Well hot damn. The Mariners indeed did not lose today's baseball game to the Tampa Bay Rays, despite that apparently being their game plan straight out of the tunnel first thing in the morning. And sure, they were once again beholden to an umpiring crew which apparently loses all comprehension of the makeup of the strikezone simply by having Sean Barber within a five-mile radius. And by that I mean
But we're talking about a game we won here, and even if we had lost, we should realize that one single bad game called by a AAA replacement ump isn't enough to derail an entire season or anything. I'm serious, too, despite passive-aggressively linking to those earlier nightmares in that previous sentence up there. The Mariners may be departing Tampa Bay with only a single win--and the Rangers may be throwing a perfect game right as I type this--but as someone once said a win is a win is a win is a win. At least, I think that's what they said. Yeah, no, that was it.
Today the M's got on the board pretty fast: Guti and Cruz reached base with a pair of singles in the first off Washington native and lifelong Mariners fan Blake Snell. Snell looked a little nervous throwing against his childhood team (he apparently named his dog "Junior"), and the M's made sure to jump out quick to keep the rattle shaking. Dae-Ho singled in a run. Kyle, another, after a fielding error. Chris Iannetta, fresh off catching 13 innings the night before, another. By the end of the inning it was 3-0 Mariners, and you had to feel pretty good about the whole thing, especially considering that this is still a thing that I guess we are supposed to react to with Oh, well, yeah rather than Wait, Seriously, Still?
What this at bat--a three pitch, third inning lights-out fuck-you-strikeout from the left side--is that Paxton was still hitting 99 in the sixth inning. In fact, the last batter he faced, Curt Casali, grounded into a force-out to escape a two-on jam to head into the seventh. Paxton's pitches? 98, 98, 99, 99, 90, 98, 98. What we're looking at here is a GM who freaks out when his ace starts to stuffer and then gets sidelined on the DL, trades a few prospects for a young, unproven arm, and then gets mildly surprised when things wind up turning out well. Except then you can imagine that the prospect they lost was also unceremoniously re-netted again by a GM with a penchant for fleecing the competition. None of that is true but boy it would be fun to pretend, wouldn't it?
Paxton's line on the day betrays what kind of a day he really had. He threw 105 pitches through six innings, striking out five and walking two. You can look at the zone maps up there to qualify the walk number, and if the three runs he earned have you prickly then just look at this tweet and imagine what happened that could have prompted it:
You have to pick Nori Aoki or Johnny Damon to throw a guy out at home with the World Series on the line. Who do you take?— Brian (@bmc123_) June 16, 2016
I'm not even going to tell you.
But for the most part it was a day of hit after hit after hit after error after questionable defensive decision after hit after a strikeout in which the ball landed in the opposite batter's box. The Mariners tallied 13 hits by day's end, and the Rays had a meager 12 themselves. It's games like this which prove why baseball cannot have a clock, it cannot allow for a Steph Curry run or a Kyrie Irving burst of energy to sink a tanker with a crack in the hull. If you're gonna fuck up, then you can't get out of it by crossing your fingers. You're going to have to live with your poor decisions, live with em and WEAR THEM YOU FOOLS.
Paxton was finally relieved in the seventh with a depleted bullpen, and although Joaquin Benoit did everything he could to make sure Edwin Diaz would be remembered again for earning three solid, respectable outs, the Mariners were staring at a situation in which Steve Cishek, who somehow doesn't have a roller coaster named after him yet, was going to throw for the second day in a row to save a now one-run game before heading to get the snot kicked out of them by whatever is happening in Boston at the moment. But then, the Boss Man himself decided he would do something about it. Well, not without any lack of drama.
After review, the hit was indeed held up as a home run. Cishek managed to throw a clean ninth and the Mariners will indeed head into Boston without the risk of dropping below .500 on the weekend. It's the little things, really, and today if nothing else delivered that. A dinger that bounced off the seat in the front row. Logan Morrison going hitless in a series against his former team. Dae-Ho Lee hitting his first career double. Guti holding a runner at third with a deep throw from right (Guti!). James Paxton throwing two-hundred miles an hour and then frowning all day. If any time is a good one to try and gain some momentum after whatever the hell has been happening of late, it's now. Whether they do or not, well, I guess we'll see you in Boston.