You have to figure that eventually I'll just stop caring, and life will become an endless stream of beige and vanilla, nothing bringing me down but nothing really picking me up, either. It'll be like living in Limbo. Things will happen, and other people will have emotional responses to them, but I'll just stare straight ahead without feeling anything. And it will be bliss. Because days like today eat away at me like so many termites, and pretty soon there's going to be nothing left to gnaw.
But hey, it wasn't as bad as yesterday, right? You have to appreciate the small victories.
Before the game, I mentioned that "it's high time we have another Matt Thornton appearance." I thought I was making a joke. I was wrong. As soon as Meche put the finishing touches on a 24-pitch first inning, I could feel it in my bones, like cattle do before an earthquake. "It won't be long now," said my femur, and sure enough, there he was warming up and entering the game in the fourth inning.
And then the most amazing thing happened: Thornton pitched well, hitting the strike zone with everything and getting some impressive whiffs. He provided some invaluable middle relief that let the Mariners get back in the game, and after he finished the sixth inning I was ready to take him out to dinner.
...then the seventh inning started, and Thornton was right back out there with nobody up in the bullpen. He started missing his spots, badly, and I started feeling that all too familiar nervousness again. It took a leadoff double by Teixeira and some ugly pitches to Hidalgo to cause some stirring in the bullpen, and I wanted to scream "GET HIM OUT NOW, BEFORE HE KILLS US ALL!!" Fortunately, Thornton didn't try to kill anyone, except for some guy in the right field bleachers. David Dellucci crapped all over a gift pitch and launched it a long way, and the universe was right again. I'd love to blame it on Thornton, but he shouldn't have been out there for a fourth inning. He's bad enough when he's fresh; why push your luck and lean on him when he's tired?
Of course, we were lucky enough to be in the game at that point, because Gil Meche was awful. He was missing with everything, up high with his fastball, in the dirt with his curve, and outside with his changeup. Any time a guy throws 89 pitches in 3.2 innings, you know he had it rough, and it might've been the worst I've ever seen him look. There are reports that he's been feeling elbow soreness and stiffness this year, which is good because it could explain his struggles, but bad because...well, you know why it's bad. This team needs everyone in the rotation to step up if it wants to compete; they won't win 90 games with an inconsistent pitching staff, and they certainly won't be that good if Meche is forced to miss some time. Seriously, what happens then? Do Baek and Campillo get auditions in the rotation? It's way too early in the year to have to answer these kinds of questions.
For a Sunday afternoon ballgame, there sure were a lot of empty seats. Down about 5,000 from the first Sunday day game a year ago, against the same team to boot. It's hard to blame the fans, but it's still depressing.
Speaking of depressing, Dan Wilson threw to Willie Bloomquist to try and catch Michael Young stealing. It's bad enough to hear one of those names, but both? In the same play? And in case you missed it, Wilson's arm is still terrible.
In the top of the first, Adrian Beltre made a good running catch on a foul pop-up near the stands. Upon viewing the replay, it turns out that, had he not made the catch, the ball would've hit a little girl. What a guy, that Adrian.
Ron Fairly had himself a day today. He spent the duration of the first inning explaining that a guy who gives up a lot of fly balls will give up a lot of homers. Later on, when Dave Niehaus was talking about the Edgar Martinez Award, Fairly chimed in with, "It's named after Edgar." Later still, he launched into some conversation with himself that I couldn't follow because I'd never heard of the thing he was talking about. He's like a teenager who talks about all the obscure bands he listens to because he wants to be different and comes off sounding like a tool.
The Ricoh Scouting Report on Ryan Drese:
- 2005 Opening Day starter
- Keeps the ball down
- Had a career year in 2004
That's one of the most uninformative scouting reports I've ever seen in my life.
Today's Official Overexaggeration of Willie Bloomquist's Many Talents as a Baseball Player: "Willie may be the best center fielder on the team." --Dave Niehaus. You can't make this stuff up. Myself, I'd put him fifth, behind Randy Winn, Jeremy Reed, Ichiro, and that guy in the bleachers who cost Richie Sexson a home run in the fourth.
