Seattle bullpen withers
SEATTLE – Ryan Rowland-Smith said he had a great time in the five innings he pitched Saturday against the L.A. Angels.
The left-hander, dropped to the Seattle Mariners’ bullpen last month after eight rugged starts to the season, held the Angels to four hits and a run, and the Mariners got that one back for him in the bottom of the fifth.
Good times can’t last forever. Or, in Seattle’s case Saturday, beyond the fifth inning of what became an 11-2 loss at Safeco Field.
With their offense mired in another mess of ineffective at-bats and fundamental mistakes, the M’s pitching crumbled badly after Rowland-Smith left the game.
The Angels batted around in the sixth and seventh innings against relievers Garrett Olson, Shawn Kelley and Sean White, and manager Don Wakamatsu said he was close to using a position player to finish the game.
Kelley, who has pitched well since being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma, allowed three runs in one-third inning and issued two walks that forced home runs.
As the game got away from the M’s, many in the crowd of 31,548 booed.
“It’s embarrassing for us to put a performance like that together,” Wakamatsu said. “These people pay good money to watch us play and it’s frustrating to watch your players in the sixth and seventh innings, but you have to leave them out there. The last thing you want to do in a situation like that is pitch a position player.”
That would have happened had Chad Cordero, pitching a second straight day after coming up from Tacoma, struggled in the ninth. He retired the Angels 1-2-3 in the ninth, the only clean inning by a Mariners pitcher all game.
“This game boiled down to two innings, the sixth and seventh,” Wakamatsu said.
The sixth was the killer.
Olson started it and got only one out among the four hitters he faced. Torii Hunter led off with a double before Olson struck out Hideki Matsui, but Mike Napoli blooped an RBI single to right field that gave the Angels a 2-1 lead.
Olson threw a wild pitch to put Napoli on second base and he intentionally walked Juan Rivera, in theory to make life easier on Kelley when Wakamatsu brought him out of the bullpen.
Instead, Kelley walked Bobby Wilson to load the bases and allowed Erick Aybar’s RBI groundout, then lost all feel for the baseball. Maicer Izturis hit a two-run single before Kelley hit Howe Kendrick with a pitch and walked Bobby Abreu, Hunter and Matsui. Two of those walks forced home runs.
Entering the game, Kelley had walked only seven batters in 21 innings this season.
“You never see that from Kelley,” catcher Rob Johnson said. “It’s just one of those things that’s kind of weird. After we got in the dugout, he was like, ‘I don’t know what’s going on.’ … Every once in a while you’ll have one of those.”
White got Napoli on a grounder for the third out, but the Angels batted around on him in the seventh, when just having enough pitching to finish the game became a real issue.
White gave up four hits and two walks, and the Angels scored four runs to make the score 11-1.
The Mariners scored their second run in the ninth on Chone Figgins’ RBI single, a timely hit that came way too late. The Mariners had baserunners in all six innings against Angels starter Ervin Santana but misfired on every opportunity except Franklin Gutierrez’s groundout in the fifth to score Ichiro Suzuki.