By John Boyle
Obviously I’m biased since sports are, well, my job, but days like Wednesday, which saw two professional sports teams play one block and a few hours apart, are pretty darn cool. Sure there are traffic concerns, which are a big talking point now that discussions are underway to build a basketball arena in the area, particularly for the Port of Seattle,—and we’ll get a more in depth on this topic in Sunday’s Herald—but its a fun a fairly unique day when more than 60,000 sports fans converge on one area in a name of cheering on their favorite teams.
I started my day by intentionally getting to SODO close to the start of the Mariners game, and still managed to travel from Spoken St. to Safeco Field—a big corridor for Port vehicles—in about four and a half minutes. Now to be fair, I went back out in my car between games, and that same stretch took about 25 minutes starting at 4:30, but that is also an area that has a lot of traffic at that time of day regardless of whether events are going on or not. But again, that’s a topic for later.
As for the games that took place, the Mariners continued the nice little run that they are on, getting their fifth win in six games, beating the first-place Rangers 5-3. The big hero was obviously Alex Liddi, who hit his first career grand slam, but two other performances stood out to me. For starters, Kevin Millwood had another impressive start, pitching six shutout innings against the potent Rangers lineup. That was on the heels of a complete game shutout in Colorado, and in his start before that, Millwood pitched seven innings, allowing one run on three hits against the Yankees. Now that would be a nice three-game run for any pitcher, but it has been a particularly pleasant surprise from Millwood, who started the year with 0-4 record and a 5.88 ERA through six starts. At that point, a lot of Mariners fans would have been happy to see the 37-year-old journeyman out of the Mariners rotation, but now he is suddenly looking like a solid starter. And speaking of turning things around, it was only one game, but beleaguered closer Brandon League (you see what I did there? Clever, I know) had a nice bounce-back performance in his first save opportunity since blowing a save in Cleveland last week. League did pitch a few days ago to close out a win over the Rockies, but that wasn’t a save situation and he gave up two runs in the ninth to make Mariners fans sweat. On Wednesday afternoon, however, League looked sharp. Sure his first out went about 340 to the right field wall, but he struck out the next two batters and he looked to have the stuff that made him an All Star last year.
Of course, it wasn’t such a happy day for Sounders fans. A team that two weeks ago was the hottest team in Major League Soccer, Seattle dropped its second home game in a row and is now winless in three straight since winning five in a row. Making matters worse is that Seattle lost 2-0 to a not very good Columbus Crew team that came into the game with a 3-4-3 record.
The result prompted Sounders coach Sigi Schmid to suggest that he and his players need to do a little soul searching.
“We’ve got to get on the same page,” he said. “… Right now we seem to be not on the same page sometimes, and that’s my job; I’ve got to make sure we get on the same page.
“Obviously going 0-2-1 in the last three games is something that we’re not happy about, but we’ve got to make this streak as short as possible and get out of it… We need to soul search.”
So the final tally for the day? One win for a home team, one loss, some worse than normal, yet not unbearable traffic, and a good time had by thousands, and a pretty entertaining Wednesday.