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09/05/07 11:29 PM ET
Washburn's solid effort goes for naught
Series in Bronx ends with frustration for McLaren and Co.
By Jim Street / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- For the second consecutive night, seven became an unlucky number for the Mariners. After watching the Yankees score seven runs in the seventh inning on Tuesday night, turning a reasonably close game into a rout, the Mariners spent another half-hour or so in the field on Wednesday night during an eight-run seventh-inning uprising that led to a 10-2 loss in front of 52,538 at Yankee Stadium. The Mariners have lost 11 of their last 12 games, fallen three games behind the Yankees in the American League Wild Card race and are ticked off, big-time. "This is going to be short and sweet," manager John McLaren said after the game. "We didn't get it done. It was a big game for us, and we didn't get it done. The seventh inning really killed us again." The combination of mounting frustration, playoff-contending inexperience and a slew of questionable calls by the umpiring crew had the Mariners at their wit's end during the series finale. Rick White was ejected in the eighth inning, Sean Green was dejected during the seventh-inning madness and George Sherrill couldn't figure out why a pitch thrown in the strike zone was called a ball. "It's unfortunate when you throw a good pitch and the hitter is rewarded for taking it," said Sherrill, who relieved starter Jarrod Washburn with one out in the seventh inning, a runner on base and the game tied at 2. Sherrill walked two of the three batters he faced, further inflaming an uprising that started with a solo home run by Alex Rodriguez and ended with A-Rod's two-run homer off right-hander Brandon Morrow that merely added an exclamation point to the festivities. But walks were as costly as the home runs. Sherrill agreed that the first walk was legitimate, but the full-count free pass to Wilson Betemit, which loaded the bases, caused some head-shaking. "I asked [plate umpire Larry Vanover] where the pitch was, and he said he thought about giving it to me, but in that situation, [catcher Kenji Johjima] moved his glove too much," Sherrill said. "That's what he told me. "I think he needs to read the rules. When the ball goes over the plate in the strike zone, it's supposed to be a strike. It was a big pitch, in a big situation, and you reward the hitter for taking it. It's frustrating, but it's Yankee Stadium. What are you going to do?" It was that kind of night for the Mariners, who'd grabbed a 2-0 lead in the third inning on Raul Ibanez's 16th home run of the season, and held it through the sixth inning. It could have been a three-run homer. Ichiro Suzuki led off the inning with a single off the right-field wall and stole second. At least he thought he stole second, but he was called out by second-base umpire Gerry Davis. Both Ichiro and McLaren argued with the crew chief, but the ump stuck with his call, though he would discover later while watching the play on TV that he'd missed it, the first of two erroneous calls in a three-inning period. "I have never seen Ichiro argue, and when I saw him arguing, I knew there was a problem," McLaren said. "I went out there, and Ichiro said [Derek Jeter] never tagged him and to go ask Jeter." Ichiro was then deprived of an infield single in the fifth inning when he was called out by first-base ump Tony Randazzo. Replays showed that Ichiro beat the throw, and this time McLaren went nose-to-nose with the umpire, but he was not ejected. McLaren took the high road afterward. "I'm not going to go there," he said when asked about the calls. Asked if he sensed frustration and anger in his club, McLaren said, "You could start with those two and work through it. We're all disappointed. We play so hard and don't have anything to show for it. There really is not much you can say. "You all watch the game, and little things become real big. An error here, we swing at a bad pitch, or we don't throw strikes. It gets bigger and bigger, and we all need to take our game up, starting on Friday. Period." A terrific start from Washburn was wasted. "He was very impressive and pitched well enough to win," McLaren said. The left-hander entered the series finale with a 2.48 ERA in his career against the Yankees, tops among active pitchers, and has now allowed three runs or fewer in all 11 of his career starts against New York. That, and about four bucks, will get you a hard-boiled egg in Manhattan. But it wasn't enough to get his 10th win of the season and second since the All-Star break. Yankees catcher Jose Molina hit a one-out homer to left field off Washburn, his first circuit clout in 182 at-bats. The last time had used his home run trot was on Sept. 14 of last season, against the Rangers at Arlington. Molina should be familiar with Washburn's pitches, as they were batterymates with the Angels from 2001 through 2004. "He definitely knows what I have," Washburn said. "He's one of my all-time favorite teammates, and if anyone hits me, I'm happy that it was him." Washburn fell to 9-13 and has won just one game since the All-Star break. "This [loss] was a tough one for us," he said. "We still had the lead in the seventh, but it blew up on us." That it did. The question is, can the Mariners keep their season from doing the same thing?
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.