Sunday, May 10, 2009


There wasn't much joy in Marinerville when the Mariners sent Felix Hernandez to the mound on Saturday night to stop a five-game losing streak and it didn't happen. The good news was that the offense scored six runs, but the pitching staff gave up way too many runs. In this game, Mariner fans hoped Erik Bedard could perform some shutdown duty to help the Mariners win. The Mariners did win, sure, but the way they did was not quite anticipated.

The Mariners fought back to .500 at 16 wins and 16 losses. That pace after 32 games ties them with the 2007 team and is better than all other Bavasi teams. A .500 mark is three wins better than the 2005, 2006, and 2008 teams and is four better than the 2004 team. The pace is worse than every Gillick team -- it's one worse than 2000, five worse than 2003, six worse than 2002, and seven worse than 2001.

Mariner hitters went a collective 10-for-37, walking twice and striking out eight times. Out of all the Mariner starters, only Yuniesky Betancourt went hitless, doing so with an 0-for-4 day, sinking his batting average to .265. Multi-hit games were turned in by Ken Griffey Jr. and Adrian Beltre. Griffey, Endy Chavez, and Wladimir Balentien all doubled and Griffey and Jose Lopez homered to account for all the Mariners' extra-base hits. The team went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven on base. Betancourt stranded a runner in scoring position to end an inning (on top of swinging at the first pitch with the bases loaded and two out on Saturday), as did Rob Johnson. Johnson also hung a hat trick with three strikeouts.

Starting pitching will be covered below. The Mariner bullpen pitched the final 4 1/3 innings of the game. Mark Lowe would have a spotless two-inning line if it weren't for two walks. He ended the fifth inning (stranding Bedard's runner) and pitched into the seventh, leaving a runner on with two out for Miguel Batista, who ended that inning by striking out the only man he faced. Lowe faced eight hitters to get six outs. Both Lowe and Batista did their part in keeping the Mariners to a 2-0 deficit and no wider. David Aardsma will be covered below. Brandon Morrow had a very bumpy ninth, throwing ten straight balls at one point. After giving up an RBI single to Joe Mauer that made it 5-3 for the Mariners, Morrow threw the ten straight balls to walk Justin Morneau and Mike Cuddyer to load the bases. Brendan Harris took Morrow to a full count before grounding to Beltre at third to end the game. In his first appearance since April 23rd, Morrow threw 19 strikes on 35 pitches. He walked the two aforementioned hitters and struck out one, and also gave up two hits. It was a Senor Smokian performance.

1) Ken Griffey Jr.
Griffey may not hit a lot this year and he may not hit a lot of homers, but I think it's safe to say every one of them will be some sort of key home run. His game-tying homer that hit a Subway $25000 giveaway sign over the baggy in rightfield certainly fit under the "flair for the dramatic" column. The Mariners have played ten games in May, and Griffey has played in five. Though he's definitely been used sparingly, he is hitting .278 for the month (5-for-18). Two May doubles and a homer leave him with a .556 slugging mark for the month and a .385 slugging percentage for the season (he had a .329 slugging percentage coming into the game). Griffey has played in 22 games this season and his three homers mean he has two more than Adrian Beltre. I'm going to keep pulling the more-homers-than-Beltre stat until Beltre snaps out of it and eclipses everyone on the roster except for Russell Branyan and maybe Lopez in homers. It'll be almost as good as Jeremy's Not-So-Productive Out-Making Box from the 2004 season. Okay, maybe it won't be.

2) Adrian Beltre
Where's the fire, Adrian? Seriously, though, it's good to see Beltre on a four-game hitting streak, though he didn't hit for extra bases of any sort in this game. It was Saturday's game that vaulted Beltre's slugging percentage by 48 points, but the pink-bat game only bumped it up to .328. The two-hit game took his batting average from .226 to .234, though, so it's movin' on up for Beltre. I'm hoping he goes on a 2004ian tear before the Mariners inevitably trade him. I don't immediately have a 2004 Beltre game log within my reach, but I could imagine what kind of ridiculous things Beltre would have to do to match his 2004 pace. Beltre didn't drive in any runs in this game, but is on a 72-RBI pace for the season. Obviously, he's going to have to pick up the pace if this team is going to get anywhere. With the luck of the Seattle sports fan, I can imagine some scenario where the Mariners are in the pennant race (it's a crap division, remember) on July 31st and they keep all of Beltre, Bedard, and Washburn, and then they go on a 20-game losing streak or something. In that case, I hope those compensatory draft picks are awesome ones.

3) David Aardsma
Aardsma has thrown in 14 games this season and has given up runs in only two of those appearances. A day after striking out the side in his only inning of work, Aardsma turned in another shutout inning, striking out only one hitter this time. Aardsma threw six strikes on only nine pitches, getting two flyouts along with the strikeout. Aardsma's ERA now sits at 1.88 on the season. He has walked nine hitters and struck out 15 on the season. The walks are still a bit high. I'm hoping we see a bit more of the breaking stuff out of him. I think if Aardsma had three pitches and could consistently throw two of them for strikes and the other for a show-me pitch every once in a while, he would be really good. Come to think of it, if Aardsma did that, he'd probably be Brandon Morrow, but older. Anyway, Aardsma's been pretty good, and I think that's probably some sort of karmic payback for all the elementary school kids that probably teased him and called him Aardsma the aardvark or something. I bet it happened.

Erik Bedard
The bullpen had been worked hard for the last two games (three of the last four), and coming off the heels of a bad Felix Hernandez start, what does the Mariners' supposed number-two pitcher do? He doesn't get out of the fifth inning, that's what he does. In a game where the Mariners could have used Bedard to step up and really be awesome, Bedard was simply average Bedard. Some people might say, "well, he didn't have his best stuff and didn't get shelled." At some point, not getting shelled and simply just being okay is not going to be enough. Sure, people can use that rationale and try to convince themselves that Bedard's been incredibly awesome this year, and while he's been good, he hasn't come close to reaching his potential. Sure, everyone can live with starts where he gives up three runs or less (which has been every single start for him this year), but this start was his shortest of the year, and it was his fourth start of six innings or less. That's out of seven starts. He's averaging six innings a start. Maybe Washburn's fourth in the rotation for a reason -- to space out the bullpen workload since Bedard, Silva (not for a while, though), and Jakubauskas have been working the bullpen hard.

Looks like it's start number one for Jason Vargas on Tuesday. I could use an off day from Mariner baseball, but the problem is that I'll be watching the Canucks try to stave off elimination, so it'll be a stressful night and one that hopefully doesn't end with my playoff beard disappearing.

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