Some games feel bigger than the one W or L that they represent on the schedule. When the M’s win in dramatic fashion on a Saturday night in front of 40,000 at Safeco, it seems odd that that win means just as much as a 10 am weekday win against Kansas City, in front of 11,000 fans. Likewise, a loss like yesterday kind of feels like 10 losses, rather than just one. The fashion in which the Mariners blew a 7-2 lead in the 5th inning yesterday, although not surprising based on how this year has gone, left me feeling frustration that should be reserved for only the most painful, playoff losses; not a regular season game in May.
I should be talking about a Mariners team that is miraculously just 5 games out of first place today. The M’s should have won yesterday, and should have won Saturday. The streak of horrible weekend games should have come to a halt, but alas, the M’s lost on Saturday and Sunday, providing further proof that while good teams find ways to win games, Seattle finds ways to lose them. Thus, they are not a good team. I have so many thoughts, opinions and observations from this weekend series because I saw every inning, and both games had so many layers. Rather than recap both games in typical style, I think I will just bullet point the good and bad that stood out.
The Depressing Stuff:
Ian Snell pitched well through 3 innings, but then I jinxed him by noticing this, and his control went haywire. I’m sure Snell will be gone at the end of the season, if not before then, and with Jack Wilson on the shelf and probably never returning to his old form, it’s probably accurate to say we lost that trade with the Pirates. I would have done it myself, and the trade won’t set the organization back much, but Jeff Clement at least has some potential, whereas Snell and Wilson don’t appear to.
Felix pitched well enough to win on Saturday, 8+ innings of 1 run ball, but the M’s offense was MIA and Brandon League showed again an inability to keep the ball in the park when it matters most.
On Sunday, Jesus Colome and Kanekoa Texeira pitched the 5th and 6th innings, and despite yielding just 2 hits, neither pitcher had much control. Of the 40 pitches they threw, 25 were balls. 4 walks were issued, plus a catcher’s interference, and suddenly the Angels had scratched out 3 runs off 2 singles, and the score was 7-5 heading into the 7th. This felt like the turning point in the game.
Yesterday, David Aardsma entered the 9th with a 1 run lead. The odds of winning may have been 75%, but in reality, it felt like a 50/50 game at this point. Aardsma had Matsui struck out on a full count, but the ump called it a ball, which was a horrible call. Once Matsui walked, I felt things slipping away. Rivera proceeded to crush a ball that somehow stayed in the yard, but it felt like a foreshadow of things to come. A fluke infield hit followed, and the wheels were coming off. Kendrick then blasted a fastball (of course) the other way and the game was over. But back to why things never feel safe when David Aardsma enters the game…
The fact is, Aardsma usually has decent control, but everyone knows he will throw a 93-96 mph fastball about 90% of the time. If that pitch is not located perfectly, it’s a meatball. There really isn’t any deception to Aardsma’s pitching. The hitters just have to sit dead red, make a nice swing, and hope the ball lands in a good spot. Effective closers need not have 3 great pitches, but if he chooses to throw 1 pitch 90% of the time, it had better be a great pitch. Aardsma’s fast ball is not a great pitch, especially if it is not properly located. Aardsma will continue to get hit well for this reason, and sometimes the ball stays in the park or he gets lucky with a ball hit right at someone, but a lot of time the outcome is what we witnessed yesterday. It’s just really frustrating, but really, who didn’t expect him to regress this year? His true colors are showing. Aardsma depends on location and luck, and often one or the other fails him. He seems like a really cool guy though, for what it’s worth.
Our 3rd base coach is awful. I talk to Andrew about this often, and yesterday’s send of Wilson was his worst of the year. Base coaches are like referees in that if no one is talking about him, he is probably doing a good job. We have talked about Mike Brumley way too much this year, thus, he is doing a bad job.
Saturday and Sunday has not been kind to the Mariners this year. Seattle is 3-13 in weekend games, including 6 straight Saturday losses, and currently the team has won just once in its past 13 weekend games. In their 13 losses, 6 have been walk-offs, and 9 have been the crushing loss type, whereby the M’s were either tied or leading in the 8th inning.
