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July 3, 2007 at 10:38 PM

Mariners wilt in heat

That was the conclusion of new manager John McLaren after his club got throttled, 17-3, tonight by the Kansas City Royals. Yikes, where to begin? Well, it truthfully all begins and ends with Ryan Feierabend, who made too many mistakes with his fastball and had poor command of his breaking pitches. Bad combination. He was down 10-1 after two innings, notching only four outs by himself before Jason Davis took over.
The gametime temperature was 87, the humidity took that soaring and the M’s looked exhausted from having to stand around in the field all night waiting for the Seattle pitchers to get folks out.
How bad was it? So bad, that at one point, McLaren was going to have backup outfielder Jason Ellison come in and pitch. He used to do that regularly at South (thanks, Terry) Kitsap High, not so much in junior college. Man, this McLaren guy isn’t afraid to be different. Well, maybe just a little afraid to be too different.
“We don’t like to do that because we respect the game,” he said. “But it almost got to that point.”
Hear some of McLaren’s post-game audio on this topic.
McLaren had hoped to get Feierabend going after he’d given up a six-spot in the first inning. Some pitchers settle down after an inning like that and pitch rather well. Not this time.
“I rely a lot on my control,” Feierabend said. “And if my control is there, I’m rolling pretty decent. But tonight, I didn’t have my control and got hit around.”
He added that this rout was different than the 16-1 defeat he suffered against the Reds. In that one, he said, he missed all over the place. This time, he missed over the plate and got crushed. Same results. That start in Boston last week saw him toss five scoreless innings. He had better command, but seemed to catch some breaks on balls that hung up in the Safeco Field air. No breaks tonight as everything hit hard fell in or flew over the fence.
“It’s frustrating for me,” he said. “Because it happened 10 days ago and it came back around again today.”
“I don’t know, I may have to go back and watch tape and see if I’m doing the same thing before I execute my pitch,” Feierabend added. “See if I’m tipping pitches maybe or something like that.”
Hear the rest of what Feierabend told us right here.
Listen here as well, as he talks about the ball he took off his ankle in the first inning. Says it had nothing to do with his outing.
The Mariners looked so weary when this one was done that McLaren has cancelled outdoor batting practice for tommorrow and will hold it indoors in the air-conditioned batting cages instead.
“It’s really hot out there,” he said. “We’re just going to try to make an adjustment tomorrow and see if it helps. We think it might.”
Kenji Johjima almost certainly won’t play the series finale after getting hit on the hand by a Feierabend pitch that deflected off Mark Teahen in the second inning. Johjima broke his hand seven years ago and had a metal plate surgically implanted and screwed into place. The Feierabend pitch hit one of those screws, sending a jolt of pain through his entire arm and bruising the second (not the first, as the team intitially disclosed) metacarpal (the lower knuckle area below his pointing finger).
Johjima told us he was in great pain and the hand is still very sore.
“It was very painful,” Johjima said through interpreter Anthony Suzuki. “But I’m sure that I won’t be hit there again for another seven years.”
Listen to what Johjima said in its entirety right here.
So, the M’s send Jarrod Washburn out tomorrow night to try to salvage this series. The good news, as mentioned on the previous post, is that the Angels and the Tigers both lost.
But as Jamie Burke mentioned a while back, the Mariners have to worry about themselves. This two-game losing streak is minor compared to eight straight wins. The trick is to halt it, right here and right now. Jarrod Washburn pitched very well against Toronto last Friday and here in Kansas City back in late May. He has to be the stopper tomorrow night. Seattle doesn’t want this streak to hit three and have to face two of Oakland’s best starters on Thursday and Friday. You know what that could mean. And no, a five-game losing streak doesn’t help Seattle’s chances, no matter what the other clubs do. That’s still a ways away, but not that far off. Take care of this streak now, if you’re the Mariners. And they know tomorrow night’s game is a big one.
“There’s no way we can lose,” Jose Vidro said. “We’ve got to go out there and win the ballgame.”
So, what’s left to discuss? Mark Lowe throwing 1/3 of an inning (he was only supposed to go 15 pitches, went 14) for Class AAA Tacoma? Gave up two cheap hits, walked a batter and struck another out. Great to see him back on a mound, no matter what tonight’s results were.
What else? Ah yes, Feierabend. From our post-game chats with McLaren, it seems that Feierabend will make his next start. McLaren detected a lack of confidence in his mound demeanor, but as the pitcher later said, it’s tough to look confident when you’re getting smacked around like he was. Another outing like this could spell the end of Feierabend in Seattle for a while. Horacio Ramirez comes back soon after the All-Star break and Cha-Seung Baek is still out there. I’d say Feierabend has to do more than not get crushed his next time out. He really has to impress. It won’t be easy in Oakland. But who said anything was easy? This is about trying to be a playoff contender. That isn’t easy, as the M’s quickly found out the first two nights here.

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