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August 31, 2007 at 7:03 PM

Make it seven; with audio clips

Oh how did the Mariners ever end up with another one of these losing streaks so quickly? I can’t understand it. The players can’t figure it out. The manager and coaches have some ideas. One is that the team is not doing enough to help itself in pitcher’s counts of 0-2 and 1-2. Remember earlier this season, back in April, when Jeff Weaver just couldn’t put guys away? Well, it’s not just him now. The M’s figure this might be the big reason starters can’t go deeper in games.
Look at Jarrod Washburn tonight. He threw 51 pitches the first two innings. Was up to 83 pitches after three and done by the fourth.
“I guess the best way to say it,” manager John McLaren said. “is that we’re having trouble putting hitters away. If we can do it earlier in the count, we can save a ton of pitches.”
That involves some pitching-to-contact for quicker resolutions to at-bats. Washburn had some quick ones tonight, but they flew over the fence.
“It’s about as bad as I could be right now,” Washburn said. “I was brutal. I let the team down.”
Hear his audio right here.
Whatever the reason, it’s cost the M’s the AL West title already. They are now 6 1/2 games back, having dropped 5 1/2 games in less than a week after a Los Angeles victory tonight.I already told you I thought McLaren left Washburn in too long and should have cut his outing after three. The best McLaren was hoping for was another inning out of Washburn, but frankly, the way he was pitching — the worst I’ve seen him all year — that was optimistic at best. There were some shots being golfed 400 feet in foul territory more than once before the Alex Rios home run in that fourth. What a difference that run, Toronot’s sixth, would make later on in a 7-5 loss for the M’s.
In the end, the M’s traded a home run against for one more out from Washburn before he was pulled. Not the greatest swap, especially since that one run played such a big role in another Seattle loss. McLaren told us he had three relievers who were unavailable and didn’t even want to leave Ryan Rowland-Smith in for the 3 1/3 innings he ultimately worked, sparing the bullpen again.
“We were strapped,” he said.
Listen to his audio.
McLaren even used J.J. Putz for an inning in a non-save situation, with the closer allowing a huge insurance run on two singles in the eighth. The rust showed and was freely admitted to by Putz, making his first appearance in six days.
“It’s just tough not pitching for six days when you’re used to being in there on a regular basis,” he said.
So, we’re back to square one with these guys now. Thing is, with any luck, that line shot up the middle by Raul Ibanez likely scores two in the ninth if it doesn’t hit the pitcher’s mound and deflect to Aaron Hill, who began a game-ending 4-6-3 double-play.
“Your goal when you go up to bat is to hit the ball on the barrel,” Ibanez said. “You can’t control where it goes once it leaves your bat.”
Ibanez wasn’t making excuses and said the team has to fight its way out of this. So did, Jose Vidro, who hit a two-run homer, while missing a key tag at second base — which helped Toronto score a pair of later runs with the extra out.
Vidro said the strong throw from Adam Jones pulled him away from baserunner Troy Glaus and prevented him from applying the tag until it was too late. The play looked very awkward for Vidro, who is replacing the bemched Jose Lopez. Hear him talk about it here.
Vidro was asked whether he’d ever had a team of his suffer through so many losing streaks but still be in contention.
“We have lost 26 games in a row if you put all our streaks together and we’re still right there,” he said. “We’ve been really, really fortunate and unfortunate. Because we’ve still got a pretty good shot.”
Do they? I still don’t know. This is such a streaky team that it’s hard to say. The M’s will have to start winning again, preferably today. It’s funny, for all the bad that’s happened to this team, it is still only a game behind the New York Yankees for the wild-card. Does this remind you of anything? It does me. The M’s were in the same situation with the Angels last week. A game behind. Just two contests left until a head-to-head clash. Same as now.
What did the M’s do? Lost both those games to the Texas Rangers, went in two back and reeling, came out five back and reeling. Best bet? Take the next two from Toronto. It’s not impossible. Do that, go into Yankee Stadium with some swagger and things could look a whole lot brighter in a week. I’m not being an optimist here. It feels really strange. It is now just the wee hours of Sept. 1. For all that’s happened to the M’s the past week, it happened early enough so that there’s time to rectify it — from a wild-card perspective, at least.
Not like the Yanks looked all that great against the D-Rays last night. It could still, believe it or not, be an interesting month. A lot will depend on how interesting the series at Yankee Stadium is next week.



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