Today the Mariners lost another baseball game. The score isn’t important, except that you should know only two position players (Jarrod Dyson and Guillermo Heredia) posted positive WPAs, and one pitcher. Unfortunately, that pitcher was not Rob Whalen, who started this game and looked eminently hittable. He struggled to throw strikes in the first inning, walking Mookie Betts on four straight pitches. Whalen was faced with a strike zone that was both small and inconsistent, but his stuff didn’t have enough deception to fool any batters. After giving up three runs in the first inning, he was mostly saved by a sac fly and two baserunning blunders by the Red Sox.
Today it was really, really hard to sit inside and watch the Mariners play bad baseball. As I did last time I was taking notes for a recap (the Chris Heston start, it was), I found myself balling them up halfway through the first inning. Some badness is interesting; when James Paxton or Dan Altavilla or Edwin Diaz struggle, for example, it’s intriguing to watch them pitch and try to figure out what is costing them effectiveness, what they might do to fix it. There was nothing particularly interesting to watch here, in its badness. Probably I’m being unfair to poor Rob Whalen, who actually settled down after the first inning, looked at the strike zone on a map, and pitched four solid innings after. But I couldn’t help looking out the window and thinking about what a long icky spring it’s been, and how nice it would be to sit out in the sun and read. So here is a recap that is also a florilegium. Florilegia, or “flower-gatherings,” are collections of words or phrases or excerpts from other works; the idea has roots in medieval monks collecting passages concentrating on a single theme from many different holy writings in order to better illustrate that idea. I have my own florilegia: a vocabulary journal of words I’ve been collecting since high school, and a bound book of excerpts I’ve copied from works I’ve read over the years. It seems like a lovely idea for a bad game, so here, in lieu of telling you extensively about the nine bad innings the Mariners played, is a collection of a few flowers:
1st inning: The Mariners do not score. Boston scores three times, as Whalen walks one and hits two batters, while giving up three singles. Also, Hanley Ramirez, who had not yet successfully stolen a base this year before encountering the Mariners and Mike Zunino, who has weirdly been struggling behind the plate lately, stole a base.
“It is because so much happens. Too much happens. That's it. Man performs, engenders, so much more than he can or should have to bear. That's how he finds that he can bear anything. That's it. That's what is so terrible. That he can bear anything, anything.” - William Faulkner, Light in August
2nd - 4th innings: The Mariners go 1-2-3. Miraculously, so does Boston. The Mariners get a single, but do not score. Boston does the same. The Mariners go 1-2-3. Boston goes 1-2-3.
“Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatingly) ‘Ever to confess you’re bored
means you have no
Inner Resources.’ I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored.”
-John Berryman, “Dream Song 14”
Fifth inning: Taylor Motter grounds out and is now 0 for his last 16. Guillermo Heredia, who is made 100% of joyful molecules, singles. Mike Zunino flies out, which is better than striking out. Jarrod Dyson, the only other Mariners batter to record a positive WPA today, singles, and then steals second base, for his AL-leading 14th. Jean Segura swings at all of these pitches except one, and flies out to end the inning and kill the Mariners’ best offensive threat of the day/week/season:
The Red Sox once again get a single, but somehow do not score.
“Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.” -H.L. Mencken
Sixth inning: The Mariners go 1-2-3. Robinson Canó almost hits a home run, but doesn’t. Nelson Cruz strikes out on four pitches, none of which are strikes. Mitch Moreland singles. Jackie Bradley Jr. hits a home run. The game is now 5-0. It has been seventeen innings since the Mariners last scored a single run.
“We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it.” - Tennessee Williams, The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore
Seventh inning: Guillermo Heredia again singles, but the Mariners fail to do anything with it. Casey Lawrence, who took over after the home run, provides the lone bright spot of the day: after striking out two to get out of the sixth, he sits down the top of the Red Sox batters 1-2-3 in the seventh, showing lots of nice movement on his pitches and an ability to pitch all over the zone.
“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” - Joseph Campbell, A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living
Eighth inning: The Mariners go 1-2-3. Hanley Ramirez singles, and advances to second on what’s labeled a wild pitch by Lawrence but I’m not sure. Mitch Moreland singles, and this time Hanley Ramirez makes it home. The game is now 6-0. It has been nineteen innings since the Mariners last scored a single run.
“What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.” - Charles Bukowski
Ninth inning: The Mariners go 1-2-3. It has been twenty innings since the Mariners last scored a single run.
“She was no longer wrestling with the grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts.” - George Eliot, Middlemarch
And one bonus flower, because apparently Linda Pastan is a Mariners fan:
I Am Learning to Abandon the World
I am learning to abandon the world
before it can abandon me.
Already I have given up the moon
and snow, closing my shades
against the claims of white.
And the world has taken
my father, my friends.
I have given up melodic lines of hills,
moving to a flat, tuneless landscape.
And every night I give my body up
limb by limb, working upwards
across bone, towards the heart.
But morning comes with small
reprieves of coffee and birdsong.
A tree outside the window
which was simply shadow moments ago
takes back its branches twig
by leafy twig.
And as I take my body back
the sun lays its warm muzzle on my lap
as if to make amends.
See you all tomorrow.