Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.
August 8, 2008 11:09 PM
Posted by Geoff Baker
The Mariners did indeed lose 5-3 to the Rays as Troy Percival closed out a 1-2-3 ninth. Once James Shields got that three-run lead, you kind of knew he wasn't going to give it back.
Carlos Silva just went off on his teammates (some of them) in the clubhouse post-game. Says only half the team trying to win, the other half padding stats and making starters look bad. Said he's close to throwing someone up against a wall.
Listen to the audio portion of what he said right here.
"Maybe half of the team wants to do the best they can,'' Silva said. "Take the starting rotation...every time we cross that line, we want to do our best. No matter how many games we are behind. But maybe half of the team doesn't have that mentality. They are only thinking of finishing strong. And to put up their numbers. That's great, but that affects us. As a team, that doesn't work out.''
Silva's nickname (the other one that isn't Bison related) is The Chief. Here's another comment from him, referring to himself in the third person.
"Maybe Chief has to go and grab somebody from his neck and throw him into the wall and something's going to change,'' he said. "I'm very close to doing that, so write that down.''
This game was pretty much done by the third inning after Silva gave up four runs, three of them earned. Yuniesky Betancourt put an exclamation point on his Bobblehead Night by throwing a routine grounder into the camera bay behind first base. Two runs scored on that play. Jeff Clement had a nice double off the center field wall and a two-hit night, while Raul Ibanez made a leaping catch at the wall.
But I thought Ichiro could have made a better throw home (or not attempted a throw home in the first place) on a single to right in the third inning that scored Ben Zobrist, who is not exactly a track star. Both runners moved up on the play, allowing each to score on the Betancourt error. Carl Crawford ran hard up the line to first on the Betancourt throw. Remember, the Rays benched B.J. Upton the other day for not running out a grounder. The little things can mean all the difference.
"I don't care if we are 40 games behind, we should have played better than this,'' Silva said. "For me, every game is important. For me, if we are where we are right now, we should take it one game at a time and play one day at a time. Thinking 'We've got to win this game'. And when the day is over 'We've got to win the next one.' ''
Many of you will laugh at Silva and accuse him of making excuses for his poor record and ERA. You would be dead wrong. Silva is the last guy to make an excuse for a poor performance. He isn't saying anything that others haven't mentioned privately throughout the season. He's just the only one with the guts (and maybe the size) to say it in public. Put it this way, as he spoke, Felix Hernandez, a guy who's pitched pretty well this year, was standing about two feet to Silva's right listening to every word and smiling.
"It's tough, man,'' Silva said. "It's tough, because you never want to be in this (last place) position. Because, especially for us, as a pitcher, it's going to kill you. Especially as a starting pitcher, that's going to affect you so much.''
Jarrod Washburn was off to Silva's left. He could also hear -- the clubhouse was almost devoid of other players -- but chose to say nothing. Didn't jump up to protest. Nor agree out loud. He just listened. So, I finally asked Silva whether the other pitchers felt the same way he did. He looked at both Hernandez and Washburn, who both looked back at him.
"I don't know, but, Felix and Wash, we are very competitive,'' he said. "I can talk about those two. Very competitive, I don't know if they feel the same way I feel, but I'm sure they are very close (to it) too.''
Neither pitcher seemed to disagree. At least not out loud.
Jim Riggleman alluded to some of Silva's struggles, moments before the pitcher went off. He talked of how hard Silva has taken every defeat and how he's worked to grind out innings even while struggling all year to find control of his sinker.
"The way he gets after it is the way we want everyone to do it,'' he said.
It's a nice dream. But it's still not happening yet. And winning in the big leagues is about a whole lot more than putting up fancy numbers when they mean little. When these games meant something back in April and May, very few numbers were anywhere to be found. From folks being counted on to win.
Yes, this team still has problems. Learning how to bring it game-in, game-out is one of them. And it's a problem that's been here all season. Won't show up on a stats sheet. But it impacts the games just the same.
By the way, Ryan Rowland-Smith is here and starts tomorrow. Jared Wells goes to AAA.
August 8, 2008 9:24 PM
Posted by Geoff Baker
Very little going on in tonight's game. It's still 5-3, with the M's trailing as we head to the ninth. Seattle has had three baserunners since the fourth inning.
Jake Woods did a good job of tossing two scoreless frames after taking over from Carlos Silva one batter into the seventh inning.
Hmm, what else? Here's an interesting tidbit. Turns out Erik Bedard is a knockout ping-pong player. Can take just about anyone in the M's clubhouse.
He and Felix Hernandez were playing a round after the latter mowed down the Rays last night. Guess Hernandez was ready for more. Got to love the competitor in him.
