Sunday, May 24, 2009
The Mariners blew their eighth chance to win consecutive games for the first time since April 25th, the last day of a three-game winning streak that made the Mariners 12-6. That's a span of 26 games since their last winning streak. The 2009 Mariners at 20-24 are better than all but one Bavasi-era Mariner team, that being the 2007 team, who were 22-22 at this point. The current Mariner pace is one game better than the 2006 team, two better than the 2005 team, three better last year, and four better than the 2004 team. Unsurprisingly, four games under .500 is worse than every Gillick-era team -- it's three worse than the 2000 team, nine behind the 2002 and 2003 teams, and 12 worse than the 2001 team.
Mariner hitters combined to go 10-for-33, walking zero times and striking out seven times. The team stranded six runners. Ichiro, Russell Branyan, and Franklin Gutierrez all had multi-hit games, getting two hits apiece. It's also a weird day when Kenji Johjima manages to steal a base safely, but Gutierrez fails in his attempt. For yet another game, the Mariners managed zero extra-base hits. A John Boyle article that ran in the Kitsap Sun this morning pointed out that all of the Mariners' last 31 hits have been singles. I guess I never saw the Mariner offense taking after Ichiro in quite this way. The Mariners managed ten hits in this game to only score one run. My dad responded to this by saying, "that's hard to do."
Two of the Mariner pitchers will be covered below. Miguel Batista threw a pins-and-needles seventh inning, making it a little too interesting thanks to a walk and two hits. Still, Batista escaped the jam without giving up a run. Denny Stark stopped the carnage in the eighth inning and finished up in the ninth, and even he gave up two hits and walked one, but his relief stint wasn't exactly high-pressure stuff. What's interesting is that the Mariner pitchers not named Mark Lowe combined to walk four hitters, but none of them came around to score.
At 51 hits, Ichiro is on pace (knocking off eight games for his season-starting injury) for a 218-hit season. In his current 17-game hitting streak, Ichiro has gone 26-for-76 (.342) with three doubles and two homers. After his last hitless game, Ichiro was hitting .291. The hitting streak has pumped that number up to .315. He's hitting .320 for the month of May. In a sign of how pathetic the Mariner offense has been, Ichiro scored eight times in 14 games in the month of April (two of those runs were homers). In 22 games this month, Ichiro has scored only seven times, with two of those runs being homers as well. I wonder if this is where the Mariners need Ichiro to turn up the power stroke or not, seeing as to how the Mariners aren't scoring runs. There was a year where Ichiro toned down the average a bit and reached double digits in home runs, but I'm not sure if they quite need to change the philosophy there just yet. Really, we'd just prefer that Adrian Beltre hit .280, smack 35 homers, and drive in 100 runs. That'd solve a ton of problems with this offense.
2) Franklin Gutierrez
He's tailed off after a five-game multi-hit streak (11-for-19, .579) which ended in the beginning part of the month. After going 3-for-4 against Texas on May 4th, Gutierrez was a .303 hitter. Now, he's at .262, thanks largely to nine hitless games since. I've much enjoyed watching Gutierrez this season, and I'm anxious to see what he turns into over the next couple years. I'm fine and dandy with a .240 season out of him as long as the defense is there, but after seeing him hit the odd home run, I'd like to see some more extra-base hits out of him. After three doubles and a homer in April, Gutierrez has had two homers as his only extra-base hits in the month of May. As a result, his on-base percentage for May is a mere .002 lower than his slugging percentage. Again, sort of echoing the Mariners' lack of power lately, Gutierrez hasn't had an extra-base hit since that May 4th game in Texas. His slugging percentage has gone from .446 to .354 as a result. I'd just like to see more of the odd double here and there.
Not a bad outing in a spot start in place of Jarrod Washburn. Olson threw six shutout innings, giving up four hits, walking two hitters, and striking out four. You'd like the two walks to be a bit lower, but he managed to wriggle out of every semi-sticky situation he got into. Olson didn't come out for the seventh inning after having thrown only 85 pitches, but this being a spot start and everything, he didn't do too badly. Frankly, I'm having a lot of fun watching Jason Vargas and Garrett Olson pitch instead of any instance of Carlos Silva. I also find myself a lot less ticked off when Vargas, Olson, or Chris Jakubauskas is pitching as opposed to when Silva or Erik Bedard are throwing. Part of me almost hopes the Mariners make up some injury with Silva to keep him out for the year, kinda like how in the NBA there are some bullcrap injuries toward the later parts of the season so others can fill in on the roster. I don't care if I ever see Silva throw again for this team. I'm already looking forward to the Mariners trading people away, though, so my mindset for the rest of this season isn't really focused on winning anything this year.
After having thrown four of the last five nights, fatigue might have finally caught up to Lowe. Though he'd been completely lights-out in his last five outings, it wasn't to be this time. After getting the first two hitters out, the Giants started a merry-go-round that didn't end until Denny Stark took over for Lowe in the eighth inning. When it was all over, Lowe had given up five runs on four hits and walked two, also giving up the homer to Fred Lewis. As sadly stated by Dave Sims at the end of the carnage, Rich Aurilia made both the second and the third outs of the inning. Lowe faced eight hitters, though it was the last six hitters that lit him up with the four hits and two walks. The slaughter made Lowe's ERA jump by nearly two runs, going from 3.38 to 5.32. 'Twas really not a good day for Lowe, but on the other hand, how many games is this team going to win when it only scores one run? Lowe may have had the roof fall in, but he's definitely not the only problem with this team. Lowe can't put a bat in his hand.
Too bad the matchup today isn't Barry Zito circa 2002 against Felix Hernandez.