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The Mariners Are All Wet

By Phil Janowicz

COLUMNIST

Maybe the typical late season woes left with the humidity. Facing a tough schedule stretch, the Sox found a way to sweep the old men into the sea. Credit most of this to outstanding pitching and hitting by the Sox, but also place some of the blame on the Mariners. Despite doing quite well so far this year, Seattle seems to have run into a road block. Many sports analysts have proposed reasons for this skid and have even predicted it.

Some say that the Mariners’ arms are tired. Over the past 15 games, Seattle starters have lasted beyond the sixth inning only twice. Unfortunately, both of those times, inconsistent Freddy Garcia did so. Because of the shaky starters, the bullpen has been forced to pitch several innings each game, causing the relievers to give up several runs as of late.

Also, the first-to-second-to-first double play has misfired three times in the last week, costing the Mariners seven runs. On these double plays, the first baseman fields the ball, fires it to the shortstop who then throws the ball to the pitcher covering first base.

On the first of these miscues in Toronto last Wednesday, John Olerud fielded the ball cleanly and accurately threw the ball to shortstop Rey Sanchez. Sanchez then hurried the throw to pitcher Gil Meche at first, and Eric Hinske was safe at first following Sanchez’s throw in the dirt. Vernon Wells then made the Mariners pay with a home run on the next pitch.

The second of these miscues occurred the next night with the bases loaded with one out and the Mariners leading 5-3. Carlos Delgado pulled the ball to Olerud’s right to start the possible inning-ending double play. Olerud made a clean throw to second, and Sanchez made a throw a little off the mark to first base. Normally this wouldn’t have been a problem, but Armando “Lardo” Benitez couldn’t get to the bag in time to catch the throw from Sanchez. The Blue Jays took the lead and won the game.

The third time was at Fenway on Saturday afternoon. Trot Nixon once again pulled the ball to Olerud’s right. Olerud fired the ball to Mark McLemore at short who then promptly threw the ball away, allowing David Ortiz to score.

Pitching and defense are the most important parts of a winning team, and recently Seattle has been anything but good.

Jano Awards:

Hitting: Travis “Half and” Hafner of the Cleveland Indians. Since his most recent call-up three weeks ago, Hafner has been batting .318 with six homers and 20 RBIs. The most impressive part about Hafner’s performance was his hitting for the cycle last week, joining Eric “Ouch, It” Byrnes and Brad Wilkerson as the only players to hit for the cycle this season.

Honorable Mention: Brad “Pink Eye” Wilkerson of the Montreal Expos. Trailing 2-0 to the Giants in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded, two outs, and a full count, Wilkerson launched the payoff pitch from Giants closer Tim Worrell to downtown Montreal. A walk-off grand slam from Wilkerson seemed to have jump-started the Expos recently, helping to keep them in the playoff hunt.

Pitching: Bronson “Mr. Perfect” Arroyo of the Boston Red Sox. Coming over from the Pirates organization, Arroyo has been perfect for the Sox. Earlier this month, Arroyo pitched only the fourth perfect game in the history of the International League for the PawSox -- the AAA affiliate of the Red Sox. In his first game with the Red Sox, Arroyo notched his first career save, pitching the last three innings against Seattle on Monday. Boston can expect good things from you.

Honorable Mention: Jeff “Chicken Noodle” Suppan of the Boston Red Sox. Thankfully, Suppan has shown his worth by turning in a quality start for the Sox. Now, the Sox rotation looks sharp, with Suppan pitching the make-up interleague game in Philly. Grady Little altered the rotation to allow Suppan, a lifetime .266 hitter, to pitch and hit at Philadelphia.

Utility: Brian “Purse Hero” Anderson of the Kansas City Royals. After having pitched brilliantly and consistently for the Indians all season, Anderson has been acquired by the Royals for their playoff push. Although the Indians and Anderson wanted to stay together for their rebuilding process, he has pitched his way into a pennant race. The depleted Royals pitching staff desperately needs starters, and Anderson fits the mold.

Honorable Mention: David Riske “Business” of the Cleveland Indians. Recently named the new closer of the Indians, Riske has been perfect in save opportunities as of late. With a WHIP below one this year, Riske has been just what the Indians needed in late-inning pitching situations.

Boner of the Week: David “Big Daddy” Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox. Having homered in three straight games, Ortiz has joined five other Red Sox in the 20 homer club this season. Ortiz has been on fire and even recorded his first triple of the season. After sliding head first into third, Ortiz came up all smiles because of his accomplishment. I know you’re quite pleased at your accomplishment.

Honorable Mention: Armando “Retire!” Benitez of the Seattle Mariners. Leave. Go. Get out of here. Let the door hit you on the way out.