It took us 26 days to assemble a three and a half game lead and five days to give it away. In consecutive games we've managed nine hits, 14 baserunners, and two runs against Vicente Padilla and Sidney Ponson, two unquestionably terrible starting pitchers, pitchers with a combined 5.60 tRA over their last 193 starts. Today we saw Carlos Silva get pulled after three innings while Ponson departed to a standing ovation. Try as I might to remain optimistic about where we stand a month into the season, this felt so much like last year that my calendar flipped backwards. I don't own a calendar. That doesn't even make sense.
Mark Lowe said a few weeks ago that even when the team's losing, the bullpen isn't the least bit concerned, because they know the offense will be able to come back. Funny thing about that. This team has gone from exuberant to troubled seemingly overnight, and now I suppose we get to see just how resilient this clubhouse really is, because this skid has only felt all too familiar. Yeah, it's only three games. But it's three games that've revealed a whole lot of flaws. If the Mariners want to stay in the hunt, they need to shape up now, because otherwise this whole thing could get away from them in a hurry.
- With eight hits and six runs in three innings, Silva almost certainly pitched himself out of the rotation. Up next for him will either be a role in the bullpen to work on some things or a stint on the DL to let him clear his head. To be fair to him, though, he wasn't terrible today- he kept nine of 16 balls on the ground, missed a couple bats, and threw more changeups than he has in other starts. That said, he simply doesn't have much of a prayer against a lineup that's 5/9ths left-handed, and while the Royals grounded a few singles that a better shortstop would've picked up, they also hit enough balls hard to earn their runs. Just because it wasn't the worst Silva's ever looked doesn't mean it wasn't lousy.
So now we'll probably get to see what this rotation looks like without Silva in the middle of it. Nobody wanted it to get this bad when we signed him, but at this point I think we can all agree that a demotion is in everyone's best interests. Silva needs some time to think things through and regain his self-confidence, and the team needs someone who can keep the game close. Be it Vargas, Olson, RRS when he's healthy, or even Batista, the team could use an alternative, and they have themselves enough options.
What lies ahead for Silva? I'm not really sure. He could go on the DL for a while, or he could turn into a long reliever, but he's far too expensive for the team to just release, and what I imagine will happen is that he'll get another crack at starting down the road once everyone's pleased with his psychological progress. And honestly, it wouldn't surprise me if we saw him go all Jeff Weaver when he comes back. As a pitch-to-contact guy, he's not a real asset, but he's not this bad - not in terms of his true talent - and he's capable of putting together the same kind of run. It's just a matter of getting him to believe he can do it, and a little time off couldn't possibly hurt. We'll see. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to watching somebody else.
- For years, people have been wondering what would happen if the Mariners got to play against Willie Ballgame, or Miguel Olivo, or Horacio Ramirez, or a whole team full of Mariner cast-offs. Now we have our answer. The Mariners would get the shit kicked out of them.
- Garrett Olson made his 2009 Mariner debut today in relief of Carlos Silva, and the immediate results were holy-God awful; in his first inning of work, he allowed five hits, one walk, and required an outfield assist to register one of the outs. After that, though, he was able to settle down and put together a half-decent performance. In all, he only threw 60% strikes, but he did manage to miss eight bats and get his fastball up to 91 despite his relief appearance being more like a start. It's something. Though you don't want to read too much into someone's mop-up statistics, the thing that really stood out was the success of Olson's slurve. Of the 20 he threw, 18 were strikes and five missed bats. Six were put in play and five stayed on the ground. The slurve has always been Olson's best pitch, and today we got to see it in action. He's not that much of a value right now, but throw in a 5-10% command improvement and we've got a decent starting pitcher on our hands.
- I am ashamed of this offense. Just ashamed. I know a lot of people expected the offense to struggle this year, but it isn't struggling because the defense-first outfielders didn't come with useful bats; it's struggling because none of Jose Lopez, Adrian Beltre, Ken Griffey Jr., and to a lesser extent Ichiro are hitting like they're supposed to. We can talk about swapping bats all we want - and Dave's right, we could really use another lefty or two - but we need the guys we have to start stinging the ball more than once every other game. Ichiro looked all kinds of awful today, and both Beltre and Yuni should probably get a day or three off. Call up Clement yesterday.
Washburn and Bannister tomorrow morning. Come on, you idiots. Padilla, Ponson, and Bannister? It doesn't get much easier than this. You're pathetic.