M's Game: E-Scoreboard (2)
Question: How can a team be behind 8-0 in the 5th and wind up losing 7-4? Answer: Mariners baseball.
We were never in this one. By the time my friend Tim arrived in the bottom of the 1st, the M's were behind the lowly Oakland A's 3-0—single, walk, double, strikeout, double—and Tim never saw us closer than 3. We never even had the tying run at the plate. Our leadoff hitter Jean Segura went 4-4 and never got past second base, mostly because our No. 2 man Ben Gamel went 0-4. In our first three innings, we ran into three double plays: 4-6-3, 4-6-3, and 8-5 (flyout, throw 'em out). Segura got picked off in the 4th. We kept erasing runners.
How bad were we? Even the scoreboard operator kept screwing up.
In the 5th, the A's had two on and nobody out for Khris Davis, who looked bad his first two times up: two strikeouts. He's a guy with a lot of Ks (at gametime, 113, second in the A.L.), and a lot of homers (23, fifth in the A.L.), so I said, “Guess he's due for a homer now.” Boom. Three runs. Then another hit, a double-play, and their catcher Bruce Maxwell went deep to left-center. I looked up at the video scoreboard.
“Wait, isn't it 7-0?”
Tim looked down at his scorecard. “Yeah.”
“So how come they have 8-0?” The electronic scoreboard in center, which towers over Safeco Field, had given the A's five runs in the 5th for an 8-0 lead. I looked over at the hand-operated scoreboard in the left field corner. They'd done the same.
“Did we miss something?”
Tim looked down at his scorecard again. “Maybe that wasn't Maxwell who hit the homer? Maybe he got on somehow and the next guy hit it?”
“Cause we did get that double-play, right?”
At this point, down either 7 or 8, the M's finally pulled 27-year-old journeyman starter Sam Gaviglio for one-time Milwaukee bullpen stalwart Yovani Gallardo; but as Gallardo warmed up, the numbers on the scoreboards stayed the same: 8-0.
“This is annoying.” So I got out my phone, Googled “Mariners score,” and showed the results to Tim: 7-0.
We looked back up. “Has someone noticed the error yet?”
It took a while. In the meantime, Gallardo got the final out of the inning.
“How good is Gallardo?” I asked. “He comes in down 8-0 and leaves down 7-0.”
“Minus 1 ERA!” Tim shouted.
We finally got on the board in the bottom half of the 5th when Mitch Haniger went deep. Well, “deep.” The ball barely escaped right field. It eked out. It would be our only run against 23-year-old A's starter Paul Blackburn, who was pitching only his second game in the Majors. Blackburn debuted July 1st against Atlanta and got the loss, giving up 1 run (and zero earned runs) in six innings. This time he went 7 2/3. Haniger's HR is his only earned run in the Majors so far.
The guy who relieved him, Daniel Coulombe, seemed to be throwing inside to me. He seemed way agressive for a guy with a six-run lead. Before this season, in 68 innings pitched with the Dodgers and A's, Coulombe had never hit a batter. This season, in 30 innings, he's hit 4. Is he wilder now? Or does he have a new approach? If so, it backfired last night. In the bottom of the 9th, with one on and one out, he threw at Kyle Seager, who ducked, and the ball ricocheted off his helmet and to the backstop. Seager, the professional, got up, dusted himself off, jogged down to first. Four pitches later, Danny Valencia homered to center, making it 7-4, and Coulombe was gone, replaced by A's closer Santiago Casilla.
Well, 7-4 in the scorebooks. And, I should add, on the electronic scoreboard in center. But on the hand-operated scoreboard down in left field, the score remained 7-1. It was like our scoreboard operators had something against the Ms.
“Did they send that guy home?” Tim asked.
During Casilla's warmups it remained 7-1. Mitch Haniger grounded sharply to second and it remained 7-1. Jarrod Dyson hit a stand-up triple in the gap and it remained 7-1. We had the tying run in the on-deck circle—Segura, who was 4-4—and I couldn't keep my eyes off the left-field scoreboard.
Finally, we saw movement in the spot for bottom of the ninth. The blank card was removed and replaced with a ... “1.”
“Three, idiots!” I shouted.
They finally got it right just as Mike Zunino popped out to the pitcher for the final out.
Last night was also, appropriately, “Bark at the Park” night. Fans could bring their dogs to the game and walk around the bases afterward. Pooper scooper not included.