Mariners weather some wacky winds

ryan.divish@thenewstribune.comApril 7, 2013 

CHICAGO — What’s next? A torrential downpour? A tornado? Perhaps a blizzard? In two days at U.S. Cellular Field, the Seattle Mariners have experienced a wide array of weather conditions – and they haven’t been enjoyable

On Friday night, the Mariners opened the three-game series with game time temperatures in the low 30s and a freezing wind chill factor.

The chill was gone on Saturday, but the wind remained. And it blew, and blew, and blew some more.

The Windy City was all that and more with gusts ranging from 25-30 mph whipping through the stadium. Trash and paper was constantly seen blowing across the field during the Mariners’ 4-3 loss to the White Sox.

Every fly ball was an adventure.

“It was tough,” said Michael Saunders, who played center field for the Mariners on Saturday. “All of the outfielders were looking at each other. I made sure I covered left and right on balls hit to the gaps so both outfielders were going for it.”

Worse, the wind wasn’t consistent in any direction.

“It was swirling, and we didn’t really know what it was doing,” Saunders said.

Fortunately for them, the Mariners didn’t make any errors or huge mistakes because of the wind.

“… I told other guys to stay athletic and stay light on your feet because anything could happen,” left fielder Raul Ibañez said. “There was one ball hit down the line foul. It was 30 feet foul and blew back in.”

Felix Hernandez didn’t enjoy pitching in it.

“That wind was hard,” said Hernandez, who was charged with all four runs in Chicago’s 4-3 victory. “You just have to pitch through it. You can’t do anything about it. I’m not going to make excuses. It was all me.”

Saunders wasn’t even sure whether the wind helped or hurt hitters. His eighth-inning home run to left field might have gotten a little push from the wind.

“I really didn’t know what the wind was doing today,” he said. “The wind knocked down some deep fly balls in center that I thought were hit better than the one hit to left.”

SHORT HOPS

Saunders’ home run came off hard-throwing left-hander Matt Thornton – which was unusual. Thornton, who started his career with the Mariners in 2004, had given up just 18 career home runs in 938 plate appearances by lefties. He gave up just one homer to a left-hander last season. … Mariners manager Eric Wedge said that he expects setup relievers such as Stephen Pryor and Carter Capps to pitch more than one inning. … Jesus Montero and Franklin Gutierrez were given the day off to rest, but both pinch hit in the ninth inning with each striking out.

ON TAP

The Mariners wrap up their only series in Chicago this season today with right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (1-0, 1.50 ERA) starting on the mound. The White Sox will go with ace left-hander Chris Sale (1-0, 0.00 ERA). First pitch is set for 11:10 a.m. (PDT). The game will be broadcast on Root Sports and 710-AM.

Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483 ryan.divish@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @RyanDivish

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