Looking At Some Numbers And Stuff About The 2018 Mariners

The Mariners’ season ended with a whimper over the weekend.  The M’s took 3 of 4 against the Rangers to finish 89-73.  That’s good for 14 games behind the Astros for the division and 8 games behind the Athletics for the second wild card (also, 1 game behind the Rays for the first runner up position to that second wild card, but that’s neither here nor there).

The Mariners were -34 in run differential, which comes out to a pythagorean win total of only 77.  They were 45-36 at home and 44-37 on the road.  They were 36-21 in 1-run games and a whopping 14-1 in extras!

Somehow, the Mariners had a winning record against every single team in the division:

  • 10-9 vs. Houston
  • 10-9 vs. Oakland
  • 11-8 vs. Anaheim
  • 10-9 vs. Texas

The Mariners were 23-9 against the AL Central, 19-15 against the AL East.  But, as I talked about before, the Mariners were a dreadful 6-14 against the National League (which, again, if you flip that, then we’re tied with the A’s for that second wild card spot).

Here’s the month-by-month:

  • March/April:  16-11
  • May:  18-11
  • June:  19-9
  • July:  10-13
  • August:  12-16
  • September:  14-13

And just to rub some salt in the wounds:

  • Pre July 4th:  55-31
  • July 4th onward:  34-42

I like to point to July 3rd as the high-water mark, but it was really just the beginning of the end.  The REAL high-water mark was at the conclusion of our game on June 5th, where we beat the Astros in Houston and took a 2-game lead in the A.L. West.  We, of course, lost to the eventual champs the very next day and after another week of hovering around first place, we ended up dipping below for the duration of the season.

*Sigh* those were wonderful, delightful times back in early June.  I was so young and naive in those days!

Let’s move on to some individual accolades.

  • Jean Segura is your 2018 Mariners batting champion, with a .304 average
  • Robinson Cano is your 2018 Mariners OBP leader with .374
  • Mitch Haniger is your non-suspended 2018 Mariners OBP leader with .366
  • Nelson Cruz is your slugging champ with .509
  • And Haniger is your OPS champ with .859 (narrowly besting Cruz’s .850)

Here are all the guys who had 10+ homers:

  1. Cruz – 37
  2. Haniger – 26
  3. Ryon Healy – 24
  4. Kyle Seager – 22
  5. Mike Zunino – 20
  6. Segura – 10
  7. Cano – 10

With all of that, the Mariners were just 11th in the AL in homers.

Some other individual numbers:

  • Cruz beat Haniger in RBI, 97-93
  • Haniger beat Seager in doubles, 38-36
  • Dee Gordon beat Denard Span in triples, 8-6
  • Segura edged Haniger in total hits, 178-170
  • Segura also edged Haniger in runs scored, 91-90
  • Gordon topped Segura in steals 30-20

My MVP has to go to Mitch Haniger, who was amazing this year.  He finished with a 6.1 WAR, which was easily the best on the team, and looks to be just scratching the surface of a great MLB career.

On to the pitchers:

  • Your ERA champ among qualified starters was Wade LeBlanc with 3.72
  • James Paxton led the team in strikeouts with 208
  • Mike Leake led the Mariners in innings pitched with 185.2
  • Marco Gonzales led the team in wins with 13
  • Leake led the team in quality starts with 18

Here’s your pitching section just devoted to the miracle that was Edwin Diaz:

  • (Obviously) led the Mariners in saves with 57
  • 57 is tied for 2nd all time in a season in MLB history
  • He fell 5 short of the all-time leader, Francisco Rodriguez
  • He led the team in pitching WAR with 3.2
  • Paxton was second with 2.9
  • He led the team in K/9 with 15.22
  • Only Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances had higher K/9 in the A.L.
  • Even though he’s just a reliever, and pitched fewer than half the innings of the starters, Diaz’s 124 strikeouts was still good for 5th on the team (one behind King Felix, who pitched 82 more innings)
  • The next-closest reliever in strikeouts was Nick Vincent with 56
  • He led the team in WHIP with 0.79
  • He led the team in ERA with 1.96
  • He led all pitchers in games played with 73 (Vincent was second with 62)

Without making it a whole thing, here are some props to some non-Diaz relievers who had great seasons.  Alex Colome, Roenis Elias, and James Pazos all logged in some serious innings for the Mariners and all had sub-3 ERAs.  I know that stat doesn’t mean much anymore, but I mean, those guys were dealing more often than not.

