Fridays home opener for Seattle was, in many ways, a tribute to longtime broadcaster Dave Niehaus.
A portion of First Avenue South was dedicated to him. His wife, Marilyn, threw out the first pitch. His grandkids announced “Play ball!
The Mariners players contributed their own tribute. They played the kind of rotten baseball that was symptomatic of the franchises early years in a 12-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians.
It was the kind of game Niehaus had a genius for making palatable, his words making the teams in the 1980s and early 1990s seems so much better than they were.
Friday night, with Niehaus gone, the game the Mariners played simply wasnt palatable.
“I should have been able to shut it down, and I couldnt, starting pitcher Jason Vargas said. “Its tough to take.
The Indians bludgeoned the veteran Vargas and rookie Tom Wilhelmsen for 10 runs in the fourth inning, and by the sixth about half of the full house of 45,727 was gone. Presumably many of them will return at some point, but for the Mariners to ensure that, theyre going to have to do better than their current five-game losing streak.
“Its a day I learned you have to keep the ball down, Wilhelmsen said. “And you have to locate your fastball.
The ball was easy to locate if you were a Seattle outfielder. Ichiro Suzuki, Ryan Langerhans and Milton Bradley were running all over the place tracking down balls hit by the Indians save for homers by former Mariner Asdrubal Cabrera, a solo shot in the first, and a monster homer by Travis Hafner that hit halfway up the glass of the Hit It Here Café above the right field stands.
Seattle hitters reached base just eight times in the six innings that Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco threw, getting just a single run on a fifth-inning RBI single by Ichiro before getting two runs in the ninth that only prolonged the agony.
Ichiro had two hits, both singles, and drove in two runs. Langerhans, batting ninth, walked four times and first baseman Justin Smoak had a walk and a single. That was most of the offense, and it wasnt much.
“Offensively weve got to keep pushing, manager Eric Wedge said. “Weve talked all along about wanting to create opportunities. We didnt get it done today, but we have done a pretty good job prior to today.
Either way, it certainly wasnt enough to keep pace with the Indians, who hammered Vargas for seven runs, one on the solo homer by Cabrera in the first inning and six more in the fourth before Wilhelmsen replaced him.
Vargas faced seven men in the fourth. The first five all got hits, the sixth, Matt LaPorta, added a sacrifice fly, and Jack Hannahan singled to knock Vargas out of the game.
Wilhelmsen, a rookie making his second big league appearance, came in with just Hannahan on base and allowed four hits.
Seattles five-game losing streak leaves the Mariners at 2-5 seven games into the season, exactly the same record that the team had last year en route to 101 losses.