Mariners Fall to Worst Team in NL, Under Watchful Eye of Pro-Figgins King’s Court

If something looks strange with this, I apologize in advance. Firefox is starting to prove itself just about worthless with a lot of sites I visit regularly, and today this is apparently one of them. Thankfully, I also have Safari installed, because that’s how we roll here in this Macintosh-loving household.

Tuesdays are my busy days at work, but today was not so busy that I couldn’t grab some baseball news and a little gossip. One of our telecommuters lives down in the Austin area, and told me this morning that some of the folks over at Lone Star Ball were talking about where Josh Hamilton was going to wind up next. I haven’t read the thread in question (and indeed don’t even know where on the site this was mentioned), but apparently the gist of the discussion was that the Rangers may not make Hamilton an offer to return next year, and that he might wind up in Seattle, due to our possible need for a corner fielder, should Ichiro not return. I find this interesting, given general opinions that Hamilton will most likely wind up in LA with the Dodgers to help them further contend though of course there is the fact that Andre Ethier just got an extension, which might make Hamilton’s rumored future presence obsolete. All of this is just fan speculation and as far as I know doesn’t come from any sort of true source, but it is interesting to think about, for sure. If Hamilton were to come to Seattle, I think I’d be comfortable with three years. I have no idea how much money, but with the Mariners recent trend towards spending as little as possible, I would imagine that Hamilton would really have to want to be here (read; we wouldn’t offer him much). I would think the Ms would also try to keep Ichiro for another year or two if at all possible before looking at bringing someone new and veteran-y into the picture.

Other points of interest include the increasing readiness of Franklin Gutierrez and Erasmo Ramirez down in Tacoma. I don’t know how ready, but the word “ready” being tossed around is good enough for me. I will gladly take a Saunders/Gutierrez/Ichiro outfield. Especially if Gutz’s bat is as improved as I hear it is, which is to say that he’s hitting. And honestly I’d be lying if I said my desire to see him back was anything other than simply that; I don’t need a numbers reason here; I just want a healthy Franklin Gutierrez back on Seattle soil.

I also read something about Vlad Guerrero being released at his own behest today. I can imagine that it is a bit of a blow to the ego to be shuffled around at the minor league level, when you were once the Terror of the AL West. As a fan, my relationship with Vlad has been a strange one. I initially hated him, then was kind of afraid of him, then grew to respect him, and now I kind of like him. Unfortunately, I may have taken far too long to like him; but this is all on Vlad; if he had just left for Baltimore a few years sooner, I could have liked him more. I will be keen to see where he lands, since he is not interested in retirement, and his decreasing ability may mean he has a struggle finding a team who will not only give him money, but allow him a position on a major league roster.

Oh, and then there is this Mariners/Padres game on tonight. A Justin Smoak flyout to  center field in the 4th inning started the talk about the Safeco Field fences being brought in again. Frankly, I am not in that camp. In fact, I am actively against it, because it would move the fans who stand or sit in the outfield areas even farther away from the game than they are now. The cheapest way to do this from a construction standpoint would probably be to simply move the walls and reorganize the grass and warning track; everything else back there would likely stay the same, and it would remove spectators even further from the game than they are currently. One might argue that they’re the spectators who hang out in the beer garden and are therefore not interested in the game anyway, but I know a few folks who hang out back there who do actively watch. I have watched from that area, and it can be difficult to track the action, at eye level that far back. To sum up, don’t move the fences, unless all ballparks are going to standardize (an idea, by the way, that I would be in favor of, because I really don’t like park factors in the first place).

Felix was not at his best tonight, unfortunately. The rest of the team didn’t help matters any by not doing much with their hits, but the top of the 6th inning was a disaster for Mr Hernandez, who gave up four runs, three hits and a walk and pushed the score to 5-1 in the Padres’ favor. The Mariners attempted a threat in the bottom of that inning, loading up the bases for Michael Saunders, who was reasonably patient before flying out to center; but they would have had to move the walls in pretty far to make that one a grand slam.

Shawn Kelley came in to take the mound responsibilities in the 7th, taking down the second, third and fourth in the Padres batting order with relative ease. Once again, the Mariners bats attempted to make runs happen, with Chone Figgins actually getting a single to start things off (to the chants of “K!” from the King’s Court.  I don’t like Figgins as much as the next person, but to root for your own team to strike out is bad form, regardless of who the player is or how much you dislike him),*** but Clayton Richard was working the ground balls that inning, and all batters grounded out or into a force play of some sort. Kelley stayed in the top of the 8th and did his job again, and after a quick bottom 8th for the Mariners against reliever Luke Gregerson, I wrote the title of this post because the 6th inning Padres runs just sucked all the optimism right out of me.

Further sucking the last drops of optimism was watching Stephen Pryor injure himself trying to cover the first base bag during an Everth Cabrera single. I couldn’t tell even with replay exactly what happened, but it looked like his feet got a little tangled on the way to the base, and as he stepped on the bag, he grabbed his left groin as Cabrera was declared safe. Pryor was escorted off the field; he wasn’t limping or needing physical support, so that’s a good sign, but he may still be off the table as a relief option for a few days. Charly Furbush was brought in to finish up the 9th with one out. Everth Cabrera, not content with his single, stole second and then third as Furbush struggled with Logan Forsyth, after having given Will Venable a walk.

Michael Saunders took a good chunk out of new reliever Joe Thatcher, sending a second-pitch 87MPH fastball into the second deck of the beer garden over center field. With one out and one one, Munenori Kawasaki was given the go-ahead to pinch-hit for Brendan Ryan, who was 0 for 2 with a walk for the night. Kawasaki rewarded the promotion by hitting an RBI single to mid-right field against closer Huston Street. With a score of 5-3 and no outs, Ichiro was up to bat. He sent a line drive to center field, which brought Dustin Ackley to the plate with still only one out. Ackley was super patient, taking a few sliders and change ups before hacking at one in the dirt that bounced off the glove and went over the head of catcher Nick Hundley. Hundley completely lost track of the ball while Kawasaki neatly scored standing up. Jesus Montero saw no more than two pitches before he grounded out to end the game with a score of 5-4 Padres. Worthy effort at the end, but too little too late.

I am officially in a hurry to get to sleep, so wrapping this up is going to be simply saying that there is a small chance that I may be at tomorrow’s game. If that is the case, I will likely be Tweeting from there, as Hector Noesi takes on Jason Marquis. If not, I will be at home enjoying the game from the comfort of my couch. Tonight’s game was a little bit of a disappointment, but I’m not going to sweat it too much. Such are the Mariners.

***Cheryl Jensen, who was in the King’s Court tonight, informed me over Twitter that the folks in the Court weren’t saying “K!”, but “Fig!”  Her tweet is here, along with mine. I think that’s great, but it’s not at all what it sounded like unfortunately, and quite a few people thought they were wanting Figgins to fail, members of the press corps included. I’m glad that was not the case.

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