Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.
July 3, 2008 11:13 PM
Posted by Geoff Baker
Look, I don't mean to negate everything the Mariners had accomplished the past two weeks under Jim Riggleman. But tonight's 8-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers showed us this team still has a long way to go. The Tigers, at 42-42 coming in, are the only .500 team the Mariners have laid eyes on since facing the Boston Red Sox a month ago. Even closer Todd Jones, pictured above, who gave up two runs in the ninth, wasn't going to blow the 8-2 lead he had going into the final inning. He's bad, but not that bad. Fernando Rodney came on to get the final out with the tying run on-deck. But still, this was a different night from the get-go.
In other words, Riggleman sure hasn't seen the likes of the Tigers. Not unless they were wearing the uniforms of the Padres, Blue Jays, Mets and Braves.
"That Detroit ballclub is just a very aggressive, good hitting club,'' Riggleman said afterwards. "That lineup there, you've pretty much got to be on top of your game to shut them down.''
A different team faced tonight. A winning one. From the AL. Not the best of teams -- at least not yet -- but one that is now winning more than it loses.
And the M's? Well, they looked like the M's.
Carlos Silva needed 100 pitches to survive five innings. The offense left seven runners on the first four innings when it was still a game -- five of those by Richie Sexson alone. Even when they did things right, like Raul Ibanez getting a double in the seventh, it gets undone by him slipping and falling when he had to retreat to second on a Jose Vidro lineout.
Silva did not come out to talk to reporters after the game. Few Mariners did. Jose Lopez was one of them.
Lopez had tried to throw Curtis Granderson out at home on a hard grounder. Against any other baserunner, he might have had a play. Not that baserunner. Instead of taking a sure out at first and being down 3-2 with two out and none on, Lopez's late throw kept a runner on with only one out. I'm not saying Carlos Silva would have done better than the three straight singles he yielded after that, but you never know. Silva did yield them, of course. Two more runs scored. It was a 5-2 game and pretty much over at that point.
Lopez was caught in a no-man's land positioning-wise. He wasn't in close enough to nab Granderson. Nor far back enough to automatically concede the run. Told me he was off-balance.
"Lopez made a heck of a play,'' Riggleman said, but then added that "if he had to do it over again, he would have conceded the run and just gone to first.''
Anyhow, this team was down 8-2 heading into the ninth. A lot of other stuff happened besides Lopez.
This bullpen has been very stingy of late. But the first batter it faced in the sixth connected for a home run off Mark Lowe. That was the first of young Michael Hollimon's career.
Yes, that kind of night for the M's.
Lowe was one of the players who did come out after the game. The entire bullpen showed its face. Arthur Rhodes and J.J. Putz make sure of that. Raul Ibanez was there, but the media is tired of forcing him to be team spokesman after every loss. R.A. Dickey, Jarrod Washburn. No, they didn't pitch tonight.
You get the picture. Same M's, a lot of the same problems. On and off the field. Team Pelekoudas plods along. he's yet to make a player move, Maybe he thought that 8-4 stretch was for real? I doubt it. Especially after tonight.
Maybe they'll win the next three and shut me up. This Tigers bullpen is bad enough toi give them a game. But for tonight, I didn't see anything from the M's to show me they're cured. You can't keep taking doses of the Braves, Mets, Padres and Blue Jays. Eventually, you have to face some halfway decent teams. And this one made the M's look bad. Plain and simple.
Oh yeah, Ichiro got his 1,700th hit. He had three singles in the game. He was out at his locker, too. As after every game. Hope you enjoyed the game tonight. Gotta run. Get to do this again first thing tomorrow.