So, as you no doubt know by now, the Mariners have designated Cha Seung Baek for assignment and will likely have R.A. Dickey on-hand here in time for tomorrow’s game. The starters left this team little other choice. They are now 3-12 with an ERA of 7.27 in the month of May and averaging just 5 1/3 innings each time out. Seattle burned up Baek and Ryan Rowland-Smith the last two nights, so there is no one left to clean up after Miguel Batista if he leaves another early mess. That is, until Dickey arrives.
The M’s sure looked cooked tonight. This game was over by the third inning when Jarrod Washburn grooved a bunch of fastballs and watched the Detroit Tigers hit line drive after line drive to go up by eight runs. Marcus Thames hit a grand slam that inning to pretty much end this thing right there. The M’s got a little offense after that, but the end was still a 9-4 loss and another game in which the team was uncompetitive.
I can’t blame the entire team for this defeat as much as I did last night. This was mostly Washburn burying his club before it could even breathe.
Here’s the scary part. Washburn insisted his pitches weren’t all that bad. And catcher Jamie Burke backed him up on that. The Tigers have a history of pounding on Washburn, who has lost his last seven starts against Detroit and has a 7.38 earned run average over that stretch. Some guys just don’t match up well against certain teams. The Tigers are an aggressive, fastball-hitting club and Washburn was throwing a bunch of mid-to-high-80s fastballs.
Even if they weren’t all right over the plate, the Tigers obviously found them hittable.
“They were jumping on it fast, but it wasn’t like I was throwing strikes or good pitches for them to hit,” Washburn said, shaking his head. “I knew they were going to be aggressive. They were aggressive last night. They came out swinging the bats. I knew they were going to do the same thing tonight. I wanted to throw good, early in the count pitches, not give them something to hit and I did that. But they still found holes.”
A few could have drilled some holes as well. Washburn says he rarely looks at video, but went in right away to check on the location of the pitches getting ripped.
“The pitch to Thames was a mistake. It came back and got too much of the plate,” he said. “Other than that, every other hit they got in the inning was on a ball. I was hitting spots and they were just doing a good job of putting the bat on the ball and making it find a hole.”
The Tigers can do this to teams. Washburn isn’t having the best year. He’s struggled at putting guys away. it was a terrible combination. Let’s leave it at that.
“He went out there, he had good stuff, he got ahead of hitters,” Burke said. “I thought he’d had better stuff than he’d had in a while.”
If that’s the case, the M’s might want to skip Washburn the next time the Tigers come up on the schedule. Because his good stuff wasn’t nearly good enough to get hitters out in this game.
Washburn’s no dummy and knew what a mess he’d just left for the bullpen a night after Carlos Silva did a four-innings-and-out job. He’d asked manager John McLaren if he could stay in the game.
“At that point, I knew the bullpen had a rough night last night, had to throw a lot of innings,” Washburn said. “I just wanted to throw as many as I could to help the team. It’s not going to get any worse. Nine runs I’d already given up. Who cares if I give up 20 at that point? The guys did a good job coming back a little bit, but for the most part that game’s out of hand.”
McLaren wouldn’t bite.
“He said ‘Let me wear it’,” McLaren said. “And I said ‘No, you’ve worn it enough. That’s enough.’ ”
Yuniesky Betancourt had hit a solo home run to cut the Tigers lead to 2-1, but then Washburn imploded and it didn’t really matter what happened from there. Richie Sexson hit a solo homer later on off a not-so-great-looking Kenny Rogers, but again, the game was done. This team looks cooked. It’s shown no life in these two games, other than when the Tigers go up by eight runs. The pitchers haven’t helped at all in this series, aside from the relief effort turned in tonight that kept this from being the 20-run affair it first appeared it might become. Defense wasn’t a factor tonight, in spite of Raul Ibanez taking time to get to that double in the seven-run Detroit third. But the game was already over by then.
But this team has no strut. No swagger. No confidence in itself. It looks like a team ready to lose every night. A team that has no clue how to win against anyone but the dregs of baseball. The Tigers, actually, were one of those dregs until this series. And when the pitchers throw the team in a hole like Washburn did tonight, it has no prayer of climbing back out.
Guess what? It’s only May 21. Hope you’re all strapped in. This miserable ride is far from over and could get much worse.