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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

May 26, 2008 at 10:59 PM

Groundhog’s Day

You’ve got to wonder if John McLaren wakes up every morning to a clock radio playing “I Got You Babe,” just like Bill Murray in Groundhog’s Day. The point is, of course, that each day is looking the same for the Mariners — some sort of gruesome breakdown that leads to another defeat. They’ve lost seven in a row now to fall 16 games under .500. Let that sink in: 16 games under .500 (at 18-34). . And that’s after just 52 games. Unbelievable.
I seem to remember hearing — and writing myself, probably — that one thing the Mariners won’t have happen this year is the sort of long losing streaks that doomed them down the stretch last year. Not with a maturing Felix Hernandez joining Erik Bedard for that vaunted “one-two punch.” Well, they’ve now lost 20 of their last 25 games, plus seven and counting. Felix and Bedard haven’t been able to stop it, although in all fairness Felix pitched great tonight until the eighth, and he was one out away from getting out of that inning.
I have a feeling McLaren is going to get ripped for leaving Hernandez in for nine batters in the eighth (haven’t had time to read the blog comments yet, sorry), but both manager and Felix himself said his stuff was just about as good as he’s had all season. Felix said he was still strong and sharp in the eighth, so I don’t have too much of a problem with leaving him in. Bottom line, they needed to muster more offense than one run until the ninth inning, when they had their usual too-little, too-late rally to score two off Jonathan Papelbon. Bartolo Colon looked pretty darned good, and you have to wonder if he’s going to be another coup for Red Sox GM Theo Epstein.
The Mariners did have three great defensive plays in the game — a diving catch of a blooper by Yuniesky Betancourt, a diving stop by Adrian Beltre to start a double play, and especially the wall-crashing catch by Ichiro. The most interesting post-game tidbit was Ichiro saying that the catch was inspired by criticism he received in New York on Sunday. He was referring to the ball that the Yankees’ Jose Molina hit in the eighth that went over his head when he was playing shallow during their eighth-inning collapse.
Here’s the quote: “(Sunday), for some reason, some people thought I should have caught a ball. That really ticked me off. I said to myself I was going for the ball no matter what, even if I’m injured on the play. I had a lot of stress piled up from yesterday. Because of that, I don’t remember much about what happened. I just thought to let my body go.”
Asked who the criticism came from, Ichiro said, “I don’t think it’s necessary to answer.”
I believe he’s referring to the media, not his teammates. Ichiro said he was dazed, not hurt, unlike the Mariners themselves, who are both.

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