I had this intro all written in my head. "Streaks only exist because of something unusual," it said. "Standard gameplay may continue ad infinitum; in order for a streak to take place, something out of the ordinary must occur to push a team above or below its normal level of expectation." It kind of continued on in that vein, culminating with "therefore every winning streak has a hero and every losing streak a goat, be it an individual player or a collection thereof most responsible for the sequence of outcomes."
And so it was that I delved into the box scores to try and figure out what it was exactly that led us to go on a tear and subsequently give it all back. My hypothesis was that, in any given streak, the majority of the players will perform to their averages, with only a select few deviating from normalcy far enough to cause such a swing.
Season To Date:
Offense: .284/.335/.421, .294 w/RISP
Rotation: 5.2 IP/game, 5.65 ERA, 6.06 RA, 4.20 FIP
Bullpen: 3.1 IP/game, 3.47 ERA, 3.76 RA, 4.05 FIP
Five-game Winning Streak:
Offense: .307/.352/.448, .246 w/RISP
Rotation: 5.2 IP/game, 5.14 ERA, 5.46 RA, 3.56 FIP
Bullpen: 4.2 IP/game, 1.96 ERA, 2.35 RA, 2.20 FIP
Five-game Losing Streak:
Offense: .243/.274/.337, .206 w/RISP
Rotation: 5.1 IP/game, 6.92 ERA, 8.31 RA, 5.05 FIP
Bullpen: 2.2 IP/game, 5.14 ERA, 5.14 RA, 3.99 FIP
Why the team won:
Raul Ibanez flipped out, driving in eight runs. The bullpen was fantastic, thanks in large part to JJ Putz's four shutout innings/saves. Eric O'Flaherty, Sean Green, and (to a lesser extent) George Sherrill also contributed in a big way. And that was pretty much it. Ibanez and a couple middle relievers were the only guys who really elevated their games, while everyone else pretty much performed up to standard (or below). Oh, and there were a few helpful errors from the other side. Thanks, Michael Barrett!
Why the team lost:
This was much more of a team effort. Kenji didn't hit. Richie didn't hit. Lopez didn't hit. Betancourt didn't hit. Ibanez didn't hit. Guillen didn't hit. The only guy who showed up at the plate was Ichiro, who reached base 14 times in those five games and only scored twice. While that was happening, the starting pitchers struggled to keep the game close. The best start of the five belonged to Miguel Batista, who allowed 14 baserunners in seven innings. The one time the Mariners were in position to win, Brandon Morrow blew up. Of course, the rotation's been trouble all year long, so chalk this one up to terrible hitting and an inability to get to Sherrill/Putz at the end.
This is more of an observation piece than something to learn from, but if there's a take-home message, it's this - the fate of the Mariners' season will depend on the consistency of the lineup's run production. Sure, the front office might add a starter or two, but the rotation's never going to be a strength. If the Mariners want to make the playoffs, they'll need to outscore their opponents and try to get to JJ Putz as often as possible. They just don't have a prayer when they're not batting .290.
How neat would it be to have Richie Sexson at first base instead of a bad Pete Incaviglia?