SAN DIEGO – It appears that the light-hitting lineup of the San Diego Padres is the perfect remedy for Seattle Mariners pitchers with winless streaks to break.
Friday, it was Jarrod Washburn, who snapped a lengthy drought, and Carlos Silva followed suit on Saturday night, snapping a nine-game losing streak. Silva pitched seven solid innings and got just enough offense from teammates to score a 4-2 win over the Padres at Petco Park.
“I haven’t had a win in two months, so I was ready for one,” Silva said. “For me, we’ve been playing good baseball lately and I wanted to be a part of it, too.”
It seems like even longer since Silva got that last win. It came April 17 against the Oakland A’s, when he allowed one run on four hits in seven innings. That win moved him to 3-0 and it looked like he was going to worth the $48 million the Mariners spent on him in free agency and maybe more.
But then something inexplicable – at least to Silva and the Mariners – happened. He suddenly couldn’t win. Over the next 12 starts, his command was shaky and his location was off. Those factors led to big innings for opponents and short outings for Silva as the losses mounted and his ERA ballooned toward 6.00
“I’ve been throwing strikes, but I haven’t made pitches,” he said. “It’s two different things.”
Of course, he was asked for an explanation.
“At this level and when the other team knows you’re going to be around the plate, if you don’t hit your spots, you’re going to get hit hard,” he said. “I have to hit my corners because if I don’t, they’re going to hit them because they know I’m going to throw strikes.”
Against the Padres, Silva stayed on the corners for much of the game. He was able to use his sinking two-seam fastball against left-handed and right-handed hitters. The pitch had perhaps its best movement since April.
“He really had it going tonight,” catcher Jeff Clement said. “He was commanding both sides of the plate. He was throwing to both sides effectively.”
Silva didn’t get into any major trouble through the first six innings, never allowing multiple baserunners to reach until the seventh.
During that time, the Mariners built their lead to 4-0, getting two runs in the fourth on back-to-back RBI doubles from Adrian Beltre and Jeremy Reed, and tacking on two more in the sixth on an infield RBI single from Beltre and a sacrifice fly from Clement. All came against former teammate Cha Seung Baek, now starting for the Padres. It was enough to win, but not enough for manager Jim Riggleman.
“We left some runners on, not the record-setting number like last night,” he said. “We’re looking to really bust out.”
Failure to drive in runs almost came back to bite the Mariners (30-50) in the seventh. Silva gave up a pair of singles and had runners on first and second with one out. He was able to coax a ground ball from Michael Barrett, and third baseman Adrian Beltre made a tough play to get Barrett at first, but both runners moved up.
It looked as though Silva might get out unscathed when Beltre nearly pulled off a difficult catch on pinch hitter Tony Clark’s popup in foul territory. However after Beltre ran hard, the ball bounced off his glove. On the next pitch – with the count 0-2 – Silva tried to throw a four-seam fastball up and in to Clark. But he left it over the plate and Clark singled to center for two RBI.
Still, Silva controlled the damage by getting Jody Gerut to ground out to end the inning and his night.
“I felt that in the last couple of innings they centered the ball off him a little better,” Riggleman said. “He hadn’t stretched out longer than five innings for seems like a while, so I really wasn’t thinking he would go as far as he did. I thought we were stretching it there and when he came off he said he had had enough. He was pretty gassed.”
Arthur Rhodes pitched a scoreless eighth and Brandon Morrow pitched a perfect ninth for his second save in as many days and his fourth this season. It all maintained the win for Silva.
“(Silva) was more like what we saw the first two or three weeks of the season,” Riggleman said. “He had it all going, good velocity and locating pretty good and maintained it through the seventh inning. He got some ground balls and we played good defense behind him. It was a Silva-type game.”
Riggleman knew how much the win meant for the big right-hander.
“He’s a pro and he has pride,” Riggleman said. “His pride has been hurt a little bit, but he’s competed every time. That’s a lot of losses, some tough ones, and he knew he was better than that. Hopefully this will be the start of something good for him.”
Silva thinks it will with continued work with pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre.
“Throughout this year, I’ve been trying to learn and stay focused and become a better pitcher,” he said. “With Mel here, if you don’t get better with him, you’re not going to get better ever.”
Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483