Hardly a gem in the Emerald City

Wednesday, August 25, 2004–Mariners 0, Devil Rays 9

The real story here was the trip to get to Seattle. Even a precies will be quite wordy. As with the trip to San Francisco the year before, my parents flew out to Seattle ahead of me and I took the train. First leg of the trip was to LA, and we hit our first snag when flash flooding in–of all places–Needles CA washed out some rails. That made me too late to catch the connecting train and so rather than going up the coast, I was put on a bus to Bakersfield, a train to Stockton and another bus to Oakland. Then, after a three-day visit with my family in the Bay Area (a story in itself which includes damn near breaking my foot), I was back on the train up to Seattle. Or rather Klamath Falls, OR. A fire in a tunnel had shut down another part of the line. So, I bussed to Eugene, then pulled into Seattle 4 hours late.

After that, the game was bound to be a bit of a letdown, even if it had been a good game. It wasn’t. Hardly notable at all, really, except that it happened to be the Major League debut of future All-Star Scott Kazmir for the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays. With the ’04 Mariners being what they were, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that it would also be his first Major League win, which it was, a 9-0 Devil Rays victory. It should have been 9-1: in the third, Edgar Martinez hit a fly ball to dead center that hit something right above the yellow line and bounced back into the field of play, a home run–but the umps didn’t see it that way.

The game was scoreless through the first five innings, with the M’s getting early opportunities and squandering good scoring chances in the 1st and 3rd, and a great chance in the 2nd. Ichiro lead off the 4th with a single, but was promptly caught stealing, and that seemed to deflate the home team, and when the Rays scored 4 in the sixth, it was all over.

The blow that deflated the crowd was a monster homer by Jose Cruz Jr. If that name sounds familiar, here’s why: he’d had the big hit for the Giants in the game at Pac Bell the year before, and had somehow gone from being program-cover boy for the Giants to exiled to Tampa. (If memory serves, he made a big error in the playoff series against Florida, but don’t quote me on that.)

The most enduring image of this game? As much as I enjoyed the guy in the skin-tight superhero outfit with a recycling emblem on his chest who collected the plastic bottles, I’d have to give the title to the roof. It started drizzling in the 9th. As soon as the game was over, they closed the roof and turned on the sprinklers.

Here’s the scorecard.

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