Thanks to the wonders of MLB.tv, I was able to watch the games from this weekend and relive the excitement that is baseball in RFK. This weekend, Lookout Landing has been a little barren by our standards as we have all been busy partaking in a variety of different events. I had very little time this weekend to watch baseball as I ended my undergraduate studies in college and spent 14 hours at work yesterday (watching a few innings of the game when I had a free moment). Jeff and Devin have been gallivanting around the Pacific Northwest, posting when they get a chance. While the in-depth coverage you have come to love won't be back until tomorrow night, an abridged recap of this weekend's series will have to make due.
The M's lost the first game of the series 9-3, in a game where Shigetoshi Hasegawa went Matt Thornton, allowing six runs on three hits and three walks and only recording one out. Of course, bringing in Matt Thornton to try and stop the bleeding is like trying to bail water out of a sinking boat with a shot glass. Hargrove's short comings pertaining to bullpen management were evident on this road trip, as he made several questionable decisions throughout the series, not just this game.
The offense showed some signs of life but failed to capitalize, leaving nine runners on base. Richie Sexson accounted for two of the three Mariner runs, collecting one run on a fourth inning single and the other on sixth inning solo shot. Raul Ibanez drove in the other Mariner run with a single in the fourth as well. While you it is possible to punch-and-judy a team to death, you just cannot score runs with any consistency without extra base hits. Morse continued his hot/lucky hitting, going 3-4 on a couple of bloop hits.
On Saturday, the M's mustered just six hits against John Patterson, a pitcher who is beginning to fulfill the potential that so many scouts thought he had six years ago, losing 2-1. Moyer countered Patterson's performance with a solid outing of his own, his fourth straight quality start following his early May implosion. Putz struggled with his command, allowing the game winning run while walking two and giving up two hits.
Once again, the M's only had one extra base hit, a third inning double that should've scored a run. Instead, there was a set of 42 year old legs belonging to Jamie Moyer on first. Morse had another solid game at the plate, going 1-3 with a walk. Beltre gave us the familiar 0-for that we have come to shrug off, knowing that at some point in the next couple of games he would have a solid game that would make us think he could possibly be turning the corner only to be greeted by more 1-for and 0-for nights. It's time to admit that he is struggling and to move him down the line-up and hope he can rediscover his swing.
On Sunday, the M's were involved in another pitching duel, losing 3-2. Beltre made me question what I typed above and for a brief moment after his second double, I want to believe that (just maybe) he was going to be turning that corner. Instead, he grimaced in pain as he round first, reaching for the hamstring that has been bothering him for the past month or so. He finished out the fourth inning and then left the game with a tight hamstring, replaced by the craptacular Dave Hansen. Super pinch hitter Greg Dobbs collected a sixth inning RBI double but was picked off by Brian Scheinder at second, apparently thinking about just how great his swing must look on the Jumbotron.
Franklin pitched a good game but failed to make it into the sixth inning. Hargrove after the game admitted that if they had been playing in an AL park, Franklin would have gone back to the mound for the sixth, but he made a strategic decision to give Dobbs the AB. Mateo (2 IP) and Nelson (1 IP) finished the game without incident, walking one and striking out three without allowing a hit. As much flak as we have been giving Nelson, he is quietly becoming the M's most dependable bullpen arm not named Guardado. If he can keep up his current level of production, will the M's actually attempt to move him come July?
Should the Mariners be ashamed of being swept by the Nationals? I don't think so, but it is kind of disappointing. After winning four straight series, including the series against the Marlins (who are a pretty exciting team to watch), the M's fell flat on their faces in Washington. The Nationals, who are 13-1 over past two weeks, simply out played and out coached the Mariners. The pitching did whatever it could to keep the M's in the game until the very end on Saturday and Sunday but the M's struggled to get the big hit. The M's just aren't a very good team and that's how the dominos fall when you field an average (at best) team.
The Phillies will be in town tomorrow, with Jeff Lieber, Vincent Padilla and Brett Myers facing Meche, Sele and Pineiro (respectively).
Odds and Ends:
~According to Hargrove, Beltre could miss the next couple of games to give his hamstring a chance to heal. This could be a blessing in disguise, as Beltre obviously needs some time to relax and clear his head.
~Boone was given Sunday off so he could rest. Hargrove mentioned that he believed Boone was mentally fatigued and could use a couple days to re-coop. Bloomquist went 2-4 in his place Sunday.
~Hasegawa's ERA before Friday's explosion: 3.04. Hasegawa's ERA after the atrocious eighth inning: 5.00.
~As far as Ichiro goes, yes he is in a slump. But can we please avoid the talk about him being in the twilight of his career and how he may no longer be the catalyst of the Mariner line-up? Players like Ichiro go through these slumps over the course of a full season. Hell, Ichiro typically goes through a slump like this every year. He will be fine, so ignore the ridiculous newspaper articles and talk radio shows. If you don't believe me, see what Dave has to say about the whole thing.