7-2 against an objectively awful team doesn’t feel good, but honestly, this game feels like it could have been lost at 4-1. Or 2-1. The Mariners bats are so cold right now scientists are applying for grants to study them. They’ve also lost any ability to string hits together; the Mariners had six hits, and were only able to push across two runs, one in garbage time and one thanks to the fact that the Blue Jays are objectively awful defenders. Being virtually shut out by Ryan Borucki isn’t as bad as being dominated by Mike Hauschild, whose MLB photo features him wearing a Memphis Redbirds hat, but it doesn’t feel good either, especially because Borucki’s control wavered at times. Twice in the first inning Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger got to 3-1 counts, and twice they flew out weakly. When people talk about “pressing,” these are the kind of at-bats they’re talking about.
The bright spot tonight was Marco Gonzales, as it so often is. Marco allowed one run in the first, on an unlucky double down the right field line followed by a base hit from Devon Travis that just snuck through. A soft tapper from Smoak moved Travis to second and Marco was like, okay enough already, and rallied to strike out the next two batters. He mowed through the Jays in the second, collecting two more strikeouts, and would have mowed through them in the third, too, except Jean Segura bobbled a knuckler off the bat of Kevin Pillar, and then Seager couldn’t make a play on a sharply hit ball from Randal Grichuk and his greasy ducktail (it would have been an extremely tough out, and was ruled an infield hit). With two on and none out, Angry Marco emerged, striking out Travis and then Smoak looking on a perfectly located cutter on the outer corner of the plate before getting Kendrys Morales to ground out weakly. He should have had another 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts in the fourth, but Mike Muchlinski shamed his home state with this terrible call:
Marco then missed the location on his next pitch, a 91 mph fastball, and left it right where Martin could drive it over the LF wall. He would give up one other home run, a two-run shot to Travis, who turned on a cutter inside with Grease Monkey Grichuk who was again on base after Seager couldn’t make a play. Marco would give the team two more scoreless innings en route to a seven-strikeout no-walk appearance as they attempted to climb out of their 4-1 hole. They would not, tacking on just one run in garbage time after Chasen Bradford, recently recalled from Tacoma, had already given up three more runs.
The team sucked tonight, which feels bad, and feels worse because of the announced attendance of 30,715, approximately 30,713 of whom were Blue Jays fans. It’s a complaint every year, but this year the organization’s lack of interest in getting Mariners fans to the ballpark for the Blue Jays series is less annoying and more malpractice. Here’s a team that’s theoretically in a Wild Card race, and you’re essentially taking four home games away from them. The in-the-door price for each of these games has started at an average of 35 dollars, more than any average fan wants to pay for the pleasure of being shouted at by Blue Jays fans who take pride in taking over someone else’s home park. The team did run a brief flash sale around the Fourth of July, when most people were on vacation and away from their devices. I remember seeing it, reminding myself to buy tickets for it when I had my wallet with me, and then crows picked apart the inflatable pool I had set up for my nephew and we had to scramble to find a replacement. (It is my fault for essentially leaving a giant bird bath out overnight made of soft, talon-unfriendly plastic, but still.) I can’t fault the team for not wanting to turn away the cash cow that is a horde of Canadians eager to spend their shiny new US dollars, but I can, and will, fault them for not making it easier for fans to come out and try to resist the invasion as best they can in a year where the Mariners are chasing a Wild Card spot and several players have cited the home atmosphere at Safeco as playing a large role in that. Even Marco himself took to Twitter to ask Mariners fans to come out to the park, and his postgame comments reflected his disappointment.
And then there’s this.
Kevin Mather walked past me at the ballpark the other night in his fancy tailored suit. He was leading a father-son duo around the lower concourse, pointing out some things or other, talking and laughing as he gestured, at home and at ease. I wasn’t prepared for the rage I would feel then, just like I wasn’t prepared for the rage I would feel seeing him cozied up next to Edwin Díaz in this picture. It’s a reminder that Mather has been allowed to continue his Mariners career without interruption; to walk easily and at home through the ballpark that is too expensive for some fans to get into this weekend, to stand in a place of pride and have his picture taken with the Mariners’ bright young reliever. It’s a reminder that his one-page apology, while seemingly sincere, does not feel like enough to offset the upsetting news that came out the last week. It’s a reminder that as much as we love the players on the field, even when it’s hard to, like tonight, there is a difference between the people who cash the checks and the people who write them, although our fan-dollar goes to both. It was a gross feeling layered on top of a gross game when that popped through my Twitter feed, along with the usual stories of Blue Jays fans acting like the birds they’re named after. It’s depressing, and it’s disheartening, and if you’re checked out on this team right now, I don’t blame you.
Walked into empty #Mariners clubhouse postgame after 4th consecutive loss before about all walked in. Clearly a players-only meeting transpired.— TJ Cotterill (@TJCotterill) August 4, 2018
It sounds like the players, at least, are taking some initiative to change things. Here’s hoping the organization follows suit.