Edgar’s getting cranky

  • By Larry LaRue / The News Tribune
  • Thursday, July 8, 2004 9:00pm
  • Sports

TORONTO – And on the 101st day of the 2004 season, Edgar Martinez snapped.

No, there were no over-turned food tables, no teammates punched, no bats hurled on the field or anywhere else.

But 35 minutes after the Seattle Mariners lost on a walk-off home run by Carlos Delgado – producing a 10-8 Toronto victory – Martinez let loose.

A candidate for the Hall of Fame, he had an hour or so before collected his second RBI of the night, and the 979th of his career as a designated hitter. That’s a major league record for a DH, passing Harold Baines.

After a long shower failed to wash away the disappointment of the Mariners’ 51st loss, Martinez showed up at his locker to find a few writers and a camera crew waiting.

A candidate for sainthood – at least by big-league baseball standards – Martinez dropped his towel and reached for his pants. The TV camera followed his every move.

And Martinez snapped.

“I’m not real comfortable getting dressed with you that close,” he said with just a hint of a snarl.

The cameraman quickly turned around, and Martinez finished getting dressed and then answered questions patiently.

“Milestones are easy to enjoy when you’re winning,” he said. “Right now, it doesn’t really mean anything. No goals mean anything when you’re playing like we are.

“I can’t say this is fun. I can’t say I’ve had much fun yet this year.”

For Martinez, that passes for an emotional outburst – and after finishing the interview, he apologized for being cranky. Mired in a six-game losing streak, beaten after taking an 8-6 lead into the ninth inning, the Mariners are one crabby group today.

“I did a terrible job. I let this team down,” said closer Eddie Guardado, who gave up four runs in the ninth, including a three-run home run to Carlos Delgado. “The pitch Carlos hit? That’s a pitch he’s paid to hit out, and he hit it out.”

Most players dressed without TV crews filming them, and few had much to say.

Manager Bob Melvin tried, but didn’t get far.

“We did some good things early, we came back on them, we got huge outs in the eighth inning,” Melvin said. “And then we give the ball to a guy who’s pitched lights out all season. He just couldn’t get it done.

“It’s pretty amazing, really, that we end up losing this game. I’m at a loss … “

Who isn’t? Mariners baseball today is inexplicable, a mixture of sublime and bizarre.

Want just a taste of it from the game Thursday?

* Ichiro Suzuki was perched on third base in the first inning when Bret Boone beat out an infield single – and he was still on third when the play ended.

* Starting pitcher Ryan Franklin had leads of 2-0 and 4-0, but left the bases full of Blue Jays in both the first and second innings. Eventually, he ran out of magic and Toronto went ahead in the fifth inning, 6-4.

* At third base again in the fourth inning, Suzuki tagged up on Boone’s fly ball to straightaway right field. After appearing to get a late break on the ball, Suzuki was thrown out at the plate by Alex Rios.

* Randy Winn helped bring Seattle back with a four-hit game that included two doubles and, in the eighth inning, a home run that put the Mariners ahead 8-6.

“A two-run lead in the ninth with one of the best closers in the game coming in?” Winn asked. “Yeah, I felt pretty comfortable.”

* Guardado’s ninth inning included a 13-pitch at-bat by outfielder Dave Berg, who homered on the 13th pitch. Shortstop Chris Gomez then parachuted a little fly ball in front of Suzuki in right field. Reed Johnson lined a pitch in his eyes past John Olerud for an opposite field single.

Up came Delgado, who’d stranded eight baserunners in four earlier at-bats.

“I tried to go inside on him, and the ball stayed up and over the plate,” Guardado said.

Dave Hansen, the pinch-hitter extraordinaire, had singled home the game-tying run in the eight for the Mariners. He was asked if in his 11-year big league career, he’d seen anything like this.

“I’ve been on some bad teams,” Hansen said. “But never like this. We’re better than this.”

Are they?

“I don’t know how you rate losses,” Martinez said. “This was tough, but we’ve had so many hard losses this season. We’ll keep fighting. That’s what players do when they take the field. But it’s not fun.

“I’m sorry for snapping, but this is very frustrating for all of us.”

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