The 1899 Cleveland Spiders set a record for major-league baseball futility that figures to never be, uh, topped.
The Spiders finished 20-134 that season — the result, in part, of ownership decisions to dump most of the team's best players — with a winning percentage of .138 that even Mario Mendoza would scoff at.
But the rest of what are generally considered the worst teams in baseball history won roughly 25 percent of their games. The notorious 1962 New York Mets, for instance, went 40-120, hitting the mark exactly.
The Kansas City Royals came to Seattle this weekend on pace to join those teams in infamy — they are now 14-40.
But if form held, that meant the Royals were due to win one of the four games they are to play here against the Mariners in a series that ends tonight.
And that's just what they did Sunday, beating the Mariners 9-4 in front of 28,886 restless fans at Safeco Field after being beaten handily the past two nights.
"It's major-league baseball," said Mariners outfielder Willie Bloomquist. "Anybody can beat anybody on any given day. So if we can come back and win [tonight] and win three out of four, we have to consider that a positive and a good series."
Mark Redman (1-4)
Jarrod Washburn (3-7)
Today: Kansas City
at Seattle, 7:05 p.m., FSN/KOMO (1000 AM)
M's Gil Meche (4-4)
vs. Mike Wood (3-0)
That was the best spin that could be put on this one, however, as two of the few sure things for the Mariners this season surprisingly betrayed them Sunday: the pitching of Jarrod Washburn and the fielding of Yuniesky Betancourt.
Washburn (3-7) turned in his shortest outing of the season, allowing a season-high seven runs on eight hits in 4-1/3 innings. Betancourt had one error — and admitted he probably should have been charged with another — that helped lead to Kansas City's two-run sixth inning.
"Any time you pitch as bad as I did today, you hate to see it," said Washburn, whose previous shortest outing came when he allowed six runs in five innings at Cleveland on April 11. "I've had two bad outings, and it's been a long time since I've had one. Hopefully those are the last two of the season."
Ironically, this was one time Washburn, who watched the Mariners get shut out 2-0 in his last game, got some early runs. Adrian Beltre's second homer in two days gave the Mariners a 2-0 lead after the first inning.
But Washburn gave up a solo homer to Emil Brown in the second inning on what Washburn said was a misplaced changeup left high in the strike zone, and the pitcher never regained his form. Kansas City scored two more runs each in the third and the fourth. And when two Royals reached first and second with one out in the fifth, Washburn was gone, leaving with his team behind 5-3.
"I just kept missing in the middle of the plate," Washburn said.
Julio Mateo came on but wasn't really given a chance to get out of it as the Royals pulled a double steal on his first pitch. One runner scored when Kenji Johjima threw the ball into left field — symbolic of a sloppy day in which the Mariners had two errors and also saw Bloomquist picked off first base on a botched hit-and-run.
It was 7-3 to start the sixth when Kansas City's Esteban German hit a ball that Betancourt simply booted. The 24-year-old didn't commit his first error of the season until May 7, but he now has eight.
"I haven't really changed anything," Betancourt said. "It happens. I'm not perfect."
Betancourt said he should have been charged with another error later in the inning when he bobbled a shot by Brown, then threw high to second baseman Jose Lopez — a play called a hit.
"For me, it was an error because I knew I could get it," he said.
The Royals got two more runs that inning, and their 9-3 lead proved insurmountable as the Mariners fell to 6-15 against left-handed starters.
This one might have been the most unlikely of those defeats, however, as Kansas City's Mark Redman entered the game 0-4 with a 6.86 earned-run average and wasn't tabbed as the starter until Saturday.
"He shut us down for a while and allowed them to get back in the game," Bloomquist said of Redman, who gave up eight hits and four runs in 5-2/3 innings.
When it ended, it was easy to joke that the Royals needed some refreshers on how to conduct the postgame handshake line that is traditional for winning teams. Kansas City has won only one other game by a larger margin this season, and their win Sunday was just their fourth since May 10.
"We haven't had one of those in a while," said Kansas City manager Buddy Bell. "From a total package standpoint, that's probably as good a game as we've played in a while."
The Mariners can only hope the law of averages holds up.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org