I’ve been a bit out of touch for the past few days (school and life in general are taking up a lot of my time this weekend), but have been paying attention to things in Mariners-Land. As for the Angels series, I’m not sure I have much to say that hasn’t already been said. We won Friday under the steady hand of Cliff Lee (brilliant game to watch), and lost Saturday under the not-so-steady hand of Brandon League. It kills me that Felix Hernandez pitched such a great game through 9 innings, only to lose whatever edge we might have had in the 10th on a walkoff grand slam from Kendry Morales, who then racked up what appears to be a broken ankle during the home plate celebration. If nothing else, however, this past weekend verifies that universal order always restores itself: Mariners win, Angels win, Morales blows his ankle out…Mariners lose again.
Ian Snell started everything off “right” yesterday by giving up a two-run home run to Hideki Matsui in what became a 30-minute first inning. In the second inning, Josh Wilson hit a grounder off the ankle of umpire Brian McKnight, and took advantage of the moment with a single. With two men on, Ichiro beat a single to center field, scoring Eliezer Alfonso, our shiny brand new catcher from Triple A. Josh Wilson, however, would not be so lucky; he was waved around by third base coach Mike Brumley, and there was no way he was going to beat the tag at the plate. I have heard a lot of people calling for Brumley’s head. Didn’t we just get rid of a guy who kept waving runners around when they would have had no chance of scoring? I’m not usually into actively campaigning for someone to lose their job, but if it looks like a duck and moves its arm like a helicopter…
Things went all sorts of miserably slow between Snell and Joe Saunders until the 4th inning, when Elizier Alfonso sent one flying over the wall in left field with two men on; his first home run in a Mariners uniform, on his first day on the team. He was greeted with smiles in the dugout, while the bullpen spent some time high-fiving each other. I think I often use the term “slow” to refer to the fact that the Ms aren’t hitting, but it was indeed a slow game – the 4th wasn’t over until 2.05pm.
Saunders was taken out of the game in the top of the 5th, after allowing an RBI single to Casey Kotchman. Trevor Bell was sent in for relief. The first pitch delivered by Bell to Elizier Alfonso sent Jose Lopez home, and the first pitch to Josh Wilson allowed Kotchman home, score 7-2, Mariners. Ian Snell put two men on in the 5th, and, after throwing 82 pitches, was removed from the hill by Don Wakamatsu in exchange for Jesus Colome. Colome walked in a run with the bases loaded, and had to fight Mike Napoli to a full count. Napoli’s final swing was checked, but it was far enough around to get the home plate umpire to call it a strike, and Colome got out of the inning with no further damage.
By about 8 minutes to 3pm, the game had just entered the top of the 6th inning. Trevor Bell had an easy time of it. Kanekoa Texeira, however, did not. 10 balls, 11 strikes and two men out later, he had the bases loaded and had to face Bobby Abeau with a 3-0 count – and he walked a runner in. Tex was replaced then by Shawn Kelley (we’re running out of pitchers here, it’s only the 6th, guys), who gave up another run to the Angels, but finally got out of the inning. Our half of the 7th yielded little, and Kelley gave up another home run in the bottom of that inning to put the score at 6-7. I debated turning off the TV for a few moments (or at least changing the channel), but figured that I made it this far, why stop now?
Kelley stayed in until the 9th inning, where David Aardsma was brought in with a one-run lead. But we didn’t get Good Aardsma, we got Awful Aardsma. Juan Rivera took a fastball for a ride out to the center field warning track, where Franklin Gutierrez sprinted over to nab it for the first out. Mike Napoli hit Aardsma’s second pitch right back to him, and Aardsma scrambled unsuccessfully to get the ball, putting Naps on base. Howie Kendricks took a full count and a few hacks foul before taking the ball yard for a 3-run home run to end the game.
You’ve got to be kidding me.
I think it’s probably a good thing that I have other things that require my attention, coupled with the fact that there are only two games on the season ticket package this month. About two weeks ago, I gave the Mariners until the end of the month before I’d start truly losing hope. Since then, they’ve gone 5-7. One might make the argument that just below .500 over the course of two weeks isn’t all that bad in baseball, but the overall picture is much more grim than that. We’re 19-30 now, and two months into the season. That’s just depressing.
I plan to spend the day figuring out if I want to watch tonight’s game at home against the Minnesota Twins, a team that is 30-20. I’m absolutely torn. On the one hand, baseball is one of the few things keeping me sane and grounded lately; on the other, it’s one of the most frustrating aspects of my daily life. Sadly, it’s going to be a difficult decision…