Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.
July 21, 2008 9:38 PM
Posted by Geoff Baker
What a night for Jon Lester, who has a 4-0 lead over the Mariners as we enter the bottom of the eighth. Lester had thrown just 61 pitches the first six innings before a 22-pitch seventh got the Mariners their shot at him. But with two on and one out, Lester fanned Miguel Cairo on a 1-2 pitch. That brought Jose Vidro in to pinch-hit for Bryan LaHair -- which the team had better do at that point if it's going to keep Vidro on the roster. Vidro worked the count to 3-1, put a good swing on the ball, but flied out hard to right field.
I knwo the blogosphere will be in an uproar over Vidro pinch-hitting there. But if you aren't going to pinch-hit for a rookie who's gone hitless in his first six major league at-bats, when are you going to do it? If the M's are going to justify keeping Vidro by saying they see value in him as a pinch-hitter, then you have to use him when the situation calls for it. That's my take.
Boston then added a pair of runs on a Jed Lowrie single off Cesar Jimenez in the eighth. Doesn't look good for the home team. Not with Lester still out there in the eighth.
8:45 p.m.: Still a 2-0 game as we head to the bottom of the sixth. Jarrod Washburn was allowed to pitch the sixth inning, got two outs, but then walked Kevin Youkillis on his 113th pitch. That was it for him. Mark Lowe came on, walked Coco Crisp to load the bases, then got Jason Varitek swinging at a 1-2 pitch. Not a bad outing for Washburn overall, coming within one out of a "quality start". Will this hurt his trade value? No. Help it? Maybe not. What we saw tonight was what teams already know about Washburn. When he's on, teams mis-hit balls, which the Red Sox did a lot tonight.
But he is prone to one bad middle inning at times and they often cost him. Might cost Washburn a loss tonight the way this offense is swinging the bats. Washburn's control wasn't what he wanted at times. Of the 113 pitches, only 63 were for strikes. No, he wasn't putting the ball in hitter's wheelhouses, other than to Jason Varitek on the homer you can see in the photo above. But he was falling behind in counts a lot. A mixed bag tonight, but he leaves with his team still very much in this game. If you can't score three runs in one night, chances are you're going to lose in any event.
8:18 p.m.: Well, I was one batter off on that walk prediction. Jarrod Washburn got the first batter of the fifth inning, Kevin Youkillis, to fly out. But he walked Coco Crisp, then fell behind Jason Varitek. Washburn worked the count full, then saw Varitek deposit the next offering into the left field bleachers to put Boston ahead 2-0. The patient Bosox also worked Washburn for 32 pitches in the inning, putting him at 98. He might get to face some hitters in the sixth, especially if the team is showcasing him for scouts. But that was a costly fifth inning, as he's often had.
8:04 p.m.: We've got a pitcher's duel going here between Jarrod Washburn and Jon Lester. Still scoreless as we head to the bottom of the fourth. Washburn has thrown 66 pitches through four innings. The key, as it's been for him during this prolonged run of success, has been in avoiding the big hit. He's scattered four hits already, but none have gone for extra bases. There have been two double-play grounders as well.
The fifth inning is where he often runs into trouble. Let's see how he does. It starts with a good count-worker in Kevin Youkillis. Leadoff walks have come back to haunt Washburn a lot. He has to avoid that with Youkillis.
Lester allowed a one-out double to Yuniesky Betancourt, but escaped the third with a nice defensive play from second baseman Dustin Pedroia, going deep in the hole for an Ichiro grounder and throwing him out by an eyelash at first base. Willie Bloomquist then struck out.
7:28 p.m.: Jarrod Washburn gave up a leadoff single to Manny Ramirez in the second, then erased that on a 1-4-3 double-play grounder by Mike Lowell. Washburn fell behind 3-1 in the count to Lowell, but battled back and notched the comebacker.
He then caught Kevin Youkillis -- better known as The Greek God of Complaining -- looking at a third strike to end the inning. Actually, Youkillis was nicknamed The Greek God of Walks in the Moneyball book of 2003, though his reputation for whining about umpire calls and throwing his helmet in the dugout has earned him the ire of teammates like Ramirez. You can see why.
7:20 p.m.: A big test for Jarrod Washburn tonight as the Mariners try to establish him as legitimate trade bait. There is word the New York Yankees could be interested in him as a fallback plan if their talks for A.J. Burnett don't lead to anything. One thing teams will want to see is how Washburn fares against more serious opposition. The Boston Red Sox count as that, even if they don't play all that well here and do begin the night two games behind the AL East leading Rays.
Washburn had a 1-2-3 first half-inning, though not in the traditional sense. He got Jacoby Ellsbury of Oregon to pop out to right, then yielded a single to center by Dustin Pedroia. But J.D. Drew hit into a double-play to end the inning.
Local boy Jon Lester returned the favor in the bottom of the frame, also retiring the side 1-2-3 in the more traditional sense, with two strikeouts sandwiched around a popout to the shortstop.