Smiles of a mid-season team

Despite a drubbing in Denver, the Mariners have some positives going for them, and it's not just Ichiro's hitting
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How bout them M's?

Despite a drubbing in Denver, the Mariners have some positives going for them, and it's not just Ichiro's hitting

Comedy seems to reign throughout the pop culture this August-like June so unseasonably different from last year'ꀙs version, dubbed June-uary by those Seattle locals who weren'ꀙt too numb to speak. Back then the Seattle Mariners after 60 games were as cold as the climate: 21-39. The best advice for anyone seeking a respite from the M'ꀙs unyuckable 2008 campaign was to go see a funny movie, only there weren'ꀙt any.

Would Comedy Heaven have enough spring occupancy to accommodate the out-of-town, resurgent M'ꀙs? As they took the field June 12 they were 30-30. They'ꀙd won four straight series (though none with sweeps). Pitching was of such precision that the M'ꀙs had given up no more than three runs per game the first nine outings of the month. Long-dormant offense, led by an Adrian Beltre evidently made aware that he'ꀙs in a contract-consideration year, was alive if not always timely.

Suddenly, for Seattle baseball partisans, laughing mattered, especially given an opponent with the same record. Unfortunately for the M'ꀙs, the host Colorado Rockies as of June 12 had climbed to that mile-high 30-30 mark by winning their most recent eight games. Three days later the Denver denizens had won 11 straight and the joke was on the 30-33 M'ꀙs. Inept M'ꀙs pitching and defense resulted in 18 Rocky runs (to Seattle'ꀙs eight) during the easy Colorado sweep.

Perhaps the slog of the season'ꀙs second-longest road trip was taking its toll. Maybe the fix would come in San Diego starting Tuesday (June 16), when the M'ꀙs would take on a Padres club struggling at about the same level of sub-mediocrity.

At least the M'ꀙs could seize upon some positives as the mid-season point approaches. Ichiro Suzuki led the American League in batting average by 21 points going into the ides of June and was tied for the major-league lead in hits. Besides Beltre (hitting at a player-of-the-month pace), Jose Lopez was pounding out pull home-runs and slugging Russell Branyan was justifying all the hype about his upside potential. The three infielders were buttressed by a suddenly heads-up shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, who may finally be realizing that 'ꀜattitude'ꀝ and 'ꀜwork ethic'ꀝ are more than mere platitudes to field boss Ken Wakamatsu, who is not exactly a stand-up comic when it comes to slackers in the lineup.

Another hopeful sign is the promise that several of what seem to be about a dozen wounded pitchers will be well and back to the bigs soon. One said to be going in the opposite direction: Brandon Morrow. The young prized righty is to be recognized when the M'ꀙs get home with one of those bobble-head giveaways at Safeco Field Friday, June 19. What'ꀙs the joke? There was the prospect that by then Morrow could be playing not for the Seattle Mariners but for the triple-A Rainiers, where he'ꀙd be working with the Tacoma farm club toward restoring his starter potential. Since the threat of demotion emerged Morrow has been forced into spot-starting action but he could still be off to Tacoma by the Friday morning of his bobble-head event.

Here again, comedy reigns: featured Mariner-promotion bobble-head guy busted to Tacoma, right? How funny is that?


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