BY SPNW Staff 06:30AM 05/07/2012

That Was The Week That Was (April 30-May 6)

The Seattle Mariners dominated the news all week, mostly for a string of failures that placed the club on the brink of the basement in the American League West.

Seattle reliever Tom Wilhelmsen reacts to his "brain fart" Friday at Safeco Field, one of the memorable moments of "That Was The Week That Was." / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

The Seattle Sounders went north, the Seattle Mariners mostly headed south, and reliever Tom Wilhelmsen, his compass headings particularly askew, went northeast when they should have gone southwest in a wild Week That Was. Also, in a landmark quote, “brain fart,” as uttered by a Seattle athlete, made the public prints for the first time in our memory. That Was The Week That Was:

APRIL 30-MAY 6, 2012

  • GOOD WEEK — Even though they played without goalkeeper Michael Gspurning for a match and a half, the Sounders extended the best start in franchise history to 6-1-1, added six more points (for 19) and may have discovered a future gem in replacement goalkeeper Bryan Meredith, who did not permit a goal. Meredith needed to make only one save in his starting debut Saturday vs. Philadelphia, but punched away numerous crosses, including a pass near the goal just before the final whistle.
  • BAD WEEK — The Mariners, specifically manager Eric Wedge, declared the Chone Figgins leadoff experiment dead after Figgins, in an 0-for-18 stew, saw his batting average approach Ray Oyler geography, .189. Wedge said Figgins, the Mariners’ answer to Charlie Whitehurst, would become a utility player, making him, at $9 million, the most expensive such employee in franchise history. Of course, Figgins’ Seattle career is over; it’s only awaiting a “designated for assignment” announcement.
  • PLAY OF THE WEEK Good: In the 48th minute of the Sounders-Galaxy match Wednesday, Fredy Montero slammed home a stunning 35-yard drive past L.A. goalkeeper Bill Gaudette, which Seattle coach Sigi Schmid immediately tabbed the MLS Goal of the Week; Bad: With sacks full and one out in the seventh, and with instructions to throw home on any ball hit back to him, Seattle reliever Tom Wilhelmsen instead barehanded a tapper, turned around and inexplicably threw wildly to second base. Pretty soon, the Twins had three runs and the ball game. “I had a brain fart,” Wilhelmsen explained; Almost As Bad: Michael Saunders’ ill-advised bunt Monday (see below), a perfect illustration of why baseball players are employed from the neck down.
  • EX-SEATTLE JOCKS OF THE WEEK — Former Puyallup golfer Ryan Moore fired a 7-under-par 65 for a share of the first-round lead at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, and went on to shoot 65-70-68-74 — 277 to tie for fifth, three strokes behind winner Rickie Fowler. Moore earned a $237,250 payday and has $11,953,984 in official earnings to show for his nine years on the PGA Tour.
  • WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Kate Starbird, a graduate of Lakes High who became Naismith Player of the Year competing for Stanford (1997), and later played for the Seattle Reign of the ABL, is a PhD candidate at the University of Colorado (Boulder) at the Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society (ATLAS) Institute. Her research focuses on the use of social media during crises and mass emergencies. Next September, Starbird will join the UW’s department of Human Centered Design & Engineering as an assistant professor.
  • SUNDAY, May 6 — Rookie slugger Jesus Montero lines a two-run double in the first to get the show going, Mike Carp hits his first homer of the season, and Hector Noesi allows four hits and strikes out five as the Mariners win their second straight after losing seven in a row. Seattle once again dodges last place as the Angels beat Toronto (Mariners would win the pennant if they could play Minnesota every night).
  • SATURDAY, May 5Kyle Seager produces a two-run homer and a two-run single and Felix Hernandez and Steve Delabar combine on a one-hitter as the Mariners snap a seven-game losing skid with a 7-0 win over the Minnesota Twins. Ichiro contributes a two-run triple . . . UW men celebrate Cinco de Mayo by blowing away to a five-second win over Argentina’s national team in the 26th annual Windermere Cup on the Montlake Cut. It’s the sixth consecutive Windermere Cup for the UW men;  likewise for the UW women.
