That was as dominating performance as you’ll ever see from a guy that doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but had brilliant command. Aubrey Huff of the Orioles summed up Jarrod Washburn nicely, alluding to Nick Markasis’s two-out single in the fourth — Baltimore’s only baserunner of the game.
“If it wasn’t for Nick’s little hit out to left, he’s got a perfect game. He was that good. I saw one pitch to hit and I hit it to left. Other than that, I didn’t see much to hit the whole game. He’s just one of those guys, I feel comfortable against him every time I step into the box and he just gets you out. That’s just something he’s done my whole career. I never feel like I’m overmatched. He just gets me out every time.”
“He’s a frustrating guy. You don’t feel overmatched and he doesn’t throw it by you. You go in there thinking you’re going to get a hit every time and I come out of there 0-for-3, 0-for-4 every game. He’s just one of those guys. He just mixes his cutter, gives you a little sinker every now and then, drops in a nice curveball. He keeps you off balance all game. He’s just a really frustrating guy to face.”
It’s amazing to think how close Washburn came to a perfect game. Let’s look a little closer at Markakis’s hit, which came on a 2-2 pitch. He lined it to left — opposide field for the left-handed-hitting Markakis. It dropped cleanly between left fielder Ryan Langerhans and center fielder Franklin Gutierrez. It was closer to Langerhans, who later in the game might have dived for the ball, but he wasn’t going to lay out so early, especially with the Mariners still clinging to a 1-0 lead.
“He got two strikes on him, and I took a couple more steps over toward the line,” Langerhans said. “I don’t know, that might have made the difference (in being able to catch the ball or not). I’ve already caught a little ribbing from the guys.”
Here’s what catcher Rob Johnson said: “It was a sinker in. He left that one up just a little, and (Markakis) happened to get his bat on it. He didn’t barrel it up. He got jammed a little, but that’s part of the game.”
And Washburn: “He hit a good pitch, I haven’t gone back and looked at it. Rob said it was a good pitch, and said it might have even been a ball. He did a good job of staying inside the ball and served it out to left.”
Washburn’s proud father, Mike, was in the clubhouse after the game. The only other game his parents, who live in Wisconsin, have seen him pitch this year was in Minnesota in the season-opening series in April, when Washburn threw eight shutout innings.
“He’s here through the All-Star break,” Washburn said. “If I throw another shutout against Texas, I might have to make him do some traveling.”
Here’s what Washburn said about his season: “This year is the best stuff I’ve ever had. I’ve always had a two-seam fastball but it never sunk before. The mechanical adjustment I made in spring training with the help of Rick (Adair, the pitching coach) and Wette (John Wetteland, the bullpen coach) has paid ooff. My two-seamer sinks and I’m getting out a little farther on the ball. It helps my breaking bal, too. That’s what I owe it all to is that mechanical adjustment.”
Don Wakamatsu: “I think he’s pitching as good as I’ve ever seen him. Even back in the World Series in 2002, I thought he tried to power guys; he pitches now, he has more command of certain pitches. You see a lot of left-handers as they get a little older, they get a little more crafty, but he still has good velocity on his fastball, and he’s starting to understand to maybe soften it a little, use his sinker, use his breaking ball to pitch.
“I don’t know if you can throw a better game than that. I don’t think I give enough credit…I talk about the leadership in this clubhouse, and you always hear Griffey and Sweeney. I think we’re missing the boat when I don’t mention Washburn enough, both off and, obviously, on the field tonight, coming off a tough road trip that taxed our bullpen. He stepped up and saved us big time.
“He’s such a competitor. I don’t know if I could even — I didn’t — go up and ask him if he could finish that game. You knew the answer.”
The bottom line is that Washburn is raising his trade value if the Mariners decide to go that route, or raising the expectation of what he can offer in the second half if they don’t. Neither is a bad thing for the Mariners.