I would understand if you wanted to talk about the future after all of that. I mean, first five-game win streak of the year, offense locking in and stringing things together, an oft-injured pitcher following up a no-hitter with a few weeks of dominant tossing. A series sweep against the gutter of the AL West right before playing sixteen games opposite the three teams ahead of them in the race. I get it, I do.
I don't want to do that, though. Part of it is just that I'm lazy, but the other part is that I've been doing this for long enough now to know not to take very bump in the road as a fork, that sometimes you just hop and skip around a little and also look out for the banana peels and lightning bolts, because they will fuck your shit up real quick.
Sure, you've got to be feeling pretty great right now. The Mariners just made mincemeat of the Oakland Athletics, who despite turning in an abysmal season to date, remain filled with great players that I am scared of watching on my television every time they find themselves on it. Despite almost decimating the future of Stephen Vogt's genetic lineage (I'm not going to link it but it's out there for the strong-stomached), the Mariners departed the great state of California this afternoon with a series sweep, a brand new shiny toy in Shawn O'Malley, a rejuvenated Bartender for a closer, and hell, I think the poor Beltre'd Oakland catcher is going to be alright in the end too, thankfully. I believe in him, anyway.
Today? Well we had six innings and some change from Iwakuma, who notched only three strikeouts but then again, isn't exactly the strikeout machine he had teased himself as from time to time. I could break down his Brooks data, show you a few screengrabs, but you know that the best thing in the world is when you don't have to do that. That's because we live in an era when the trajectory of a pitched baseball is recorded and measured down to the centimeter, the pitcher's release point and velocity cross-referenced with an enormous database worth of information determining efficiency and future projections, and yet...despite it all, sometimes you can just sit back and shrug your shoulders while Iwakuma generates weak contact on 83mph splitters to win the dang game.
Alright, fine LOOK AT THIS
Right? And notice that Iwakuma's velocity is markedly down, with his fastball at only 87. Iwakuma has never been a flamethrower, topping out at the occasionally unlikely 93 but sitting at 89, 90 or so. And yet, since returning from his early season woes, Iwakuma's velocity on his fastballs has been way, way down. I know I said I wasn't going to go on a Brooks train, but, well, now I'm down a rabbit hole:
On one hand you kind of have to be scared. He's going on 35, after all. On the other, it's been working a whole hell of a lot better than it did in April, so, uh...whatever?
It looked like it was going to be a scoreless Sunday game all day until the fifth, when A's starter Sean Nolin, making his first start in the green and yellow, started to crumble around the edges a little bit. Some of it was just Sunday doggedness, trying to get out of dodge before it got too hairy, sure. But through four, Nolin was looking great, refusing to allow a Mariner on the basepaths until the third when Brad Miller blooped one of those weird slappy oppo hits down from the bottom of the zone he does every once in a while. Seconds before this, Ketel Marte smothered a running grounder to get an incredibly unlikely out at first before being mobbed on his way back to the dugout from an ecstatic Felix and Cano. These two sentences may or may not have anything to do with one another. I will let you decide if that's true or not.
By the time Nolin was struggling in the fifth, he would have been looking at a bases loaded situation after only ten pitches. Logan Morrison led off with a 1-0 single, and rocketed down to third after Brad Miller hit one himself except there was Chris Woodward, standing in for an under the weather Rich Donnelly, holding his arms up and telling Morrison he didn't need to slide to avoid the tag. He was out by ten miles. There was a death stare. I felt uncomfortable 3,000 miles away. You would have believed every word I just typed even if it was Rich Donnelly doing the whole thing. Now remember all that optimism about the future up there I was warning you about and just go ahead and enjoy whatever happens in the next couple of weeks because we're all gonna die someday.
ANNNNYYYWAYYYYYY...so yes, Logan Morrison was out at third but then a very good thing happened, a very good thing that included one Jesus Sucre, proud owner of a .133 on base percentage, walking to recover the TOOTBLAN mishap, being joined on the bags by a walking Shawn O'Malley only moments later. If the optimism is trickling back in, then, eh, whatever I can't stop you. They plated two in the ensuing moments and took a 3-0 lead like they were playing for something other than honor.
Iwakuma did what he often does in the seventh, and while Billy Butler was slowly trotting around the bases it was suddenly 3-1. Coco Crisp then jumped right on an 83mph splitter in the next at bat, and Lloyd trotted out to his seven-hundred man bullpen to try and finish the game on a good note. It was Vidal Nuno, Tony Zych, and Logan Kensing through seven and eight, but Kensing ran into some quick trouble after putting two on and letting a run score on a wild pitch to bring the A's within one. Maybe he was shook to the core after watching the ostensibly cup-less Stephen Vogt suffer from a fate no one should ever suffer from, or maybe he's just bad. Either way, it was 3-2, and up to the bartender to come in and clean up the mess.
So what did he do?
Ok fine he didn't do that, that was from 2012 but HOLY SHIT REMEMBER HOW AWESOME THAT USED TO BE?
Alright, whatever, just bask in that and as we depart here, do not look at the Wild Card standings, do not look at the Mariners' schedule, and surely, most definitely, do not look at Tom Wilhelmsen's Fangraphs page, because you won't find anything good there to look at, not one single bit. We're supposed to be sad and frustrated, accepting the leftovers of a fired GM and front office held together by band aids and scotch tape. Less thinking about the future, more dwelling on what could have been.
Jack wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
(I know you're looking)
(I can see you)
(I'm looking too)