Tuesday, June 16, 2009


[would have been posted around noon on Monday, but that was nicely during a scheduled Blogger outage]

Well, the Mariners, though relatively warm coming into this series, were not able to put a dent in the buzzsaw that is the Colorado Rockies. The Mariners put Jason Vargas on the mound, but unfortunately he was way overdue for a bad start if you look at how he's done since he was called up. I know the offense has been bad this year, and it was bad in this game, only scoring the one run. By the same token, if the Mariners had a normal offense, there still isn't a very good chance they'd win a game where the other team scores seven runs. Worst thing about this for a Bremerton guy is that Jason Hammel's a South Kitsap guy and shut down the Mariners for 5 1/3 innings.

The 2009 Seattle Mariners are 30-33 after 63 games. Of the Bavasi-run teams, it's five wins worse than 2007, but better than all other such teams -- one better than 2006, two better than 2005, five better than 2004, and eight better than last year. It should be noted that the fluky 2007 team at this point lost their second straight game on a six-game losing streak (seven of nine). That team somehow won 88 games, but I forgot how streaky they were -- they had two six-game losing streaks, one seven-game losing streak, and a nine-game losing streak. That 2007 team lost 15 of 17 at one point. Of course, they also won 19 of 26 at another point during the season. If that team was a little less streaky on the loss side, they could have easily been a 90-win team, and that's scary to think about. Anyway, of the Gillick-run teams, the 2009 team is five wins worse than 2000, nine wins worse than 2002, 12 wins worse than 2003, and 19 wins worse than 2001.

Mariner hitting went a combined 6-for-31 in the game, walking once and striking out six times. Ichiro had two hits as the only multi-hit Mariner. All the Mariners' hits were singles. Four of the Mariners' non-pitching starters were held hitless. The team went 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position. This isn't the first time I've said this, but that runners-in-scoring-position stat isn't damning for the zero as much as it is the two, i.e., they only had two chances with runners in scoring position. The Mariner offense also stranded five runners on base.

Seattle's starting pitcher will unfortunately be covered below, as will the middle relief. That leaves us with Miguel Batista, who threw shutout ball through the seventh and eighth innings, giving up only one hit and striking out one. He faced seven hitters to get six outs and it appears the Rocky offense was spent from hammering Vargas in the fifth inning, even after the rain delay. They'd done more than enough, however. Meanwhile, Batista inexplicably has an ERA of only 3.16. I have to say I'm glad they brought up guys from AAA to fill Silva's spot in the rotation because I'm kind of afraid to know how Batista would do if he were plugged back into the starters' role.

1) Ichiro
Ho hum. It's clockwork. The Mariners can be complete crap, but here comes Ichiro with another 2-for-4 while scoring the Mariners' only run of the game. There were quite a few nights during the hitting streak where Ichiro was just putting in a 1-for-4 or a 1-for-5. He had four straight one-hit games frmo May 19th to May 22nd before the multi-hit barrage started. From May 23rd to the present, Ichiro has had multi-hit games in 13 of the 20 games he's played. In that stretch, Ichiro has gone 38-for-84 (.452) with eight doubles, a triple, and a home run (slugging .607). Ichiro is sitting at 87 hits on the season and is on pace for a 244-hit season. There's no way he hits .360 for the rest of the season. I don't think he's quite within range to where the eight games he missed would be the difference between breaking his own single-season hit record. He's not quite close to that. If you do play with the numbers and give him eight hits in the eight games he missed, that could possibly put him at a 252-hit pace, which would be interesting, but he's not close to complete nuttiness (for him) yet.

2) Jose Lopez
It's easy to forget that Lopez hit a sacrifice fly in the first inning to score Ichiro and put the Mariners into a 1-0 lead. He has now 39 RBIs on the season. The game log for Lopez this month is a bit weird. He's hitting .313 in June despite going hitless in five out of 12 games. The hitting games, however, three one-hit games and four three-hit games, so it's scattered goose eggs with some nice bits thrown in there. Lopez has four doubles and four homers on the month (.646 slugging percentage), which is part of the power injection this team needed, but what's somehow more shocking is that Lopez has pulled a Betancourt and hasn't walked at all in June. He's hitting .313 in June but has an on-base percentage of .300. Lopez has hit well lately for power, but the regular batting average has been somewhat slow to come along. This is a guy that was hitting .272 after a game against Oakland on May 3rd. He sunk down to .216 after a game in Oakland on May 26th, the damage being a 21-game stretch where he went 13-for-84 (.155). At least he doubled four times and homered during that span (slugged .238) and drove in four runs.

3) Roy Corcoran
Although he walked a guy during 1 1/3 innings of no-pressure relief since the game was already way out of reach, how about three cheers for Corcoran in his first appearance back from the shelf? Corcoran's last appearance with the big club was on April 28th. He had a good string of three outings to start the season, but then he hit the skids, giving up runs in four of five outings before going off with the injury. He gave up a total of seven runs in those five appearances (12.60 ERA). Knowing that the injury may have been a reason as to why he'd been doing so badly, it's probably safe to say we wipe the slate clean with Corcoran and see how he does from here on out. More importantly, I think it means the Mariners should finally send Brandon Morrow down to get some starts under his belt. While I didn't mind that the Mariners stretched Morrow's pitch count in the Saturday game of this series, I'd rather they send him down so he can dominate AAA hitting as a starter. If he gets his pitch count stretched out on the big-league level as a starter but he gets lit up, does that really do the job?

Jason Vargas
As I mentioned at the beginning of all this, Vargas was very long overdue for a start like this. In his six prior starts, Vargas gave up 11 runs (10 earned) in 34 2/3 innings (5 2/3 innings per start, 2.60 ERA). For someone who's pretty much been put into the rotation out of necessity, he's gotten far enough into the games. What's shocking is that the Mariners were only behind 2-1 going into the bottom of the fifth. Vargas did not finish that inning. The roof fell in on Vargas, most likely because his former college teammate, Troy Tulowitzki, surely gave the team all they needed about his pitching. A double by Brad Hawpe made it 3-1 for the Rockies, then the catcher Chris Iannetta hit a three-run double with the bases loaded to break the game wide open. Dexter Fowler doubled Iannetta home to make it 7-1, and Vargas was pulled for Corcoran, who mercifully got the final out of the inning. I like having Vargas in the rotation, but I seriously hope he doesn't end up going all Jakubauskas on us all. They need him. He's better than Carlos Silva.

A Monday off day, yes indeed, before a Felix night.

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