Apparently, a date with Kevin Millwood is all the Mariners needed to get headed back in the right direction. The M's pounded Millwood for seven runs on nine hits in just three innings, sprinting to an early seven-run lead and holding on for the 7-3 victory. While the first three innings were encouraging, the M's managed just one hit in five innings off of relievers Josh Rupe and Eddie Guardado, so I would hesitate to say that the team has "busted out" of its offensive slump.
Wladimir Balentien hit his second home run in six games since being called up on April 30, a three-run shot with two out in the third inning. Wlad looks like the real deal, and watching him swing I'm already anticipating shaking my head in disbelief three years from now as I remember the days when this guy was hitting ninth.
Jarrod Washburn was fantastic through six innings, allowing just a third-inning single to German Duran, but things began to fall apart with three consecutive hits allowed to start the seventh inning. It was at this point that we learned that Washburn had been pitching all night on a bum right calf. Washburn and the M's are downplaying the injury, but if something indeed "popped" out on the mound as Washburn says, I remain skeptical that this is something that will just go away in the next 4 days.
The Herald's John Sleeper is in full-on panic mode and is calling for John McLaren's job. While I agree that the team is in a bit of trouble, there are still nearly 130 games remaining. A 6 1/2 game deficit is not ideal, but the bright side is that there's still plenty of time to catch up. We've seen the M's make up a deficit nearly twice this size in just two months (1995), so I don't think it's time to give up on this just yet. Teams routinely rebound from rough starts to contend later on. The Phillies and Yankees were both under .500 on this date a year ago and both made the playoffs.
The News-Tribune's Don Ruiz says that Jeff Clement and Wladimir Balentien are excited to be up with the M's, and has some news about Mike Morse's rehab.
Around the Minors
Tacoma (16-14, 9.0 GB in PCL North) rallied with nobody on and two outs in the ninth inning for four consecutive singles to beat Oklahoma 2-1 and earn a split in the four-game set. It was Byan LaHair's hit that scored the winning run off of Oklahoma left-hander Bill White. The rally got starter Ryan Feierabend off the hook for what would have been a hard-luck loss. Feierabend gave up one earned run on four hits in six innings of work. Jon Huber earned the win with three scoreless innings.
First-place West Tenn (21-10, T-1st in SOU North) jumped all over Mississippi early, scoring 10 runs in the first four innings en route to a 13-3 win on Monday night at Pringles Park in Jackson, TN. Catcher Adam Moore had three hits and drove in five runs to lead the charge. Marshall Hubbard hit his fifth home run of the year for the Jaxx. Doug Fister gave up three runs in six innings to earn the win and move to 4-1 on the season.
Wisconsin (10-17, 10.0 GB in MID West) dropped a 6-1 decision to the Great Lakes Loons on Monday night. Great Lakes scored five runs in the first two innings, and the Timber Rattlers couldn't dig out of the hole. Starter Edward Paredes gave up five runs in 2 2/3 innings, but because of two fielding errors by third basemen Ronald Garth, only one run was charged as earned. Jacob Wild did a nice job in relief, striking out five in 2 1/3 innings.
High Desert (15-16, 2.0 GB in CAL South) had the night off last night. The Mavericks start a three-game series at Lancaster tonight. First baseman Johan Limonta has been the Mavericks' best overall offensive player so far, leading the team with 26 runs scored, 38 hits, and a .414 on-base percentage. His 11 doubles tie him for the team lead, and he has driven in 20 runs in 31 games. Ricky Orta has been the Mavericks' best starting pitcher so far, allowing just three earned runs and 21 total baserunners in 20 innings of work.