SAN DIEGO – It had been so long since Jarrod Washburn had gotten the win for a game he started, it’s a wonder the throwback uniforms the Seattle Mariners sported during Friday’s 5-2 win over San Diego at Petco Park weren’t in style when he got his last victory.
It wasn’t quite that dramatic, since the retro uniforms were from 1978, but to Washburn it felt like an eternity since he’d gotten a “W” behind his name, despite pitching pretty well in his last four starts.
But even though his teammates couldn’t really capitalize on ample scoring opportunities, stranding a club-record 18 runners on base in a nine-inning game, the Mariners did manage to get him a win.
“It definitely feels better than losing,” Washburn said.
It was Washburn’s first win since May 5, meaning he’d gone seven starts and a relief appearance since his last win.
But over that time, he hasn’t pitched poorly. Since making an adjustment with his mechanics upon hearing some advice from his college coach Tom Lechnir at University Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Washburn has put together four respectable starts – allowing two runs or fewr in each and going six innings or more (a quality start) in three – with not a win to be found in any.
“It’s shown in other results,” he said. “I’m hitting spots more often and I’m more consistent.”
And to be fair, his teammates haven’t helped much in terms of run support.
It looked like it may be the case on Friday. The Mariners had bases loaded in the first and second inning and walked away with nothing, in the third they stranded runners on second and third.
“You can’t think about things like that,” Washburn said. “You’ll end up making mistakes and you can’t do that.”
Even when the Mariners did drive in runners – scoring three in the fourth inning off of Raul Ibañez’s RBI single and Adrian Beltre’s two-run single – they still managed to leave two runners on.
Through five innings they’d stranded 12 runners.
“The situational hitting was not there tonight,” Manager Jim Riggleman said.
It got marginally better later in the game. They added a run in the sixth on Kenji Johjima’s RBI double.
But the sin of stranding runners nearly cost the Mariners. They watched as their 4-0 lead was cut in half on one swing of the bat by Chase Headley. The hard-hitting Padres’ prospect ripped a line-drive down the left-field line for a two-run homer.
“I wish I had that pitch back,” Washburn said.
So despite collecting 10 hits and drawing eight walks through six innings, the Mariners only had a 4-2 lead.
Washburn got out of the inning with relative ease, but he ran into trouble in the eighth, giving up a two-out triple to Brian Giles, bringing up Padres cleanup hitter Adrian Gonzalez – a guy who blistered Seattle for a pair of home runs at Safeco Field – to the plate.
“We wanted Wash to pitch him careful,” Riggleman said. “He’d burned us a couple times back at home.”
So much so that when Washburn fell behind, they just decided to intentionally walk Gonzalez.
“I hate intentionally walking guys, the competitor in me wants to get that out,” Washburn said. “He’s one of the better hitters in the game and you want to challenge yourself, but it’s the smart thing to do.”
With Washburn at 119 pitches, Riggleman did an even smarter thing by bringing in interim closer Brandon Morrow in the eighth to get a two-inning save.
“We felt like, let’s get Morrow’s arm into the game,” Riggleman said.
Morrow’s arm was electric as usual. He touched 97 mph twice before getting Kevin Kouzmanoff to ground out to second to end the inning.
Seattle added another run in the ninth as Beltre registered a bases-loaded single, but when Morrow of all people hit a hard line drive to right to end the frame, it secured the record 18 left on base for nine innings. The previous high was 16.
But he redeemed himself with a scoreless ninth to secure the win and get his third save.
“Eighteen left on,” Riggleman lamented. “There’s a lot of guys feel like they could’ve had a few more RBIs tonight.”
Or you could look at it like Beltre, who drove in three of the runs. Runners can at least potentially lead to runs.
“When we’re not getting anybody on base, we have no chance to score,” he said. “So we’re getting guys on base, I’ll take it.”
While it’s a record of futility, the Mariners could care less because they improved their record this season to 29-50.
“We had a lot of opportunities and we didn’t do as well we want to, but we got the win,” Beltre said.