Monday, June 08, 2009
The rubber game of the series at least had the Mariners sending Erik Bedard to the mound, so one would figure the Mariners had a decent chance of winning. However, the opponent was formidable as Kevin Slowey had an 8-1 record coming into the game and had only walked seven hitters on the season thanks to his impeccable control. The Mariners were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position in the series after the first two games. The Mariners' roster move going into this game was the designation of Denny Stark for assignment and the call-up of Jamie Burke, meaning the Mariners are carrying three catchers. Unsurprisingly, he caught Erik Bedard in this game.
The Mariners brought their mark to 28-29 after 57 games after winning their fourth game in five tries and their seventh in ten tries. Of the Bavasi-run Mariner teams, 28 wins is worse than only the 2007 team by three games. Twenty-eight wins is three better than the 2005 and 2006 teams, six better than the 2004 team, and seven better than last year. It's also two worse than 2000, eight worse than 2002, 11 worse than 2003, and 17 worse than 2001.
Mariner hitting went a combined 12-for-35, walking five times (including an astronomical two off of Kevin Slowey) and striking out six times. Russell Branyan, Jose Lopez, and Jamie Burke all hit solo homers and Lopez also doubled to account for the Mariners' extra-base hits. The Mariners went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position (0-for-17 for the series) and stranded 13 runners. Ichiro, Branyan, Adrian Beltre, and Jamie Burke all had two hits apiece while Lopez had three hits.
Mariner starting pitching will be covered below. Four pitchers out of the Mariner bullpen threw an inning each (and gave up a hit apiece) to finish off the game. Miguel Batista walked a guy in his inning, facing five hitters. Garrett Olson struck out one hitter (Justin Morneau) out of the four he faced. Mark Lowe faced four hitters in his inning. The Mariners gave David Aardsma some rest and had Sean White close the game out. He gave up a leadoff single and had two on with two out, but other than that, it was without incident on the way to a save. That's 18 hitters faced for 12 outs by the bullpen.
1) Jose Lopez
The Mariners' second baseman went 3-for-5 with a double and a homer, driving in two of the Mariners' four runs. He doubled in the third to score Adrian Beltre and make it 2-0 for the Mariners. Right after the Twins tied the score in the top of the fifth, Lopez led off the bottom of the fifth with a homer to put the Mariners back into the lead at 3-2. Lopez rounded out the goodness with a one-out single in the seventh. One Sunday afternoon bumped Lopez's batting average up by .009 to .236, his on-base percentage up by .007 to .274 (still bad), and his slugging percentage by .024 to .377 (i.e., what Ichiro's batting average was for the month of May). Lopez is hitting .280 so far in June after a .214 May, but the .280 is despite Lopez going hitless in three of the Mariners' six games this month. That said, Lopez has five extra-base hits after only six games this month. He had eight extra-base hits in all of May (27 games). He slugged .339 in May, which again, is lower that Ichiro's batting average for the same month. Anyway, if Lopez can get the average back up to .270 and respectability, this team will be clicking a little better.
2) Jamie Burke
In his fifth big-league game of the season and his first since April 28th, Burke homered on his way to a 2-for-4 day along with a strikeout. It had to be tough when Kenji Johjima went down with the injury and Burke was skunked on the call-up in favor of Guillermo Quiroz. It seems the Mariners thought they'd be better off designating Denny Stark for assignment rather than putting Rob Johnson on the disabled list, but either way, the move is Jamie Burke's gain. Maybe it was a combination of not wanting to put Johnson on the disabled list along with Erik Bedard maybe chirping about not wanting Guillermo Quiroz to catch him. It didn't appear to really help Bedard in this game, but whatever. Every time I've seen Johjima or Burke hit a home run this season, I just sit back and think to myself, "hey, that's something Rob Johnson can't do!" Johnson can't turn on a ball like Johjima can, that's for sure. Burke's swing looked a bit funny on his homer in this game, but Johnson can't seem to luck out and hit a homer with his swing, which doesn't seem fully realized.
3) Russell Branyan
He might not last on this team for the entire season, but Branyan's charmed season continues. He went 2-for-4 with a walk and a home run that was absolutely crushed. It's been a while since I saw someone reach the grass behind the wall in dead centerfield. The great thing is that it seemed throughout that at-bat that he was slowly squaring up the pitches, and he fouled off four pitches during the course of that at-bat until he got the money pitch. Branyan hit .317 in May and is hitting 6-for-19 (.316) so far in June along with a double and two homers (slugging .684 for the month). So far we've learned that Branyan is way better than the bad version of Richie Sexson. If it's a gripe at all, Branyan's defense isn't quite as good as Sexson's was, but the Mariners didn't get either of those guys for their defense. Also interesting is that although Branyan's ratio of hits to strikeouts is nearly one-to-one, he walked six times in April, but walked 16 times in May and has seven already so far in June. So...let's have the Mariners trade him with his value is sky-high.
Yes, I can give the goat to the winning pitcher. It's starts like this one that make me hate watching Bedard pitch. He had the curveball going, sure, but the guy was all over the freakin' place. He only threw 59 strikes out of his 101 pitches. He walked four hitters and struck out four, and got five groundouts to six flyouts. He faced 23 hitters to get 15 outs. He made the game go slow as molasses, and when you're watching him throw balls all over the place and the game goes over three hours, it's just exhausting. Sure, he managed to wriggle out of every jam he was in, but I can't believe we all got duped into thinking this guy last year could be a staff ace. A guy that's barely averaging six innings per start cannot be your staff ace. As far as I'm concerned, that guy is a decent third starter and a great fourth starter. The best part is that the Mariners only had to trade five guys to get him. Just wonderful. I didn't even get the chance to thank Bill Bavasi on his way out before the door hit him in the behind.
It'll be Vargas and crab cakes and Charm City Cakes tomorrow.