Sunday, June 14, 2009


Maybe .500 is the top of the mountain for the Mariners. They got to .500 with a win Thursday night in Baltimore, but now it appears they've just run into a buzzsaw in Denver. This was the Colorado Rockies' tenth straight win, and though the Mariners keep getting tagged with the untimely error or the lack of clutch hit or they walk too many people, it does seem like the Rockies are living a bit of a charmed existence right now and that nothing is going to get in their way. The Mariners rallied from 1-0 and 3-1 deficits to tie this game, but they never led. Going into the game, the Mariners were going to have Brandon Morrow start, and he would be on a pitch count of 60. From there, Chris Jakubauskas would be the first guy out of the bullpen.

Seattle is 30-32 after 62 games. Thirty wins is five behind the pace of the 2007 Mariners, but better than all other Bavasi-run Mariner teams -- the mark is two better than the 2006 team, three better than the 2005 team, five better than the 2004 team, and eight better than last year's team. The pace is four worse than 2000, eight worse than 2002, 12 worse than 2003, and 19 worse than 2001.

Mariner hitting combined to go 10-for-36 in the game, walking four times and striking out six times. None of the Mariners' walks came around to score. Oddly enough, the Rockies' offense got seven walks, and none of them came around to score. Adrian Beltre and Jose Lopez had three hits apiece and will be covered below. In the extra-base hit column, Beltre doubled twice and Lopez hoemred. Ichiro went 2-for-5, and is now at .357 on the season. He's been on a ridiculous tear. Something in his game logs -- starting with May 23rd, he had a two-game span where he went 1-for-3 in the first game and had his hitting streak snapped in the second game. Other than that, he's never gone two games without a multi-hit game. He's gone 36-for-80 (.450) over that span with eight doubles, a triple, and a home run (slugging .613). That's a good way to put .047 onto your batting average in about three weeks' time (he was at .310 before this torridness). At 85 hits on the season, Ichiro is on pace for a 242-hit season. Back to the bad news -- the team went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded ten runners on base.

Now for Mariner pitching. Two of their four pitchers in this game got their entries below. The other two are in this paragraph. Brandon Morrow ended up throwing 64 pitches over three innings, so Nicole Zaloumis on the FSNW pregame show made good on her 1-3 innings choice on the Fan Pulse question. Morrow fell behind 3-0 on his first hitter, but got a double play en route to a pretty good inning of work. He gave up a single to lead off the second inning, and that runner (Brad Hawpe) got moved to second on a groundout. He then walked Troy Tulowitzki, and ball four was a passed ball, putting Hawpe on third. Carlos Gonzalez struck out after that, but then Morrow pretty much lost it. He walked Chris Iannetta to load the bases, then walked pitcher Jason Marquis to force in the first run of the game. He got Dexter Fowler to ground out to end the inning, but he'd hit the wall mentally again. His third and final inning went better as he struck out the side with a Todd Helton double and an Ian Stewart walk sandwiched in between. If not for Mark Lowe's fielding adventures, Sean White could have gotten the goat in this game. White faced six batters and gave up two runs on three hits (two singles and a double). To his credit, White was about due to give up a run because he hadn't done so since May 9th at Minnesota, a string of 14 consecutive scoreless appearances (17 innings in those appearances).

1) Jose Lopez
His low-water mark for the month of May was .216 after his 0-for-4 in Oakland on May 26th. Since then, Lopez has gone 19-for-56 (.339) with five doubles and six home runs in 14 games (slugging .750). That's right -- six of his nine homers this season have come in the last 14 games. If only the Mariners could get that kind of power spike from Adrian Beltre. Anyway, those 14 games have bumped the second baseman's average from .216 to .246, his on-base percentage from .259 to .279, and his slugging percentage from .307 to .414, which is huge. In a lineup where Russell Branyan is the only power threat, the Mariners need all the power hitting they can possibly get until Beltre heats up with the power stroke, and I don't think anyone knows when that'll happen. Until the power comes along for the rest of the team, they'll need to learn how to hit with runners in scoring position, even if it isn't with extra-base hits. For now, though, it appears that if you're looking for anyone other than Branyan and Lopez in this lineup to hit a home run, stop looking because it's a fruitless endeavour.

2) Adrian Beltre
Speaking of the guy that doesn't hit for power...okay, I guess I should be specific and say he doesn't hit home runs because he's gotten his share of doubles. He has 17 doubles and four homers this season, though we wished those numbers were switched around. His six doubles and one homer in June have him at a .609 slugging percentage for the month, by far his best month slugging so far. He's also hitting .413 for the month with an on-base percentage of .449. If you go back to the beginning of his tear (or the end of the 0-for-23 slump) on May 21st, he's gone 34-for-89 (.382) with seven doubles and two homers (slugging .528). In this span, he's picked up .065 on his batting average (holy hell, he's hitting .265 now), .068 on his on-base percentage (up to .299, which is still bad), and .082 on his slugging percentage (up to .382, which is still bad). At least Beltre's got one out of those three numbers up near some kind of respectability. The guy needs to hit some home runs, and he needs to do it now. You know it, I know it, and the American people know it.

3) Chris Jakubauskas
The Lithuanian Laser was the first man out of the bullpen after Brandon Morrow struggled through the first three innings and managed to only give up one run. Jakubauskas threw three scoreless innings, giving up two hits and walking one. He faced 11 hitters to get nine outs. Jakubauskas took eight turns in the starting rotation, and gave up 32 runs (30 earned) on 46 hits (5.75 hits per start) in 40 2/3 innings (averaging just over five innings per start), good for a 6.64 ERA. Jakubauskas has been in the bullpen for all of the month of June. In 9 1/3 innings over five appearances, Jakubauskas has given up one run on five hits, good for a 0.96 ERA in the month. On one hand, it's too bad because Jakubauskas had two or three pretty good starts when he was in the rotation, but I think it's time to admit that Jakubauskas has found a home in the bullpen as a pretty good option in middle relief or long relief. He hasn't done all too badly for a guy that I thought had no chance in hell of coming north with the big club.

Mark Lowe
If there's one good thing Lowe did, it's that he made two fielding errors so that when those two runs came around to score, they wouldn't count against his earned-run average. Thusly, the one inning of two unearned runs decreased his ERA from 4.03 to 3.90 on the season. This also means Lowe hasn't given up any earned runs since the five-run meltdown against the Giants on May 23rd. In the top of the eighth, Lopez clubbed a two-run homer to tie the game at 3-3. Lowe came on in the bottom half of that inning and gave those two runs right back. It's never good when you make errors on the first two balls in play in an inning, and Lowe did exactly that. After that, the Rockies had runners on the corners with nobody out. Chris Iannetta hit a fly ball to score Tulowitzki, and the Rockies were up 4-3. Lowe fell behind on pinch-hitter Ryan Spilborghs and walked him as well as Dexter Fowler after him to load the bases. Clint Barmes hit a fly ball to score Carlos Gonzalez from third to make it 5-3, which is the score that held up. The official scorer gave Franklin Gutierrez a throwing error on that play, and I'm guessing that was because the throw hit Gonzalez right as he was sliding into home plate. That's a bullcrap error since unless Gutierrez laser beams it on a rope to Jamie Burke without bouncing it, there's no way he can control whether the ball hits the runner or not. The odds of hitting a runner from centerfield with a throw to the plate aren't astronomical, but they're pretty long. Bullcrap error.

Hopefully the Mariners can Viva Las Vargas today.

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