With two losses in three games to Texas, the Mariners remained on track to lose 96 games amid a growing clamor to shorten the Safeco Field fences; the Sounders had a 2-2 draw in the Big Apple and also qualified for the title match in the U.S. Open Cup for the fourth consecutive year, and the Seahawks said adieu to WR Mike Williams, one of the great comeback stories in club history. This Was The Week That Was:
JULY 9-14, 2012
- GOOD WEEK — The Seattle Storm entered the month-long break for the Olympic Games with eight wins in 11 games (two against Phoenix), including an 83-64 victory over the Mercury Friday in which Sue Bird produced a season-high nine assists. Six assists and points came in the first quarter, helping the Storm build a lead it never relinquished. “We knew that to have a successful second half of the season, we were going to have to finish strong in the first half. It leaves a good taste in your mouth before the break,” said Bird, who will pursue her third Olympic gold medal in London.
- BAD WEEK — Mike Williams, who made a remarkable comeback from a three-year NFL absence in 2010 to lead the Seahawks in receiving, got the boot from the club Friday — just as soon as he recovered from a series of injuries that compromised his 2011 season (only 18 catches). Unless Williams catches on with another club, the release will cost him plenty: he was scheduled to receive $3 million in 2012, a price no other suitor will be willing to pay.
- PLAY OF THE WEEK — With the bases loaded and one out in the ninth Friday at Safeco Field, Michael Saunders reached on an error by first baseman Michael Young, scoring Kyle Seager. The ball bounded into foul territory down the right field line, but third base coach Jeff Datz held Justin Smoak at third while Saunders, caught between second and third, was tagged out in a rundown. “It’s a tough break for us,” said manager Eric Wedge. “The furthest guy away from it is Jeff right there in that situation. You don’t want to run into an out, but obviously the ball ricocheted further than he thought.” While Smoak later scored on a wild pitch, Dustin Ackley whiffed with the sacks full to end the game. “I just blew it,” said Datz.
- STAT OF THE WEEK — Jesus Montero of the Mariners, obtained in last winter’s trade for RHP Michael Pineda, reached the major league All-Star break having hit one home run with one RBI in his past 99 at-bats. Montero had seven home runs and 27 RBIs through the end of May (Montero ended an 0-for-23 skid with a single Sunday).
- EX-SEATTLE JOCKS OF THE WEEK –While this years All-Star rosters include just one Mariner (Felix Hernandez), six ex-Mariners made the trip to Kansas City, including Adrian Beltre (2005-09) of Texas, David Ortiz (1994-96, minors) of Boston, Asdrubal Cabrera (2004-07, minors) of Cleveland, Adam Jones (2006-07) of Baltimore, Brian LaHair (2008) of the Chicago Cubs and R.A. Dickey (2008) of the New York Mets.
- SUNDAY, July 14 — Texas blanks the Mariners 4-0, Seattle’s 11th shutout (tied with Oakland for the MLB lead) of the season, as Rangers starter Matt Harrison runs his career Safeco Field record to 5-0. Justin Smoak goes 0-for-4, lowering his season batting average to .199 (on July 8, 2008, the Mariners designated Richie Sexson for assignment when he had a .218 batting average) . . . Prior to the Sounders’ 2-2 draw in New York, in which Fredy Montero scored an MLS goal for the first time in a month, Eddie Johnson and Osvaldo Alonso are named to the 18-man MLS All-Star team that will play Chelsea in Philadelphia July 25 at PPL Park. Johnson becomes an All-Star for the third time, Alonso for the second . . . Enumclaw’s Kasey Kahne wins his second NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season, holding off Denny Hamlin at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH., by 10 car lengths.
- SATURDAY, July 14 — Felix Hernandez tosses one of the great games of his career, a complete-game, three-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts in a 7-0 victory over the Texas Rangers. “He’s pretty special,” says Seattle third baseman Kyle Seager. “You see great hitters taking terrible swings. Anytime you get a guy doing that kind of thing, you know his stuff is the real deal.” It’s the seventh time this season Hernandez has gone at least 8.0 innings while allowing one run or fewer.
