To say that the last few games the Mariners have played at home have been disappointing would be a graphic understatement. A 7-2 loss on a Felix start Friday (I was at that game and have nothing to contribute other than to mention it), and then a one-run loss last night where we tossed away a bunch of chances to snatch away from the Minnesota Twins, arguably the worst team in either league barring the Atlanta Braves. I didn’t watch last night’s game (opting instead to go to a friend’s new home to hang out a bit), but I heard the call of the final play on the radio as I was headed home. What a mess. I just watched it at the Twins MLB site, and it looks like there was an attempted steal of home? What a disaster. So with the Texas Rangers threatening a half a game behind us, and a fairly difficult travel schedule coming up in June (including a series against the Rangers mid-month), this team really needs to start winning at home.
As I am settling in to type, the game is in the bottom of the 3rd, and the score is 2-1 Mariners. Robinson Cano took a home run from Twins starter Ricky Nolasco for our first run, and just hit a single over the Twins shortstop’s head. Norichika Aoki is also on base after getting hit by a pitch. Nelson Cruz is taking his second at-bat and the announcers are talking about his shot out of the stadium yesterday at batting practice; but instead just now he stranded the runners on base with a swinging strike.
Taijuan Walker faced Joe Maurer for the second time this game in the top of the 4th, and Maurer tied up the game with a home run to the visitor’s bullpen, and on the 4th pitch Walker threw this inning, Miguel Sano hit another one. Walker has apparently been throwing offspeed pitches, which perhaps is not the best decision today for whatever reason. Maurer and Sano have also hit home runs in all three games here, so we have that going for us in this series. Juan Centeno hit an RBI double on a 4-seamer, also, just now, so I am thinking today is just not Walker’s day, and this series is just not the Mariners series.
Walker was pulled in the top of the 5th after throwing a wild pitch which found the head of Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, and then loading the bases with one out. Vidal Nuno was called in to try and fix the damage. Robinson Cano managed to get batter Robbie Grossman out, but the Twins still scored a run. Nuno was able to take down Byung Ho Park without much trouble to finish up the inning, score 5-2 Twins. The Mariners were taken down without incident in the bottom of the 5th. The same thing happened in the bottom of the 6th.
Nuno struggled in the top of the 7th, putting Eduardo Nunez on first, and throwing some 11 or so pitches to Brian Dozier. As Dozier swung and missed, Nunez tried to advance to second, but Chris Iannetta got the ball to Robinson Cano right off the glove of the Dozier out. Nunez slid on the dirt attempting to turn back to first, and Cano walked over and playfully bopped him on the top of the helmet before he walked back to the Twins dugout. Joe Maurer was retired with a groundout to first, and to the 7th inning stretch, an extended commercial break and me going out in the yard to mess around in the garden for a few moments.
RHP Trevor May took over for Nolasco in the bottom of the 7th inning. Adam Lind hit to second baseman Brian Dozier and was easily thrown out at first. Adam Lind is not fast, but I don’t know that being any faster would have gotten him to the bag before the throw; his hit was solid, but didn’t have quite enough power or lift behind it. May threw an offspeed pitch to Franklin Gutierrez that hit him in the left shoulder, and then Trevor May did something I haven’t seen many pitchers do; react with clear regret. Most pitchers seem to keep a pretty good poker face on when their aim is untrue, because every once in a while, things just get away from you; but May was clearly upset about the throw; though whether it was out of remorse for hurting Gutz or allowing a man on will forever remain a mystery. Gutierrez got his base, and then Chris Iannetta grounded into a double play, inning over.
Joel Peralta was on the hill for the Ms in the 9th inning. I don’t know why it feels like Peralta is a slow worker, but it does. Nevertheless, he took down all three Twins faced easily, even though it felt to me like it took about an hour. Nelson Cruz was first up in the bottom of the 9th, and smacked a 95MPH fastball from Kevin Jepsen for a single. Kyle Seager made Jepsen work a little, but ultimately grounded into a double play. Adam Lind singled, and then Franklin Gutierrez came up and gave everyone a bit of excitement by hitting a nice fat tater over the center field wall, right in front of the batter’s eye. 5-4 Twins. Dae-Ho Lee was brought in to pinch hit for Chris Iannetta. Lee made Jepsen work a little, but ultimately the game ended on a low note as Lee struck out swinging, and right into a Twins sweep.
While all of this was going on, Patrick Kivlehan quietly re-joined the organization…
I’ve been getting back to the point where I really want to start writing about this team this year, but for some reason whenever I actually have the motivation to sit down and get comfortable and ready to write, games like this have been happening. I was going to finish this off by saying something about how disappointing the team has been this year, but I can’t, because they really really haven’t been disappointing at all. Baseball is a funny game because we have so much baseball to play during any given season, but every game can feel like the best or worst game you’ve ever seen. I don’t get the sense that any of the fans I know really expect this team to make it to any playoff situation this year, but when they do well it’s so promising and when they don’t it’s “business as usual”, and much grumbling. This series was ugly, there is no doubt about that; but there is a lot of ball to play, and ending the first two months in the position we are right now is not too shabby. I’m trying to stay positive in the face of adversity; there’s not much else to do anyway.
I will be at tomorrow’s Memorial Day game with Daniel, and hopefully we will fare better against the San Diego Padres. Facing a new team, I’m going to try and shake off this series and look at the interleague play with fresh eyes. June is going to be a rough month, with a ridiculous travel schedule and the Mariners are going to be facing a lot of good teams – and we’ll be playing the Rangers twice. As Scott Servais just mentioned on the post-game show, it’s a “little bump in the road”. There is always tomorrow.
EDIT: Here is a picture of my cat. Don’t you feel better now?