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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Angels Series Is a Split; First Road Trip Is a Winning One 

With today's 5-3 triumph over the Angels, the Mariners finished their eight-game road trip at 5-3 and improved to 7-7 overall.

Eddie Guardado's save was significantly less dicey than usual. Even though Garrett Anderson came to the plate as the tying run, it was with two outs, and Guardado got Anderson to ground out to Ibanez at first to end the game. The key to the inning was that Guardado retired the first two hitters, Darin Erstad and Orlando Cabrera, so that when Super Vladimir Guerrero came to bat the tying run was still on deck. In spite of this afternoon's relatively quiet ninth inning for the Angels, with Guardado toeing the slab I always fear the worst and hope for the best.

The broadcast Quote of the Game came from Dave Niehaus in the Mariners half of the eighth inning, when the M's loaded the bases with one out and Beltre and Sexson due up.

"The table is set with the best silverware and the best crystal!"

Beltre and Sexson took their seats at the table, but each struck out swinging. Then they flipped over their dinner plates angrily, muttered "F#*% this, I'm leaving!", and stormed off without even trying driving in any of the tasty runs that Miguel Olivo, Ichiro, and Jeremy Reed spent all inning preparing.

The lump sum of the Mariners offense came in the first two innings, aided by homers from Sexson and Ibanez. The ability of the Mariner offense to disappear for several innings does not cease to amaze me. Unlikely as it is, if Miguel Olivo could bring ANYTHING to the table offensively it would help the cause in a huge way. As it stands now, Olivo and Wilson Valdez at the bottom of the order have hit like National League pitchers, which in the American League is not going to get the job done. Valdez reached on a perfectly executed bunt down the first base line in Monday's game, and I'd like to see him try that at least once every three games or so. It could mean the difference between Valdez being an abysmal hitter and simply being a below-average one.

While the results of this road trip are nothing to get too excited about (three of the wins were against the Royals, might I remind you), it's worth remembering that in '04 the M's didn't post a winning road trip until September. Yep, September. They're not exactly taking the American League by storm like they did in the first halves of the 2000 through 2003 seasons, but at least the 2005 Mariners are competitive.

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