Work in Sports
Lost their mojo
Mariners still looking to wake up offense
By Jamal Greene, Sports Illustrated
Unleash the Mojo! As the Seattle Mariners advance through the ALCS, that catch phrase, which appears throughout Safeco Field on T-shirts, banners and placards is sounding less like a trendy slogan and more like a desperate command from fans hungry to rejoice.
The Mariners have scored six runs in three games thus far, batting .227 in the process. In Game 3, Andy Pettitte actually helped raise that average, scattering nine hits over 6 2/3 innings, but added to Seattle’s frustration.
“It seemed like every time we got something going Pettitte made big pitches,” said Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez. Eight of Pettitte’s nine hits were singles
Said losing pitcher Aaron Sele, “Who cares if you give up eight singles?”
Not surprisingly all eyes were dry in the Seattle clubhouse after the game. Bombarded with questions about their offensive inadequacies, the Mariners insisted it was nothing more than a routine slump.
“There’s no magic reason why we haven’t been able to score runs,” said centerfielder Mike Cameron. “I don’t think anybody’s pressing.”
Shortstop Alex Rodriguez saw the offense as a plus. “We have to build on the positives,” he said, “and we swung the bats a lot better today.”
In a game the Yankees won by six runs, both teams had the same number of plate appearances with runners in scoring position (nine), and the Yankees only had one more hit in those situations (three) than did the Mariners. The difference is that the Yankees also had two walks and a sacrifice fly, and their early lead helped Pettitte settle down (he threw 38 pitches through the first two innings, 62 through his remaining 4 2/3 innings of work).
“It was a typical Yankee win,” Sele said. “Four pitches were the ballgame.” The four in question would be the back-to-back home run balls served up to Bernie Williams and Tino Martinez in the second and two-out RBI hits by David Justice in the third and Paul O’Neill in the sixth.
Sele is almost right. With automatic-as-gravity Yankee closer Mariano Rivera recording the last five outs — and breaking Whitey Ford’s record of 33 straight scoreless postseason innings in the process — the other four runs were parsley.
Said reliever Brett Tomko, responsible for all four additional runs, “With Rivera in the game, even giving up one run is like giving up five.”
If Seattle’s bats don’t wake up soon, one run is all the heretofore morbid Yankee lumber will need to muster in Game 4.
“We’re still very confident. We feel good playing against these guys and obviously they feel good playing against us,” said Rodriguez.
He must know of a secret stash of mojo somewhere.