Monday, April 20, 2009
The Mariners picked up their fifth loss in their 13th game of the season (8-5). The 2001 team picked up their fifth loss in their 25th game of the season (20-5, their last game in April that year), so we can pretty much forget about that whole crazy thing unless the Mariners reel off 12 straight victories. Not likely.
Mariner hitters went 10-for-35, drawing zero walks and striking out six times. The Mariners pushed across two runs with those 10 hits, whereas the Tigers (with only two more hits) scored eight runs. Jose Lopez (double) and Ronny Cedeno (homer) accounted for the Mariners' only extra-base hits. Multi-hit games were turned in by Ichiro and Endy Chavez. Hitless games belonged to Ken Griffey, Jr. (0-for-4, bounced into a double play) and Jamie Burke (0-for-3 with a strikeout and a double-play ball). The team stranded six runners.
The Seattle bullpen threw the last four innings after Carlos Silva left. They gave up four runs (only one earned) on six hits, walking two and striking out four. Miguel Batista has a habit of having the roof falling in when he's on the mound, and usually it's his fault. This time, however, it wasn't entirely Batista's fault thanks to the Yuniesky Betancourt Errorfest 2009. That aside, it's not Yuniesky Betancourt's who's giving up a double to Ramon freakin' Santiago. A double to the number-eight hitter? Really? Come on. I hope Batista's serial-killer novels are better than his pitching. One thing's for sure: whether it's Batista's books or his pitching, there is murder involved.
How come we haven't come up with a top-flight nickname for Ichiro yet? I guess Japanese Jackhammer would have to be a slugger's nickname. Hmm. Anyway, the Mariners' rightfielder and leadoff hitter rebounded from an 0-for-4 (with an airmail throw home) by going 2-for-4. Though he helped set the table for the rest of the lineup, he was never driven in by any of the subsequent Mariner hitters. The countdown to 200 hits is on, no doubt about that, but the bad thing is that we already know that Ichiro having an insane season doesn't necessarily translate into awesomeness for the Mariners as a whole. The Mariners went to the playoffs the first two years he was here, and 2003 was frustrating but passable. The 2007 season was a tease, but the Mariners were still an 88-win team. Basically, Ichiro's been nothing short of awesome in his eight seasons here, and the Mariners have been great for three of those seasons, decent in one of those seasons, and complete crap in the other four. Ichiro can break the hits record, but the team can completely suck. One awesome leadoff hitter does not a good team make, unfortunately.
2) Endy Chavez
Another two-hit game means another entry in the gameball section for Chavez. Though he struck out twice, he did go 2-for-4 with an RBI (with two outs), accounting for half of the Mariners' runs. We're 13 games into the season, and Chavez is hitting .392. In other words, the Mariners have Ichiro in the lineup, and they also have another everyday player hitting .392. That's fun. Errorfest aside, Betancourt is another everyday player, and he's hitting .302. Of course, the bad thing is that this team is hardly homer happy. The worse thing is probably the erratic starting pitching, but I'll talk about that later. Like I've said about having Chavez bat second, I think it's a good idea while Chavez is hitting well, and it puts less pressure on Franklin Gutierrez to produce offensively. Incidentally, Gutierrez went 1-for-3 in this game and was driven in by Chavez. Maybe the only thing I could nitpick Chavez for is that I think he had a chance on that double into the leftcenter gap by Ramon Santiago that more than broke the game. Still, Miguel Batista threw the pitch...
3) Ronny Cedeno
The only home run of the game belonged to the Mariners' new Mark McLemore. Cedeno has proven to be a very worthy defensive player, and I can't believe that ball flew over the fence. It looked like he just reached down and hit a fly ball. I waited for it to come down, and it was in the visitors' bullpen. It's too bad nobody was on base, or else the Mariners would have had the lead on that homer, and the game would have been a ton more interesting. Also, I'd be talking later about how Carlos Silva blew a lead instead of just talking about Silva being Silva. Of course, Cedeno won't be quite as appreciated by some of the fanbase since he's not local and words like "grit" and "hustle" aren't the first words that come to mind when you think about Cedeno, but if you do use those words, don't they just cover for the fact that the player isn't good? In hockey, I'd be able to use the grit/hustle guy on my fourth line for an energy shift and maybe throw his weight around and swing the momentum of the game. In baseball, I still want that grit/hustle guy to PRODUCE.
I guess the scary part is that we've seen worse performances out of Silva, and that Silva giving up four runs in a start probably is about average. I can't remember whether it was Dave Niehaus, Dave Sims, or Mike Blowers who said it, but someone said "Silva doesn't really have a strikeout pitch, he just pitches to contact" while one of the Tigers had an at-bat that lasted well over 10 pitches. Silva gave up four runs on six hits in his five innings of work, walking one and striking out none. He threw 54 strikes out of 94 total pitches. Two of the six hits given up by Silva were doubles. This guy and Bedard are going to put so much strain on the bullpen that it's almost good that Tyler Johnson and Chad Cordero are on injury rehab right now. The Mariners might need fresh arms in a couple months when name-your-two-bullpen-arms are going through some rough patches since they're overworked. I just worry about how fragile the starting pitching is and how that can result in a fragile bullpen. Right now, the bullpen in a lot of ways is completely screwed for the next four days if Felix Hernandez doesn't get through seven innings or the Mariners don't have an upcoming off day somewhere on their schedule.
Oh no, the AL champion Rays are coming in? Will the Mariners still be above .500 at the end of the week? Jarrod Washburn will try to have a say in that tomorrow.