The Seattle Mariners lost the first game of a three-game series to the visiting Kansas City Royals by a score of 6-4 in 10 innings. Felix Hernandez got the start tonight and pitched well enough to hold the Royals to just 2 runs on 6 hits before handing the ball over to the shaky Mariners bullpen. Brian Bannister son of former Mariners pitcher Floyd Bannister went 7 innings, giving up 4 runs on 6 hits including a 2-run home run to Russell Branyan in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Royals came into the game leading the Major Leagues in hitting with a respectable .282 team batting average. Not a team known for their power the Royals will however put the ball in play and tonight they collected 14 hits. The Mariners managed to get 8 hits tonight but could not get one when in counted late in the game, and are now 1-8 in extra-innings this year.
Today was the official beginning of the second-half of the season giving one hope that things were going to be different. However the Mariners put together another classic 2010 choke in their usual style. It started off in the 8th inning when Brandon League came into protect a 2-run lead, but instead surrendered a couple of runs on 4 hits before getting yanked for Garrett Olson. Olson could not close the deal either and finally it was Brian Sweeney who was brought in to close-out the frame with the game tied at four. As if that wasn’t bad enough the Mariners managed to once again strand a runner at third with no outs in a tight game. In this case it was Russell Branyon who walked to start the inning and then was moved around to third on a double by Jose Lopez. Franklin Gutierrez then went down on strikes followed by an intentional walk to Casey Kotchman to load the bases with only one down. Milton Bradley was brought in to pinch-hit for Rob Johnson and he also was fanned leaving it up to Jack Wilson who hit a weak pop-up too short to end the inning. We have seen this routine many times this year the last time was against the Cubs, where once again Felix was denied a victory by this sort of choke late in the game and probably is the reason he did not make the All-Star team.
David Aardsma pitched in the ninth with the game tied at 4. I am not sure what was going through Don Wakamatsu’s mind when he decided to go with League in the 8th even though he had Sweeney warmed up and pitching well lately. Also generally teams save their closer till they have a lead to protect, but just like in the Cubs game he brought in Aardsma to pitch in a tie-game rather than saving him. In tonight’s game Don Wakamatsu was forced to use Chad Cordero in the 10th inning and that move proved to be another disaster as the two ex-Mariners Scott Podsednik and Betancourt each drove-in runs to put the Royals up 6-4. The Mariners did get a couple of runners aboard but once again could not get the big hit to win the game
I really have to question the way Wakamatsu handled his relievers tonight. The roles seem interchangeable with no real set-up man or closer, but rather a sort of committee that is picked at random. If David Aardsma has lost his job as closer, then Wak needs to say that. This business of juggling guys around is not good for the moral in the pen or the win-loss column. Granted there is no excuses for leaving runners stranded at third with less than two-outs in close games like this team has done so many times this year. If the saber metrics crowd is looking for a new statistic to measure futility this would certainly be one where the Mariners led the league. The Royals are still playing like a team that is in contention coming in to tonight’s game only 8 back in the AL Central. The Mariners on the other-hand had a chance to pick-up some ground tonight as Texas lost, but instead will stay at 14 back in the AL West with this dismal performance. I was planning on heading down to the Safe tomorrow to watch Eric Bedard make his long-awaited first start but he is apparently suffering from another mystery sore shoulder issue. Bedard seems to be another Mariner who has the fine art of disappointing Mariners fans down to a science. http://jeffsmariners.com