SEATTLE – An example of how money doesn’t always buy happiness could be found on the glum faces of the team getting blown out by the Mariners in the fourth inning.
The Kansas City Royals are paying starting pitcher Gil Meche more than twice as much money as the Mariners laid out for his mound opponent and the nine hitters who used him for Saturday night batting practice.
Meche was toweling off after only four innings of what became an 8-4 win by a Mariners squad fielding as makeshift a lineup as any seen since spring training.
News earlier in the day that slugging first baseman Russell Branyan had a herniated disk in his back prompted the Mariners to place him on the 15-day disabled list and then go with a lineup of backups, castoffs and regulars shifted out of their normal positions against Kansas City. The only guy in the starting nine who was even a regular on last year’s team was second baseman Jose Lopez.
And yet, that lineup scored enough runs off Meche in the first inning alone to take care of the night’s challenge. Run-scoring doubles by Mike Sweeney, Jack Hannahan and Jack Wilson made it a 4-0 game after a 39-pitch first inning by Meche.
Hannahan and Rob Johnson then put the game away in the fourth inning with home runs off a beleaguered Meche, a former Mariner who is earning $11 million with the Royals in the third season of a five-year, $55 million deal.
Contrast that with Mariners starter Ian Snell and the nine hitters who pounded Meche (6-10) like a pile of cookie dough, a group that has the Mariners on the hook for just over $5 million combined, when the costs defrayed by other teams are taken into account.
And yet, the Mariners had a comfortable 8-2 lead by the ninth inning before solo homers by Mark Teahen and Mitch Maier, off Randy Messenger, made the final score appear a tad closer than the game truly was.
Lopez is costing the Mariners more than any of the other players mentioned, checking-in at a “hefty” $1.6 million. He made his presence felt in the eighth inning, driving a solo homer to left off reliever Roman Colon to complete the onslaught.
A crowd of 26,457 fans at Safeco Field once again needed a scorecard with lots of photographs on it to figure out exactly who was playing where.
Josh Wilson followed a leadoff hit in the first inning by Franklin Gutierrez with a single. Sweeney came up after that and put the Mariners ahead to stay by ripping a two-bagger to left-center against his former club.
Mariners 8, Royals 4
LOB—Kansas City 6, Seattle 2. 2B—J.Buck (8), M.Sweeney (14), Hannahan (12), Ja.Wilson (5). HR—J.Buck (6), off Snell; Teahen (11), off Messenger; Maier (3), off Messenger; Hannahan (4), off Meche; Ro.Johnson (2), off Meche; Jo.Lopez (20), off R.Colon. RBIs—Teahen (44), Maier (22), J.Buck 2 (31), Jo.Lopez (79), M.Sweeney 2 (26), Hannahan 2 (16), Ja.Wilson (5), Ro.Johnson 2 (25). RLISP—Kansas City 4 (DeJesus 3, Callaspo); Seattle 1 (Langerhans). GIDP—Jacobs. DP—Seattle 2 (Hannahan), (Jo.Lopez, Hannahan, Ja.Wilson).
|Meche L, 6-10||4||8||7||7||0||1||5.09|
|Snell W, 3-1||5||3||2||2||2||2||5.10|
T—2:31. A—26,457 (47,878).