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The Top of the Ninth

Ignore the results and lets talk process. Taking it batter by batter with the WE at 8.2% to start the inning.

Casey Kotchman sees three straight fastballs and rolls the last one up the middle for a single. (WE = 16%)

Rob Johnson is allowed to bat and coaxes a seven pitch walk. Was letting Johnson bat the right idea? Given that your best LH hitter on the bench is Griffey (projected wOBA: ~.310) is he that much of an improvement over Rob Johnson (projected wOBA: ~.290) ? The pinch-hitting penalty alone makes them, at best for Griffey, equal and then you have to consider leaving yourself down to just one catcher and using Griffey early in the inning. It's probably a close call, but I'm fine with not pinch hitting here. (WE = 28.2%)

Meanwhile, Griffey was in the on deck circle for Jack Wilson, which is still questionable. Jack Wilson is a poor hitter, but he's not demonstrably worse than Rob Johnson and our depth in the infield is worse than it is at catcher, plus Wilson is an important defensive cog and short stop is the hardest position to replace. We did not get the chance to evaluate the potential move however as Wilson batted once Johnson reached and sacrificed Kotchman and Johnson over.

Right call? Debatable. Ichiro (and Figgins we presumed) were due up next and you've put the tying runners into scoring position. It was a negative WPA move without context but with Ichiro up next it becomes possibly even money and given the chance that letting WIlson (or Griffey) bat turns into a double play given who they are, I'm willing to give a pass to Wak here. (WE = 24.3%)

Ichiro takes a first pitch fastball into right-center for a clear single. I have no idea what was going through Rob Johnson's head as he hovered near second base. There was no chance that was getting caught and at the time he cost the Mariners a run. (WE = 37.9%)

Now here is where we can all take Wak to task. First and third, one out, down by a run. You need to get that runner in from third and so avoiding a strikeout and a double play are tantamount. Figgins has a good eye, good bat control and is speedy as all get out. He also can bat left-handed. What was Wak thinking pinch hitting for him with Griffey? This is like a 25 point drop in wOBA even before the pinch hitting penalty and when you factor in the circumstances, this was an inexcusable move unless Figgins was physically unable to perform.

Lucky for us and Wak, it worked nonetheless and Griffey drove another first pitch fastball into center field to plate Johnson and move Ichiro around to third. (WE = 67.9%)

It's going to get lost with what he did in the bottom half of the frame, but what a big hit here from Franklin Gutierrez. The Mariners went with the squeeze and Guti unfortunately (at the time) stabbed at it and fouled it back. With Ichiro on third, Guti probably just needed to get it on the ground and fair to put the Mariners ahead. He missed, but took the next pitch into left field for a single that got us ahead 4-3. (WE = 85.1%)

Lopez got ragged on for the ensuing double play but he was in a tough spot. Darren O'Day is a side thrower and he had Lopez on a legitimate 1-2 count. Lopez took a down and in pitch and pulled it down the third base line, but that's where Michael Young happened to be playing and so it resulted in a 5-3 GIDP. (WE = 78.1%)