Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Kevin Millwood's Farewell

The signing of Kevin Millwood came as quite a surprise in the off-season. We all knew that the Mariners were looking for a veteran starter to compete with our young staff and show them the ropes, but I was surprised that we didn't try and find someone with a little bit of time left in them. Millwood has been around the block a few times, playing for 7 teams over a 15 year career. At 37 years of age, I doubt that the Mariners will be inviting him back next year. In fact, I'm already seeing the end of the rope on Millwood this season.

Erasmo Ramirez went down to AAA Tacoma to get his innings and his pitch count up so that he could become a starter. Hisashi Iwakuma, supposedly our long relief pitcher, has barely entered a game and there are three phenoms in AA working their way to the major league roster as we speak. Of our current 5 man rotation, Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas are staples, Hector Noesi and Blake Beavan are for now, the future which makes Millwood the odd man out, being the veteran. Another story on the team of a great guy, veteran presence that is great to have in the club house, but not necessarily pulling his weight on the diamond.

After 6 games, Millwood is 0 - 4 with a 5.88 ERA. Opponents are hitting .316 against him and he has a 1.76 WHIP. To me, this situation is no different than all the talks we have had about Chone Figgins or Brendan Ryan, if players aren't doing what they are expected to do, they need to find something else to do. Accountability. I believe that there is a plan in place to move Kevin Millwood. You can call me crazy, but wait and see. If things keep going for Millwood the way that they are, I wouldn't even be surprised to see Millwood go before Figgins. Especially since Figgins is in a reduced role anyway.

Even though our team was in a 5 run deficit and had to fight their way back into the game, I thought they played really well tonight. Mike Carp's double play to end a rally in the 2nd after a Justin Smoak strikeout was not on the highlight real, but nonetheless, we've been playing a better brand of baseball and it shows. Breaking out for 3 runs off Justin Verlander in the 3rd inning was more than amazing. 4 singles in the inning and 2 RBI by Kyle Seager? Amazing!

Prince Fielder hit a cannon shot off of Shawn Kelley in the top of the 7th inning to make it 6 - 3, but the Mariners bounced back with a run of their own off of a Brendan Ryan single to score Michael Saunders. The M's looked like they were going to go quietly until they got into the ninth inning and I really thought we were on the verge of some good old Mariner Magic.

Jose Valverde came in and walked the first two batters he faced. Mike Carp, on four straight pitches, and Michael Saunders on a wonderful 8 pitch at bat. Dustin Ackley tried to advance the runners into scoring position with a bunt but failed and ended up striking out. Brendan Ryan hit into a force out as the Tigers got Saunders out at 2nd. Runners were at first and third with 2 out and Ryan stole second base which caused the Tigers to intentionally walk Ichiro to load the bases. Then came Jesus Montero. The biggest opportunity yet as a Mariner. On the 7th pitch of his at bat, he hit a high pop fly out to the stands in right field as Don Kelly came over and leaped for the ball and fell into the first row of seats. He stood up and showed the umpire that he had the ball and that was the game.

The Mariners were so close to pulling out another come from behind victory in the ninth, but this one didn't work out as well. I have to say, I was really impressed with how they played today and to me, they are generating a little bit more excitement and they are not just giving up when they are down by a few runs. I like what I see, I just can't wait for the day when we get to see a little bit more out of Mike Carp and Justin Smoak. That will be the day!

Off to the Rainiers game tomorrow! Have fun Mariner fans, hopefully we can take the series from the Tigers tomorrow. See you all later!