The Mariners left Charlie Furbush in the game one batter too many and paid for it with a two-run double by Maicer Izturis.
That turned a 1-0 Seattle lead into a deficit and Tom Wilhelmsen later came on and allowed an RBI single for an eventual 3-1 defeat.
Tough finish for Furbush, who pitched a whale of a game.
I asked manager Eric Wedge afterwards why he left Furbush in there and here is what he said:
“I wanted to give him the opportunity, I felt like he’d earned it,” Wedge said. “Plus, Izturis is a lot better from the left side, so I didn’t want to turn him around right there.”
Wedge later repeated: “That was the main reason. I didn’t want Izturis left-handed up there in that situation.”
Now, here comes the tricky part. Angels manager Mike Scioscia, over the years, has certainly used Izturis as if he’s a better hitter from the left side.
But the numbers show that career-wise, he’s about dead even — .275 average with a .731 OPS from the left side and .276 average with a .727 OPS from the right.
Not much to choose from there.
This year, Izturis’s numbers are better from the right side and not the left.
Izturis is batting .310 with an OPS of .814 from the right side and .259 with a .680 OPS from the left side.
We’d already gone upstairs by the time we scrutinized the numbers and Wedge and the team were on their way to the ariport. So, Wedge is clearly basing his belief that Izturis hits better from the left side — as does Scioscia — on something beyond the raw numbers.
Some of the Angels were saying in their clubhouse after the game that Furbush appeared to lose it in the eighth inning. They said his stuff was all over the place.
Up to then, it had been a tremendous effort by Furbush to get that deep in the game with a 1-0 lead. He had help behind him from the infield defense but clearly was a different pitcher.
“He threw a heck of a ballgame,” Wedge said. “It was a significant step, having him out there in that situation. It didn’t work out this time but he’s gone through it now late in the ballgame and he’ll be better for it next time.”
Furbush attacked the zone aggressively, using his fastball to jump ahead in the count.
“I was just trying to get ahead early,” he said. “I like to throw my fastball and get ahead. I threw it down in the zone early and it worked pretty well until the eighth inning.”
Indeed it did. If he keeps that up, he could be an effective starting pitcher. We’ll see whether he can. The defense was on its toes tonight, with Brendan Ryan and Alex Liddi doing the job in the infield and Trayvon Robinson and Ichiro making some nice catches in the outfield.
Like his other strong outing against the Red Sox, Furbush relies on his fielders to be on their games. If they play like they did behind Anthony Vasquez two nights ago, there’s no way Furbush makes it to the eighth.
But tonight, he made it pretty deep without overwhelming stuff.
Liddi went 0-for-2 in his debut with a groundout and strikeout. But he did make that nice backhanded grab behind third and threw Torii Hunter out with a bullet to first base.
“That broke the ice a little bit,” Liddi said. “Yeah, that helped a lot.”