Brandon in a League of his own misery right now
I realize many fans won’t care about this after Brandon League suffered his fourth straight loss Friday in Cleveland, the latest gut-punch coming on a game-winning two-run homer by Travis Hafner with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in a game Seattle led 4-2 when League entered.
But I learned something about League afterward, something that deserves mention along with all the criticism he’s deservedly getting for this awful stretch of relief work. For the fourth straight time, after his fourth straight loss, League sucked it up and stood at his locker and talked to the media about what happened.
That just doesn’t happen with a lot of guys. It takes accountability and responsibility and all those things that are a lot easier to preach when the good times are rolling. If League had said he didn’t want to talk this time, I would have understood. He’s going through a “really, really rough patch” as he noted and it can’t be easy shouldering these setbacks.
If League continues his lights-out start to the season and slams the door on these four games, the Mariners are 20-19 right now. He knows that. Everybody knows it. But League wasn’t the only issue tonight. If rookie Carlos Peguero gets a better jump on the double over his head by Asdrubral Cabrera and makes that catch, we’re talking about how League rebounded and got the job done this time.
But there’s no doubt that Cabrera’s double, as well as the previous one by Michael Brantley and, yes, Hafner’s homer, were all well-hit balls. League isn’t fooling anyone with his normally nasty sinker right now. Manager Eric Wedge says he’s leaving it up a little, enough to make him vulnerable. And, yeah, Wedge is weighing his closer options.
Tough times, with six straight losses undoing all the positives from the outstanding previous 5-1 road trip through Detroit and Boston.
Wedge is dying inside with these defeats, but he maintained a stiff upper lip — hidden under the ‘stache, of course — on Friday. He reminded that teams learn from tough times, as do individuals. He knows the situation with youngsters like Peguero, who also committed a baserunning blunder in the top of the ninth when he lost track of the outs and took off running on a one-out fly ball to right by Michael Saunders that suddenly turned into a double play.
“He just made a mistake, and obviously thought it was two outs, which can’t happen,” Wedge said. “Those are things that should just happen once and not happen again.”
Peguero, instead of celebrating his first Major League home run, appeared near tears as he, too, faced reporters and was accountable.
Whether that means much to fans bemoaning yet another tough loss, I don’t know. But it tells me something. It tells me these Mariners have some inner strength. And sometimes that kind of thing can pay off in the long run.
And that’s a message that is coming from the top down.
“You have to handle it,” said Wedge. “You have to be strong. I’ve said it so many times: You have to be strong on the bad days, and humble on the good days. It doesn’t hurt any less. It’s tough. But these guys are going to be stronger for it, they’ll be better for it. We’ll get through this stretch and we’ll continue to work to be a better club.”