The Seattle Mariners are a good baseball team. The Philadelphia Phillies are not a good baseball team. The two played each other yesterday, with Philadelphia emerging the easy victor. This is supposed to seem at least a little unexpected, except that early on this year the Mariners established that they were willing to lose to bad teams, but that they’d beat good teams to make up for it. So while this loss may at first seem disappointing, it’s actually just part of the blueprint. The Mariners have their plan, and that plan did not include a series-opening victory in Philly. Trust the process, I guess.
Okay, so there’s nothing easily dismissable about Jerome Williams demolishing the Mariners. Williams has spent some time in the AL West, so it’s not like Mariners fans need to search far and wide for evidence that he sucks. We’ve seen it, up close and personal. Williams is now another old guy with a low ceiling and a just-barely-higher-than-average floor, which of course means he’s a Philly. And he just beat the Mariners, who are in the middle of trying to make the playoffs.
We’ve seen it all before. We’ve seen the Mariners come in hot, just to be thoroughly owned by a seemingly-crappy pitcher. It’s almost a routine occurence. Williams threw seven innings, striking out only four and walking all of three. Didn’t matter, as he allowed only three hits. He was charged for one run, which was after he hit Chris Taylor and was removed in the eighth with no outs. In a lot of ways, this wasn’t unlike an early-season Chris Young start. But those were probably pretty awful, for other teams.
Roenis Elias walked six in four innings, which is all you need to know about his outing. Three hits, four Ks, one earned run, if you really must have the rest of the box score, but it’s the free passes that tell you how seriously crappy this outing was. Is there anything more frustrating than when a pitcher just cannot for the life of him throw a strike? He was limiting contact, one could conclude from the box score. But he was limiting contact by putting everyone on base. Bad strategy.
Dominic Leone got the first crack out of the pen, and let up a three-run homer to shortstop Andres Blanco. Who the hell are the Philadelphia Phillies? So that was frustrating. It sucks when the Mariners lose. You’d think it’d be easier in a season where they’ve done so much winning, but perhaps the higher stakes only make tough losses harder to stomach.
We all are more invested in the Mariners than we were on today’s date a year ago. Today this is a tough loss, and tonight must represent some sort of a rebound. A year ago, this loss would have been explainable: a bad lineup that just wasn’t as good as a bad pitcher, two bad teams playing a game where one of them is required to win. But it’s August, the Mariners are ten games over .500, and we’ve bought in. This was not a battle of two bottomfeeders! This was a contender failing to beat a trash heap! There’s almost an element of shame or something. The Mariners should have won this one. How embarrassing that they didn’t.
Being emotionally invested is great, even when it makes you feel a little bit silly when you take a step back. The Mariners just won five of six against Toronto and Detroit, two of their closest competitors right now. They’ve been thriving in important situations for the last week or two, and now we want to get upset because they had a hard time with the Phillies? Oh, please. They couldn’t beat the Twins either, remember? But this was a season that opened with a dominant three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels. How are they doing, remind me? What’s that, they have the best record in baseball? And we’re bumming about this one single loss?
Hisashi Iwakuma vs. A.J. Burnett today, with a 4:05pm start time. The Phillies got bold in adding Burnett over the offseason, signing him away from their cross-state semi-non-rival. The Phillies think they’re going to be good every year, despite so obviously being not good. Burnett immediately profiled as a trade piece for Philadelphia, which of course means he underperformed and was not traded. Dude needs Pittsburgh in order to be successful, or something like that. So the M’s have the pitching advantage today, even if name value may suggest otherwise. A win means the Mariners cannot not occupy a playoff spot tonight. So a win would be nice!