May 15, 2013 at 3:55 PM
Game thread: Mariners 12, Yankees 2, bottom of 8th
Kyle Seager just continued the Seattle onslaught with a three-run homer to right-center in the sixth inning, giving the Mariners 12-2 lead. A slight correction from earlier: the seven-run first inning by the Mariners was the most they’ve ever scored on the road against the Yankees in a first inning. They had nine runs off them in the first inning of a 1979 home game at the Kingdome.
5:45 p.m.: While some fans continue to gnash their teeth over Raul Ibanez, he just popped his second home run of the game and third in two nights to give Seattle a 9-2 lead here in the bottom of the fifth. Chris Stewart just got the Yankees a run on a solo homer this frame off Hisashi Iwakuma, but it’s a bit late for the home side.
As for Ibanez, the decision to use him in this series looks good on the Mariners so far. As for those calling it “lucky” or whatever, it’s not sound argumentation to deride every managerial decision when it goes bad and then dismiss it all as “luck” when the choices turn out as planned. That kind of nonsense has been allowed to permeate internet debate for far too long. Those who make a stats-based argument that doesn’t pan out will still attempt to justify it by saying the “process” was sound, or that the “sample size” is too small to be conclusive, or that those pointing out the flawed logic are making a “strawman” case.
Believe me, we in the media have seen it all, know all the default catchphrases and know enough never to question anybody who makes an argument based on stats and process. All I’ll say — and continue to say — is that each MLB game is approached by each team and each manager in increasingly small samples as the pressure to win gets ratcheted up.
If the Mariners felt they had a better shot at winning tonight, or last night, with Ibanez in the lineup and he delivers, you can’t just dismiss it as a fluke simply because you don’t feel that move would keep panning out over a 162-game, or 300-game sample size.
That’s not how real life works. These players are human beings and the managers in charge manage them likewise. They don’t take a computer program that spits out every managerial decision ahead of time. You can’t manage like a robot when you’re in charge of a team at this high a level. The teams pay these managers for their expertise and their hunches. Not to do the same thing every armchair manager sitting at a computer terminal would have them do.
So, when a hunch pays off, we give them their due. Because when too many of their hunches don’t pay off, they get fired. That’s how it works in real life.
4:50 p.m.: Vernon Wells got the Yankees on the board in the bottom of the first by taking Hisashi Iwakuma deep to left for his 10th — that’s right, 10th — home run of the season. Arte Moreno is smacking his forehead in Anaheim right now wondering whether Wells was put on this earth to torment him. Very few people in baseball saw this Wells revival coming.
Mariners still lead it 7-1.
4:28 p.m.: The Mariners are doing their part to ensure the umpiring crew doesn’t decide tonight’s game. Raul Ibanez just hit a grand slam to right center off Phil Hughes and Michael Saunders added an RBI double to right-center to give Seattle a 7-0 lead in the top of the first inning. A one-out walk to Dustin Ackley got the rally started, then Kyle Seager singled to put runners at the corners. Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse followed with run-scoring singles after that.
Justin Smoak then drew a walk and Ibanez unloaded on an 0-1 pitch to blow the game open. Jesus Montero singled after that and then, following a fielder’s choice groundout by Brendan Ryan, Saunders doubled to the gap in right center to end the night for Hughes right there.
All I can say is — wow. The Mariners are still batting and many of the fans who paid hundreds of dollars for a ticket to this game are just arriving at the ballpark and staring at the scoreboard in shock.
3:55 p.m.: You usually haven’t arrived as a player until you get noticed in New York and there has been some subtle buzz going on about Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma ahead of tonight’s scheduled start against the New York Yankees. By now, a good part of baseball is aware that much of the Mariners’ success this year has been due to the tandem of Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez.
Right now, it’s tough to imagine where the Mariners might be without either.
Iwakuma is 4-1 with a 1.74 ERA in eight starts this season. He leads the AL in walks-plus-hits-to-innings-pitched-ratio (WHIP) at 0.74 and is second in the league in opponents’ batting average with .167.
Hernandez and Iwakuma as a duo have allowed just five runs in their last seven starts. That’s pretty impressive. And the Mariners will need it to continue tonight after letting last night’s game get away from them.