Who would have thought we’d see Mariano Rivera jogging in to finish this game off when the M’s took a three-run lead in the eighth and sent J.J. Putz to the mound? I agree with the choice of Putz for a two-inning save. The Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi at-bats were looming as the decisive points in the game.
It was a much better game from the Mariners today, which made this 6-5 loss all that much harder for them to swallow, I’m sure. Putz, Arthur Rhodes and Sean Green allowed four runs to score in the eighth inning after Jarrod Washburn had pitched them to a 5-2 lead through six. Everyone on this team appeared to play hard today. A much better effort all around. Some bad luck in the eighth killed the M’s. That squibber by Hideki Matsui was just out of Putz’s reach, meaning he had to dive for it. The ball just slipped out of his hand as he threw to first from a prone position and wound up sailing over Richie Sexson’s head.
“I couldn’t get a grip,” Putz said. “I’d probably have been better off eating it.”
On that flyball to right center, Ichiro had to take charge. Looked like he and Wladimir Balentien were both uncertain whose ball it was. Ichiro said they were playing shallow to prevent a base-hit from dropping in and scoring Hideki Matsui from second. Matsui isn’t the best runner, so getting to a hard-hit single faster by playing in could also have kept him from scoring.
For me, the game’s underrated play was Matsui advancing to second on the prior sacrifice fly to center by Robinson Cano. Had Matsui stayed on first, the outfielders would have played deeper on the Jose Molina fly ball that ultimately won the game.
That flyball hung up like a Ray Guy punt. But Ichiro never could catch up to it. He didn’t even look at the ball when he began racing back, given all the ground he had to make up.
“As soon as they hit it, I thought it was going to be a tough ball to catch,” he said. “At the end of the play, I never got to where the ball was.”
Which prompted the natural question of whether he should have been playing a little deeper to begin with.
“If I had spiritual powers and knew the ball was going to be landing there, then I would have,” he said. “But I don’t have spiritual power.”
Neither, apparently, does this team.
A tough end to a better day. These types of endings happen. Unfortunately, when you play lousy baseball for an entire week leading up to it, it makes these collapses seem a whole lot worse. And there is nothing positive to offset it. That’s an 0-6 road trip.
May 25, 2008 at 3:47 PM