The Mariners got shellacked at home again, this time 11-4 at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays, whose fans outnumbered the Mariners' at the Safe. (We knew about Red Sox Nation, but Blue Jay Nation?) But the M's were actually up 4-3 after 5-2/3 innings, until a two-out, no-on, four-run rally by the Jays knocked Felix Hernandez -- Felix! -- out of the game, and dashed the team's chances to put a stop to a season-crushing four-game home losing streak to mediocre opposition.
Actually, the Jays aren't all that bad; they just have the misfortune of being the fourth best team in baseball's best division, the AL East. A look at tonight's lineup card, however, resembled that of a preseason game where a big club takes on its AAA affiliate. The Jays' lineup featured seven players with 40 RBIs or more; the Mariners', who sat top RBI men Russell Branyan and Jose Lopez, featured one: Franklin Gutierrez. Ken Griffey Jr. (.211 average entering the game) hit third, Chris Shelton (.182) batted cleanup, and Jack Hannahan (.199) hit fourth. If there was any question heading into the game where the M's focus -- play the vets in an attempt to stay in contention or develop youngsters? -- would be from here on out, this lineup answered it.There were three bright spots:(1) Ichiro and (2) Franklin Gutierrez, who each went 3-for-5. The Gute's productivity was especially encouraging because it came while hitting second. And if the Gute becomes as comfortable hitting second as he did hitting fifth, Russell Branyan can bat cleanup, where he belongs, and the M's can bat Griffey, Sweeney, or whoever their DH is fifth or lower, where they belong.
And while left-fielder Michael Saunders' 1-for-4 with two whiffs won't jump off the stat sheet, he did some little things, in the field and on the basepaths, that betray the makings of the much-ballyhooed "five-tool" player. He's got tremendous wheels for a 6'4" white guy, and a hose to boot. While the likes of Woodward and Shelton haven't done much to liven up our libidos, this kid gave us a woody, at least tonight. Given the course the team seems to have charted for the rest of the year, Saunders should be handed the everyday left-field job for the duration, for better or for worse.
Ooh, one more thing: Jack Hannahan is a fucking awful baseball player. Two of the RBI base hits in the Jays' big sixth were grounders to third that Adrian Beltre would have made after ingesting a pint of bourbon and a valium. Hannahan went 0-for-4 to boot. While his acquisition was a low-risk deal, it's nonetheless been a rare head-scratcher on Trader Jack's otherwise sterling resume.