At the risk of offending some readers, here are some groups of people I don’t understand:
- Cigar smokers. Specifically, people who smoke cigars in crowded public places or on public sidewalks (do it in your own home/vehicle/cryogenic chamber all you like). Do you not realize how smelly they are? And how all-permeating said smell is? And how long the fug lingers? Granted, I have a Super-Smeller attached to the front of my face, hashtag-blessing-and-a-curse, but the smell is just so potent/oppressive/icky, especially if you’re walking behind someone smoking one. My eyes are watering just thinking about it.
- People who turn up their car bass to ear-damaging levels and then idle on the curb in residential areas or public spaces. There are people sleeping out there! And babies! And just people who maybe don’t want their windowpanes/teeth rattling like they live inside Mount Doom!
- The ones who don’t return grocery carts to the little cart corral. You know who you are.
- The 2022 Oakland Athletics.
There are other annoying types out there, for sure, but off the top of my head, these are the worst because they’re actively polluting/hijacking public spaces and showing a lack of consideration for the others who might be also inhabiting said spaces. Which, if A’s announcer Dallas Braden is to be taken at his word, is exactly how the A’s like it:
"It's time to be salmonella. Just spoil it for everyone."— Adrian Garro (@adriangarro) September 21, 2022
-- wordsmith @DALLASBRADEN209 on the A's mindset heading into the final few weeks against some teams in the hunt for the postseason. @NBCSAthletics
Tonight the A’s were definitely salmonella, and the Mariners were a mayonnaise-based salad left in a hot car in the middle of July. This one was gnarly, so let’s just get it over with, bullet-point style:
- Luis Castillo was...not good. For some reason, he struggles with the A’s; the last time he saw them in Oakland in August, he gave up four runs; today, he gave up another four runs over 4.2 innings, despite getting off to a hot start. It was an unpleasant echo of the last start at home against the Guardians, where Castillo opened with a franchise record-setting seven strikeouts but then struggled with efficiency and his defense behind him, and the Mariners wound up dropping the game. This time, Castillo can really only point to himself, as his command slipped and he constantly was having to work back into counts—six three-ball counts over his 22 batters faced. The damage came in a really bad series in the fifth, where he gave up a single before walking the nine-hole hitter, Nick Allen, and then hung a changeup to Tony Kemp. Yes, this Tony Kemp:
- Four runs is not that many runs, though, especially when three of them come on one swing of the bat. And especially not when facing the Oakland Athletics. The Mariners had opportunities: in the second, Carlos Santana, Team Captain, led off by legging out an infield hit, and J.P. Crawford reached on an error, with Santana peddling to third, because again, he is perfect. However, Oakland starter JP Sears fed Dylan Moore a steady diet of off-speed pitches, striking him out, and then Abraham Toro was called out on strikes in his first of three strikeouts on the day. After that, though, it looked like Sears had lost his command, walking Casali to load the bases and Haggerty to push one in, but Julio flew out to end the inning and cap the damage at just one run—all the Mariners would get on the day, in fact.
- Unfortunately, after Sears’ 30-pitch-plus second inning, the Mariners went down quietly in the third through fifth innings, with Sears facing the minimum other than yet another walk to Casali.
- Even against the weak Oakland bullpen, the Mariners would then fail to get anything going other than Mitch Haniger reaching on another error (quickly erased by a double play from J.P.) and a walk from pinch-hitter Jesse Winker (equally quickly erased on a double play from Julio Rodríguez).
Look, sometimes this is just how the cookie crumbles. Bad baseball games happen. In a post-game interview, Ty France basically said Don’t Panic; the Mariners know what kind of team they are, and this is not the team they are. But that doesn’t make this patch of tough road—losing a series and almost getting swept by the hapless Angels, losing the opener of this series to one of the worst teams in MLB—feel any better. The potato salad might be laced with salmonella, but that doesn’t mean we have to eat it.
The good news is, despite an inept showing, the Mariners’ magic number actually dropped tonight, to 10. That’s the silver lining. But tonight’s loss is also another squandered opportunity by the Mariners. The Mariners could have made up some ground on the Rays tonight, who lost, and didn’t. They could have furthered the distance between themselves and the Orioles or White Sox, who both lost, and didn’t. And they lost even more ground on the Blue Jays, who remain in the first Wild Card spot. If the Mariners can stop the A’s from poisoning their food for the rest of this series, I will happily go stand among the cigar smokers, have my fillings rattled by some thudding bass, and act as target practice for runaway grocery carts. Just please, guys. Please get this skid turned around soon.