The door to the Seattle Mariners’ pitching staff has been swinging so fast these days that it was bound to hit one of them on the backside.
Sunday, it all but did.
About two hours after the Mariners sent left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith down to Class AAA Tacoma to become a fulltime starter, Carlos Silva left Sunday’s 6-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians in the fourth inning.
He was afflicted with what basically is a metaphor for what this season has become – a pain in the backside. Or, as the Mariners officially called it, lower back tightness.
For anyone keeping a count, four starters are hurting to some degree.
Erik Bedard is on the disabled list and still hasn’t thrown a ball since July 4 because of a tight shoulder. Jarrod Washburn, tonight’s starter, was scratched Saturday because of the flu and said he’s still a little weak. Miguel Batista has suffered back, foot and groin problems – along with a 4-11 record – but remains in the rotation after lasting two innings Saturday. Felix Hernandez is the healthy one, although he has made only two starts since coming off the DL himself.
The Mariners don’t believe Silva’s back problem is serious.
“We don’t feel it will cause him to miss a start, although we’ll know more in the next day or two,” manager Jim Riggleman said.
The burly right-hander, who became the Mariners’ loss leader at 4-12, wasn’t in much of a mood to give a self-diagnosis.
Asked if he would make his next start, he responded tersely, “Ask the trainers.”
Then he apologized, saying basically that it’s been a bad year all the way around.
The Mariners lost their 60th game Sunday and must win 25 of their remaining 64 to avoid a 100-loss season.
That could be a challenge if the weekend series against the struggling Indians – last in the A.L. Central – is a precursor.
After Hernandez’s solid outing and a hitting surge led by Raul Ibanez’s grand slam helped the Mariners win 8-2 on Friday, they were beaten soundly the next two games when their starters were knocked out early.
Saturday, Batista didn’t get an out in the third inning.
Sunday, Silva faltered in the fourth when Kelly Shoppach hit a first-pitch fastball for a three-run homer and a 4-1 Indians lead.
The biggest pain to the Mariners’ offense Sunday was Indians starter Cliff Lee, who threw his second complete game and raised his record to 13-2.
The Mariners touched him in the second inning on Jose Vidro’s RBI infield single to push home Adrian Beltre for a 1-0 lead and in the seventh when Miguel Cairo tripled to right field to score Jose Lopez. But by that time, the Indians had six runs.
Lee muffled any further damage in both innings by getting Kenji Johjima to ground into double plays.
“He has a nice smooth delivery and the ball sneaks up on the hitter, then he mixes in a good changeup,” Riggleman said. “There were about three or four times at least when he used the changeup to get a double play or a ground ball of some type. That’s classic pitching.”