SEATTLE — Go ahead and say last rites.
The Mariners are as good as dead.
The only thing that can save them is an infusion of timely hits and that’s about as likely to happen as Edgar Martinez running a 4.2-second 40-yard dash.
They get Roger Clemens in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series this afternoon and while the 38-year-old right-hander ain’t what he used to be, he doesn’t have to be to shut down the Mariners.
Right now, they’d have a tough time hitting Bob Gibson and he’s in his 60s.
Yankees manager Joe Torre says Clemens will be OK if he doesn’t try "to throw 200 mph."
He’ll be OK if he rolls it up to the plate.
The M’s couldn’t get a big hit if you put the ball on a tee.
They’ve scored seven runs in their last four games and won two of them only because they got outstanding pitching. OK, and a timely hit or two. One of them being a game-winning bunt to wrap up a 3-0 sweep of the Chicago White Sox in the Division Series.
Now the M’s are in danger of being swept at home in the ALCS after losing 8-2 and seeing the Yankees take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Yes, the Yankees have to win two more games here today and Sunday, but the way the M’s are hitting, that shouldn’t be too difficult.
This isn’t anything new for the M’s, of course. They’ve had these little hitting funks all year. This one looks like it could last until next April.
They got 10 hits Friday night, but all it got them was those two runs, which has been their limit of late. Against the Yankees, they’ve scored 2, 1 and 2. That’ll win you three games in soccer. In baseball, all it gets you is a ticket home from the playoffs.
You know the M’s are in trouble when they can’t win with the roof closed. With the lid on for all or parts of 13 games during the regular season, they went 10-3, averaging seven runs.
The only lid they’re looking at now is the one to their coffin.
It started sliding into place in the first inning Friday night when, with men on second and third, one out and one run in, Jay Buhner grounded out. Then John Olerud flied out.
Yankee left-hander Andy Pettitte said "thank you very much," then promptly got himself in trouble again in the second inning.
Same situation, runners on second and third with one out, Rickey Henderson and Mike Cameron coming to bat.
An opportunity to put Pettitte on the ropes. He KOed both on groundouts.
The M’s had one more chance to put Pettitte away. Henderson got a one-out double in the fifth. Now the meat of the batting order was coming up: Cameron, Alex Rodriguez and Edgar Martinez.
Cameron did his job with a run-scoring single. A-Rod went after the first pitch and flied out. Edgar Martinez hit into a fielder’s choice.
End of uprising. Beginning of wailing for the soon-to-be-dead.
The Yankees are the ones who ought to be crying. They’ve made three coast-to-coast trips in the last six days. And they’ve won three of four games. Really worn them out, hasn’t it?
The M’s looked worn out in this one. Or at least hazy-headed.
Mark McLemore missed on his first two attempts at a sacrifice bunt in the second before finally getting the hang of it.
Martinez singled in the third and then did something that is totally uncharacteristic. He was caught leaning the wrong way and got picked off. Why he was even leaning is a question for the ages.
The M’s weren’t without spunk. Cameron went head-first over the wall in the second inning. Unfortunately, the only thing he got out of it was a sore mid-section as a ball hit by Tino Martinez eluded him for a solo home run. That wouldn’t have been so bad, had it not come on the heels of a solo shot by Bernie Williams.
Oh, how the M’s would like to do something like that.
Even another bunt single with a man on third would look good. Where’s Carlos Guillen when they need him? On the bench.
Which is where the M’s will be Sunday afternoon when Game 5 ends if they don’t get their hitting hats on. On the bench watching the Yankees celebrate as the pinstripers head to another World Series.
New Yorkers long for a Subway Series.
With the Mets up 2-0 on St. Louis, it’s looking like they’ll get it.
Clemens isn’t a lights-out pitcher in the postseason, but he’s had six days off and he can smell blood.
Besides that, he’s 21-11 lifetime against the M’s. And he likes pitching at Safeco Field.
On Sunday, the Yankees will likely come back with Orlando Hernandez, who is 7-0 in postseason games, and he’s already beaten the M’s in this series.
That pounding you hear is the nails being driven into the M’s coffin.
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