I can't keep doing this.
I can't keep putting so much effort into writing about this team when it's pretty clear that none of the players are doing their part to make it worth covering.
Tonight was just the latest in a string of unimpressive performances by the Mariners, as the offense couldn't do enough to win the game despite the most improbable of starts by Aaron Sele. Yeah, there was a little rally there in the ninth - and hey, look at that, Beltre and Sexson had hits! - but that was way too little, way too late, and it didn't come close to making up for eight innings of pathetic baseball.
For his part, Aaron Sele did a wonderful job of minimizing the potential damage. He looked real bad - we're talking legitimately awful - at the start of the game, but he got better as the innings rolled by until succumbing to fatigue in the seventh. Still, if you were watching the game tonight, you have to wonder how the guy managed to string together six scoreless innings. He was missing a lot of his spots, he didn't have great velocity (not that he ever does), and the speed differential between his fastball and his changeup was in the single digits. Truly a smoke and mirrors performance.
It's also hard to believe that Sele struck out six Indians tonight in 6.2 innings of work. When he got ahead of the hitters, he wasn't messing around; his strikeout pitch, at least for tonight, was an 0-2 fastball that painted the outer black. Why throw those 0-2 and 1-2 pitches away if you have something better in mind? It was certainly taking the Indians by surprise, as they struck out looking a handful of times on that very pitch. Sele also had a lot of good screwball-tail on his fastball (when he wasn't trying to overthrow it) today, which made it all the more difficult to make solid contact.
A few more things about Sele from tonight's game:
- It's time to stop calling that 58mph pitch a curveball and acknowledge that it's really an eephus.
- At one point, a Cleveland announcer confused Sele's fastball for a changeup. That's when you know you don't have it anymore.
- In that first inning at bat, you could tell that he was deathly afraid of throwing anything hittable to Travis Hafner. Not that you can blame him.
One last note on Sele: if you look at him closely, you can see that he wears this permanent facial expression of a guy who's had a really, really bad day. The kind of guy who hits his head on the end table when trying to turn off the alarm in the morning, stubs his toe on the door while getting dressed, burns his toast, gets a flat on the way to work, bombs a big presentation in a meeting with the CEO, gets ravaged by wild coyotes on the way back home, finds his wife in bed with another man, and gets the lab results back from the hospital with his doctor telling him that "if Lance Armstrong can survive it, so can you." Right there, when the guy hears his diagnosis - that's the expression that Sele's always got on his face. You'd hate to see him when he's not spinning six shutout innings.
There was a kid sitting in the front row tonight who looked a lot like Harry Potter. You have to hope that he's managed to parlay his image into a lot of money and popularity, because otherwise, man, that's one dorky kid.
I think Jeremy Reed has earned himself the right to be excluded from the group when people blast this offense. I talk and I talk and I talk, and the guy just keeps on impressing me with his approach. In the third inning, he hit an absolute screamer into right that might've left another stadium. Later, in the sixth, he hit a rocket to deep center for a double. Finally, he singled right up the middle in the eighth against Arthur Rhodes. That's three well-hit balls in three at bats against left-handed pitching. You paying attention, Hargrove? Stop treating the kid like a platoon player and realize that he's one of the only hitters on the team worth a damn right now.
"That's Gotta Hurt" Moment of the Game: Ron Belliard taking a short-hop to the jewels after an Ichiro double in the first. This is exactly what every single man watching the game said when he saw the replay:
It's a common complain that guys aren't sensitive enough, but I can guarantee you that, at that instant, all of us shared a common empathy for Belliard. When that happens, it's all the fun of getting your wisdom teeth removed without anaesthetic and then missing out on the Vicodin prescription. But then, not all of us can come back from that kind of thing by going 3-5 with a homer. What a jerk, that Belliard.
Cleveland announcers channeling Mike Hargrove in the sixth:
"You want to get this guy." - on Willie Bloomquist, with a man on second, none out, and Ichiro on deck.
Of course, that single Bloomquist at bat says a lot about the way our offense is going right now. After taking Lee to a full count on 11 pitches, Willie struck out swinging on the twelfth - and received a rousing ovation from the crowd. That's how bad things are. I'm grimacing as I type this.
He also completely fanned on a bunt attempt early in that same at bat. That's funny.
If opposing pitchers were faced with the scenario of excluding all but one pitch from their repertoire for a game against the Mariners, they could hang on to the low-and-away breaking ball and probably throw a no-hitter. Richie Sexson, Adrian Beltre, Raul Ibanez...none of them can lay off that pitch, and it really sucks when that happens on a three-ball count. Seattle hitters got to 11 three-ball counts tonight, and drew just two walks. That's incredible.
In the bottom of the third, Dan Wilson hit a ball almost to the track in left field. The crowd roared. This is actually an improvement over what we had been getting from our catchers. It's too bad we don't have a special "Dan Wilson" setting for the park dimensions. It would operate like the retractable roof; just as the roof closes when it rains, the dimensions would change when Wilson comes to the plate, to make it fair for everyone. Because, let's face it, with the park the way it is, Wilson's getting a raw deal.
You know how the team had been hitting really well with runners in scoring position, but really poorly with the bases empty, over the first few weeks, and we said that something had to give? Yeah, well, something gave, and it was the hitting-with-men-on part. So this is what it's like to have a completely anemic offense that's free of situational bias.
I can't tell you how badly Beltre and Sexson needed those hits in the ninth inning. Just seeing those line drives - in consecutive at bats! - was enough to make me at least a little optimistic about the near future. I can say "they'll come around" over and over and over again, but until they actually do start hitting, then we've got nothing but two underachieving corner infielders capable of a hell of a lot more than what they've done to date. Would you believe me if I told you that Sexson's sporting a .281 OBP right now?
I don't feel like writing about this game anymore. Jamie Moyer goes up against what's left of Scott Elarton tomorrow afternoon (4:05pm EDT). This is a guy who's allowed 123 home runs in 730.1 innings over his career. I'm setting the bar of acceptable offensive output at five runs, ten hits, and a homer. Be sure to drop by the open game thread tomorrow and watch my meltdown when the lineup falls short.