This team. There's been a lot of nights that have defined the 2015 Mariners, and defined them as a Bad Team. While it'd be easy for me to point to this one as the one that stands above the rest—and boy, it'd be easy—there's so many others that stand out.
And that's the thing with this team, it's just constant.
I've cheered for this team since I moved to Seattle in 2000. I think I've stated that enough times already. But, as I've also mentioned, 2010 was the first year I followed this team day-in and day-out. I made it to Safeco at least 40 times that year as the Mariners lost 101 games. And I swear it was easier than this year.
This team, this year, it kicks your ass.
That 2010 club lost a lot more games, and a lot more games early. They were 15 games under .500 by early June, putting a strikethrough over that BELIEVE BIG before anyone got a chance to think otherwise.
This team though, it grabs you. It picks you up by the collar of your shirt and punches you right in the goddamn ear. Down to your knees, it picks you up again for a good knee to the ribs. As you're pissed off with the wind knocked out of you, it laughs and gives you a moment before a shove to the ground.
That, honestly, was very much like the middle innings of tonight's affair, a 12-5 trouncing at the most mediocre Tigers club Detroit has seen in a few years. Even without Miguel Cabrera, they managed to prop up the Mariners up for the better part of an hour, landing blow after blow after blow.
Before that though, something almost expected.
Tonight, much of the LL crew was on hand in the 'Pen. Myself, Nathan, Skiba, Woodsy. We joked/discussed among ourselves the expectations for Hisashi Iwakuma, the pitcher the Mariners very much needed to be himself but who hadn't been in a very long time. Some were confident, some were not. I tried to place over/unders, with the first inning's baserunners at 1.5 and his total innings pitched for the game at 4.5. He managed to outperform both, and it didn't matter.
After the first two pitches, a pair of 86mph fastballs elevated above the strike zone, I—more cynical and pessimistic about this team than I ever imagine I'd be—said something dumb like "there goes the playoffs." That, of course, would be a foolish overreaction, but the idea that the Mariners couldn't make it to their desired destination without vintage Iwakuma is not—and at this juncture it's difficult to imagine that guy coming back.
Even early on, when the poor results had yet to arrive, the command was spotty. In the first, he allowed two near-hit fly balls and a 108mph grounder. In the second, the expected results arrived, as Nick Castellanos homered and Anthony Gose tripled. Kuma managed to strand Gose but you could tell early that if Iwakuma were to pull this out, it'd be on account of walking the tightrope, not the dominating stuff we'd seen many months ago.
That Castellanos home run was one of four, the last of them coming off the bat of Yoenis Cespedes. The Cespedes homer followed a three-run bomb by Logan Morrison that gave the Mariners a three-run lead. Before the Yo bomb—and I mean right before it—I said to my brother next to me, "If he could just make it through this guy without a home run..." And then, a 110mph liner to dead center.
That's how it's gone, with the good moments very shortly erased by the reality that has been the 2015 Mariners.
From that Cespedes homer on, things proceding to a gasoline-on-fire disaster felt inevitable. After a single, Kuma was pulled, and replaced by Triple-A call-up Mayckol Guipe. It was early, so with Trent Jewett being the old-school National League manager, he went to his early/worst reliever. That guy allowed a single, a walk and another single—so Jewett went to his next- worst reliever. And it went as you could expect it might.
So Guiape and Rollins, the 2 newest #Mariners relievers, worked combined 1 inning tonight, 9 hits, 1 BB, 7 earned runs. Welcome to MLB.— Larry Stone (@StoneLarry) July 7, 2015
And that was it.
There was a Brad Miller double in there before, even a classic Dustin Ackley triple. But this season wasn't supposed to be about celebrating those types of moments among the lowlights. Then again, it soon might be.
I really do wish I had something more cutesy for you, at least more analytical. But I don't. The Mariners got beat tonight, and this isn't fun. It isn't fun for them, as it's becoming clear to see—and it sure isn't fun for us.
But, as always, there's tomorrow. Tomorrow brings Taijuan Walker, this season's last semblance of hope personified.
We'll tune it at seven o'clock tomorrow, as this team grabs us by the shirt and pulls us to our feet once again. We wince, waiting for a shot to the sternum, but maybe this time that's enough—and they brush off our shoulder and send us on our way.