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May 20, 2008 at 9:10 PM

Terrible loss

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Well, I told you the Detroit Tigers had blown a six-run lead with their gaslighting bullpen before. You can see how they did it. But the Mariners had an eight-run gap to overcome. It wasn’t going to happen.
The final score of 12-8 does not do justice to what happened here tonight. The Mariners were flat-out embarassed by the Tigers, trailing 11-1 by the seventh inning before piling on seven runs in the final three frames (four in the ninth) to make the score look a little better.
This team had zero life after Adrian Beltre’s first inning home run. Neither at the plate, nor in the field. They allowed themselves to be manhandled by Justin Verlander, who’s done that to teams before but not so much this year. Seattle has two more games to salvage this series and — most likely — its season. Though I’ve got to tell you, I’m not seeing very much to inspire any confidence this team can do it.
“They kept adding and adding and adding,” Jose Vidro said of the Tigers. “We did have some good at-bats in the end. But we were so far behind, it was too late to make it back all the way.”
And as I wrote earlier, games like this get managers fired. I saw one fired in Toronto four years ago after back-to-back games just like this one in New York. This team has to show more life, even when it loses. There’s losing and then, there’s losing ugly. This one was ugly.
What made it so? How about Yuniesky Betancourt covering second base at the same time Jose Lopez was doing it on a hit and run? The ensuing grounder, right in the area where Betancourt should have been standing, put two on with no out in the fourth. Betancourt gets to that ball, it’s one out, maybe two. Instead, Carlos Silva walks the bases loaded and Edgar Renteria hits a line drive that Ichiro charged in on — but let get by him and roll to the wall. You know the rest.

“We had a busted coverage on a hit-and-run and we had two guys covering second,” a dispirited-looking Mariners manager John McLaren said afterwards.
McLaren put the blame where it belonged at first. Silva did not pitch well. His location was off and you can’t do that against hitters like the Tigers have.
But the busted coverage? It’s when a team starts looking bad — or non-focused — in all aspects of the game that managers wind up paying the price. McLaren’s players made him look really bad in this one.
Infield coach Sam Perlozzo said lopez had made the right call in signaling Betancourt beforehand that he would cover the base if runner Magglio Ordonez broke for second. Somehow, Betancourt still covered the base.
“From what I understood, Lopey had called the coverage, so he was going to the bag,” Perlozzo said. “So, for some reason, Yuni went too.”
Lopez admitted he was surprised. He tried to help Betancourt out by later suggesting he wouldn’t have had much of a play on the ball. But he was being nice. I’ve seen Betancourt make far tougher plays on grounders before.
“That’s the first time that’s happened,” Lopez said. “I don’t know what happened.”
It may have been the first time, but simply added to the tally of another not-so-great defensive night. Lopez had let a grounder get past him earlier on that was called a hit, but easily could have been an error. And Ichiro, who rarely makes mistakes in the field, can’t let that Renteria ball get past him if he’s going to charge in like that. I know, I know. It’s a tough play. A split-second judgement. But he guessed wrong and his team likely lost the game because of it. Then again, the way this group has played against anyone not the San Diego Padres lately, the game could have been lost on the multitude of plays that followed.
All I’ll say is, as I mentioned before, this was one ugly game. Lose ugly too many times, in a season that’s gone the way it has, and the manager pays the price. This team has some tough games ahead both here and at Yankee Stadium. It will have to get its collective act together. Win the next two, things take on a whole new spin. But after what I just saw tonight, I’m doubting that’s possible. Someone has to convince me.



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