Mariners rally to tie with Royals is pretty high up there on the list of headlines I never wanted to read. As bad as the M's have been these last few years, Kansas City's been worse, one of the few teams in baseball we could mock and deride without sounding like idiots. And now this. If I were a Royals fan, I'd be all over us right now. Or I'd be hiding myself in a box. Either one. Although I guess they're not mutually exclusive, as long as there are Mariners fans somewhere close to said box. Do you think they only hide themselves during the baseball season, or is it a year-round kind of thing?
The game itself was a comedy of errors, where by "errors" I mean "really bad pitching." And errors. The teams combined for a batting line of .386/.414/.699, six home runs, and three bobbled balls (all by the M's). It's not like we're talking about a bunch of scrubs, either - outside of Jason Mackintosh and Jose Morban, pretty much everyone who participated (on both side) is a Major League-caliber player, be it a probable starter or backup. Which doesn't mean as much when you're talking about the Mariners and Royals as it would for, say, the Red Sox or Cardinals, but still, there you go.
At the heart of the trouble was Jamie Moyer, who allowed four runs in each of his first two innings before settling down and ending his day with three consecutive scoreless frames. His walks and strikeouts were fine but allowing a three-run homer to Angel Berroa and a grand slam to Tony Graffanino isn't good in any stadium in any month of any year, so I'll just go ahead and pretend that this whole thing never happened. The good news is that Moyer's counterpart was every bit as bad, as Scott Elarton lived up to his flyball-prone billing by allowing three longballs in five innings of his own. The only pitcher in baseball likely to pitch more like Ryan Franklin this year than Elarton is Ryan Franklin. I understand that small market teams need to sign established veterans every so often just to retain some modicum of fan interest, but winning stirs interest more than anything else, and guys like Elarton are hardly a means towards that end. On top of that, giving Elarton a reasonably expensive two-year deal virtually guarantees that there won't be much of a market for his services come deadline time, meaning that the Royals are stuck with a crappy pitcher they didn't need to sign in the first place. That's just bad roster management.
Mariners who went deep today: Ibanez, Sexson, Borchard, and Petagine. I wouldn't be too terribly opposed to hearing that a few times over the next few weeks.
It's also worth noting that both Borchard and Ichiro committed fielding errors this afternoon. The 2005 outfield leader in errors was Emil Brown, with 11; no one else had more than 8. How often do you suppose two different outfielders on the same team made errors in the same game last year? I'm not interested because I'm concerned. It just seems incredibly unlikely.
You probably didn't notice, what with the awful performances turned in by fringe relievers so far this spring, but JJ Putz, Rafael Soriano, and Eddie Guardado have combined to allow just three runs and three walks while striking out 12 in 16 innings so far. This means nothing by itself, but it does give me a decent segue into saying that I'm fairly excited by this year's bullpen. You won't find many other teams who can compete with a 6th-through-9th-inning lineup of Mateo/Putz/Sherrill/Soriano/Guardado. I'll be real interested to see what our record turns out to be in games we led after six innings come the end of the season.
Last Cactus League game tomorrow, with Pineiro, Putz, and Guardado going up against the Padres. The other half of the team will face the Dodgers, with Baek, Cruceta, Harris, and Green scheduled to pitch.