Nevertheless, Edwin Diaz is my Mariners Cy Young Award winner and it’s not even close.

Finally, let’s take a look at how some of these Mariners greats stacked up against the rest of the American League:

  • Segura was 7th in batting average, and one of 8 in the A.L. to hit over .300
  • Haniger was 9th in WAR
  • Segura was 15th in WAR (with 4.3)
  • Haniger was 10th in OPS
  • Cruz was 14th in OPS
  • Cruz was 8th in homers
  • Diaz (again, obviously) led the league in saves (2nd place had 43)

So, that’s that.  Another playoffs-less season in the books.  Do it all again in 2019?  Sure, why not?  What the hell else do I have going on in my life?  Might as well continue to root for a mediocre baseball team some more.

Mariners With Just An Incredible Win Over The Yankees

Never in a million years would I have predicted this Mariners team could win a game in New York 2-1, let alone in extra innings, against THAT bullpen.  My oh my indeed!

I was in the downtown Seattle Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the Seahawks game, but I was so distracted by the little TV in the corner with the Mariners game on that I had to text my dad to have him DVR the football game, because I was missing too much.

I thought Ariel Miranda did a helluva job wiggling off the hook in a lot of self-inflicted jams.  4.2 innings isn’t anything to write home about, but he kept the Yankees off the scoreboard and that’s all you can ask when the games matter this much.

Kudos to Emilio Pagan for getting Miranda off the hook in that fifth inning and bridging the game into the seventh.

I thought Scott Servais did a terrible job putting David Phelps there in the eighth inning of a 1-run lead.  That’s Nick Vincent territory!  For the second time in a row, he brought Phelps into a VERY tough situation straight off the DL; how about a softer landing, huh???

So, yeah, it was a bummer that Phelps blew the save there in the eighth, but good on Vincent to keep the game tied at one and getting the game into extras.

Big ups to Mike Zunino for scoring the team’s only run against C.C. Sabathia with his solo homer to left.  7 innings of 1-run ball, with 5 hits, 1 walk, and 6 strikeouts for the ageless wonder.

Even bigger ups to Yonder Alonso for the go-ahead solo homer off of Aroldis Chapman of all people!  The M’s faced the teeth of the Yankees’ bullpen, loaded the bases on Dellin Betances, but couldn’t quite push the go-ahead run home in the top of the ninth.

And, closing it out, we have Edwin Diaz with his 30th save on the year.  That’s how you do it!

The M’s picked up a game on the Wild Card-leading Yankees, and are within 0.5 games of the Twins for the second Wild Card spot (having passed over the Royals and Angels with their losses tonight).  Two more games to go in New York; getting just the one victory was beyond my wildest dreams, so I don’t know what I’d do if we somehow managed to get two.  Early starts the next two days, so it won’t take long to find out.

Leave It To The Mariners To Suck All The Life Out Of A Winning Road Trip, Also Trade For David Phelps

Doesn’t it seem like every time we get super excited for a Mariners game, or just about the Mariners in general, they do everything in their power to let everybody down?

All day in the leadup to this game, the talk focused on the Mariners.  Back at .500, coming off of an incredible road trip, Yankees in town, Felix on the mound, and oh by the way help is coming in the form of reliever David Phelps.

