The Seattle Mariners rallied around their Ace pitcher Felix Hernandez and came away with a 4-2 victory over the San Diego Padres to snap a 5-game losing streak. This victory came on the heels of a closed-door players only meeting after the Mariners loss on Saturday. Apparently the veterans Chone Figgins, Milton Bradley and Cliff Lee showed leadership in pulling the meeting together. It was nice to see these guys step-up and start the process of being more accountable to each other in the post-Griffey era. Griffey was a great player but the truth is that back in the glory days of the 90′s it was guys like Jay Buhner who kept the team together and were not afraid to call each other out when they needed to for the good of the team.
Felix Hernandez pitched like the lion he is today going 8 and 2/3 innings giving up only 4 hits and walking only one Padre while striking out 9. Milton Bradley blasted a 2-run homer as well, and you can say what you want about Bradley but he does play with heart. It was nice to see Rob Johnson pick up three hits today, including a single in the top of the ninth in which he eventually scored on with the help of a clutch double by Ichiro, giving the Mariners an insurance run.
Felix Hernandez gave what I thought was his best performance of the year. I was also glad to see Wakamatsu allow Felix to go out to the mound in the ninth despite his pitch-count and get the first two outs before handing the ball over to Aardsma for the final out. As you know I have been writing a lot about the scientific approach to pitch-count that the Mariners have been following like a religion up to this point in the season with miserable results. With all due respect to the sabermetrics crowd on certain unnamed blogs, I am old-school when it comes to judging when it is time to pull a starter. By that I mean if you have a big strong kid like Felix on the mound throwing well, you make the judgement based on the situation at hand. And after losing 5 games in a row and your Ace is on the mound feeling and looking strong, well then let him finish the game and count the pitches later but first win the game!
So as to be clear I have a respect for statistics, trends, and projections based on past performances but it just seems a Manager needs to be able to follow his gut feeling as well, and not become over reliant on abstract numbers. Rest assured I have a copy of Baseball Prospectus 2010 full of useful information that I refer to now and then, but we are talking about a real live group of men not some bizarre fantasy baseball league.
We shall see if this club is ready to suck it up and come out swinging after the closed-door team meeting yesterday. Luke French will be making his first start this year with the big club facing the tough Adam Wainwright as we make our way to St Louis to face Albert Pujols and the Cardinals. This should be a fun and interesting series to gauge the grit of our sailors from Seattle. Heart and guts cannot be measured by sabermetrics, but I’m hoping our team is ready to represent the true scrappy nature of the Northwest Pioneer spirit for the rest of the campaign .http://jeffsmariners.com