Remember when it was supposed to be a trade that would put the Mariners over the top and into postseason in 2008.
Instead, it was the trade that brought a sullen, injury-prone, misunderstood pitcher to Seattle for four forgettable seasons and cost the organization an all-star center fielder, who is frankly better than any player on the Mariners 25-man roster at this very moment.
But it wasn’t just Adam Jones’ mammoth second-inning home run in Wednesday’s 4-0 loss to the Orioles that picked at the healed scab of a lamentable trade that sent him and four other players east for Erik Bedard.
No, it was one of those forgotten four players in that now regrettable and infamous Bill Bavasi trade that came back to haunt his former organization, spoiling the Fourth of July celebration at Safeco Field.
Chris Tillman, a one-time prized pitching prospect in both the Mariners and Orioles organization and still hopeful contributor for Baltimore, gave a glimpse of what made him the second most coveted player in that five player for one swap back before the 2008 season.
For eight innings in his first big league start of the season, Tillman was basically unhittable, allowing just one hit – a groundball single to Michael Saunders
Sure Tillman never got the shutout -- a Robert Andino error and a double from John Jaso knocked him out of the game. But really, he was shutout level good. Not bad for a guy that had been in Triple A till last week and was making his first big league start this season.
Officially, Tillman got the win, going 8 1/3 innings and giving up no earned runs on tow hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.
“He was a big leaguer out there today,” said Saunders of his one-time teammate at Class A High Desert. “He’s always had a good arm. But he’s had a little bit of control problems. But he was on today.”
In the ninth inning with 120 plus pitches under his belt, Tillman threw a pair of fastballs at 97 miles per hour. According to Pitch F/X numbers, Tillman threw his fastball at an average of 94.99 miles per hour.
“I played with him a couple years back in the minor leagues before we traded him to Baltimore, I faced him last year, but I’ve never seen him sit at 93 to 95 miles per hours,” Saunders said. “He was mixing his pitches, throwing a pretty good curve ball. But that was the biggest difference for me was that extra velocity.”
While some of Seattle’s struggles can be blamed on the increased velocity and Tillman’s quality of pitches, it’s not as if the Mariners are the 1927 Yankees in terms of offensive prowess. They aren’t even the 2007 Mariners in terms of offense.
Many a pitcher this season has come into Safeco Field and shut Seattle down, Tillman is just added to that list.
“There wasn’t any hard contact,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “We just didn’t put ourselves in the position to hit the ball hard. He had a good fastball, and you had to get on it, but we just kept missing or mishitting the baseball.”
Noesi's start could be best summed up as ... meh.
He wasn't good, he wasn't awful, he was just Noesi.
He pitched five innings, giving up four runs on seven hits with four strikeouts, a wild pitch and a balk.
“He made some mistakes,” Wedge said. “They pushed a run across here and a run across there and we felt that was enough for him today. We just need him to take the next step, to the point where we know what we are getting from him.”
The right-hander served up the massive homer to Jones, who drove the 2-0 fastball into the upper deck in left field.
“It was a fastball down the middle and he was waiting for it,” Noesi said.
Noeis gave up two more runs in the third inning as a pair of singles to start the inning scored on a fielder’s choice and a sacrifice fly. A lead-off double and a wild pitch allowed Robert Andino to drive in the Oriole’s fourth run of the game in the fifth inning.
“I was not good today,” he said. “I was missing my spots.”
Of course, it wouldn't have mattered how good Noesi was on the mound, the Mariners weren't good at the plate.
They went 4-6 on the 10-game homestand, dropping to just 35-49 this season. Seattle scored just 2.1 runs per game and batted a meek .175 over the homestand. It dropped their numbers on the season to a .198 batting average with a .276 on-base percentage and a .293 slugging percentage. Perhaps, the three-game series in Oakland, which starts on Friday and carries into the all-star break will help them.
“I don’t know about that,” Wedge said. “I would rather stay here and grind this and figure it out. That’s my attitude and that should be their attitude too. You can’t run away from it. You have to look it right in the eye. This is where we play. And it’s a great to place to play.”
OF NOTE ....
Montero took a foul tip squarely off the front his mask from Robert Andino swing on a 92 mile per hour fastball from Hector Noesi in the fifth inning.
“It got me right in the forehead,” Montero said. “The masks usually work, but this time it got me good.”
The impact was so hard it knocked Montero backward and left him reeling on the ground. Mariners’ manager Eric Wedge and trainer Rob Nodine both attended to Montero immediately.
After a brief conversation and a few concussion tests, Montero was taken out of the game and replaced by Miguel Olivo.
“I feel now,” Montero said postgame. “I feel a little dizzy, but I’m okay.”
But during the game it was not the case.
“I was pretty dizzy,” he said. “They checked me out to be sure. But I’m glad nothing happened.”
Wedge said Montero has a very mild concussion.
“We don’t think it will be anything similar to (Franklin Gutierrez) where we will have to put him on the disabled list,” Wedge said. “But we will have re-evaluate him tomorrow.”
Mike Carp, who is on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder, began his rehab assignment on Wednesday in Salt Lake City with the Rainiers. Carp batted third and was at designated hitter. … Right-hander Stephen Pryor – also on the disabled list - is slowly making his way back from a strained groin. He threw his third bullpen session and will throw a simulated game with the team in Oakland. If all goes well, he will head out on a rehab assignment. … Outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, who is on the 7-day disabled list with a concussion, is improving but likely won’t return till after the all-star break. … Steve Delabar, Brandon League, Lucas Luetge and Shawn Kelley combined to throw four hitless innings for the Mariners. It was the 12th time this season the Mariners bullpen has held team hitless for four innings or more. … Seattle has given Hector Noesi a total of one run of support in his last five starts. … It was the sixth time this season, the Mariners got three hits or less.