Who is David Phelps?  Well, he’s a guy we got from Miami for 4 low-level prospects (guys who are far from the Major Leagues now; who are sort of high-risk, high-reward types; whose odds of panning out are pretty low).  He got his start with the Yankees before being traded to the Marlins before the 2015 season.  He was once considered a starter, who has converted to being a reliever full time, who some think could be converted back into a starter for next year should the organization deem it appropriate.  He’s earning $4.6 million this year, with one more year of club control next year (where he’ll look to earn probably $6-8 million if he continues on this course.  He was a very good reliever last year, and is having a pretty good year this year.  He had a few rough outings in April and June, but by and large he’s put up zeroes in his performances, which is all I ask.  He gained about 3 mph in his fastball when he converted to being a reliever, now throwing around the mid-90s, with a cutter and a curveball.

In other words, David Phelps steps in immediately as one of our very best relievers.  I imagine he’ll be slotted into a role backing up Nick Vincent – probably in the 6th or 7th inning – but could easily step in as an alternate 8th inning guy for when we want to give Vincent a blow.  I imagine he’ll be thrown into the fire as soon as possible, particularly since his last appearance was this past Monday.

The one knock against him is that he probably walks too many guys, so I get the feeling some of his appearances will be pretty adventurous and not good for the ol’ agita, but pobody’s nerfect.  He’s a clear step up from the guys we have in Tacoma and a good hedge against guys like Vincent and Zych, who have been on a remarkable tear this season and figure to be prone to some regression the rest of the way.  If and when that happens, it’s nice knowing Phelps is here to take charge until those guys find their ways again.

As for the deal itself, I don’t have a problem with it.  The outfielder looked like he could’ve been interesting, but he’s 19 years old, and somewhere around the 7th best prospect in the organization.  When you consider the dearth of talent in the Mariners’ farm system, I’m not sure that means a whole lot to me.  The Mariners HAVE outfielders right now, so I’m okay with getting rid of an iffy prospect who has a long way to go to be even a middling Quad-A type player.

That having been said, if Phelps is a bust, and one or more of those guys turn into superstars, you know I’ll be bitching HARD about this trade 3-5 years from now.  SUCK IT MARINERS, I’LL HAVE MY CAKE AND EAT IT TOO AND THEN COMPLAIN ABOUT HOW FULL I AM LATER AND YOU JUST HAVE TO TAKE IT!

So, there we were, thinking about the Mariners – in mostly a positive light – for a whole day.  I’ll be honest, while my new work schedule has me sleeping through most weekday West Coast games, I was strongly considering DVRing this one, waking up early, and watching sort of a fast-forwarded, Cliffs Notes version of the game.  But, now I’m kinda glad I didn’t.

It would’ve been cool to see vintage Felix spinning 7 innings of 1-run gold (on 3 hits & 2 walks, with 9 strikeouts), but unfortunately we also saw Vintage Rest-of-the-Mariners in how they treated a King Felix start:  namely, no run support and terrible defense and base running.  Pazos and Zych combined to work the eighth, giving up an unearned run; and Max Povse – called up earlier in the day as a temporary bullpen arm while Phelps flies to Seattle (he should be added to the roster today) – gave up 2 unearned runs in the ninth thanks to a Cano error with two outs.

It’s really unfortunate, though, about the offense.  They squirrelled away 8 hits and a walk against Yankees’ starter Luis Severino – who is good, but is by no means an unstoppable killing machine – but couldn’t push any runs across in his 7 innings of work (overall, 2 for 14 with RISP).  From there, with the Yankees leading by even just the 1 run, it was all academic, as Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman were due up in the eighth & ninth.  That can’t happen very much more this series if the Mariners expect to win some games.

In Rotation Shake-Up News:  Sam Gaviglio was predictably sent back to Tacoma, and Yovani Gallardo was announced as the starter on Sunday.  I like this, because it means Phelps takes over for Povse today, and the Mariners keep Emilio Pagan in the bullpen over Gaviglio in the rotation.  I think Pagan has earned an opportunity and could be a very good weapon for us down the stretch, in games where we need long relievers (for instance, in games where Gallardo gets the start).

