Eh: Nelson Cruz (.048 WPA)
Ew: Felix Hernandez (-.449 WPA)
Not baseball, no baseball is kind of easy at its most abstract. That may be correct or it may be totally wrong, but what I really meant was that it's hard to know exactly what to do after a loss like this. We watched as Felix Hernandez lasted a whopping 2.1 innings, wearing 10 runs on the afternoon after 59 pitches seconds into the third frame. We watched as the Mariners allowed 22 runs--the most in club history--off 26 Red Sox hits. Many of those came after Felix gave up five back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back in the second, some came after Jesus Sucre came in the game to tack on an extra three runs in the eighth.
In fact, one of the most hilarious things about today--and believe me, there were at least two thousand of them--was this here at-bat in the eighth which saw Jesus Sucre, backup catcher, getting ahead of Blake Swihart with alternating speeds, missing with his curveball by just a little bit, and then delivering a perfect fastball up and out of the zone that was lucked into by Swihart for an RBI double.
I mean, look at this. This is actually a strategic approach by the person who is being paid quarters to catch once a week, using deception and actual, red-blooded ability to get ahead of a Major League hitter in a blowout game. Of course, the three runs he allowed started to pile on after this, but you have to admire the fact that this was, surprisingly, something to behold. And the pitch Swihart hit was actually...I'll just say it...a good pitch, all things considered.
But it's tough, because you look at that final score, and then you also look at the fact that this happened:
Which is, at this point, just a thing you can laugh at, not unlike an old man falling over or a dog with a box stuck on his head. I mean, look at this dog! What a dumb dog! No, it was Cruz' 35th homer of the year, and since Ketel Marte has actually been on base a few times, and has been more often than not pencilled in at the top of the order, he was able to give the Mariners an extra set of legs on that sweeping jog around the diamond. Which helps your team win, in theory, when you're not down by four thousand runs before making it through the order even once.
But what's even funnier is that we've been watching this season as the Mariners roll over to any coterie of collected scrubs like they didn't have eight career 100 wRC+ hitters on their starting roster. The hitters, these dang hitters are in a slump! Cano's stomach bug! What happened to Kyle Seager?! The dreaded TRUMBO TRADE! But then after all that hand wringing, we watch as one of the best pitchers in the entire game barfs up arguably his worst game ever, and then that stupid lineup filled with crusty snot handily grabs ten runs on the afternoon. TEN. TEN RUNS.
Those damned hitters, right? Look, at this crap. Here's what the Mariners hitters did today:
- Notch two runs in the third after a Trumbo walk, Zunino single, Marte double, and an infield blooper from Nelson Cruz which was beat by the (ugh) contact play with Marte sliding into third. They did this while down 5-0, giving the game hope. That died fast.
- The aforementioned Cruz dinger in the eighth, once the game was 19-2.
- 2-run shot from Austin Jackson three batters later.
- Four more runs in the ninth, because, I don't know, just whatever.
In that ninth, there was a dinger from Mike Zunino that cleared the Green Monster. There was a single from Brad Miller and a walk to Nelson Cruz and then Robinson Cano sent each up a base with a single a moment later. Remembering that bizarre comeback in Fenway almost exactly one year prior, Lloyd sent Logan Morrison out to hit for Guti, who promptly sent in a run and was followed up by Jackson doing the exact same thing. A four-run ninth! Except the problem is that it wasn't 2014 and the Mariners were down by 17 runs at one point and you don't do anything with that, you just don't. Other than embarrass yourself.
No, today the much-criticized Mariners hitters had 13 hits and walked a few times, and they earned themselves double digit runs. Somehow they did this while the pressure was off late in the game, and hell, maybe that's it. Maybe that's the whole thing. I don't know. You can't quantify these things, and while some of the more militant stat heads would like to pretend unquantifiable things don't exist, I think the greater point is that there isn't much of anything tangible we can surmise out of assumptions and gut feelings, which ultimately seems like a fair thing to say.
But look, this much is true: The Mariners have underperformed this season. The Mariners are better than 54-63. Hell, you want it both ways? Had Mariners hitters actually done what ZiPS and Steamer and the Seattle Times and Hank from the corner of the pub at Henry's thought they were capable of doing, they would have their newest free agent signee in the running for the AL Triple Crown right now. Not to mention whatever the hell else their record would look like! What went wrong wasn't in the numbers, what went wrong happened somewhere else altogether. And that, that is the damnedest thing about all of this.
Was it the pitching? I mean sure, last year's bullpen performed better than it actually was, and today's sewage cocktail of Danny Farquhar, Joe Beimel, Rob Rasmussen, Tom Wilhelmsen, and JESUS SUCRE is a perfect example of that pendulum swinging right back to the other side. Felix only lasted two innings and gave up 10 runs, but if we are being honest, that was just as many runs as the Mariners notched on the day: someone else had to tack on those 12 extra.
Lloyd? Eh, at this point bizarre strategy doesn't really matter when you're running an army of ants up against the French Foreign Legion, despite the fact that the ants are like fire poison ants, and they can bite you and it's really scary and dangerous and they are red and there are a million of them, but they don't realize this so they flock to falling boots like shadows comforting them from the rain.
No, while it's tough to know what to do after a game like this, the only thing I can think of is to sit back, crack a beer, and take a breather. Think about the fact that the only thing you lost was, ostensibly, a few morning hours--hell, maybe even only seconds of frustration after checking the box score, if you were smart about it.
But do that, and then realize that it's games like this that mean so much more for precisely the people who are, for better or worse, first on the chopping block as a evening of rare Kobe beef by a master chef gives way to a morning tossing it all back with your face in the toilet.
So close your laptop, pocket your phone, and recognize that there is only one direction to go from here on out. And also recognize that you, unlike a particular glasses-wielding executive with a different kind of relationship to shampoo, will have a completely different response to this morning's festivities. So onward and upward, as we used to say. Except the problem, here, is that the door is not on the ceiling.