It happened at Wrigley Field, Chicago. The date August 25th, 1922. The Philadelphia Phillies were in town and the Cubs were not hospitable, at least early in the game. The Cubs had a 10 run second inning and a 14 run fourth inning, and led 25-6 heading into the fifth. Phillies pitcher Jimmy Ring gave up 16 of those runs, only six of which were earned. It was that kind of game.
Phillip Weinert was the only other pitcher the Phillies used. He gave up the other 10 runs, 8 of which were earned.
But the game is never over, even with a 19 run lead. The Phillies came back. Down 26-9 after seven innings, they scored eight in the eighth to make it 26-17.
Then came the ninth. The Phillies scored six to make it 26-23 and had the bases loaded, the tying run at second, two out, but LeBourveau struck out to end the game, giving what was left of 7,000 Cubs fans a big sigh of reflief. Blowing a 25-6 lead would be hard to swallow, but it came close to happening.
The game took three hours and one minute to play. They played faster in 1922. Today that type of game would take well over four hours, and if it were between the Yankees and Red Sox, we are talking six hours.
Here is a link to the box score if you want more numbers http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1922/B08250CHN1922.htm
I bring up this game because the Seattle Mariners have lost four straight at home and looked awful in the process. In the three game sweep by the Angels, the M’s had three extra base hits, all by Dustin Ackley. There is only so much one can say, and none of it good. Except that Aaron Harang was designated for assignment, a long overdue, and much desired move.
At least the Mariners did not come close to blowing a 19 run lead.
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The Most important thing to know about baseball is that you never know. Case in point are the last nine games of the Seattle Mariners.
How do you explain the last three series of the Mariners? They play the lowly Cubbies from Chicago, a team as bad as the Mariners, and play them at the friendly confines of Safeco Field, Seattle’s home sweet home. Yet they lose two of three to the Cubbies. Then Seattle travels to Texas, a team with two recent World Series appearances, a team that may get there again. Seattle wins two of three. Then Seattle heads to Cincinnati, a team vying for a playoff slot, a team far above the .500 mark and Seattle wins two of three.
The Rangers and Reds have teams full of all-stars, are among the elite winning teams, and the Cubs are. . . well they are the Cubs. How can any of this be explained?
It is easy. You never know. Never, ever. And that is the beauty of the game. The unexpected happens every day, every week, all spring, summer and fall. In football there can be upsets, even though the NFL claims parody, which is true to a point, but they love to talk about upsets. In baseball there are no upsets. The game is subject to the vagaries of a ball which can take funny bounces off outfield walls, off gloves, off umpires, off players and can stop forty feet from the plate just inside or outside the chalk. A baseball simply takes may funny hops and bounces, and how and where the ball bounces can determine the outcome of a game.
Players and teams run hot and cold and it all comes out of the same faucet, so you never know what you are going to get until you turn it on. So what you need to know is that you never know, will never know, even when you think you know, because baseball karma will bite those who think they know to prove to them that they don’t know. You know what I mean?
Two sailors the Mariners can not afford to sail AL West waters without are both hurting with a baseball version of scurvy. Michael Saunders has a sprained right shoulder caused from running into the bulkhead, and another Michael (is it the curse of Michael Myers), this one Morse, has a broken pinkie. Saunders is on the DL, Morse is not.
Morse started the season with a bang, as in six homers. It is hoped by all seafarers that the pinkie will not affect his swing, his mentality, or anything that affects karma surrounding his finger and his well being. His bat and pinkie are sorely needed at the helm of the Goodship Mariner in steering in runs the Mariners need to stay afloat.
One pitcher who walked the plank and was picked up a family of Cubs residing in Chicago is Kameron Loe. He epitomizes the mirage, the chimera, the total lack of mistrust in Spring Training. In the spring he pitched 12 innings, allowing no home runs; that is zero, none, you understand. Once the Mariner ship bell clanged and the ship set sail for ports afar, he threw six innings, giving up six home runs. Was he unlucky? Or throwing too a good of a pitch? Do we call him Mr. Gopher, or was he the victim of the new Mariner bandbox, with those short home run porches? Only the Cubs and time will tell.
Meanwhile the Mariners picked up Aaron Harang who will start Tuesday. They found him floating in a rocky raft dodging waves in the high seas. Blake Beavan will be the long man in the bullpen. The Mariners needed a long man in the pen as Long John Silver’s wooden leg prevented him from following through correctly. (I could have substituted Monty Stratton for Long John Silver, but that may be too esoteric).
The good news is that Brandon Maurer who pitched like an A-Ball pitcher in his first two starts looked much better against Texas. He got his first win, 4-3 over Texas, as Mariners split four game series with Rangers.
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.
I don’t like cold showers. People who do are weird to my thinking. Things tend to shrivel up and hide in cold showers, in fact cold in general, which is why I prefer hot, as in summer, sun, and showers.
