Friday, May 27, 2005

M's Playing Just Bad Enough to Lose. 

Yesterday, Jeff at Lookout Landing tried to dispel the notion that the M's pitching and hitting don't ever show up at the same time.

Jeff showed that the M's averaged 4.2 runs in the 15 games where the opponent was held to 0-3 runs, and that the offense averages 4.1 runs in the 30 games where the opponent has scored 4 or more times.

Jeff was trying to show that our offense has stunk whether or not the pitching showed up (and also that since our pitching gives up 4 runs or more in 2/3 of the game that the pitching stinks too). I disagree with the conclusion. I think it is very obvious that the Mariners ARE suffering from the fact that their pitching and hitting never show up at the same time. The averages that Jeff shows just prove that there are also times when NEITHER show up.

April 4 - April 29 (23 games)
Games won by 4+ runs: 4
Games won by 2-3 runs: 5
Games won by 1 run: 3
Games lost by 4+ runs: 4
Games lost by 2-3 runs: 4
Games lost by 1 run: 3

Games scoring 5+ runs: 11
Games scoring 4 runs: 4 (note that we NEVER scored 3 runs)
Games scoring <3 runs: 8

In the first part of the season, the M's were 4-4 in 4+ run games, 5-4 in 2-3 run games and 3-3 in 1 run games. About what you would expect in a .500 team.

April 30th - Yesterday (23 games)
Games won by 4+ runs: 2
Games won by 2-3 runs: 2
Games won by 1 run: 2
Games lost by 4+ runs: 5
Games lost by 2-3 runs: 8
Games lost by 1 run: 4

Games scoring 5+ runs: 8
Games scoring 4 runs: 5
Games scoring <3 runs: 10

Since April 30th, though, the M's have been close, but no cigar. Yes, they were 2-5 in blowouts. But in games decided by 3 runs or less, they were 4-12. This while the distribution of the M's offense has been similar (3 less games with 5+ runs).

This indicates that the last 23 games have seen the M's hitting just well enough to lose by 3 runs or less. The 3 game sweep from the Orioles epitomized the feeling of despair that seemed to come as soon as the M's fell behind by a single run. The game would quicken at that point. The M's seemed to go down without much of a fight as stretches of 10,15 hitters without a runner on base became common against the Wangs and Cabreras of the world.

Another interesting stat. Here are the results of games before/after April 30th

Never Lead: 10 / 7
Lost despite leading after 1-5: 3 / 2
Lost despite leading after 6: 4 / 2
Never Trailed: 4 / 7
Won despite trailing after 1-5: 2 / 3
Won despite trailing after 6: 0 / 2

Essentially, since April 23rd, we have only won 2 games where we ever trailed, and no games where we trailed after 6 innings. But our opponents have won 7 games where they trailed, and 4 of those they trailed after 6 innings. That's the kind of lifeless play that leads to 6-17 over 23 games.

Our pitching has done okay. The backend of our rotation has pitched better than expected while the frontend has pitched worse. The bullpen has had its ups and downs. But through it all, our offense seems unwilling to stage a rally to come from behind, our defense seems willing to make key mistakes to allow a team to beat us, or our pitching only throws well when we are comfortably behind.

The good news is that this is curable. A clutch hit here, a big strikeout there (instead of freakin' grand slams!) and the M's win 6 of 7 and put this stretch behind them. The bad news is that I don't know how to get that clutch hit. A spark from AAA is what I've been promoting, but I can see why the M's management thinks that the current group of players should be able to get it done. It looks like its up to Beltre to fix Beltre, and Olivo to fix Olivo.

Hopefully, they will fix it soon, before it is too late.

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