Playing hard or not, the Mariners are well on their way to losing another series, having dropped two in Anaheim with two to go, and now are polsed to set anew dubious low. Never mind the 100-100 club, which would have to see the M’s go 5-11 to become the first team to ever lose 100 games while spending 100 million or more in payroll. That would be truly bad. But there is now an increasing chance the M’s will still become the worst team to ever sport a three-figure payroll (in millions). The most losses ever by a team spending $100 million or more is 95 by the 2002 New York Mets, who put down $117 million that year.
To avoid setting a new record of 96 losses, the M’s would have to go 10-6 over their final 16 games. Chances of that happening? Slim. Because when a team loses games in which it’s played rather well, like last night, the losses start to snowball when the team inevitably plays poorly. We’ve seen that happen all year long. I don’t necessarily agree that the M’s have fought the Angels tooth and nail in this series. Last night, yes, and I continue to be impressed by Ryan Rowland-Smith, who threw yet another “quality start”. Those of you who don’t like me using “quality start” stats, you’re free to go about your business. I’ll take the starter who goes six or more innings every time out while allowing three runs or fewer. Had the M’s had this all season long, they would likely have not been eliminated from playoff contention in August.
As for playing the Angels tough, being down 7-0 in the eighth inning on Thursday night doesn’t do that for me. So, with apologies to Jim Riggleman, I don’t concur. I know what the final score was and that K-Rod had to come in for one of his bogus saves. But a team is not playing competitive ball when it trails by a touchdown with two innings to go. We’ve seen the M’s make games like that look close all year. But the teams that go to the post-season are the ones that:
a) don’t trail 7-0 in the eighth inning
b) know how to finish off a comeback instead of merely looking good
Want this team to look better in the future? Start raising the bar when kudos are being handed out.
OK, enough of these non-races, or false compliments.
In our MLB2K season, things continue to go quite well for the Mariners, who have won 8 of 9 and remain in first place, a half-game up on the Rangers in a two-team AL West race. The Mariners just finished off the month of August, beginning a road trip to Toronto and New York with an 8-3 win in a Friday night series opener at the Rogers Center. J.D. Drew was the big hitter, with three home runs to move to 73 on the year and tie Barry Bonds for the single season record with a month to go. Edwin Encarnacion, another 50-homer guy on this team, added two more. Paul Byrd went 5 2/3 innings and allowed three runs to pick up the win, but needed 3 1/3 innings of shutout relief from Scott Schoeneweis to do it. Schoeneweis has now fanned nine of his first 23 batters faced with the M’s.
The M’s got to Blue Jays starter Randy Johnson quickly in this one, with Encarnacion hitting a two-run homer in the top of the first to open the scoring. Drew then added his first homer of the game to make it 3-0. Toronto got one back off Byrd in the bottom of the inning, but Encarnacion went deep again in the third with a solo shot and Drew added his second homer of the game moments later to make it 5-1 and finish Johnson off.
But it wasn’t over yet. The Blue Jays scored twice in the sixth off Byrd and had runners at second and third with two out when Schoeneweis was called upon. Schoeneweis struck Zobrist out and carried the 5-3 lead into the eighth. That’s when Drew struck again, hitting his third homer of the game to ignite a three-run rally by Seattle that put things away.
Schoeneweis went the distance from there, allowing only three hits over his 3 1/3 scoreless frames.
The upcoming middle game of the series is a treat. Carlos Silva takes the mound for the Mariners versus Blue Jays starter Jarrod Washburn. Hey, I’m not making this up. It’s what the computer slotted.