Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Well, I guess the Mariners did show a tiny bit of fight in this game, at least enough to tie up the game in the seventh. The fans were just sitting down after the seventh-inning stretch and suddenly the game was over. Okay, so we know it all went to hell in the bottom of the seventh as the Rangers teed off on Mark Lowe. The Mariners have dropped 11 of their last 15 and the offense has gone into the tank. They scored some runs in the last Felix game, and they finally pulled off a win on Sunday in Minnesota. What you have to be worried about in this game is that the Mariners, facing someone other than Kevin Millwood, couldn't manage more than one run on four hits in a very hitter-friendly ballpark. I can cut Russell Branyan a little slack since he's at least had a hot streak this season (as has Franklin Gutierrez), but Adrian Beltre hung up another 0-for-4.

The mark of 16-17 is one game worse than the pace of the 2007 team, but is better than every other Bavasi team of Mariners. It is two games better than last year, three games better than 2005 and 2006, and four better than 2004. The pace is worse than all of the Gillick-era Mariner teams -- one game worse than 2000, five worse than 2003, seven worse than 2002, and eight worse than 2001. As I mentioned in the last paragraph, the Mariners have dropped 11 of 15, and around this time last year, they were busy losing 17 of 22 between winning streaks.

Mariner hitting went a collective 4-for-31, walking twice and striking out three times. No single Mariner hitter collected more than one hit. Kenji Johjima drove in the Mariners' only run and accounted for the Mariners' only extra-base hit with his double in the seventh. Once the game was over, none of the Mariners 2-3-4 hitters (Jose Lopez, Ken Griffey Jr., Adrian Beltre) were hitting over .250. It was the worst of times, and it was the worst of times.

In real life, you can't take Mark Lowe's outing out of the equation, but I'll do it for this paragraph. Other Mariner pitchers combined to go 7 1/3 innings, giving up one run on four hits, walking four and striking out eight. Vargas and Miguel Batista were the only ones that threw with any kind of high pressure. Sean White and Garrett Olson finally made it into the game, but that came after Lowe was laid to waste.

1) Jason Vargas
It's the first non-Silva outing at the third slot in the rotation, and it was a very refreshing one. I've liked what I've seen from Vargas so far. Really, the only problem I have with him isn't with the pitcher or the pitching at all -- it's the fact that there's way too much space below the surname and above the numbers on the back of his uniform. Of course, the broadcast crew mentioned the crazy hip labrum injury he had and the surgery he had to have, then that makes me uncomfortable while Vargas is doing the leg kick and rotating the hips toward the plate, etc. I guess I'm just afraid I'm going to see something scary on the mound, a la Dave Dravecky, Brad Holman, Josias Manzanillo, or even Shawn Kelley. I'm just glad the Mariners finally got Silva out of the rotation, though I can't help but wonder if Silva's injury is like one of those bullcrap NBA injuries late in the season where you put a guy on the injured list with some "injury" and dress someone else on the bench. After throwing 24 pitches four days earlier, Vargas threw 73 pitches (43 strikes) and got through five innings relatively unscathed. If the offense wasn't so horrible, one run would have put him in line for the win. He walked two and struck out three, and got five groundouts to seven flyouts. Six of the first nine outs he got were flyouts, and those really tested what the Ballpark would hold. Unfortunately, Chris Davis finally bounced one off the top of the wall.

2) Kenji Johjima
I'll put him here for the clutch hit of the game. It's kind of easy to do when there were only three more candidates for clutch hit of the game, and none of the others drove in any runs. After being out for 2.5 weeks, Johjima has still managed to drive in seven runs. Without adjusting for the injury time, that's a 34-RBI pace, which is a bit low. His seventh-inning double drove in the Mariners' only run of the game. Johjima is hitting .255, is on-base at a .269 clip, and is slugging .353. He has hit as many homers as Beltre (one). I hope Rob Johnson enjoyed the two weeks of playing time he had. Unless Johjima falls off the face of the earth offensively or suffers some crazy injury and misses significant time, Johnson isn't going to be playing more than every Sunday and every getaway day. I've always wanted Jeff Clement up with the big club, but maybe it's better that he's not because there's not a lot of playing time to be had. Back to Johjima's hit -- what I couldn't believe was that he took it to rightfield. Johjima's been such a dead pull hitter, I was surprised to see that.

3) Ken Griffey, Jr.
Junior walks where other Mariners fear to walk. Seriously, though, Griffey has walked 17 times, and he isn't quite an everyday player. He drew two walks in this 1-for-2 game and is now hitting .225. I guess if there's one thing I'm glad about when it comes to the usage of Griffey, it's that Don Wakamatsu isn't still trying to sneak him into leftfield or rightfield on defense. Thank goodness for that. I'd rather have him pull a hamstring running the bases instead of pulling a hamstring trying to get to a ball in the outfield. It's good that we haven't been hearing about Griffey complaining about his role in the media or anything, so that's good. So far, Griffey has proved a lot more of his worth on offense, definitely more so that Adrian Beltre has. Did I mention Griffey has hit two more homers this season than Beltre, despite his limited playing time? Yes, it's true. Griffey is on pace for a 15-homer season. I don't think that's exactly what any of us were hoping for, but it's not completely crappy.

Mark Lowe
Sometimes players just have bad days. Unfortunately for Lowe, his bad day completely torpedoed any chance the Mariners might have had against the Rangers. Of course, their lack of offense did them in as well, and they're not going to win a lot of games where they have to score eight runs. After Miguel Batista dug bases-loaded hole for itself and somehow got out of it in the sixth, Lowe came on for the seventh and never got out of the seventh. He faced eight hitters and got only two of them out. The Josh Hamilton two-run blast held up as the winner, but Lowe was getting drilled, defensive miscues notwithstanding. Three of the six runs he gave up were unearned. Lowe threw 32 pitches and only got the two outs before Sean White had to come in and try to stop the bleeding. Again, it was six runs (three earned) on five hits with no walks or strikeouts in two-thirds of an inning, throwing 23 strikes on 32 pitches. Out of all of his 15 appearances, he's had definitely two crappy outings, and maybe three.

Washburn throws tonight. It will be simply Washburnian.

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