Sunday, June 07, 2009
After 56 games, the 2009 Mariners are 27-29. The mark is three games worse than the 2007 Mariners, but it's better than the rest of the Bavasi-run teams -- two better than 2005, three better than 2006, five better than 2004, and six better than last year. Twenty-seven wins is three worse than 2000, nine worse than 2002, 11 worse than 2003, and 17 worse than 2001.
Mariner hitting went 8-for-31 in the game, walking once and striking out twice. Russell Branyan, Ichiro, and Ken Griffey Jr. doubled to account for the Mariners' extra-base hits. Ichiro had three hits as the only Mariner with a multi-hit game. The team went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and stranded six runners.
Now for the pitching. It wasn't a top-of-the-line start for Washburn, but it was passable. He gave up one run on seven hits, walking one and striking out six over six innings. He faced 24 hitters to get 18 outs and threw 61 strikes out of 96 pitches. The bullpen shut it down over the final three innings, pitching two-hit shutout ball, walking one. Combined, they faced 13 hitters to get nine outs, walking one and striking out three. Brandon Morrow didn't completely implode in the seventh, getting the first two hitters out before surrendering a double. He would have gotten the third out had Jose Lopez not muffed a grounder. Perhaps as a pre-emptive move to prevent Morrow from mentally imploding, Garrett Olson was brought in to finish the inning and he got Joe Mauer to ground out. Olson got Justin Morneau on a flyout to start the eighth, then Chris Jakubauskas got Joe Crede and Mike Cuddyer to end that inning. David Aardsma made the ninth a bit adventurous, getting Brendan Harris to strike out to lead off, but then walking mike Redmond. Aardsma got Jason Kubel to strike out, but then a passed ball by Guillermo Quiroz moved pinch-running Carlos Gomez to second. Brian Buscher then reached on an infield single to put Gomez 90 feet away with the tying run. Luckily, Denard Span grounded out to Lopez, who cleanly fielded the ball this time and threw to first to end the game.
He had his 27-game hitting streak snapped, then took out his vengeance on Minnesota pitching, going 3-for-4 with a double, and driving in one run. The 0-for-4 night on Friday sunk his batting average by .007, but he more than got it back, raising it by .008 to .354 thanks to this three-hit day. He has accumulated 75 hits through 48 games (again, he sat out the first eight games of the season with that injury). This puts Ichiro on pace for a 241-hit season. To expect Ichiro to finish this season as a .354 hitter I think is a bit lofty, which would also make that 241-hit target a bit lofty. I'll settle for .330 out of him. For any other hitter in the Mariner lineup, I'll more than gladly take .330, but for Ichiro, I'll merely settle for .330. Lest we forget just how good Ichiro is. Maybe in a couple years, Ichiro will get sick of the whole 200-hit seasons thing and start drawing walks in an attempt to hit .400. Could you imagine if he had ten straight 200-hit seasons and then had a .400 season? Combine that with his stuff in Japan, and he'd have to be one of the top five or top three hitters ever.
2) Ken Griffey, Jr.
The elder statesman walked and went 1-for-3 with the double that drove in the go-ahead run. As mentioned, the Mariners didn't get a hit with runners in scoring position, so the fact that Griffey's double drove in a run is more a testament to Ichiro's speed since he scored from first base on the play. In his last five games (five starts), Griffey has gone 6-for-16 (.375) with four doubles and a home run (.813 slugging percentage). Again, I have to say Griffey doing well is in a large part due to him getting periodic rest. I don't think we saw Griffey suck any worse this year than when Sweeney sat for a few days with the back spasms. It's a good day whenever I can think about Griffey and think of what he can still do at the plate this year instead of having to focus on the good that he's already done. I'm not here to talk about the past. Ha. Still, it's hits like the double he hit in this game that give Mariner fans that carrot that Griffey still has something left and that he still has a flair for the dramatic.
3) Chris Jakubauskas
Garrett Olson may have gotten the two big outs in the bullpen before the ninth, but I've got Jakubauskas here because he got his first win since being sent back to the bullpen. May 25th was his last start, and that was an implosion in Oakland. He didn't pitch for another week, but in his three relief appearances since, he's gotten 15 outs and given up one hit, walking one and striking out three. Okay, so the one hit blew the win for Jason Vargas, but Jakubauskas hasn't hit the fan since moving to the bullpen, and that's a good thing. If he gets some confidence back, that just gives the Mariners more guys that are capable of being starting pitchers, and while that's not such a big deal right now, it'll become a big deal if and when Erik Bedard and Jarrod Washburn are traded away. We could be looking at a rotation that has Hernandez, Jakubauskas, Vargas, Olson, and Ryan Rowland-Smith (if he gets it together). I say throw Brandon Morrow into those five, but apparently he's too mentally fragile to deal with such a thing, so maybe not.
It's weird because no matter how hot Beltre's gotten this season, he always manages to foul up any sort of streak by throwing in an obligatory 0-for-4 in there somewhere. Starting with May 21st, Beltre has gone 22-for-64 (.344) over 14 games, but he went hitless in four of those games. I think the solution is easy. What do we need to see out of Beltre? How about a 27-game hitting streak? That'll do it. Also, errorless baseball from right now until he gets traded. If he goes on a tear, the Mariners are obviously getting Albert Pujols for him. Funny. Right now I don't even know if they'd get Willie Bloomquist for him, and I of course would be vehemently against such a trade. That said, Beltre is hitting .241 at this point, and I thought it'd take a lot longer than 14 games for Beltre to get his average up from .200 to the .245 it was before this game. If there's some way for him to get this up to .260, I think he suddenly has decent trade value. So even if the Mariners have a three-game division lead in July (somehow), I still say trade everyone away.
It'll be a Sunday afternoon fit for Bedardation.