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And so the race to 600 runs lives on for another day, as the Mariners finish the game still 11 under the mark (one of just three AL teams who have yet to reach 600 runs scored, along with Minnesota and the RoyAAAls). Some fun with math:

2004 Mariners: 4.3086 runs/game
2005 Mariners: 4.3955 runs/game
2004 Mariners: $52.89m in payroll for hitters (approximate)
2005 Mariners: $60.95m in payroll for hitters (approximate)
Increase in offense: 2.0%
Increase in offensive payroll: 15.2%

Something doesn't quite add up. Although there's never going to be a direct linear relationship between how much money you spend on a lineup and how many runs it provides - each extra run is a little more valuable than the last, after all - you don't go out and spend $114m on Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre and then settle for an offense that scores just 14 more runs than it did the previous season.

No - in the most ironic twist of fate, it's actually been the pitching staff that's kept this team from descending back to its 2004 level of misery, allowing nearly half a run fewer per game than it did a year ago. This after the big offseason additions on the mound were Jeff Nelson and Aaron Sele. Baseball remains a completely unpredictable game at heart, which can be rewarding at times, but cruelly devastating at others. Guess which one it is for us.

When you think about it, the outcome of tonight's game shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Consider that:

(1) The Mariners entered hitting .238/.304/.386 against finesse pitchers (as defined by ESPN)
(2) The Mariners entered hitting .251/.311/.387 against righties
(3) Paul Byrd entered with a 3.89 ERA at home
(4) Jamie Moyer entered with a 6.44 ERA on the road
(5) Vlad Guerrero and Garret Anderson entered hitting a combined .315 off Moyer with eight homers and 19 extra-base hits in 108 at bats

So we knew from the get-go that the odds weren't in our favor, but dammit, it's nice beating Anaheim, and that top of the first inning carried that feeling of another offensive explosion on the Angels' home turf. Not so. I gotta say, it's going to be tough to justify staying up until 1am to watch these clowns for the last month of the season.

Biggest Contribution: Ichiro, +8.4%
Biggest Suckfest: Jamie Moyer, -18.0%
Most Important Hit: Ibanez groundout, -7.6%
Most Important Pitch: Guerrero homer, -12.1%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -14.0%
Total Contribution by Hitters: -31.7%

(What is this?)

Because I'm exhausted - it's my first time having to adjust to these 10pm games in about four months - I'll forego the standard recap in favor of a slew of Win Probability Added numbers. Here we go:

Players Who Have Been Worth 1+ Wins This Year:
Randy Winn
Felix Hernandez
Eddie Guardado

Players Who Have Cost The Team 1+ Wins This Year:
Jeff Nelson
Greg Dobbs
Willie Bloomquist
Wilson Valdez
Pat Borders
Jeremy Reed
Gil Meche
Ryan Franklin
Yuniesky Betancourt
Scott Spiezio
Aaron Sele
Matt Thornton
Miguel Olivo
Adrian Beltre
Joel Pineiro

Looking at that, it's almost absurd when you realize that the Mariners have had five times as many players make significantly negative contributions as they have players who've made significantly positive contributions. If that doesn't tell the story of the season right there, consider that, of the 44 players who have donned a Mariner uniform at some point this season, only 11 of them have improved the team's chances of winning, with just three of them having been in Seattle since Opening Day. Ojeda's new, Sherrill's new, Strong's new, Winn's gone, Campillo's gone, Harris is new, Hernandez is new, Rivera is gone - it's the sad story of a team who's being killed by the players on which it relies the most. The impending restructuring of this team for 2006 will not be an easy one, and the path to competitive baseball may be longer than we'd like. Me, I'm not expecting the Mariners to take off until sometime around when Jeff Clement is called up. Coincidence? We'll find out in 2007.

Biggest Positive Contribution Per Plate Appearance:
Raul Ibanez (Winn is gone, and a few other players haven't played enough to qualify)

Biggest Negative Contribution per Plate Appearance:
Greg Dobbs (Scott Spiezio is gone)

Biggest Positive Contribution Per Inning Pitched:
Felix Hernandez

Biggest Negative Contribution Per Inning Pitched:
Matt Thornton

So far this season, Thornton has reduced the team's chances of winning by an average of roughly 3% per inning of work. Joel Pineiro, on the other hand, has hung out around 1.5%. So Thornton hasn't just been awful - he's been awful at important times. Cut bait. Please. I'm begging you.

That's all I really have the stamina to write tonight; the only other thing I'll mention is that bringing in Julio Mateo to face Vlad Guerrero in the bottom of the seventh had all kinds of disaster potential. Thank goodness that the Angels swung themselves out of what could've been a huge inning.

Oh, and that Chrysler commercial with Lee Iacocca and Snoop Dogg? Watch the ball after Snoop tees off at the end - he slices it way to the right. Bad golfer, that guy.

Back to work tomorrow, as Spiroid takes on his 2003 left-handed equivalent at 7:05pm.