May 18, 2013 at 3:03 PM
We’ve discussed the lack of athleticism by catcher Jesus Montero before and it came into play at a couple of key moments in today’s 5-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians.
The biggest play was the one in the bottom of the ninth, when Brendan Ryan made that diving snag of a Mark Reynolds shot that appeared headed into left field. With the bases loaded and none out, Ryan had to come home with his throw and made a pretty stellar effort to get the ball there.
But catcher Montero — wanting to catch the ball before the runner touched home — took his foot off the plate in making his stretch. To be fair to Montero, catchers don’t practice stretching for balls the way a first baseman would and it was pretty evident on that play.
“That’s the reason right there,’’ Montero said. “We usually block the plate. But in that moment, I was thinking ‘Just touch the plate and catch the ball.’ But the ball was a little far.’’
May 18, 2013 at 1:02 PM
Oliver Perez picked the wrong time to have a rare off day, giving up a leadoff single and then a double to Asdrubal Cabrera in the ninth. The Mariners intentionally loaded the bases with none out after that and brought Yoervis Medina on to pitch.
But Mark Reynolds then hit a shot to the left side that a diving Brendan Ryan made a stop on. But Ryan was off-balance when he threw home and had no chance to get the runner. Well, actually, it looks like Jesus Montero might have taken his foot off home plate too early. I’ll have to see some replays on that and there’s no time now because I’m off to the clubhouse.
Mariners take their second straight walk-off loss, 5-4.
The loss came after the Mariners had tied the game in stunning fashion in the top of the inning.
May 18, 2013 at 9:50 AM
Wow, did not see that coming. With one out to go, nobody on and the Mariners down a pair, Raul Ibanez and Justin Smoak hit back-to-back jacks off of Chris Perez to tie the game. Smoak’s homer was to right-center and the crowd here knew it was gone the moment he connected.
So, it’s 4-4.
The big hero if the Mariners come back to win this thing could be Danny Farquhar, who retired all eight hitters he faced in his Mariners debut. Oliver Perez now on to pitch the bottom of the ninth.
12:26 p.m.: Better get the pantry stocked because the Apocalypse might be upon us. Brendan Ryan just hit a home run — yes, a real one, not in a video game — to cut the Cleveland lead to 4-2 here in the eighth inning. Justin Smoak had just missed a home run off Zach McAllister earlier in the inning on a blast off the left field wall. Then, Ryan unloaded into the wind (blowing out, we assume) and all of a suden, the Mariners are back in a game they’d previously shown zero signs of wanting to be a part of.
12:05 p.m.: Joe Saunders is going to stay winless on the road, having needed 120 pitches to get through 5 1/3 innings today with his team now on the short end of a 4-0 score as we start the seventh. Saunders kept it close until the sixth, but then allowed a leadoff double to Mike Aviles and then a single to left by Yan Gomes in which Aviles somehow failed to advance. No matter as Drew Stubbs bunted both up by a base, then speedy Michael Bourn hit a slow hopper to shortstop. Brendan Ryan decided his best play was to the plate, but Aviles beat the throw for the run.
Jason Kipnis then singled to left for the fourth run of the day and that was it for Saunders.
The Mariners have been nearly invisible on offense with just three hits so far. They aren’t moving guy over when they do get men on base. They’d best show up soon, or this one is done.
11:30 a.m.: Joe Saunders caught a break with the wind here, then did not. First, a huge break when what looked like a two-run homer to left by Nick Swisher in the fifth got blown back towards the field of play where it was caught by Raul Ibanez. Indians baserunner Asdrubal Cabrera sure thought the all was gone because he wound up doubled off first base by about a half mile. Shortly after, though, Mark Reynolds hit a two-out fly to left that Ibanez tried to camp under — only he couldn’t, because the wind must have shifted and this time, the ball left the yard.
So, it’s 2-0 for the Indians. But it could be worse.
10:25 a.m.: Not a good start for Joe Saunders or the Mariners, who trail 1-0 after an inning of play. Saunders got two quick groundouts to begin the bottom of the first, but then yielded a single to Asdrubal Cabrera, walked Nick Swisher, then allowed a single to right by Mark Reynolds that brought the run home.
Endy Chavez began the game with a double to center, but the Mariners were then retired on three straight flyballs to left field.
9:50 a.m.: This is a big start for “Safeco Joe” Saunders today. His home-road splits have become a bit of a running joke, but nobody on the Mariners is laughing and Saunders sure isn’t.
Saunders is 9-0 with a 1.72 ERA in 13 career starts at Safeco Field. He’s 3-0 with an 0.94 ERA in four starts there this season.