Three days left in this series, and a pretty sour start.  I don’t have a lot of hope, but I guess we’ll see.

The Mariners Won More Than They Lost Against The Yankees

It’s Monday, which means it’s time to talk about the weekend that was.

The M’s won an impressive one on Friday, 7-1, scoring in each of the final six innings to put it away.  Cruz and Cano had big games, we got a lot out of the DH combo of Smith & Guti, Adam Lind had something of a breakout game with a couple of hits, and Iannetta continued his torrid start to the season, which has been the most welcome of surprises.  Most everyone got in on the action offensively, except of course for poor Kyle Seager, who can’t buy a hit (but has plenty of Double Play foodstamps to throw around – THANKS OBAMA!).

Nathan Karns had a very Nathan Karns type of outing:  5 innings, 5 hits, 4 walks, 1 run, 7 strikeouts.  He got himself into and out of trouble in almost every inning, which is just something we should all get used to seeing, because that’s going to be the norm with this guy.  His inability to consistently pound the strikezone and get guys to hit into our defense is going to mean high pitch counts, low innings counts, and potentially a lot of crooked numbers.  In games like on Friday, where he was able to wiggle off the hook time and time again, he’ll resemble a bulldog like Erik Bedard.  You take the good with the bad with a guy like Bedard/Karns.  A tendency to Five & Dive, but at the same time (ideally) someone who can give you a QUALITY five innings.  Which, compared to some of the 5th starters we’ve seen in years past (weak-throwing flyball pitchers like Beavan and such), this might be a welcome change.  But, if Karns starts getting beat up more often than not (BECAUSE he’s putting so many people on base early in innings), then you’ll likely see him replaced by Paxton sooner rather than later.  It’ll be an interesting first few weeks of his Mariners career.

As the Mariners played add-on, the bullpen locked it down for the final four innings, including Peralta, who had been savaged in recent games by the long ball.

The Mariners won again on Saturday, 3-2, in a very Mariners-like performance, where the team scored three runs in the fifth inning, and no runs in any other inning.  Felix got the start, and for a while, this looked like the prototypical Hard Luck Felix Game.  C.C. Sabathia was working his magic through the first four innings, and it looked like a return to form for the erstwhile ace.  Felix, meanwhile, struggled in Karns-like fashion each and every inning, as he too was limited to five innings on the day.  It was a really weird day, if I’m being honest.  Felix had some of the most unhittable stuff I’ve ever seen out of him, but the downside was that he had pretty much no control over anything.  He threw about 80% offspeed stuff, and that shit was flying every which way but inside the strikezone.  As such, he only gave up 5 hits, but he gave up 6 walks.  When you add Saturday’s performance to his opening day start, there might be cause for concern.  I, however, choose to believe in the King, and like to see that he’s got such strong movement this early into the season.  He’ll harness everything, and get control over his command, and once he does, we could see a nice long run of dominance out of him this season.  As it is, he’s only got a 1.00 ERA, so the Felix Haters can eat all the dicks.

When Felix left the game, he had a 3-1 lead, and you sure as shit know none of us Mariners fans thought that lead was REMOTELY safe.  Vidal Nuno came in on his second consecutive day to throw shutout ball for an inning; he’s going to be a HUGE piece to this bullpen when it’s all said and done.  In the 7th, Nick Vincent gave up a solo homer to make it 3-2, and it was Hold Your Nuts time from there on out.  Benoit returned from his shoulder soreness to throw an uneventful scoreless inning, and Cishek came in for the 9th, gave up a couple hits, but ultimately got the job done for his first save of the year.  Last year, that game is a loss 11 times out of 10 games, so good on the bullpen to snap back after a rough homestand.

Yesterday, the Mariners lost 4-3, in a game that necessitated a dominant starting pitching performance, and ultimately didn’t see one.  Masahiro Tanaka was going for the Yankees, and he’s always been a tough cookie against the Mariners.  Quite frankly, seeing the Mariners get even 3 runs was laudable, as more often than not you’re lucky to get more than a single run against the guy.  Ultimately, when you get three runs off of a team’s ace, you need to find a way to win that game, and the Mariners just couldn’t hack it.

