No seven-year tenure should be judged on a single outcome. Then again, when a game like Wednesday’s happens, there’s nothing wrong with metaphoring the hell out of it.
A player that general manager Jack Zduriencik traded away to Arizona June 3, C Welington Castillo, hammered Felix Hernandez for two home runs and reached base all five times in an 8-2 triumph (box score) that made for a three-game sweep — right after the Mariners played their most exciting game of the year Sunday, a 6-5 win over Toronto.The main player the Mariners received in the trade, Mark Trumbo, was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. In 43 Seattle games, he is hitting .229 with three homers and 13 RBIs. In 34 games for the D-backs, Castillo is hitting .279 with eight home runs and 19 RBIs.
Small sample size, true. And yes, the Mariners also acquired Vidal Nuno, who is suddenly a reliable guy with no runs given up in his past nine innings — at least until Wednesday, when her gave up his old club’s final run in the eighth inning.
The move for Trumbo was for a quick fix — getting the Mariners into contention and help avoid a panicky move at the trade deadline.
On June 3, the Mariners were 24-29 and in the middle of a 2-9 homestand that was the worst in club history for a stand of 10-plus games. Now, they are 46-56 and 10 games out. The lone Zduriencik move in midseason so far not only was no help, the Mariners appear worse.
And in the greatest club tradition, the guy they traded came back to gut-punch them. Castillo, a Mariner only 15 days, drove in three runs in his first two at-bats against Hernandez as was also aboard on a walk, a fielder’s choice and a hit by pitch.
In the sweep by the 49-51 D-backs, the worn-down pitching staff allowed 20 runs and the defense made several errors/misplays. Wednesday, Kyle Seager made another error and another misplay on a hard-hit grounder that went for a double. The offense managed three hits and and one run off youngster Patrick Corbin.
Manager Lloyd McClendon, having seen this tired tableau many times, fell back on cliches.
“We got our butts kicked in this series,” he said. “We gotta regroup and win a game. We got short memories. Tomorrow is the biggest game of the year.”
What was most galling for Mariners fans was that on the day Hernandez passed Jamie Moyer for most games pitched (324) in club history, the grim outcome illuminated how little progress the franchise has made since he first became a major leaguer in 2005.
None of those games includes a single start in the playoffs. Only three of those seasons included a winning record. And it looks highly likely there will be no playoffs or winning record this year.
Alone with him for a moment, I asked Hernandez what it meant to him to have none of those starts in the postseason.
“How many games?” he said, genuinely unaware of the milestone. Told 324, he paused and reverted to his good-soldier rhetoric.
“I made a decision to stay here for a long time,” said. “I don’t regret it. I love this team. I think we’re going to make it.
“If they want me to play (324 more), I’ll be happy.”
Well, good for him — if showing up is the the goal. It’s neither part of his job nor his character to publicly demand more. But 10 years of mediocrity is squandering one of the best pitching careers of this century.
It’s a sporting shame. After seven years of Zduriencik’s GM tenure, there’s little sign of hope. After five seasons, he and his lamentable predecessor, Bill Bavasi, had identical records. He bought himself time with a 87-win season in 2014. But now, the payroll is more than $120 million, yet the Arizona series again demonstrated the current roster’s feebleness, while the farm system has precious few sure-fire major leaguers.
Zduriencik already indicated he made his in-season move with Trumbo/Castillo. Something else may happen by Friday’ s 1 p.m. PT trade deadline, but why would baseball fans care?
Zduriencik probably will be gone at season’s end, but his successor will be chosen largely by the same management team that picked the past two GMs.
Oh well. At least Hernandez loves it here. At $175 million, why not?
Cano out with abdominal strain
After an MRI exam, 2B Robinson Cano sat out Wednesday’s game and will be out “a couple of days” with a grade-one strain of an abdominal muscle, McClendon said after the game. After that, he’ll DH a couple of games, then resume play in the field.
“He was trying to make a play a couple of days ago and he felt it,” McClendon told reporters pre-game. “It’s gotten a little worse.
“Robbie’s stubborn. His pain tolerance is so high that he actually wanted to play again today, but the doctors said, ‘We need to get this looked at and make sure that there’s nothing going on.’
“So if this was the seventh game of the World Series, Robbie would play and would want to. But this is the right thing to do.”
1B Logan Morrison injured his thumb during and at-bat and came of the game. McClendon said he is day to day . . . The sweep was the first by the D-backs since the teams began interleague play in 1998 . . . In his previous five starts, Hernandez had a 1.09 ERA in with 33 strikeouts in 32 innings. Wednesday, he gave up seven runs on 12 hits in 6.2 innings . . . Brad Miller is hitting .294 over his last 26 games . . .Nelson Cruz is hitting .375 during his nine-game hitting streak.
The Mariners go on a seven-game road trip with four in Minnesota starting at 5:10 p.m. PT Thursday. LHP J.A. Happ (4-5, 5.27) goes against RHP Phil Hughes (9-4, 3.93).