Hard to criticize the job Buck Showalter has done managing his bullpen during the first 80+ games of the 2012 season. However, his decision late at night in Seattle, to leave in Jason Hammel to throw a 115th pitch of the night to Casper Wells is indeed a head scratcher.
Hammel entered the bottom of the 7th with a two run lead. The tall right-hander had not walked a single batter, that is until Dustin Ackley led off the 7th with a walk. With Ackley on 3rd and 2B Munenori Kawasak1 at firs and just 1 out, Showalter elected to have his big horse pitch to # 9 batter, SS Brendan Ryan who Hammel induced to pop out to the catcher.
So, with two outs and the ultra talented left-handed hitting Ichiro Suzuki coming to the plate, what is a manager to do? Hammel, who had retired Suzuki all three prior at-bats, was allowed to face Suzuki. Suzuki was able to coax a walk.
Up comes right-handed hitting OF, and Towson graduate Casper Wells. Hammel at this point had thrown close to 115 pitches. Wells promptly launched a double to deep center, which scored all three base runners on that last pitch. Both walks in the game and the inning scored.
After that 115th pitch, Troy Patton was brought in to end the inning, inducing John Jaso to ground out. Patton would give up back to back HRs to Miguel Olivo and Dustin Ackley and the Mariners went on to a 6-3 victory.
Gone were an opportunity to get back a game against the Yankees, who had lost earlier in the evening. With Darren O’Day and Luis Ayala both out in the pen, hard to see Showalters’ logic in allowing a tiring Hammel to throw to Wells.
With King Felix on the hill tomorrow night, Buck may have also let an opportunity for a series win in Seattle slip away as well.