Thursday, May 14, 2009


Down go the Mariners again. They blew leads of 3-0, 4-3, and 5-4 before losing the game in the bottom of the 11th. Part of the good news is that they managed to hit some homers in Texas like normal teams do. Something bad is that two of those three homers were solo shots and the other was merely a two-run homer. Make it 12 of the last 16 dropped for Seattle. They've gone 16 games without a winning streak (i.e., at least two straight wins). It's like the Mariners keep thinking of new ways to lose. This time, the Mariners got a run in the 11th and set it up for Brandon Morrow to close. If anything, the game ended with him on the mound, though not with the preferred outcome.

The Mariners 12th loss in 16 games dropped them to 16-18. While it's two games worse than the 2007 team, the mark is better than any other Bavasi team of Mariners. It's two games better than 2006 and 2008, five games better than 2005, and four games better than 2004. It goes without saying now that the record is worse than all the Gillick Mariner teams. It's two wins worse than 2000, five worse than 2003, eight worse than 2002, and nine worse than 2001.

Mariner hitting went a collective 8-for-39 in the game, walking three times and striking out ten times. Russell Branyan and Kenji Johjima had two hits apiece, accounting for all of the multi-hit Mariners. Wladimir Balentien doubled, while Adrian Beltre, Kenji Johjima, and Branyan chimed in with homers to account for the Mariners' output of extra-base hits. The team left 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded six runners. Hitless Mariners included Jose Lopez (0-for-3), Ken Griffey Jr. (0-for-5), and Franklin Gutierrez (0-for-4). Beltre's homer was his only hit of the game in a 1-for-5 night. Similarly, Balentien's clutch double to the rightfield corner in the 11th to get the Mariners a 5-4 lead was his only hit of the game as well, but hits like that will definitely get him more at-bats. Though I don't expect much out of Ronny Cedeno offensively, his ridiculously awesome push bunt that brought CJ Wilson to the ground in the 10th was his only hit of the game.

Now for the pitching, not including the closing (covered below). The Mariners can always use a deep start from Jarrod Washburn every time out, but the bottom of the fourth absolutely destroyed his pitch count, and Washburn only got through six innings. Okay, a big part of that was due to the four walks he issued. He gave up four runs on seven hits and struck out five in the six innings. He threw 66 strikes out of 110 pitches and split a ratio of six groundouts and flyouts apiece. He faced 28 hitters to get 18 outs. It definitely wasn't the best start for Washburn, but considering he walked four hitters, it could have been a whole lot worse. The damage control he did in the fourth helped keep this game close. Meanwhile, the bullpen (David Aardsma, Sean White, Garrett Olson) threw four scoreless innings to keep the game tied at 4-4 until the 11th. They combined to give up two hits, walking three and striking out five in that span of time, facing 18 hitters to get 12 outs.

1) Kenji Johjima
The Mariner catcher went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer in the fourth (there were two out). The homer expanded the Mariners' lead at that point to 3-0. Johjima also inexplicably stole second, though that was more off of Brandon McCarthy than Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Don't look now, but Johjima has a four-game hitting streak going, and two of those games are multi-hit games. He also has a double and a homer in that span, and any bit of extra-base power on this club helps. The streak has lifted his batting average from .220 to .273, his on-base percentage from .238 to .298, and his slugging percentage from .317 to .418. Okay, he's only played 15 games this season, so take from that sample what you will. What I keep saying is that you're not going to get homers out of Rob Johnson. As much as we like the way Johnson handles pitchers and has a swing at the plate that doesn't try to do too much, he can't wreck a pitch on the inner half of the plate like Johjima can. Johjima's hitting .273 right now. If Johjima keeps hitting above .250, Johnson's definitely not going to catch more than twice a week. Johnson just doesn't hit with any power.

2) Sean White
This was his first good outing after three iffy-to-bad outings. His delivery still makes me uncomfortable when I watch it, but a line of 1 2/3 hitless innings with a walk and two strikeouts doesn't. He threw 13 strikes out of 23 pitches, facing seven batters to get five outs. In a bullpen that's a no-name bullpen other than Miguel Batista and Brandon Morrow, White has done okay. He didn't give up an earned run in four apperances in April. He has given up runs in three of his seven appearances in May, and has a 5.00 ERA so far this month. I kinda miss having Sean Green around so that the Mariner bullpen had a Sean Green and a Sean White. Weren't those the days? You know, when the Mariners were even worse than they are now? Ah, yes. The nostalgia. White's one of those players that looks completely unremarkable in every way when I'm watching him, so it's his results that have to sell me. In this game, he was pretty good. Thus, it's the number-two gameball. We need to run a query on whether or not he's related to ex-Blue Jay Devon White. I mean, they share the same last name, so it's got to be a possibility.

3) Russell Branyan
He had gone seven games without hitting a home run. In that span, Branyan went 4-for-26 with two doubles and zero RBIs. After striking out 16 times in all of April, Branyan has really gotten his strikeout on in May, where he has done so 15 times. He struck out 11 times in his 4-for-26 drought. Branyan's slugging percentage was steadily dropping over that seven-game homerless span, going from .667 down to .554 until this game. A homer and a single got that slugging mark back up to .581. For the record, his on-base percentage was its highest after the 5-for-5 game in Chicago at .443, and it was only above .400 for the three games after that. Branyan is hitting .286, on-base at a .350 clip,a and he's slugging .581. I'm content with Branyan hitting .250 and hitting for pretty good power. Is it bad to expect the lefthanded version of a good Richie Sexson? I don't think it is. Branyan probably hit the homer because he was either dismayed with Brandon McCarthy looking like a beanpole or that McCarthy looks like he's 10% torso and 90% legs. Seriously, that was weird.

Brandon Morrow
He's had two appearances since coming off the disabled list, and they've both been rocky outings. After nearly blowing the save in Minnesota on Sunday, Morrow finished the job this time. With runners on first and second and one out, Morrow threw a fastball to Hank Blalock. I won't complain about the location of the pitch, which was pretty low, but Blalock does like hitting fastballs, and he went down and got it, and that hit cleared the bases and won the game. Michael Young led off the inning with a single, and while that's less than desirable, the guy's been hitting everything lately. I know Josh Hamilton is Josh Hamilton, but walking him equaled putting the winning run on first base, and at that point, there were two on and nobody out. I did see Morrow try to slip a breaking ball in there a couple of times in the 11th, so maybe there's some good that comes out of this. Normally you'd like to get Morrow back on the horse the very next day if you have the lead in the ninth, but since they really haven't tried to throw him on back-to-back days, he's probably not going to close for Felix today.

Hopefully a Felix Day can be a good thing again.

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