A GRIP ON SPORTS • Frustrated? No, that’s not right. Disappointed? Not that either. Angry? Now that’s the right word. Read on.
• It’s not that the Seattle Mariners lost yesterday, it’s how they lost. Major league baseball teams lose games, lots of games, through the course of a season. As frustrating as the first two games were in Texas, they were understandable. Yesterday’s loss, now that ticked me off. And showed why the M’s probably won’t win the A.L. West this season. Are the Rangers that much better? Not really. But the Mariners are lacking in one key area and yesterday that manifested itself in a want-to-rip-someone’s-arms-off inning. The area the M’s are lacking? Organizational depth. (Thank you so much Jack Z.) Look, the baseball season is long. People get injured. There has to be decent folks to step in. Not great players. Just solid, reliable, average guys who can hold the fort for a couple weeks. The M’s don’t have them. Especially not in the outfield. Go back to Saturday’s game. Shawn O’Malley is playing centerfield. Now O’Malley is an OK utility infielder. And, in the M’s organization, is considered a decent backup outfielder as well. His decision on a first-inning line drive – to dive for a ball – and then his lack of execution – the ball glanced off his glove and rolled well behind him – led to a big inning for the Rangers. But that play, and O’Malley’s overall performance while filling a roster spot, paled in comparison to what happened yesterday. The M’s needed a well-pitched game. They got it from Hisashi Iwakuma, not only their first good start in the last turn through the rotation, but quite possibly Iwakuma’s best of the season. So how did they end up losing 3-2? Mainly because their backup players, the guys playing due to injuries to Ketel Marte and Leonys Martin, couldn't get it done. Luis Sardinas, filling in for Marte at shortstop, couldn’t handle a tough-but-semi-routine play with no outs and a runner on first. Error No. 1. After the Rangers had scored a run, Bobby Wilson lifted a short fly ball to left. It was too shallow for Elvis Andrus to score the tying run from third, but he did anyway. Why? Because Stefan Romero failed miserably – and he failed mentally. Instead of getting behind the fly ball, catching it and firing it to third baseman Kyle Seager, the cutoff man, thus keeping Andrus on third and Jared Hoying on first, he did something else. He caught the ball, looked at Andrus and then lobbed it back toward the infield. Andrus, who had faked as if he was going to go but had no intention of trying, changed his mind when Romero’s brain slipped into neutral. Did Romero panic or did he just not have the training in the minor leagues to know what his job was? Whatever, his lob got past Seager and past catcher Chris Iannetta. Error No. 2 (though the official scorekeeper screwed up and didn’t give Romero a physical one). Tie game, and eventual winning run on second in the form of Jared Hoying. But Romero’s ill-fated fifth wasn’t done. Jurickson Profar slapped a single to left and Romero had a shot at Hoying with a good throw. But he never even got one off, attacking the ball incorrectly and booting it (he let it get too deep and it glanced off his glove and past him). Error No. 3. Three physical and/or mental errors in one inning and the M’s were swept in their first showdown series of the season. Does anyone else remember 2014 when one game is all that kept the Mariners from the postseason? It’s these types of games that come back to haunt teams. But, more importantly, it’s these types of games that show how vulnerable Seattle is right now. Jerry Dipoto did a masterful job of filling holes in the major league roster over the offseason. But building depth in the minor leagues is going to take a while. Which is too bad. This team needed a solid outfielder to plug in while Martin is out and the best the M’s organization could offer was Romero. Really? He has a chance to be a decent major league hitter – and was stroking the ball for Tacoma – but sure has a lot to learn about playing the outfield. Heck, the M’s tried him at first base this spring with the expressed purpose of giving him a chance to make the big club. Maybe it was also because Dipoto and Scott Servais knew he was that poor an outfielder. But there doesn’t seem to be any other option. Which is not only sad, but makes me angry.
• WSU: Almost forgot to pass this link on. NFL.com rated the most accurate college quarterbacks. Guess who is No. 1. (This is the WSU section after all.) ... Klay Thompson and the Golden State Warriors are two wins away from back-to-back NBA titles – and making me look bad. The Warriors routed Cleveland 110-77 and have a 2-0 lead in the series.
• Gonzaga: The Bulldogs’ baseball season came to end with a 6-3 defeat at the hands of Arizona State yesterday.
• Preps: Lewis and Clark won another state tennis title recently. Steve Christilaw has all the particulars in this story.
• Mariners: The 3-2 defeat left the M’s three-games back of Texas as they return home to face the Cleveland Indians starting tonight. They should get Marte and Martin back soon (Marte is expected to back in the lineup tonight actually), but Felix Hernandez might be another story. ... Robinson Cano, who was visibly angry at Romero yesterday, has been on a tear for about a year.
• I hope I can calm down about the M’s by this afternoon. Don’t want to say anything untoward on the radio. Oh, I didn’t mention I am filling in on 700 ESPN today and tomorrow? Yep, from 3 to 6 p.m. both days. You can listen here if you like. Until then ...