Are there such things as good losses?
In all my years of reporting on the Mariners, I haven’t written that. But the idea flickered Thursday night. Now that I look at it, it is disavowed.
A mere absence of humiliation is not a reason in major league baseball for offering praise, however faint. Way too Root Sports-y.
For seven innings of a rare Mariners game that was anticipated, drenched by rhetoric about a turning point for a breathtakingly success-resistant franchise, the Mariners were being no-hit, again, eight days after it happened against Baltimore.
The three-day buzz surrounding the simultaneous promotions of star prospects LF Jarred Kelenic and RHP Logan Gilbert seemingly was being killed by futility that is historical and relentless.
We all know it’s one game. We all know the cycle renews tomorrow. But players, not just fans, need moments, too.
As Gilbert said post-game, referring to his first rookie start, “This only happens once.”
Long after Gilbert left after four innings of a solid but flawed first outing trailing 4-0, the Mariners escaped from their torpor against Indians starter Zach Plesac. J.P. Crawford broke the spell leading off the eighth with a line single to center, then came home on an upper-deck home run from Dylan Moore.
After Cleveland’s fireball closer Emmanuel Clase obtained two outs on three pitches in the ninth, he went all Fernando Rodney, walking the bases full, causing Indians manager Terry Francona to pull him in favor of a Mariners washout from 2020, Bryan Shaw.
Yet Shaw struck out C Luis Torrens, a seasonal liability at the plate and in the field, and the Indians hung on, 4-2 (box). A disappointing game artificially turned close offered a veneer of hope that was baseless.
It was the fifth loss in a row. Gilbert took the L, Kelenic was 0-for-4 batting leadoff. There was no first-day spark.
“We’ve seen this game too many times,” manager Scott Servais said. “We really don’t get anything going early on in the ball game. Plesac did throw the ball well, but we got to be more competitive early. We put some pressure on him late, but certainly not enough.”
Gilbert threw 52 strikes among his 71 pitches, struck out five, walked none, erring on a solo homer to Franmil Reyes in the second, and in the fourth, a two-run shot to Jose Ramirez for his 11th, tops in the American League.
“I felt fine out there,” said Gilbert, the No. 28-rated prospect by MLB Pipeline. “I was showing up the zone and threw a lot of strikes. That’s what I wanted to come in and do. I don’t really want to make excuses too much for just being in the beginning this season, but I do feel like as I continue make more starts, I’ll get a better feel for all the pitches.
“I definitely feel like I belong here. My stuff plays up here.”
Given the inevitably over-amped expectations for a kid who had one start with AAA Tacoma, and one start in spring training, he did well.
“I was very excited about what I saw tonight,” Servais said. “You feel you can take a deep breath, after so much anxiety built up for that first one. He’ll be better next time out. He understands what he needs to improve upon.”
Earlier in the day, general manager Jerry Dipoto held a Zoom conference to discuss the promotions, as well as a raft of roster moves. They included placing two starting pitchers on the 60-day injured list, Ljay Newsome (elbow ligament) and Nick Margevicius (thoracic outlet syndrome). James Paxton was already there for Tommy John surgery, lost for the season.
Of Kelenic and Gilbert, Dipoto said, “Players sometimes hit the ground running, and sometimes they don’t. The major leagues are difficult. But there’s never any more excitement than with the anticipation of the arrival of talented young players like these. We’re excited to see what happens across the board. It’s gonna be a fun time for us.”
He also lamented the burden of the Mariners’ history, and predictably resents its discussion every time a move is or isn’t made, or a player disappoints.
“I think it’s too much put on anybody — veteran players, free agents or young players making their debut,” he said. “It brings to mind that somebody much, much smarter than me many, many years before I was born once said: ‘You can learn from the past, but you can’t live in it.’
“I think it’s just time to move on and accept that this is a new group. Not a single player here has been responsible for past issues, or developmental problems, or years without playoffs. It’s a new, fresh group. We’re a young team, and we’re growing and trending in the right direction. And I think that’s a good thing.”
That’s the only possible attitude Dipoto can bring to work every day. But neither can he dismiss the skepticism that longtime fans bring to the park or TV.
He’s right about the major leagues being difficult, even for fans. Thursday was a good example. Skeptics bought in to the hype, and were open to being dazzled. Instead, for seven innings, a second humiliation in a week hung in the air.
Especially for a team with the Mariners’ history, there are no good losses.
For Mariner history, there are no good losses. There seems to be no easy answers or quick fixes for this franchise either. Fans have been force fed year in and year out the same line of, we’re close to having a team capable of being competitive. Maybe not this year but in the next 2 or 3 years. It’s never about now, it’s always the big tease.
How long are fans going to have to wait for a consistent winning product on the field? That is truly the $64,000 question. Patience is a perpetual game that every Mariner ownership group has preached to the commoners since 1977. I suppose that Dipoto and Servais could become the next sacrificial lambs if the team doesn’t show a big improvement by the end of this season, as they should show a big improvement. But will that happen? I would venture to say “NO” misery loves company. The Never Ending Story plays on.
The popular cynicism you describe is legit, well-earned. 43 years. But it’s early to expect winning in Dipoto’s step-back plan. Not too early in 2022.
Agreed, but there has to be a substantial improvement to build on going into 2022. Hitting 201 as a team would normally get any manager and GM shown the door, however this franchise is a different cat.
The ownership needs to infuse the team with some quality veterans at certain positions to move the ball quicker in my opinion. If they don’t do that and are merely relying on the new kids to carry the team. At that point Stanton & Co are simply no different than their predecessors.
In their partial defense, giving ABs and IPs this season to vets with contracts past ’21 is counterproductive for the big picture. If the kids are MLB-ready, let them engage in ’21.
