Monday, May 04, 2009
The record of 15-10 puts the team one game ahead of the 2000 pace, two games ahead of the 2007 pace, three games ahead of the 2008 and 2005 paces, five games ahead of the 2006 pace, and six games ahead of the 2004 pace. The mark is one game behind the 2003 pace, three games behind the 2002 pace, and five games behind the 2001 pace.
Mariner hitting was a collective 16-for-58, walking seven times and striking out eight times. Wladimir Balentien and Russell Branyan doubled, and Mike Sweeney and Kenji Johjima homered to account for Seattle's extra-base hit output. Luckily for anyone in this extra-inning game, none of the starters went hitless. Those with two hits included Ichiro, Adrian Beltre, and Franklin Gutierrez. Those with three hits included Jose Lopez and Wladimir Balentien. The Mariners were 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position and stranded 15 runners.
Chris Jakubauskas was mediocre, but didn't completely bury the team with his outing. He only got hit around in the first inning, then held the Athletics to those three runs until the fifth inning. Jakubauskas threw 52 strikes out of 78 pitches in his 4 1/3 innings. He faced 19 hitters to get 13 outs. He gave up four runs on six hits and struck out one, but didn't walk anybody.
The bullpen had a lot of work to do. They pitched the last 10 2/3 innings of the game. They emptied the bullpen, sending Sean White, Denny Stark (a Mariner once again), Mark Lowe, Shawn Kelley, David Aardsma, Miguel Batista, and Jason Vargas (his Mariner debut) all out to the mound. The first four of that group pitched before extra innings and held Oakland off the scoreboard. They combined for 4 2/3 innings, giving up three hits, walking two, and striking out three. Actually, the bullpen was pretty darn good with the exception of Batista. Aardsma threw a perfect tenth, and Vargas struck out four hitters in his 2 1/3 innings of work. Take Batista out of the equation, and you get eight scoreless innings out of the bullpen on five hits, giving out three walks and striking out eight. They faced 32 hitters to get 24 outs. Additionally, the bullpen stranded all five of their inherited runners.
1) Wladimir Balentien
He didn't have any of the big-ticket hits during this game like Sweeney, Johjima, Ichiro, and Lopez did, but 3-for-5 is 3-for-5. He also hit a double. He has been used in 12 games, reaching the plate in 11 of them. He's slugging .500, which is nice even though the sample size is a bit iffy. The extra-base hits he's had are a mere two doubles and a home run. I should add that in this extra-inning game, he also walked twice in addition to the 3-for-5, so his on-base percentage jumped from .323 after the final game in Chicago to .395 after this game. Balentien held down the number-six spot in the lineup well, and again, if he keeps messing around and doing this, Don Wakamatsu will have to find creative ways to get his bat into the lineup. The way Wakamatsu did that in this game was by fiving Endy Chavez the day off until bringing him in to pinch run as the tying run in the 15th inning. Balentien also isn't proving to be that horrible a defender in leftfield, getting a game-ending catch not too long ago, and there were a couple of caroms off the wall that he picked up and threw to second to make plays much closer than they should have been.
2) Franklin Gutierrez
The king of the push bunt returns to the gameball entries. He extended his hit streak to seven games. A 2-for-4 day made for yet another multi-hit game for Gutierrez, who is on a streak of four straight multi-hit games. Not only that, his mark is only 2-for-4 for this extra-inning game because he managed to walk three times (on the ceiling if you want me...ha). His only blight in the boxscore was a lone strikeout. What results is a spike in on-base percentage, going from .333 the night before to .366. The batting average went from .265 the night before to .278. Again, the flattering thing is that in seven games, Gutierrez has gone from hitting .191 to hitting .278. That's well over what I reasonably expect from him, and there is probably going to be some wicked regression back to the mean, so I'm enjoying this while it lasts (along with just about everything else on this team). Still, a .240 or .245 season is enough for me as long as the defense is stout. Also, whoever had the idea to push bunt on the first pitch after Johjima's homer tied the game in the ninth should be lauded. Genius move.
3) Jose Lopez
He ended the game again. There are only so many chances a player gets over the course of his career to come up with the game on the line deep into extra innings against the pitcher who started the game two nights earlier. Luckily for our viewing pleasure, the Lopez at-bat to end the game wasn't a mentally draining experience for everyone involved. Er, all of that mentally draining stuff was all contained into the ball in play, which dropped in front of Rajai Davis, who then overran it with the bases loaded and nobody out. Lopez went 3-for-8 with an RBI, putting him at .272 with 17 RBIs on the season. The RBI pace would end up with 110 RBI for a season. Lopez had another multi-hit game, his sixth such game in the last nine. That stretch has taken his batting average from .236 to .272. Perhaps the only frustrating thing about this entire stretch is that he's hit one double and that's been it in terms of extra-base hits. That's not tto say that he's come close a couple times, but the Mariners would love for some of those to fall. Same with Beltre, though. By the way, he's only third because of an error on an easy play and a misplay of a bouncing Johjima throw to second.
Once again, it doesn't matter if it's a book written by Batista or if it's Batista on the mound, it's murder. Sure, the Mariners only had so many arms in the bullpen at that point, so their hands were a bit tied, but it felt like I was waiting for Batista's luck to completely run out while he was on the mound. Unsurprisingly, it did exactly that. As far as I was concerned, the Mariners had managed to lose the game a second time, but I thought the Mariners wouldn't have it in them to come back another time. Instead, the Mariners are finding ways to win despite having Carlos Silva and Batista on the roster, and despite having Chris Jakubauskas, ye of little Major League experience, on the roster. As I brought up the other day, maybe the Mariners should just make that third spot in the rotation a Silva/Batista night just so we don't have to see either of those guys until the next turn in the rotation. Just combine those two guys and you should get into the seventh inning. They'd have to try pretty hard to screw that up, right? Wait... oh, by the way, it was 2 2/3 innings, 3 runs (2 earned), 3 hits, 2 walks, and 3 strikeouts for his line. He faced 15 hitters to get eight outs and threw 36 strikes on 65 pitches.
Felix Night. (I totally misstepped here and originally put Bedardation, so my bad.)