Hisashi Iwakuma is one of the more infuriating pitchers I’ve seen in a good, long while.  Not the same kind of infuriating as guys like J.A. Happ, or Carlos Silva, or even Jeff Weaver.  Unlike those guys, we’ve SEEN Iwakuma do really well in a Mariners uniform.  We KNOW he has greatness in him.  In the last two seasons, he’s had decent, if injury-plagued years, and in 2013 he had near-Cy Young quality stuff over 33 games.  When we all think of Iwakuma, we think of him in that 2013 context, where he solidified his reputation as a legitimate #2 starter on this team.  But, the truth is, even in 2013, he’s prone to these dumpy runs of mediocrity.  THAT’S what makes him so infuriating!  It’s not like he runs into a bad game here and there; even Felix has a bad game every now and again.  But, Iwakuma tends to string his bad games, or his so-so games, all in a row, before he has these prolonged stretches of quality starts.

Here are some of the stretches to which I’m referring (not counting his first year in the Bigs, as he was still getting over some shoulder issues):

  • 2013 – a five-game run where he gave up at least 4 runs per game
  • 2014 – a six-game run where he couldn’t get through the 6th inning in 5 of 6 games (and, more often than not, couldn’t even get through the 5th inning)
  • 2015 – a four-game run to start the season where he gave up at least 4 runs per game

I don’t know if it’s fair to saddle him with this run of three games to start the 2016 season as it being one of his bad runs, but he hasn’t been great by any stretch.  In 18 innings, he’s given up 22 hits and another 6 walks.  While he’s only given up the one homer (to A-Rod yesterday, ugh), teams are stringing their hits and walks together just enough to force him into this 0-2 start.  I wouldn’t say it’s dire straits yet with Kuma, but it would be really nice to see him overwhelm one of these teams soon with a dominant performance.

All in all, as I said before, a commendable hitting performance out of the M’s yesterday.  We were able to tie it in the fifth, but Kuma went right out in the bottom of the inning and gave up the fourth run of the day for the Yankees.  Even though Kuma was able to go 7 innings, and let the bullpen relax a little bit, those four runs proved to be too much.  Tanaka was also able to go 7 innings, and once the Yankees have a lead going into the 8th inning, you might as well forget it.  Dellin Betances is a fucking beast, and Andrew Miller is rock solid.  Can you even imagine what that bullpen is going to look like when Aroldis Chapman returns from suspension?  You better pile your runs up early, because you’re not budging that bullpen an inch in the late innings!

I do have to say something about Kyle Seager, though, because he’s been an absolute mess through two weeks.  He’s down to a line of .119/.245/.238, he was benched on Saturday to give him a day off to mentally unwind, and he’s just been a machine at grounding out to the right side of the infield (into the shift, which I have to believe is in his head more than anyone wants to let on).  I have confidence in his ability to turn it around, as I’ve seen these slow starts out of him almost every year of his career, but if this team wants to avoid digging a hole impossible to get out of, it’ll need Seager to start pulling his weight.

I like what I’ve seen out of Cruz and Iannetta.  Smith and Guti have had truly professional starts to the season.  Aoki’s been on a nice little run, and Martin has showed better power than I would’ve given him credit for prior to the season.  Dae-ho Lee has brought exactly what I expected to the table.  It’s really only a matter of time before Cano goes on a hot streak to get his numbers back to career norms.  Sardinas has brought what you like to see out of a guy off the bench.  Marte has had a rough go of it, but he’s young, and he has a knack for getting on base and using his speed to his advantage.  Lind’s rough start can’t be sugar-coated, but at least he looks like a guy who can hit it to all fields, so he’ll find some of those balls dropping in for hits sooner or later.  That just leaves Seager, who is bringing up the rear like a maniac.

