Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Cleveland Debacle

So who would like something good to take from this series?  Yeah, me too.  Unfortunately, you're not going to get much.  And if you watched much of this series, or couldn't stomach it any more and chose to pick things up in the next series, go ahead and stop reading.  Three walk off wins by the Cleveland Indians in a four game series requires some ripping and tearing.  Maybe a postmortem, but I'll try to keep the cutting down to a minimum.

I did the series stats for this four game collapse of epic proportions and yeah, it's ugly.  I guess the upside is the home runs.  Although, as Dave Cameron pointed out in a tweet earlier Monday, the Mariners currently rank 6th in home runs and 25th in runs scored.  It's readily apparent why the Mariners still aren't scoring runs.  With that, continue, if you dare.

Game 1: Lost 6-3
Game 2: Lost 5-4
Game 3: Lost 6-0
Game 4: Lost 10-8

.218 ISO
Team LOB: 28
RISP: 4-29 (.138)
7 2B, 0 3B, 8 HR, 14 RBI
13 BB, 38 K

22 1/3 IP, 31 H, 18 R, 17 ER, 11 BB, 22 K, 5 HR
6.85 ERA
1.88 WHIP
8.9 K/9
4.4 BB/9
2.0 K/BB

12 2/3 IP, 9 H, 9 R, 8 ER, 4 BB, 17 K, 2 HR
5.68 ERA
1.03 WHIP
12.1 K/9
2.84 BB/9
4.3 K/BB

Rather than go through each game individually and relive all of the horrors, we'll focus on the overall picture.  I'm not sure I would make it without banging my head against the wall until I fell unconscious.  Speaking of which, maybe the team would benefit somewhat if Wedge decided to try that one of these days.

Not all of it is on Wedge's shoulders.  Some, yes, but we'll get to that.  First, the pitching was just horrible this series.  There were some bright spots, like Danny Farquhar and his 2 2/3 innings of no hit ball and 5 strikeouts.  Joe Saunders continued with his inability to pitch away from Safeco, which is strange.  For his career, he's actually been better on the road up until this year.  Buckle up though, ladies and gentlemen.  He's signed for $7.5 million and won't be going anywhere unless something catastrophic occurs.

Not only Saunders this series, but every starter struggled.  Felix Hernandez got pounded to the tune of 5 earned runs in his 5 innings of work, Hisashi Iwakuma got lit for 5 earned runs in HIS 6 innings and Brandon Maurer struggled into the later innings and eventually ended up with 3 earned runs over 6 innings.  So basically, the entire starting staff came back down to earth in one series with the exception being Saunders.  Saunders was pretty much drilling his way towards the center of the earth, he just made more progress.

One note on Maurer:  He has not looked sharp.  He's struggled against lefties all season and, at some point during the game in his most recent starts, doesn't know where the ball is going.  He's starting to look like the 22 year old rookie he is and might not be long for the major league rotation.  I mentioned earlier about Jeremy Bonderman having an opt out clause and, with the way Maurer has been pitching of late, may not need to exercise it.  Right now, I don't see a scenario where Maurer remains with the Mariners and ends up with Tacoma.

As I said in the first paragraph, the Mariners are hitting for power but can't score runs.  Three stats jump out from this last series as to the cause: home runs, RBI and RISP.  In four games, the Mariners hitters had 8 home runs and drove in 14 while hitting .138 with runners in scoring position.  Cleveland won 3 of their games on walk offs, but if the hitters had done what they're supposed to do, it probably wouldn't have happened.  One reason, at least in one of the games, was probably due to Robert Andino and Brendan Ryan hitting back to back at the bottom of the order.  I get that it was a lefty on the mound, but Andino and Ryan?  Both guys are under .200 for the season and are pretty much black holes as far as offense goes.  Something to keep in mind for future lineups.  Ironically, that was the game that the Mariners got 3 out of their four hits with runners in scoring position.  Go figure.

While the power is a nice change of pace, I'm watching the Mariners and can't help but feel it's futile.  I don't think they'll lose 100 again or something drastic, but when they're down by 2 or 3 runs after the 6th and the hopelessness crops up, there's a problem.  Justin Smoak has started hitting lately after a slow April, but really, everybody after the number 5 hitter isn't hitting their weight.  In the Brendan Ryan article, I said it was a much more difficult judgement to make.  With every passing game, it gets easier and easier.

Last, the bullpen.  Other than Farquhar, the bullpen was okay, kind of, in a way.  Pretty much every pitcher in the bullpen had a bad game.  Not all of them, but I don't feel like scrounging around the bottom of the box score just to find the one or two guys that didn't suck.  However, this is where I think Wedge screwed the team.  I understand wanting to save your closer for a save situation, but not at the cost of a win.  Having your fifth or sixth best pitcher out there trying to get outs in the bottom of the 9th or 10th while your best bullpen arm is sitting and waiting, you're blowing it.  You can't save a closer for a lead that will never come.  Much like not having Montero pinch hit for Andino in the second game of the Oakland series, you can't worry about the next inning if you're not going to GET to the next inning.  Using your best bullpen arm in the later innings to keep the score tied is better than having one of your worst trying to get the game to the next inning for an offense that probably won't score anyway.

In the last game, Tom Wilhelmsen had an oops moment and the error allowed a runner to score.  Later in the game, after Smoak gave the Mariners the lead in the 10th, another error gave the Indians 2 runners with nobody out rather than a runner on second and one down.  Would it have changed things?  Possibly, but it didn't happen that way, so there's no point in wondering.  Leaving Furbush in to face a right hander probably wasn't the best idea in the world, but Furbush hasn't exactly struggled mightily against right handers either.  With the game tied and Farquhar still in the 'pen, it would've been nice to see Wedge toss the rookie in there to see what he can do with the pressure on.  He did that with Medina when he first came up, so why not?  It's a small thing, but it's another thing from Wedge that I'm not sure I completely get.

And with that, I'm going to stop reliving this wretched series.  It was a forgettable four games for both the hitters and pitchers, so we'll look forward to the Angels series and cross our fingers that the hitters can figure out how to hit when there's a runner on the base paths.  I'm not crossing my fingers that that will change with this upcoming series, but what the hell, a guy can hope.  The first game of the series is Tuesday night at 7:05 pm Pacific in Anaheim.  It'll feature Jerome Williams for the Angels and Aaron Hara....aw hell.  Aaron Harang is starting for the Mariners, so don't worry if you miss this one.

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