After a few days away in Huntsville for my best friend’s wedding, then a few more in Ottawa for some public drunkenness, I returned to Toronto last night and made it my first order of business to sit on the couch and watch the Jays game.
The good thing was that they won. The bad thing was that they were playing Seattle.
For all of the busts in baseball this year, the Mariners have to be the biggest. Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez at the top of the rotation gave them perhaps the best 1-2 punch in all of baseball. Chone Figgins and Ichiro at the top of the order meant they were loaded with OBP, speed, and excellent defense. The volatile Milton Bradley would feel a calming influence from Ken Griffey Jr and provide some pop.
Wrong – on all accounts.
After last night’s loss, Seattle dropped to 57-93 on the season. They rank 29th in baseball, only ahead of the hapless, hopeless, and helpless Pirates. They dropped behind Baltimore. Ouch.
It’s not hard to see why. Seattle can’t hit. Aside from Ichiro, the Mariners were hacking aimlessly at anything Rzep was throwing. They swung feebly at so many pitches off the plate that it started getting funny.
When Sportsnet posted the starting lineups on the screen at the beginning of the game, four Mariners were batting under the Mendoza line. Six were hitting under .240. After an 0-4 game, Josh Wilson dropped below .240, meaning seven of the nine starters were under that clip.
A quick trip to Baseball Reference told me that 23 different players have had at least one plate appearance for Seattle this season. The top average belongs to former Toronto “Catcher of the Future” Guillermo Quiroz at .333 – in 3 at-bats. Aside from Ichiro’s .315 average, nobody else is above .300. Nine are below .200, and 19 are below .250.
It’s not just batting average. Seattle’s starting 9 from last night have hit a combined 36 HR. Jose Bautista has 49. Seattle’s top HR hitter is Russell Branyan with 15. He would sit T-8th on the Jays. Their top RBI man is Franklin Gutierrez with 58. He would sit 7th on Toronto.
The Mariners have only scored 475 runs, an average of 3.17 per game. Toronto has scored 694, or 4.63 per game. A huge credit goes to their pitching staff – without them Seattle would likely be well over 100 losses already.
They are so woeful, that for the first time this season I was not nervous when Kevin Gregg took the hill in the ninth. Even when Snider botched an easy pop-up, even after Seatlle scored a run and had the go-ahead run at the plate, I didn’t feel nervous. With Mr. Gregg on the mound, that is saying a lot about the calibre of the opposition.
But the biggest benefit about facing a team that can’t hit (besides winning a majority of the time) is game length. Last night’s ballgame finished in 2:12, the fifth fastest game Toronto has played this year.
Which I guess is also an advantage to being a Mariners fan. They won’t win, but they’ll get you home early.