=== May 12-22, 2011 ===
The Mariners' rotation fired an amazing lockdown streak, allowing 2 runs or less in 7 IP or more in nine straight games.
Two runs in 7 innings? That undersold it: in those nine games, the enemy scored a grand total of 14 runs against all Mariner pitchers.
=== May 23, 2011 ===
Jason Vargas got his head beat in. He walked 4, struck out only 2, gave up 2 homers and yielded 16 line drives and fly balls against only 5 grounders. He did not complete five innings.
Worse than that, he looked like a pitcher who didn't belong in the majors.
By the second inning, the SSI Mainframe was willing to point fingers: it was Chris Gimenez' pitch calls, we accused. This wasn't Chris Gimenez' fault; it was the fault of my hero Eric Wedge, who was using a 25th roster slot to bring along an non-catcher, rah-rah guy from Cleveland to play backup catcher.
We called for Josh Bard, believing that this "invisible" roster move would be worth three, maybe many more, games to the 2011 Mariners.
=== June 5, 2011 ===
Gimenez caught a relatively good game, yielding only three runs, but we were unappeased. Gimenez' record at this point sank to 3 wins vs. 9 losses.
Worse (again), Gimenez' pitchers had suffered 7 early K.O.'s in 11 attempts. That's blinkin' hard to do with this rotation.
Let's say that over the next 11 games, some lousy fielder or other was going to cause Mariner starters to get blasted in 7 of those games. How important is that, in proportion? There isn't any way that a Mariner, say Chone Figgins, could hit .000/.000/.000 with 11 errors, over those games, and do nearly as much damage.
=== June 29, 2011 ===
Josh Bard was called up, not because the Mariners buy into anything they read from the locals, but because Chris Gimenez was injured.
Bard looked tremendous behind the plate to me, on many different levels -- pitch calls, pitch framing, energy, etc etc -- and the slow-starting Felix Hernandez roared out of the gate with 6 strikeouts in his first three innings, or something like that.
(For more on Bard's pitch framing, see this article.)
... unfortunately, Felix got hit in the middle innings, he lost, and I worried that Bard would be right back down.
But my lack of faith in Eric Wedge was severely misplaced; once again Wedge would demonstrate his incredible minute-by-minute insight into the nuances of on-field action. Thanks to the leadership-agility of his manager, Bard would receive a team-role promotion in his second game.