- FRIDAY, July 13 — Former Mariner Adrian Beltre smashes a two-run homer off Kevin Millwood and a late rally comes up shy in the ninth as Seattle loses to Texas 3-2 to fall a season-worst 17.5 games behind the Rangers in the AL West. Dustin Ackley ends another debacle by striking out with the bases loaded in the ninth to end the game . . . Olympics-bound Sue Bird scores nine points and hands out a season-high nine assists as the Storm defeats the Phoenix Mercury 83-64 in the team’s final game before the WNBA Olympics break . . . Seahawks release WR Mike Williams, the club’s leading pass catcher in 2010 with 65 receptions and a club-record three postseason touchdowns . . . Former Husky hoopster Terrence Ross, the No. 8 overall pick in the NBA draft, scores 21 points in his Summer League debut, a 91-83 Raptors loss.
- THURSDAY, July 12 — Mariners manager Eric Wedge, who made numerous noises before the All-Star break about moving one or more unproductive players to the minor leagues, uses a practice day to announce that he and GM Jack Zduriencik are sticking with the current roster and not sending anyone to AAA Tacoma. “Let’s see how they come out of the break with having a few days off and getting away from it,” Wedge says. “You’ve got a team out there that, they care about the right things, they work hard, they care about each other and about the game.”
- WEDNESDAY, July 11 — Osvaldo Alonso has a goal and an assist and four Sounders score as Seattle pulls away late for a 4-1 victory over Ch1vas USA that enables the club to reach the title match of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup for a fourth consecutive year. “Just the chance to win (the Cup) isn’t good enough,” says Brad Evans. “We want this one, so let’s make history” . . . A sellout crowd of 9,686 for a matinee at KeyArena watches the Atlanta Dream snap the Storm’s five-game, home winning streak with a 70-59 victory. “I really feel like we didn’t perform and that makes this loss difficult to swallow,” says guard Sue Bird, who scored only five points but had eight assists.
- TUESDAY, July 10 — For the second consecutive year, Felix Hernandez is a spectator at the All-Star Game, relegated to the bench due to the 113 pitches he threw in his previous start. “It happens,” says Hernandez. “I’m not disappointed. I still enjoyed myself.” . . . Former Mariner Adrian Beltre (2005-09), an AL All-Star with Texas, talks about hitting at Safeco Field: “It’s not easy. I know for sure, it’s not easy. For some reason, whoever goes there, they don’t hit. It’s a tough ballpark for hitters. We all know that. We don’t know the reasons exactly why that is. The ball doesn’t carry. The weather doesn’t help. All the elements.” Asked if the ballpark gets inside hitters’ heads, Beltre says, “Oh, yeah, for sure.”
- MONDAY, July 9 — Before the Home Run Derby at the MLB All-Star Game, Mariners ace Felix Hernandez reacts strongly to rumors that the Mariners have no choice but to trade him before his contract expires after the 2014 season. “Why?” asks Hernandez. “First of all, it’s not my decision. I don’t think they’re going to trade me. I like Seattle, and I want to help the Seattle Mariners win the World Series.” . . . Former UW goalkeeper Hope Solo is issued a pubic warning from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency after she tested positive for the banned substance Canrenone in a urine test. Solo, the keeper for the U.S. National team heading to the London Olympics, says the substance was included in medication her doctor prescribed for premenstrual purposes. Solo said she did not realize the medication contained Canrenone . . . University of Washington announces that the first game in renovated Husky Stadium will take place a week earlier than scheduled due to the fast pace of construction. The Huskies and Boise State will play Aug. 31, 2013.
TOP 5 NUMBERS
6: Number of ex-Mariners who played in the All-Star Game: Adrian Beltre, David Ortiz, Adam Jones, Asdrubal Cabrera, Bryan LaHair, R.A. Dickey.
3: Number of times in 2012 U.S. Open Cup play that the Sounders have scored four goals in a match following a 4-1 win over Chivas Wednesday.