Problem is, he’s 0-4 with a 12.54 ERA on the road.
For the Mariners to be a winning team and contend this season, they need more stability after the top two guys in the rotation. Saunders is being paid $6.5 million to provide some of that stability, but, so far, as you can see, he’s been rather unstable.
That has to change. A mid-rotation starter doesn’t have to win every game. But he does have to deliver quality innings on a routine basis regardless of the ballpark. Otherwise, he’s just fourth or fifth starter material. The Mariners right now have too many guys delivering those performances. They need Saunders to do more. He can start by delivering a good performance in a road game.
May 18, 2013 at 8:32 AM
We’re a couple of hours from gametime and Michael Saunders is getting a rare day off for the Mariners, having played 15 games in a row. Saunders has looked tired at the plate his last two games, so the rest comes at a good time. You can expect to see Saunders playing a lot of center field going forward, perhaps even once Franklin Gutierrez is ready to return off the disabled list.
Gutierrez was slotted to play right field last night for Class AAA Tacoma prior to being moved to the DH spot because of slick field conditions. He’s 2-for-8 with one RBI and one walk in two games thus far but has yet to play the outfield. I asked manager Eric Wedge this morning whether we should read anything into Gutierrez being slotted in right instead of center.
“We want him to play some right field as well as center field for a couple of reasons,” Wedge said. “One…I think it’s easier to stay healthy if you’re playing left field or right field versus center field. Two, Saunders has been great in center field.
And three…if he’s not 100 percent, then we’re better off with him in right field. Now, if he’s the Guti of old, 100 percent, then of course you want him in center field. But he just hasn’t proven that he can do that. So, we’re going to give him some time down there to work things out.”
Wedge said it’s critical that Gutierrez comes back fully healthy, meaning he could very likely use all 20 days of allotted rehab time before the team calls him back up.
“Like I told you (media) guys and I told him, too, I need him to be not just able to play up here, but able to come up here and play every day, steal a base and do some things. Because otherwise, we’re going to end up right back where we are right now.”
There’s another big reason the team needs to be able to count on Gutierrez daily.
“The fact of the matter is, there’s a good chance we’ll lose a player when we activate him, too,” Wedge said. “That’s real, too.”
Indeed it is. As we’ve mentioned before, Wedge has no plans to carry six outfielders. I asked him about that again this morning.
“No, we can’t do that,” he said. “You just can’t do it.”
So, that leaves a tough decision ahead. It also leaves the team extremely vulnerable going forward if Gutierrez or Saunders gets hurt again.
May 17, 2013 at 9:11 PM
This game looked on paper beforehand like the Cleveland Indians might swing and bash the Mariners and Brandon Maurer into submission. You had the team with the best OPS in the league stacking its lineup with lefties to face Maurer, a pitcher who struggles against opposite-handed bats.
Instead, it was the Mariners who did most of the hitting in this game. They wound up outhitting the Indians 10-7 and really, it was 10-5 with two out and none on in the 10th inning. The Mariners had run up the pitch count of Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez just five innings in and forced him from the contest by working counts, getting on base and making his life difficult.
They just couldn’t finish the job…again.
Instead, the Indians saw Jason Kipnis hit a three-run homer off Lucas Luetge in the 10th inning after two batters got on via a walk and a slow chopper. So, it’s the Mariners taking the 6-3 loss here even though they were the ones doing the most offensively all night.
Seattle pitchers actually had retired 16 batters in a row before Drew Stubbs got the walk off of Luetge in the 10th.
So, once again, the fundamentals are there. The Mariners just need to build off that base.
“We had plenty of chances,’’ Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “We’re playing good baseball. We still have to do a better job with runners in scoring position. We’ve got to do a better job of stringing hits together and putting to together innings.
“We’ve shown signs at times, of that, but we’ve yet to be consistent with that. That’s why there’s so much reason to believe that we’re going to be a much better offensive club when we start to get to that point.’’
May 17, 2013 at 7:45 PM
The Mariners had plenty of chances to win this game, but just could not get a big hit when they needed it the final few innings. Come to think of it, the Cleveland Indians couldn’t get one either until the very end, with the Mariners retiring 16 in a row at one point.
But Lucas Luetge walked Drew Stubbs with two out in the 10th, then saw him steal second. Michael Bourn then hit a slow roller past Lucas Luetge for an infield single that put runners at the corners.
Jason Kipnis came up next and hit a walkoff three-run homer to hand Seattle a 6-3 loss. Luetge had Kipnis 0-1 in the count, but the next offering was lined clear over the wall.
