The basso who belted out the national anthem before the 7-2, 10-inning loss take by the Seattle Mariners against Texas Tuesday (May 5) may as well have been alone singing in the shower for all the company he had. Attendance has been down for the resurgent M's. The pre-game Safeco Field body count looked from the press box barely big enough to fill a few schooners from Ride the Ducks.
The official Tuesday attendance was given as 19,810 (3K more than the night before, which was the lowest of the home season). Possibly team officials added to the fan count attendees' alter egos and imaginary friends?
For the second time in 20 hours the assembled saw the M's stall for three innings before getting a base-runner, Ichiro Suzuki, summarily erased by a double play. The Monday 6-5 loss had brought the Rangers to within a game and a half of Seattle in the American League West standings. Ichiro, in the bottom of the ninth that night, appeared poised to repeat the instant-legend heroics employed twice during the home stand by teammate Jose Lopez, whose walk-off hits delivered victories against Oakland Friday and Sunday.
On Tuesday Erik Bedard looked vulnerable during the first two innings before fanning the side and settling down. Unfortunately for fans, Bedard’s teammates never settled up. They couldn't connect against a Rangers' righty with a Car-loss, ahem, Carlos Silva-range 7.43 earned-run average. The M's first hit was a two-out fifth-inning single Wladimir Balentien hammered to left as the roof closed due to rain. In the sixth Seattle got another runner when lead-off guy Franklin Gutierrez was hit by a pitch. The center-fielder started Tuesday with an eight-game hitting streak, the most recent five outings being multi-hit efforts. Gutierrez scored after Ichiro walked and Lopez got on with an error.
The Rangers got even with a solo shot in the seventh. Texas nearly went ahead in the eighth but a perfect Balentien peg from left nailed the runner at the plate. With two outs in the ninth the Rangers had out-hit Seattle 11 to one and had the bases loaded. Aggressive-swinging Ian Kinsler fanned on a full count and the M's suddenly just needed a run to win. They might as well have needed nine.
It's improbable enough that the M's made it to 10 innings against a club that ultimately out-hit them 16 to three. The final five hits came after M’s reliever Denny Stark, apparently not recovered from his part in Sunday’s 15-inning marathon, had retired the first two in the 10th. Stark had replaced Shawn Kelley, who collapsed (literally) in front of the mound from an apparent oblique-muscle strain. M’s skipper Don Wakamatsu indicated after the game that Kelley will require some time to heal.
The ball club wouldn’t seem to have the luxury of time to find the Rx for the seeming inability of all but Lopez to hit in promising situations. Starting Wednesday (May 6) the M’s are slated to play eight times in Kansas City, Minnesota, and Texas before coming back the 15th to face the Boston Red Sox for three. These four opponents were a combined 60-47 through May 5. It would be terrific to report that help is available to the Seattle club via the I-5 shuttle from Tacoma. But the triple-A Rainiers, mimicking their big-league sibs, were themselves out-pitched and out-hit (12 to one) May 5 by Salt Lake, a 13-0 winner.
If nothing else, the M’s could take solace in the notion that national-anthem vocalists in Kansas City are even lonelier than those at Safeco Field. On Tuesday the Central Division-leading Royals came back to beat Chicago 8-7 in 11 innings in front of an announced crowd of 13,419.
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