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May 8, 2007 at 9:12 PM

Ho-rrible outing

Let’s just wrap-up this 9-7 loss for the Mariners quickly. Folks can chew out Mike Hargrove and Sean Green all they want for giving the Tigers a pair of insurance runs in the seventh. But look. The Mariners aren’t going to win games when their starting pitcher can’t go six innings on a night he’s spotted a 3-0 lead before taking the mound. I mean, what gives?
First, a 5-0 lead in Boston goes down the tubes, now this. Granted, Horacio Ramirez hasn’t been botching 12-0 leads, but it’s the quickness with which the runs are being generated off him that continues to astound. It’s like he’s afraid to attack the hitters. I asked him about that and he said it wasn’t his big problem. He felt he was aggressive when he had to be, but simply made bad pitches. I’ll agree with him on the bad pitch part, since the key ones, as noted earlier, were catching too much plate. Giving up all those extra-base hits is a sure sign.
“I was falling behind a little bit,” Ramirez said. “But after that, I just made some bad two-strike pitches, I felt.”
But it was also what was going on before those key pitches. The stuff that kept causing Ramirez to fall behind in the count. That was what kept driving his manager nuts, prompting Hargrove to make a very early, none-too-friendly, second-inning visit.
“I just thought he was trying to be too careful in trying to make a perfect first pitch, trying to trick them into swinging at the ball,” Hargrove said. “You’ve got to be aggressive and go and get ahead of hitters. You get ahead of hitters, you get outs.”
It was once Ramirez fell behind the hitters that he started leaving pitches over the plate far too much. So, Ramirez was telling the truth about that as well. Take the versions of both men and you have a pretty good idea of what transpired.
So, that’s it. Yes, the Mariners got robbed twice in the ninth by great catches and once by Raul Ibanez hitting the ball to the deepest part of the park. But so what? They had already caught a break in the eighth by getting to face Fernando Rodney rather than a 102 mph fastball from injured Joel Zumaya. Yes, the offense looked much better than in recent games. And Sexson really does appear to have a point about hitting the ball hard. His approach stayed consistent tonight and he had a very good night at the plate, I thought.
“I can’t hit the ball any better than I’ve been hitting it for a month,” Sexson said. “I can’t do it. It’s impossible. So, hopefully they’re going to fall in.”
Ninety nine times out of 100, Magglio Ordonez won’t make that ninth-inning catch of Sexson’s shot to right field. Who knows? We could still be playing if he’d trapped it. But that’s why starters have to do more than what Ramirez offered up tonight. Too manys ifs, ands or buts and your team will lose more often than not.
The Mariners are 14-14, at .500 once again. Cha Seung Baek tomorrow and Jeff Weaver after that. Somebody needs to step up. Miguel Batista is showing signs he can and Jarrod Washburn has already. But the M’s need more or it’s going to be a long season.



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