  • FRIDAY, May 4 Somebody Must Have Broken A Mirror: The Minnesota Twins snap a 25-inning scoreless streak and beat the Mariners 3-2 at Safeco Field, sending Seattle to its seventh consecutive defeat. Game features a jaw-dropping gaffe by reliever Tom Wilhelmsen (described above) that loses the game, which includes Brendan Ryan’s first hit after 26 straight outs . . . The Pacific Northwest Football Hall of Fame inducts nine, including former Seahawks DE Jacob Green, also saluted for his work with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Also inducted: 1991 Outland/Lombardi winner Steve Emtman of UW; Marcus Trufant (WSU, Seahawks), coaches Pat Jones and Glenn Ricker, semipro players Wes Fischer and Ron Vrlicak and associate members Dick Baird and Carver Gayton.
  • THURSDAY, May 3 – Mariners run their losing streak to a season-high six games when, after taking a 2-0 lead, Kevin Millwood yields four earned runs in a 5-4 loss at Tampa Bay. Chone Figgins goes 0-for-4, running his hitless streak to 0-for-18, and finishes the day batting .189, nine points worse than Mario Mendoza batted when he created the “Mendoza Line” in 1978 . . . Montana authorities postpone ex-WSU QB Ryan Leaf’s arraignment on burglary and drug possession charges, but keep him in jail, where has been ensconced since April 2.
  • WEDNESDAY, May 2 Fredy Montero scores his first goal of the year and Eddie Johnson adds his second as the Sounders defeat the less-than-full-strength Los Angeles Galaxy 2-0 at CenturyLink Field, continuing the best start in franchise history (5-1-1, 16 points). 39,002 watch Seattle’s first MLS win over the Galaxy since 2009, the sheen only partially tarnished by the fact that L.A. didn’t bring David Beckham or Robbie Keane on the trip in order to rest them. Who does that? . . . Kyle Seager blasts two home runs, good for four RBIs, but the Mariners sustain their fifth straight defeat, 5-4, to Tampa Bay. Chone Figgins, on the heels of an 0-for-6, goes 0-for-5 with two strikeouts, and Jeff Cirillo Brendan Ryan goes 0-for-3 with three strikeouts, running his case of anemia to 0-for-26.
  • TUESDAY, May 1 Goodbye Ruby Tuesday: After starting a 10-day, 10-game road trip 4-0, the Mariners squander their fourth straight, 3-1, despite out-hitting Tampa Bay 9-3. The Mariners go 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, extending their clutch hitting futility to 0-for-30. “We’ve got to have more quality in individual at-bats,” understates manager Eric Wedge. Mariners get their only run on a leadoff homer from Michael Saunders in the fourth inning . . . Punk Watch: Former UW basketball ace Doug Wrenn, convicted in February of 2009 on two counts of second-degree assault with a handgun, is charged with harassing a former girlfriend for calling her 46 times and sending her 12 text messages and nine e-mails between April 13-15. Wrenn goes to jail in lieu of $350,000 bail.
  • MONDAY, April 30Brandon League gags away another Felix Hernandez gem (8.0 IP, 1 ER, 9 K’s) by giving up a 12th-inning, walk-off single to Elliott Johnson as the Tampa Bay Rays hand the Mariners their third consecutive defeat, 3-2. Worse than the loss, the Mariners lose catcher Miguel Olivo to the disabled list when he sustains a groin injury in the ninth inning, a frame that also featured an acme bonehead play. Michael Saunders elects, on his own, to bunt with runners on first and third, one out, and a 1-1 tie. Seattle’s runner at third, Munenori Kawasaki, is thrown out at the plate and the Mariners miss the chance to reward Hernandez with a win for a dazzling outing . . . Oddity of the Game: Olivo and his replacement, Jesus Montero, both homer. It’s the first time in 35+ years of Mariners baseball that two players homer in the same game as catchers . . . One day after center Dane Crane of Santa Margarita (CA.) High commits to UW, the school sends Connor O’Brien, a 6-3, 205-pound safety, to Steve Sarkisian’s program.