Watching your favorite team over the season is frustrating because teams run hot and cold. The Mariners won nine straight games-that is hot, everything going great; pitching, hitting, fielding. late inning heroics, comeback wins. Then they go to Chicago. It is the windy city and nothing hot going on there for the M’s.
Seattle lost one run games Friday and Saturday and as I write (Sunday) they are losing 4-3 and in a long rain delay. The Cubs have already had their game called in the 9th inning and with more thunderstorms coming, chances are the Mariner-White Sox game will also be called, giving the M’s a three game losing streak, all losses heartbreaking. That is a cold shower.
It does cause one to think when the Mariners are on the road, the city they are playing turns down the hot water heater, making it tepid, not hot. This would go a long way to explain road woes. The Mariners play in Minnesota next and the traveling secretary needs to check out the showers with a thermometer.
It can not be explained why teams run hot and cold. They just do. It is like the weather, unpredictable. I remember two years ago the weather report for one summer game in Seattle was warm and sunny, the type of day for a tee-shirt and shorts. Wrong. Thunder and lightning filled the Seattle skies, clouds dark and menacing. The roof was closed, no tan in the sun; drenched heading to my car after the game. That was a cold shower.
So if the Mariners game gets called as I expect it will, they are running cold. All that can be done is wait for the water to run hot once again, then things will right in the world, flowers will bloom, and we will be fresh and clean with no shriveling.
It is tempting to say Ichiro needs to hit for the Mariners to win, but he is not the key to winning. Ichiro is rumored to be batting first or second tonight, Friday, June 1, against Chicago, with Seager moving to the three hole. It will be a permanent change. It needs to be.
Considering Ichiro is a singles hitter, not a power hitter needed for the third slot, it is best to move him. The experiment was ill-advised. to begin with. A week ago he was batting .157 with runners in scoring position and leads the team in hitting into double plays.
And Kyle Seager is hot. Back to back games with two doubles in each game. Now that is a three hitter.
But the man Mariner fans want to see get hot, or should, is Dustin Ackley. In games he started and the Mariners won he is batting .337, but in losses he is hitting .182. So watch Ackley and if he is hitting, chances are good the M’s win.
The Mariners also hit .259 on the road, but only .193 in Safeco. More on that in the future.
The key to beating Chicago besides Ackley is stopping Paul Konerko. A true Mariner killer. In the last 25 games against the Mariners he is batting .404 with 9 doubles, 10 home runs, and 17 rbis. And he has 31 career homers against the Mariners.
Another move is the addition, to no one’s surprise, is Steve Pryor, who struck out 15 in 12 innings in Tacoma without a run scoring. He hits 100 on the radar gun. He needs to cut down on walks, something that plagues many young fireballing pitchers.
He will be the closer in the future, but will he be eased into that role, or will they throw him in. I hope for the latter. Let’ s see what he has. He replaces Steve Delabar, another strikeout pitcher whose main problem is giving up home runs. It does not help to throw hard if you are giving fast ball hitters good pitches to hit.
The Mariners had to go extra innings to beat Chicago, but Miquel Olivo hit a two run double in the tenth, then later scored on a Franklin Gutierrez suicide squeeze, to give the Mariners a 7-4 win, stopping a nine game losing streak in Chicago. The last win came in 2009.
Olivo homered in the 8th giving Seattle a 4-2 lead, but Carlos Quentin hit a two run homer off Jamey Wright in the bottom off the inning to tie it up. The good ship Mariner now sails to Detroit.
Meanwhile I am scaring myself.
Last week I saw that Greg Halman came off the DL in Tacoma. With Michael Saunders hitting in the .160’s I thought Greg might get a week or so to get his swing back, but he got a call-up after a few days. Then I wondered if the Mariner brain trust would call up Mike Carp, batting .348 with 19 homers and 58 RBI’s. He plays first, but I thought he could DH and Jack Cust who has not done much would get released.
Mr. Carp did get the call, but Mike Wilson, another recent call-up but little used, was sent down. Cust will be riding the bench for the most part. Carp will get the opportunity to be the full-time DH. If he hits-and continues to hit-Cust will be sitting a lot.
So it appears the Mariner brass is anticipating my every move.
Now if it were up to me, my next move would be to bring up second baseman Dustin Ackley. Eric Wedge has been using Jack Wilson, Luis Rodriquez, and Adam Kennedy and I am thinking if that does happen, then Luis Rodriquez will be odd man out.
I am not saying this will happen soon, but it will and should happen.
And what to do about Chone Figgins? He is hitting as often as a sunny day during a Seattle December. Not much help in Tacoma, unless they want to bring up Alex Liddi. I don’t think the Mariners are willing to do that. Not yet anyway.
All in all the new look Mariners are fun to watch, being in nearly every game with strong pitching and clutch hitting.
Tame those Tigers