also watched multiple at-bats from a kid I faced all the time back in high school. That same kid would eventually be the reason the Diamondbacks won the game and also the reason some kid in front of me decided he needed to introduce himself to me. For several, long moments of the game I held a writer for this site above my head as they celebrated Mike Zunino putting us in place for heroics. It was still a loss.
And to be honest, it is important to remember this game as a loss. This would be a perfectly acceptable game to lose back in May or June. However, it is July and the M's are way behind the pre-season pace that was set for them. Not only that, depending on how much you believe in the Twins, the Seattle Mariners are sort of in a Wild Card race. The margins are getting thinner every day as October looms and Carson Smith is going to have to unlearn his Fernando Rodney impression if there is going to be anything resembling a serious run at the playoffs.
Let's talk positives, first. Mike Montgomery overcame an early, rough start to settle in for a 6 2/3 outing where he gave up three earned runs, five hits, but most importantly, four walks. Six walks were given up in total by the staff tonight, and that just can't happen going forward. Robinson Cano went 2-3 with a solo home run and two walks and is continuing his resurgence. Mark Trumbo went 3-4 tonight and, I don't know, maybe is a player who can be useful in a playoff run. Sorry, I love controversy and I know that will ruffle the feathers. I have decided I love Mark Trumbo and, yeah, I am an idiot. Teach me about baseball, please. Fernando Rodney pitched a very-capable 1 1/3 innings. That is a sentence from 2015. MIKE ZUNINO TIED THIS GAME ON AN 0-2 COUNT AT THE BOTTOM OF THE NINTH.
The negatives I already touched on a bit. Lloyd probably didn't manage the bench to its ultimate utilization tonight, and that is a problem that hasn't just come up tonight. Chris Taylor over Dustin Ackley for a pinch runner in the ninth is a strange call, especially for Trumbo. Seth Smith may not be the proper call to hit for Gutierrez, as well. Carson Smith just needed to be 85% of what he has been lately and wasn't, resulting in a go-ahead run being scored at the top of the 10th, which ultimately was the winning run. The Mariners had two errors and I guess you could argue that the team lost due to a couple Brad Miller miscues in the field. Brad Miller also had a couple really bad at-bats. Popping up on short at-bats is not what we need right now. I understand that it is "only" July, but this team has put itself in a position where July, and from here on out, has to be played like "Mid-September". Sure, it may be early, but it is put-up or shut-up time for this team and they developed a severe allergy to momentum in the off-season. Oh, also, Wellington Castillo hit a solo bomb 450 feet. He remembers. So do we.
A 4-3 loss does not provide much to complain about. There were elements that were exciting and hopeful, and elements that could cause concern. In context, however, this game needs to be considered as one that cannot be continually replicated if this team has October aspirations. The Mariners cannot trade wins for losses and make the postseason. Ultimately, that early seven game losing streak must be undone by a seven game winning streak. If it doesn't happen, 2015 will be a season that was not good enough. A season of one-run losses.