The Mariners Swept The White Sox, Just In Time To Get Swept By The Astros

The Mariners took advantage of a team that just gave up on its season.  They weren’t easy wins – Friday required a big hit by Cano and a lot of great pitching, Saturday required a big hit by Cruz and a perfect four innings from the bullpen, Sunday required many big hits and many more perfect innings from the bullpen – but the better team prevailed, and I guess that’s all that matters.

Yesterday was looking pretty dire, with the White Sox jumping out to an early 5-0 lead.  Seager hit a solo homer to get the Mariners on the board, then after a Segura sac fly, Danny Valencia brought the M’s all the way back with a 3-run home run.  We were able to knock Derek Holland out of the game in the sixth inning while scoring the go-ahead run on a wild pitch to take the lead.

The bullpen, which had been as good as can be, got dinged for the tying run in the bottom of the seventh, but were able to hold things off until we got to extras.  In the top of the tenth, Cruz came back to smash a solo homer to take a 1-run lead, which brought in Edwin Diaz for his third save in three days (arguably his best appearance, striking out the side in order).

This series brought the Mariners back to 1 game under .500, and within 2.5 games of the Wild Card, but it isn’t going to mean a damn thing if we go to Houston and lay down for three straight games.  If we can’t figure out how to beat the best, we’re never going to break this streak of seasons without a playoff appearance.

So, forgive me if I’m not jumping for joy at the latest Mariners sweep.  Do it when it matters; don’t just immediately start another losing streak to kill all your momentum.

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.

Holy Crap: The Mariners Scored 21 Runs

It’s always a novelty when a team scores a shit-ton of runs in one game.  It could happen at literally any time, by any team, against any pitcher (or group of pitchers, as the case may be).

Now, odds are, a team won’t score 20 runs in a game that Felix Hernandez starts, or Justin Verlander, or Cliff Lee, but this is baseball.  Anything COULD happen.  The Houston Astros could lead off later this afternoon in Colorado and hit an infinite number of home runs without making a single out.  Obviously, that’s not bloody likely, but still.

File last night under:  Baseball Be Crazy.

The Texas Rangers are coming off of two straight seasons where they’ve made it to the World Series.  The Seattle Mariners are coming off of two straight seasons of historic offensive ineptitude.  The Texas Rangers currently lead all of baseball in runs scored and are in the Top 10 in E.R.A.  They lead the AL West by 5.5 games over Anaheim and have the best record in the AL.  The Seattle Mariners started the night in the bottom third in runs scored, they’re tied for last in the AL West, and they’ve allowed a Perfect Game this season.  The Mariners had been shut out 6 times in 52 games (going into last night); they’d been held to 2 runs or less 19 times; 3 runs or less 26 times (a.k.a. half of their games have seen the Mariners score 3 runs or fewer).

Going into last night, Derek Holland had straight up OWNED the Seattle Mariners.  Then, he gave up 8 runs and 8 hits and couldn’t get out of the second inning.  Normally, the Rangers’ bullpen is something to be feared.  last night, they pitched 7.1 innings and gave up 13 runs (11 earned) off of 12 hits and four walks.

Every Mariners starter got a hit last night.  Every Mariners starter reached base at least twice.  Kyle Seager led the charge, going 4 for 6 with 2 Doubles, 2 RBI, and 4 runs scored.  Jesus Montero went 3 for 4 with 2 walks, a home run, a double, 4 RBI, and 4 runs scored.  Justin Smoak had probably the best day at the plate:  3 for 5 with a walk, 2 home runs, a double, 6 RBI, and 3 runs scored.  Even Michael Saunders got into the act, going 3 for 6 with 2 doubles, 1 RBI, and 1 run scored.

The Mariners went 9 for 17 with runners in scoring position.  They now sit at 14th in all of baseball in runs scored.  Granted, we’ve got a couple extra games on most of the other teams, but 14th!  After being 30th the past two seasons!

A game like last night is to be cherished.  Especially considering all the bullshit we’ve had to go through with this team.  Makes me glad for this day off today.  I’d rather have this pleasant, warmed-over feeling last a little longer before we get into the month of June and the hell that’s surely coming with it.

That 17-Game Losing Streak Was A Thing of Beauty

It’s been a long, crazy week of Seahawks madness, but I would be completely remiss if I didn’t at least acknowledge the 17-game losing streak before the week ends.

