The Mariners Finally Blew One

We were bound to see it sooner or later.  What more perfect, Marinersiest time to do it than in a start where James Paxton is as dominant as can be?

He went 7 innings of shutout ball, leaving with what you’d assume to be a comfortable 2-0 lead.  It sounds like every Felix start from 2010-2013 (ESPECIALLY against the A’s).  But, unlike most Felix starts, Paxton did something so remarkable the King hasn’t even reached this height:  he struck out 16 batters.  And he did it while only throwing 105 pitches!  He sprinkled in 5 hits and a walk, but was otherwise as dominant as can be.  In that respect, it was very much in line with a Classic Felix start.

As was the way the bullpen decided to shit all over it.

Again, it was bound to happen.  After some struggles through the first two weeks, Juan Nicasio racked up 7 consecutive scoreless appearances, looking better and better each time out.  So, giving up a 1-out, 2-run, game-tying homer to the best hitter on the A’s, Jed Lowrie (who, not for nothing, ALWAYS kills the Mariners for some reason) is something I’m willing to forgive.  Of course, had I been watching the game last night, I might’ve thought differently, and flown into a rage on Twitter the likes of which … would’ve made no difference whatsoever.

Then, I mean come on, what more does Edwin Diaz have to do?  He gave up 1 inconsequential run in his first 15 appearances, going 12/12 in save opportunities (and winning the April Relief Pitcher of the Month).  In a tie game, in the top of the 9th inning, at home (where – at that point – it’s impossible to save your closer for a save opportunity in that game), with some very capable boppers coming up in the bottom of the 9th, OF COURSE you use your best reliever in that situation!  The sooner we get people out of the mindset that you can only use your closer in save situations, the sooner I’ll be saved from having to read all the idiots complaining to the beat writers about why they put Edwin Diaz in there in a tie game.  THINK ABOUT IT!  ASSHOLES!

So, anyway, yeah, I’m willing to forgive Diaz too.  It sucks that we lost, it sucks that a peach of a start was ruined, but it’s what the Mariners do.  Not for nothing, but it’s what a lot of other teams do too.

Also not for nothing, there is NO WAY I’m bringing Paxton out there for the 8th.  He threw 105 pitches!  Nicaso and Diaz have been amazing this year!  AND, oh by the way, Paxton is constantly getting injured.  Why would you risk that?  When you’re up 2-0, at home, with your best relievers set to lock it down … no.  Just no.  Scott Servais does plenty of things I disagree with, but this is far from one of them.

I’m more concerned about why the offense couldn’t do more than they did against a guy making his first start in the Major Leagues in 2018.  I know Brett Anderson is a veteran, but our offense has been on fire!  Eventually, we’re going to need to get some actual production out of our catcher and left field positions.  Cruz and Segura can’t do fucking everything!

If this turns into a trend, then we have a serious problem.  But, for now, let’s see how it plays out.  The A’s stole one that the Mariners should’ve won; maybe the M’s can do the opposite tonight.  Wade LeBlanc gets the nod against the best starter on the Athletics, Sean Manaea.  We’ve already seen this Manaea guy once this year; he went 7 innings and gave up 1 run in an A’s victory.  4 out of his 6 appearances against Seattle in his brief 3-year career have been quality starts, so obviously he’s not intimidated by our Mariners-ness.  Let’s change that tonight, huh?

An Epic Ninth Inning

I can already tell you I’m not going to like Chris Ray.  That guy has a funky delivery, so herky jerky and awkward.  It looks like he has absolutely no idea where the ball is going to go after it leaves his hand!  Which would be fine if he threw 99 miles per hour with movement; but his goes 92 or 93.  I mean, he JUST got pounded and everything was smack dab in the middle of the strike zone.  YOU DON’T HAVE THE KIND OF STUFF TO BLOW GUYS AWAY, CHRIS RAY!  Paint the fucking corners or get the hell out of my way!

So, that happened.  Vargas had a very Vargas-like performance, and we took a 2-1 lead into the 8th where it was subsequently blown.  Yes, it is Game 2 and we have our first blown save of the year!

By the by, here’s a little tip:  Jamey Wright and Chris Ray, they have almost identical stuff.  League-average (read: hitable) fastball, curveballs that don’t do a whole lot of curving, both are right handed and white, etc.  MAYBE it’s best not to pitch them back-to-back.  MAYBE, when we throw one, we put in a guy who actually throws hard the next inning!

I’m harping on this early and often because I want to nip this Chris Ray in the bud.  He won’t be ruining this month for me!  God I want Aardsma back in the worst way (never thought I’d see myself writing that).

Anyway, where was I?  YES, the Epic Ninth.  Bottom of the 8th, we’re Ray’d right in the nuts, but luckily he somehow held the damage down to a single run.  We still had the tie, but it had the FEEL of 2010, much like the first game.

You know, we have excellent starting pitching, but we run into the buzzsaw that is Brett Anderson (he had an ERA of 0.81 against us last season in five games).  Somehow we get a run off of him and make him leave after only 6 innings, then we work another run across the plate to get a miniscule lead.  Starting pitcher has to leave, our bullpen gives up the tying run, and then we go on to lose it in the bottom of the 9th or in extra innings.

Well, NOT THIS TIME!

This time, we did it.  I don’t know how, but I’ll be God damned if we didn’t somehow do it.  It looked like this:

Jack Wilson jerks a single into left field to start things off.  Michael Saunders lays down an excellent sacrifice bunt to move him to 2nd base.  Miguel Olivo then hits a single to deep center that Wilson has to wait on to make sure it’s not caught, so he only advances to 3rd.  This gives us runners on the corners with only 1 out.  Haven’t we seen this situation a million times before, last season?  All we need is a fly ball or heavens forbid an actual hit, but instead we strike out, or hit a come-backer to the pitcher, or when we have the winning run go on contact, that very contact is a hard ground ball to the 3rd baseman (a.k.a. the ONE person we can’t hit the ball to in that situation).

Well, luckily for us, we had Ichiro at the plate.  He hit a sharp grounder to first base who had to go home with the throw.  Except these are the A’s, so their defense is horrible.  I don’t think they would’ve gotten Jack Wilson anyway, as he WAS going on contact, but there we go!  Infield single, and a 3-2 lead.

But, it doesn’t stop there.  Because in all the chaos of that play, Olivo made it all the way to 3rd base.  On the next throw from pitcher Brian Fuentes, he scored on a wild pitch.  THEN, Ichiro stole 3rd base, all while Chone Figgins is at the plate!  Figgy hits a sacrifice fly to deep center and that’s your ballgame.  A tie game goes to a 3-run lead and the first of hopefully many Brandon League saves.

HE looked on tonight, by the way.  Good, very good.  Let’s keep THAT up.