Mariners have better day than Woods, Butler

In a day that also featured a Tiger Woods' press conference and Butler's almost-win, the Mariners had a win that almost turned into a loss.
In a day that also featured a Tiger Woods' press conference and Butler's almost-win, the Mariners had a win that almost turned into a loss.

It was something of a wearying Monday if you were following sports. First came the 34-minute Tiger Woods press conference, an event four months in the making and seemingly lasting that long when it finally happened. Next was the NCAA men'ꀙs basketball title match, the last of 64 games that seem in retrospect to have been 640.

That left for a finale the opening of the Seattle Mariners season. It happened in Oakland but, unlike what Gertrude Stein famously observed, there was plenty of there there. Indeed, the game won in the ninth 5-3 by the visitors had elements of both the Woods event and the ending of the Duke-Butler game. The latter, as it expired, could have gone either way, as a luckless Butler shot at the buzzer left Duke the winner by two, same as Seattle.

The similarity with the Woods spectacle had something to do with morbid curiosity. Seattle fans just had to keep watching, that is, even as the team tried to give back a game it had seemed to win early.

The M's game, of course, had a much happier ending than what happened with Woods in Augusta (he found himself facing questions about performance enhancers and not just queries about, uh, that other stuff). Even though ace right-hander Felix Hernandez had a less-than-stellar outing, his six walks were all but forgotten in the shadow of Casey Kotchman's four runs batted in. The newly acquired first-baseman saved the final pair for the ninth inning after the M's, up 3-0 after three, let the Athletics pull even in the seventh. Kotchman's now on a pace for 648 RBI's this season, by the way.

The M's managed just six hits, the most surprising of which was a solo homer from Rob Johnson. The catcher who sustained a virtual lifetime of surgeries after last season has been one of the team's good-news stories this spring.

Then, inevitably, comes the bad news. Milton Badley, ahem, Bradley, greeted being fanned late in the game by slamming his bat into the ground and breaking it (the bat, not the ground), thereby achieving that rarity in plate appearances: a broken-bat strike-out.

The 1-0 M's (perhaps on a 162-0 pace) play three more in Oakland, the last coming midday Thursday, when some of the TV-viewing audience may be looking toward Augusta, Georgia, and the return of Woods at the Masters.


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