That one hurts. Up 5-0 after the first inning, having chased the other team’s starter, and end up losing 10-6? There’s failure on all fronts in that kind of performance.
1. Jeff Weaver failed. Spotted a big lead against a team that doesn’t have a great offense, he allowed the Angels to put the bat on the ball far too often and bad things resulted. Now, this is part of the deal with a pitcher of Weaver’s skillset, so it’s hard to be too tough on him – he’s a mediocre #5 starter, and stuff like this happens to mediocre #5 starters. But it was bad timing, to say the least.
2. The offense failed. After knocking Ervin Santana out early, they proceeded to let Dustin Mosely get through the next 5 1/3 innings on 54 pitches. We all know the M’s have built an aggressive offense, but seriously, do these guys have no ability to take a pitch? Ever? You’ve just bounced the other team’s starter in the first inning, and now their bullpen is going to have to get 25 outs, plus you’re playing them in a day game tomorrow – make the arms work and churn through their bullpen. That it only took the Angels three pitchers to finish out the last 8 2/3 innings is a total joke.
3. The bullpen failed. They’ve been the rock of the team all year long, so they’re allowed to let some runs in occassionally, but Sean Green and Brandon Morrow chose a bad time to stop being unhittable.
4. And finally, John McLaren failed. Spectacularly. He continues to demonstrate a massive lack of understanding of actual baseball strategy that is staggering in depth. Sean Green gets to face Vladimir Guerrero with first base open because Vlad was 0 for 4 career against Green? That’s the kind of analysis I’d expect from a six year old. You have to have a complete lack of understanding of the the uses of statistics to decide that an 0-for-4 means something, but McLaren clings to it to make a terrible, and crucial, decision in a game that could swing the tide of the playoff race.
Then, the unbelievable capper.
Bases loaded, two outs, top of the 8th, trailing by one run – this is the most important at-bat of the game, even before accounting for the fact that Vladimir Guerrero is the one coming to the plate. The leverage index of this situation was 2.92, and remember, its scaled where 1.00 is exactly average and anything over 1.8 is considered high pressure – 2.92 is nail-biting, game-changing, biggest-play-of-the-game territory.
John McLaren chose Rick White. Rick White. The worst pitcher in the bullpen. Rick White would be the worst pitcher in almost every bullpen in the American League, and certainly the worst pitcher on any contending team in the A.L. He’s not a major league pitcher, and he hasn’t been for a while now. The people who tell you he is simply don’t understand how to evaluate pitchers. The only scenario where carrying Rick White is a defensible position is if you intend to use him to pitch in already decided games, for multiple innings, and let him be a veteran voice for the kids in the bullpen. Rick White’s skills, at this point, are essentially those of a coach, not a player.
That’s not how John McLaren sees him. John McLaren sees a guy who has experience, and above all else, he values track records, and of course, Rick White has a track record against Vladimir Guerrero. 2-12 in his career – this must be a good matchup, right? Uhh, no. Look at the years when those matchups occurred. Individual batter-pitcher stats mean less than nothing. They should not be used to make any kind of in game strategical decision.
It matters not that Rick White has as much business on the mound as you or I do in a close game in a playoff race. The result, of course, wasn’t hard to see coming – a couple of base hits, the bases clear, and the game is essentially over.
George Sherrill is then brought in to pitch mopup work in the 9th inning of a game the team trailed 10-6 and had little chance of winning. J.J. Putz never pitched. The Mariners, in a game that could very well cost them a chance at the division title, chose Rick White over George Sherrill or J.J. Putz. That’s incompetence of a level that I can’t even define.
Last nights game was a team wide failure. You can lay blame at the feet of practically everyone on the roster. At this point, there’s only one thing to say:
Please, Felix, save us.