An Interesting 9th Inning Is Ruined By Mistakes

I don’t do many game recaps for the Mariners because there are too many games, because I don’t have cable (and thus can’t watch very many games), and because with a team like the Mariners, writing about their daily activities becomes more than a little redundant.  Plus, there are better sources from which to get recaps.

But, I will do recaps to the games I attend.  And I was there last night, as part of some Washington Husky Alumni thing.

To put a little perspective on things, yesterday marked the final weigh-in for a 6-week weight loss challenge put on at my work.  As such, yesterday marked the first time I’d had a beer in six weeks.  Suffice it to say, they were literally the most delicious beers I’ve ever had in my life.

Sluggers is the go-to pre-game bar of choice for me and my friends.  Of course, it’s usually packed to the gills, so if you’re not there three hours before gametime, you might as well go to Pyramid or some other bar.  I like Sluggers because you’re going to get a lot of TVs, the servers are friendly, and the setup itself is pretty sweet.

Anyway, we got there, shot the shit for a while, and made our way into the game.  We just made it to our seats, bagel dogs in hand, before first pitch.

As I said before, these things get a little redundant, so I’ll run through the first eight and a half innings as best I can.  The hitting, obviously, stunk.  The Rangers had a lefty on the mound in Derek Holland and he pretty much mowed us down, giving up only four hits and walking two while striking out four in 7.2 innings.  The Mariners didn’t score in the first eight innings, and they didn’t really even come all that close to scoring.  Miguel Olivo saw all of 5 pitches in making 3 outs last night, while leaving a number of guys on base.  Dustin Ackley struck out twice and looked absolutely miserable at the plate; I regret ever considering him a Sure Thing.  My bad luck with these types of opinions rears its ugly head once again.

On the flipside, Kevin Millwood looked about as good as we could have hoped against this Rangers lineup.  He gave up 3 runs in 6.2 innings, spreading out 8 hits and striking out four.  Then, the bullpen came in and did what the bullpen does:  dominates.  Luetge, in his only batter-faced, struck out Josh Hamilton on three pitches to close out the 7th inning.  Then, Kelley, Perez, and newcomer Kinney all did what they had to do to keep this thing close.

In the 9th inning, the Mariners were losing 3-0.  Jesus Montero, another guy who looked absolutely miserable last night, grounded out to lead off the frame.  Then, the Mariners came alive.  Seager dribbled a single into right.  Smoak dribbled a single into left, and before you knew it, Joe Nathan was in trouble.  Wedge did the smartest thing I’ve ever seen him do, pinch hitting John Jaso for Miguel Olivo.  And, Jaso did what Jaso seemingly always does late in the game with runners on:  he got a hit.  This time, though, it was only a single, loading the bases.

FINALLY, a little life!  From the team and from the fans!  Let’s go!

Obviously, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot, but stranger things have happened.  Wasn’t it a game in Toronto where Michael Saunders hit a grand slam to win it late?  Well, here he was, up to bat … and he grounded to the first baseman sharply.  AND THE FIRST BASEMAN BOOTS IT!  The ball went into foul territory, all the way to the wall, and it was clear as day:  Michael Saunders was going to get a 2-base error on the play, and the Mariners were going to score 2 runs.

Except, our third base coach, Jeff Datz, had his head up his own ass and stopped Justin Smoak at third base.

Look, I’m trying to be a guy who doesn’t just shit all over the third base coach for one mistake.  People are human, they’re not perfect, I get that.  I’m going to TRY to keep my boiling rage under control.

But, JESUS CHRIST!  That ball could not have been further away from the first baseman!  Justin Smoak, as slow as he is, could have CRAWLED home from second on that play!  As the Rangers first baseman was running away from home plate, there’s no way he could have slid, retrieved the ball, whipped around, and threw it home and still gotten Smoak in time.  It’s just totally inexcusable!

It’s inexcusable because everyone else – including the runners on the basepaths behind him, including Michael Saunders, who ran too far around first base and was picked off once the Rangers first baseman finally got to the ball – knew that was going to be a 2-run error.  EVERYONE!  You’re a professional baseball coach, you’re supposed to be one of the smartest baseball men in the world; that’s how you get to be where you are as a third base coach of a professional baseball team (even one as shabby as the Mariners).

And, not for nothing, but why would you hold him up in that situation anyway?  These are the Seattle Fucking Mariners!  Runs come at a fucking premium in Seattle!  Be. Fucking. Aggressive!  At that point, a runner has come in to make it 3-1.  There is one out and there was very nearly two outs, except for the error.  You’ve got to put the pressure on the other team in that situation to make a play!  Send the runner, make it 3-2, and have runners on second and third with one out!  Changes the whole dynamic of the game!

Instead, it was 3-1, Saunders was out, leaving it at two outs for Brendan Ryan.  At that point, Wedge did one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen him do:  he pinch hit Carlos Peguero for Brendan Ryan.  Ryan may be having one of the worst offensive seasons I’ve ever seen outside of Chone Figgins, but he has shown a knack for coming up with a big hit here and there.  And, not for nothing, but I would trust Ryan WAY more with the bat than I would Peguero!  Yeah, Peguero can win the game with one swing, but 9 times out of 10 that swing is going to cross the plate an inch above the baseball for strike three.

In this instance, Wedge got away with one, because by some divine miracle, Carlos Peguero walked.  Don’t ask me how it happened, some things just can’t be explained.  At this point, I was pretty convinced the Mariners were going to win.

Especially because during the at bat, a wild pitch ended up scoring Justin Smoak from third.  3-2, runners on the corners, Kawasaki came in to pinch run for Peguero, and the lineup turned over to our leadoff hitter.  Dustin Ackley.

Who promptly struck out to end the game.  My seats weren’t ideal for spotting the strike zone, but I guess the first two called strikes were pisspoor on the umpire’s part.  Nevertheless, Jesus Christ, Ackley.  I mean, Jesus Fucking Christ.  GET BETTER ALREADY!

So, the fans were sent home with a loss.  I’ve been to three games this year and all three were defeats.  I’m pretty sure those two runs in the ninth inning were the first two runs I’ve seen the Mariners score in person.  I dunno.  I would consider myself the Bad Luck Guy, but I don’t think there’s enough hoodoo in the world to make ANYONE a Good Luck Guy with this team.

So, why do I want to go back again today?  Felix v. Darvish.  I’m not gonna lie to you, it’s tempting.  It’s mighty tempting.

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