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April 26, 2009 at 5:18 PM

Mariners starter Jarrod Washburn sees game plan evaporate with his command

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The clubhouse wasn’t as subdued as you might think, post-game. After all, the Mariners did take two of three in this series. But that’s two shots at a series sweep of the Angels that the M’s truly failed to seize. They’ve been outscored 13-1 in those contests.
Had they won those, they’d now be 8 1/2 games up on the Angels instead of 4 1/2 games up. When you’re a club fighting to tread water over the next month, the way the Angels will be until all of their injured players start coming back, that four-game difference is huge.
So, no, the Angels are not going away just yet.
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The Mariners will just have to keep taking care of business. They didn’t do that today, either on offense or the pitching front.
The Angels threw a lineup of eight right-handed bats (including two switch-hitters) at Jarrod Washburn today. Washburn and catcher Jamie Burke knew this might be a little different from the recent Tampa Bay series, when Washburn struck out nine batters facing a largely lefthanded lineup.
“The plan with Wash was to use his sinker more and mix his pitches up today,” Burke said. “We’ve got to give those guys credit. They swung the bat well, but it was just one of those days. We were trying to get the sinker to work a little bit. It worked a little bit. We were trying to get the four-seamers in and they usually cut for Wash, but they didn’t cut.
“As I said, it was one of those days and it’s going to happen.”

Washburn agreed that his command just wasn’t there when he needed it.
He also said that the 17 strikeouts he had in 21 innings heading into this game were an exception (fuelled by nine whiffs by the Rays his last time out) and that — improved pitches or not — he likely won’t continue at that pace.
“That was a fluke,” he said. “I had nine in one game. There was three lefties in that lineup and I had nine (strikeouts) in that game. And I think six of them were against lefties. So, the strikeouts are a fluke. That’s nothing. I’m a pitch-to-contact guy and today, the contact was more solid than I would like. And that’s just because I was up in the zone and missing in the middle of the plate.
“I’m not a strikeout guy. I haven’t been since minor league ball when I quit trying to do it.”
I asked Washburn about that two-out walk to Gary Matthews Jr. in the third inning, ahead of the run-scoring double by Bobby Abreu. I’d sensed Washburn would be ticked by that free pass and he didn’t disappoint.
“That killed me. I’ll fine myself in kangaroo court for that one,” he said. “There was no excuse for that. You get two quick outs like that and then fall behind and walk that guy. That one hurt.”
Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu talked about how the Mariners let Jered Weaver off the hook after that 23-pitch inning. The M’s are a little banged up right now. These could be three tough days coming up in Chicago, with some wet and cold weather expected.
We told you earlier that Russell Branyan wasn’t a complete “go” today until right before game time. His stiff back has been on and off, and he looked weak on some early strikeouts and a popout.
Wakamatsu also said that catcher Rob Johnson tweaked a groin muscle last night and that’s one reason he didn’t play today. Johnson told me after today that his groin is fine and there’s nothing wrong.
Earlier today, closer Brandon Morrow walked by the dugout after a morning bullpen session and gave Wakamatsu the thumbs-up sign to let him know he was OK. But Wakamatsu still hadn’t planned to use Morrow today, even if the Mariners needed a closer.
The manager instead would have gone with David Aardsma. Morrow reported feeling stiffness in his throwing shoulder before Saturday’s game, which Aardsma closed out.
“i probably would have given him another day, but he should be fine tomorrow,” Wakamatsu said. “I could have pitched him in an emergency type of deal, but I didn’t think it would be worth it today.”
Wakamatsu was asked about the benefits of having two guys who can close out games. While the manager agreed it was a bonus, he added that his middle relievers will have to step it up a bit more.
Miguel Batista gave up a run on Saturday, while Mark Lowe allowed a pair of runs before the ninth. And then, today, Roy Corcoran gave up two runs over 2/3 of an inning
“I think you saw it, we’ve got to be a little creative getting to that, getting deep into the ballgame without him,” Wakamatsu said. “I think it adds some pressure on some of the other guys, but it’s nice to have two guys that have that kind of arm to finish a ballgame, not just stuff-wise but psychologically.”

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