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62-59, Game Notes

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Here's a fun fact for you: the Mariners, at one point, have had the lead in ten of their last eleven games. Over that span they are 5-6. It's weird to think about since so many of us wrote the season off weeks ago, but turn a few of those blown leads into wins and we're still right in the thick of the hunt. Who knew? Of course, as it happens we're not right in the thick of the hunt. Y'know. Because we blew the leads.

  • It happens every time. Whenever a generally reliable closer blows a save, people have to start asking what happened, as if something were wrong. Sometimes something is wrong. But most of the time, it was just a bad game, and that's what we saw today. David Aardsma isn't hurt. There isn't anything dragging him down mentally. He's just David Aardsma, and even this effective version of David Aardsma is going to have his forgettable days, because if he didn't he'd be Mariano Rivera.

    When you're dealing with something that only happens six or eight times a year, like a blown save or a Carlos Silva quality start, people tend to read too much into it, because it's rare. The truth of the matter, though, is that something like a blown save is only considered rare because closers only get 40-50 save opportunities in a season. Blown saves don't happen that often because closers don't pitch that often. Don't worry about David Aardsma. He remains now the same thing he was this morning - a good but by no means excellent reliever. Though he blew it today, overall he's done more good than bad.

  • Let's make one thing clear right now: the Mariners didn't light up Jarrod Washburn. While he allowed four home runs, there seemed to be an awful lot of wind blowing balls out to left, and the M's only hit a handful of balls hard all day. Jarrod struck four guys out, walked one, and pretty much pitched like a half-decent starter who gave up some unlucky dingers.

    But that's precisely what made today so much fun. Remember this? Allow me to compose a list:

    2003: 7.4% home runs per ball in air (not adjusted for park)
    2004: 6.6%
    2005: 5.5%
    2006: 6.7%
    2007: 5.8%
    2008: 5.8%
    2009 (Mariner): 4.3%

    That 4.3% sure looks like an outlier, right? Following the trade I expected Jarrod to look more like normal in the home run department. And, well

    2009 (Tiger): 18.6%
    2009 (Overall): 6.3%

    Washburn has allowed 43 balls in the air as a Tiger, and eight of them have cleared the fence. That's absurd, and as we saw today some of those homers were complete flukes, but at the end of the day what matters most is that, in just a couple weeks, he's pulled his home run rate all the way back up (down?) to normal. He's had the good luck. Today he had the bad luck. Regression doesn't usually happen like this, but it sure is fun to watch it happen to a guy who isn't on your team anymore.

    It's not that I wish ill on Jarrod Washburn. Truth be told, I don't really care about him one way or another. If he wins the World Series with Detroit, great, and if he doesn't, great. It's more that I'm just a sucker for validation. Jarrod Washburn isn't good. We've been saying that for months. People resisted. Hopefully now those people have learned their lesson. All of us - we're happy to admit when we're wrong. It's fun to be wrong. Being wrong is how you learn. We weren't wrong about Jarrod Washburn.

  • On a related note, a lot of people have said they'd like to re-sign Washburn because he's a perfect fit for the stadium and the defense. Newsflash: that doesn't make Washburn unique. Any lefty flyballer is a perfect fit for the stadium and the defense. Saying that a guy would be able to benefit from his environment is not an endorsement of the guy; it's an endorsement of the environment.

  • I should note that I did wish ill on Washburn when Kenji Johjima was at the plate. I don't know who was in the wrong and who was in the right back when that whole thing first went down, but what I do know is that there was friction between the two guys, and it's fun to see the guy we have get revenge against the guy we don't. It was a pretty weak home run, but it still left the yard, and if I were Kenji I'd be smiling for days. I love that he hit it off the Dolphin. I love it.

  • As much as it sucks to lose a game in the ninth, the M's very nearly lost this game in the eighth. With two on and one out, Alex Avila lined a Shawn Kelley fastball into left-center that Franklin Gutierrez was barely able to flag down. With some other center fielders, that ball either bounces or gets all the way to the wall. Then, with two out, Placido Polanco popped a ball behind second that Josh Wilson raced after and caught on a snowcone. Wilson himself says he thought the ball was going to fall in, and these are the moments at which the relationship between ERA and defense becomes abundantly clear. This pitching staff is pretty uninspiring. This defense is otherworldly.

  • Speaking of Josh Wilson - Wilson doesn't really mean anything to us. We as fans don't think particularly high of him, and by bringing in Bill Hall, it's clear that the Mariners organization doesn't intend to keep Wilson around for the long haul. So he's not playing to impress us so much as he's playing to impress someone. He's right on the edge. Every day that Josh Wilson spends in a game is a day he spends fighting for his big league career, and it's with that in mind that you have to admire what he's been able to do of late. Since coming back up a week ago, Wilson's hit .320 and made some remarkable plays in the field. He's shown the sort of energy and spark that endears a guy to a coaching staff, and to be able to do what he's done under the constant pressure of fighting for his livelihood...Wilson isn't the kind of guy you really want to have playing a lot for your team, but he's the kind of guy you want to see succeed. People like Wilson don't get a lot of chances. Josh has seized this one, and that could end up meaning the world.