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May 1, 2008 at 9:19 PM

Mound of heartbreak

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The hitters came through late, but the pitchers couldn’t get it done for Seattle in a 3-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians in 11 innings. J.J. Putz blew the lead in the 10th and Mark Lowe just lost it in the 11th, yielding a one-out walk to Jhonny Peralta and a bloop double to left by Travis Hafner. No, Adam Jones would not have gotten to the ball, or kept the lead runner from taking third base. Sorry. Lowe then hit the .216-hititng Jamey Carroll on the hand with a pitch to load ’em up.
Sean Green came on to try to clean up Lowe’s mess, but — after striking out Franklin Gutierrez — gave up a single to right to former M’s prospect Asdrubal Cabrera, seen in the photo above.
After the game, Putz said his velocity isn’t the issue. It’s his command of the fastball. Simply put, he has none. Didn’t have it on the Travis Hafner strikeout to begin the 10th, or against the other hitters later on.
“I’m really at a loss because I’ve never had this much trouble throwing strikes with the fastball,” he said. “Sometimes your splitter or slider is going to be off, but I feel like I’ve been pretty good with my fastball over the years. Being able to locate that whenever I’ve wanted to, it’s like being able to close your eyes and throw a strike with your fastball. And right now, it’s just not there.”
That’s not good.
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Of course, Putz has hardly thrown at all in games lately. That could be throwing off his tempo. He admitted as much, says he isn’t hurt, and that he just has to find some answers.
He’s confident that pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre and bullpen coach Norm Charlton can help him with that. We’ll see. Putz also says he’s open to pitching in non-save situations if that helps. Manager John McLaren is open to the idea as well, despite the obvious drawbacks.
The loss put a damper on the celebrations over Richie Sexson’s 300th career home runs, also his 100th as a Mariner. A bucket of iced beers was waiting by his locker, but no one was cracking them open in a subdued clubhouse.
“You just flip flop emotions after that happens and it ends up being not as cool as it could be,” Sexson said.
Need I state the obvious here? I sound like a broken record, but zero runs heading into the ninth is not a winning recipe.
This team is now five games out of first place, though it might stay 4 1/2 behind if the A’s hang on against the Angels. But now, Seattle needs some big-time intervention on the mound this weekend as well as at the plate. Hold your breath.

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