Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.
July 12, 2008 8:00 PM
Posted by Geoff Baker
Brandon Morrow got the first two outs of the ninth, then walked Billy Butler. David DeJesus hit the next pitch into the right field bullpen to hand the Mariners a 5-4 loss. Stunning development.
A good job by Jarrod Washburn in not letting that 39-pitch first inning do him in. Washburn held on and stayed in the game for six innings, throwing 111 pitches. The bullpen took over from there, with Sean Green and Arthur Rhodes carrying things though to the ninth and Morrow getting the first two outs.
But it was not to be.
One of you, I believe it was ScottM, brought up the point about all the mental miscues tonight. Well, it might have gone unnoticed in most of the post-game discussion here so far, but I can tell you the Mariners noticed. Mariners manager Jim Riggleman addressed the players post-game and let them know they can't keep giving away extra outs or ruining chances at extra runs.
"I just reminded them that we do not have an offensive club out there right now that's going to overcome a lot of mistakes,'' Riggleman said after his team's sixth loss in seven games. "Things happen that we have to minimize because we are not scoring seven or eight runs a game.''
Riggleman later added: "When you make a mistake, that mistake has to be seen by the whole club. The worst thing will be if somebody else repeats that same mistake.''
In other words, he doesn't want one guy making a mistake one night and then another guy doing the same thing two weeks later. It's not enough to say "Hey, I've never done that before.'' When one guy does it, the whole team has done it. That's the way he's looking at things.
And as we mentioned in the game thread, he has to. This team, this offense, will lose 110 games at this rate. When you score four runs per game at most, the margin for error is just about zero.
Riggleman talked about Jeremy Reed getting thrown out at home when he was already assured of being on third with only one out. That's probably the fifth run right there. You score that, the walk to Butler would not have seemed as dire. Whether the mistake is mental, like Yuniesky Betancourt getting doubled off first on a routine flyout to right, or the result of being too aggressive, like Reed, Riggleman says they both fit into the same destructive category right now.
"Jeremy's hustling,'' he said. "It's an aggressive mistake. But we just can't do that.''
There was the throwing error by Jose Vidro in the first inning that helped lead to two unearned runs. The failure to turn a double play on a ball Adrian Beltre held on to a split second too long -- though that was probably the least of the miscues tonight. I tend to give Beltre the benefit of the doubt because he does make tough plays on defense.
But that scoop attempt by Vidro on Beltre's one-hopped throw later on was awful. No more runs scored on that play, but it did force Washburn to throw more pitches.
Riggleman went easy on Morrow. Said he's been throwing lights-out for so long that he was bound to have a setback or two. Thing is, he added, he was still looking lights-out on those first two batters of the inning.
Could this be a valuable lesson for Morrow? After all, he's given up three home runs his last two outings, blowing two saves. He hadn't had this type of adversity to overcome before. Can he learn from it? Maybe, maybe not.
"I don't know, it's tough to say that I've learned anything,'' Morrow said. "The pitches they hit out were fastballs down the middle that I've gotten away with plenty of other times.''
We'll see what happens from here.
But one thing's for sure. This team will contemplate several trades over the next few weeks. They'll probably part ways with some players. Jobs will be won and lost. But whatever changes occur, this team has got to start playing the game right. There can't be a tolerance for the way this team has tossed away chances to win this season. No tolerance for mental mistakes by the same offenders. Are the Mariners a "country club"in the true sense? Not sure about that one. But they are a team where players have gotten away repeatedly with mistakes. Where players have been allowed to severely underperform and keep getting trotted out there night after night.
Until that culture changes, until this team becomes a place where mediocrity is held accountable, it will stay mediocre and keep losing. No matter who is brought in. Richie Sexson was the first step at what could be a major housecleaning. But the house has to be cleaned. If the players can't clean it themselves, somebody will need to do it for them.
Oh yeah, Horacio Ramirez just looked like Cy Young himself. He was tonight's winning pitcher.
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