Monday, June 01, 2009
With that, the Mariners' winning streak stopped at three games, leaving them with a record of 24-27, worse than only the 2007 team of all the Bavasi-run teams of Mariners. Of that same group, 24 wins is two wins better than the 2006 team, three better than the 2005 team, five better than the 2004 team, and six better than last year's team. Since no Gillick-led Mariner team was sub-.500 past the 11th game of the season, 24 wins is worse than every Gillick-run Mariner team -- it's three worse than 2000, nine worse than 2002 and 2003, and 15 worse than 2001.
Mariner hitting went a combined 15-for-36, walking four times (one intentional walk) and striking out three times. Ichiro doubled twice while Russell Branyan, Yuniesky Betancourt, Jose Lopez, and Ken Griffey Jr. all doubled once. To round out the extra-base hit output for the Mariners, Endy Chavez and Ichiro homered. That's right, eight of the Mariners' 15 hits went for extra bases. Proving the team is way too bunt-happy, Betancourt successfully bunted twice, and Guillermo Quiroz did so once in his first Mariner game since 2006 (he also hit a two-run single). The team went 4-for-13 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 runners. If not for a certain closer, Franklin Gutierrez would have worn the goat horns with his 0-for-5 and a strikeout while leaving three runners in scoring position with two out. Ichiro had four hits, Lopez had three hits, and Adrian Beltre and Branyan had two hits apiece to account for multi-hit Mariner hitters.
Now for the pitching. Garrett Olson cruised through the first four innings. After five innings, his only blemish was a Mike Napoli solo shot with two out in the fifth. Olson came into the fifth with a 6-0 lead and came into the sixth with an 8-1 lead. Olson hit Erick Aybar with a pitch to lead off the sixth, and it was all downhill from there. Olson didn't make it through the 6th inning, and an 8-1 lead turned into an 8-5 lead when he left the game. It's too bad, since Olson had thrown only 65 pitches at that point and surely had the strength to get further, but he was getting pounded. In the end, he faced 22 hitters to get 16 outs. Against any logic I would have employed, Don Wakamatsu brought in Miguel Batista, who managedf to finish the sixth without giving up another run. Batista got the first two hitters out in the seventh, but Chone Figgins got aboard with two out, stole second, then scored on Bobby Abreu's single on an 0-2 pitch. Sean White struck out Vladimir Guerrero to end the seventh. White got through the eighth inning, holding the Angels to a one-out Juan Rivera infield single. Though there was a lot of carnage involved in an 8-1 lead getting down to 8-6 lead, it wasn't over yet.
The Mariners' leadoff hitter chimed in with his second four-hit game in the span of a week. Ichiro had a single, two doubles, and a solo homer. His final double unfortunately didn't rattle around enough in the rightfield corner for him to go for a triple. He's started to pull and drive the ball a lot more lately. Needless to say, Ichiro extended his hitting streak to 24 games and has gone 42-for-106 (.396) over the streak, slugging .557 in the process. Ichiro went hitless in only one game in the month of May, a month this year in which he hit .377, had a .417 on-base percentage, and slugged at a .515 clip (this game alone picked up .035 on his season slugging percentage). Ten of his 42 hits in the streak have gone for extra bases. An AP wire article points out that Ichiro's .365 career May batting average is the best for any player since 1955. What's weird is that I seem to think Ichiro only does really well when the team sucks (other than 2001). The 2004 crapfest season gave us Ichiro breaking the single-season hit record, and during an 11-18 month for the Mariners, Ichiro went on a tear.
2) Jose Lopez
The Mariners' second baseman went 3-for-4 with a walk and a double, driving in one run. That enabled him to go from .219 to .230 in one night. Clearly he's following after Ichiro, what with his three-game hitting streak (5-for-10) and all. While this might all seem fine and dandy, Lopez had 11 hitless games in the month of May, and he went 24-for-112 (.214) for the month, slugging .339 (a result of five doubles and three homers). Despite his horrid numbers, his 26 RBIs still leads the team, largely due to Beltre sucking horribly and Branyan not having a lot of guys on base when he's hitting homers. We're three games away from the one-third pole this season, and no one on this team is even close to a 100-RBI pace for the season. For the season, Lopez is hitting .232, is on-base with a .265 mark, and is slugging .330. I'd hope Lopez can manage to bump that up to .270 before the season is over, though he'll need to go on quite the hot streak for that to happen. It's obvious that what we need from Lopez are the Bret Boone numbers from 2001. Ha.
3) Endy Chavez
He's gotten some more consistent at-bats over the past week, and he's doing better as a result. He's also making like Ichiro with a four-game winning streak, over which he's gone 7-for-14 (.500) with a triple and a homer (slugging .857 over the streak). The four-game tear bumped Chavez's batting average up by .025, his on-base percentage by .015, and his slugging percentage by .057. Chavez finished with a .264 month of May, on base at .281, and slugged .377. Chavez slugged what Ichiro hit for the month of May. Chavez appears to be wrestling back some of the playing time away from Wladimir Balentien. He got 53 at-bats in May after an April where he got 82 at-bats, largely due to Ichiro being injured for the first eight games of the season. Chavez seems to swing a really barrel-heavy bat. Every hit off his bat seems like it's whipped since the weight seems disproportional in the bat or something. As for the speed, Chavez has gone 8-for-9 on steal attempts this season. Maybe we see more Chavez in June.
Now for the train wreck. we knew at some point this season, Aardsma was going to blow a save. He wasn't going to be perfect. How could he? His best three pitches are his fastball, his fastball, and his fastball. Hopefully this blow-up doesn't result in Brandon Morrow getting delusional and thinking he's any nearer to being the closer on this team. Anyway, throwing in his fourth straight game and for the fourth of five nights (off day in there), Aardsma just couldn't throw a strike. His 33 pitches broke down as 21 balls and 12 strikes. Granted, four of those balls were intentional. It appeared he might get out of his own mess after getting a Bobby Abreu flyout with two on (both walks) and one out. With two on and two out, Vladimir Guerrero floated a fly ball down the rightfield line that fell between Branyan and Ichiro for a double to score one and move Figgins to third. With the score 8-7 and two runners in scoring position with two out, Don Wakamatsu intentionally walked Torii Hunter to load the bases. This is definitely where the hindsight kicks in -- it's the "walk the guy because his run doesn't count" argument versus the fact that Aardsma had proved he couldn't throw a strike. I guess I was thinking that with the way Aardsma was throwing, Hunter could hit his way into a tie game or an Angel win rather than walking him. Rivera walked on four pitches to tie the game, and Kendry Morales completed the mercy killing with a single to win the game. For Aardsma, it was eight hitters for two outs. He gave up three runs on two hits, walking four (one intentional).
We'll be getting Washburned tonight.