Figgins appreciates Wakamatsu’s support after ejection
Chone Figgins said he never had any doubt that manager Don Wakamatsu has his players’ backs.
When Figgins was ejected Sunday in the early stages of a 9-4 loss to the Angels, Wakamatsu argued Figgins’ case to umpire Tim Timmons in proxy, and finally Wakamatsu, too, was ejected.
“He’s got our backs all the way,” Figgins said after what was the first ejection of a seven-year big league career. “It’s the kind of thing you appreciate as a player, knowing he’s on your side.”
There wasn’t much else to appreciate in this game from a Seattle point of view. The Mariners scored three times early, then the bats went mostly dormant while the Angels continued to tee off against the Seattle bullpen.
The Anaheim crew wrecked the Mariner pen for five runs Sunday after Seattle starter Jason Vargas had held the Angels to a 4-all standoff for six innings. On Saturday, it was 1-1 after five innings with Ryan Rowland-Smith pitching. The bullpen allowed 10 runs in the final four innings of that one.
“I’ve really got nothing on that for you,” Vargas said after the bullpen let Sunday’s game turn into a rout. “The guys are struggling, (but) I can’t really be worrying about what other people are doing.”
Wakamatsu, on the other hand, is paid to do just that kind of worrying.
“That club (the Angels) is swinging hot bats right now,” Wakamatsu said. “Our bullpen is leaving pitches up in the zone, and they’re hammering them.
“We’ve had our struggles with the bullpen this whole season. We’re going to continue to address it and get it right.”
Seattle is more than one-third of the way through the season and hasn’t gotten it right yet. The bullpen ERA has rocketed to 5.10 the past two games, and the relievers are 9-15. Not what Seattle expected from a pen that was the backbone of the club last year. But closer David Aardsma has struggled, including giving up three runs Sunday, and the absence of top setup man Mark Lowe has too many pitchers throwing out of the slots for which they were originally intended.
Second-year right-hander Shawn Kelley is one of those. He gave up one hit, four walks and three runs, all in one-third of an inning Saturday. He came back Sunday to allow four hits, two walks and three runs Sunday, this time getting two outs.
The Mariners wound up getting swept in the series, hardly what the club expected after taking the final three games of a four-game set against the AL Central-leading Twins last week.
“We felt we had something going,” the manager said. “This was one tough series.”
Wakamatsu did, however, stand up for Figgins, and by association for all the rest of his players, too, when he got ejected Sunday.
Figgins argued a 3-1 pitch, a pitch Timmons called strike two, then Figgins, while standing near first base after grounding out, said some words the home plate umpire didn’t like. The Mariner second baseman was gone. The ejection was enough of a surprise that by the time Wakamatsu was out of the dugout, he couldn’t save Figgins. Or, in the end, himself, from early exits.
“We had turned around (in the dugout) after the last out, so I didn’t see all of it,” Wakamatsu said. “He wasn’t showing (Timmons) up. That was my point.”
Timmons’ point was for Wakamatsu to join Figgins in taking a hike.
And in some ways it may have been the best thing, because it can’t be easy to sit or stand in the dugout game after game watching implosions. Watching them from a television in the office has to be better, if only fractionally.
John Hickey is a national baseball writer for AOL FanHouse (www.fanhouse.com).