Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck: The M's are stooges

Vladimir Guerrero slaps around the Mariners, which is a big poke in the eye during an otherwise-good road trip.
Vladimir Guerrero slaps around the Mariners, which is a big poke in the eye during an otherwise-good road trip.

For historical comparison of how Vladimir Guerrero hits Seattle Mariners pitching, you'd have to go back to the era when Moe was hitting Curly. Bad Vlad does it deliberately, frequently, and comically. It must be pretty funny, anyway, because Guerrero, the MVP of the Los Angeles Angels (and perhaps of the American League this season) usually is either smirking or chortling after a trip to the plate against the M's. Such was the case Wednesday, May 30, as Seattle dropped its second straight to the division rivals, ending an otherwise successful, 6-4 road trip prior to commencement of a home set with Texas. The box score reports that Guerrero was three for five that night with three runs batted in. Those who witnessed what might've been a Felix Hernandez triumph know the Angel right fielder was the big difference at critical junctures of a game the Angels won 8-6. His single past Yuniesky Betancourt in the first inning deserved a speeding ticket. It traveled so fast that the M's shortstop practically pulled an abdominal muscle trying to get a look at it. A minute later, Gary Matthews Jr. sent a three-run shot well beyond the wall in right-center, and it was 3-1 L.A. The first inning was worthy of a chin-whiskered grin if you were Guerrero, but the loudest laughter erupted when he made it to the dugout after his own three-run shot in the fifth. That made it 7-5 Angels, and the M's were effectively through for the night. As of May 31, Seattle is five and a half back of the Angels, but the M's seem even worse off given that they actually won the May 28 game and had illusions of catching Vlad and associates. Guerrero is 16 for 29 against Seattle this season, though some M's fans may feel it's actually 30 for 29. That Vlad has missed hitting 13 times out of 29 is only worth observing in the context of Moe occasionally missing Curly and settling for an eye-gouging of Larry. The Mariners probably would walk Guerrero every time were it not for the fact that the rest of the Angels batting order presents a comedy of terrors. It means the M's need to do what they're best at this season: picking on weaker members of the modern-day Three Stooges. That's what worked against Tampa Bay and Kansas City, as Seattle batters dope-slapped the competition for series wins. No number of remedial match-ups, however, will change the fact that the Angels figure to win the A.L. West division and prevent the M's from making the playoffs. At least Seattle partisans have had an entertaining show to watch during May, when the team batting average crept up to vie for the best in the majors. Ichiro Suzuki has been picking up his obligatory nightly base hit, having reached a career-tying 23 straight games as of the fourth inning May 30. Five or six wins during the current home stand against the Rangers and Orioles would at least keep fans interested in the season, especially knowing the M's don't have to see Vlad and the Angels again for two months. On the other hand, Seattle and the Angels meet 10 more times this season. If Guerrero continues to rough up the M's at his 2007 average of .552, that could mean another 22 hits against Seattle off the Vlad bat or, as Moe might prefer, 22 hits off Guerrero's "slap stick."


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