May 17, 2013 at 4:02 PM
Raul Ibanez did it again, taking Rich Hill over the wall in right for a two-run homer in the sixth that has tied the game 3-3. That’s the fourth homer in four games for Ibanez, who now has seven on the year and is on-pace to top the 19 he had last season with the Yankees.
Justin Smoak had started the rally with a single.
5:35 p.m.: Drew Stubbs took Brandon Maurer the opposite way to right field for a solo homer in the bottom of the fifth. Cleveland now leads it 3-1.
5:10 p.m.: Kendrys Morales just hit a one-out rocket into the second deck in right field, a blast estimated at 429 feet. Mariners now trail 201 in the fourth.
4:40 p.m.: Brandon Maurer was throwing almost all fastballs and sliders in the second inning and the lefties got to him, with Carlos Santana ripping a pitch off the right field wall to put runners at second and third with none out. Jason Giambi then brought the run home with a sacrifice fly to right in which the trail runner advanced to third. One out later, Maurer uncorked a wild pitch and Santana scored to give the Indians a 2-0 lead.
3:55 p.m.: The Cleveland Indians went out and signed two free agents — Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher — that many thought the Mariners might take a run at this past winter. Cleveland now has the best offense in the AL in terms of OPS and Bourn and Swisher are a huge part of it.
Bourne is batting .281 with a .343 OBP and .469 slugging percentage out of the leadoff spot — no, he isn’t Chone Figgins reincarnated — while Swisher has hit .273 with a .374 OBP and a .492 slugging percentage.
Mariners starter Brandon Maurer struggles against left-handers and the Indians have stacked their lineup with lefties and switch-hitters. So, either Maurer starts throwing his curveball with some effectiveness or it could be a very long night.
No Michael Morse for the Mariners. A late scratch with an irritation in his eye.
May 17, 2013 at 2:56 PM
Some breaking news here, as Michael Morse has been scratched from tonight’s lineup with an eye irritation. We’ll post new lineups shortly, but Endy Chavez will be in right field.
Mariners relief pitcher Stephen Pryor suffered a torn lat muscle just over a month ago and we hadn’t heard much about him since. Until today, that is, when Pryor was placed on the 60-day DL. Now, that can be backdated to when the injury first occured, so technically, it could last only another 3 1/2 weeks or so.
But it doesn’t sound like that will be the case. It sounds like Pryor will still be out for a while yet. Mariners manager Eric Wedge was asked about Pryor moments ago.
“It’s just been slow coming,” Wedge said. “He tried to play catch the other day and he didn’t feel great. So, we kind of backed him off that a little bit. For a guy that size, that injury, with the way he throws, it’s just not the best scenario, let’s put it that way. You know what I mean? We knew when we started out, it was going to be some time. But I don’t think we know how much right now because he’s kind of on his own timetable.”
May 17, 2013 at 2:07 PM
After Hector Noesi threw those 4 1/3 innings last night, it was clear the Mariners would need some extra bullpen help. So, they’re getting that tonight as Noesi has been optioned to Class AAA and Danny Farquhar has been called up.
To clear a roster spot for Farquhar, the Mariners placed Stephen Pryor on the 60-day DL. That move likely won’t delay Pryor’s return to the big leagues, since it can be backdated to when his injury occured just over a month ago.
Farquhar, 26, got himself noticed with a strong showing for the Mariners this spring and had been used in a closing role by AAA Tacoma. His outings have been better of late after he mixed in his curveball more to offset a 95 mph fastball and 91 mph cutter.
“The curveball definitely is a big offspeed pitch that I need to continue to throw for strikes, continue to mix in there,” Farquhar said. “Just because I have the cutter and the fastball — they’re two hard, hard pitches. Even just showing a hitter the curveball…it’s so much easier and more fun to pitch when you have extra weapons like that.”
May 17, 2013 at 9:35 AM
The Mariners could be a .500 team again as early as tonight. Not that this is all that unusual, or late in the season.
Remember, it was only two years ago that the Mariners were a .500 team on July 5 after a win in Oakland. What happened after that was a 17-game losing streak that scuttled the season.
Could that happen this year, too? Sure, it could. But I don’t think it will. No, I suspect this current shot at .500 will lead these Mariners to a place they found themselves in 2009 when they won 85 games. Maybe this team can even exceed that, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Here’s why I think this year will be different.
The biggest is that this team has an offense that is already more or less set. The 2011 squad was running on fumes and needed at least two big bats to be imported at the trade deadline to have even a remote chance. That squad was batting Adam Kennedy cleanup at times and he simply hit the wall from overuse at the midway point.