Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I'm typing these on Wednesday morning, and Jen Mueller of FSNW just passed along that the Mariners have been on top of the AL West for 18 days, which is their longest such streak since a 119-day streak. You figure that happened in 2001, right? Wrong. That was in 2003. I don't have to tell you that one of the 119 days the Mariners led the AL West wasn't on the last day of the 2003 season. That's really the last time the Mariners were really in the heat of a playoff race, but in a way, they would have limped into the playoffs. I've referred to it many times, but that's the year they started out 42-19 and went 51-50 the rest of the way. A complete letdown and travesty in Bob Melvin's first year as a big-league manager. The following year, however -- Melvin's last year in Seattle and Bill Bavasi's first year -- really took the cake. The odd thing is that the Mariners lost 101 games last season and lost 99 in 2004, but I felt way worse after the 2004 season since Bavasi was the guy in charge to get the Mariners out of the mess. Turned out well.
Before we go on, Seattle's 12-8 pace after 20 games matches the 20-game mark of the 2000 and 2003 Mariner teams. The pace is two games ahead of the paces of 2008, 2007, and 2005. The 12-8 mark is four behind the paces of 2001 and 2002. It's also five games ahead of the awful paces of 2004 and 2006.
All the Mariners' pitching in this game will be covered in the first gameball paragraph because Chris Jakubauskas did such an awesome job and the bullpen wasn't a factor since they never had to come out and pitch.
Mariner hitting went a combined 4-for-33, and apparently they were blind and unable to see that Bartolo Colon was wearing a White Sox uniform instead of a Cleveland Indians uniform. Only Endy Chavez, Ken Griffey, Jr., Rob Johnson, and Franklin Gutierrez got base hits for the Mariners. Griffey and Johnson both had doubles for their hits. Rob Johnson was able to capitalize on the Brent Lillibridge muffed double-play ball, hitting the RBI double to drive in the Mariners' only run of the game. Seattle finished 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. The Mariners very nearly went ahead in the ninth when Yuniesky Betancourt jumped all over a Bobby Jenks fastball, but what would have been a three-run homer to put the Mariners up 4-2 instead was just foul down the leftfield line. Betancourt would end up taking his anger into the nightcap. Yes he did.
1) Chris Jakubauskas
The great thing is that the Lithuanian Laser turned in an incredible start. The bad thing is that this we'll probably sitting here at the end of the year talking about how this was Jakubauskas' best start of the year, but he lost thanks to the inept offense. I really don't think he'll have a better outing than he did here. It was too good. Jakubauskas went eight innings for the complete game. He faced 27 hitters to get 24 outs. He had a perfect game going through the first ten hitters he faced (3 1/3 innings). He was befallen by his only mistakes -- his only walk of the game (Josh Fields) came in to score and the first hit he surrendered (Carlos Quentin) came around to score on Paul Konerko's double. He threw 59 strikes out of 88 pitches and got nine flyouts against 11 flyouts. Jakubauskas walked one and struck out four of the White Sox. If there would have been a ninth inning, I'm sure Jakubauskas would have taken the mound to start the final inning. Why not? In any case, Jakubauskas gave the Mariners something they probably didn't figure they'd have on the Jakubauskas end of the doubleheader: bullpen rest. With the bullpen not having to work in the first half of the doubleheader and with Felix Hernandez going in the nightcap, the bullpen probably was planning to consult Junior's spa day cronies.
2) Rob Johnson
The Mariner catcher went 1-for-3 with the double that drove in the Mariners' only run of the game. He's got a pretty simple swipe of a swing and he doesn't get the arms extended too much. He certaintly doesn't try to do too much with the ball, and for someone that's not really expected to hit too much, that's probably a good thing. What's better is that I don't have to spend time arguing that Jeff Clement could be up here grounding into double plays and hitting .210 and that Johnson's a complete waste of a roster spot. Instead, Johnson is hitting .282 in near-everyday duty since Kenji Johjima was placed on the disabled list and is turning out not to be a waste of a roster spot. Clement, however, is being turned into a complete waste of a high overall draft pick by the Mariner brass, and that's a crying shame. I've thought since Johjima got injured that Clement should at least be on the team splitting time with Johnson. How long will it take for the Mariners to completely erase all the vestiges of Bavasi's ugly reign in Seattle?
3) Franklin Gutierrez
You have to reach a bit when the team only gets four hits and only one pitcher hit the mound. Gutierrez hit a single and struck out once. The 1-for-3 day raised his potent batting average to .211. This still hasn't managed to make his defense any less awesome. Knowing that he's hitting .211 is still better than having to see a commercial for Bret Michaels' next gig at the Emerald Queen Casino like I just saw. Gutierrez and his .211 mark have more street cred than Bret Michaels. You could argue that .211 is the thorn of Gutierrez while his defense is the rose. If you have the Chappelle's Show DVDs, this just gives you another reason to go to the "White People Dancing" sketch to see the part where John Mayer plays "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" to a couple of police officers. In a related note, we've gone from "remember when MTV played music?" to "remember when VH1 played music?" to "remember when MTV2 played music?" It's really awful is what it is. You could watch a random 30-minute block of MTV programming and there's probably a good chance you'd see more musical talent on American Idol. By the way, good job, Franklin Gutierrez.
Again, I'll revert to the "your best players have to be your best players" adage. When the Mariner offense needs to capitalize off an error to even get a run on the board, I figure it's natural for me to look at the top of the lineup and the Mariners' best hitter to see how he did. Ichiro was 0-for-4 with a strikeout, finishing the day at the .308 mark.
Felix went in the nightcap. Oh yes.