9 times the M’s have given up a walk-off hit. Conversely, Seattle has just 1 walk-off hit this season.
The Mariners are 0-6 in extra inning games this year.
Only 3 teams in baseball have a worst record than the M’s.
Do I enjoy digging up these stats? Actually, no. I don’t drink alcohol, but this team brings me closer each weekend!
Positive notes, plus hero and goat after the jump Continue reading
The idea that the season really starts with Game 2 is common with baseball fans and writers. Opening day has all the ceremony and a couple of aces throwing (theoretically for some teams), but the next day brings a little more routine and Ian Snell vs. Dallas Braden. Braden was excellent. The first couple of innings, he didn’t seem like much, but the Mariners weren’t hitting him either. By the third or so, he had them in-between on every pitch. Not sure he can do that every game, but he was impressive, just one well-hit Franklin Gutierrez double away from a shut out.
I’m not quite sure what Ian Snell was. I guess you take 6 innings, 1 run, 3 hits and 2 walks however you can get them, but he just makes me nervous. Actually, it’s not so much that he makes me nervous, it’s that I feel no confidence when he’s on the mound. It looked a little bit like smoke and mirrors today. Maybe he’ll get better. I’m not writing him off, and I’ll take that outing anytime. The problem is that if he throws like that against a better offense, the results will not be anywhere near as good. Can he improve? I’m not holding my breath. His stuff looked decent at times and very hittable at others. I guess I’ll just be happy that he didn’t get crushed and not make any judgments until we see a few more outings.
Unfortunately, the offense was everything we feared it might be tonight. They certainly ran into an unexpected buzz-saw in Braden, but without Ichi and Figgy on base as much, with Kotchman struggling against lefties, Bradley just struggling and nothing from the bottom of the order, well that’s pretty much everyone. Guti had the lone good day, and it still took a balk and wild pitch to score him. It won’t always be this bad, but we’re going to see a lot of these types of games. Some will go the M’s way, some won’t. No reason to panic, but anytime they want to trade for a big bat, go right ahead.
Hero: Ian Snell. It wasn’t very pretty, but you have to give credit to Snell, who pitched 6 innings, and only gave up 4 hits and 1 earned run.
Goat: The Offense. 5 hits in 10 innings won’t cut it. Guti had 2 of those hits so maybe he should be exempt.
- I told Andrew a couple of times Monday how natural I thought Jose Lopez looked at third, but tonight brought a few hiccups. Still, he didn’t make any mistakes due to a lack of tools that I could see. That spinning throw is something he’ll get better at. No reason to worry, I’d say.
- We definitely saw the value of Kotchman’s defense today. He gave no signs of being able to hit lefties at all, but he dug out a couple of tough throws, and that short-hop play he made was excellent. Still, amazing how much worse he looked against a lefty, rolling everything over for weak grounders. Then his first at-bat against a righty, he smoked a line drive straight to Ellis. Time to see if Sweeney can still play first on occasion?
- Bradley looks extremely uncomfortable at the plate, like he’s guessing on everything. He seemed to take better cuts later in at-bats, especially in the ninth. I’m betting once he gets a couple of hits he’ll lock in pretty good, but I’ll be anxious until that happens. The longer he goes without success, the better the chance of something bad happening.
- Welcome to the big leagues, Kanekoa Texeira! Looked nervous, but that slider/sinker/whatever is nasty. He looked a lot better than Sean White, not that that’s saying much. Getting out of a bases loaded one out situation is no small feat, especially in your debut, even if he put himself in the situation. Too bad he couldn’t do it again.
- Shawn Kelley and Mark Lowe, on the other hand. I like those guys. Kelley is a much better pitcher than Ian Snell right now. Just not sure that would hold true if he moved to the rotation.
Game 3: Justin Duchsherer vs. Ryan Rowland-Smith, 7:05