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

June 6, 2007 at 7:25 PM

Wanted: pitching

So, the Mariners wrap up a pretty decent 23-game, 23-day stretch by going 13-10. That’s an accomplishment, considering what this team has been through travel-wise and physically, with no off days. But all it served to do was lose them 3 1/2 games to the Angels in the standings. Yes, I know, there is still that wild-card race to think about. But there are too many teams out there with more consistent starting pitching than the Mariners have. Unless the bullpen can keep carrying them four innings per night, or Felix Hernandez resumes his dominance, the Mariners will have trouble keeping pace.
Jarrod Washburn really hurt the team today. He wasn’t feeling 100 per cent physically, due to some flu-like symptoms, but they needed at least five innings from him against a Baltimore team that’s had trouble scoring runs. Especially when he had a 4-0 lead heading into the fifth. Who could have forseen a 9-5 loss by that point? Another inning or two, the bullpen gets in there and Seattle is only 4 1/2 back of the Angels. Not the case this time.
Jose Guillen was very upset about the inability to cash in on the Angels losing.
“It would have been nice if we could get the win today,” Guillen said. “It makes a difference to be 4 1/2 back than 5 1/2 back. We have to make up ground, especially when they (the Angels) lose. Especially this game today. It was very important for us. But I don’t know. Things change.”
Washburn wasn’t pleased with his effort. He threw far too many pitches early. He’s not a strikeout pitcher. When he needs to fan six batters the first four innings, it usually means he’s got runners on base and a skyrocketing pitch count. That was true on both counts today.
“I’m sure it affected me getting my pitch count up faster than I wanted to,” Washburn said. “I’m sure that had something to do with it.”
As for the whole rehabilitation assignment thing, yes, I think Reitsma needed more work before being activated off the DL. But this was more a case of the team needing him in a worn out bullpen. With Jeff Weaver, it’s a case of him forcing the issue by not agreeing to stay on the DL longer. The Mariners would have liked that, but Weaver wants to get back in the rotation and reclaim his job. It’s a bit of a desperation move on his part and if it backfires, he may be released before month’s end.
As for Felix Hernandez, the team also wanted him back there sooner. Mariners manager Mike Hargrove is already on-record saying Hernandez probably could have used a rehab assignment. I’m surprised at how few Mariners pitchers have gone out on such stints, since I’d grown accustomed to seeing it when I was covering the Blue Jays.
But as I’ve said, with Weaver, it wasn’t an organizational decision. It was his to make.
A note about the U.S.S. Mariner: I don’t think it’s obsessed with our site. I think that members of both sites enjoy reading the other. I know I enjoy reading their site as well as the others I’ve mentioned. We don’t all have to agree on every topic. The ball fans in this city are fortunate to be so well served online. Not every city has sites of that quality, run by fans.
And one last note to “Jim” who is fast becoming one of the more prolific and interesting debaters on this site. Have a glance at our spring training preview. It really is all about the pitching. Always has been. It was never going to be as good as what the Angels and A’s have in the rotation. The bats needed to be better to make up much of that gap.
But the way the starters now look worse off than their 2006 counterparts, the gap will be too big for even this rampaging offense to overcome. It has to get better. But it’s always been about the mound.
A badly needed off-day for the M’s tomorrow. No, the season didn’t end with this one loss. But a lot of work remains to be done with this team. Especially on the mound. That Weaver start on Saturday should help clear up which direction this team is going to go in. They need something to give them a boost. The Weaver that Bill Bavasi thought he was buying for $8.3 million would be a good place to start. It would be nice for Miguel Batista to make an appearance on Friday as well and not have opponents hit .300 off him. We’ll see.
Because “Jim” and others are right. This offense won’t score eight runs per game forever. It didn’t today and look what happened.



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