16: Number of athletes born in Washington state who will represent the USA in the London Olympics, according to the U.S. Olympic Committee.
In 26 games with Seattle, WR Mike Williams, released Friday, caught 83 passes for 987 yards and five TDs, plus a record three in the 2010 playoffs.
55: Number of days that have elapsed since Kevin Millwood’s last win, May 23 against the Texas Rangers (3 losses, 5 no-decisions in that span).
READS OF THE WEEK
Thiel: Smoak Needs Time Away From MLB Pressure: For a decade, Mariners management has been asking a lot of its fan base. Now they have upped the ante in so many words, they are asking customers to squint as hard as manager Eric Wedge to find something worthy. Has a fan base ever gone on the disabled list from pulled facial muscles? . . . MORE
Thiel: Arena Deal Passes Scrutiny From Experts: No score is kept in the game to get the NBA game back in Seattle. But if there were an accountant, Thursday was Arena 1, Opponents 0. King Countys budget committee heard from a volunteer panel of seven longtime local experts formed six weeks ago to assess multiple aspects of Chris Hansens proposed $490 million basketball/hockey arena in SoDo. . . . MORE
Thiel: Let’s Listen On Arena Before Heckling: Aside from the fact that numerous arena advocates brought their bellicose ballgame manners to a civic discussion, the informal town hall meeting Tuesday night at North Seattle Community College to talk about Chris Hansens arena proposal was pleasantly illuminating . . . MORE
Mariners All-Star Notebook (1977-12): RHP Felix Hernandez is the Mariners sole representative at the Major League All-Star Game Tuesday night at Royals Stadium in Kansas City. Hernandez is an All-Star for the third time (2009, 2011), and just the sixth player in franchise history with three or more All-Star selections . . . MORE
Wayback Machine: Sylveanus Agustus Gregg: The Pacific Coast League record book, especially the volume dedicated to the years 1903-57 (before the Dodgers and Giants moved west), is still peppered with the amazing feats of Vean Gregg, who might today be talked about in the same terms as Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander, but instead is considered one of the games most fascinating footnotes . . . MORE
Thiel: Baseball’s Most Forlorn Team? Mariners: As much as I would like to believe Earnest Eric Wedge and Genuine Jack Zduriencik, I cannot. I have seen too much that has come to too little. Not just this year. For many seasons. Wedge and Zduriencik are merely the latest workers hired to sweep out the tide of mediocrity with toothbrushes. . . . MORE
That Was The Week That Was (July 2-8): The Sounders finally snapped a franchise-worst, nine-match winless streak, the Mariners staggered into the All-Star break having lost five times in seven games, former University of Washington All-America Brandon Roy, out for a year, is attempting a comeback with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the rhetoric over a proposed $490 million basketball/hockey facility in SoDo heated anew . . . MORE
“I took a medication prescribed by my personal doctor for premenstrual purposes that I did not know contained a diuretic. Once informed of this fact, I immediately cooperated with the USADA and shared with them everything they needed to properly conclude that I made an honest mistake and that the medication did not enhance my performance in any way” — Hope Solo, U.S. goalkeeper, after receiving a public warning from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for testing positive for a banned diuretic
“I have two more years. I want to stay here. It’s my decision” — Felix Hernandez, when asked at the All-Star Game if he wanted to remain with the Mariners
“We’ll be very aware when we step on the field in Kansas City that we have a chance to do something nobody has done” — Sigi Schmid, Sounders coach, when asked how much the club will emphasize the opportunity to win a fourth consecutive U.S. Open Cup
“I’ve just got to do better. My first half was terrible. I saw signs of some good things, but most of it wasn’t good” — Justin Smoak, Mariners first baseman, after hitting .203 in the first half
“Today was unbelievable. I was pounding the strike zone, I was throwing pitches in every count. If you get ahead against those guys, you’re doing a good job because they have a pretty good lineup” — Felix Hernandez, Mariners ace, after pitching a complete-game shutout with 12 strikeouts against Texas Saturday