And with that, the Mariners become the fifth team in baseball to hit 70 losses, narrowly beating out their National League equivalent in San Francisco. That's the bad news. The good news is that they lost #70 two weeks earlier a year ago, and progress is progress, even at the worst of times. Besides, with Meche, Pineiro, Franklin, and Sele accumulating so many starts, it's a wonder this team has won any games, let alone 53.
Today's game just goes to show that you can only have one active miracle at any given moment - either Joel Pineiro can pitch well or Greg Dobbs can smack a few around the park, but you can never have them both succeeding at the same time. Kind of like the Mariners and Seahawks. Hargrove should have known as soon as Dobbs went deep that Joel was in for a heap of trouble, but he stood pat, and the team had the face the unfortunate consequences. Chalk this one up as a learning experience, and expect better the next time around.
By the way, Lew Ford? That guy's starting to piss me off. Nevermind the crazygood catch on Sexson's drive yesterday afternoon - he's a career .359 hitter against Seattle with five home runs and 12 RBI in 64 at bats. It's one thing to be owned by Raffy Palmeiro, but when you start talking about third- and fourth-tier Major Leaguers, that goes beyond the threshold of acceptability. No wonder Clint Nageotte was trying to knock him down, eh, Poncino?
Biggest Contribution: Greg Dobbs, +20.1%
Biggest Suckfest: Joel Pineiro, -59.2%
Most Important Hit: Dobbs homer, +22.8%
Most Important Pitch: LeCroy single, -18.2%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -58.0%
Total Contribution by Hitters: +4.8%
If I had to turn my emotions into a picture, it would look a lot like today's win expectancy chart, only instead of the y axis going from 100% to 0%, it would go from confused (Dobbs??) to dumbstruck. That's a huge slope there in the middle of the graph, and even if you missed the entire game, that should tell you all you need to know. Over the span of that awful fifth inning, the Mariners' chances of winning were reduced by nearly 66%, and we suddenly have a new candidate for Worst Inning of the Season.
Subjective call of the day: I charged Reed with getting picked off in the top of the second, even though he made it back safely when Nicky Punto dropped the ball. Them's the breaks.
Something I hope for whenever I sit down and watch this team for three hours every day is that they find a way to entertain me, even if they end up losing. When you follow a bad team, there is such a thing as a "good loss," in the way that tearing off the white stuff around an orange can be satisfying even if the orange itself is tasteless and dry. Today was not one of those losses, unless you consider the latest Joel Pineiro meltdown to be grade-A entertainment. Even at his best, Pineiro didn't look real good, and despite the two Mariner blasts, the game was over when Ford did his business with two men on. The last four innings or so made for an excruciatingly torturous way to spend the start of your Sunday afternoon, and if you shut off the TV early to go find something better to do, I don't blame you.
Wait, the Royals just took a series in Oakland? What?
Joel is not "back". Just as Pitch-to-Contact-Pineiro got a little lucky with balls in play over his previous three starts, he got a little unlucky today, facing 28 batters but allowing 13 hits. Although you're tempted to say that everyone's entitled to their bad games, this is exactly the sort of thing that can happen to a pitcher when he stops striking guys out - everything drops in (see the triple and single in the first inning today) and before you know it, he's given up double-digit hits and seven or eight runs. It's happened to Franklin, and if he continues down this path, it'll happen to Pineiro again, too. There's not really anything you can do about it, either, since once the ball leaves the pitcher's hand, it's out of his control. All you can really hope for is that Joel rediscovers the ability to miss at least a few bats a game, because this is the alternative, and it sucks.
Honestly, if this organization had any semblance of starting pitching depth whatsoever, we probably wouldn't have had to deal with Pineiro, Meche, and Franklin for so long. It's just that, when Madritsch and Campillo are hurt, Soriano and Nageotte are relieving, Livingston's not ready, and Thornton and Baek suck, there's not really any alternative. Jeff Harris is nifty and all, but he's only one guy, and that still leaves two lousy pitchers who need to be replaced by someone better than Damian Moss. It's times like these that I wish we kept Dan Reichert hanging around in Tacoma, because with Betancourt behind him, the righty groundballer could put up some shiny numbers for the league minimum. Alas, it would appear that we're stuck with the known garbage for the rest of the year.
In 46.2 innings, Matt Thornton has three fewer walks than Eddie Guardado has total baserunners allowed. His 6.94 BB/9 ratio ranks worst in the Majors among pitchers with 30+ innings on the year.
When Clint Nageotte came in to pitch the seventh, I was mildly enthusiastic, because I enjoy watching him pitch and wondering if this is the time that he'll finally start striking out good hitters. When he departed after throwing one pitch, I was slightly less enthusiastic. Nageotte let his first pitch sail well above Lew Ford's head, and Larry Poncino gave him the boot (while shouting an extended string of what appeared to be several adult words) despite (A) there being no prior warnings in the game, and (B) the pitch not coming particularly close to hitting Ford. It was a completely unreasonable decision made by an ugly guy on a power trip, which pissed me off, but what really shined my shoes was Mike Hargrove's rather empty response. He approached Poncino with his hands up, as if making an effort to calm the whole situation down, when it should've been Poncino dealing with an animated, furious manager. Hargrove didn't appear to express any displeasure until he got back to the dugout and waved his hands in Poncino's direction, the gesticular equivalent of rolling your eyes. It was dumb, and the whole thing never should've happened. I don't think I was the only one who squealed with glee when Raul Ibanez fouled a ball off Poncino's mask in the ninth.
Greg Dobbs is hitting .200 in 40 at bats this year. He would need to go hitless over his next 85 at bats to match Scott Spiezio's .064 batting average.
Off day tomorrow as the Mariners travel to Texas.