Wednesday, May 27, 2009
The 2009 Seattle Mariners are now 21-26 at the 47-game mark. They have gone a span of 31 games without winning consecutive games. The last win that was part of a streak was the final game of a three-game winning streak (April 25th). Since that point, the Mariners have lost 20 of 29 games (winning percentage of .310 in that span -- even last year's team finished with a .377 mark). After the pretty good start this team had, they've now spent two weeks under .500. Who'll get traded first? Of the Bill Bavasi Mariner teams, they are still worse than only the 2007 team, who was 25-22 at this point. The 21 wins ties the 2006 team, is three wins better than the 2005 and 2008 teams, and is four better than the 2004 team. In comparison to the Gillick teams, 21 wins is four worse than 2000, ten worse than 2002 and 2003, and 14 worse than 2001.
Mariner hitting combined to go 9-for-34 at the plate, walking once and striking out three times. Mike Sweeney, Adrian Beltre, and Rob Johnson all doubled to account for the Mariners' extra-base output. As the true mark of a bad team, the Mariners finally got good starting pitching and got hits with runners in scoring position (3-for-6), but now the bullpen crapped itself. The play of the game that signals the universe has plotted against the Mariners, however, is the play where Mike Sweeney would have scored rounding third base but fell down due to back spasms. As someone who just experienced something similar (spasm or mega-cramp), I can tell you that it really really sucks, especially if you can't walk for two days. Sweeney was able to get back to third base, so that was encouraging. Anyway, that would have left the Mariners with at least a 3-0 lead coming out of the first inning. As for the Ichiro update, he went 1-for-4 and drove in a run. In other words, Ichiro's up to a 20-game hitting streak over which he's gone 33-for-88 (.375). He was hitting .291 before the hitting streak started as is now at .333.
I'm sure I'll get to the Mariner pitching below. Even the goat will tie in the one pitcher that won't get one of these entries...
1) Jarrod Washburn
Usually I don't give a gameball to an entrenched starting pitcher if he only goes six innings, but Washburn still has a bit of a squeaky left knee and it was his first start in a couple turns through the rotation. Washburn threw six shutout innings, giving up six hits and walking one. He struck out four hitters as well. Washburn threw 61 strikes out of 97 pitches and faced 24 hitters to get 18 outs. He got six groundouts to eight flyouts, which to me seems a little bit more tilted to the groundball end of the spectrum than I'm used to seeing out of him. After starting the season 3-0, Washburn is 3-3 and his record stomps my dreams of having him go 13-2 and reaping the rewards at the trade deadline. If you look at his game-by-game log (I do that with most of these gameball/goat entries now), Washburn in six games (maybe seven) has put up numbers that look like those of a winning pitcher. If he was the pitcher of record every time out and you took a gander at this log, he could be 6-2, 6-3, or 7-2. Instead, he's a .500 pitcher. I don't think there's any way he makes it past the deadline with this team, but if he does, the tanking should be frigging epic.
2) Adrian Beltre
Unless you're begging for a home run out of him (legitimate gripe), you'd have to say a 2-for-4 day with a double and an RBI is a fairly good day for Beltre. Two extra-base hits in the last three games have bumped his slugging percentage from .306 to .326, which is still pretty pathetic for Beltre, but it'll be baby steps here for a while. Can you imagine how much better we'd feel about Beltre if he went on a crazy tear right now? Maybe a eight homers in the next ten games or something? We'd all be celebrating that, sure, but we'd also be lamenting where that kind of power was for the first month and a half of the season. If he did go on exactly the kind of tear I just specified, he'd have 11 homers as a result. He'd finally be on the home run-hitting pace that we've been expecting out of him ever since he got here. That of course means he probably wouldn't be able to keep up with that sort of pace. Does anyone see Beltre breaking 30 homers this season? I certainly don't. Maybe he'll hit 20. This isn't really that great of a walk-year performance for Beltre right now.
3) Yuniesky Betancourt
The Mariners' shortstop went 2-for-4, scoring a run. He's now hitting .265 on the season and .225 for the month of May. Betancourt has been a tough guy to strike out, and he's only done so three times in May. To offset that, he's walked seven times this month. We're three games into the Betancourt-at-two-slot experiment, and I'm liking what I'm seeing so far. I'd like to see more hit-and-run with Betancourt, but that's something I think they should have tried before they benched him to drill patience into his head. Betancourt has not had an on-base percentage over .300 since May 4th. The entire team went through that 31-straight-non-extra-base-hits streak, and Betancourt is no exception as he has gone the last seven games without an extra-base hit. He's hit six singles in that span (6-for-22) and walked twice. I guess if there's one thing Betancourt's been better at this season, it's that he hasn't been caught stealing yet. He's 3-for-3 when stealing bases. Incredible. Lest we forget his first Major League hit was a triple, and I thought he would have used that speed a little better since.
Batista and Mark Lowe were kind of Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dumb in this game, but I'll give the goat to Batista for setting the table for the carnage. I haven't been able to use this one for a while, but here we go -- it doesn't matter if he's writing a novel or if he's pitching, with Batista it's always murder. Batista got one man out, then ended up yielding two singles and two walks. When he was pulled, the Mariners led 3-1 and the bases were loaded. Lowe made fully sure that Batista would pay for his ineptitude as all of the runners Lowe inherited ended up crossing the plate. While it's easy to pile on Batista here, he had thrown seven straight scoreless outings over 8 1/3 innings. As is the case for all relief pitchers, a bad outing balloons the ol' ERA, which for Batista went from 2.28 all the way up to 3.75, effectively undoing the last seven outings strictly in ERA terms (he was at 3.52 after his last bad outing). Batista in this outing faced five hitters to get one out and threw 14 strikes out of 25 pitches.
It'll be an afternoon of Bedardation. That could be good or bad.