By Ryan Divish The News Tribune
ST. LOUIS — When Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge looks toward his bullpen for answers, he only seems to find more questions.
With the season winding down and the rosters expanded, the team is carrying 10 relievers. But the increased doesn’t mean increased success.
On Sunday, Wedge called on a group of four relievers, who combined to give up seven runs in four innings. Only Lucas Luetge didn’t allow a baserunner or a run.
“Obviously, the bullpen wasn’t very good,” Wedge said.
And the issues could continue over the final 13 games.
Each game till the end of the season, Wedge is going to have two to three relievers unavailable as he tries to reduce hefty workloads for the season.
“It’s every day,” Wedge said. “We are in a stretch of 33 out of 34 days. A lot of these guys haven’t pitched this much and most of them haven’t pitched this deep in the season.”
The bullpen has been a mess much of the season. While there have been pleastant surprises like the emergence Danny Farquhar and Yoervis Medina, there have also been disappointments like the struggles of Tom Wilhhelmsen and Carter Capps.
Capps struggled on Sunday, facing just three batters and giving up a single to Yadier Molina, a two-run homer to Matt Adams and a double to David Freese before being lifted. When Freese scored later, Capps was charged with the run. So he gave up three runs on three hits and never retired a batter.
Capps was sent down to Class AAA Tacoma to work on his mechanics midseason, and the changes appeared to be working. Since being called back up, he’d made 14 appearances and posted a 3.54 ERA. He’d struck out 19 batters in 18 1/3 innings pitched. But Sunday was not a good outing.
“Today, he kind of reverted back,” Wedge said after the game. “He threw six or seven pitches. They were all fastballs and most of them were up. I don’t care how hard you throw, you aren’t going to get away with that.”
Wedge was forced to use Bobby LaFromboise and Chance Ruffin to clean up the rest of the damage. Ruffin gave up three runs on five hits in two innings of work as well.
Shortstop Brad Miller will be out for at least a few days with a strained hamstring.
“He’s not going to do anything today,” Wedge said before the game. “He’s sore and tight. We’ll just take it day to day. But it’s going to be at least a couple of days.”
Miller suffered the strain running to first on a sacrifice bunt in Saturday night’s win.
“He runs hard and plays hard,” Wedge said. “I think it’s good we got him out of there when we did, so it doesn’t go to the next level.”
Carlos Triunfel will get the starts at shortstop and Nick Franklin will take more ground balls at shortstop pregame in case he needs to make a start there.
Justin Smoak was also out of the lineup for the third straight day. Smoak has a tight quadriceps muscle and Wedge chose to rest him. Smoak felt the discomfort when running the bases. Wedge expects him to be back in the lineup today in Detroit. Smoak’s injury wasn’t an issue in St. Louis with the lack of a designated hitter and the playing time going to Kendrys Morales. … Abraham Almonte extended his hitting streak to five games with a double. He has hit safely in 11 of his 12 games this season. … In his last eight games, Kyle Seager is 2-for-29 with two singles and seven strikeouts.