The stages of grief include mental and emotional states such as denial, and acceptance. While they can include symptoms such as being tired when you are going through those phases, they don’t capture one state you can be, where you are just plain exhausted. Denial and acceptance don’t disappear, nor are they present at the forefront. There exists a state of tiredness where all emotions and thoughts merely orbit in a state of translucency, where you are unable to feel or react, where you are aware of hope and despair but embrace neither. You are just... tired. That state of being is where the Seattle Mariners were in their one-sided 16-6 loss against the division leading Texas Rangers, that state of being is where the Seattle Mariners are currently on the season, and where I was at watching this game.
Everyone is entitled to their own emotional reaction to today’s game, but hopefully our logical minds can all agree on one thing: Bryan Woo had an almost impossible task. With only around one hundred innings in the minor leagues, and getting a call-up start well before it would have been ideal (due to injury to Marco Gonzales), the twenty-three year old was being tasked by Seattle to face one of the most powerhouse offenses in the league. His command wasn’t there today, catching far too much of the plate and getting punished for it, only lasting the first two innings and giving up six runs, seven hits, and a walk. It wasn’t all bad though! He also notched four strikeouts.
With Bryan Woo up as an injury replacement, and this outing being against a tough team, it is hard to imagine the Mariners will punish him with getting sent down immediately, and he should see at least another start or two to find his footing at this level. If he continues to struggle though, Hancock is waiting in the wings, if putting up less impressive minor league numbers this season.
The bad and the good are all floating, just out of reach. Much like the Seattle Mariners, unable to reach being truly good, but not quite awful either. I know that might be a hard thing to process with today’s one sided loss, but the mariners offense is more mediocre than it is just outright bad. Today they managed six runs on eleven hits! They drew five walks! They struck out fourteen times! Okay, maybe they are a little bad. Everyone with a plate appearance except Sam Haggerty racked up at least one strikeout. Ty France and Jarred Kelenic had two apiece, and Tom Murphy had three. Ty France gets let off the hook, having gone 3-for-5 with an RBI. Teoscar Hernández is even more so off the hook, if for no other reason than he managed more hits than strikeouts, but also for knocking in two runs in the top of the ninth long after the game was realistically over but before the game fully realized it. Finally José Caballero was the third and final hitter of the night with multiple hits, going 2-for-4 with an RBI. Of course, Death Cabby was also involved in a play that killed a Mariners rally that could have been crucial, in another universe where good things happen for Mariners fans.
Realistically, that play was just unfortunate all around, and while Caballero really shouldn’t have TOOTBLAN’d himself there, the effort to swim around the tag almost worked. (But almost doesn’t count.) The offense didn’t show up enough, but it definitely showed up more than the pitching. Texas has a great offense, but the 16 runs they scored on 19 hits is just an embarrassment. Woo gets a pass as it was a tough debut, but Tayler Saucedo put up his worst outing of the season, four earned runs on two hits and a walk over two innings. Chris Flexen continues to look like a ghost of himself, allowing five earned runs on six hits and a walk over two innings. And Mike Ford... oh, yeah, Mike Ford pitched today. The one-time Ivy League pitcher is certainly no longer in pitching form, but managed to squeak through the last inning the Mariners needed a warm body on the mound by only allowing one run. Matt Festa was the lone Seattle pitcher to not allow a run today, working the third only allowing a walk and striking out two.
As bad as today was, the Mariners are still at .500, with a little less than two thirds of the season left to play still. It is still hard to ignore the implications of today’s game. After losing in the playoffs last year, the message from the front office was that they didn’t want to be just a playoff team, they wanted to aim for a championship. Even more tired than I was watching this game, is the debate about what they should have done in the off-season, or even what they should, or shouldn’t, do at this point to right the ship. Even if the Astros regress from their division dominance, it’s hard to ignore how solidly the Rangers seem to be supplanting them, for this season at the least.
It’s hard to ignore that the on field product is not competing to the level that was promised. In contradiction to that, to play devil’s advocate, it’s hard to ignore the level of raw talent that still clearly exists in the core of this team, if only they can manifest it in a more real way, and it is worth noting that they are in a better spot this year than where they were at this time last year. Still, they have now lost two series in a row against teams in the playoff mix, and the losses have been bad. The hopeful fans are past tired from hoping and being let down, but not let down enough to abandon hope entirely. The cynical fans are past tired of being right about being let down, because the cynics are still fans and deep down would have rather have been wrong. The whole affair is exhausting, and as long as the Mariners continue to play like this against the teams they were supposed to rival, you would be forgiven for taking a nap on the season.