Apr 6, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez (50) comes out of the game during the fifth inning against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Mariners Finish Road Trip 4-2, Head Home

The Seattle Mariners lost to the Oakland Athletics yesterday afternoon, dropping their record to 4-2. In doing so they loosened their death grip on the division lead, and now the AL West is finally as clustered as we all thought it would be. That only took a week! But. BUT! The best run differential in the American League still belongs to the Seattle Mariners, as does the second-best record. After a week of baseball the Mariners trail only the Miami Marlins as far as scoring versus being scored on is concerned. There’s everything you need to know in one tidy piece of not-at-all-untrue information: the Marlins lead baseball in run differential, and the Mariners are second. The season is a week old, it’s almost all statistical noise, and some unexpected teams now have an early advantage. It’s nice to be a fan of one of those unexpected teams.

So the Mariners lost yesterday. Erasmo Ramirez Home Run Watch might as well be back on, since he did it again, this time a big blast to Brandon Moss. Erasmo pitched quite poorly, walking three in four innings. He allowed a walk and two singles to open the fifth, and in total allowed seven hits and struck out only one. He couldn’t find the zone, which is a big deal since that’s, like, his thing. He got hit around, which is what happens, I suppose, to command guys pitching without their usual command. Given the monster that is the Oakland bullpen, this game was effectively done for by the time Ramirez was done with his twelve outs.

Look, this was going to happen sooner or later. Erasmo wasn’t necessarily going to be the first starter to crap the bed, but someone was going to, and it would be a jolt after the dominance of the first turn through the rotation (and Felix’s second).  This start feels worse than it was. It feels awful, like some sort of grotesque aberration, given the performances of the Mariners starters all week. But AA callups aren’t supposed to start their careers with almost five hitless innings. Top prospects are by no means expected to pitch like seasoned aces in their first go-arounds. Hell, even Felix pitched at a level way higher than most safely expected from him, and he’s Felix.

The reality of this is that stinker starts happen. It’s easy to not think about that when your team has gone a week without one, and especially easy when that week is the season’s first. Every pitcher on this staff will throw a clunker before season’s end. One should hope that everyone at least gets the opportunity, because opportunity means health. That’s not to excuse Erasmo’s poor performance, especially since it directly cost the Mariners a win, and all wins are valuable. Erasmo Ramirez sucked so bad that the Mariners lost. It’s just, we needed this. As fans, we needed to be reminded that the Mariners aren’t invincible. They’re the Mariners. Never too early to be reminded of the basic truths.

On the other side of the ball, the Mariners did score three runs against Sonny Gray, who is probably Oakland’s best starter. Journey with me now to the second inning, and relive the first two Seattle scores. Dustin Ackley ripped a single and Michael Saunders reached on account of bumbling oaf Daric Barton‘s non-fielding. With two outs, Abraham Almonte scored Ackley with a line drive single to center. Brad Miller jumped all over a ball and sent it to right to score Saunders, though Almonte once again gaffed on the bases and made himself the third out. He’s got some things to work on, despite all the excitement he continues to bring on a daily basis. The M’s added a run the next inning, when Robinson Cano led off with a double and went home on a Justin Smoak single. Then the offense did nothing for six innings, because the A’s can pitch real good.

There’s no baseball today, so take a deep breath and practice patience or whatever. Thanks to the sorry state of the Colliseum this is the second off day in four days for the Mariners, and given that they have yet to leave the coast it counts as something of a quirk. Safeco Field lights up tomorrow night at 7:10, which is just the greatest thing. There’s no place like home, and Safeco Field just might be the most beautiful stadium in MLB. James Paxton takes the hill against Hector Santiago, so the Mariners have a nice little pitching advantage, which is amazing. Paxton’s been nothing short of awesome as a big league hurler so far, and Hector Santiago is a prototypical fifth or sixth starter. That Paxton and the M’s already look veritably stronger than Santiago and the Angels is amazing and wonderful. Go to Safeco Field! Watch baseball! Love baseball!

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