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One game ahead of last year's pace. Who said we didn't improve this winter?

Anyway, a glance at some numbers:

35.2 IP (5.1 IP/start)
6.31 ERA
44 H (11.1 per 9, 27%, .320 BABIP)
4 HR (1 per 9, 2.5%)
18 BB (4.5 per 9, 11%)
15 K (3.8 per 9, 9.2%)
0.83 K/BB

That, my friends, is awful - and almost exactly in line with what he's done each of the last two years, during which he was also awful. Some people might recognize this as a statistical trend, a trend of being awful.

Aaron Sele's never had a bad reputation as a person. He shows up to the park, gets ready to pitch without making a scene, and takes the hill as often as his body allows him to do so. You'll never hear his name in conjunction with terms like "clubhouse cancer" or "temperamental". By all accounts, Sele is an honest, down-to-earth, generally fantastic guy.

The trouble is that, where once there was marked talent, there now exists a disintegrated, rotten arm incapable of pitching effectively for any meaningful stretch of time. Sele's been miserable this year, and sustained ineptitude inevitably results in angry fans blurring the line between Sele the player and Sele the person. And it's unfortunate, because Sele the person doesn't deserve that kind of treatment. It's not his fault that Bavasi, Hargrove, et al. saw him fit to take a rotation spot, just as it's not Darren Dreifort's fault that the Dodgers thought he was worth eight figures a year before he'd proven anything in the big leagues. In certain cases, blasting of personal character may be permissible (consider such noted jerks as Albert Belle or our very own Jeff Nelson), but in most, it's an unfortunate consequence of poor performance.

What's the solution? I'm not sure. For the team's sake, it's time to call up Jorge Campillo - like, right now - to join the rotation, but for Sele, I don't know what's next. Being released by a cellar-dwelling ballclub isn't exactly going out in a blaze of glory, but I don't see much of an alternative, given that there aren't any contending teams out there who'd like to give him a shot to stick. I suppose the ideal situation could be informing Sele of his imminent release and giving him one last start so that he can go out with dignity, but for a few reasons, that doesn't seem very likely. Regardless, whatever Sele's fate may be, I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors as far away from our rotation as possible.

On to the chart:

The Mariners had a pretty good chance there for a little while, after the specter that inhabits the body of Wilson Valdez put them on top 2-0 in the second inning. We were all praying for more against what was at the time a struggling rookie pitcher, though, because we knew that two runs wouldn't be enough for Aaron Sele. Alas, we were right, as the two runs he allowed in the bottom of the second were just the tip of the iceberg.

Allow me to present to you a brief rundown of Sele's third inning:

  • Walk

  • Line out to the gap, great play by Ichiro

  • Line out to center, great play by Reed

  • Stolen base, Sele doesn't pay attention

  • Home run

  • Line drive single to right-center

  • Line drive double to center

  • Line drive single to right
At that point, Hargrove finally pulled the plug on Sele, who allowed ten of the 18 batters he faced to reach base, and seven of them to score. That particular inning may turn out to be the worst sequence of pitching we see all year.

Take a look at the chart again, and pay attention to the Win Probability Added figures. Aaron Sele shows up at -0.482. Now, the road team starts with a 0.484 (48.4%) chance of winning the game, so Sele pretty much negated that by himself. If ever a guy deserved to be tagged with an "L", it was Sele, who demonstrated what happens when you concoct an intoxicating mixture of bad pitches and bad location. Even the YES Network broadcasters were all over the guy, going as far as they could without actually saying that Sele sucks on the air. We heard from them that Sele has a "straight, slow fastball with no movement," is extremely hittable, and no longer has the curveball that he used to. Apparently, the overwhelming awfulness was just too much for Hideki Matsui, who couldn't control his delighted, cartoonish wide-eyed expression en route to an 0-5 game.

The YES Network prides itself as being "The Network of champions." All this success has allowed them to go out and spend top dollar on the best announcers in the business, who go on to offer such insightful gems as:

"When you're struggling to score runs, you hate to see yourself go down five."

We also go to hear that Adrian Beltre had "one good year" for the bajillionth time this year - a statement that is just blatantly incorrect - and that Miguel Olivo was a September call-up for the Mariners who hit his first Major League home run during a torrid month.

David Justice is going to be muttering "adjustment period" for the next several days. He said that about 15 or 16 times tonight, all about Adrian Beltre, all during one at bat.

A little trick people like to do with a baseball bat is to grip it by the handle and flip it into the air so that it does a 360 and lands back in your palm. Everybody does it. Common substitutes include golf clubs and water bottles. Adrian Beltre gave it a try during one of his early at bats and dropped the bat as it finished its midair spin. The only thing worse than screwing up an unnecessary maneuver is doing it in front of 40,000 angry drunks.

Tonight was not Raul Ibanez's night. In the top of the first, he launched a ball to straightaway center that was caught a few feet short of the wall, then he did it again with a man on in the sixth. Two balls hit hard enough to be home runs instead show up as an 0-2 (part of an 0-3 day) in the box score.

Two things I hope I never have to talk about again: Adrian Beltre going after outside sliders and Bret Boone going after his 1,000th career RBI. Well, okay, I know I'll never have to talk about the latter again - he drove in a pair of runs with a double to center which almost cleared the fence - but I'd really love it if Beltre's current approach at the plate stuck for the rest of the year. I haven't seen him flailing at bad pitches nearly as often as he used to, and the reward is a little five-game hitting streak. Now all we need to do is get him and Sexson on the same page at the same time, as Richie's numbers are quietly dropping.

This bullpen doesn't get the credit it deserves. Whether it will continue pitching like one of the best in the Majors has yet to be seen, but as of this moment, our worst reliever has the same ERA as our best starter. Julio Mateo's been incredible, making up for a low strikeout rate by just about eliminating walks and homers, JJ Putz is turning into a flamethrower, and Matt Thornton has become a punchout lefty that you can feel reasonably comfortable using as long as there's a base open. It'sa shame that another terrific performance by the relievers tonight flew under the radar because of an ugly score.

Greg Dobbs had a great at bat against Rivera tonight. He forced Mariano to throw 11 pitches, fouling off some tough ones, working a full count, and rolling a single into right. It wasn't the prettiest base hit you'll ever see, but it wasn't a forgettable strikeout like last night's, so it's something to be happy about.

Day game tomorrow, as Jamie Moyer looks to salvage the series for the Mariners. A financially stable Carl Pavano goes for the Yankees, with the first pitch scheduled for 1:05pm EDT.