Sunday, May 10, 2009


The first Minnesota hitter, Denard Span, hit a fly ball to leftfield that Wladimir Balentien lost in the roof, and it fell for a double. It was a bad start for the Mariners, to say the least. It wasn't a complete whitewash like Friday's game was, but when your team is going through a bad stretch and Felix Hernandez comes up in the rotation, you're hoping you can pull out a win. After the Twins jumped out to a 4-0 lead, the Mariners twice fought back to within a run at 4-3 and 6-5 before the game really got out of reach.

Seattle's sixth straight loss dropped them to 15-16. Around this time last season, the Mariners were busy losing 17 of 22 between winning streaks to go from 11-10 to 16-27, laying waste to 2008. We might like this year's team better, sure, but how much better will we like it if the results turn out to be the same? The current record is better than every Bavasi team except for one, and that's the 2007 team, whose record was better by one game at 16-15. Fifteen wins is still two better than 2005 and last year, and it's three better than 2004 and 2006. The current Mariners have a record worse than all the Gillick teams -- two wins worse than 2000, five worse than 2003, seven worse than 2002, and eight worse than 2001.

Mariner hitting went a collective 10-for-34(?!), walking three times and striking out six times. Multi-hit games were had by Ichiro and Kenji Johjima, who had two hits apiece, and Adrian Beltre, who went 3-for-4(?!). Extra-base hits went to doubles by Jose Lopez and Beltre, and homers by Mike Sweeney and Beltre(?!!?!!?!!!). Johjima picked up an RBI with two out as the team hit 2-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Beltre also stole a base to add to his day, but I decided that two errors in a game (he's on pace for a 37-error season) and getting nailed trying to steal third is enough to negate Beltre's three hits with a homer and a steal. The power day vaulted Beltre's slugging percentage from .275 to .323 in one night, his on-base percentage from .242 to .258 in one night, and his batting average from .208 to .226 in one night. After collecting 18 hits in 22 games last month, Beltre has ten hits in nine games so far this month. The homer puts him at a torrid pace for five homers (5.22 with the math) on the year. That'd be a hell of a walk year performance for Beltre. Maybe he's determined to suck because that's the only way his price could be low enough for Seattle.

Starting pitching will be covered below. After Sean White got out of the fifth inning, the Twins were done scoring runs. Denny Stark, David Aardsma, and Miguel Batista pitched shutout ball the rest of the way, though trying to keep the Mariners within four runs is only so much pressure since the offense only has so much going for it. The latter three guys in the bullpen combined for three innings of no-hit shutout ball, walking three (two were Stark's) and striking out six (Aardsma struck out the side), facing 13 hitters to get nine outs.

1) Ichiro
Another ho-hum multi-hit game for Seattle's leadoff hitter. Five of his name games this month have resulted in multi-hit games. His batting average is now at .320, his on-base is at .358, and he's slugging at a .417 clip, with his two doubles, a triple, and two homers buoying that number. Ichiro has gone 8-for-17 in his current four-game hitting streak. If you calculate all of Ichiro's pace extrapolations to 154 games (since he was out for the first eight games of the season), he's on pace for a 221-hit season. 2/23 = x/154 He's also on pace for 13 doubles, 7 triples, and 13 homers, along with 33 walks, 60 strikeouts, and 33 steals (caught 13 times). I'm sure exactly zero of the pace numbers I have will come true. Well, maybe the 221 hits is the most likely of all of those things to happen. I know this might be crying from beneath the abyss right now, but if your team isn't getting anywhere with a guy that gets 200 hits a season, is it time to be without that guy? I know this isn't exactly a new argument or anything, and we'd be bereft of any sure-fire entertainment on a nightly basis.

2) Kenji Johjima
The Mariner catcher went 2-for-4 with an RBI, skyrocketing his batting average to .250. As much as I like what Rob Johnson did behind the plate and how he didn't try to do too much with his swing, but he just doesn't have the power potential that Johjima has. Sure, Johnson has a pretty short stroke, and he can handle the play at the plate, but he can't jump all over an inside pitch like Johjima is capable of doing. Maybe the pitchers still hate throwing to Johjima, though. I mean, they're 2-7 since Johjima came back to the lineup, so that probably has to mean something. That said, if you were a pitcher, why would you even think of throwing Johjima a pitch that wasn't over the outside corner? He can't hit the other way. Should we be satisfied if he just hits .250 the rest of the season? Or should we expect something more along the lines of .270? I know what we really want is Johjima off the roster altogether, but unless someone (Kansas City) is stupid enough to trade for the guy, the Mariners are stuck with Johjima.

3) David Aardsma
He struck out the side in the seventh inning, giving him 14 strikeouts on the season in 13 1/3 innings over 13 appearances. He's walked nine hitters, which is a bit high, but not all too surprising. Carlos Silva was placed on the disabled list, Jason Vargas will take his place in the rotation, and Brandon Morrow was activated off the disabled list. Hopefully this means we don't have to depend on Aardsma to close games for a while. Needless to say, there haven't been a lot of opportunities over the last six games for saves. It almost brings us full circle to the beginning of the season -- remember when we were completely unoptimistic about the team and it was pretty much pointless to have a closer since they were going to lose a bunch of games anyway? Maybe if the team's bad enough to where this is the case, they can push Morrow back into the starting rotation. After all, Morrow works for the Mariners, not the other way around. I'm still very displeased with that entire thing, in case you can't tell. Yup.

Felix Hernandez
Last time out, Felix battled a flu. This time, a trainer and Don Wakamatsu came out in the fourth inning to see if something was wrong, and Felix shook them off. While it'd be great if Felix was feeling fine and dandy, part of me almost thinks an injury would be a better explanation for Felix having outings like the last two he's had. He gave up six runs (five earned) over four innings in this game, walking three and striking out two. He threw 50 strikes on 81 pitches and got six groundouts to three flyouts. He faced 20 batters to get 12 outs. He gave up the back-to-back homers to Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau in the third inning. I don't know what's stricken Felix, and I can be forgiving to an extent, but when this team's lost five straight, they kind of look to this guy to be the stopper. This team won't be winning too many games when Felix Hernandez is giving up five and six runs. With the offense the way it's been, Hernandez and the starting pitchers don't have a lot of margin for error. Even in f the starters have a great game and give up four runs, that still means the Mariners have to score five. Right now, that's a big "yikes" for this team.

Time for massive Bedardation. If he doesn't step up, this losing streak could get very long.

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