Last night was garbage, there’s no sense beating around the bush. When they pulled James Paxton early, as he made worrisome gestures to his torso, the focus of the game shifted almost immediately from “yeah, hope they crush the Angels” to “oh no, let’s just get through this as quickly as possible so that we can hear more details on Pax.”
Knock on a forest of trees, but Paxton seems like he’ll be okay.
Servais on Paxton's back issue: "Nothing serious. He’s been checked out by doctors here. Obviously that was his last outing before the All-Star break so he’ll have some time to calm it down and recoup and I fully expect him to come out of the break and be ready to go."— Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) July 13, 2018
The pall cast over this game is, thus, far more manageable. All teams have bad games. It’s the nature of baseball that even the best of the best are going to experience some failure within a season. A week and seventeen years ago (give or take a few days for my pedants), the notorious 2001 squad was blown out by the Rangers 14-2. The 2018 Mariners are nowhere near as dominant, but they’re good enough that games like last night have been reasonably infrequent.
This team has built up a decent cushion when it comes to wins, which has allowed them to sustain games like this, but they’ve also built up goodwill within the fanbase, which has in turn allowed to more easily sustain games like this. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this team has earned our trust - years of failure and frustration cannot be wiped away by a mere 70-80 games - but they’ve earned the right to have us simply crumple up last night’s game and shove it into the back of your mind, along with that time your crush asked how you were doing and you regrettably fused “good” and “fine” into a shamefully blurted “gine!”
I won’t press you to appreciate this team’s competence, but I will say that I’m immensely grateful for it myself. This month marks my second full year writing for Lookout Landing, and it’s never been easier. For as much fun and goofiness as we can profess to get away with when the team is bad, exerting so much energy on a miserable thing can take its toll. Meanwhile, writing about a winning team is a bit like being gifted an infinite Russian nesting doll; each game, each player, has offered so many moments, so many opportunities, to dig deeper, deeper, deeper still. Last night’s game was horrendous, but fortunately that makes it an exception, rather than the rule this season (though hey, let’s get that offense going again, huh?). As the sun climbs high above the Rocky Mountains a new day dawns and, once again, the Mariners have another opportunity to succeed.
So here’s to tonight, tomorrow, and the second half. Go M’s.