TOP 5 NUMBERS

  • 5

    17: Times in Felix Hernandez’s career that he has pitched at least 7.0 innings and allowed one or fewer runs and come away with a no-decision.
  • 4

    0-for-30: Mariners with RISP over a four-game span; 0-for-26: Length of SS Brendan Ryan’s batting skid before he snapped it Friday.
  • 3

    From Oct. 18, 2011, vs. Monterey (CONCACAF), to May 2, 2012, vs. the L.A. Galaxy, Fredy Montero went 1,083 minutes without scoring a goal.
  • 2

    25: Consecutive scoreless innings by the Minnesota Twins before they rang up three on the Mariners in a 3-2 win at Safeco Field Friday.
  • 1

    In the seven games before Eric Wedge pulled the plug on Chone Figgins, Seattle’s $9 million leadoff man batted .043.

READS OF THE WEEK

Eddie Johnson scored his second goal as a Sounder when the club defeated the Los Angeles Galaxy Wednesday. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

  • Thiel: Seager Solves One Position For Mariners: Offering conclusions based on any series with the Minnesota Twins is a dubious premise — swimmers do not become Olympians in the bath tub, after all — but it seems safe to say that the Chone Figgins matter, as a function of play on the field,  is over . . . MORE
  • Thiel: Late-Game Play Will Choose Seahawks QB: Merely for the sake of variety, it would be intriguing to hear two quarterbacks dead-heated for the starting job throw down verbally like, say, presidential candidates. “As president, my rival would destroy the freedoms and liberties that generations of Americans have given their lives to preserve.” Countered by . . . MORE
  • It’s Early, But Mariners’ RISP Feebleness Awes: Tampa Bay outscored the Mariners 15-10 in the four-game series at Tropicana Field in large part because Seattle (which tried  an all-lefty lineup card Thursday, the first time the Mariners have tried that since since 1983), went 4-for-23 (.174 BA) with runners in scoring position, left 29 batters stranded and whiffed 46 times . . . MORE
  • Thiel: Sounders Solve Starless Galaxy, 2-0: Normally it’s the Los Angeles Galaxy that has the stars and the scores. Wednesday night, they had nada and nil. Stars and scores? Sounders FC had both. Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero may lack the marquee power of David Beckham and Robbie Keane. But the Sounders’ striker tandem at least had the courtesy to show up at the Clink. And the audacity to show off . . . MORE
  • Hickey: Montero Needs To Be No. 1 Catcher: The Mariners have tough choices in the absence, for four to six weeks, of injured catcher Miguel Olivo. Like a seasoned politician, Mariner manager Eric Wedge says he will use a combination of veteran John Jaso and rookie Jesus Montero to fill in behind the plate, but avoids specifics . . . MORE . . .
  • Wayback Machine: 50 Years Of Center Highlights: “The Next 50” is a six-month celebration, underway at spruced-up Seattle Center, aimed at marking the 50-year anniversary of the 1962 Century 21 Exposition (World’s Fair), an event that began as a promotional stunt to put Seattle on the map, but wound up shaping the future of the city . . . MORE
  • That Was The Week That Was (April 23-29): The Mariners cobbled together a rare, four-game winning streak before returning to normal; the defensive-minded Seahawks (eight of 10 picks on that side of the ball) made the most jaw-dropping selection — “That guy isn’t the 15th-best pick, he isn’t even the 50th,” said one draft expert — in the first round of the NFL draft;  Washington’s Chris Polk, who figured to go high, didn’t go at all; and Ryan Leaf, who once had an $11.5 million signing bonus in his pocket, couldn’t make bail in Montana. This was the week that was . . . MORE

SAID

  • “He did that on his own and he shouldn’t have. I’ve talked with him about it already and asked his reasons for it and he had good answers, but it’s still not what we want him to do right there” — Eric Wedge Mariners manager, after Michael Saunders attempted to bunt down the third-base line with runners at the corners in a 1-1 tie Tuesday vs. Tampa
  • “I don’t think it’s going to be the last time you see us play a game where both Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero score in the same game. I think this is the first of a few that are going to go that way” — Sigi Schmid, Sounders coach, after both Johnson and Montero tallied in a 2-0 win over the L.A. Galaxy at CenturyLink Field
  • “It was an amazing shot. I’m definitely happy I don’t have to play against Fredy” — Michael Gspurning, Seattle goalkeeper, after Montero scored against the Galaxy in the 48the minute Wednesday
  • “The strikeouts are just ridiculous right now. These guys are better than that. Whether it be zoning up early or throughout the course of the count, or sticking your nose in there with two strikes, this is not going to continue to happen” – Eric Wedge, Mariners manager, after his players whiffed 14 times in a 5-4 loss at Tampa Bay
  • “I’m taking some aggressive licks. I’m just not having anything to show for it. Sometimes it gets me into trouble being too aggressive” — Chone Figgins, Seattle leadoff hitter, after running his 0-fer streak to 0-for-18
  • “I didn’t have too much to do today. I came out on a couple crosses, they shot high. Other than that, the defense really held it down” — Bryan Meredith, Sounders goalkeeper, after earning his first, full-time shutout (1-0 over Philadelphia) Saturday
  • “Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. That’s how we win” — Felix Hernandez, Mariners starter, after he allowed one hit in eight innings and the offense supported him with seven runs in a 7-0 win over the Minnesota Twins that snapped a seven-game losing streak Saturday

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