To be perfectly honest, yesterday was going according to plan through the first eight innings. Mind you, it wasn’t an IDEAL plan. But, they had Chris Sale coming off of an All Star Game start and we didn’t. Sale threw 100 pitches and gave up 1 hit and 3 walks, while striking out 6. In the meantime, the White Sox pushed across 3 runs off of Wade LeBlanc (who managed to go a respectable 7 innings while also striking out 6, making 3 of his 4 starts at least 6 innings, which is Cy Young material when compared to the rest of the Mariners’ starting rotation).
Thanks to traditional baseball roles, the White Sox went to their closer, David Robertson, who had only blown 2 saves coming into last night’s game. Aside from a couple of random meltdowns, Robertson has been a quality reliever for the White Sox this year. Hindsight being what it is, if I was a White Sox fan last night, part of me would understand going to your closer in a 3-run game. But, as someone who is quickly growing tired of traditional baseball roles, when you see your starter rolling through 8 innings, having only thrown 100 pitches, it’s hard to fathom why he wasn’t out there to at least start the 9th inning. I mean, OBVIOUSLY, the Mariners wouldn’t have done anything! They hadn’t gotten anything over a single off of him all day, and that was back in the first inning! The most trouble he was in all day was the 7th, when he hit two guys, with the middle of the order coming up. But, Cano, Cruz, and Seager all went down no problem; threat erased.
Of course, had Sale gone out in the 9th, and given up a couple of baserunners, I’m sure everyone would have flipped out on their manager anyway. Going to your closer is an effective way to push blame off of the manager and onto the closer who couldn’t get the job done. But, I dunno. Wins are precious in baseball. And managers are paid to lead. No guts, no glory, my main man.
Anyway, that 9th inning was a thing of beauty. Seager at the plate, 2 on, 2 out, singled to center to make it a 3-1 game. Adam Lind hit for Iannetta – who has been in a pretty stiff funk so far in July, so much so that Jesus Sucre of all people started in back-to-back games, which should NEVER happen EVER – who was in a very similar situation back on June 24th, against the Cardinals. That game also featured the Mariners down 3-1, with 2 runners on in the bottom of the 9th (the only difference was that there weren’t any outs that time, so arguably there was more pressure last night), before Lind jacked the game-winning homer.
I don’t want to try to make an argument that Lind is some sort of super-clutch godhead or something. I will say that, while his season has been a bit of a disappointment, he certainly knows how to pick his moments.
As always, you wonder if these moments are catalysts for potential hot streaks. Well, after the June 24th game, he had a couple of multi-hit games (including a 4-hit day) to generate a temporary boost, but then he had an 0 for 13 stretch of 5 games that brought him back down to Earth, to the point where after last night’s heroics, he’s pretty much right where he was back on June 24th. In other words, it’s probably crazy to expect a huge bounce back to being productive again, but at least we know he still has this in him. He hasn’t totally let the sagging numbers of this season destroy him mentally. And, while you probably don’t want to EXPECT great things in the second half, it wouldn’t shock me to see steady improvement, as he’s continued to be put into appropriate situations where he can take advantage of his excellence against right-handed pitching.
Adam Lind: the hero the Mariners deserve. Let’s hope for a repeat tonight.