This bullpen situation is a lot more precarious than the team is letting on. And that’s why panic must have started to set in when Ian Snell was working on his 30th pitch of the night, having notched just one out in the first inning.
But Snell got through that frame on 33 pitches in a game his team went on to lose 6-3. The Mariners were never in this one after that four-run first inning by the Angels. Sure, they made it close on the scoreboard with two solo homers by Kenji Johjima and Jose Lopez.
They even made things look a little closer in the ninth by putting runners on second and third with none out and forcing human incendiary device Brian Fuentes into the game.
But the Mariners simply don’t have the firepower to get into a slugfest with the Angels. Ichiro got one single tonight and needs four hits for a 200-hit season. But he also hit into three inning-ending outs with runners on base, including in the ninth.
The most important thing tonight was Snell not pulling a one-and-done. He made it all the way into the sixth with no further damage allowed and then Jason Vargas pitched through the eighth, giving up a mammoth two-run shot by Juan Rivera that put the game away.
Too bad Rivera’s blast, which game with two out, happened when it did or the ninth might have been a tad more iinteresting.
Seriously though, this bullpen is running on fumes. The M’s don’t want to use Mark Lowe or David Aardsma unless they’re ahead in the eighth or ninth. Too much work for both guys this year. They’d rather not use Shawn Kelley unless ahead in the seventh, though they may not have a choice in that regard.
They really don’t want to use Miguel Batista at all. Chris Jakubauskas is shelved for a few more days.
That’s why Brandon Morrow is coming up to start Friday. So Luke French can help Vargas in the long relief role. That’s why the last thing this team needed tonight was an early exit by Snell.
Didn’t happen this time. But things are precarious moving forward. Think a winning season is guaranteed? Think again. The M’s are only four over .500 and a series in Texas awaits after this one, with a bullpen trying to make it through the final 3 1/2 weeks without totally imploding.
Can’t paint more of a picture for you.
September 9, 2009 at 10:56 PM