Tuesday, April 23, 2024

THE CHEAP SEATS with STEVE CAMERON: The nature of streaks, good and bad

| August 17, 2020 1:06 AM

Erik Swanson wouldn’t be able to find a dime under the living room cushions at Warren Buffett’s house.

As for the Mariners in general, they might be the first team in recent memory just thrilled to be off for Los Angeles — and a four-game series against the almighty Dodgers.

I mean, anything to get out of Houston.

With Kyle Tucker’s walk-off homer on Sunday (more on that shortly), the M’s now have lost 24 of their last 26 against the Astros — and this has all happened with no banging on garbage cans.

Seattle lost all 10 games at Minute Maid Park last year, and so far, the M’s are 1-6 this season.

Maybe they should frame that 7-6 victory on July 26, except…

The Mariners’ game-winning, three-run rally in the eighth that night came against reliever Chris Devenski, who was diagnosed with a sore elbow immediately afterward — and headed off to the injured list.

So, Seattle is 0-15 against healthy Astros over two seasons in Texas — and 1-0 against a right-hander throwing in agony.

STILL, they’ll take it.

Somehow, barely, 7-16 overall this year sounds a teeny bit better than 6-17.

Plus, it was a damn win in Houston.

Things could be worse, I suppose — Detroit suffered its 20th straight loss to Cleveland on Sunday.

The Indians can tie the MLB record of 23 straight next weekend, as they’ve got three more against the Tigers on tap.

I’m familiar with that 23-game record, by the way, since it came with Baltimore flogging the Kansas City Royals just at a time (1969-70) that I was launching my own career.

Here’s an oddity, before we put our focus back on the Mariners…

Reliever Moe Drabowsky, an outrageous character in his own right, had been drafted from Baltimore by the expansion Royals — and was charged with a loss to his old team during that 23-game streak.

But wait…

A year later, the Royals traded Moe back to the O’s, and he eventually WON a game during the same 23-game blitz.

Before we change subjects…

Drabowsky once used the Royals’ bullpen phone to order a Chinese take-out dinner — from Hong Kong.

I wonder: Would baseball be amused by the likes of Moe these days?


Back to our staggering M’s, and the luckless Swanson.

There obviously were offensive problems that undid outstanding starts by Nick Margevicius and Justus Sheffield in the latest two losses (2-1 and 3-2) to the Astros.

But still…

The way they lost on Sunday tells you everything about how teams somehow run off long winning runs against certain other teams.

Yes, the Astros are better than the current Mariners.

Sure, they are.

But they’re not 24-out-of-26 better, I promise.

Consider the fateful ninth inning…

The game is sitting at 2-2 when Scott Servais calls on Swanson, whom the manager hopes can be a high-leverage option in the future.

Swanson has a terrific fastball, but needs to tweak some secondary pitches — which he could be doing at Tacoma if there were minor-league baseball this season.

Instead, he’s trying to figure things out in The Show.

So, Swanson comes on, and promptly strikes out Jose Altuve.

Next up is Kyle Tucker, one of baseball’s current flops.

A first-round draft pick (fifth overall) in 2015, he’s been in the big leagues for parts of three seasons, and prior to Sunday, he’d hit .201 with five homers (and 56 strikeouts) in 69 games.

This year, he was lugging around a .192 average with a single home run.

SWANSON got Tucker to a 2-2 count, and threw a 96 mile-per-hour fastball way inside, and off the plate.

It almost hit Tucker on the knuckles.


He swung, almost in self-defense, and somehow hit a routine fly ball — except that this was tiny Minute Maid Park, and the baseball is still shamelessly juiced.

Tucker’s nothing fly sailed a modest 367 feet, somehow, and fell just over the fence in right-center to end the game.

Poor Swanson may have punched out a hotel lamp in L.A. on Sunday night.

Tucker likely said a prayer of thanks.

And that’s the nature of a streak.

Email: scameron@cdapress.com

Steve Cameron’s “Cheap Seats” columns appear in The Press on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. “Moments, Memories and Madness,” his reminiscences from several decades as a sports journalist, runs each Sunday.

Steve also writes Zags Tracker, a commentary on Gonzaga basketball, once per month during the offseason.