Late afternoons on spring and summer Sundays invariably seem to be greeted with stampedes at Seattle-region grocery stores, where casual or committed baseball fans buy provisions and glory in or grouse about the results of a Seattle Mariners game they'e just seen live or on TV.Grousing has won on eight of nine of the Sundays this season. The M's lost yet again on the most recent Sabbath (June 6), causing several within my listening range in checkout lines to give voice to the idea that the Los Angeles nine, while nominally angelic, shouldn't be handed a game just because it's Sunday . . . or Saturday or Friday.
Amid the spoken enmity and pessimism at this particular checkout area, one courageous grade-school-age kid disagreed.
"They'll win four against the Rangers," the kid insisted, referring to the mess in Texas facing the M's through Thursday.
Because I'm such an incorrigible jerk, I couldn't let it rest.
"Do you realize, kid," I commented, "that the Mariners lost seven of 10 in Texas last season and this year the M's are one and four against the Rangers?"
(Actually, I managed to internalize the commenting part though everything else in the previous two sentences is true.)
Perhaps the optimistic kid had been amid the cluster of Little League-age fans who got to walk the Safeco Field perimeter that afternoon while bolstering the home attendance. He also may prove to be prescient about the prospects of the M's winning four straight from the Rangers, even if recent history predicts otherwise.
Seattle, riding a three-game win streak against a competitive Minnesota contingent, lost to the Angels 7-1, 11-2 and 9-4. The finale of the series was the best of the M's three efforts against division-rival L.A. in that losing by five is enviable when you were tied after six innings. Sunday, the locals stranded 11 base-runners after letting 18 languish the previous two games. The Angels left 12 on base Sunday but had the luxury of six more hits than their hosts could muster.
The 33,000-plus fans on hand can say they saw a pretty combative game if only for what happened at the end of the second inning. Chone Figgins, lately showing some quality at bats, was tossed after being involved in a pair of questionable calls. M's skipper Don Wakamatsu came to the defense of his second-baseman and also was ejected.
The Figgins toss may have cost his club the game. His replacement, Matt Tuiasosopo (nobody'ês ideal as a two-hole batter), later came to the plate with the bases loaded and whiffed for the final out.
Seattle'ês starting-pitching supply was weakened considerably with the announcement that Doug Fister is on the 15-day disabled list, nursing a throwing-arm shoulder. The bullpen lately has been suspect, especially in the case of recent call-up Shawn Kelley and regular reliever Sean White, who together gave up seven earned runs in less than two innings, sealing their team's fate on Saturday.
None of this bodes well, of course, especially as it pertains to the prevailing fan demeanor at local grocery stores next Sunday. By then the M's could find themselves 22-41 and seven setbacks into a 10-game road trip with Texas, San Diego and St. Louis, including the obligatory Sunday loss to the Padres.