CHICAGO — What’s next, a torrential downpour? A tornado? Perhaps a blizzard? In two days at U.S. Cellular Field, the Seattle Mariners have experienced a wide array of weather conditions — and they haven’t been enjoyable.
Friday night, the Mariners played in near freezing conditions with temperatures in the low 30s with a wind chill factor.
The chill was gone on Saturday, but the wind remained. And it blew, and blew and blew some more.
The Windy City was all that and more with gusts ranging from 25 to 30 mph whipping through the stadium. Trash and paper could be seen blowing across the field at any given point during the Mariners’ 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
Every fly ball was an adventure.
“It was tough,” said Seattle center fielder Michael Saunders. “All of the outfielders were looking at each other. I made sure I covered left and right on balls hit to the gaps so both outfielders were going for it.”
Even worse, the wind wasn’t consistent in any direction.
“It was swirling and we didn’t really know what it was doing,” Saunders said.
The Mariners didn’t make any errors or huge mistakes.
“I think I told other guys to stay athletic and stay light on your feet because anything could happen,” said Seattle left fielder Raul Ibanez. “There was one ball hit down the line was foul. It was 30 feet foul and blew back in.”
The Mariners’ Felix Hernandez didn’t enjoy pitching in it.
“That wind was hard,” he said. “You just have to pitch through it. You can’t do anything about it. I’m not going to make excuses. It was all me.”
Saunders isn’t sure if the wind was beneficial or hurtful for hitters. His eighth-inning home run to left field might have gotten a little push from the wind.
“I really didn’t know what the wind was doing today,” he said. “The wind knocked down some deep fly balls in center that I thought were hit better than the one hit to left.”
Saunders hitting the home run off of Matt Thornton was a rare occurrence. Coming into the game, Thornton, a hard throwing left-hander and former Mariner, had given up 18 career home runs to left-handed hitters in his career — that’s 938 plate appearances by lefties. He gave up just one homer to a left-handed hitter last season. … Mariners manager Eric Wedge said that he expects set-up relief pitchers Stephen Pryor and Carter Capps to pitch more than one inning. … Catcher Jesus Montero and center fielder Franklin Gutierrez were both given days off for rest, but both pinch hit in the ninth inning, each striking out.