Losing J.J. Putz in the season's second game didn't help, but the team that was praised for a breakout bullpen in 2007 looked lost near the nation's capital. And the saddest thing was that it came against the team that was supposed to be deeply weakened by losing Bedard.
Over the course of the four games, the Orioles looked to have the Mariners' number, especially when it mattered. The first two games were West-Coast giveaways as Jarrod Washburn and Miguel Batista would be better suited selling tickets than performing for them.
The latter two? Seattle fans can thank Putz' hurt ribs for their loss, as both of the game-winners on the part of the Orioles came in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The Mariners didn't seem to be struggling too badly offensively, though. Richie Sexson's bat started to heat up from the seemingly eternal icicle it had become a year before; and Raul Ibanez hit several balls into outfield daylight. The Mariners batting seemed to be putting up runs when they needed to—it was simply the "much-improved" pitching that hit a low point.
That is, when they are pitching at all. The final outing in Baltimore was scheduled to see former-Oriole Erik Bedard at the helm, yet his hurt hip wasn't following the same plan. The team's one bright spot, the "goldenchico" Felix Hernandez continued his dominance by not allowing any earned runs in eight innings pitched.
Although disappointment lurks throughout Seattle following the Deadbird Debacle, a true Mariners fan sees hope along the horizon. Not only can the team catch up in the standings with their current series in Tampa Bay, but they can also count on the fact that in just a week or two the pitching staff should be at full-strength (something that was proven desperately needed).
In addition, the Mariners seem to be catching a groove at the plate. Unlike last year when the only consistent batter was the .330 Ichiro, the Sailors can not only put men on base, but they can move them along. The poison of runners stranded doesn't seem to be plaguing the team as it did last season.
Still, the Mariners should see their shoulders sag at least a couple of confidence points after this loss. The much-predicted AL West champions not only dropped four in a row to a poor team, they did so to their new quasi-rival.
In addition, the bullpen has been proven weak (at best) without Putz. Worst of all, this is the time when the Mariners should be building their lead against the Angels (and the rest of the West) as they key components of the Los Angeles contraption are out due to injury. It just isn't falling into place as the idealist Seattlite feels it should.
It just makes you wonder what they could have done with George Sherrill.