Now comes Bedard, Pineda and Felix … not bad
We saw what may well be the Achilles’ heel of the Mariners today in Oakland, a bullpen blip with Josh Lueke and David Pauley giving up four runs in the seventh inning in a 7-1 loss that ended those dreams of a perfect season.
I’ve felt all spring this rebuilt reliever corps could be an issue. And while one game shouldn’t be overreacted to, it’s clear that the ‘pen has a lot of unproven guys who’ll need to come through. Felix Hernandez can’t pitch complete games every day.
Lueke had some tough luck, a flyout that turned into a sun-aided double is a rough thing to overcome for a guy pitching his first game. His only other hit was a bloop shot that fell between Ichiro and Jack Wilson, but he got himself in trouble with a pair of walks in between.
Pauley didn’t bail Lueke out when he came in with the bases loaded and allowed all three runners to score without benefit of a hit with a hit batter, a walk and a sacrifice fly.
Lueke will be better. He’s got good stuff and says his velocity generally picks up during the season as he gets more innings, so we’ll see on that. He’s throwing low 90s now.
It’s worth noting as well that David Aardsma threw his third bullpen session before Sunday’s game in Oakland and Wedge said he’s progressing steadily. Still no timeline from the team, but signs seem positive for a return sometime around the end of the month, I would think.
The club heads to Texas now to face a Rangers squad that just swept Boston and is going to make a lot of people regret picking Oakland as the preseason favorite. Texas will certainly pressure the Mariners pitching staff, but this series will be interesting. While the Mariners are coming with their Nos. 4 and 5 starters, those two are Erik Bedard and Michael Pineda, followed by Felix Hernandez in the series finale.
That’s a pretty potent threesome and we’ll find out in a hurry if Seattle’s rotation is ready for prime time.
I’m headed out of Oakland bright and early Monday morning, so will check in from Arlington before the 5:05 p.m. PT game, the airline gods willing.