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July 7, 2010 at 10:07 PM

Royals 7, Mariners 3: Bullpen yields three home runs in collapse

Hard to believe the Mariners took a 3-1 lead into the seventh inning of this game. For me, the really big run was the one the Royals scored in the seventh on that Brian Sweeney wild pitch that got by Rob Johnson.
It made it a one-run game and left a struggling Brandon League with little margin for error when he needed plenty in the eighth inning. League could not throw strikes and walked the first two guys. I know that some of you were hoping to see Garrett Olson come on in that situation, but frankly, League was still the best guy for that situation. The Mariners needed a double-play grounder, not a flyball that Olson tends to give up.
Problem is, League yielded a flyball. Not just an ordinary one either. A three-run homer by Alberto Callaspo.
When League goes bad, he goes bad. This reminds me of what he’d done earlier in the season when he blew a few games in the opening month. Since then, he’d been doing quite well up until the series opener. So, it’s not like manager Don Wakamatsu had this huge track record of failure that required an early pull. One bad game doesn’t do that to you. Next time out might be a different story.
In the end, he made the “wrong” call because of the homer. But I still think playing the odds with League there was not a terrible thing. Still, he’s got to get better fastball command or he’s sunk. Hasn’t had much the last two outings. And yeah, he might want to try throwing his splitter more if he can’t get that command right away — hopefully, before someone jacks a three-run homer next time.
I could understand his reasoning when the two-seamer was working for him. But right now, he’s sticking with one good pitch and had no command of it. That won’t work.


The rest of the bullpen wasn’t much better.
Olson gave up an even worse-looking home run to Mitch Maier that hit the second deck in right. That should probably tame some of the “you should have pulled League for Olson” arguments because that kind of blast is exactly why you’d hesitate to go with Olson against Callaspo.
Chad Cordero came on in the ninth and Billy Butler got the home run he thought he had several innings previous when he nailed one off the top of the wall, went into a trot, then got thrown out. This time, Butler’s blast bounced off a railing behind the opposite wall in right and again went back omn the field.
To Butler’s credit, he hustled into second this time. But after a video review, the play was confirmed as a home run.
I’ve got to say, the fans were in fine booing form tonight. No wondering how they felt about the turn of events. They expressed it loud and clear. Even gave a Bronx Cheer when, after League was yanked, Olson came in and landed a strike.
And the M’s deserved it. They were very lucky, I thought, to have a 3-1 lead in the seventh the way Doug Fister pitched and some Royals scorched some balls into outs. The M’s left the bases loaded once and stranded nine guys total. They did not deserve to win this game, or this series.
And they didn’t. And they were justly booed for it.

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