Wednesday afternoon wasn’t the sort of occasion when you complain about being at a baseball game, and certainly, the 20,000-plus who were at Safeco Field should have been enjoying themselves. The high was 82 degrees in Seattle, and it doesn’t get much better than that on a mid-May day, especially if you’re playing hooky or skipping work.
But if those who lament the length of baseball games want to put this one on an operating table and cut it open, surely they would find something telling.
Long story short: How does a game take three hours, 21 minutes when the final score is 2-0, and there are five hits combined?
Well, if it’s possible to have a laborious 2-0 game, this was it. Brandon Maurer — who in the big picture is trying to position himself as a commodity worthy of a starting spot even after the return of James Paxton and/or Taijuan Walker — suddenly couldn’t locate the strike zone in a fateful fourth inning, and after looking impressive for the first three, he was gone. I didn’t tote up the fourth-inning pitch numbers, but you can imagine they weren’t pretty. When Maurer walked Yunel Escobar on a nine-pitch at-bat, it was his third straight base on balls, so he must have been around the 30-pitch mark for the inning.
That bumped his total to 84 in 3 2/3 innings, and he was done.
On the other side, there was Jake Odorizzi, the Rays’ promising righthander, who threw no-hit ball until James Jones broke it up with two outs in the sixth for the M’s. Except there was hardly any real drama building, because Odorizzi, after he retired Stefen Romero following Jones, was lifted. He threw 95 pitches and, having failed to go more than five innings in any start since his opener early in April, was in no position to try to last another three innings if he had retired Jones.
M’s pitchers threw 164 pitches. The Rays threw 140. And this was with what M’s catcher John Buck called a “consistent,” generous high-strike zone of plate ump Kerwin Danley.
Ah well, a long day of baseball is good for concessions, if not for Wednesday’s hitters.