Early Richie Sexson: Chris Iannetta (.092 WPA)
Hector Noesi: Wade Miley (-.141)
Well, the Mariners did not win today.
There are many reasons for this unfortunate turn of events. One was that Wade Miley was driving without his seatbelt and his friends were like hey you should not do that and he was like nah i'm fine and they were like no seriously this is dangerous and then he was like ah. Another reason was that Steve Johnsoned, and then Vidal Nuño was like wait, I gotta work with THIS? but then the Rangers remembered that they forged a pact with Azazel, Lord of Darkness upon the conclusion of the 2014 baseball season so they scored a whole bunch of runs. Then the Mariners loaded the bases and watched as the Rangers quietly rested their head in the toilet, but did not choose to press flush. Robinson Cano heard your complaints about legging out hits and got thrown out to end the game. In addition, the writers of this website have not been holding Scott Servais and Co. accountable for their decisions, leading to a barrage of bunts and other disquieting strategic decisions which could be culled by the power of the Free Press. Also there is a demon under Safeco.
I don't really know what else to say at this point. I suppose we could get mad, but there isn't really a whole lot to actually get mad at besides pure, dumb luck having its way with our deepest held sportball desires. I suppose you could get mad at Wade Miley, but even that wouldn't be like trying to cure a case of cancer with a juice cleanse. Our recently de-bearded friend ran into trouble after walking the leadoff hitter of the game and then putting him on second after giving up a single to Ian Desmond, but then he bolted his roof down and plucked three fingernail-marked outs out of the ether with a pretty good mix of pitches and command.
I say that last bit with a grain of salt, of course. Although Miley isn't exactly the kind of pitcher known for pounding the zone, he is a first-rate lefty nibbler who is usually pretty capable of playing just outside its edges. This means that what works for Miley is exactly the kind of thing that will be his undoing. Here, look at this, his final out of the first inning which got him out of the heap of trouble he had put himself into with a few well-hit balls only a few minutes earlier:
This worked, but only in part because pitches one and two were misread by Ryan Rua. We don't know why he misread them but I bet it has at least something to do with the fact that they were the first pitches of the entire game entirely in the zone itself. Miley was down, up, across, over, on the edge, and in the lil' top kinda bit half notch part up there. This is the kind of at-bat that you really want back as a hitter, and exactly the kind of thing you'll remember the next time you find yourself in the batter's box:
In short, you live by the wild, and you die by the wild. When you don't have electric stuff, you need to get outs by making hitters try to chase crap, and that's exactly what Wade Miley does. And boy, how ironic it is for this absurd, ass-backwards year of a baseball season we seem to be having: the pitcher who has thrown the second-most innings for the entire ballclub, who has the lowest K/9 of the entire rotation, who has accumulated fewer fWAR than three relievers, well, that pitcher has arguably been the most consistent one of the entire lot. But consistency is kind of boring. And this, this is why we use numbers to tell us more.
So in short, you can't really be mad at Miley. He got out of trouble in the first and the second, and then was unable to get out of trouble in the fourth. Both of the pitches that ended up scoring runs in that inning landed on the edge of the zone, the first to a good hitter and the second to a person who might be confused for Justin Smoak from time to time, if you ignored all the other qualities of the two besides occasionally hitting big home runs. So who to be mad at?
I guess we could be mad at Steve Johnson. Johnson replaced Miley in the sixth and promptly walked the first two batters he faced, throwing maybe one pitch in the zone despite needing thirteen. Vidal Nuño replaced him and had trouble of his own, but good baseball teams will make even elite relievers suffer every now and then. Vidal Nuño is not an elite reliever.
You could be mad at the offense. Considering this has been arguably the first season in fourteen years in which the offense hasn't consistently made us mad every night, this also doesn't seem like the right move. The M's put up eight hits on the day and reached base three times by walks, and a few more times with HBPs. A few of those came in the eighth inning, which was the M's only real chance to do anything on the day: down 6-1 with an out in the box, Seth Smith pinch-hit his way on base for Guti, was sent to second after Robinson Cano found a gap, and then made it to third after Nelson Cruz figured out how to get to a visibly nervous Tony Barnette. With the bases loaded, Barnette's replacement in Jake Diekman gifted the M's a pair of runs by hitting Kyle Seager and walking Chris Iannetta. Leonys Martin came up to the box ready to hit his second home run of the day.......and then did not do that. I guess you could choose to be mad at Leonys Martin. Technically, he could have saved this entire game with a more wisely-timed swing of the bat, but he very explicitly chose not to do this.
But of course, we all know who people are actually going to be upset about. After a fan grabbed a Ketel Marte triple* and leaving him stuck on second, Robinson Canó hit a sharp liner into right field to bring the M's to within two with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. After hearing all your complaints on Twitter and comment sections and bars across the Pacific Northwest region, Robinson Canó...well...just see for yourself.
*not a triple
Of course what is lost from just hearing the words rather than seeing the play is that this is almost always a double, and that was a hell of a throw from Mazara in deep right field. But actually, no. Be mad. Be mad at Canó. This is the answer, and this will right the ship. This will stop the team from losing future games and this will be the mark to inoculate yourself in the future while standing atop the wreckage saying If Only They Had Listened To Me.
Will the Mariners continue to drop games in frustrating fashion like they have been? Yes, probably. Will it be annoying? Yeah, it will be. Will fans be mad? Yes, they will. Will that be fine? Of course. So go ahead and be Mad Online--don't leave it to anyone else to tell you how to be a fan. Unless, of course you hear a different opinion somewhere. You had better jump on that shit as fast as you can.