Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.
July 2, 2008 10:50 PM
Posted by Geoff Baker
Another "quality start" of six innings, two earned runs allowed by Jarrod Washburn tonight ina 4-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. He could have gone deeper, retiring the final six batters he faced. But Jim Riggleman pulled him after 98 pitches. Washburn had thrown 119 and 118 pitches his last two outings and Riggleman told us pre-game he wasn't going to push it with the lefty's arm in case of fatigue.
But Washburn is certainly making a case for himself to be used as trade bait, especially for a National League team. Remember, he's owed about $15 million between now and the end of 2009. That's a lot of money. So, a team picking him up won't have to ship off a ton of prospects to get him. And not every playoff team needs a frontline ace. Some just need a steady, middle-of-the-rotation guy. That's Washburn. Right now, it is, anyway. In May, it wasn't.
"I feel good physically, mechanically I feel great,'' he said. “I'm making pitches and guys are making plays behind me.''
Washburn is throwing a split-fingered fastball again. He does it about 6 to 8 times per game, when he really needs it. Tonight, he used it to strike out Rod Barajas on a 2-2 pitch with the bases loaded and two out in the fifth inning.Called it the best splitter he's ever thrown. Came in at about 86 mph.
Remember back in May, when opponents were combining for a 9.30 ERA off Washburn? Big innings killed him. Didn't want that this time. He'd pitched around Scott Rolen to get to Barajas. You can do that against some teams, like the Blue Jays or in the NL. It worked this time.
"That's big,'' he said. "It's early enough in the game where it could go either way. We'd just put two on the board and I wanted to stay out of the big inning.''
Mariners manager Jim Riggleman wanted to pull Washburn after five. But Washburn persuaded him to let him go one more inning, despite the heavy pitch count his last two starts, and retired the final three batters in the sixth.
Two RBI doubles for Miguel Cairo tonight. He's certainly contributed in some different ways this season. Dustin McGowan had thrown him some high 90s heat in the first inning, foiling a bunt attempt. Cairo knew he had to get his bat "on top of the ball'' quicker the next couple of times.
"When you get that kind of pitcher, you know you're going to get some fastballs,'' Cairo said. "He threw me that pretty hard in the first at-bat and I told myself 'Hey, you'd better get ready' in the second at-bat.''
Brandon Morrow tossed a perfect ninth for the save. He looks more and more like a closer every day. A serious closer. Maybe one of the best in the league. We'll see how he does on three straight nights. Maybe. The M's will have to keep this up -- an impressive 8-4 run so far under Riggleman -- when more serious opposition than the Blue Jays comes to town. Seattle probably just knocked Toronto out of wild-card contention for good.
The Detroit Tigers are in next.
July 2, 2008 8:51 PM
Posted by Geoff Baker
The Mariners figured out a way to get to Dustin McGowan in the fifth inning. They decided to sick Miguel Cairo on him. Cairo delivered his second RBI double of the game, a two-run jolt to left center, that scored Ichiro and Yuniesky Betancourt to make it 4-2. That's the score now as we head to the seventh. Jarrod Washburn is done, throwing another "quality start" of six innings, two earned runs allowed. He's upping his trade value by the start.
July 2, 2008 5:47 PM
Posted by Geoff Baker
The photo above is of onetime power hitter John "Mule" Miles, a Negro League player from 1946 to 1949, chatting here pre-game with Toronto Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston. Miles was drafted by the Mariners last month during an honorary draft of former Negro League players. Obviously, the meeting with Gaston was significant. Miles was the first black player to play in the Gulf Coast League, back in 1951 with the Laredo Apaches. Gaston is the first black manager to win a World Series. Both hail from San Antonio, Texas and Miles has actually met some of Gaston's family before.
When Miles was breaking some of the sport's color barrier with Laredo, there was no such thing as a black manager. Fans in the stands would call him the "N'' word from 10 feet away. He talked to us about walking into a restaurant with his team. The manager refused to serve them, so the white teammates, to their credit, got up and left. The restaurant's owner came running outside and told them it was OK, that Miles could eat with them. Which he did. In the restaurant's kitchen.
Back in 1947, Miles once hit a home run in 11 conseuctive games while playing for the Chicago American Giants of the Negro League. I asked him what the media pressure was like and he laughed. Just the local papers covered it.
Could he do the same thing today with ESPN cameras and a swarm of media covering his every move?
He laughed again. Shook his head. A different world.
"I played for the love of the game,'' he said. "Baseball was my ambition and I'd do it all over again just for the love of the game.''
His salary? $300 per month. But that was OK, because a soda only cost him a nickel.
He's now 83. He'll throw out tonight's first pitch.
If he's any good, the M's...nah, they're going with Ryan Rowland Smith on the mound again next Sunday.
"I appreciate that the Seattle Mariners drafted me last month and now, I'm a major league ballplayer,'' Miles said. "It's 60 years too late, but I'm here.''
July 2, 2008 10:16 AM
Posted by Geoff Baker
Good morning to you all, especially to Novice in the comments thread. Must be some Fourth of July fireworks going off early at your place in honor of Mr. Bloomquist's game-winning hit last night. And no, I would not put you in the category of a "troll" either. If all trolls were as simple to deal with as you, I wouldn't be keeping the Tylenol folks in business. Thanks to all the lawyers who came out yesterday and offered some insights on the Shawn Chacon-Ed Wade situation. Enjoyed reading your takes.
So, Richie Sexson hits his first home run since May 24. I'm sure the phone lines are burning up at the Pelekoudas residence. Or, maybe not. Here's one national writer's take on what's happened to the M's this season. Interesting to read what the rest of the world thinks about you. That outside viewpoint comes into play come trading time. And there are some places shaping up as possible destinations for Mariners players. They are also places the M's can safely deposit those players without having to worry about being burned by them too often in the near future.
There are problems in Philadelphia, where the Phillies looked like they might have a shot at a World Series not too long ago. Well, now, after weeks of losing, the Phils just unloaded big-ticket starting pitcher Brett Myers to Class AAA.
The Phils need another arm. If they can't trade for C.C. Sabathia, you'd have to think that Erik Bedard would be an interesting fallback plan. Or maybe even Jarrod Washburn, if he continues to pitch well. Washburn has proved adept at handling NL lineups. He's gone at least six innings and not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his three starts against NL clubs so far. Also went six innings and allowed only one earned run against Toronto -- an AL club that hits like an NL team -- his last time out. We'll see what he does tonight. Unlike Bedard, Washburn won't cost teams an arm and a leg. But dealing him would get the M's out from under the $13 million or so that he's still owed through 2009.