Yes, we lost yesterday. Yes, it was by a terrible margin, and all 11 runs in the shutout were charged to Ryan Rowland-Smith. When the game was in progress, this caused a lot of online speculation about his place in the Mariners lineup, everything from guessing he’ll be sent back to the bullpen, to cries to DFA him or send him down to Tacoma, or whatever his options currently are. I was thinking we don’t have much of a choice at this point, but the Mariners have decided to put him on the DL with a lower back strain, and have called Luke French up from Tacoma. I feel very badly for Hyphen. He seems to want to do well and he works hard, and he’s very honest with his fans when he feels negatively about a performance – in fact, I don’t think I’ve seen a Twitter update from him for a while, so this must be hitting him spectacularly hard. It’s just the DL now, but if he does happen to wind up elsewhere in the near future or otherwise, I’ll support him wherever he goes. I think it’s rare for an athlete to be as grounded at the major league level as RRS obviously is, and it’s a refreshing change to see a baseball player accept their critics with as much warmth and levelheadedness as he does (rather than the multiple Twitter freakouts and generally inflated sense of self-importance of Jose Canseco, which, if you haven’t been witness to, you owe it to yourself. Wait for a day you really need to laugh). Jeff Sullivan has a well-thought-out post here about why what it is that makes RRS appealing to the fans. I remember Tony Blengino making the comment Sullivan talks about, and it was a very poignant statement. At the end of the day, these guys are human beings, too, and their livelihoods depend on whether they succeed or fail in front of a bunch of people who may or may not care about their humanity, people who just want to associate themselves with a winner. I choose to keep reminding myself that they are people, no matter how annoyed I might get with losing. I feel like I owe them that.
That said, since tonight’s game was the only game during the week that I will likely get to see in its entirety, I was keen to watch. And it started off dramatically – three runs for the Mariners in the top half of the first inning. Chicago got one back, but that much hitting from the Mariners off a guy who has pitched both a perfect game and a no-hitter in the past three years was somewhat shocking. Chone Figgins hitting a two-run homer in the top of the 2nd inning was even more shocking. As he walked through the dugout delivering high fives and smiling, Felix Hernandez clapped him on the back and could be overheard saying something to the effect of “Look at that power!” Figgy then made signs with his fingers of the number “24” and pointed at the camera while doing that and saying “For you!”, an homage to Ken Griffey Junior. Maybe with this hurdle out of the way, Figgins can finally settle down this year. I don’t know how much I believe in the intangibles, but you never know what a massive slump and a near-physical altercation with one’s manager can do to a guy’s psyche. A girl can hope.
Michael Saunders got hit by a foul tip in the top of the 2nd before Figgins home run. As he attempted to walk it off, some drunk in the crowd heckled him, calling him a “baby” and yelling “Wah!” From what I understand, this same delightful person or perhaps someone else called to Mark Buehrle to hit Saunders in the head. This was all audible over the FSN broadcast. You stay classy, Chicago. I may make jokes about players getting injured from time to time, but I try not to, and even if it was a player I really disliked, I would never wish injury on them. Saunders hasn’t seen enough playing time in the majors to make anyone angry at him, so I have to think that some fans are just intoxicated and perhaps not very good human beings. Sure, it could be game emotion, but they were calling for the headhunting of one of my guys, so I choose to believe the former.
Jason Vargas was not his sharpest tonight, giving up solo home runs to both Alexei Ramirez and Paul Konerko, to tie the game at 5-5 in the 5th inning. He was replaced by Jamey Wright. Wright lasted until the 7th inning, when he put several men on and was exchanged for Brandon League, who allowed Juan Pierre to score on an Alex Rios single. With the game now 6-5 in favor of Chicago, League would remain in the game until the end for us, but Chicago took reliever Matt Thornton out of the game and tossed in JJ Putz. JJ seems content with his new role as setup man for Bobby Jenks, so that’s cool. I’m glad that my emotion-filled screed from last year during his time spent injured on the New York Mets was wrong, and that he has managed to extend his career. He has now pitched a few more innings over what he pitched last year, and his K/9 rate is way up, while his BB/9 rate is way down, as are his ERA and FIP both (his FIP currently sits at 1.97), and he has 26 (now 27) consecutive scoreless appearances per Dave Sims on today’s broadcast. JJ did to the Mariners this evening what he did for them back in 2007 that made me love both him and baseball so much. He mowed through us, Brandon League held the Sox at bay for the bottom of the 8th, and Bobby Jenks came in to shut everything down for Chicago.
So there is that. There were some small victories, but yet another loss for my now 39-63 Seattle Mariners. As the standings are today, I don’t have any idea whose bandwagon I’d want to ride for the World Series. Two more months left, anything could happen. And I always have the AquaSox, whose reliever Forrest Snow was just today promoted to the Clinton Lumberkings. So good for him. Speaking of the AquaSox, too, Willy Kesler is now on Twitter. Kesler can be seen in this video from my first visit to the pressbox up north. He’s number 35. He responds to questions and talks to fans, so follow up, people!