All you really need to know about this game is that it came down to Jose Quintana against Daniel Robertson. Every baseball game has thousands upon thousands of variables, many branching out and snarling through each other, like an impossible tangled blackberry bush. So many things moving in so many directions, and so close together. It can be difficult to tell what's what.
So when I say that the game came down to Jose Quintana against Daniel Robertson, I'm oversimplifying. Dozens of men played in tonight's game. They all exerted extreme effort, and performed at a level of skill and expertise far beyond what I am capable of doing in any theater. However, still, the game came down to the bases loaded, in a 1-1 game, Quintana's pitch count well over 100, and a 3-1 count on Daniel Robertson. Here is the next pitch:
Robertson swung with his weight on his front foot, a defensive swing in precisely the situation that called for an offensive one, and flew out about 250 feet away in center field.
I really do not have too much else to say or opine about this game. Daniel Robertson was forced into the high leverage at bat, against a good pitcher, and he didn't get a hit. To his credit his first two times up he did. With a chance to push the Mariner ahead, however, he did not. The odds were never in their favor in that regard.
You know what? Losing because Daniel Robertson didn't come through against Jose Quintana is a sentence that just makes me bored. I have fought tooth and nail this year against the fatalistic properties of the phrase "Same Ol' Mariners", as though somehow Dae-Ho Lee hitting into a double play with the bases loaded is cosmically connected to Raul Ibanez Lawn Darts, Willie Bloomquist batting leadoff, Rick White being through the wars, and everything else. But this month has, actually, felt eerily similar to so many teams gone by. It's not the losing. The losing was different in June. It was excruciating, shocking, like being knocked into arctic water. July has, by comparison, just been a small carbon monoxide leak. I'm just sitting here, and everything feels normal, but I'm just so sleepy.
Tonight was last night, without the 9th inning. The Mariners have scored ten runs in five games since the All-Star Break, and every sleepy loss with the team forced into gross miss matches is another stroke closer to midnight. They are 8-8 in July. They haven't looked like a contending, quality team for almost fifty games. They are simply out of time, and only a spectacular, dreamlike hot streak will save their season.
After the game Bob Dutton reported that Dave Rollins, Jesus Sucre, and Daniel Robertson are most likely getting optioned, with the rumor that Guillermo Heredia and Mike Zunino are being called up. It's a shuffling that most likely improves the back end of the roster, starting tomorrow. There's almost no way Heredia (or Nori Aoki, if that's the direction they take) is worse than Robertson, especially defensively, and Zunino is simply a much better baseball player than Jesus Sucre. It's also a move that may begin to signal the shifting of priorities for the rest of 2016.
The Mariners' season isn't over, but it's slipping away fast. The inexplicable, mind-boggling, unforgivable defeats are in the rear view. Everything now just feels like business as usual.
Felix, sweet Felix, tomorrow.
- Felix is tomorrow, however there is a decent chance that Edwin Diaz will not be. That is because the Mariners' relief phenom was called upon to strike out the side in the eighth inning with his usual assortment of hell and wyldfire. That he did this was lovely, as Diaz is currently one of the most watchable and thrilling parts of the team. That the score was 3-1 Chicago at the time made his usage, um, odd to me. I do understand that the game was far from out of hand, and clearly the team has made a habit of ninth inning comebacks this year. However, unless the plan was for Diaz to throw multiple innings, another pitcher, namely Joaquin Benoit, was going to be called upon in the 9th. Benoit, as per his form, walked and allowed a home run to the first and second batter he faced in the ninth, respectively. It's impossible to know how things would have shaken out had their roles been reversed, however, if the team is going to commit to using Steve Cisehk only in late, small lead games, it damn well should do similarly with Diaz.
Edwin Diaz's abilities are wasted when the Mariners are losing. He is the team's best reliever and, while I understand the hesitancy to make him the closer, there are better ways of using him than tonight's appearance.
- Wade Miley, truly, was much better tonight. Facing a lineup full of right-handed hitters Miley was able to generate nine groundball outs to only a single fly out, striking out four in the process. Just like you would expect for a left-hander with a fastball that barely tops 90 miles per hour, Miley's effectiveness was contingent upon his command. He used his fastball aggressively inside to right-handers and kept the ball down to everyone, as Brooks shows here:
Of course two atrocious changeups were hit for solo home runs, but overall tonight was a step in the right direction. The Mariners have gotten far less than they had reason to expect form Miley thus far in 2016, and him recapturing his normal inning-gobbling form would go far towards stabilizing a rotation that has arguably been the biggest problem for this team in the past month and a half.
- Like I said earlier, regardless of everything else, Felix tomorrow. The King returns.