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July 22, 2011 at 9:35 PM

These Mariners are not exactly partying like it’s 1992

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Despite all the heartbreaking defeats I’ve seen while covering two visiting teams over 13 years here at Fenway Park, I can honestly say I’ve never seen it as quiet in the tight, overcrowded visitors’ clubhouse as I did tonight after Seattle’s 7-4 loss.
You literally have players and media and coaches and clubhouse attendants tripping over each other in that Fenway Park visiting clubhouse, which looks like it was built 100 years ago and is the smallest I’ve seen in baseball. But tonight, despite all the people in there, you could barely hear a sound. There’s a soft drink fridge in need of a little humming motor that was the dominant noise in the room.
Coaches sat staring at their lockers, eating meals without talking. Normally they are engaged in conversation. Players did the same. This is a pretty together team but everybody in there tonight seemed to grasp the gravity of the situation.
This team has lost 13 in a row. The franchise record from 1992 is 14.
Nobody in that room wants this team — one that was 2 1/2 games out of first place just over two weeks ago — going down in club history as an all-time loser.
That M’s squad 19 years ago won 64 and lost 98. It scored 679 runs and allowed 799.
It finished in last place.
Yeah, it had Ken Griffey Jr. and Randy Johnson and Edgar Martinez and Jay Buhner and Dave Valle and all the other characters who are part of M’s lore. But it wasn’t a very good team back then.
It was 56-77 when the streak began on Sept. 2 of that year. And when the streak ended, the team was 56-91.
So, it was a bad team before and a really bad team after.
Not quite the same this year.

This M’s team was a .500 ballclub fighting for a division title when this all began. Rememeber way back then? Going for a sweep in Oakland on a Wednesday afternoon? I remember it. The M’s took a 2-0 loss. Blew a game the team really needed to win in order to keep close with Texas as the All-Star Break loomed.
And then? Well, it all came apart.
“I feel surprised because we’ve got pretty good talent here,” Felix Hernandez said after taking his first career loss in six starts here. “We’ve got good pitching. We’ve got a pretty good staff. The offense is pretty good too. It happens. It’s one of those times in a season when it happens. We’ve got to keep fighting. We’ve got to try to win games. We cannot do anything else.”
Hernandez didn’t have the greatest luck tonight. Not the worst, either, with four double-plays behind him. But that multi-hopper by Adrian Gonzalez that found its way up the middle in the seventh was the killer.
And really, we’re at the point now where the details behind the wins and losses no longer matter. It’s all about the losses now. About finding a way to end this and save the season.
The Mariners, unbelievably, are on-pace for 92 losses — even with all of their prior strong play factored in.
If you look at how this team has played going on six weeks, they are 12-28 since opening a road trip to Chicago on June 6. That’s .300 baseball.
Keep that up over the final 63 games and the M’s will win 19 of them.
In other words, they’d finish with 100 losses.
That’s not what this team was about two-plus weeks ago. That’s not the kind of group this was.
Hernandez insists it’s not the kind of group it still is. He lived through the 101-loss season in 2008 when a terrible Mariners clubhouse and team had a 12-game losing streak in September.
No comparison, Hernandez says.
“We stay together now,” he said. “Here it’s very different. We always fight. We’re a good team this year. We’re a pretty good team.”
Hernandez isn’t lying. This team really is more together than others I’ve seen in Seattle.
But it won’t matter much soon. This team will soon be forever defined by this streak.
Only they can stop it. Only they can win a game, somehow, some way.
The details don’t matter.
We’re well past those now. We’re at the point where a team either saves itself from infamy, or lets everything worked for to this point slip quietly into forgotten history. Nobody on this team wants to be remembered that way.



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