Ryan Rowland-Smith is getting used to these types of outings. The ones where he does some little stuff right, appears to be having a good game, then sees it unravel all at once. Tonight, it was on three pitches. One of them, a three-run homer by Jonathan Lucroy, a guy called up from Class AAA on May 21.
Rowland-Smith admitted he didn’t know much about him. Had been keeping stuff down in the zone, thought he could bust him up and in with a fastball, then found out the kid could get around on one. Next time, Rowland-Smith added, he’ll know better. That won’t be this year, unfortunately, unless these clubs meet in the World Series. Might not be for a long, long time.
Two pitches later, Carlos Gomez smoked a change-up that he looked to be sitting on.
So, another frustating end for the 1-7 pitcher. His offense, as usual, went into hibernation in the face of a setback and his ERA is once again up over 6.00 at 6.18.
Back to him in a minute.
First, I should tell you that David Aardsma has left the team to be with his wife, who is expecting her first child. Her water broke tonight, so the baby could come any day now. He’ll be gone at least three days, so this bullpen could use a few more complete games.
Also, in case you missed it earlier, catch our video interview below.
It’s with Windell Middlebrooks, of Miller High Life beer commercial fame. He’s the guy who crashes all the VIP parties with his cases of two-four, smacking them down on bars and frightening all of the skittish jet-setters. I think he’s pretty funny. So does ABC, which has apparently picked up one of his pilots.
He’s here as part of Miller’s “Give a Veteran a Piece of the High Life” campaign, which is giving 10 cents from every specially marked bottle cap or can tab of Miller High Life and High Life Lite to paying for events for military veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. Up to $1 million will be earmarked so veterans can attend pro sports events, concerts and outdoor adventures throughout the summer.
Anyhow, back to Rowland-Smith, he told me after the game that he’s really focusing on trying to get ahead in counts early on. It helps him avoid all those walks and could get him deeper into games.
“I don’t really look at it so much as cutting down on walks,” he said. “More just getting ahead of the hitters 0-1, 0-2. That’s what I was doing when I had success in the past and that’s what I need to do more. So, it’s little things. But I thought I was doing them until the fourth inning.”
So, how’d he do?
Well, he threw first-pitch strikes to 15 of the first 21 batters he faced and got another to ground out on the first pitch. Then, he walked two of the first three batters in his final inning and was out of the game.
He was ahead 0-2 four times the first three innings and 1-2 in another at-bat.
In the fourth, he was ahead 1-2 on Lucroy before he belted the three-run homer.
But it was clear that he was throwing more early strikes. Without that three-pitch sequence, who knows? Something to build off. He needs it.
The offense vanished once it blew that fifth inning chance. As I told you in the in-game post, Chone Figgins has to break for home when it’s a contact play like that. Especially with Franklin Gutierrez up.
“He’s a good contact hitter, so I was prepared for that,” Figgins said.
Had the ball been hit another half step to the left or right of the third baseman, Figgins might have beaten a tougher throw. But the ball was practically right at Casey McGehee, leaving almost zero chance for Figgins.
Of all the places for Gutierrez to hit the ball, that was the worst one.
Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu summed it up.
“The thing we talk about is, not hitting a ground ball to third base any time you have a runner at third,” Wakamatsu said. “And we did.”
Yes they did. Back to the old drawing board. For Rowland-Smith and the team around him. They’ll have another three months to get it right. At this point, they’re all building towards something more distant than just 2010.