The Mariners opened the week with a rousing, Felix Hernandez victory over Yu Darvish and ended it in last place, without a closer, and having yielded the club’s first pinch-hit grand slam since May 6, 1988. The University of Washington rowing program fared a whole lot better, but the Sounders only marginally better. That Was The Week That Was:
MAY 21-27, 2012
- GOOD WEEK — The University of Washington rowing program made splashes nationally and internationally. UW women’s coach Bob Ernst established a goal of getting his varsity eight into the Grand Final at the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2008. He accomplished that, the Huskies finishing sixth Sunday to the University of Virginia. At the World Rowing Championships in Switzerland, ex-UW coxswain Mary Whipple led the USA’s eight to a 3/100th of a second win over Canada, preserving a six-year unbeaten streak for the U.S. women, who qualified for the London Olympics with the triumph. Also at the World Championships, three Huskies (Colin McCabe, Rob Gibson, Will Crothers), representing Canada, were part of an eight-oared shell that set a world 2,000-meter record, clocking 5:19.35, a time that broke the previous record set by the USA men’s eight at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
- BAD WEEK — Brandon League (0-4, 4.43) blew his fourth save of the season Friday against the Angels, after which manager Erik Wedge insisted, “Brandon League is our closer.” After sleeping on it, Wedge took the closer’s job away from League, one of just three closers in franchise history (also Bobby Ayala, 1998, and Kazuhiro Sasaki, 2003) to suffer four blown saves before June 1. League has had worse weeks than the one just ended. Between May 8-13, 2011, League became the first reliever in franchise history to get tagged with a loss in four consecutive appearances. He sustained three of those defeats (May 10, 12 and 13) in walk-off fashion.
- PLAY OF THE WEEK — Good: Alex Liddi’s grand slam Wednesday vs. Texas: The Italian cleared the bases after Michael Saunders walked, Mike Carp flared a single over shortstop Elvis Andrus, and Dustin Ackley was intentionally walked after an error on a pickoff attempt at second base pushed both runners into scoring position; Bad: Brandon League’s fourth blown save of the season Friday vs. the Los Angeles Angels.
- EX-SEATTLE JOCKS OF THE WEEK — Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2007-08 when he played for the SuperSonics, made the All-NBA First Team for the third time in his career . . . Alex Rodriguez (Mariners, 1994-00) hit two home runs for the Yankees Wednesday, the 635th and 636th of his career (A-Rod has hit 447 home runs since leaving Seattle) . . . Former Huskies coxwain Mary Whipple, preparing to participate in her third Olympic Games in London, led the U.S. women’s eight in the world championships in Switzerland to a course-record time of 5:54 to easily beat Great Britain.
- WHERE ARE THEY NOW? — Danielle Lawrie, NCAA Player of the Year in 2009-10 when she pitched for the Washington Huskies, is about to begin her third season as a starting pitcher with the USSSA Pride, a member of the National Fastpitch League based in Kissimmee, FL. Lawrie, a member of a pitching staff that includes Cat Osterman, won nine games in 2010 (third most in the league) with a 1.85 ERA (third best).
- SUNDAY, May 27 — Mariners plunge season-worst 10 games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West after getting swept in a four-game series by the Angels in Seattle for the first time since 1985, when the world was young. Mariners go 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position in their 4-2 loss and end the series an abysmal 4-for-32 (.125) . . . UW women finish sixth at the NCAA Rowing Championships in West Windsor, NJ., in their first appearance in a Grand Final since 2008 . . . This Figures: The Baltimore Orioles sign former Mariner OF Adam Jones to a six-year, $85.5 million contract extension. In case you forgot: Mariners traded Jones Feb. 8, 2008 to Baltimore for LHP Erik Bedard, who won 15 games in three years. Jones developed into an All-Star, Bedard went away and Jones is hitting .309 with 14 home runs and 31 RBIs. If Jones’ 2012 stats could be transferred to Seattle, he would be leading the Mariners in batting average, runs, home runs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS, which is .948 to Kyle Seager’s team-high .761.
- SATURDAY, May 26 — Alberto Callaspo belts the first pinch-hit grand slam against Seattle (off Felix Hernandez) since Detroit’s Pat Sheridan did the same to Mike Jackson May 6, 1988, leading the Angels to a 5-3 win over the Mariners, who sink to a season-worst 9 games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West. Hernandez allows two long balls, a season high, and the Mariners go 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position. On top of that, manager Eric Wedge announces that Brandon League has lost his job as closer . . . David Estrada collects his fifth goal and the Sounders (7-3-3) come away from Carson, CA., with a 1-1 draw with Chivas USA. The Sounders extend their road unbeaten streak to 10 consecutive matches.
