|SEA||Ken Griffey Jr||-1.921||-1.108||0.000||0.000||-0.813||0.00||0|
Player of the Game: Adam Rosales (3.170 NRuns: 2.389 hitting, 0.781 fielding)
Goat: Ryan Rowland-Smith (-2.054 pitching NRuns)
Fairly close: Ken Griffey Jr (-1.921 NRuns: -1.108 hitting, -0.813 running)
Mariners bullpen: 1.015 pitching NRuns
Bad catcher?: Josh Bard (-1.342 NRuns: -0.458 hitting, -0.884 fielding)
Franklin, Ichiro and Jose Lopez: 4.251 NRuns
Lost in this abominative performance is that, of the 13 Mariners who took the field today, only five produced negative performances. However, three of those negative performances were particularly awful: RRS, Josh Bard and Ken Griffey Jr.
I've been pressed for about a week to write a response to the Ken Griffey Jr "sleeping in the clubhouse" story, and aside from not finding the time and inclination, I'm not sure what else there is to add, especially after Kirby Arnold's excellent summary. Larry LaRue only made a story of it because Griffey was not used to pinch hit in a key late-inning situation during a May 2 game and in digging to find out why he discovered Junior was asleep in the clubhouse. And away it went.
And as has been mentioned, it has only become a story because Junior is struggling, and he hasn't looked quite as bad in this mundane season of his as he looked tonight, killing a few rallies and costing his team nearly a couple runs. Every day he elects to continue playing despite clearly lacking the skill to play at a competitive level anymore simply delays the inevitable and does nothing to rectify what has become a depressing end to a storied career.
But tonight he's hardly the biggest problem. Ryan Rowland-Smith probably drove a stake through his tenure as the #5 starting pitcher with this wretched performance. The first inning looked rockier for him than it was. The second inning was legitimately awful, as was the 3rd inning and thankfully Wak pulled him before we got a chance to see if it could get worse.
The last pitch of the RRS start led me to cast a suspicious eye on new catcher Josh Bard. Bard called for a 2nd pitch change-up to Adam Rosales, not a bad idea... except he placed his glove middle-in, right where a righty hitter with a platoon advantage could flat out crush a pitch from a lefthanded pitcher.
Sure enough, RRS put a 78 mph changeup right where Bard wanted it and Rosales crapped all over it. I'm not sure why Bard would call for a pitch best thrown away from an opposite-handed hitter... right in a batter's wheelhouse. One of the knocks on the journeyman catcher is... well... his catching ability, and a curious decision like that certainly doesn't help dissuade that.
RRS was sitting 88-90 with his fastball at the end (he had started 87-89), hit the zone consistently and showed a diverse range of speeds between his curve, change and fastball. But too many of his pitches caught the meat of the plate, and the disciplined A's hitters took advantage often. It didn't help that the A's just got back leading catcher Kurt Suzuki and slugger Jack Cust, but neither were factors in this RRS beatdown.
The obvious move at this point is to move RRS to the bullpen and give Ian Snell another shot in the rotation. At least RRS gives the pen a lefty and, at least in the short term, he can be used situationally vs lefthanders, giving Wak some sort of opportunity at finding an edge. Snell looked effective enough today (some of those 5 hits were flukish) that I can see him doing a better job in the rotation than RRS for now.
One factor that leads me to avoid blaming Josh Bard for the performance was how the bullpen did under his watch, allowing only one run in the final 5.1 innings, including 2.2 of the best innings Ian Snell's thrown this season. However, by the time RRS exited the A's had a comfortable 7-1 lead with the M's showing little life at the plate against Gio Gonzalez, so it's likely the A's flipped on the cruise control and didn't work too hard against the Mariners bullpen. This cheapens fine outings by Jesus Colome and Sean White. Looking at the time of the game (only 2 hours 22 minutes despite 12 runs scored) one would have to guess the A's hacked away just to get the game over with.
However, nobody told Bob Geren to hurry, as he made a somewhat ridiculous four pitching changes in the final two innings, including three in the 8th. Sure, with the M's having crawled within four runs, using closer Andrew Bailey in the 9th wasn't a bad idea. But Geren has a fatal-flaw thing for playing the matchups, even in a game where his team is comfortably ahead and he could afford to let a reliever face a bad platoon split for a batter or two, especially when those batters aren't hitting.
I could understand getting the pen some work, esepcially given they only needed to work an inning for Trevor Cahill yesterday vs Anaheim, but you've still got a game tomorrow and a series looming the day after with Detroit. There was no need to burn the pen in a game like this.
Bob Geren's bullpen matchup fetish a) sort of explains the A's rash of bullpen injuries under his watch and b) will be their undoing in the AL West race as the bullpen will wear out more quickly.
The silliest of Geren's moves came when he called in lefthander Craig Breslow solely to face... Ken Griffey Jr. Previous pitcher Brad Ziegler is a submarining righty, sure, and Griffey would have the advantage as a lefty of Ziegler's pitches appearing to float more. But even granted that, what is Griffey going to do if he gets a meaty pitch? Fly out to right field? He's done. He can't even turn on hittable pitches anymore. Ziegler probably could have gotten him out. Any replacement level pitcher could easily get Junior out.
Save Breslow and use him in a more important situation in a couple days. In fact, save Ziegler and save lefty Jerry Blevins for more important situations. Geren could have easily sent newly returned Michael Wuertz to face lefthanded Ichiro and switch hitting Chone Figgins, the latter of which is struggling, before facing Franklin Gutierrez, and then have a guy or two ready in the unlikely event things get real bad.
End rant. It's too bad I wasted so much text without mentioning a great hitting game by Jose Lopez, though it came against a lefthander and for all his struggles he is battering lefthanded pitching this year. He's not out of the woods yet: Let's see what he does tomorrow against a rehabbed Ben Sheets.
And I didn't even bother criticising a weak lineup from Wak. I've had enough of targeting Wak. This team blows and at worst it's only partially his fault.
I also forgot the comical "home run" by Tui that bounced off Rajai Davis' glove and over the fence. That's the first time I've credited a home run to a fielder this season: All the others got credited to the ballpark.