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Mariners Put Woefully Unprepared Rookie In Big Spot, Watch Him Fail, Lose

I don't want you to take that headline the wrong way. Carlos Peguero is a very interesting young player with high slugging upside, and this afternoon I was excited to watch him come to the plate all four times. But I don't think there's any questioning the notion that he isn't ready to be in the bigs, and it's funny what happens when you ask a player who isn't ready to be in the bigs to bat three times with runners in scoring position. Peguero struck out swinging in all three of those at bats, and the Mariners wound up losing by one. One wonders if the thrill over his call-up has been replaced with frustration and shame. There there, Carlos. It comes with the uniform.

Of course, Peguero wasn't the only reason the Mariners lost today - he was just the biggest one. Just hours after they drew 11 walks and put 26 runners on base, the Mariners drew one walk and put seven runners on base. Erik Bedard continued passive-aggressively pretending the sixth inning doesn't exist. The M's went 1-9 with runners in scoring position, and Milton Bradley struck out in the ninth right before Peguero did. I suppose it'd actually be nice if we could blame this entire loss on Peguero, because that would mean we could blame this entire loss on one guy, implying that everybody else pretty much pulled their weight. Instead, we get a near team-wide failure.

If you wanted to put a positive spin on this, you could point out that the Mariners only lost 3-2 despite fielding something of a spring training lineup, as five of the starters weren't guys we thought we'd be starting back at the beginning of March. Another positive spin would be that the end result doesn't matter that much, since this year's Mariners aren't playing for wins and losses, and at least they made it entertaining. Still another positive spin is that, although the Mariners lost this afternoon, at least you weren't born in Armero in November 1985, or as a stupid caterpillar. There are like a million positive spins you could put on this if you wanted to.

I hope you haven't noticed yet but I'm fighting through some wicked brain fog to get this recap written. The reason for the brain fog is that the Mariners had played really long games the previous two nights, keeping me up into the adorably wee hours of the morning so I could write about them. I woke up this morning feeling like I needed to go to sleep.

Now, when I'm really sleepy, I prefer a matinee to a night game, because a matinee means I'll be able to get back some of the sleep I've recently lost. And plus, since matinees take place during the day, they're usually over by the time I crash. I typically have abundant energy for matinees, and I look forward to watching them.

But while I came into this afternoon's game feeling moderately energized, I forgot to take into consideration the Erik Bedard Watchability Factor. You know that I love Bedard, and I wish him only the best as he tries to get his career back on track, but the man simply does not care for his audience. Every pitch is methodically selected, every count runs full, and every mistake he makes in the strike zone gets hit harder than it ought to. Even Bedard's gems are not unlike watching a master painter paint, and this was not one of Bedard's gems.

Erik labored, as he so often does, and as a result the game didn't really find its flow until after he was gone, by which point I was struggling to stay focused. Thankfully David Pauley helped snap me back by needing just 32 pitches to throw four scoreless innings of relief, and that made sure I was devoting my full attention to the bottom of the ninth, when the Mariners stranded a runner and lost. So thanks to David Pauley for that. 

After the way Bedard pitched, it's crazy that this game wrapped up in a cool 152 minutes.

To the bullet holes:

  • As noted, this was not one of Erik Bedard's better days. After striking out the first batter he faced, he allowed a homer to center to the second and he walked the third, and in all, it took him 95 pitches to get through five innings, of which just 51 were strikes. People will look at the pitch count and the innings and wave it off as "classic Bedard", but this wasn't classic Bedard, or even classic frustrating Bedard. This Bedard walked five batters and hit another in the arm. This Bedard was extra wild.

    And this Bedard was working off an 88-89mph fastball, which is down a couple ticks from where it was in his glory days. The Tigers got good looks at the ball, they worked solid at bats, and when they swung, they rarely missed.

    As has been the theme, this is just another reminder that we need to keep our expectations for Bedard in check. But what we'd like to be seeing is progress, and today I didn't see any significant progress. This game was just bad, and all we can hope for is that he's able to shake it off the next time.

  • In what is literally the biggest surprise of my day, it turns out that 2011 Erik Bedard has not gotten into a greater rate of full counts than the league average.

  • In a first inning infographic, the Root Sports broadcast compared 2011 Erik Bedard to 2009 Erik Bedard, and among the four or five numbers they showed was HR/FB, which this season has obviously been elevated. This is a golden age for casual Mariners fans who watch the games on TV and want a better understanding of why all their players are terrible.

