A grueling week of Mariners baseball against the vaunted AL East ended today at 2-4. After consecutive victories against the stumbling Orioles, the Mariners took the series 2-1, and the season series 4-2. Getting swept by the Red Sox still stings though.
These last two games weren’t easy wins for the Mariners. Both Pocket Rocket Erasmo Ramirez and Safeco Joe (that nickname NEEDS to be retired) Saunders battled through their starting turns, giving our bullpen– a bullpen that has been downright depressing of late– an opportunity to preserve a lead against an Orioles team where one swing can ruin an evenings-worth of baseball.
And having seen the 5-run, 9th inning lead evaporate in Boston, nothing seemed beyond reason for these Seattle Mariners.
What really matters though are these last two games against the Orioles. As has been well documented before this week, the M’s were on a tear, going on an 8-game win streak and taking series from good teams left and right over the last month. But baseball is a 162-game season, and it is more about regression to the mean (thanks SABR) than it is about streaks– either in the win column or the loss column. And as Mariners fans in recent years, we can see what streaks can do to the landscape of a season (a 17-game bender in 2011 anyone?)
So came this series against the Red Sox. Blown leads. A horrendous bullpen. Lackluster hitting with runners in scoring position.
But a series is only three or four days, and the Mariners flew out-of-town ASAP and found their way to Baltimo’. Playing the bruisers 1 through 7 in the Orioles batting order, that first game of the series was a back and forth display of power and lack of pitching ‘makeup’. For a moment following that 11-8 loss, the Mariners seemed momentarily destined to succumb to their youth, their lack of experience, and their inability to pitch or hit consistently (isn’t that the point of baseball?) and find themselves in the midst of a painfully real losing streak going into the final stretch of the season.
Not so fast though.
These Mariners are different. Though they are young, and though their Win-Loss record elicits a “rebuilding year” response, these Seafaring Northwesterners throw their inhibitions to the wind and damn the lamented “LAND-HO!” when the waters get rough. They fight. They battle back. They are absolutely unwilling to embrace the mantra of mediocrity that has plagued the Mariners for the last decade.
Erasmo Ramirez finishing a game with a 7.25 ERA for the season? Who cares! Give him a 3-0 record anyway. Safeco Joe is pitching outside the dusty and dense confines of Safeco Field? Get him a win and back to .500 on the season.
And King Felix’s Cy Young candidacy? If he doesn’t win another game this season he could still hoist that hardware.
If we could tap into the Mariners’ collective consciousness (yes, dammit, I do believe in such things) it’s guiding principle would be simple and surprising to us Mariners fans who have become numb to mind-boggling and logic-damning baseball games. Damn is such a great word, isn’t it?
That principle would be this: “Get a day better and forget what happened yesterday.”
Even if the day before ended woefully, that has past and the record has been tallied.
But these Mariners, these green and unassuming Mariners, refuse to not get better. Even the 40+ year olds in Blanco and Rauuuuuul refuse to let their age prevent them from improving at the game of baseball.
I don’t care what the Mariners record is. Because no matter how this season may end, the 2013 Seattle Mariners have already given a gift to their fans that cannot be taken away.
That gift, my friends, is an un-fractured backbone that will unceasingly battle to keep this team standing upright.