I didn’t think things could get more painful than watching the Mariners give up 3 late game homeruns on route to being swept last weekend in Chicago. All 3 games were 1 run losses, and I remember thinking the M’s should have legitimately taken 2 of 3 in that series. Despite the frustration, those losses were a product of a few hiccups, albeit in consecutive games, by our usually solid bullpen. There wasn’t too much analysis required, and while it sucked to have them happen in a row, that’s baseball. We moved on.
This past weekend, however, had many more layers of dreadfulness. To condense this mess, I’ve bulleted 5 events that were pretty unbelievable (not in a good way), and another 5 RIDICULOUS facts that may require reading with a puke bucket by your side…
- Sweeney’s double play: When a walk, sac fly, base hit, or really anything past the infield would have won the game, Mike swung at the 1st pitch from Darren O’Day, a slider low and away, and ended the bases loaded threat in the bottom of the 10th on Friday. Although I must say, none of this surprised me.
- Byrnes whiffed bunt: This oddity captured the short Eric Byrnes era well. With the bases juiced just one inning after Sweeney failed in the same situation, Wak called on Byrnes to just make contact on a bunt attempt. I liked the call because asking Byrnes to not strike out or pop it up to an infielder is a tall task. Still, he failed…and then struck out for good measure.
- Bradley’s blown pop up: Many say Milton just gave up on this play, while some argue the sun got in his eyes. Regardless, this ball needed to be caught, because it allowed 2 runs to score with 2 outs after Felix had fought back from bases loaded and none out.
- Aardsma’s blown save: For the 2nd consecutive game following 8 dazzling innings by “Can’t buy a break Fister,” Aardsma surrendered a lead-off walk, then after a stolen base and a base hit, the game was tied, the save was blown, and Fister was given another no decision. I’m scared every time Aardsma enters the game and starts firing fastballs. This past week reminded me why I have this fear, despite his league leading 8 saves.
- 2 passed balls in 1 inning by Rob Johnson: Perhaps the previous events are explainable, but this one is not. Andrew touched on “Hips” and his lack of catching in his recap from yesterday’s game, so I won’t ramble. This tweet from Dave Cameron pretty well sums it up-
“Rob Johnson had as many passed balls in 1 inning yesterday as every non-Mariner AL team has all season.”
What is especially disappointing about all this is that if ANY one of these scenarios hadn’t happened, the M’s would likely have won the game. But it all happened, and as the wheels came off, it was like watching a bad horror film that started off decent, turned frustratingly unrealistic, and ended up humorous. The snowball of unfortunate events that overcame this team could not be stopped, and this team was coming up with new ways to blow games.
And now, grab your bucket…
- Bases loaded, 0 runs: 4 times this past weekend the M’s had the bases loaded with 1 out and combined, Seattle came away with 0 runs. Twice, scoring a run in that situation would have won the game. THAT’S RIDICULOUS!
- 2 losses despite 2 gems: Between Friday and Sunday’s starts, Lee and Fister combined to pitch 15 innings of shutout baseball, while giving up just 6 hits. The problem is, Seattle scored just 1 run in those 15 innings, and lost both games in extra innings. In the past week, on 4 occasions Seattle starters pitched 7+ innings and gave up 2 or less runs. The M’s record in those starts, you guessed it…0-4. THAT’S RIDICULOUS!
- 4 runs in 3 games: This is hardly a statistical oddity, because not scoring is becoming routine for this team. The bats will apparently wake up soon, but will it be too late? THAT’S RIDICULOUS!
- Power outage: The M’s have gone 62 innings (and counting) without a home run. We knew this team would not win on the long ball, but come on, 9 home runs in 828 at-bats? That’s exactly 2 home runs per 92 AB. 5 players in baseball have as many or more homeruns (9) than this Mariners team combined. THAT’S RIDICULOUS!
- Shortstop BB/K ratio: Our shortstops, Jack Wilson and Matt Tuiasosopo (soon to be Josh Wilson) have combined for 1 walk and 23 strike outs. THAT’S RIDICULOUS!
Weird stats will appear and disappear throughout a 162 game season, but they sure stick out in losses like this, especially when the margin for error is 1 play. I realize things are rarely as good or bad as they seem, and there will always be plenty of positives (unless you are Baltimore) and negatives to look at. On the positive side, Ichiro’s catch was spectacular yesterday, our starting pitching is out of this world, and we rarely get blown out. But the M’s have given fans no choice but to notice the bad lately, because the good is greatly overshadowed. Many will say this team has hit rock bottom, which may be a little extreme. But in all likelihood, this past weekend will be remembered as the turning point of the season, whether for good or bad.
Instead of taking 2 of 3 against Chicago and Texas, waking up to a record of 15-10, and a nice 2 game lead, Seattle is 11-14 and 2 games out of first place with the hottest team in baseball coming to town. Luckily, the rest of the AL west is a mess too, and changes have already been made. Byrnes is gone, and last night Tui was optioned to Tacoma. Ryan Langerhans and Josh Wilson fill those spots, for now, and I’d imagine more changes are coming. I agree with Matthew in his prediction that this offense, even as it improves, is probably not good enough to win the division. The problem is, teams have not begun to unload players because no one wants to admit they are out of the playoff race this early in the season.
This all adds up to what could be a make or break month coming up. May has been dreadful for the M’s the past 2 seasons, and it is unlikely that an impact bat will come and save this offense in the next week or two. Thus, it is crucial that the slumping hitters on this team get going now. If the M’s can get recover and finish this homestand strong against the Rays and Angels, things will sound a lot different on here a week from today. But go 2-4 or 1-5 in these next 6 games, and the excitement of contending this summer may be in serious jeopardy.