You'd almost prefer that they roll over in games like this, because ending the game the way they did is just too painful to take.
Let's be honest - six batters into the game, we knew that the Mariners were done for. There was no reason to expect them to rally, so in that respect, anything they did after the first inning was just gravy. You never want to think about it like that, though, because they did have a chance, thanks to some help from the bottom of the order. Nevermind how it looked after the first 20 minutes - this was a winnable game, and it always sucks to drop one of those.
Ryan Franklin was both godawful and the victim of some bad luck, letting some pitches get pounded while watching others get tapped into the infield and run out for infield singles. By the time he was ejected, 11 of the 19 batters he faced had reached base, and his season ERA was approaching five. Still, despite the miserable start, the Mariners got some quality relief from Julio Mateo and the bats showed signs of life. Bret Boone and Shea Hillenbrand killed it, though, prompting Mike Hargrove to make some substitutions into what was at the time a total blowout. Little did he know that the team would rally, and the outcome would rest on the shoulders of one of his bench players.
There's been a lot of criticism of Hargrove for swapping Beltre and Sexson out for Dobbs and Hansen, but this is hindsight at its finest - they didn't enter the game until the top of the eighth, when it was 9-2 Blue Jays. Neither Beltre nor Sexson has been able to get much time off this season, so Hargrove saw an opportunity to sit them for a little while and remind everyone else that Dobbs and Hansen are still on the team. It didn't quite work out, as the twosome went hitless in three critical at bats, but that's not Hargrove's fault.
The real question has to be (stop me if you've heard this before), why is Greg Dobbs still on this team? He's hitting .161 on the year with zero power and zero discipline. He doesn't bring a plus glove at any position in the field, and despite being the de facto #1 pinch-hitter on the team, he doesn't have a clue what to do with anything offspeed. More than a third of his plate appearances have resulted in strikeouts, and it seems like another third have been 100-foot pop-ups. He's just a bad baseball player whose single redeeming quality is looking good while he sucks, and that never should have gotten him to where he is today. A better hitter might have been able to tie this game up, but Dobbs just hit a pair of balls straight up into the air. He really needs to go away.
Let's get the weird-ass chart out of the way:
The first thing you'll notice is that spike near the start of the graph - that's just a function of small sample size, since not too many teams give up five runs in the first inning and proceed to get runners on second and third with one out in the bottom half. It skews the Win Probability Added data, but the rest of the graph is pretty indicative of what happened during the game - Toronto piled it on early and squelched Mariner rallies before too much damage was done. While the game ended up pretty close, you have to figure that the biggest blow came in the fifth, when Beltre doubled home two runs and Sexson walked, but Ibanez and Boone made outs to end the inning. There was a lot of energy in the stadium when Sexson reached base, and you felt like another big hit could make the wheels fall off the Blue Jay wagon. Alas, it was not to be.
Biggest Contribution: Adrian Beltre, +46.5% (skewed)
Biggest Suckfest: Ryan Franklin, -41.9%
Most Important Hit: Beltre double, +7.3%
Most Important Pitch: Wells homer #2, -16.2%
Total Contribution by Pitchers: -44.2%
Total Contribution by Hitters: -4.2%
Not real hard to figure out that the pitching lost this game, as Ryan Franklin put his team behind by way too much, way too fast. Just as we saw with Julio Mateo and the Law of Averages yesterday, today we were reminded that DIPS is a harsh mistress. Franklin's BABIP jumped from .208 to .231 in the course of one night, and his ERA rose by half a run. It could've been worse, but a dropped foul pop-up by Rene Rivera allowed Franklin to mark two of his runs allowed as unearned, even though he was the one to put Hinske on base and let Wells go deep. With some absolutely awful peripherals showing few signs of improving, perhaps Franklin's run as the best member of the rotation is through. Somehow, Aaron Sele has the best ERA of the five.
All that said, and armed with the knowledge that Franklin obviously didn't have his best stuff tonight, that ejection was crap. There was no prior warning, and Franklin was clearly missing his intended spots, so the fact that he hit the Major League leader in HBP who leans way out over the plate should not have warranted immediate removal from the game. Hargrove was absolutely right to argue the call with some colorful language, and really, he probably deserved to be kicked out more than Franklin did. I'll say this, though - if that was intentional, then at least it's nice to see that someone on the staff has balls. Don't like the way things are going? Take it out on somebody's ribs. Don't just serve up a bunch of meatballs until the manager summons relief.
Funniest moment of the night: With the score 7-0 in the bottom of the third, the following was overheard after a called strike to Randy Winn:
"Awwww, come on, blue!!
Because, clearly, it was the umpire's fault.
Let's talk a little Beltre. Everyone knows that he has a problem with any breaking ball down and/or off the plate. Everyone also knows that he can do quite a bit of damage to a ball that catches some of the plate. If we know this, and if it's so blatantly obvious to anyone who's watched at least one Mariners game this year, then you have to figure that the coaching staff is aware of the problem as well. So where does that leave us? They've certainly tried to work with him to resolve the problem, so we're left with either an ineffective coaching staff or a stubborn Beltre as the main problem. But if Beltre were simply regressing back to his career averages, why is he currently sporting a K/BB ratio of 7, compared to a career mark of 2.1 and far worse than any ratio from any previous individual season? It's actually gotten a little worse in May, compared to April. I don't really have any proof, but I get the feeling like there's an instructional problem here, and that it's not just Beltre who's not doing his job.
Daily "Jeremy Reed is a Total Pimp" Update:
3-5, 1 double
Eight extra-base hits since May 16th
One walk per 8.75 at bats
Mike Morse went 0-1 with a walk in his Major League debut. That .500 OPS matches the figure put up by Valdez and Bloomquist over the first two months of the year.
More fun with one-game samples: when Rene Rivera came up to hit in the ninth, one Toronto announcer looked at a graphic and stated, "Pretty good average, .750. Not bad at all." Perhaps it didn't occur to the guy that these were Rivera's first at bats of the season, and that his three hits came in this game. I mean, seriously, what does that contribute to the broadcast? If Fairly says "Morse is batting .000 on the year, he's really struggling" tomorrow night, what does that tell us?
Signs That You're Watching a Canadian Broadcast:
-Advertisements for an Avril Lavigne concert are aired
-Announcers pronounce "color" with a U
-Runner's lead off first base measured in decimeters
-Several snarky remarks concerning the separatist movement of Quebec
Back tomorrow, as Gil Meche will also try to push it real good (Ooh baby baby!) against Gustavo Chacin at 7:05pm. With luck, he pushes it real good-er than Franklin did today.