This is the part of the narrative where everyone gets mad. Then everyone gets mad at people for getting mad. Then everyone gets mad at people for getting mad at people getting mad, and so on. It's a closed circle of fury, and since we can't actually yell at the Mariners we yell here, at each other, or on Twitter, or at home.
The Mariners lost, 7-3. It was a game defined by a few things, but perhaps nothing more than the team allowing Colby Lewis to retire thirteen Mariners in a row. Hisashi Iwakuma allowed runs on an assortment of groundballs and doilies. Then, the Rangers started blasting line drives and hard ground balls off of Mike Montgomery, each seemingly perfectly placed to avoid Mariner gloves. By the time Nelson Cruz got out on his front foot and still hit a tee shot 410 feet to dead center the game was all but over.
There is a lot anger, and a lot of frustration. The Mariners seemingly always start out the year tripping over their own cleats, and an 0-4 start at home makes the struggle to win fan attention and credibility ever more challenging. But none of that matters to you, or to me really. We're here not because we're addicted to the cheap thrill. We know the long game of a baseball season, and the ups and downs it contains. You all remember 2014's 7-13 start, culminated with a seven game losing streak. A seemingly hopeless Kyle Seager drilled a Josh Fields fastball into the right field seats to break that losing streak, and that team never looked back.
No, as frustrating as the past four days are we know that the 2016 Mariners are still soft clay, being formed and molded into whatever it is they will end up being. The bullpen is a work in progress, the rotation has yet to consistently string together starts, the heart of the order is slumping. These are the things that happen, particularly in April. The Mariners are in the middle of a disastrously bad stretch of baseball, and they are 1.5 games out of first place.
These are the things that happen. You know it, and I know it. Tomorrow we will watch, and they will try again.
- There are a few early trends to watch and one of them is how brand new manager Scott Servais acclimates himself to the repsonsibilites of MLB management. Today, in the first inning Nori Aoki singled to lead off. Then, with a 1-1 count to Kyle Seager Aoki took off. He was safe, but also out because he overslid the bag. This makes the Mariners 0-4 trying to steal bases this year. This is bad.
It's unclear to me if Servais called for the steal. A speedy veteran like Aoki is often given the green light from the manager and it is entirely possible the Mariner outfielder left on his own. If not, however, it's another in an early "breaking in" period for Servais where he has made decisions that make little or no sense from the distance we view the game from. Trying to scratch out an extra base at risk of an out in a 0-0 game in the 1st inning is bad tactics. If Aoki went on his own, my hope would be someone reminds him of such. If not, I hope Scott Servais starts learning the lessons in these failures quickly.
- If there is one player, or trend, that has my extreme attention in the early going it is Ketel Marte. We wanted to believe, and there was some reason to do so, that what we saw in Seattle last year was Marte reaching another level of development on the fly, rather than simply luck based randomness. There's nothing more concerning to me about Marte's early season 22 wRC+ than there is Adam Lind's -85 wRC+ (yes. really.) What catches my eye with Marte are little things. the way that tonight on a 2-0 count he took a wild, long hack through a hittable fastball. The hanging of his head, the way you can almost see the terror in his face right now at the plate.
What I see in Ketel Marte is a young player truly pressing, physically and mentally. We have seen so, so many promising young Mariner players utterly collapse when they first hit adversity. It is well known that Marte has an excellent relationship with Robinson Cano. This is a fine test of what sort of lessons a veteran can truly impart to a talented young player who has seemed riddled with stage fright for the season's first week. If the struggles continue my hope is Dipoto is ready with a quick hook, and doesn't allow Marte to psychologically grind himself to dust. Consider it Andy McKay's first homework assignment.
- The game was bad, but Nelson Cruz was not. The Mariners big right fielder/DH ripped an RBI double in the first and then, after I joked that the Safeco Fences were playing like a Par 2 Cruz got his weight out in front of a Keone Kela slider and was still strong enough to liberate another tortured baseball's soul into the center field seats. It was a good sign for Cruz, who has started slow but looked just barely off so far this year.
- Mike Montgomery had by far the worst of his three relief outings, allowing six hits and four runs in two innings of work. However, in the 7th before the game got loopy, Montgomery absolutely carved up Nomar Mazara with a runner on second:
96 MPH fastball and a sharp, biting 80 MPH curve on the black. I don't know if it sticks, this is the same Montgomery who utterly collapsed as a starter last year after back-to-back shutouts. But the increase in stuff quality that can come from a transition to relief is there. For a bullpen in dire need of breakouts, Mike Montgomery is one to watch.
- I love Kyle Seager. He was my preseason pick to be the Mariners most valuable player. I think he will end up in the Mariner Hall of Fame as the best third baseman this franchise ever had. That said there is not one day that goes by I do not miss Adrian Beltre.