A lousy team deserves a lousy recap. I'll do what I can.
What would you say if I told you before the game that Dan Wilson and Wilson Valdez would go 4-6 with two RBI? Probably something along the lines of, "Wow, that must've been one terrible pitcher!" Or maybe, "If that's what the bottom of the order did, just imagine what kinds of numbers the good hitters put up!"
And you'd be wrong. Because, you see, Wilson and Valdez drove in the only runs the Mariners scored all day. 20 hits in 14.2 innings over two starts against Byrd, and all they have to show for it is three runs.
With the way this offense has been going of late, there was no way that the team could survive a bad start from Aaron Sele. Which, incidentally, is exactly what he provided, lasting all of 4.1 innings while putting 11 hitters on base and allowing four of them to score. Before I get into that, I'll post the chart:
You see that spike about a quarter of the way through? Kind of looks like a volcano? That's what happens when you score runs - you improve your chances of winning the game. In light of this little skid, that's become something of a foreign concept. It would be very easy to look at these recent Win Expectancy graphs and confuse them for Mariner lineup pulse charts. By the ninth, they're essentially flat-lining.
We've given him six starts, so I think it's about time we look back on what Sele has provided for the team so far:
33 IP (5.5/game)
36 H (9.81 per 9)
16 BB (4.36 per 9)
15 K (4.09 per 9)
3 HR (0.82 per 9)
Through a little over a month, Sele hasn't gotten deep into games, hasn't missed many bats, and has issued a few too many free passes. Or, put another way, he's done exactly what all of us expected he would do when news first broke that he made the roster. That is, except give up home runs, which he's managed to keep under control so far. And he's still been a lousy pitcher. The only upside here is...well, those numbers are the upside. Sele is a placeholder for whichever one of Campillo or Hernandez gets the call first, and all we can hope for is that he turns in some decent starts and makes himself attractive to contending teams looking to add rotation depth near the deadline. Just don't get your hopes up.
Today - and I'm being completely honest with you - Sele's Ricoh scouting report mentioned that he needs to avoid hanging his curveball. I believe the exact words were "Don't hang it or they'll bang it." Because there is a large collection of pitchers who experience greater success when they float their breaking balls up around waist level, I guess. If anyone here knows how I can get in touch with the guy who writes those scouting reports, fill me in, because you know that guy's life didn't go as he planned it, and he probably has a fascinating story to tell.
Hell, could you imagine the Ricoh guy and Ron Fairly broadcasting a game together?
Ricoh guy: "Ryan Franklin needs to keep the ball down today."
Fairly: "If he leaves the ball up, hitters can hit more home runs."
Ricoh guy: "Home runs are bad, because they make you give up runs."
Fairly: "You'll see that the teams who give up fewer runs generally win more ballgames."
Ricoh guy: "It's important to limit the runs you allow. Franklin really needs to keep them off the board and avoid the big inning."
Fairly: "A lot of the time, if a pitcher gives up a big inning, it's because the batters are doing a good job at the plate."
Ricoh guy: "Yeah, it usually is. So Franklin needs to come in and hit his spots."
Fairly: "If he's missing his spots, that can indicate that he doesn't have very good command in the game."
Going back to Aaron Sele, his clearly audible four-letter reaction to walking Josh Paul in the top of the fourth doesn't really fit in with the Mariners' family-friendly atmosphere. It was so loud that Rex Hudler had to point out that "Sele is furious with himself after that walk." That's one of the reasons I love live television. And hey, maybe sending that audio clip to Howard Lincoln can hasten Sele's departure from the organization.
A few other things from the Anaheim broadcast. For one, there was this gem:
"The Angels have scored 56% of their runs with two outs. That's almost half!"
For another, there was this indication in the second inning that smallball and the miracle 2002 run may have completely overtaken Steve Physioc's brain:
"The Angels have a chance to really bury the Mariners by getting a bunt down here."
Finally, they had this to say about Wilson Valdez not offering at the first pitch of his at bat in the second:
"Valdez keeps the bat on his shoulder. Here, he wants to see Byrd's delivery..."
...when you know that Valdez was really up there thinking, "What have I done with my life? Why did I work so hard for the opportunity to embarrass myself in front of 40,000 people every day?"
Of course, I really shouldn't be poking fun at Valdez, not after what he did today. Not only did he drop in a game-tying RBI single in the second, but he also hit a ball over Guerrero's head in the fifth. I had no idea that he had that kind of power, and I have to say, I'm impressed. If nothing else, I appreciate the fact that he's trying so hard to contribute, when it seems like so many players are just rolling over. Effort is no substitute for talent, and Valdez is clearly lacking in that department, but when other, more gifted players are having just as hard a time at the plate, you have to look for the positives in other places.
...like, say, Richie Sexson hitting a fly ball to the track in right field, despite breaking his bat on the swing. Or, say, Beltre, Reed, and Winn all hitting potential doubles just inches foul. You want a good indication of how things are going? After just missing that double, Jeremy Reed hit a line drive directly to Darin Erstad on the next pitch, who stepped on first for the double play. That's always a killer.
It wouldn't be a Mariners game without another frustrating, tear-whatever-hair-you-still-have-out-of-your-scalp Adrian Beltre at bat. This one came in the fifth, when he approached the plate with men on the corners and one down. After drawing a first-pitch ball, he whiffed on a fastball right over the plate and proceeded to hit a weak groundball back to Byrd on the next pitch. It would've been an inning-ending double play had Byrd not hesitated to throw to second. Given how high all of our expectations were for the guy just a month ago, this has to be one of the most discouraging slumps of all time.
Bret Boone watch: twenty consecutive plate appearances without driving in his 1,000th career RBI.
In the bottom of the seventh, Dan Wilson came out of the game with what appeared to be a sore knee. In sliding back to first after an Ichiro fly out, Wilson's right leg collided with Darin Erstad. It didn't look like anything serious, but it was enough to get him replaced, and it's never good when a catcher does something to his knee. I don't think we need to be on Wiki Watch quite yet, but expect Wilson to be day-to-day for a little while.
There's nothing else I really feel like saying about this game. It's been a miserable five days. With luck, the Mariners can recover a bit during tomorrow's off/travel day and come out swinging in Boston for a weekend series. Playing well against the Sox and Yankees on the road (and, aftewards, against the Sox and Yankees at home) could go a long way towards erasing this whole stretch from our memories.
Update: Preliminary reports have Dan Wilson going to the DL and - yep - Wiki Gonzalez coming up. I'll look for confirmation.