Of course, every fucking person with an Internet connection and some tie to Seattle has written about this thing, so I’m gonna do something a little different.  I hereby present 17 mini recaps of 17 historical losses.  And I do mean historical.  I don’t know what you want to consider official (I choose to go by Geoff Baker’s list because it’s right there), but by Baker’s count, there were 16 teams with streaks longer than 17 games.  The top of the shitpile was the Cleveland Spiders with a whopping 24 losses in a row.  Almost made it.

Game 1 – @ Oakland, 2-0:  We came into this game 43-43, having already won the series with the A’s right after taking the series against the Padres.  We were 2.5 games behind Anaheim & Texas and all anyone could talk about was:  will the Mariners ACTUALLY be buyers at the Trade Deadline?  Then, some guy named Guillermo Moscoso made us look absolutely ridiculous as he combined with two other guys to 2-hit us and start the streak that would officially end our season.  Vargas was your hard-luck loser going the full 8 and striking out 6 while only giving up 5 hits.

Game 2 – @ Anaheim, 5-1:  This was Doug Fister vs. Jered Weaver, so what did you expect?  Run support?  Ha!  Yeah, Weaver went the full 9, striking out 6.  Our lone run started off the scoring, but ultimately the Angels were too much for Fister as they came right back in the bottom half of the third to take the lead for good.

Game 3 – @ Anaheim, 4-3:  A Blake Beavan Special!  My man actually did enough to win this, giving up 2 runs over 6.1 innings (while Ervin Santana gave up 3 runs in 7), but then Jamey Wright came in and gave up a homer to light-hitting catcher Hank Conger.  David Pauley would go on to give up the game-winning homer to Mark Trumbo in the 9th, hanging the most miserable changeup you’ve ever seen.

Game 4 – @ Anaheim, 9-3:  If you want an MVP for this losing streak, look no further than Michael Pineda who looked particularly bad in at least two all of these games.  Here, he got knocked around for 7 runs in 5 innings (including two homers to Torii Hunter).  Meanwhile, Joel Pineiro slopped his way through 7 innings  (giving up 10 hits but only 3 runs, thanks to 7 strikeouts).  We were 4 for 12 with runners in scoring position, yet only scored the 3 runs.  Sad.

Game 5 – @ Anaheim, 4-2:  Getaway day.  Last game before the All Star Break.  Felix vs. Haren.  The King did his part, holding them to 2 runs over 7 innings, but Haren also held serve, giving up 2 runs over 8.2 innings.  Co-MVP of the streak David Pauley gave up yet ANOTHER game-losing homer, this time to Alberto Callaspo in the 8th.  Again in this game the Mariners had an early lead, our 2 runs coming in the first inning.  Unfortunately, Felix isn’t always perfect, and Pauley rarely is.

Game 6 – vs. Texas, 5-0:  Vargas gave up 12 hits in 6 innings, giving up all the runs.  Derek Holland continued the mastery left-handed starters have over our hitters (to be fair, right-handed starters are also very damn good against us), going the full 9, striking out 8.  Also, count this as the start of the Jeff Gray Showcase.

Game 7 – vs. Texas, 4-0:  After this game, we were at a streak of 26 consecutive scoreless innings.  Righty Colby Lewis did most of the damage in this one, going 8.2 and striking out 8.  Fister, shockingly, got no run support again.  Of course, he did himself no favors by giving up 4 runs in 7.2.

Game 8 – vs. Texas, 5-1:  The scoreless streak went a full 30 innings.  Not nearly as impressive as 17 straight losses, but I’d say we were about 15 innings away from giving 17 losses a run for its money.  The hero here?  Ichiro singling home Guti.  Meanwhile, Wedge left Felix in the game too long, turning a 2-1 deficit into an out-of-reach 5-1 drubbing in the 8th inning.  The King’s Court, unfortunately, could not carry our ace to the finish line.  Brandon League followed up his so-so All Star appearance with a scoreless 9th to get in some work.

Game 9 – vs. Texas, 3-1:  Beavan!  Mitch Moreland jacked a 3-run homer in the second inning and this one was done.  Nevertheless, my boy had a quality start, going 6.2 innings.  Meanwhile, Matt Harrison dominated.  We scored 2 runs in this 4-game series; just in time to hit the road for a 9-game East Coast swing.