- FRIDAY, May 25 — Closer Brandon League blows his fourth save and second in eight days when he coughs up three runs in the ninth inning, leading Seattle to a 6-4 loss to the Angels. League throws past third base in the ninth inning, allowing one run to score, then gives up the game-winning hit to pinch-hitter Howie Kendrick. “I thought if I made a good throw then I had a chance to get him at third. But it went into left field. Then, it was like all hell broke loose,” says League . . . Odd: second baseman Dustin Ackley is not in the lineup on “Dustin Ackley Bobblehead Night.” Says manager Eric Wedge: “I didn’t get the memo on that.”
- THURSDAY, May 24— Mariners whiff 14 times, go 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and lose to Dan Haren and the Angels 3-0, a defeat that sinks Seattle into last place. Every Mariner except Dustin Ackley strikes out at least once (14 total) and Alex Liddi fans four times . . . The Seahawks complete a mini camp with quarterback Matt Flynn “winning the day” from rivals Tarvaris Jackson and rookie Russell Wilson. “You’ve got to be yourself out there and you can’t look at what the other guy is doing because you can’t control it,” says Flynn, the expected No. 1.
- WEDNESDAY, May 23 — The remarkable Kevin Millwood wins his third in a row and Alex Liddi whacks a grand slam, leading the Mariners to a 5-3 win over the Rangers and a 2-1 series win. Millwood runs his streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 17.0 and improves to 3-0, 0.41 in his past three starts. Liddi’s slam is the first of his career . . . The Sounders lose their second consecutive Clink contest, falling 2-0 to the Columbus Crew, which came in having scored just two road goals all season. Nursing a one-goal lead in the second half, Columbus (4-4-3) puts the game away in the 76th minute with a brilliant insurance goal from Emilio Renteria . . . A $70,000 traffic study, paid for by arena guru Chris Hansen, reveals in numbers and graphs what arena supporters have argued all along: a new arena wouldn’t worsen traffic in the SoDo district; critics hoot.
- TUESDAY, May 22 — The Rangers require only four hits to end Seattle’s four-game winning streak, beating the Mariners and Hector Noesi 3-1 on a two-run triple by Elvis Andrus and a two-run double by Josh Hamilton. Noesi produces his fourth quality start, but the Mariners do little with seven hits, going 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position . . . The Storm open the season 0-2 for the first time since 2003 by losing to the Los Angeles Sparks 74-61, a defeat greased by Seattle’s 19 turnovers. “There’s no way professionals should be turning the ball over this much,” laments forward Camille Little, who led the Storm’s bobble parade with six. . . Lone Star Dietz, who had a 17-2-1 record as Washington State’s football coach starting in 1915, is elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. Dietz and the Cougars defeated Brown in the 1915 Rose Bowl.
- MONDAY, May 21 — Felix Hernandez prevails in a celebrated pitching matchup with Yu Darvish, battered by the Mariners for five runs on four hits, including an RBI triple and run-scoring single by Ichiro, who finally produces with runners in scoring position. In beating Texas 6-1, Hernandez works 8.0 innings (again), allowing one earned run with seven strikeouts. “I wanted to attack and throw strikes,” says Hernandez. “If you get behind against this lineup, it’s trouble.” . . . The Seahawks trade an undisclosed 2013 draft choice to Tampa Bay for TE Kellen Winslow Jr., a one-time Pro Bowler whose father, Kellen Winslow Sr., once famously refused to allow Junior to play for the Washington Huskies, citing the racial makeup of the UW coaching staff.
TOP 5 NUMBERS
When ex-Mariner Jamie Moyer of the Rockies started at the newly opened Marlins Park, it marked the 50th MLB park in which he has played.
In their first two WNBA games, both against the L.A. Sparks, the Storm committed 46 turnovers leading directly to 54 opponent points.
When Alex Liddi hit a grand slam vs. Texas Wednesday, he became the first Italian-born player to whack a salami since Reno Bertoia in 1958.
When Brandon League blew his fourth save Friday, he matched the club record for most BSs before June 1 (Bobby Ayala, 1998, Kaz Sasaki, 2003).
6: Number of pinch-hit grand slams the Mariners have allowed in 35 seasons after Alberto Callaspo of the Angels drilled one Saturday.
