In 2007 Eric O'Flaherty was 7-1 with a 4.47 ERA in 52.1 innings pitched with a knack for coming in and closing the door on opposing teams. In 2008 he's allowed six runs on seven hits in 3.2 innings in an 0-1 campaign.
What is troubling the Mariners relief pitcher? Could it be a lack of control on the mound? Or has he just lost the luck of the Irish?
After such a successful first full season in 2007, the Mariners had O'Flaherty pegged to be the main candidate to replace George Sherrill as the setup man in the bullpen. As a blind man can see, those former aspirations haven't exactly helped the team find its pot of gold. This relief pitcher has helped open the supposedly-sealed coffin for several opponents this season.
If anything, O'Flaherty bought his ticket to the minors with his struggles in Tampa Bay, and his house will likely be purchased by the only reliever without considerable troubles this season, Mark Lowe.
At the postgame press conference, manager John McLaren seemed impressed by Ray Corcoran, the pitcher the M's called up once closer J.J. Putz was placed on the 15-day injured reserve after suffering from inflamed ribs.
The rest of the clubhouse could see the trip to Florida as a successful one, notching a series win by taking two out of three games, including a dominating 7-1 win in game two thanks to a splendid outing by Jarrod "the Rabbit" Washburn.
Erik Bedard found relative success in game one (after sitting out his scheduled start in Baltimore), notching the win but allowing five runs on six innings. Still, it was good enough for the win.
The first two games saw plenty of support at the plate, combining 13 runs between the wins. Yet game three saw a Mariners team that couldn't hit the ball, almost literally. The team's combined three hits came from the bats of Adrian Beltre and Raul Ibanez (two and one respectively).
This inability to hit worried Mariners fans since the beginning of the season, as many believed that GM Bill Bavasi hedged his bets too greatly on improving the pitching, while ignoring the previous season's problematic hitting. Regardless, however early on in the season, the lack of run support against a mediocre pitcher could be troublesome.
I'll take the win, regardless of its flaws.
The Mariners looked solid in the first two games and, although they didn't finish it to the best of their potential, the series was more-or-less what the team needed after their embarrassment in Baltimore. Three would have been nice, but two works.
Series Standout: SP Jarrod Washburn
Although he wasn't perfect in his start, he pitched seven solid innings, not only minimizing the opportunity for the bullpen to throw the win away, but only allowing six hits and one run. Not bad for the forgotten member of the rotation.
Series Sardine: C Kenji Johjima
Although only playing two out of the three games (both of which the Mariners won), Johjima found it within himself to go hitless in seven at bats. Sure it isn't enough to ask for his release, but I would go out on a limb and say his .071 batting average this season makes him more than worthy to be a sardine.