We’ve seen Mariners third base coach Jeff Datz own up to a handful of poor decisions involving runners this season.
Datz was back at it again, both last night and today, taking the blame for holding up Justin Smoak at third base and causing Michael Saunders to get thrown out at first after the basepaths became clogged up.
“Obviously I screwed up,” Datz told reporters this afternoon. “After looking at the replay and coming to talk to (Mariners manager Eric Wedge) and asking for his opinion and some others about it, they felt Smoak would’ve scored pretty easy. Looking at the replay, I agree.”
Now, enough already.
Yeah, Smoak should have scored from second after the hard-hit grounder rocketed off the glove of the first baseman and into foul territory down the right field line. Heck, Jesus Montero could have scored from second hopping around third in a potato sack.
That’s not the point.
The point is, the Mariners were AWOL offensively for eight innings prior to the ninth, mustering up only four hits total to that point. They were down 3-0 entering the ninth and it would have been 4-0 had that Nelson Cruz double off the top of the wall been about four inches higher.
In other words, the game was effectively going to be over 99 times out of 100 before that ninth even began. The fact that the M’s failed to capitalize on that 1 in 100 shot materializing before them matters little.
In the big picture of things, the M’s hitters effectively destroyed themselves long before Datz did.
“We all make mistakes from time to time,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said today. “Nobody’s perfect and it’s a tough job to coach third base. Two or three times a year, sometime may happen like that. The fact of the matter is you don’t really notice him a great deal down there and that’s a good thing because he’s doing what you’d like to see him do.”
Seriously, those blaming Datz, or plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth for this loss need to take a step back, look at the big picture and then start to be honest with yourselves. All of these shoulda, coulda, wouldas are nothing but a continued pattern of excuse-making for a bad ballclub that’s been going on for several years running.
Lost the game by a run? Oh, it’s because of the third base coach and the plate umpire! Yeah, that’s it. The fact they were down 3-0 and had just four hits heading into the ninth had zero to do with it. Puh-leaze.
This is the type of bubblegum analysis I see done far too often in this market and the result continues to be some of the worst baseball seen in the majors over a three-year period. Baseball that those doing the analyzing are practically begging to continue because of continuous excuse-making and justification for what’s gone on. Want the bad baseball to continue? Keep on justifying it. Keep making excuses for a team that can’t hit.
The Mariners lost last night because they remain one of the worst home-ballpark hitting teams in the history of baseball. And because their nominal offensive improvement over 2010 and 2011 — when they were one of the worst-scoring offenses of all-time relative to their peers — still falls woefully short of the pitifully-low standards set for this ballclub.
Want to blame somebody for last night’s loss?
Blame the players who are not living up to bare minimum expectations.
Blame the owners who cut payroll yet again and did not assure that enough of a veteran supporting cast was brought in to help one of the worst offenses in history.
Blame general manager Jack Zduriencik for missing on too many of the bargain basement free agents he’s brought in the past several years.
Blame manager Wedge for talking tough in Oakland last weekend about moving players out, then doing nothing and getting the exact same results last night as he had in prior tries.
But don’t blame Datz. Don’t blame the umpire.
That’s what losers do. Losers look at the team’s record in games decided by two runs or fewer and proclaim it to be meaningful because, hey, all it takes is a run or two the other way and all those losses turn into wins. Sure they will. Been hearing the same nonsense spouted the past three years by people who keep assuring us that things will get better just by osmosis even though the team actually has done very little to try to better its own fortunes. By people who don’t understand that the rest of baseball is trying to improve year-by-year, not just the Mariners. And that if the Mariners only do the bare minimum to try to improve each off season, they will eventually fall even further behind teams that actually make an honest effort to get better each winter — even if it costs them a little money.
That’s why the Mariners lost last night. They lost because a one-run defeat in a game you trail 3-0 heading to the ninth is not the same as one in which you’re down 2-1 in the fifth inning in a game that ends by that same score.
That second scenario gives you 15 more outs in which to score one run to tie and two to win.
In the scenario the M’s faced last night, they had only three outs left and needed at least three runs to tie and four to win.
Which odds are better? The fact that the M’s scored twice and made the final score look good means absolutely nothing. Go into the ninth down 3-0 and you are going to lose almost every single time regardless of third base coaches and umpires.
So, enough with the excuse making. Please, this team doesn’t need any more of it from the fanbase to justify its continued quest for total mediocrity.
It’s real nice that Datz once again offered to fall on his sword.
But on a team with almost no accountability from the top of the organization on down, it’s a pebble in a desert sandstorm. One that has already buried the Mariners while the rest of baseball is just getting warmed up.