With this weekend’s series triumph by the Mariners and the recent slump by the Red Sox will come the inevitable questions about whether Seattle can jump back into the AL wild-card race from its fringes. That would certainly be interesting for Seattle baseball fans if it could happen. You’ve heard me opine about their playoff chances at the deadline and I’ve got some choice thoughts on it now, which you can hear on our latest podcast.
First, some post-game tidbits and quotes from today’s 11-2 win by the Mariners.
Some of you saw Don Wakamatsu say something to Ryan Rowland-Smith as he left the mound in the seventh inning. Wakamatsu was telling him that Mike Sweeney had lobbied on his behalf to have the manager let him go past the 100-pitch mark for the first time this season.
Rowland-Smith had been increasingly telling teammates of his desire to surpass 100, which he did today at 109.
Sweeney told me he went to Wakamatsu pre-game and offered him $100 if he’d let his pitcher throw 100 or more pitches. Rowland-Smith, who tied a career-high with six strikeouts, made it easy for Wakamatsu to do that without being paid.
Still, Sweeney showed up at his office post-game.
“I flipped him a Benjamin,” Sweeney said.
Now, does this matter? Of course it does. The 100 pitches, not the $100.
The Mariners have only twice seen a starter go beyond six innings and allow three earned runs or fewer in nine games since the trade deadline. That has to change.
Rowland-Smith had gone just four innings his last time out, but easily bettered that today. One reason he did so was that he stopped nibbling around, as he did the first two innings, and admittedly began pitching-to-contact.
Odd that he should cop to that on a day he struck out six batters. Pitching-to-contact normally doesn’t involve higher-than-usual strikeout totals. But Rowland-Smith managed to have his cake and eat it, too.
He was up to 77 pitches through four innings, largely because of the all the strikeouts he was logging. But then, he tightened up big-time and began inducing quick grounders and flyballs.
“I just said to myself, let’s try to lock-in here and have a little more efficiency in each of the innings,” he said. “It’s always important. That’s always my goal, I’ve always said that, to get deep into games. That’s how you get wins and losses, it’s getting that seventh in…you’re going to get a decision when you go deep into games.”
And that leads us into today’s podcast.
Click right here to listen to it.