When you think of a lineup, you’re going to see lots of peaks and valleys out of guys.  For instance, Iannetta is having a tremendous start to his Mariners career.  But, that other shoe is going to drop in a minute, and it would be NICE to see someone else hit one of his peaks at the same time as Iannetta’s inevitable valley, so the offense doesn’t go completely in the tank.  Iannetta is giving us Seager-like production right now, but that won’t last forever (if it even lasts much longer than these first two weeks); we’re going to need Seager to step it up just to maintain the status quo we’ve got going on right now!  That’s a scary thought, especially if it takes him much longer to pull out of this nosedive he’s been in.

The Mariners Lost To The Yankees Last Night, and I’m Predictably Upset

I really wish Tanaka had pitched yesterday, instead of tonight.  If we end up losing this series – which, I’m putting at about a 95% certainty – at least part of the blame can go to that FUCKING Kansas City weather on Sunday raining out their start against the Yankees.  Because, let’s face it, all along I was writing off that Tanaka start, no matter WHO went up against him.  But, knowing that he’s going up against Chris Young tonight makes it all the more scary.

Of course, we had no business losing LAST NIGHT, but that’s neither here nor there.  This team has a REAL problem winning games at home.  It’s what’s going to ruin this team if they don’t pick it the fuck up.

Ahh, but if only we could blame all of our problems on the Kansas City weather.  Alas, there is plenty of blame to go around for last night’s 3-2 defeat.

For starters, I was pretty hard on Charlie Furbush last night on Twitter, and for good reason.  He really only had one job last night, in spite of the fact that he ended up going 1.2 innings.  His JOB, was to keep that runner at second base from scoring, to keep the game at a 2-2 tie.  And, for two pitches, he was on point.  He got Jacoby Ellsbury into an 0-2 hole, and then served up the fattest, juiciest, most mouth-watering meatball I’ve ever seen.  Since Ellsbury is a human with two arms, two legs, and two eyes, he was easily able to discern that this pitch was, in fact, right in his wheelhouse.  He carefully lined a single into the outfield and that was the ballgame.  Furbush managed to get out of the inning – and through the next inning – without giving up any more damage, but that was it.  That was the ballgame.  The run was credited to Hisashi Iwakuma, the loss was even credited to Hisashi Iwakuma, but this game rested on the shoulders of Charlie Furbush and HE is the reason why this game didn’t go into extra innings.

Speaking of Iwakuma, boy did HE have a shitty first inning.  I’m not going to heap nearly as much scorn upon him – as he did a marvelous job of settling down after throwing over 40 pitches in the first two innings – but he knows better than to leave all those pitches up in the zone.  When he pitches up in the zone, he loses most of his natural movement.  And, besides that, he doesn’t have the strongest arm, so he’s not going to blow anybody away with his fastball in the upper 80s.

Lloyd McClendon, for the most part, at least in my estimation, has gotten a pass this year.  You have to do that when you’re dealing with a new manager.  Let him get his feet wet, give him time to give you a solid impression of what he’s about, and see if his wacky tactics end up paying off.

I generally like him.  I like the way he manages, I like the way he’s brunt and forthright with the media.  I’m not always crazy about his bullpen usage, but I feel like almost every manager has bullpen usage issues.  Last night, he did something else I liked:  he left his starter in the ballgame.  Iwakuma was cruising after that aforementioned second inning.  He put up zeroes every inning after the first and ultimately saw the Mariners tie the game at 2-2 in the 7th.  Each inning seemed to be getting easier than the last for Iwakuma.  He was right around 100 pitches, which by no means should dictate whether you take a pitcher out of a game or not.  Like some of these other old school guys, I long for the days where starters would throw 120-130 pitches.  Maybe that’s not safe, or to the benefit of a pitcher’s long-term health, but men were men God dammit!  Chewing tobacco and jock straps and tattoos and moustaches!

