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June 17, 2007 at 10:40 AM

Mariners vs. Astros, series finale

Anyone still awake out there? Hopefully, “Anna” has found something better to do in Serbia than follow along with what’s going to be a fifth straight loss unless Seattle does something in the eighth. Don’t think they will do much off this bullpen in the ninth. What really must gall those paying close attention to this is that the offense actually did hit Roy Oswalt pretty hard.
A dozen hits off him in 5 2/3 innings. Made him throw 114 pitches. That’s a pretty good approach at the plate. But only three runs scored. Already 10 runners stranded by the M’s. The good pitchers will limit the damage that way. Yes. the Mariners didn’t catch any breaks on that Ben Broussard play at the plate, but honestly, did any of you hold out much hope when Jarrod Washburn left them in a 7-2 hole after three innings?
This team needs to do some soul searching, especially on the mound. There isn’t any excuse for the starting pitchers to have been tired out by the heavy travel schedule of late. Yes, they miss their families. We all do. But it’s not like they’ve gone nine innings per outing. The starters have to step it up. They have to throw strikes and good ones, not just meatballs over the plate. Sounds easy, but obviously it isn’t. Washburn has failed to go at least five innings for the third time in four starts. I’m wondering if he’s hurt, or going through some kind of dead arm stage. Who knows? He’s not getting the results he did back in April and May.
So, on to the eighth. If it ends 7-3, you can turn off the set, the computer, and go enjoy the weekend.
Make that the plane and the bullpen that need to be warmed up. Jarrod Washburn just got lifted for a pinch-hitter, having thrown 76 pitches already after just three innings in a 7-2 game, the M’s on the short end. Only reason Washburn hasn’t thrown 80 or more pitches is that Roy Oswalt helped him out last inning with the old NL-style, bunt on the first pitch. That gave Washburn a badly needed out and took him only one pitch to obtain. But not enough to stay in there.
I actually like this move, since his spot in the order was due up in the top of the fourth. Too bad pinch-hitter Jason Ellison struck out (he doesn’t hit much, in a pinch or under normal circumstances. But still, Washburn couldn’t find the strike zone today. There’s an off-day tomorrow. Use up what’s left of Ryan Feierabend, or serve up another helping of Jason Davis. Anything would be an improvement. Seattle has hit the ball today, so there may be some runs still to come. But leaving Washburn out there gives you no chance of winning. He had nothing today. Only three balls were hit all that hard off him, the Mike Lamb slam, the Oswalt comebacker and a Lamb double in the third that scored the seventh Houston run.
It was Washburn’s lack of control that did him in. He couldn’t find the strike zone when he needed to. This starting rotation simply doesn’t measure up. When the debate over Bill Bavasi begins anew, it’s time to take that part into consideration. The bulk of his off-season moves involved the rotation. This crew is arguably worse than what Seattle fans witnessed last year. Too bad, because the offense is much improved. In the end, barring a complete turnaround from what we’ve seen the past month, that won’t be enough. This is not a contending rotation, no matter how great the bullpen is.
Davis now on the mound.
Better get the plane warmed up quick. The Mariners will want out of this city the moment this game mercifully ends. Things are going from bad to worse on the mound and they didn’t start all that well at the plate either. It’s a 6-1 game, Astros in the lead, after just two innings. Jarrod Washburn has already thrown 54 pitches — barely half of them for strikes — and continued a trend that has seen Seattle get beaten up badly in the first inning.
Washburn walked a pair that frame, the big one being Morgan Ensberg on a full count to load the bases with two out. That was huge because the next batter, Mike Lamb, had been hitting .750 over the past three games. Washburn dug his own grave a little deeper by falling behind 2-0 in the count. Lamb was sitting on the next offering and smoked it to right center for a grand slam.
Seattle got hosed somewhat in the second inning when Roy Oswalt walked Washburn (!) to load the bases for Ichiro, who lined a hard single to center to extend his hitting streak to 13 games. One run scored, but Ben Broussard, waved around from second, was thrown out at the plate. Looked like a bad call to me since catcher Brad Ausmus was sitting in the middle of the plate when he took the throw and could not possibly have blocked Brossard from getting his foot on it first. Both Broussard and the ball arrived at the same time, meaning Broussard had to be safe since Ausmus did not have the plate blocked. Anyway, that left the score at 4-1 and Washburn just gave up two more runs in the second to make it a 6-1 game.
Once again, Washburn hurt himself that inning — yielding a single to the pitcher, Oswalt, with one out. That was followed by a high, looping double off the short porch in left. In a regular ballpark, that’s likely caught. But not here. That left runners at second and third and both were driven home when Mark Loretta hit a broken bat flare into center. So, Washburn may have deserved a better fate. But you’ve got to get Oswalt out in that situation and have two out with none on. Instead, the hardest hit ball of the inning was a screaming comebacker from Oswalt that hopped into center field. Not good. Washburn needs to show more than this.
The M’s just got a walk and a pair of one-out hits in the third, including Sexson’s second single of the day to drive in Jose Vidro from second. Looks like he really is fine, bro. But is it too little, too late? We’ll see.
A lot of lineup shuffling going on today, as the Mariners attempt to produce a winning combination against Roy Oswalt and the Houston Astros. Mariners manager Mike Hargrove had a long meeting with GM Bill Bavasi in the manager’s office this morning. The lineup was produced soon afterward, with Jose Lopez again at third and Jose Vidro at second. Ben Broussard is also in thel ineup today, but not at the expense of Richie Sexson. Broussard is in right field taking the spot of a tired Jose Guillen. Wanted to ask Guillen about it, but he spent much of the pre-game taking a nap on a clubhouse couch. Kenji Johjima is also in the lineup, instead of Jamie Burke getting his usualy day-after-night game start. Shows you how bad this team needs offense. And how badly it needs to salvage something better than .500 on a road trip that began 5-0.
Hargrove said his team is obviously looking forward to tomorrow’s off-day. Seattle has played 46 games in 48 days and are crawling to the finish line here.
“We’ve been at it pretty hard for a month and a half now,” Hargrove said. “If anyone shows up at the ballpark (tomorrow) they’re not too smart.”
Adrian Beltre is hoping to be back by Tuesday. He had a cortisone shot in his injured thumb area on Friday. If he isn’t back by Tuesday, the team will think about putting him on the DL.
Some good news for the M’s? Well, that Angels victory yesterday came with a big pricetag attached. No, it isn’t Vlad Guerrero who got hurt. But Garret Anderson and Casey Kotchman are nothing to sneeze at. That offense can’t take many hits. After all, it has trouble producing any on a regular basis.
More good news of a more local variety for Seattle? Well, the Astros won’t have their “Killer B’s” today. Craig Biggio is out and Lance Berkman is feeling ill and out of the lineup. Well, they’ll have one “Killer B” that being Chris Burke in the leadoff spot. It’s all set for Jarrod Washburn, though. And he has to hold these guys down to give Seattle a shot at Oswalt.
The lineups:
RF Chris Burke
2B Mark Loretta
CF Hunter Pence
LF Carlos Lee
3B Morgan Ensberg
1B Mike Lamb
C Brad Ausmus
SS Eric Bruntlett
RHP Roy Oswalt
CF Ichiro Suzuki
3B Jose Lopez
2B Jose Vidro
LF Raul Ibanez
1B Richie Sexson
RF Ben Broussard
C Kenji Johjima
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
LHP Jarrod Washburn



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