Sunday, June 07, 2009
This team has had some really crushing defeats this season. I don't know if it's because this team is nearly a .500 team, but it just seems like the losses sting a little bit more than they have in six years. Though people have stated this about the Mariners' defense for a couple of years now, it really didn't occur to me until this game that maybe their defense really is starting to fail them. Sure, this was the leftfielder and not the middle infielders, but yikes. I've thought Wladimir Balentien has looked like a passable leftfielder at times this season, but plays like the 10th inning missed catch just knock a little too much reality into the situation. Anyway, that play helped quell any hopes of a three-game winning streak for the Mariners.
The Mariners are 26-29 after 55 games. Of the Bavasi-run Mariner teams, that mark is worse than only the 2007 Mariners, who were 30-25. Twenty-six wins is two better than the 2005 team, three better than the 2006 team, five better than the 2004 team, and six better than last year's team. Compared to the Gillick-era Mariner teams, 26 wins is four games worse than the 2000 team, nine worse than 2002, 11 worse than 2003, and 17 worse than 2001.
Mariner hitting went a combined 4-for-32 on the night, walking four times and striking out eight times. There were no multi-hit games for any individual Mariner. Wladimir Balentien doubled and Mike Sweeney homered to account for the Mariners' extra-base hits. The closest thing to multi-hit games were Russell Branyan and Adrian Beltre both drawing walks to go with their hit apiece. The team went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and stranded six runners. And I almost forgot Ichiro struck out to end the game and snap his hitting streak at 27 games. Ichiro went 47-for-118 (.398) and slugged .542 during the streak, hitting eight doubles and three home runs. He finished with a .377 month of May with an on-base percentage of .417, slugging .515. He couldn't quite get to 30 games, and that's a shame. It took plays like the one from Alexi Casilla (robbing an infield single) to stop the streak, though.
Felix gets his piece below, so I'll take care of the bullpen here. In terms of earned runs, they threw three shutout innings. Mark Lowe gets tagged with the unearned run and the loss. Though they didn't give up any earned runs, the three pitchers issued a walk apiece. The Twins got eight hits and six walks in this game. Sean White faced four hitters, David Aardsma faced three, and Mark Lowe faced five hitters to get three outs. Aardsma got through the ninth inning without having a ball put into play thanks to two strikeouts, a walk, and Rob Johnson nailing Denard Span trying to steal second base.
1) Mike Sweeney
On a night where no Mariner had a multi-hit game, Sweeney's home run in the second inning accounted for all of the Mariner offense. It was a lead that held up all the way to the next half-inning of play. Not surprisingly, none of his numbers look horribly great -- he's only hitting .231 (23-for-91) and has only three homers and is slugging .396, and the occasional injury has put him on the shelf for a few days at a time. He's proven at times this year that he doesn't bring complete shame on our house, as evidenced by his .308 April, in which he had one two-hit game and two three-hit games. Maybe he's a tradeable commodity when the deadline rolls around. If he goes on a tear the next couple of weeks, maybe they can grab a random low-level prospect for him. Needless to say, it's obvious Sweeney has no future with this ballclub, so if they even get a little value in return for him, it'd be nice. Also, since Jack Zduriencik would be the one pulling the trigger on such a deal, it'd be interesting to see what he'd be able to get in such a deal.
2) Felix Hernandez
I've heard people say that Felix was great or Felix was dominant in this start. If you stop looking at his line after seven innings and one run on six hits, I'd agree with that. There's something about the three walks that really irks me, though. I think if Felix is really on his game, he's not walking three hitters in a game. Usually that's something you see in his line if he didn't get through the sixth inning. It just seemed to me there were too many deep counts that Felix got into, that's all. Hernandez threw 70 strikes out of 111 pitches and faced 30 hitters to get 21 outs, walking three and striking out seven. One Felix-friendly stat is that he got eight groundouts to six flyouts. The sick irony of this game is that the Mariners scoerd exactly one run but had Jarrod Washburn slated to start the next afternoon, so they could have been looking at scoring one run over a span of two games. All told, Felix held a tie game through five frames, so something's got to be said for that. He has 79 strikeouts through 12 starts. We just passed the one-third pole of the season, so if you multiplied that by three, he'd end up with 238 for the season. I think he'll break 200, at least, if he stays healthy.
3) Adrian Beltre
Over his last nine games, Beltre has gone 16-for-40 (.400) with two doubles and a home run (slugging .525 over that span). Obviously we're all hoping for a monster July from him so that someone can take him off the Mariners' hands and hopefully bring something decent in return. You never know, maybe he can show some potential of a wicked-crazy tear, and maybe he can do that for some team that picks him up for the stretch run. It's too bad it never happened for this team, and it's too bad nothing really resembling a good team has donned Mariner uniforms since 2003 (I refuse to believe the 2007 team was a good team). It's just a shame that the Mariners could get nothing done as a team despite having the best third-baseman in franchise history for five seasons. It's really too bad. It was nearly the same thing with Randy Winn -- we'd seen everyone and their mother play leftfield for the Mariners since Griffey came into the Majors, but finally Winn gave some stability to the position, only to have the team bottom out in 2004.
It's really too bad Balentien's double earlier in the game got overshadowed by his missing the catch in the 10th inning, but unfortunately it does. It's a shame that he's been trying to get his bat to come around but his defense seemed to have been somewhat solidified, and he has a decent arm. This one play, though, was a killer. With Mark Lowe pitching, Joe Mauer hit a leadoff double on a full count. Justin Morneau was then intentionally walked. Jason Kubel flew out to move Mauer to third. With the count 1-2 on Matt Tolbert, Mauer got hung up between third and home (Morneau went to second on the play). On the same 1-2 count, Tolbert hit a fly ball to left and Balentien looked to have broken in on the ball, and by the time he hit full stride going backward, it was too late. The thing that hurts most is that the ball went off the end of his glove. Morneau scored easily, the next hitter flew out to end the inning, but the damage was more than done. Complete hindsightists will look at this and wonder why Endy Chavez wasn't thrown into leftfield in extra innings.
It was hoped the Twins would get Washburned on Saturday afternoon. Seeing as to how the Mariners scored one run for Felix and tend to score low for Washburn, the Twins could have been the ones doing the burning.