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May 21, 2008 at 6:00 PM

Mariners at Detroit Tigers: 05/21 game thread

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We won’t even show you a picture of the field of play tonight. Might be harmful to small children, especially those being groomed as Mariners fans. Not even the guy in the statue above could save this team now. Maybe 25 of him. Wonder if he could catch?
6:00 p.m.: And a Richie Sexson “Funk Blast” in the sixth cuts the gap to 9-4. “We want the funk!” Come on folks, sing along…”We need the funk!”…so, uh…not really interested, huh? Yeah, can’t blame you. I don’t got much funk either. In case you can’t tell. Cha Seung Baek is ready to pitch here in the bottom of the sixth. Believe it or not. Get him back on the ole’ horse. He’ll take the ball. Thing is, it’s raining so hard here now, it’ll be hard to tell if those are drops hitting the bleachers or some Baek fastballs.
Good job by Ryan Rowland-Smith, tossing 2 2/3 scoreless innings to keep the Tigers from going double-digits. But it’s still early. Wonder what the over-under on tomorrow’s game will be in Vegas?
To answer a question from Todd, in the comments thread, I don’t see anything wrong with John McLaren’s decision to let Erik Bedard have Jamie Burke as his personal catcher. Bedard is the rotation’s top starter, has pitched well except for one game and this team gave away a bunch of players to get him. If he feels better being caught by Burke, no harm in doing it. In fact, it’s dumb not to do it. Bedard produces. I know there have been studies showing a catcher’s impact on pitchers to be negligible, but this isn’t about that. It’s about the comfort level of your staff ace. The Houston Astros gave Roger Clemens his own plane and days off to be with his family. If all Bedard needs is Jamie Burke, give it to him.
But Washburn is another story. I can understand McLaren, given a coin flip of a choice between starting Burke or Johjima today, would lean towards allowing Washburn the catcher he works with best. No harm to anyone involved and Johjima loses no playing time since he was only going to catch in one of the two games, tomorrow being a daytime affair. That’s different from making Burke into Washburn’s personal catcher as well.
Do that, when it does take playing time from Johjima, and it looks ridiculous that the team would extend the catcher for three more years. We’re talking about 40 percent of the rotation here. For me, it’s already suspect that the team is looking for ways out of a battery with two of the five starters. Do that on a full-time basis and it sends the wrong message to Johjima and the team. Either you stand behind your organization’s decision to extend Johjima, by letting him catch 80 percent of the games, or you stand up and explain the rationale behind extending him in the first place.
Otherwise, this whole thing is just bizarre. No, a fourth or fifth starter should not be getting a personalized catcher when the staff ace already has one. If you’re going to do that, you have to be prepared to go a different route on the catching front altogether. But on a semi-routine basis, if it’s an either-or decision on when to give Johjima rest — and you know there’s a pitcher who prefers to go with Burke — I don’t see anything wrong with trying to make the pitcher happy. As long as it’s not a permanent thing.

5:36 p.m.: The Mariners, as we all know, are the most lethal team in baseball when trailing by eight or more runs. They threw a scare into the Tigers in the fifth inning, getting an RBI single by Adrian Beltre and loading the bases with one out. After a Jose Lopez popout, Raul Ibanez drew a bases-loaded walk to force home a second run in the inning. But Rogers got everyone’s favorite DH to hit a full-count pop fly to right field and escaped the frame still clinging to a 9-3 lead. Well, there’s always the Tigers bullpen to cross your fingers on. But you have to cut the gap to at least six.
5:14 p.m.: John McLaren just tried to get himself thrown out of the game between innings, but plate umpire Andy Fletcher wouldn’t bite. McLaren didn’t like a third strike call on Jose Vidro to end the top of the fourth, in what is still a 9-1 game. Fletcher spread his arms out at one point as if to say “What do you want me to do? I ain’t runnin’ ya!” McLaren kept persisiting, before finally returning to the dugout. None of the M’s players seemed all that interested as they went about their warm-ups. By the way, a light rain began falling just before the flare-up. So, it’s possible McLaren was trying to pull a Mike Hargrove and stall the game just long enough to get it delayed, then called. Possible, but I’m not putting money on it.
4:58 p.m.: The way Jarrod Washburn is pitching, it’s feasible the Mariners could send him back out for the fourth inning, buying themselves enough time to fly R.A. Dickey from SeaTac to Detroit in time to work the fifth. Only problem is, it would be about 50-1 by that point. Don’t worry, though, Washburn just got pulled in the third after surrendering hits to eight of the first nine batters to fall behind — and apart –by a 9-1 score. Ryan Rowland-Smith is now in the game. Washburn threw 60 pitches, 43 of which got blistered all over the ballpark. Actually, no. The 43 number was his strike-count. It got so bad this inning that the Tigers were swinging at every pitch they saw. Forget working the count. I’ve never seen so many consecutive hitters take so many first or second-pitch swings. And succeed at it. The grand slam hit by Marcus Thames was on a ball he barely got decent wood on. Terrible outing. This season is just about down the drain. Only question is, will the manager survive the week?
4:47 p.m.: Yuniesky Betancourt led off the third inning with a solo homer to left center off Kenny Rogers to cut Detroit’s lead to 2-1. The Tigers scored a pair in the second off Jarrod Washburn, both coming on a Brandon Inge double into the left field corner that Raul Ibanez took some time in digging out. The double came on a 1-2 pitch by Washburn, which was a fastball, belt-to-chest high, down the outer half of the plate. At 85 mph, it was prime for a ripping. Washburn only escaped the inning by sticking his glove up as a reaction to a line drive screamer from Pudge Rodriguez that otherwise would have gone up the middle for another run-scoring hit.
4:30 p.m.: We’re already entering the bottom of the second, with the game scoreless. Seattle got a one-out single from Adrian Beltre in the first and a two-out single from Wladimir Balentien in the second, but came away empty.
Mariners starter Jarrod Washburn gave up a leadoff single on a 1-2 pitch in the first, then retired the side.
The lineups:
MARINERS (18-28)
51 Ichiro CF
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
4 Jose Lopez 2B
28 Raul Ibanez LF
3 Jose Vidro DH
44 Richie Sexson 1B
50 Wladimir Balentien RF
15 Jamie Burke C
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
56 Jarrod Washburn LHP
TIGERS (18-27)
7 Ivan Rodriguez C
14 Placido Polanco 2B
3 Gary Sheffield DH
30 Magglio Ordonez RF
24 Miguel Cabrera 1B
9 Carlos Guillen 3B
33 Marcus Thames LF
8 Edgar Renteria SS
15 Brandon Inge CF
37 Kenny Rogers LHP



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