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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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August 12, 2008 10:52 PM

Another mistake-filled loss

Posted by Geoff Baker

ange0812 032.jpg

Speaking of padding stats, here comes Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez to notch a four-run save after an error in the ninth brings the tying run to the on-deck circle. Yeesh. K-Rod strikes out Raul Ibanez for save No. 46 -- in pursuit of Bobby Thigpen's record of 57.

When an error by the shortstop costs your team three runs and a win, it gets to the point where you wonder how much longer that team can continue to play said infielder. Yes, Yuniesky Betancourt did look like Ozzie Smith on that groundout in the seventh inning. But what can I say?

Too late. Mariners lose 7-3.

This was what Carlos Silva talked about last Friday. Bringing your "A Game" right off the bat. Betancourt didn't have it on that Jeff Mathis grounder in the fifth inning and Jarrod Washburn got buried after that. Oh well, another night, another derfeat. Jeff Clement nearly cost Washburn big in the third inning by failing to snag a foul pop-up by Vladimir Guerrero near the screen.

Washburn got his catcher off the hook for that one, striking out Guerrero. But he couldn't pick up Betancourt, nor fool Guerrero a second time when the error enabled him to bat in that fifth inning.

Story of the game right there, folks. Some more botched chances on offense against a shaky Jon Garland.

You've got to get the runner home from third in that fifth inning with one out and Adrian Beltre up. Then another chance later, in a 4-3 game, with one out and runners on first and second, goes by the wayside as well. Lack of execution. So, is it a "talent" issue? Or an execution issue? Not saying these are mutually exclusive, just asking which is predominant with this club?

Mark Lowe yields three runs in the eighth on a Garret Anderson homer and a Juan Rivera double. That's your ballgame. Washburn gets another "quality start" of seven innings, one earned run allowed. But I'm sure he'd rather have had the win.

"When you know that if you make one bad pitch here or there, and it changes the whole game, it's tough to do,'' Washburn said after his 12th "quality start'' this season. "You would hope every game doesn't come down to one pitch. But it seems to be working that way for us.''

Yes, it has. It's why Silva blew a gasket last week. One reason Washburn has only four wins to show for those dozen quality starts.

Mariners manager Jim Riggleman addressed his players after the game. He talked about how it's a team game and that their missed opportunities throughout the contest helped create the loss. Riggleman tried to downplay the Betancourt error as a play made on a "hard hit ball'' that was no gimme. True, it wasn't. But Betancourt is supposed to be an above-average shortstop defensively. At least, that's the rumor.

Riggleman was upset about the lack of add-on runs against Jon Garland.

"I think sometimes some of our guys are going up to the plate with the weight of the world on their shoulders,'' Riggleman said, "and wanting to be successful so bad that they're just not allowing themselves to relax and get a quality at-bat.''

We've been hearing that one since the beginning of the season. It may be true. Perhaps these players are trying too hard in pressure situations. The flip-side, a pessimist might say, is that they can't handle pressure. I won't make that call definitively just yet. But they have been making this "trying too hard'' claim all year. getting the job done, apparently, is a lot harder than it sounds.


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