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September 5, 2007 at 7:34 PM

Total collapse

That’s about the best you can say about a team that loses 10-2 after taking a 2-1 lead into the seventh inning. The M’s used five relievers in the seventh inning, giving up eight runs — including a pair of homers by Alex Rodriguez. It was an ugly inning, punctuated by several pitcher-umpire staredowns.
Rick White later got tossed in the eighth inning for uttering an expletive at plate umpire Larry Vanover. White half-fired the ball on the ground and past the umpire, drawing boos from the crowd, as he walked off the field.
“You miss a lot of pitches on the outside corner and these guys here have got to bring it over the plate,” White said.
He was referring to the seventh inning, when a couple of close calls on pitches by George Sherrill and Sean Green helped the Yankees first load the bases and then score the go-ahead run after A-Rod’s tying blast off Jarrod Washburn.
“It’s easier for hitters to get comfortable,” Sherrill said of the impact not getting corner calls can have.
His 3-2 pitch to Wilson Betemit was called a ball and Sherrill walked up and talked to the umpire.
“He told me that Kenji (Johjima) moved his mitt too much,” Sherrill said. “I think he needs to read the rules but what are you going to do?”
Sherrill added that his interpretation of the rules is that a pitch is called a ball or strike based on where it crosses the plate, not where the catcher frames it.
“It’s Yankee Stadium, what are you going to do?” he said with a shrug.
Green looked incredulous moments later as Vanover called his 3-1 pitch to Jorge Posada inside for a ball that forced home the decisive run. Things collapsed from there and the M’s fell three back of the Yankees in the wild-card race with their 11th loss in 12 games.
My take? The umpires killed the Mariners tonight.
But…
A team just can’t collapse the way Seattle did two nights in a row and expect to make the playoffs. The thing that carried this team through the first four months, the bullpen, has not gotten the job done during this streak. Too many basic mistakes were made tonight. The second of two errors by Jose Lopez proved very costly in that seventh. Two runs scored is not enough to win at Yankee Stadium or most ballparks.
There are too many holes in this team being manifested now that the bullpen is merely ordinary. Actually, it’s below average right now. Washburn gave his club a very good start over six-plus innings. To lose by eight runs is a sign that something isn’t working. There is a lot of anger and frustration in that clubhouse now and the players admit it.
But all I know is this. Playoff teams do not lose 11 of 12 games down the stretch. And the fact that the M’s have been so competitive in many of these games is what really scares me. What happens if these guys “quit” the way some teams in their situation have been known to do?
Mariners manager John McLaren, looking about as helpless as I’ve ever seen him after this one, threw out these words:
“We’ve got to get out of it,” he said. “We’ll see what we’re made out of, how about that? We’ll see who steps to the plate?”
And who does he have in mind?
“We’ll start with the manager and work our way through the whole team, how’s that?” he asked.
Not a bad place to start. This entire organization needs to lift its game.
On paper, the M’s are still in it. On paper. On the field, they are fading fast. I told you what needed to be done here and the team did not do it. Their destiny is no longer in their hands, and when you have to start relying on other teams to fail to have a chance, your odds dwindle rapidly. Especially when you’ve won only once in almost two weeks.
Save some of those questions. It could be a very long off-season. Already feels like it. No audio tonight, sorry (technical difficulties). Your blog man needs a rest as well. Covering these games can suck the life out of anyone on a muggy night in the Bronx. And make no mistake. The Mariners just got mugged.

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