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The M's Just Keep Digging Themselves Into a Hole

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The Mariners lost 4-1, Mr. Sir keeps yelling at us, and the Curse of Madame Zeroni remains alive and well.

Me too, Franklin, me too.
Me too, Franklin, me too.
Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

"Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical." - Yogi Berra

This quote rings especially true today, both because Taijuan Walker's varied MLB success has much to do with that mental aspect and because sometimes I feel like I'm 90 percent mental to root for this team so much.

For example: Somehow, some way, the Mariners couldn't figure out how to score a run in the top of the second inning.

With one out, Kyle Seager belted one to deep right-center. It looked gone. Seager surely thought it was gone. And yet, that would be too simple, too straightforward, too just. Instead, it was inches shy of clearing the fence, and Seager wound up on third.

Franklin Gutierrez, formerly known as Death to Flying Things (and now definitely not known as such, but more on that later), came to the plate. He battled and earned himself a full count before the Baseball Gods struck again.

Yeah. That bad.

For those of you yelling things like "That's not that far off!" or "It looks like a strike to me!" or "I don't believe you have very good Microsoft Paint skills, Grant!" don't worry - I'm here for you.

Guti is drawing away from it. But instead of ball four and a better chance at scoring Seager from third, the Mariners suddenly had two outs and required a hit from Mike Zunino to bring in the BSB (Best Seager Brother). Didn't happen. No run. Same old Mariners.

And when the fourth inning rolled around, it seemed like the Same Old Mariners yet again.

For the first three frames, it sure seemed like Tai had it figured out. He cruised through, nine up and nine down, on just 32 pitches. This was the Taijuan Walker we've been waiting for, the one we've been promised, the one we've hoped to see since he debuted near the top of prospect lists years ago.

His problem has often been keeping his composure in a bad inning. He makes a mistake, something doesn't go his way, and he starts to unravel.

The mistake? Check - Tai starts the fourth by beaning Adam Eaton right on the elbow.

Something doesn't go his way? Check - Melky Cabrera doinks this lazy fly ball in the right spot toward the right defender, Franklin Gutierrez. The old Guti, if he were playing RF for some reason, would glide over and make the catch no problem. But this is the old Guti rather than the Guti of yore, and so this happened.

The next batter, Justin Morneau, decided he would hit a tailor-made double play right at Ketel Marte, but Marte decided to move to a different spot in the infield. Whoops. Just like that, it's 2-0 White Sox.

Instead of falling flat and getting in his own head, Tai settled down and battled back. He ended up throwing into the eighth inning, allowing four runs but recovering nicely from that tricky stretch.

Unfortunately for him and his record, as well as the team's record, the Mariner offense didn't battle much at all. Controlling the Zone has been the team's mantra all season, and yet they finished with just one walk against nine strikeouts. The only run scored came off a Robbie Cano solo shot in the sixth inning, which made him the second Mariner second baseman to hit 30+ dingers in a season.

Perhaps the worst of it came in the seventh inning. Kyle Seager hit one right at the shift, but caught a break when second baseman Tyler Saladino made a slight misplay. Franklin Gutierrez then lined one into left to give the M's two on with nobody out.

Scott Servais, however, showed his naivete when he had Mike Zunino bunt and give up an out- and thanks to a nice play by Todd Frazier, the White Sox managed to get Gutierrez at second, keeping the double play alive. And instead of keeping Dae-Ho Lee in the game, Servais elected to pinch-hit with Adam Lind, ensuring that White Sox manager Robin Ventura would bring in a lefty. I'm guessing that almost all of you reading would rather have Lee against a righty than Lind against a lefty.

Alas.

This happened.

From there, things didn't get much better, and a couple hits in the ninth inning were too little, too late, with a 4-1 final score.

So where does this leave us? Well, the Mariners are now eight back of the division. We're behind the Astros and the Tigers in the wild card race, and just a half-game ahead of the Royals. It's certainly not over. But this was a winnable game that the M's didn't win, and it makes the upcoming schedule - much more difficult than this latest stretch - all the more important.

This is the hole you've dug, boys. Time to quit digging and start climbing.