Anyway, I was all in favor of Iwakuma going out to start that 8th inning.  My only concern was the Yankee batting order turning over to the top of the lineup again.  They’d proven to give him fits in the first inning, and they’d likely prove to give him fits upon seeing him a fourth time in the game.  My strategy would have been:  leave Iwakuma in until he looks like he’s done.

And then Brett Gardner yanked a ball that was just a few feet foul.  What would have been a homer, was only a long strike in the count, but you could tell.  Iwakuma was leaving the ball up and out over the plate again.  Obviously, you don’t yank a pitcher in the middle of an at-bat unless he’s injured, but if you were EVER going to do that, immediately following that foul ball would have been the time.  Gardner eventually smashed a deep drive that was caught in center field.  He hit that ball on the button and just missed a double or a triple (with his speed).  Once we lucked into that first out, it was time.

Instead, LMC left him in to face Jeter, who also jacked a deep fly to left center.  This time, Jones couldn’t bring it down and it went for a ground rule double.  Iwakuma was pulled for Furbush, but the damage was done.

LMC also made a few bonehead decisions with the lineup that he’s regretting right about now.  Willie Bloomquist in the leadoff spot, for instance.  0 for 4 with a strikeout on 13 total pitches for the game.  Two foul outs to first in his first two at-bats, a fly out to center, and a strikeout in the seventh.  That’s the one that really got my goat.  With two outs, we’d just come up with a clutch RBI single by Ackley to tie the game.  Brad Miller followed with an infield chopper that he was able to beat out at first.  That turned over the lineup to the top of the order again.  Unlike the Yankees – who seem to know what they’re doing at the top of their lineup – the Mariners have been swinging their dick like a helicopter when it comes to the top of the lineup.  Just standing there, swinging their dick, making helicopter noises.

Regardless of what he’s done recently – and I can’t believe I have to fucking say this again – THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR WILLIE FUCKING BLOOMQUIST TO EVER BE YOUR LEADOFF HITTER!  Shit, there’s no excuse for him to ever NOT hit 9th in the lineup unless you’re in a National League park, and even then I’m not so sure!  You don’t give Willie Bloomquist the opportunity for the most at-bats in your lineup, I don’t care how shitty and inexperienced the other options are!  If LMC could get that one hint through his thick fucking skull, I’d die a happy man.

So, of course, bottom of the seventh, runners on first and second – go-ahead run in scoring position, meaning all we need is a harmless single to the outfield to take the lead and seal the win – Bloomquist strikes out.  Great.

Also, what was that shit with pinch hitting for Cole Gillespie in the 6th?  I understand that Dellin Betances is this smoke-throwing righty with insane strikeout numbers, but Cole Gillespie has not only been the team’s best right-handed bat over the last few weeks, he was the best right-handed bat LAST NIGHT!  1 for 1 with a walk and the team’s first RBI; leave him in there!  I like Endy Chavez as much as the next guy, but Gillespie is better than Endy Chavez right now!  Ride the wave!  You batted him cleanup in your lineup last night for a reason – AND IT PAID OFF – why are you second-guessing yourself later?  LMC is that fantasy football owner who tinkers with his lineup on the Saturday night before the playoffs, and then again on the Sunday morning before the games start.  Just let your best players play!

His final questionable decision I didn’t have a huge deal with.  Bottom of the 9th, two outs, Ackley walks, bringing up Brad Miller’s spot.  With a righty on the mound, some people would have liked to have seen what Miller was capable of.  He did just help us with a 9th inning victory down in Tampa the day before.  But, he’s batting .172 for a reason.  Maybe, if he could prove he’s capable of at least hitting above the Mendoza line, he’d get the benefit of the doubt more often.  Personally, I have no problem with pinch hitting for him there.  To be fair, I wouldn’t have had a problem with him hitting there either.