READS OF THE WEEK
Thiel: Salty Wedge Talks Tough, But No Results: Even before his team endured an agonizing, four-game sweep by the revivified Los Angeles Angels Sunday, Mariners manager Eric Wedge put out his heart on his sleeve, Piniella-style, for everyone to play amateur cardiologist . . . MORE
Who Is The Mariners’ Worst Free-Agent Blight?: Having completed his rehab assignment (groin injury) with the AAA Tacoma Rainiers, catcher Miguel Olivo has rejoined the Mariners. Figures: hes already 0-for-3. But instead of clearing a roster spot for Olivo by jettisoning Chone Figgins, the logical (and an inevitable) move, the Mariners opted to send outfielder Casper Wells to the minors . . . MORE
Thiel: By Holiday, Mariners May Not Be Dead: The Mariners are upon the time in the baseball calendar when discerning, veteran Seattle fans bid adieu to the rest of baseball the Memorial Day weekend, when the flickering hopes of spring training are extinguished by the customary downpours of two outs and nobody on . . . MORE
Thiel: Mariners’ Millwood & Liddi: Who’da Thunk? Kevin Millwood speaks with a Carolina drawl so deep that a bread truck can go missing in it. For Alex Liddi, enough of his native Italian accent remains that his halting English seems a swoon-maker among women of a certain age . . . MORE
Thiel: Warriors Arena Deal In SF All Private Cash: On the same day that developer Chris Hansen identified a business advisory panel for his proposed SoDo arena, the Golden State Warriors announced plans to move from Oakland to San Francisco by the 2017-18 season into a waterfront arena different from Hansens Seattles vision in two noteworthy respects the $500 million arena will be completely privately financed and has no plans to accommodate an NHL team . . . MORE
Wayback Machine: Hutch & The 1955 Rainiers: The Seattle Rainiers, the citys principal baseball infatuation for more than a quarter of a century (1938-64), twice called upon native son Fred Hutchinson to come to the aid of the franchise in times of dire need . . . MORE
Thiel: Darvish Bows To Ichiro, King Felix: The Mariners have a turn back the clock promotion Saturday celebrating the 1955 Seattle Rainiers PCL championship. Monday night, Felix Hernandez and Ichiro got to the clock first . . . MORE
That Was The Week That Was (May 14-20): The Mariners went C3PO on us from Monday through Thursday, but petitioned to join the National League West after sweeping Colorado Friday-Sunday; the Sounders sneaked out of Vancouver with a 2-2 tie on a remarkable goal by Fredy Montero, and the Storm had an epic el foldo in their season opener . . . MORE
“A great performance by Felix. Just really commanded the ballgame throughout.
It’s a tough lineup, but you have to execute pitches. Every pitch has to have a purpose, and Felix understands that more than anybody and just did a great job tonight — really proud of his performance, really stepped up for us” — Eric Wedge, Mariners manager, after Felix Hernandez beat Texas 6-1 Monday
“It felt pretty good. It was a good moment. Obviously, you see the big-time guys doing it and when you do it, it’s a good thing” — Alex Liddi, Mariners, after hitting his first career grand slam Wednesday
He’s still a young hitter, learning how to hit. But the ball comes off his bat as good or better than anybody we have” — Eric Wedge, Mariners manager, after Liddi’s grand slam
“We need to soul search. I need to soul search; our staff needs to. We need to figure out what are things we need to do” — Sigi Schmid, Sounders coach, after a 2-0 loss to the Columbus Crew Wednesday
“I’m very disappointed in myself, for sure. Definitely not a good day for me, not a good day for the team. Right now, we’re in a little bit of a slump and we have to find our way out of it” — Bryan Meredith, Sounders goalkeeper, after allowing goals on Columbus’ only two shots on target Wednesday
“It (the study) doesn’t pass the straight-faced test. I think this thing was announced as a done deal by the mayor and the county executive, and I think it would probably be way more surprising to see them come up with information now that casts doubt on their original conclusions. I think they’ve put their spear in the ground” — Dave Gering, executive director, Manufacturing Industrial Council, after a $70,000 study shows that a proposed 18,000-seat arena in SoDo wouldn’t worsen traffic in the neighborhood
“We added a guy that we know can make things happen. He’s got some health issues that we’re going to deal with and make sure we monitor him really well so he can play his best. We think it’s just a fantastic addition. He can make things happen. He should be a big factor on third downs and in the red zone” — Pete Carroll, Seahawks coach, on the acquisition of TE Kellen Winslow Jr.
“I’m going to miss my teammates out there, my boys. I’ve grown together a lot with those guys, but it’s the NFL. It’s hard. It’s good to have a job you know. It’s good to have a job so I’ll be OK” — Kellen Winsow Jr.
“He pitched a good ball game, but we didn’t make any adjustments. I mean, he was doing the same thing in the ninth inning that he was doing in the first inning. That’s the red flag. I mean, you’ve got to keep making adjustments. You can’t keep going up there and doing the same thing and expecting different results” — Eric Wedge, Mariners manager, after Dan Haren struck out 14 in a 3-0 Angels victory Thursday
“You just can’t make a move without having somebody else take on that role. Brandon League is our closer. We’ve got to get him going. We’ve got a lot of young kids down in that bullpen” — Eric Wedge, Mariners manager, after Brandon League blew his fourth save of the season Friday
“For us to be able to come back from being 1-0 is a good thing. I felt we had some chances at the end of the game, and they were pretty good chances. I was pleased with our ability to come back” — Sigi Schmid, Sounders coach, after his team eked out a 1-1 draw with Chivas USA Saturday