Damn. That was kind of the opposite of what I expected from tonight's ballgame. So much disappointment!
Jerome Williams probably hasn't been quite as bad this year as his ERA might suggest (6.43 coming into tonight's game vs. an xFIP of 4.01), but he's certainly not a good pitcher by any stretch of the imagination. He's been released/waived twice this year... by the Astros and the Rangers. Those are the teams with the two worst run differentials in all of baseball! That doesn't exactly speak to Williams' aptitude as a pitcher. Regardless, the M's managed just three hits (two groundball singles and a bloop double) and only seven total baserunners off of Williams tonight in 7+ innings. They managed to do this by swinging emphatically at balls out of the zone and/or mishitting a bunch o' meatballs; many players threw up their arms in disgust after swinging a bit late/early at an offering and either hitting a pop up or a weak ground ball on a pitch that they should have driven for extra bases.
The Mariners biggest opportunity came in the eighth inning. After Chris Taylor was hit by a pitch (causing Ryne Sandberg to remove Williams from the game), Endy Chavez dribbled a ground ball single up the middle off the glove of reliever Ken Giles. Austin Jackson struck out, but Dustin Ackley doubled home the M's first run (his third hit of the game!). Unfortunately, Robinson Cano and Kendrys Morales both struck out swinging like a couple o' chumps and ended the Mariners only real chance of putting runs on the board. I guess there was some unlucky sequencing in this game (the Mariners had at least one baserunner in every inning except for the sixth), but other than Ackley's RBI double, I don't really remember feeling particularly good about any Mariners at bat tonight.
On the other side of the ball, Roenis Elias also struggled. Elias only faced 22 batters (before being pulled after just four innings), but still managed to issue six walks (a season high) and also plunked Chase Utley. Although he gave up just three hits and a single run, he was largely ineffective. The strike zone called tonight by Lance Barksdale was pretty tight (he wasn't unfair, but very few pitches on the corners were called as strikes), but Elias did not have command of his pitches. 42 of his 90 offerings were called as balls and he only threw a first pitch strike to 10 batters all night. Maybe being sent down to Tacoma for a week and a half disrupted Elias' mojo or maybe he just didn't have a good feel for his pitches tonight. Hopefully he bounces back whenever Lloyd and the front office decide to send him out again.
Despite all this, the Mariners might've still found a way to scrape out a victory tonight... if only their (generally impervious) bullpen hadn't let them down. Unfortunately, the three-run home run that Dominic Leone gave up on a hanging breaking ball in the fifth inning proved to be enough to doom the Mariners to defeat. Sad day.
- As I mentioned, Elias' command tonight was very sketchy. This was particularly true of his curveball and changeup. The location of those pitches is shown below:
He opted to throw either his curve or changeup 42 times tonight, but was unable to locate most of these close to the plate. As a result, he generated only 17 strikes (10 whiffs) on those 42 pitches, good for a strike% of 40%. For comparison, his season strike% for his changeup and curveball is 61%. That's a dramatic difference.
- The home run that Leone gave up was such a bummer. It looked like Zunino wanted the ball down and away, but Leone left the pitch up and over the center of the plate. This is not a good mistake to make.
Despite the fact that Andres Blanco had hit exactly zero major league home runs over the previous 1144 days, he was able to deposit the ball into the right field seats and give the Phillies a four run cushion. At first glance, I thought that this was a pretty cheap home run, but according to ESPN's home run tracker, this ball would've left the yard in 26 of the 30 MLB stadiums. So not too terribly cheap. I'm not sure whether this makes me feel better or worse...
- Cano had a rough night at the plate tonight. He wasn't given many good pitches to hit, but he swung early and often and did not take advantage of his opportunities.
Detroit didn't play today (although the Angels did win), so the Mariners only lost half a game in the wildcard race; they're currently "tied" for the second spot with the Tigers. Hopefully the Mariners can start a new winning streak tomorrow!