You know what occurred to me? In the second inning, Winn took a bad angle on a catchable ball and let it drop in for a single. When's the last time you remember one of the outfielders diving for a ball? I think Reed might've done it at some point, but I'm not sure. I don't know what it means, if anything, but it's something to ponder.
At some point during the game, the camera was panning through the crowd and came upon a sign held up by a fan that read "My Oh Mariners!" I don't get it. What kind of thought process goes into making that sign? Was the guy just sitting at home last night when he jumped out of his seat and shouted "I know, I'll make a really bad play on a Niehaus expression and put it on a sign! That will surely enhance my stadium experience." I bet he lives alone.
In the third inning with men on first and second and a full count on Ichiro, the runners took off with the pitch. Ichiro struck out looking and Dan Wilson was gunned down at third, ending the threat. Which is all well and good, only Ichiro didn't strike out looking, because the pitch was a foot inside. If you're an umpire, and Ichiro doesn't swing at a pitch, you can probably call it a ball. If you're Hargrove, I suppose the thought of a strike-'em-out-throw-'em-out double play never really crossed your mind in that situation, since Ichiro strikes out looking about as often as Willie Bloomquist curses, but it still made you look pretty dumb in the aftermath.
More fourth inning fun: Dan Wilson dropped the ball on a play at the plate. He's great with the glove. But that didn't happen until a little while after Rod Barajas lifted a fly ball into the right field foul territory, which Ichiro caught for the second ou-NOOOOO!!! Steve Bartman showed up in the form of a fat guy with glasses and bad hair, taking the ball away from our right fielder and prolonging the at bat, which would result in a run-scoring double. Ichiro gave the guy the death glare, and in return the guy had the balls to offer the ball back. I guess today was the day for all the idiots to come crawling out of the woodwork and show up at the stadium.
Immediately following that double, Mike Young hit a routine grounder to short, where Willie Bloomquist scooped it up and threw to first for the second ou-NOOOO!!! The guy who does it call can't do it all properly, it seems. Right off the glove. Thank goodness he's the best center fielder on the team, or else I might think he's completely worthless.
Nice display of poor fundamentals in the bottom of the fifth. Jeremy Reed hit an infield chopper between first and the mound, and both Drese and Teixeira converged on the ball, forgetting that possession means nothing if there's nobody covering the bag to throw to.
During the sixth, I switched over to watch an interesting situation unfold in the Padres game for a few minutes. When I switched back to the Mariners, the announcers were speaking Spanish. I closed and re-loaded the window a few times before it was back to Rizzs and Henderson. Imagine my surprise when they were speaking Japanese a little while later. Apparently, the Mariners' broadcast decided to cut to live foreign coverage of the game a few times. This was a decision of which I was unaware.
Matt Thornton tried to blow it an inning early, but Ichiro ran down a searing line drive to end the sixth. The more you watch him, the more you love him.
Two things are already starting to wear on me: the Mariners' commercials, and the announcers talking about how Ron Villone was the team's Pitcher of the Year last season. You can hand out as many awards as you want, but they don't magically make bad players good. Villone's ERA was over four last year, and he bombed in the second half. Talking about his award is just damning with faint praise.
Ron Villone is a situational lefty, and Jeff Nelson is a long reliever. What? He faced two sluggers hitting from the left side of the plate today. What? Hargrove continues to escape from some of his more questionable moves, but Nelson won't survive against the Blalocks and Teixeira's of the world all year long.
Leading up to the next inning, Fox always shows a screen graphic with the three hitters due up, and one of them always has his name highlighted for some reason. Going into the bottom of the ninth, that graphic read Winn/Wilson/Bloomquist, with Willie's name emphasized. That's funny.
A day after STRIKING OUT LOOKING against Cordero in the ninth, Greg Dobbs was sent out there again, hitting for Wilson. This time, he struck out swinging. Once more, he looked awful, and he didn't have a prayer of catching up with Cordero's 96mph heater. He was promptly followed by Scott Spiezio, who popped up to end the game. This bench is absolutely horrible. Bucky, I'll give you my knees if you want. Just come back, right now.
Road trip starts tomorrow, with Ryan Franklin pitching against Runelvys Hernandez at 4:05pm EST in the afternoon.