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May 26, 2009 at 10:57 PM

Mariners handed a stunning 4-3 loss

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For me, the key to this whole ballgame was Mark Lowe walking Matt Holliday to load the bases for Jason Giambi. The M’s had kept Giambi in check with men on base three prior times, but were tempting fate allowing him to bat with the bases juiced.
“In that situation, you have to get strike one right away,” Lowe said of the Holliday plate appearance, which came after he’d gotten Jack Cust to pop out to shallow center for the second out of the inning. “That walk is completely unacceptable in that situation.”
Want an interesting contrast?
Jarrod Washburn has held Giambi to an 8-for-45 (.178) mark at the plate in his career, striking him out eight times. He told me he intentionally pitched around Holliday in the first inning to load the bases and get Giambi up there.
“I kind of pitched around Holliday and loaded the bases to get to Giambi,” Washburn said. “I didn’t want to make a mistake to Holliday and I tried to play it safe there. I’m always very confident against lefties. And if I put him on there, it would be a lefty-lefty matchup.”
The difference, obviously, is that Washburn is a southpaw who throws good off-speed and breaking stuff. That’s an easier way to retire a lefty hitter than to have a righthander like Lowe throw him straight 98 mph fastballs up in the zone.
So, two identical results — walks to Holliday that loaded the bases for Giambi. One of them wanted, the other not. One of them helped preserve a 2-0 lead for the Mariners, the other cost them the game.
That’s baseball. I find this kind of stuff interesting.
Too many bullpen walks have been an issue for a good part of the season. It slowed a bit recently, but reared its ugly head again tonight, Miguel Batista had little command and takes the loss.
A 4-3 defeat in a game Seattle led 3-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh. Yeah, it hurts.
Don Wakamatsu said the bullpen is feelign the effects from being used heavily of late. Sean White wasn’t available tonight and there really are no fresh arms in there at the moment.
This is why you have to take advantage of those “winnable” games and not drop them by scoring only one run and stranding a bunch of runners. Because once in a while, you’ll have control of a game like this and it slips away.
The Mariners could have boosted their lead in that first inning. But Mike Sweeney’s back gave out on him rounding third. He’d felt some spasms in yesterday’s game, but the training staff helped him get through it. That slide into second base did him in tonight. He said he playes the game hard and wouldn’t do things any less aggressively.
But now, he’ll have to sit — listed as day-to-day.
You have to win some games some of the time. If you don’t win the easier ones, these tough ones hurt even more. And the losses pile up quick.
Anyhow, the M’s played better tonight. But they again have little to show for it.



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