The Free Erasmo syndicate got one of their wishes today, watching Jeremy Bonderman get knocked to pieces by the Cincinnati Reds. After his disastrous first start in Minnesota on June 2nd, he had a good couple of games that elevated his status in the clubhouse to "Well, lets try this out because we don't have anyone else ready at the moment" to "Wow! Look at that ERA! Maybe we should take a few more looks to see if this guy still has some juice left in him!"
Well, you can strike that from the books, because Bonderman got hit today, and got hit hard. Over his past couple of starts, his ridiculously low BABIP (.143 on 6/12!) started to return to league average, and the inordinate amount of fly balls he allows started to catch up with him, and not get caught. I wouldn't be surprised to see him out a couple more times this year, and it seems fair to guess they just want a few more looks to see if today was some kind of freak accident. I don't think it was, though. I've seriously never seen an isolated case that more perfectly shows the value of predictive stats and sabermetrics than Bonderman this year.
This is a "Tough couple of games! But you can do, and have done, much better this year. Hit the showers and let's go get 'em next time!" chart.
This is a "Wow. You give up a lot of fly balls, and you skirted by a couple times with lucky defense, but it caught up to you, and you didn't have two bad luck outings, you had two good luck outings" kind of chart.
I'm sure I'm reiterating points you all already know, have heard, and are tired of hearing, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that while I don't think they are going to pull him in a couple of days for Erasmo, it's pretty silly to think that he is suddenly going to go back to pitching like he did in Houston--and that what he did in that game is some kind of attainable norm. Now, at the end of the day, holding Erasmo back for a couple more Bonderman starts in a lost season isn't the end of the world, especially because if the Mariners wait until August 15th to call him up, they get to push his future free agency back a year (thanks to Pacific Northwestern Vagabond in the game thread). So today was a bit of a blip, and we are probably going to have a few more of these, but it's alright. Erasmo is coming soon. Soon!
Everyone has been joking around here lately that they hope Bonderman games go 10-9 Mariners with Bonderman getting shelled, and pulled, early. Going into the 6th, the damage was light, but pretty noticeable--the Mariners were nursing a 6-3 deficit and at one time, had six strikeouts in a row off Mat Latos, who also doubled in the bottom of the fourth to help his own game. But in the top of the 6th, Dustin Ackley finally made contact and singled after a 7 pitch-at bat and right after, Brendan Ryan of all people doubled him in to score. It would be the last run the Mariners scored all game, and after Nick Franklin K'd in his first pinch-hit opportunity, and Brad Miller quickly followed suit, the threat died and the Mariners took the field behind Carter Capps.
In the bottom of the 6th, Capps might've had Shin-Soo Choo out with a grounder, but it quickly deflected off his ankle, rolling out of reach. Choo was safe. But after quickly getting rid of Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips, the wheels came off yet again, and the Reds put three more runs on the board because of course they did. The Mariners briefly threatened in the 8th after a Mike Zunino single and walks by Brendan Ryan and Brad Miler, who got a gimme on his called ball 4, but they remembered they were the Mariners and nothing came of it. So the carnage continued in the bottom of the 8th and by this time, everyone seemed to stop watching the game because holy crap. The Reds won with a final score of 13-4 and yuck.
It has been exciting as of late to see our young guys producing like they did last night, but ultimately they are still young and prone to make mistakes. Today they made a lot of them. Ackley forgot to hit a cut-off man in the bottom of the 5th inning with runs scoring, Brad Miller forgot to tag on a deep fly ball, and Mike Zunino was something else altogether. After a few miscues at home plate, he played catch with Dustin Ackley in the 6th inning while Choo and Brandon Phillips were running around the diamond. It seemed like he was probably just nervous and overshot the throw, and I had to remind myself that this is the other side of the coin to having the youngest infield in the American League. But young doesn't mean broken. There was a moment after Ackley's bad throw that the ROOT Sports feed went down into the dugout to show Mike Brumley having a conversation with Ackley about it. As dumb as it sounds, it was exactly the right thing to see at that moment. Ackley has played only a handful of games in a major league outfield, and the Mariners have made a very explicit choice to test his development up here rather than down in Tacoma, so of course stuff like today is going to happen. Nothing to get worried about, but boy, I guess everyone chose the right day to forget how to play baseball.
Lost in the midst of the defensive debacles in this game was a great 1st inning home run by Kyle Seager and a productive day from Brad Miller, who drew three walks, making his case for taking over the leadoff role pretty well for himself. Ackley had two hits, including a hard-hit double in the 4th inning. We also found out that Felix and Hisashi Iwakuma both made the All-Star game, which is on one hand kind of meaningless because Kuma probably isn't even going to pitch. But it is nice recognition for the guy who is putting up stellar numbers on a smaller market team that seems to never be in the conversation. And while games like this will do a number on run differential, it doesn't mean the Mariners can't take the series from the Reds tomorrow behind Joe Saunders. No, that game will require a whole new set of miscues and failed opportunities!
Tomorrow's 10AM game will the the year's last in an NL ballpark until the Mariners go to St. Louis in September. It's always a little treat to get to see our pitchers hit, but maybe next time we could do this in Miami? What do you say, MLB?