What happens when an irresistible force meets an unmovable object?
The Mariners’ ace, Felix Hernandez, has been as close to an unmovable object as it gets in baseball. He has pitched gem after gem over the past couple of months and has cemented himself as one of the top three pitchers in baseball.
The Angels, it turns out, have a good young star on their roster too, and even though he has only been a major leaguer for a couple months, he has been historically impressive. He leads baseball in WAR at 7.0… and the next closest is Andrew McCutchen with 6.0. McCutchen has played 107 games and Trout has only played 89.
So, what happened when these two dominant players faced each other today?
Let’s just say there’s no such thing as an unmovable object.
With two runners on in the third, Trout drilled a line drive to left field that didn’t stop until it left the park. When Trout came up to the plate for his next at-bat, he hit a long sacrifice fly that ended up driving in two runs – Erick Aybar scored from second on a bad throw by Eric Thames.
Dustin Ackley and John Jaso both hit home runs in the top of the third, but Trout’s offensive output rendered their efforts useless.
With the game tied at 5-5 in the ninth due to a number of base-running miscues and fielding errors by the Mariners, Josh Kinney took the mound for his second inning of relief work. Josh Kinney is the reliever I want to see least in game-on-the-line situations, but with closer Tom Wilhelmsen away for the birth of his child, Wedge elected to stick with the journeyman.
Keep in mind over his last three outings, Kinney has only pitched 1.2 innings. Keep in mind that in those 1.2 innings he had given up four runs. Keep in mind that Stephen Pryor and Carter Capps, among others, were available in the bullpen. After the game, Eric Wedge said that Pryor would take over as closer in Wilhelmsen’s absence – which seemingly made him unavailable unless the Mariners found themselves in a close situation.
Well, the Mariners didn’t find themselves in a close situation. They didn’t find themselves in a close situation because their worst reliever was bad in the ninth inning. Their two best relievers go unused in the bullpen.
Kinney allowed a leadoff double to Kendrys Morales, an intentional walk to Alberto Callaspo, a sacrifice bunt to Howard Kendrick and yet another intentional walk to Erick Aybar. With the bases loaded and Kinney obviously not on his game, Maicer Izturis stepped to the plate.
After three terrible pitches by Josh Kinney (which somehow earned him a 1-2 count), I could see the writing on the wall. At 9:38 PM, I tweeted “No wild pitch or passed ball, please.” At 9:39 PM, Josh Kinney fired his next pitch, wildly outside. It went to the backstop. Peter Bourjos easily scored from third. M’s lose yet again.
I’m getting sick of Eric Wedge’s insistence to leave his best players on the bench for ‘key’ situations that never materialize. It’s bewildering, it’s infuriating and it’s leading to losses. Two in the past few games.
This was a dumb, dumb game. You tip your hat to Mike Trout, who has established himself as one of the top players in the game, but you can’t ignore the mistakes the Mariners made, both on the field and in the dugout.
Next game: vs. Angels | August 11 | 6:05 pm