Come Thursday morning, many a Mariner fan may still feel as though he or she was kicked in the pants Wednesday night. The ballplayers, on the other hand, will get up, have a bite, pack their bags, and ride the bus the few blocks from the team hotel to Target Field. They wouldn't have made it to the Major Leagues if they couldn't shake off the best win and the worst loss alike.
Jason Vargas will arrive at the park, maybe do some running, maybe shag some flies if the M's take batting practice. He'll do it after allowing six runs in 4 2/3 innings, just as he would after a complete-game win. Justin Smoak will check the lineup and do his pregame work after an 0-for-3 with an error, same as he would after a day with three hits.
Trayvon Robinson will be done thinking about his three-strikeout game before his head hits the pillow.
"It happens to the best of them," Robinson said. "Just got to go to sleep, wake up ready to strap it on again tomorrow. It's out of our heads right now. ... I want to get back on the field. I want to go back out there right now."
It's not to say they don't care. They absolutely care, a tremendous amount. It's their life, and their livelihood. They put in hours upon hours upon hours, spend months away from their families, dedicate everything they have to playing this game. It's not that they don't care.
However, just as they must maintain their physical health over the course of a season, players must also maintain their mental health. That means moving on when you leave the park. More than any other sport, baseball doesn't merely benefit those who can separate game from game and at-bat from at-bat, it weeds out those who can't. Separation is not merely a useful skill, it's a defining trait.
Pitchers who can't put away a bad outing end up having too many bad outings to keep advancing. Likewise, hitters who get too comfortable after a few hits stop adjusting, and get outfoxed by the guys who are still working.
"That's baseball," said Kyle Seager, who was the only Mariner besides Robinson to record a hit. "Some days your guys are on, some days their guys are on. Today was definitely their night."
There are limits, of course. When a team loses seven, eight, 10 games in a row, sure, the clubhouse can be a little more subdued. And players look forward to coming to the park more when they're in first place than when they're in last.
But where football relies heavily on remembering the past, on grudge matches, on bulletin-board material, baseball players can't afford to think that way. Manager Eric Wedge wasn't screaming in the clubhouse or knocking things over. He spoke in measured terms.
As for the bulletin board, all that was on the white board in the visitors' clubhouse was a reminder of what time everything gets going on Thursday morning -- bus, bags and stretch, like it always is.
It an ugly loss and a frustrating loss. But it was one loss, and the next game starts 14 hours after this one ended.
"It's a loss, and we'll learn from it and come back tomorrow," Seager said. "It won't change the way we prepare for tomorrow. It wouldn't change if we had won, 10-0. We might have a little extra fire, but it won't change the way we go about preparing."