7:28 a.m.: It’s now Wednesday morning. For all of you writing in, we’ve been having technical difficulties with the blog page since late last night, so we’ve posted last night’s entry without the turn page so you can at least read it. The comments area is still down, but we hope to have it restored soon. Our apologies. No new blog posts until the problem is rectified. You can still catch my thoughts on my Talkin’ Baseball segment on the Mitch in the Morning show on KJR AM 950 at 8:25 a.m.
A shot of Eddie Guardado, above, polishing off the M’s in the ninth.
This is the eighth series in a row the Mariners will have failed to win, going down 5-2 tonight thanks largely to four errors by the Mariners and a catch not made in left field by Raul Ibanez. Ibanez dropping a Brandon Boggs double he had in his glove led to a second inning run for the Rangers. After the Mariners tied the game in the sixth, an Ibanez fielding error in the bottom of the inning helped the Rangers score the go-ahead marker.
Seattle nearly retook the lead in the eighth when Kenji Johjima was robbed at the center field wall by a leaping Josh Hamilton with Jose Lopez on base. But two more Seattle errors in the bottom of the inning helped put this one away as a Yuniesky Betancourt throw allowed Gerald Laird to reach first. An ensuing walk by Sean Green — the sixth of the night issued by M’s pitchers — put two on and Wladimir Balentien promptly overran a single to right by Ramon Vazquez. That allowed one unearned run to score and another came home soon after on a sacrifice fly by Ian Kinsler.
Guardado came on to notch the save and rub some salt in the wound. That’s 12 losses in 14 games. This season is crashing through the floor.
“It puzzles me a lot,” Mariners manager John McLaren said of all the errors piling up for his team this season. “Because I think it’s one of the big strengths of our ballclub. When we’re trying to build our team around pitching, we need our defense.”
Ibanez said the double by Brandon Boggs was a tough ball to corral — and he’s right about that — because it was slicing. He thought he’d caught it, but it popped out of his glove. Not much to say about his error on the Gerald Laird single later on. He bobbled it and it cost his team the go-ahead and decisive run.
I know there will be calls for Ibanez to be moved to a DH role, especially with all of those Ken Griffey Jr. rumors floating around. All I can say is, at least he came out and answered the questions.
Ibanez stood up and talked for several minutes about his play tonight and the state of the team in general. I asked him about the mood of the clubhouse and how a team avoids being plagued by fingerpointing and other stuff as losses mount.
“I don’t think that’s going to happen here,” he said. “We win together, lose together, and that’s the belief in the clubhouse. Guys are sticking together well in here.”
Ibanez talking isn’t enough to justify an argument for keeping him in the field if the M’s think they have someone better — like Jeremy Reed, perhaps. But he does keep on hitting. And moving him to a DH role right now may not be the best thing for his bat. That’s up to the M’s to decide. if they think his hitting overrides his defense, then they’ll keep him there. So far, despite him not making the tough catch on Boggs, or the easy play on Laird’s hit, I still don’t think they see it as all that serious.
Would have liked to ask Felix Hernandez about a few things — since he did not get the job done for a third straight outing. The team was shorthanded in the bullpen tonight, especially with a day game tomorrow, and needed more out of him than the six laborious innings it got. Five walks helped do Hernandez in.
But Hernandez, unlike Ibanez, again did his best to avoid the media for as long as he could. He’s been doing it all week, since helping to ignite that brawl with the Rangers. This time, he ignored a media relations staffer’s repeated, polite requests to come talk, purposely hanging out in an off-limits area for 45 minutes after the game until all but a Seattle radio reporter had left. Writers have deadlines and pitchers are made well aware of them and usually come out to speak quickly unless they are receiving treatment. Media members will rarely linger in a clubhouse more than a half-hour after a game. Players don’t like it. Neither do we.
But Hernandez was being purposely difficult, making a team employee chase him around. He did the same stuff to other employees in spring training and, I’ve got to admit, it bugs me to see a 22-year-old allowed to do that. Bugs me that anyone would, especially putting out employees of his team doing their jobs. His team, not mine. I know how much talent Hernandez has, but he has accomplished very little in this game. And in 11 years of doing this, I’ve yet to see a 22-year-old pitcher act this way unless he’s been badly burned by somebody. He hasn’t been,.far as I know.
I got some Hernandez quotes run up to me from when he finally did emerge from hiding. But I’m not going to use them. He uttered something about keeping his team in the game, then insisted he was aggressively attacking the strike zone.
McLaren didn’t think Hernandez was attacking the zone aggressively. The five walks Hernandez issued sort of back that theory up.
Whatever. They can fight it out. Hernandez is a struggling third-year starter on a last-place team. Wake me up when I’m supposed to care. All I know is, a lot of you write in here demanding accountability from this team and its players, especially considering how disappointing it’s been.
I don’t see a whole lot of accountability. Saw some from Ibanez tonight. Not from Hernandez. A guy in his early 20s. Apparently, he has no answering to do. Do the M’s care? Who knows? Some of you won’t care, and will try to dismiss this as a sour grapes media thing or a favoring vets over rookies thing. What can I tell you? It is what it is. Hernandez is what he is. I’m sure he’ll be great someday. Then again, I thought the M’s would be great this year. One never knows what the future holds.
Until that future materializes in a glowing way, it’s always best to stay humble. Especially on a team that’s 15-26. Have a good night. And Happy Felix Day!
May 13, 2008 at 10:20 PM