The Mariners have scored more than three runs just four times in the last 15 games, but it makes no sense to damage a quality starting rotation to patch a meager offense for 2011.
A preacher has drawn national attention by claiming the Rapture will occur Saturday, in which Christians will ascend to heaven and non-Christians will be consigned to parsing forever the NFL labor dispute.
Wherever Mariners fans line up on that issue, they can greet their fates assured that they saw Thursday the perfect paradigm of the 2011 Mariners game-winning rally:
*Clean-up hitter check-swings an infield dribbler into a lead-off single;
*Sacrificed to second via bunt;
*Advances to third on an infield out;
*Scores the decider in a 2-1 victory over the Angels when the only ball of the inning that goes beyond the infield grass also goes straight into the sun, where it is lost by, as Mariners manager Eric Wedge described him, one of greatest center fielders of our generation.
After that, Mariners fans of all persuasions should be comfortable heading to their destinies knowing that they have seen it all except for a Mariners World Series, which is probably the subject of another column in a parallel universe.
So absurd was the outcome that Jack Cust, the clean-up hitter who scored the winner, admitted afterward that he went back and re-touched home plate. Just to be sure.
Then again, Cust has crossed the plate so few times this year that the giddy ride was worth buying a second ticket.
The persistent offensive futility is the topic of our discussion today, however tempting it is to dissect the subject of a once-every-10-years sun-off single that embarrassed the great Torii Hunter.
But for the freakiness of intervention by an object 93 million miles away, the Mariners likely would have squandered yet another substantial contribution by a starting pitcher.
This time, Doug Fister pitched eight innings and gave up a run on six hits and two walks. He lowered a bit the collective 3.33 ERA entering the game by his rotation mates Felix Hernandez, Michael Pineda, Jason Vargas and Erik Bedard, a number that ranked second in the American League and lately makes them probably the best starting staff in the circuit.
But the Mariners are just 19-24 because, as Seattle fans know by now, the noodles the offense uses for bats wouldnt qualify for inclusion in a bag of Top Ramen.
The Mariners are the games most imbalanced team tops in pitching, worst in hitting with no obvious resolution apparent.
So the question has begun to loom: Should the Mariners in the near term cannibalize one to feed the other?
Were not going to mortgage the future, said general manager Jack Zduriencik after the game, falling back on one of hoariest bromides of sports executive-ship. I realize our pitching has been real good. But when you look at the standings, nearly every team is staying alive.
Its too early to even talk about contention, but every team Ive talked to that is within earshot is not willing to give up anything of value.
Mid-May is a long way from the trade deadline at the end of July, but the astonishing pitching the Mariners have displayed is the object of considerable attention, if not ardor, around the game.
Zduriencik said the generic conversation with his brethren goes something like this:
Are you willing to part with a starting pitcher?
Depends. Are you willing to send a big bat?
Well, right now, we cant part with one, Jack.
End of discussion.
Every conversation goes that way, he said. Even if some (big bat) were available, Id be asking why hes available.
As in, whats wrong with the dude? The dominance of pitching throughout the game is so great, the hitting so meager, that any position player on the market automatically would be assumed to be the equivalent of the late-stage Black Knight in Monty Pythons Holy Grail no remaining appendages, but a bold talker.
Weak as is the Mariners .301 team on-base percentage as of Thursday morning, the league average is only .320 and the best is Clevelands .338.
Aggravating as it is for Mariners fans to watch, the offense will have to depend on guys like Cust and Chone Figgins to return to their career averages, and the rest of the roster to get lucky as did rookie Carlos Peguero Thursday, when his sky-pop disappeared on Hunter.
When I hit it, I said, Drop it! Drop it! Peguero said, smiling, through halting English. When one is hitting .129, one says things like that.
With one exception, players in the farm system with a chance of helping the major league team are here. Besides Peguero, the other rookie recently brought up to replace left fielder Milton Bradley, Mike Wilson, is hitting .091.
For 2011, the Mariners have virtually no options to upgrade from within. The exception, second baseman Dustin Ackley, will become a quality major league hitter but right now is shaky defensively.
From without, trading a starting pitcher makes no sense at all, because the 2011 season was accepted internally as a competitive write-off. No one will say that, of course, but no substantive investment was made on that end, so the discerning fan should expect no improvement.
The risky part of the circumstance is the strain on the starters. It’s emotionally and physically draining for a starter to realize that every single turn requires him to pitch nearly a perfect game, and he still might lose.
By August at Safeco, the Mariners may have on their hands Five Angry Men and 20 guys in the dugout shouting in the bottom of the ninth, Drop it! Drop it! in English, Spanish and Japanese.
Presuming, of course, most of us are still here to care.