Gilbert and Kelenic look like they will do fine at MLB level play. A fairly bold and unsubstantiated prediction after just one game. Baseball leads us to many irrational conclusions but these two players have gotten this far because they have demonstrated superior skills in the sport. No reason to think they will not be able to learn and adapt to the degree that they will have fine careers at this level. I don’t necessarily buy into “ruining” a player by calling them up too early. Zunino still can’t hit after nearly a decade in the show. White is either going to learn to hit at this level or he isn’t. Both of them have defensive skills that are at the top of this game.
Regarding the finish of last night’s game one has to question why Torrens was not pinch hit for. Granted there isn’t much in the way of choices but at least playing the percentages and bringing Marmo to the plate would put the righty pitcher vs the lefty batter into play. Servais doesn’t seem to be a very “active” manager. Watching it all unfold, it was a forgone conclusion that Torrens would whiff. Granted it may likely that Marmo would do the same. But why not take a probable better percentage and have the lefty at the plate?
Exactly. The pure pinch hitter is going the way of the dodo. His position disappeared when the extra reliever was kept on each squad. I remember Manny Mota of the Dodgers, a .300 hitter, was always someone you had to take into account as he was always there on the bench.
Tommy Lasorda said Manny Mota could oversleep, roll out of bed, jog to the stadium, suit up, take a strike and slap a single to right. At 83, Manny is still a minor league hitting instructor for the Dodgers.
He is? Wow.
True. The DH also gives jobs to the pure PH types. Haggerty is the only plausible alternative, and he’s the pinch-runner.
Lots of players besides Z come and go quickly thanks to club politics, although few have his catching skills.
If it were possible, I would summon Felix Hernandez to pinch-hit ahead of Marmo.
I had wondered if they would bring up Raleigh to be Gilbert’s personal catcher. It would be a way to ease him in to the scene. Of course, that would mean another DFA or 60-day (or trade of a catcher – there are some teams that are hurting at the position right now). And maybe that’s coming.
Mariners scouting wants Raleigh to have a full year at AAA. But Murphy and Torrens are crashing fast.
In case you were wondering, ex-Mariner Austin Nola isn’t lighting it up in SD:
Precisely. Well said. It got to be a bit much when, after Gilbert got the first two outs, ever-generous Rick Rizz got really excited.
Like Logan was about to throw a no-hitter.
We love the Rizzer.
I can’t tell if you’re being serious – do you really like the endless bland optimism that these guys emit? some folks must like it, otherwise the team wouldn’t employ these – how does Art put it? – lollipop and rainbow peddlers.
I think the ROOT people are good folks, trying their best to walk the fine line of reality and pleasing their employers. PS: Now that I am retired, I’m rarely serious.
“i’m rarely serious” – words to live by!
That’s why you’re visiting a sports site.
It’s the house station. House announcers. They are there to sell tickets. You’re not going to get phad thai at Baskin & Robbins.
Rick is a human banjo. A sad song cannot be played on it.
And so we move on, hoping for a good baseball team again, someday. I just wish I could watch the games on TV.
“Tomorrow Never Comes”…(Zac Brown Band)
Is this a choice, or did the rabbit ears break?
They don’t show it up here in the boonies (Anacortes) or I am really out of touch
You can always stream it to your phone or ‘puter thingy.
Gilbert has a smooth delivery and throws hard (they all do). His breaking ball doesn’t have much bite, and he doesn’t have a change. He’s a work in progress. Ramirez knew a 3-1 fastball was coming, and jacked it. Kelenick did not look overmatched (unlike White) and his best swing was his first. They both show promise, but that’s the story of the Mariners, right? It’s always about promise, always about tomorrow. They are two catchers, multiple pitchers and two infielders away from contention (said beginning in 1977). At the moment, their best starting pitcher is a returnee from Korea and their best reliever is 25-32 lifetime. Dipoto is a deck shuffler. He has CHANGED the team, and he has eliminated dead salary, but the M’s remain an under .500 ballclub.
“Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I luv ya, Tomorrow,
You’re always a day…away…”
Annie (the musical)
Everything will be better in the new ballpark. Oh, wait . . .
He’s had so little game action, and at 24, he’s physically mature. Gilbert’s going to get better quickly.
Injuries to White, France, three starting pitchers and two relievers have made a mess of the roster. So I’d hold off the sweeping judgments. But go ahead and dismiss the catching. Brutal.
Where is Skip Jutze when we need him?
Help them Jesus (Montero).
He was still playing for Zulia of the Venezuelan Winter League in 2020-2021, where he went 0 for 17 for a batting average of .000.
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An 0 for 4 opening act should at least put to rest the idea that Kelenic was being held back in the minors unfairly. It’s a big jump. And a little humility probably won’t hurt him. But the talent seems to be there. Let’s just hope the Mariners manage to get a few good seasons out of Kelenic before he’s traded to the Yankees.
He’ll hit. He’s momentarily desperate to back up his words with deeds.
The picture of Gilbert can be substituted for all Mariner fans, as few as there are. He’s holding his head after giving up 4 runs and two HR’s, while Mariner fans hold their head trying to shake another headache of a game.
I hope you’ve noticed the trend.
You got me again. “breathtakingly success-resistant franchise” and “After Cleveland’s fireball closer Emmanuel Clase obtained two outs on three pitches in the ninth, he went all Fernando Rodney, walking the bases full”…I’ll stop laughing soon. I promise.
Oh, good. Glad someone is laughing.
Saw Richard Sherman talking about coming back to the Seahawks. He was smiling, seemed happy. Not laughing, but happy. That would be fun. He’s still got some thrills to give.
The problem is the M’s are a Yankees farm team. The phenoms will be sold for cash when they are ready.