M's offense little help to starter Carlos Silva
This hardly seemed like the type of game that would enable Carlos Silva to relax. But there was Silva, a 2-0 loss completed in a lightning-quick one hour, 49 minutes, talking afterward about feeling as relaxed on the mound as he has all season.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Mariners @ Oakland, 7:05 p.m., FSN.
OAKLAND, Calif. -- This hardly seemed like the type of game that would enable Carlos Silva to relax.
The Mariners starter spent all of Tuesday night trying to hold the Oakland Athletics off the scoreboard to give his snakebit offense at least a shot at winning. He'd watched opposing starter Justin Duchscherer use only 49 pitches to get through the first five innings of a game most could tell was already over long before that.
But there was Silva, a 2-0 loss completed in a lightning-quick one hour, 49 minutes, talking afterward about feeling as relaxed on the mound as he has all season. It all had to do with a mechanical adjustment he'd made between starts, one he hopes enables him to salvage something from a generally disappointing first season with the Mariners so far.
"For me, I felt like before, I was squeezing the ball too hard and the ball wasn't sinking," Silva said after his team suffered a third straight defeat.
The adjustment now involves Silva holding his hands at waist level as he prepares to go into his delivery. Before, he was bringing them up near his chest to start things off, which caused his arms to press his hands together.
It all sounds simple. But to Silva, it's been a frustrating road to discovery.
"We've been trying so many things," Silva said of the work he's done between starts with pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre. "We've been working so hard."
At one point, Silva became so frustrated after a loss that he actually apologized to Stottlemyre for all the hard work he'd put in for nothing.
And this work is doubly important for the team in that it needs improvement out of Silva beyond this season. Unlike some other starters, who could be dealt by the July 31 trade deadline, Silva's four-year, $48 million contract means he'll be part of this squad for some time to come.
The Silva witnessed by a crowd of 12,543 at McAfee Coliseum was not the same pitcher who needed 100 pitches to get through five innings against the Detroit Tigers last Thursday night.
Silva came to Seattle billed as an innings-eater. And while he's lived up to part of that, compiling a team-high 112-2/3 frames thus far, the quality of those innings hasn't always been there like it was against the A's.
The 94 pitches Silva threw in this eight-inning, complete game were far more indicative of what he hopes to bring the Mariners over the final 3 ½ seasons of his contract.
"Five innings, 100 pitches, that's not me," Silva said.
It took a few innings for Silva to get comfortable with his new mechanics. And the way that A's All-Star Duchscherer was throwing, in what would become his first career complete game and shutout, that was all it would take for the Mariners to lose yet again.
Oakland scored a run in the first inning when Ryan Sweeney led off with a single, then scored on another single later on by Emil Brown. In the second inning, consecutive singles by Kurt Suzuki and Jack Hannahan left runners at the corners and Donnie Murphy made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly to left.
And that was it on the scoreboard in the Mariners' shortest game this season.
Seattle didn't get a base runner off Duchscherer until Richie Sexson reached on a two-base throwing error by Suzuki in the third. The Mariners got their first hit on a double by Sexson in the fifth and their final hit on a single from Miguel Cairo in the sixth.
It was all pitching beyond that. Silva retired 15 of 16 from the second inning on and survived a late double by Suzuki to notch Seattle's second complete game in a row.
But as was the case with Jarrod Washburn's four-run, eight-inning outing on Monday, the Mariners could not score. Seattle has failed to score a run in the last 17 consecutive innings dating back to a home run by Sexson in the opening frame on Monday.
The Mariners have scored only four runs -- three on Sexson's homer -- over their past 33 innings.
"I don't know of a situation where a starter's thrown two complete games in a row and you lose both of them," Mariners manager Jim Riggleman said. "You might get one of those a year, but certainly not two in a row."
Riggleman was otherwise pleased with the clean game his team played. Like some other starters, he feels that Silva -- with four outings of at least seven innings in his last six starts -- has overcome a May slide and pitched better even with the short outing against the Tigers last week.
"We want to take care of the little things," he said. "The details of the game. And when we do and the hitters start hitting, we'll start winning games."
And until that happens, the moral victories from guys like Silva will have to do.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 8:27 PM
Catcher Gregg Zaun retires after 16 seasons
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