Pitcher Ian Snell's job in doubt after Mariners lose 12-2
Mariners pitcher Ian Snell serves up eight runs in the first two innings and the Mariners fall to nine games out of first place in the AL West.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Mariners @ Texas, 5:05 p.m., FSN
For the record
vs. AL West: 7-20
vs. L.A.: 2-7
vs. Oakland: 3-6
vs. Texas: 2-7
vs. AL East: 6-8
vs. AL Cent: 9-6
vs. NL: 1-2
vs. LHP: 6-13
vs. RHP: 17-23
Extra inngs.: 1-6
ARLINGTON, Texas — A composed-sounding Ian Snell talked about holding his head high, something pitchers try to do when they're on their way out of a game and headed for the showers.
But in Snell's case, the beating he absorbed in this 12-2 loss taken by the Mariners on Wednesday night will likely result in a far more serious exit from the starting rotation and possibly the team. It became clear in watching Snell give up eight runs — seven earned — in just 1-2/3 innings against the Texas Rangers that he can no longer be trusted to take the ball every fifth day.
And now, it remains to be seen whether the Mariners will even attempt to keep working with Snell in a bullpen role, or simply designate him for assignment as they try to repair a season going up in flames.
"I sucked it up out there and nobody can blame this on (anyone) but myself. I can take this on myself," Snell said afterward. "Just keep my head held high, keep going after it. It's still a long season, and things can turn around."
The problem is, the Mariners likely won't want to wait for that turnaround at the risk of Snell punting away every fifth game. Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu, who knows his team has to start winning before he is held accountable, said afterward that Snell's status will be reviewed over the next day or two.
Wakamatsu may have already found Snell's rotation replacement in Luke French, who came on and tossed 5-1/3 frames of four-run ball in his first prolonged stint since being recalled from Class AAA last weekend.
"Possibly," Wakamatsu said of French joining the rotation. "It was his first long outing up here, and we were able to stretch him out. It gives us that option."
French had little doubt what his job was when the team called on him. "Just to get outs," he said. "To pick up your teammates. Just go out there and get as many outs as you can and when you're done, you're done."
Wakamatsu's team, picked by some to contend for a playoff spot, fell a season-high 13 games under .500 and nine games out of first place in the American League West.
The Mariners actually opened the scoring in this one, taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning on back-to-back doubles by Jose Lopez and Josh Wilson, off Rangers starter C.J. Wilson.
But Snell gave two runs right back in the bottom of the first on a Michael Young home run and a Vladimir Guerrero double. Then, in the second, the Rangers launched a two-out, six-run rally when Young muscled an 0-2 hanging slider into center field for an RBI single.
Snell was asked whether his game might have gone differently had he not served the two-strike, 83 mph pitch right across the middle of the plate.
"No, to tell you the truth, I don't think any pitch would have made a difference," he said. "He got the bat on the ball and they found a spot in the outfield and that's how it was all night for us."
Snell landed only five first-pitch strikes to the 15 batters he faced. But he doesn't feel it's a command issue plaguing him, more a case of being too "feely" and "fine" in trying to make his pitches.
"I'm not really too worried about it," Snell said. "Maybe lack of confidence, or something like that. But it's all right. I'll keep my head held high and keep getting after it. That's all I can do. I'm not going to sit here and complain about it. If I sucked, I sucked. I'm just going to take it how it is and keep going forward."
Whether he goes forward with the Mariners is still up in the air. Left trailing 8-2 after two innings, his teammates summoned just two more hits off C.J. Wilson after the first inning and allowed him to get through seven.
"You come out and score two runs and feel like you're going and then you give it right back with the two," Wakamatsu said. "We still thought we were in pretty good shape, and then all of a sudden in the second he gave up six runs. It kind of deflated us at that point."
And now, Wakamatsu must find the right combination of players who can reinflate his sagging team — before he becomes the one forced to hold his head high as he braces for an exit.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or email@example.com
Seattle Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom describes some of the factors that may have led to the collapse of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in Mount Vernon on Thursday, May 23.