Responsibility for the loss
A quick thought that ties back into Mariners of the past: Ramirez threw 5.2 innings last night, got two strikeouts, walked three, so there were fifteen balls put into play, and one went over a fence. Despite Beltre’s error, the defense did a decent enough job turning those balls in play into outs. The M’s put twelve balls into play against Wright and seven of them went for hits.
The general baseline for a starting pitcher over five innings is about six hits, two walks, four strikeouts, and most of a home run (for 9 IP, you figure ~9H, ~4BB, 6K, 1 HR).
Ramirez didn’t have a good outing. He certainly wasn’t masterful. He was better than much of what we’ve seen of him, but this was not a magically fixed Ramirez, restored to the glory the M’s thought they’d acquired in the offseason. That sounds meaner than I meant it. And, the way the game played out, the M’s win if Beltre doesn’t make two throwing errors.
And yet we can’t assign blame to Beltre for the loss, for two reasons:
That Beltre making a play would have ended the inning should not relieve Ramirez of responsibility for giving up a three-run home run to Kinsler. I know this sounds obvious, but Beltre didn’t throw that pitch. The seventh, obviously, a little harder to make that argument, since the error went so far as to set up Kinsler at third for the sac bunt.
The distinction between earned and unearned runs is artificial and here, makes Ramirez look like a saint – he’d have thrown a shutout if it wasn’t for those errors, right?
Second,if you pitch to contact, you’re going to lose games like this. This is the Ryan Franklin live-and-die-by-the-sword problem: if you pitch to contact, trying to keep from walking guys, and your stuff isn’t swing-and-miss good, then you’re taking the chance that all those balls that are put into play will be turned into outs by the guys behind you. If it works, you put up some wicked lines and look like you’re dominating the competition, and if it doesn’t – either because the other offense puts the ball into play really hard or because the defense doesn’t come through – you get smacked around a little.
That’s what we got last night. So yeah, Beltre looks like a goat for a day because two of his rare errors came on the same night and were the difference. But we don’t get to pick and choose when those things happen (“Hey Beltre, we’re up by 10 — plunk the Moose on your next throw to first! Plunk him! Do it!”).
Pitching to contact’s a gamble, and when the M’s run a good defensive alignment out there, it’s a pretty good one. It didn’t work out last night. I don’t think we need to flog Beltre for it.
Chief Beltre Defender Derek