Game 10 – @ Toronto, 6-5 (14 innings):  Another poor Pineda performance.  5 runs in 6.1 innings.  The Mariners had a lead in this one too:  1-0 in the first, 5-2 after the 2nd inning.  5-2 into the 7th inning, actually, then Pineda couldn’t get anyone out.  Technically, Jeff Gray got the blown save, giving up Pineda’s 5th run on a Jose Bautista single, but he went on to go 2.1 scoreless.  David Pauley came in to go another 3 scoreless.  Jamey Wright had AH scoreless inning, then we tried to push him for two and that was that.  Meanwhile, the Mariners missed a ton of scoring opportunities in extras, and the whole thing got blown up when Rajai Davis single-handedly socked us all in the gut by stealing 2 bases and scoring on a sac fly (even though Wright did all he could do to keep him close to the bags).

Game 11 – @ Toronto, 11-6:  Can’t say the bats didn’t come out to play in this Blue Jays series.  Unfortunately, our arms were sleeping on the job.  Vargas completely fell apart, giving up 5 runs in 3 innings.  Jamey Wright and Aaron Laffey combined to give up 6 runs in 4 innings, and there you have it.  Meanwhile, Dustin Ackley is still the man.

Game 12 – @ Toronto, 7-5:  This game was depressing as shit until the top of the 8th inning.  Once again, Fister had to go up against an ace in Ricky Romero; once again, Fister got zero run support while he was standing on the mound.  Then, all of a sudden, POW, Miguel Olivo jacks a Grand Slam to tie the game at 5.  Of course, David Pauley came in and promptly hung another changeup, allowing Rajai Davis to double in 2 runs in the bottom of the inning.  In related news:  I hate Rajai Davis.  A Lot.

Game 13 – @ Boston, 7-4:  So, of course, we have Felix vs. Lackey, and of course Lackey holds us to 1 run over 7 while Felix gets battered to the tune of 6 runs in 6.1 innings (11 hits, 4 walks, 2 K’s).  Mike Carp hit a 3-run homer in the 8th after we were down 7-1, so there’s that.

Game 14 – @ Boston, 3-1:  For a while there, Blake Beavan was dealin’.  He matched Josh Beckett 0 for 0 through 6 innings, then found himself with a 1-0 lead going into the bottom of the 7th.  Mike Carp (AGAIN!) with a homer, this time when it mattered.  Of course, hindsight being what it is, we probably should’ve went straight to the bullpen.  Instead, Wedge left Beavan in and the Sox scored 3 in the bottom frame.  It was over after that.

Game 15 – @ Boston, 12-8:  How about three terrible starts for Pineda; is something wrong with him?  This time:  7 runs in 4.1 innings.  Tim Wakefield also gave up 7 runs over 6.1 innings, but it didn’t matter because our bullpen again fell apart when given a chance to hold things close.  This was another game that wasn’t nearly as close as its score.  It was 11-3 before Brendan Ryan of all people hit the second Mariners Grand Slam of the season (and, ironically, of the streak) to pull us to within 4.  After Wakefield left to a rousing ovation, that was that.

Game 16 – @ New York, 10-3:  Vargas – shitty.  Defense – shitty.  Hitting – shitty.  Freddy Garcia – shitty yet effective.  No one wants to re-live this game, so let’s just move on.

Game 17 – @ New York, 4-1:  You could play this game 1,000,000 times and the Mariners’ record would be 0-1,000,000.  AGAIN with Fister going against an ace!  That guy needs to face some team’s fifth starter like you would NOT believe.  He was game for the challenge though, giving up only 3 runs in 7 innings.  Unfortunately, the offense had to go up against C.C. Sabathia.  We got the bases loaded in the 8th with no outs and could only muster a run when Figgins grounded into a fielder’s choice that should’ve been a double play to end it.  Thanks to Eric Chavez, we got the run.  Oh, and let us not forget, Sabathia was perfect through 6.1 innings.  Brendan Ryan got a clean single to the outfield.  Sabathia ended up striking out 14 over 7 innings (including 2 short rain delays) and as a team the Yankees struck out 18 Mariners.  Like I said, we could’ve played this game a million times and we would’ve lost each and every time.  I would refute any simulation of this matchup by simply showing you the Mariners’ lineup card.

So, there you have it. 17 games.  From 43-43 to 43-60; from 2.5 back in sole possession of 3rd place in the AL West (5.5 games up on Oakland) to 15.5 games back and in dead last (3 games behind Oakland).  From quasi-contenders to written-in-stone pretenders.  From potential buyers to certain sellers at the Trade Deadline.  From feel-good story to national laughingstock.

From Wednesday, July 6, 2011 through Tuesday, July 26, 2011, the Seattle Mariners were the worst team in baseball; and one of the worst baseball teams of all time.