The three game series may have been close, but there is no denying that Chicago takes the wind out of the Mariner sails. And this is the windy city. In this House of Horrors the wayward Mariners have lost 21 of their last 25 games. Going to Chicago is not a leg of a road trip, it is punishment by the baseball gods. They have not won a series in this town since 2007.
It could have been worse. The Mariners eked out a win Friday night in a series that was decided by one run in each game. The Mariner downfall the last two games was 0-14 with runners in scoring position. They easily could have lost all three games.
But consider Sunday’s game. Smoak hits one off the left field fence and trying for the double is thrown out, not by a mile, but by two miles. The fielder was standing waiting for him, munching on hot dog, while reading USA Today. Smoak slid, the infielder put down the paper, popped the last of the hot dog in his mouth, and tagged Smoak out.
Or consider Michael Morse. He hit a two-run homer in the first, his 5th of the season. But the rest of his at bats, looked like a player who had never batted before. In the 10th with Saunders on second and two out, he watched a pitch go down the middle of the plate, yet swung at pitches in the dirt and low and outside, as in dirt down low, and far outside. That reflected his other at bats, swinging at balls, and letting strikes go by like he is watching a parade. He was flustered, boggled, and jimjammed.
You can’t blame the players. You have to blame the city. For the Mariners, sailing into Chicago it is like those melodic sirens that lured ships to their doom, crashing into rocks. I am not sure Jason and the Argonauts could survive Chicago. Certainly not Ulysses.
The Mariners were 3-4 on the road trip, certainly not terrible, but the sting of the torture chamber known as U.S. Cellular can only be soothed by sweeping the Astros in the Mariners home opening series. That is the balm that will soothe the Mariners soul.