    Seriously, HR/FB. They didn't even explain it. They just showed it with strikeouts and walks like it belonged, which it did.

  • Mike Blowers and Dan Wilson were in the TV booth, and early on they were sharing stories of when Wilson once had to play third base, and Blowers once had to catch. Blowers caught Rich DeLucia in the ninth inning of a 9-4 game on July 23, 1993. DeLucia worked around a jam to keep the Indians scoreless, and as such, Blowers is tied with a handful of others for the best catcher ERA in baseball history.

  • Over his 14-year big league career, Dan Wilson forgave every pitcher who ever hit him, and he apologized for all 88 of his home runs.

  • Carlos Peguero wasn't really tested in the field today in his starting debut, but he was sure tested at the plate. His most successful plate appearance came in the third, when he smacked a 1-0 Rick Porcello fastball the other way for a fly out to the track. Peguero didn't make great contact and still he nearly took the pitch out of the yard, which speaks to his power potential.

    Then came the strikeouts. With two on in the fourth, Peguero swung through a couple pitches out of the zone. With one on in the seventh, he couldn't help himself against a couple low changeups. And with one on in the ninth, he swung through two straight 96mph high fastballs. Facing Jose Valverde, Peguero swung with sufficient force that any contact would've given the Mariners a win today and also retroactively a win on Monday as well, but he came up empty as Valverde got the save.

    So, four trips to the plate, and we didn't learn anything new. Peguero hacked, Peguero whiffed, and the one time Peguero put the ball in play, he nearly put it out of play. Hopefully Peguero's able to take something away from his start so that he doesn't have to feel bad about striking out with the tying run on second.

  • I do wonder why Peguero was sent up there to hit in the ninth. With Michael Saunders on second, Milton Bradley pinch-hit for Luis Rodriguez, and Peguero hit for himself. Strategically that seems like the opposite of the right thing to do, but if Wedge just wanted to get Peguero some swings against a hard-throwing closer, I'm not going to be too hard on him, because, again, are potential wins really that important? Are they, really?

  • In the fourth inning, Chone Figgins finally gloved a hard grounder down the third base line. He dropped the ball on the transfer.

  • Saunders was standing on second in the bottom of the ninth because, moments earlier, he fell behind Valverde 0-2, worked the count full by taking three close fastballs, and drilled an outside fastball down the line the other way for a double. That hit was exactly what we've wanted to see from Saunders from the day he first came up. Saunders being able to hit those outside pitches hard will lead to him getting more inside pitches, and those are the pitches he can ride out of the park. Ever the Saunders optimist, I am encouraged by this at bat.

  • Adam Kennedy took Valverde deep prior to Saunders' double for the Mariners' tenth home run of the season. The 2010 Mariners didn't get their tenth home run until Cinco de Mayo. Adam Kennedy now has the second-highest OPS on the team. There's absolutely no reason for me to have confidence in his bat given his track record, but here we are, and he's hitting line drives. In the absence of many other players hitting line drives, I'll take what I can get from whoever will give it. If I'm rummaging around in the kitchen, and I'm really hungry, and a mysterious hand reaches out from a cupboard to give me a fresh bowl of baked beans, I'm going to be a little weirded out, but I'm not going to make the owner of the hand get out of my apartment. I think. I gotta be honest, I really don't know what I would do.

  • This three-game set against the Tigers drew a total of 38,524 fans. A comparable three-game set against the Rays last year drew a total of 47,833 fans. A comparable three-game set against the Orioles last year drew a total of 48,860 fans. If you want to go back to 2009, when the Mariners were also coming off a terrible season, a comparable three-game set against the Rays drew a total of 53,697 fans. The Mariners' attendance so far has not been good. It's actually been quite bad. There are reasons for this, but it's still bad news, and the organization might want to consider giving away bobbleheads to everybody, all the time.

  • Talking about Carlos Peguero in the early innings, Dave Sims said "Eric Wedge told him to go out there and have fun. After all, it is a game." It isn't a game. It is work. Eric Wedge lied to Carlos Peguero moments before his first-ever Major League start. I can't help but think this gets their relationship off on the wrong foot.

Beginning a four-game series against Oakland tomorrow night. This'll draw.