Friday, May 18, 2007

First versus last: a microcosm

Generally speaking, there isn't all that much difference between the top teams and the cellar-dwellars when considered within the construction of a single game.

Watching the M's square off against the Padres tonight, one is reminded why the Mariners have been bottom feeders for three straight years while San Diego seeemingly has competed in the NL West since Ray Kroc was hiring greasy burger-flippers at the Golden Arches. Soft-throwing Chris Young tossed a smart, efficient game, throwing 105 pitches, his team up 4-1 when he was removed with two outs in the sixth. Miguel Batista, on the other hand, pitched what might be called another "gritty" outing, throwing 118 pitches in 6 2/3 innings (four typical consecutive Batista outings: gritty, gritty, bang, bang!). His stat line wasn't all that bad: 6 hits, 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 K's. And yet, another dispiriting loss for the books.


Starting pitching: The Padres understand the correct way to build a starting staff, manifesting ongoing success year after year. Chris Young is a solid #2 starter, acquired in a salary dump/injury dump move by proactive management. He may throw softer than my sister, but his 3.11 ERA and 38 K's in 46 1/3 innings says it all. Meaningwhile, Batista represents the M's #3 starter, acquired in a panicky move by Buh-bye-vasi via overpaying in a thin market. Decent game tonight notwithstanding, his ERA nearly touched 7.00 before the game started and he has just over half the K's of Young. The difference between a #2 and #3 starter should be incremental - not three standard deviations.

Relief pitching: San Diego: 1 2/3 IP, 0 ER's, 3 K's. Seattle: 2 1/3 IP, 4 ER's, 1 K. 'Nuff said.

Hitting: The game tonight was kinda close for a while, but the M's stranded baserunners with regularity. The big hit was non-existent. Meanwhile, the Padres made the most of their opportunities. Quod erat demonstratum: 11 hits for San Diego, 10 for Seattle. Close game? Nyet. 8-1, Padres.

Fielding: Both teams made an error, yet the gaffe by Beltre directly led to a four-run inning, whereas Cameron's was harmless. Bad teams have that kind of negative karma.

Intangibles: I certainly wouldn't call the bullpen rested, but leaving Reitsma in to get hammered when Davis, White and O'Flaherty were available seemed dubious. Putting the game in motion (four steals) was good, but getting virtually nothing out of it - not even by manufacturing runs with "small ball" - was most certainly not. Lastly, bad teams let good players beat them (Mike Cameron: 2/5, 2 RBI's), bad players get key hits (Russell Branyan: 3-run dinger) and slumping nobodies break out (Kevin Kouzmanoff: 1/2, 2 RBI's).

A fat pitch here, a big hit there, a bad decision here and there - it adds up to a typical night in Mariner-land. Wave bye-bye to .500, M's fans.


At 3:29 PM, Blogger Tad said...

Nice Post Walt! Welcome back. Its distressing how terrible this team feels. We're what? A game under .500? But the team is so poorly built and so poorly managed that it is difficult to imagine it succeeding in any long-term way!


Post a Comment

<< Home