Others feel that pinch hitting was correct, but that John Buck was the questionable choice.  When you’ve got Stefen Romero also on the bench, why go with the old, slow catcher?  That’s LMC relying on the veteran just because he’s a veteran.  Granted, Buck recently hit that 2-run homer down in Atlanta to give the team the lead.  And also granted, just last year he hit 15 homers, so you know he’s got some pop in his bat.  And FINALLY granted, Romero isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire with his .210 average and his .355 slugging percentage.  Nevertheless, if I had to rank my choice for that at bat, John Buck probably would have been my third choice.  I’m still waffling on whether I’d go Miller or Romero, but I know Buck wasn’t it.

That having been said, going with Buck there isn’t the reason we lost this game.  It wasn’t even LMC’s worst move of the night (I think that still has to be leaving Iwakuma in there to face Jeter).  The move that probably backfired the most has been essentially glossed over and forgotten from history.

I’ve said it repeatedly, and I’ll say it again here:  I hate it when athletes “play through pain”.  If you’re in pain, you’re not helping ANYONE!  Just shut it down and get right.  YOUR presence isn’t the difference between making the playoffs and sitting at home in October (especially when it’s still early June and there’s still plenty of time left in the season).  I won’t belabor the point any more, but I have to wonder where Michael Saunders is at in his recovery from that shoulder aggravation.  Is he fine?  Is he 100%, or at least as close to 100% as can be expected in a sport where it’s a daily grind?  Or, is he 50% and trying to nut up and avoid a stint on the DL?  Are we going to find out that his playing on this shoulder is just making it worse, eventually requiring that DL stint he’d gone to such lengths to previously avoid?

Or, did he just have the shittiest game of any Seattle Mariners player last night?

I know at least that last part is true.  But, because he’s not Charlie Furbush or Lloyd McClendon (or Brad Miller in the bottom of the first, making a miracle diving stab at a grounder, only to throw wide of first base when he had PLENTY of time to nab the slow-footed Brian McCann – who is, in my estimation, one of the worst blocking catchers I’ve ever seen – thereby letting a second run score), Michael Saunders kind of gets lost in the shuffle.  Yet, if you’re going to blame any player for this loss – and ultimately, it’s the players who have to get the job done, regardless of bonehead manager decisions – Michael Saunders gets the biggest slice of that pie.

  • Bottom of the 2nd:  One out, Zunino doubles, then takes third on a wild pitch.  Saunders at the plate:  strikes out.  A fly ball could have tied the game; instead, Ackley closes out the inning harmlessly and we’re still down 2-1.
  • Bottom of the 4th:  One out, Gillespie walks, then Seager singles and Gillespie goes to third.  Zunino hits a shallow fly ball to left, can’t bring in the runner, but allows Seager to tag up and go to second.  Two outs, two runners in scoring position, Saunders at the plate:  Flies out to center.  A single into the outfield gives us the lead; instead, we’re still down 2-1.
  • Bottom of the 7th:  One out, Zunino hit by pitch, then advances to second on a wild pitch.  Saunders at the plate:  strikes out.  Ackley would go on to single in that run (himself avoiding the same overall misery as Saunders in this game); but, it eventually led to Bloomquist getting that final out.  Perhaps if Saunders had hit that run in and continued the inning, things would have been much different.  We’ll never know.
  • Bottom of the 9th:  One out, Saunders at the plate:  strikes out.

Three strikeouts on the game.  0 for 3 with runners in scoring position.  4 left on base.  Goat of the game:  your name is Michael Saunders.

And, tonight:  Tanaka.  I’ll be at that game, so let’s see if my in-person mojo has enough to keep this one close and turn it over to the bullpens.  But, I have my doubts.  I REALLY have my doubts.  We’re really close to getting swept in this series, with a 3-game series against the Rangers on the weekend.  All of that goodwill that came from last week’s 6-1 road trip could be slipping through our fingers like sand through an hourglass.  Pretty soon, if we’re not careful, we’ll be able to say, “If the season ended today … we’d just miss out on that Wild Card.”

P.S.  Fuck Derek Jeter.  I’m going to pick about a million fights tonight (and not just with my grandmother, who’s coming with me to the game) with Yankees fans in attendance.