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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

July 29, 2010 at 9:26 PM

Mariners freefalling towards worst month in franchise history

Every night, I get emails and comments on the blog from a small handful of you stating that you know the Mariners stink and want to talk about the future.
We’ll get to that, I assure you. As soon as we start seeing a team that looks to be making real future plans by calling up guys who’ll be here when the team plans on contending for something. We saw Justin Smoak pop out in a key situation tonight with runners on second and third with one out in the sixth, the M’s still in a 5-3 game at that point.
Michael Saunders got two more hits to up his average to .243.
Ichiro got the three doubles, tying a teammark done 22 times previously, once before by Ichiro himself and most recently by Rob Johnson last year.
But what more can I tell you?
That’s about it. None of the pitchers you saw tonight for the Mariners is likely to still be around when this team is ready to contend. Casey Kotchman had a big night at the plate with two doubles and two runs batted in, but he won’t be here come contention time either.
Kotchman also ended his night by taking a called third strike with a runner on second and one out in a 7-5 game in the seventh.
The Mariners are now 6-20 in July. It’s the first time they’ve ever lost 20 games in the month of July and are now two defeats away the next two nights from tying for the worst mark in franchise history. That was set way back in August of the expansion 1977 season when the M’s went 6-22.
Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu was disappointed that pitchers landed only 15 of 39 first pitches for strikes.
“As the series went on and we started giving up home runs, we started pitching more protectively, I think,” Wakamatsu said. “There were 15 of 39 first-pitch strikes and whether it’s our ballpark or this ballpark, the same formula works. You have to get ahead of hitters. When you fall behind, especially against a club that’s as hot as this one, with their power potential, you’re running into trouble.”

None of the pitchers I spoke to afterwards admitted to pitching defensively. They all admitted they kept falling behind and couldn’t prevent it but all insisted they were guarding against nibbling too defensively.
Wakamatsu said he pulled Pauley two outs into the third inning because “his outing didn’t seem to be going anywhere” and he kept falling behind. Like we mentioned in the game thread, the game was still in reach at 4-2 and the last thing Wakamatsu needed was for Pauley to fall behind a veteran like Mark Kotsay with two on.
We saw all series how quickly power can cover up a team’s shortcomings.
The White Sox didn’t pitch all that well the final two games of this series and the M’s took advantage by scoring five runs each night.
But any time Seattle had a real chance to put a game away or get back into one, the White Sox used the long ball to change things in a hurry.
Down 5-1 last night, they saw Gordon Beckham get them back into it right away with a two-run homer.
Tonight. after the M’s nearly got back in a 5-3 game, you had Ramon Castro go deep to make it 6-3.
Then, when the M’s closed in again to make it 7-5 and nearly add more, Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin go deep right away to put things out of reach.
That’s what power can do. It erases mistakes so that a team doesn’t have to play a perfect game every time out. Chicago sure didn’t play perfectly in this four-game sweep.
But when a team has almost no power, it forces them to be too good, too often. No team is perfect. Tonight, the White Sox didn’t have to be. A few swings took care of any problems.
For the Mariners, they just aren’t prone to those explosions.
Last night, they scored zero runs after the second inning. Tonight, they did a little better, but still could not deliver the killer blow they needed.
And they need some more bats that can deliver blows. We’ve seen it all year. No one’s saying you have to build a home run hitting lineup like the White Sox. But a couple of big threats never hurt. Unless you happen to be the team facing those threats. Then, it hurts real bad.



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