The Mariners are no longer on the verge of the playoffs. They are no longer on the verge of turning the season around. They are not even on the verge of a meltdown. The meltdown has arrived.
Tonight felt like their last gasp. It was game 10 of this 11 game road trip that the team felt would make or break their season. Already 0-9 on the trip so far, Seattle's odds did not look good tonight either with Jarrod Washburn going against John Lackey. The Mariners got down early 4-0 but battled hard and actually took the lead with a 5 run explosion in the fifth, highlighted by a three-run homer from Ben Broussard. It looked like the Mariners might hand the bullpen a lead for the first time in ages.
But it was not meant to be. Seattle was browbeaten for four more runs and the game seemed out of reach at 9-5 in the eighth inning. There was hope with runners on the corners and only one out, but with one pitch Scot Shields induced a double play ball off of Jose Lopez's bat to squelch that threat. Once again the Mariners mounted a charge in the ninth, but it fell short thanks to a series of questionable stike calls that led to a Snelling K to end the ballgame.
Then, as if the game and the losing streak was not enough of a gut shot, word broke that Jamie Moyer had been traded to the Phillies for a pair of low-level minor-leaguers. While Ichiro is very popular, Jamie Moyer in many ways was the face of this franchise. He certainly was a pillar in the community and a rare athlete who transcended sports in this region, especially considering he has never been a superstar. This is an absolute publicity nightmare, especially in the midst of a 10-game losing streak, but I would have been willing to swallow the deal if it made good, sound baseball sense. The problem is it does not. Moyer has now signed a mutual option for 2007 with Philadelphia, making a return to Seattle in 2007 seem unlike. The Mariners already had two holes to fill in their rotation with Meche and Pineiro likely to leave, and now the Mariners have added yet another one by eliminating Moyer, a rather safe bet to re-sign. Though one of the prospects they received in return looks like a potentially good reliever down the road, does the Seattle bullpen really look like a weakness right now? It does not help either that the first comment I read on the deal from GM Bill Bavasi was, "It's not a thrill." Though he was specifically addressing simply dealing away Jamie Moyer and he went on to say some good things about the prospects they picked up, that is not exactly the first thing you want to read from your GM's mouth.
I really cannot imagine things getting much worse for the Mariners. They have lost 10 straight games overall, and an unfathomable 19 straight against AL West opponents. And, if that was not enough of a gut shot, they traded Jamie Moyer. This has to be rock bottom, doesn't it?