Why Can’t The Seattle Mariners Solve C.J. Wilson?


The Seattle Mariners suffered their first loss of the season last night, a 2-0 shutout at the hands of C.J. Wilson and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. James Paxton had his season debut, and looked great aside from one home run allowed to cleanup hitter David Freese. It’s an encouraging start for a young pitcher who’s success will be of critical importance to the M’s, even if he wasn’t able to keep that one pitch from leaving the yard.

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But it’s not Paxton’s strong debut that’s sticking in our minds right now. Nor is it the debut of Rickie Weeks, or Nelson Cruz‘s first hit as a Mariner. It’s stupid C.J. Wilson and his stupid dominance of the Mariners, something which is something that’s been going on for a couple years now. Against the M’s, Wilson turns it up. Unless it’s just that against Wilson, the M’s turn it down.

Wilson’s line against Seattle last night: eight innings, one walk, two hits, two strikeouts, no runs allowed. The hits, singles by Weeks and Cruz, obviously did no damage, and neither did Justin Ruggiano‘s walk, for that matter. Notice that Wilson didn’t really blow it past anyone. Notice that it didn’t really matter.

Last time we saw this guy was towards the end of September, when he walked more Mariners than he struck out while holding Seattle to one run over six innings. Ten days earlier he struck out seven Mariners in seven shutout innings. He got good results against Seattle last May 28th, too, despite a low strikeout total. And even though the M’s roughed him up in his season debut a year ago, he still managed to strike out eight in 5.2 innings. All this after dominating the M’s throughout 2013.

It’s irritating because Wilson’s in decline and the Angels are the most un-fun team to lose to. This should be a guy the Mariners are beating up on, right? What they did instead was pound the ball into the ground. Wilson threw eight full frames without getting to 100 pitches. He did this by making the M’s waste their contact.

Nobody could hit Wilson hard, and perhaps it’s because everyone knows they can hit Wilson hard. He’s been able to manipulate Seattle’s bats whether he’s getting K’s or not, and has been able to find loads of irritating success because of it. It’s a pick your poison situation, really, and against Seattle Wilson’s perfected how to win with or without strikeouts.

Maybe there’s nothing to this but luck. The M’s have been unlucky in their attempts to figure out C.J. Wilson, and it’s been just that – luck. Or maybe he’s just some voodoo wizard. Either way, it’s starting to get old.

Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Matt Shoemaker tonight at 7:10pm. Last home game for a couple weeks. Show up, Seattle!