Us Canadians love ping-pong. You can play it indoors, which comes in handy with all that snow.
August 8, 2008 5:18 PM
Posted by Geoff Baker
In the photo above, see Shannon Drayer and Cara Capuano, both on the far right (closest to the stands), walking past the area behind home plate last night following Raul Ibanez's game-winning home run in what would be their final M's game worked this season. Capuano is furthest to the right.
A couple of fixtures for those listening to Mariners broadcasts on both KOMO 1000 radio and FSN television won't be on the airwaves any more this season. While it had been known for some time that Cara Capuano was doing her final broadcast work on M's games -- and for FSN -- last night, the news today that radio sideline reporter Shannon Drayer had been let go came as a shock.
I rode up in the elevator with both last night after we'd all done post-game interviews. Drayer was wishing Capuano, whose contract was up at the network, well in her efforts to land with another network. She didn't sound like someone who knew she'd also worked her final Mariners game of 2008. Then today, news came that Drayer would not continue to work M's games this season. It's a tough business. From what I'm told, KOMO will no longer be sending a reporter on the road with the team or doing any post-game interviews. Drayer also wrote a very interesting blog that I had checked out routinely, including right before coming to the ballpark just today. She had good insights. Hopefully, we'll see her get picked up by KIRO when they take over M's broadcasts next season.
Either way, it's disappointing to see both go.
August 8, 2008 3:56 PM
Posted by Geoff Baker
No, not as a general manager. But Bill Bavasi is going to be a special assistant to GM Walt Jockety with the Reds. This does not surprise me. Many former GMs get hired around the game. The Mariners had one in Dan Evans before he left to become a head honcho with a scouting firm. The first GM I ever covered, Gord Ash, was run out of Toronto in similar fashion to Bavasi this year. But Ash has thrived as an assistant GM with the Miwaukee Brewers for several years now.
Not every baseball executvie is cut out to succeed as a GM. But that does not make them any less of an executive. Bavasi is respected around the game for his time put in when it comes to scouting and development. And don't forget. Hire him and eventually, you might get to bring over some of the people who used to work for him in Seattle. Been known to happen. There are a number of top people in this organization, Bob Fontaine being one of them. I'm not speculating about anything. Just saying stuff happens.
Bavasi had been in this game too long to be jobless for any length of time. Here's to wishing him best of luck.
August 8, 2008 10:00 AM
Posted by Geoff Baker
So, we've had an interesting situation the past week of a couple of first place teams coming into Safeco Field and getting upended by the younger Mariners. Seattle has now taken 3-of-4 from the Minnesota Twins and the Tampa Bay Rays with the Jeremy Reeds, Bryan LaHairs, Wladimir Balentiens and Jeff Clements of this world filling out the lineup cards. Yes, Jose Vidro was still here when the "streak" began, but that was done a day later and Balentien was up -- just in time to notch the hit that likely turned defeat into victory for the Mariners last night. Yes, the Ibanez homer was big. But without that Balentien double, the M's likely don't tie the game and it's a different scenario heading into the ninth.
By now, as you'd imagine, the Rays and Twins must be feeling a little frustrated. After all, they no doubt saw the M's on the schedule and figured this would be prime time to fatten up on their lead in the standings.
The Twins might not have known any better, but the Rays certainly should. August can be a dangerous time to play against teams so far out of it they need a telescope to see the next closest competitor. By the second half, non-contending teams usually stack their roster with "kids" to get a look at the future. Or, they leave all the angst of a first-half disaster behind, using the All-Star break to psychologically begin a "new' season, one in which their fans make a break from the first three months as well and tend to also take a fresher outlook while not riding the club as hard.
Frankly, when you bury yourself so far back so quickly, it does remove a certain pressure to perform. Throw in the Dog Days of August, when contending teams are trying to pace themselves, or store some energy for that final September sprint, and you can have the recipe for on-field upsets.
Covering the AL East every year since the Rays' inception in 1998, until my arrival in Seattle late in the 2006 season, my former colleagues and I seemed to notice how some terrible Tampa Bay teams always seemed to have these crazy, illogical second-half runs that came out of nowhere. I mean, these were teams that perennially lost between 90 and 100 games. It was highly unusual to think the Rays capable of sustaining anything for two, three and even five-week stretches. But they usually did. Many of those teams had "kids" to open the season. So, that wasn't as big a factor as it may be for these Mariners. Still, the whole "pressure is off" and opponents trying to "fatten up" theory did hold.
Anyhow, it was always just a perception we had about the Rays. We called it the "Tampa Bay bounce" theory. I decided to do some research this morning and see just how close to reality that theory was.
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