The sun won a game in Seattle? Seattle . . . Washington?
Yes, and the phrase “seeing is believing” isn’t quite appropriate. “Not seeing” makes more sense in this context.
In the bottom of the ninth Thursday afternoon (May 19), with the game knotted at one and the Mariners with two outs and a runner on third, recent call-up Carlos Peguero lofted a routine fly to center, precisely the play that had almost resulted in a dropped ball by M’s center-fielder Michael Saunders half an inning earlier.
This time the Los Angeles Angels’ Torii Hunter lost the ball in the cloud-less afternoon glare. Jack Cust walked home with the winning run to the delight of 18,374, none, from what I could see, wearing a parka.
“Believe me,” said L.A. manager Mike Scioscia later in defense of his defense, “if [Hunter] could have seen it he would have caught it.”
For everyone, well, everybody but Hunter, it was perfect baseball weather, which didn’t necessarily beget perfect baseball. But the Mariners were at least something like “un-imperfect.”
Yes, they waited until the fifth inning of a fly-by two-hour game to get an initial hit and score for a 1-1 tie. Yes, they had no errors except the pitch the otherwise stingy starter Doug Fister evidently gift-wrapped in Flubber for Howie Kendrick, who drove it over the left-field wall in the fourth.
But the locals made up for a light, five-hit offense with dependable fielding and pitching to win three of the brief four-game home stand and raise their record to 19-24.
Fans were bidding adieu for a week while the M’s catch a blessed break in a tough upcoming schedule. At San Diego and Minnesota through May 25 they play two of the worst big-league contingents before engaging better clubs until late June. Three at home with the Yankees starting May 27 lead to a four-game set with Tampa Bay ending June 5; it’s the longest home stand of the season.
Few would suggest pennant-contention for the M’s. They still don’t offer any reason to believe their offense can prevail in the AL West. Eking out minimal wins by a run or two makes great spectator baseball but it would be much more fan-friendly if a few six-run blowouts were mixed in.
Thursday, the club managed just four singles and a double. Perhaps the top news as far as offense was that the hit-challenged Saunders happened to slip through a single, raising his average to .178. Club officials plan to keep him with the big-league team instead of sending him to Tacoma to see if he could feast on AAA pitching and get his confidence back.
Meanwhile, even though close wins count as much as any, they scarcely assuage losing, by 2-1, Tuesday’s game with the Twins and depriving Felix Hernandez of another win he richly deserved.
Maybe in the absence of run support King Felix at least could be crowned with mound royalties on (rare) days this season when the M’s don’t just play during the day but also are under a glaring sun. After Thursday’s experience, Ol’ Sol could be “seen” as something of the team’s 10th man.