Wednesday, June 03, 2009
The Mariners stopped a two-game losing streak, elevating them to a 25-28 record after 53 games. The rubber game of the series will be the one-third pole for the Mariners' season. Twenty-five wins at this point is worse than only one Bavasi-run Mariner team, and that is the 2007 team, who was three wins better after 53 games. Twenty-five wins is three games better than the 2005 and 2006 teams, and six better than the 2004 and 2008 teams. The record is worse than all four of the Gillick-run teams - it's three games worse than the 2000 team, nine worse than the 2002 team, 10 worse than the 2003 team, and 16 worse than the 2001 team.
Mariner hitting went a combined 16-for-38 against Baltimore pitching, walking three times and striking out three times. Twenty-eight total bases made for a .684 slugging night for the team. Only Yuniesky Betancourt and Endy Chavez went hitless for the Mariners. Rob Johnson was the lone one-hit Mariner. Ichiro, Russell Branyan, and Franklin Gutierrez each had two hits. Adrian Beltre, Ken Griffey Jr., and Jose Lopez had three hits apiece. Johnson doubled once (after Dave Niehaus referred to him three or four times as Nolan Reimold on the FSNW telecast), Griffey doubled twice and homered, Lopez doubled three times, and Branyan homered to account for the Mariners' extra-base hits. Ichiro got aboard in the first on what was ruled as an infield single. Though he wouldn't be down with the extra-base hit barrage on this night, he went 2-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to a now-franchise record 26 games. He has gone 46-for-115 (.400) over the span of the streak and is slugging .548 during the streak thanks to eight doubles and three homers. Ichiro is at 61 hits and is on pace for a 243-hit season (assuming a 154-game season due to his season-beginning injury).
For the first time in a while, none of the pitchers are talked about in the entries below. Erik Bedard cruised for the most part through the first six innings of his start. He struck out Melvin Mora to lead off the seventh, but then he hit the wall, allowing a single and two walks before he was sent to the showers. Bedard faced 26 hitters to get 19 outs, giving up one run on four hits, walking three and striking out seven. He threw 71 strikes out of 112 pitches and split six groundouts and flyouts apiece. Sean White came in with the bases loaded full of Bedard's runners with one out. White got two groundball outs from the next two hitters, though a run scored on the first. White also allowed one hit in a scoreless eighth inning. Denny Stark pitched a low-leverage inconsequential ninth inning, allowing one run on one hit.
1) Ken Griffey, Jr.
A lot of people were close to giving up on Griffey. I thought he might occasionally have some pop in the bat, though it would come about sparingly. Did I ever seen a 3-for-5 night with two doubles and a homer? I'm not sure I ever expected him to do that at all this season. Maybe that one night of rest in the first game of the series (Mike Sweeney DH'd that night) was what he needed. After pinch-hitting in the Randy Johnson game on May 22nd, Griffey started at DH for the next eight games. He went 3-for-28 (.107) in that span, though two of the hits were a double and a homer (.250 slugging percentage). This ordeal sank his batting average from .235 down to .208. One more really bad night could have bumped it to .200 or lower. The night Griffey had against Oriole pitching bumped his batting average to .222 (up .014), his on-base percentage to .335 (up .007), and his slugging percentage up to .407 (up .045). The only blemishes on Griffey's night were a strikeout and a foul pop to third, and those were his first two at-bats before he really warmed up.
2) Jose Lopez
After an 0-for-3 night in the first game of the series, Lopez made up for some lost time, going 3-for-5 and driving in three runs, with all of the hits being doubles. Lopez has hit safely in four of his last five games, going 8-for-19 (.421) over that span, even with the 0-for-3 in there. That has bumped what was a .216 batting average up to a .236 batting average, and his on-base percentage from .259 to .278. More importantly, he's doubled four times and homered twice in that span, bumping his slugging percentage from .307 to .369 (.947 in the five-game span). A nice tear of a couple of weeks could put Lopez back into respectability numberswise. Other than Ichiro and Branyan, I'm tired of looking at the Mariners' boxscore and seeing some very good hitters hitting below .250 on the season. Right now, that includes Beltre, Lopez, and even Betancourt. I must say I don't mind Lopez hitting second in this lineup. I don't like him hitting second (I think that should be Chavez or Betancourt), and I really don't like him hitting third or fourth.
3) Adrian Beltre
The Mariners' third baseman has hit safely in nine of his last 12 games. He's 18-for-52 (.346) in that span, bumping a .200 batting average up to .236. Unlike the thing Lopez has going, Beltre has hit for barely any power, doubling once and homering once in that span of games for a .423 slugging mark. He slugged .300 before the span, and is at .330 now. If you really want to bog his numbers down, Beltre has hit for extra bases in only two of his last 17 games. Ouch, folks. If somehow he goes on a tear for the next month, though, maybe his trade value is something north of nothing. Though Beltre's hardly the player on this team that would fetch the most in a trade, I have said that of any year, this is the one where I'm okay with a white-flag deal by the Mariners because this just isn't going to be the year. They could be within five games of the division lead at the beginning of July, but I'd still say trade anything that can be traded. Luckily we have a general manager that's proven he can unearth a Franklin Gutierrez in a trade, so that bodes well for the Mariners.
The other hitless Mariner was Betancourt (whose 0-for-5 night dropped him to .249 on the season), but I'm giving him a break because one of his groundouts drove in a run that made it 3-0 for the Mariners. Chavez landed a bunt and struck out once on his way to an 0-for-3 night. This snapped a four-game hitting streak for Chavez. He went 7-for-14 (.500) over the streak with a triple and a home run (slugging percentage of .600). I think it'll take a couple more games like this for Don Wakamatsu to consider putting Wladimir Balentien in leftfield a little bit more often. It'll take Balentien's swing to sort itself out a little bit as well. So far, it's so good for the Endy Chavez Experience. He's now hitting .283 on the season despite decreased playing time in the month of May, in which he hit .264. He finished April hitting .305. Out of all the lineup shuffling that occurred for this game, none of it involved Ichiro being moved from the leadoff spot. I think it's pretty safe to assume that Chavez would take the leadoff spot if Ichiro was moved from the leadoff spot, but after seeing Branyan slotted in the second spot, I'm not so sure.
Maybe the unfamiliarity thing will work for the Mariners tonight with Jason Vargas.