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Mariners Do Not Make Lemonade, Lose 9-7

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On Failure and Doing Your Part

only way to go is up
only way to go is up
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Because I like to do everything two weeks after it's cool, I just sat down to listen to Beyonce's Lemonade album this weekend and now it's all I can think about. The world doesn't need another white girl opining on the album so I promise I won't say much more about it but there's this line that's stuck in my head, from the song "Hold Up":

"Know that I kept it sexy, know that I kept it fun/there's something that I'm missing, maybe my head for one."

I hope these words don't echo for you on a cellular level. I hope you've never been cheated on. I hope you don't know that feeling of lying in bed, scrolling through a list in your head, replaying every moment, wondering what you could have done differently, finding that fault in yourself (Side note: if Beyonce, of all people, is worried she could have made things more sexy, we are all doomed). When you scramble to save something and it fails anyway--a relationship, a restaurant, that plant in your backyard that always looks sickly but manages to put out two or three orange blossoms the creamy color of Georgia peaches--the fault comes back on you, somehow: how could I have let this thing fail? It's hard for us not to take failure personally, especially when it's something we love, because we see ourselves reflected in that thing. Which brings us to the game the Mariners played tonight against the Angels.

It didn't seem, from the outset, like tonight would be one of those defining nights, one that we will look back on in a month or so and feel Some Sort of Way about. In fact, the first half of this game was downright mundane. Iwakuma struggled a little in the first inning, because he's trying out a new improv character called Scuffling Kuma and won't listen when the rest of us tell him to maybe focus instead on Laser Precision Kuma (he doesn't get quite the crowd response but you can always depend on him to say "yes and"), and let the first two batters of the ballgame reach before getting Mike Trout to ground into a double play before Pujols popped out to end the inning. The Mariners batters, for their part, made Jhoulys Chacin look like a high-priced ace and not someone acquired from the Braves for some of Mike Scioscia's homemade jerky and a handful of Chuck E. Cheese tokens. Things remained pretty quiet for the Mariner bats until the bottom of the second, when Kyle Seager felt obliged to poke a single on his bobblehead night, and then Adam Lind has had quite enough of what everyone's been saying, okay, and also Trout missed the last payment on his Extendable Arms:

The game plodded along pretty steadily from there, save for a pretty nifty running catch made by #AllStarDad Seth Smith, until the sixth inning, when Kuma ran into a spot of trouble. After giving up a single to CKole Ckalhoun, Kuma navigated his way through the one-two punch of Trout/Pujols before giving up a single to...Daniel Nava, whose Luis Valbuena impression is coming along nicely. But still, after striking out real-life Sim character C.J. Cron, the damage was capped at just one run. Instead of pouncing on Chacin, though, Aoki, Cano, and Cruz all went quietly in the next inning, wasting a 108-mph shot up the middle that almost got Chacin right in the Jhoulys from Seth Smith (#AllStarDad). The wheels came off for Iwakuma in the next inning, giving up a home run to Johnny Giavotella (who my dad calls Johnny Gelato) to tie it, before allowing a double to Carlos Perez, who then scored on a single hit by Yunel Escobar at the blazing speed of 84 miles per hour. This is troubling. Servais agreed, and pulled Iwakuma for Mike Montgomery, who pitched another two innings of shut-out baseball. Haha, just kidding, he brought in Joel Peralta, who immediately gave up a two-run homer to Clickhole Kalhoun, followed by a solo home run to Mike Trout. Guaipe came in to close out the inning and staunch the bleeding, but the damage was done: 6-2 Angels. Kyle Seager, because he is beholden to his 40,000 tiny likenesses, crunched a double next inning, but the Mariners failed to even bring him home. Middle fingers up, put those hands high, I was ready to tell this game bye.

But then in the bottom of the eighth, this Mariners team reminded us they are not the Mariners team of past years. Leonys Martin worked a walk on a 3-2 count. Aoki slapped a single, and Martin motored to third, and then suddenly everyone was trying so hard. Cano singled to bring Martin home. Cruz singled to score Aoki. Then Adam Lind stepped up, with two outs, and he DID HIS JOB, working a count 1-0, 1-1, 2-1, 3-1, until he got a pitch he could punish into far right field, scoring Cano and Cruz. Then Steve Clevenger came up. Backup catcher Steve Clevenger. Forgotten Mariner Steve Clevenger. But Steve Clevenger wears the same uniform everyone else does, and he stood up there and worked one of the best at-bats we've seen this season: a ten-pitch at-bat that ended with him stroking a single into right field and scoring Sardinas, who was pinch running for Lind. Ketel would smoke a single up the middle but the magic ended as it began, with Martin striking out for the final out of the inning. The entire order made an appearance in that inning, and even though Smith and Seager struck out, they had both made contributions earlier in the game. Everyone contributed. Everyone did their best. The Mariners were up, the same score they lost by last night: 7-6. In the eighth inning, the team had come together to rally for five runs, more runs than they scored in entire games last year.

It wouldn't be enough.

When something fails, the first thing most people do is look to assign blame. There must be a reason, we insist, a point where things break down; some people locate this externally, some internally. If I'd only I'd studied harder. If only I'd stayed later at the office. If I had just been more fun, more attractive, they wouldn't have cheated. Somewhere, Steve Cishek is going to lie unblinking in the darkness and think about the pitch he threw Albert Pujols. What do we do, when our best isn't enough? In my experience, there's only one thing to do: pitch camp for the night, try to sleep, then rise again and try again. Because anything in which you are invested--a team, a relationship, even that dumb plant you keep trying to save just to see the orange blossom again--is both of you and not of you, both intensely personal and something bigger than yourself. All you can do is keep showing up.

I'll see you tomorrow. Let's raise a glass of lemonade together.

(goms, gobiz, gobey)