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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

May 20, 2007 at 4:08 PM

M’s now five back

Ouch! That one hurts. Another very winnable game goes by the wayside. Over in Los Angeles, Kelivm Escobar does what he’s done to every team he’s faced this year — save for the Mariners last week — and tosses a three-hit shutout over eight innings. So, the Angels have another three-game sweep, something Seattle has yet to do, as well as their first five-game win streak of the season. The Mariners are now five out in the AL West. No, they really can’t afford to fall much further back and have serious hopes of contending. We’ll crunch the historical stats on that at another time, but, well, let’s just say the M’s really needed this one today with Felix Hernandez on the hill and C.C. Sabathia looming in Cleveland tomorrow night.
All I’ll say about Hernandez is that he looks like a guy who could have used a rehab assignment before stepping back in to face major league hitters. He went the minimum five innings today, needing 103 pitches. Allowing 11 baserunners to a team as offensively poor as the Padres didn’t impress me much. Not blaming him. It was good to see him stretch out his arm and only yield the two runs. Striking out Kevin Kouzmanoff and Russell Branyan to end that fifth inning showed me that the real Felix is lurking somewhere nearby. That was a really good way for him to end his day and build his confidence going forward. Allow an extra-base hit in that situation and the big story of the day is going to be how he got rocked over 4 1/3 innings. But that’s what the good ones do. They minimize the damage.
Hernandez actually pitched well enough to win, given the job done by the bullpen.
But the offense was AWOL yet again. Guess two days in a row was too much to get away with the super-sub lineup. I really think this team needs Richie Sexson back in there, just lower down in the lineup. We’ll see what happens in Cleveland. Bet he sees the field.
The Padres came as advertised. They have good pitching and can’t score runs. The Mariners got decent pitching from starters in this series, but had no offense in two of three games. They are a very streaky bunch with the bats and as we saw yesterday — and against Escobar and the Angels last week — it’s an explosive group when the bats are connecting. But when they aren’t, it’s feast or famine time and that’s a familiar song heard around these parts since long before I arrived in town.
Something has to change, or all those predictions of a 78-to-82-win season and third-place finish are going to look…well, they are going to look downright accurate. And at $108 million, that’s simply not good enough. Time to take care of business, with the Devil Rays and Royals just waiting to help Seattle pad its record. But they will need some offense to do it as both those teams can score runs in bunches as well.
In all, a disappointing 4-5 homestand. Considering it began 3-1, this wasn’t the way I expected it to finish. And the Mariners paid a huge price in the standings, dropping four games to the division leaders since last Wednesday. They cannot afford to do that again this season. Trust me, they can’t. I know it’s technically still early, but stats and history are not on Seattle’s side. Forget about 1995. There is no Randy Johnson or Ken Griffey Jr. leading the way this time. The Mariners are still trying to figure out how to sweep a three-game series. Until that happens, they have to hang on, stay as close to the division lead as possible and pray that Richie Sexson and Felix Hernandez are back to normal by late next week.
No Sexson jokes about that last line. I was being completely serious. Without his bat doing what it’s supposed to, this team’s cause is sunk. Lost too. That last line was a joke.



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