That game did not go as well as I had hoped.
For a season less than two weeks old, there have been some intense ups and downs: The highs have seemed limitless, the lows bottomless. And somehow, just when you think they've hit their stride, the Mariners come up short.
Losing is no fun, but today wasn't all bad. Iwakuma pitched 7.0 innings in his longest outing this season, and Kyle Seager reached base and Steve Clevenger got a hit (low bar, I know). There are some issues to be worked on, but this loss by no means indicates that we're about to repeat last week's hemorrhaging.
The first inning began auspiciously enough. Seth Smith, he of the team-leading .458 OBP, smacked a single to center field to beat the shift. Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz followed suit, and with the bases loaded and one out, struggling prince Kyle Seager did this:
While this was not the only time Seager grounded straight into the waiting glove of Yankees second baseman Starlin Castro, at least this one came with an RBI. Optimism, etc.
Scoring quieted until the bottom of the second inning, when the baseball gods reminded us that they are fickle and amused by our suffering. With just two pitches, the Yankees took a two-run lead.
First, Kuma hit Brian McCann on the first pitch of the inning, handing him a base and bringing Alex Rodriguez up to bat. Then, Iwakuma sent an 86 MPH fastball over the plate, and after going 0-for-19 since April 9th, A-Rod took one look at this...
...and decided it was time to snap that streak.
The Yankees tacked on another run in the bottom of the third when Gardner doubled to plate Ellsbury. Iwakuma walked Texeira but got out of the inning, getting his revenge as A-Rod struck out looking.
In the past, this would have been the point at which that heavy feeling of insurmountable odds would develop in the pit of my stomach. The point at which it feels like the team will never get another hit, and I might as well just accept it. But today, these were not the 2015 Mariners. They weren't even the Mariners of last week. Across the fourth and fifth innings, these Mariners tied the ballgame.
Kyle Seager began to awake from his slumber, pulling a ball to right field to reach on a fielding error in the top of the fourth and scoring on a single from Steve Clevenger – yes, you read that right.
Three up, three down in the bottom of the fourth, and the Mariners were up to bat again. Nori Aoki, who never was a 2015 Mariner, decided it was time to get out there and do something, so he promptly hit a first-pitch triple just past the glove of a diving Jacoby Ellsbury. Seth Smith singled, and the score was leveled at 3.
But it would not last. Gardner singled. And Beltran singled. Aaaaaand with runners at the corners, this happened.
Iwakuma held down the fort for the next 2.2 innings, and Nick Vincent pitched a solid eighth, striking out A-Rod in the process, but the damage was done. The M's failed to reach base in the last four innings. The Yankees finished off the eighth and ninth with their one-two punch of shutdown relievers – Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller – who struck out six in a row to end the game.
The Seattle Mariners lost a baseball game. They have lost many before. They will lose many again. Maybe I'm just an optimist who would rather justify bad moments than fixate on them, but all things considered, today didn't feel half bad.