There’s enough going on in any given baseball game that a team can turn in a pretty crappy pitching performance and still emerge victorious. A day of bad hitting doesn’t necessarily mean certain doom. Poor defense in and of itself isn’t always going to be enough to guarantee a team a loss. Professional baseball teams can survive a day where the managerial goofs seem to keep piling up. When all four things happen at once, though? Yeah, you’re not going to win that game very often.
The Seattle Mariners lost such a game Wednesday, falling to the Houston Astros 5-2 on a night when they couldn’t seem to do anything right. It started with Hisashi Iwakuma, pitching in front of his new white-clad “Kuma’s Den” rooting section. Kuma made it 4.1 innings before Dominic Leone took over, allowing four runs on six hits and two walks in that short time. He still managed six strikeouts, but when you’re getting hit as hard as he was it hardly matters. Rough night for Iwakuma, but it’s not like he lost this one single-handedly.
Give the lineup some credit for this loss as well, is what I’m getting at. Austin Jackson led the way with a golden sombrero at the top of the lineup. Michael Saunders played well with a single and a walk, while Robinson Cano added two hits and Mike Zunino finished off a fantastic plate appearance with a two-run double. But Kendrys Morales was 0-fer while hitting into a couple inning-ending double plays. Logan Morrison only made weak outs. And James Jones complemented his no hits with a couple of costly defensive bluffs. It wasn’t a pretty night on the position player side of things.
Lloyd McClendon didn’t help things by sticking with his starting nine all night. It was clear from early on that Morales was chasing pitches like crazy and not really hitting the ball with much authority when he made contact. How many ready-made Morales replacements are there on the bench? Same goes for Morrison. Why not throw Justin Smoak up there to see what happens? Corey Hart is supposedly here to pinch hit. Why not pinch hit him? James Jones was never subbed for, despite costing the Mariners runs on both sides of the ball. Was the skipper asleep at the wheel?
McClendon also missed an opportunity to erase a baserunner when replays showed that Chris Carter was out at second on a play where he was called safe. By the time the Mariners realized they would win were they to challenge, the opportunity had passed. That immediately turned into an insurance run for the ‘Stros, as that at-bat ended in a hit that scored Carter from second.
An ugly night, to be sure, but the A’s lost and the Tigers lost so the Mariners didn’t lose any ground. They’re still not in playoff position, but things could have certainly gone worse for them. Kansas City is back in front of the AL Central, but they’re still not a noticeably better team than Detroit. It would be nice for the Tigers to take the division so that the M’s can worry about KC instead, given that the Royals are weaker. But it is what it is, and unless the M’s are winning it hardly matters.
Thursday off day today, followed by three games in Seattle against the Oakland Athletics. James Paxton vs. Jason Hammel, Felix Hernandez vs. Sonny Gray, Chris Young vs. Jon Lester. What a sweep that would be, huh? As usual, it’s the most important series of the year. As usual, the stakes haven’t been this high in over a decade. The Mariners struggled immensely to fill Safeco Field during this last series, but hopefully that was just the Astros Effect. If you have the chance, go see these games. They’re as important as games have been in a long, long time.