Saturday, June 20, 2009
The Mariners again climbed to within a game of .500 and have a 33-34 record at the 67-game mark. That record is two games worse than the 2007 team's pace, but two better than 2005 and 2006, four better than 2004, and nine better than last year. The record is also four worse than 2000, eight worse than 2002, 12 worse than 2003, and 19 worse than 2001.
Mariner hitting went a combined 12-for-35 in the game, walking once and striking out five times. Adrian Beltre and Chris Woodward had two hits apiece as the only multi-hit Mariners. Rob Johnson tripled, and Russell Branyan and Ken Griffey Jr. homered to account for the Mariners' extra-base hits. The team was 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left eight runners aboard during the game.
Seattle's starting pitching will be covered below. A night after having his game end quickly, Miguel Batista got through the eighth inning without incident, giving up one hit but retiring the other three. David Aardsma gave up an Eric Byrnes tomahawked single in the ninth, but he struck out the side to end the game. Aardsma's only blown the one save all season, but it still makes me wonder how far he can get with just blowing fastballs past everyone and whether the league's going to catch up to the guy.
1) Jarrod Washburn
He walked three guys, but there was some adversity to this start. The plate umpire was squeezing him a bit, and then came the bunt play where Washburn hit Stephen Drew in the back, but Drew was not within the 45-foot restraining line, which means he should have been out. Instead, the first run of the game scored on that play, the next play was an RBI groundout to make it 2-0, and Washburn went 3-0 on the next hitter before getting a double-play ball. He got the first two hitters out in the fourth before Miguel Montero crushed a solo homer to make it 3-0 for Arizona. From there, Washburn more than got it together and set down the final 10 hitters he faced to get through seven innings. Washburn gace up three runs (two earned) on three hits, walking three and striking out three. He threw 65 strikes on 106 pitches, getting six groundouts and 12 flyouts. He faced 27 hitters to get 21 outs. Nobody likes seeing three walks in the linescore, but considering the stuff he went through early in the game, it was good to see he didn't completely fall apart. Now put Brandon Morrow in that exact same situation and see what happens.
2) Ken Griffey Jr.
The Mariners were down 3-1 thanks to Russell Branyan's drilling of a solo shot to lead off the eighth inning. Scott Schoeneweis came in to pitch, Adrian Beltre singled, Mike Sweeney struck out, Beltre was wild-pitched to second then tagged and moved to third on a Franklin Gutierrez flyout. That was the situation -- a runner on third with two out and the Mariners down 3-1 and a lefthander on the mound. Wladimir Balentien was due up to the plate, but Don Wakamatsu decided to roll the dice and go with the lefty (albeit a very experienced flair-for-the-dramatic lefty) against the lefty. What a beautiful roll of the dice it was. There have been homers this year for Griffey, but some of them just happen to be line drives that get out, or fly balls that happen to leave the yard. The ball he hit off of Tony Pena to tie this game was crushed, but that swing -- that swing -- is the swing. That was the vintage Griffey swing we'd grown accustomed to during all those years he was in Seattle, the no-doubter swing. I don't we've seen that swing out of him a few times this year and it ends up being a warning-track fly, but this time it was glorious. Maybe he really is warming up.
3) Chris Woodward
In his first start as a Mariner and his first Major League game in two years, Woodward went 2-for-4, immediately cementing himself as better than Ronny Cedeno in every way imaginable. I hope Ronny Cedeno's enjoyed his time in Seattle, because when Jose Lopez comes back off the bereavement list, Cedeno should be the first guy to go. I don't care whether Cedeno goes to waivers or Tacoma, the dude's gotta go. Woodward hit a one-out single in the second, lined out to the centerfielder in the fourth, grounded into a double play with two on and one out to end the sixth (could have been incredibly awesome), singled right after Griffey tied the game in the eighth, and scored the winning run on Rob Johnson's triple into the leftfield corner that was zoo'd by Eric Byrnes. I guess what's unfortunate in my extreme desire to get Ronny Cedeno off the roster is that they'll probably keep him for his "versatility" and use him as a leftfielder since Endy Chavez will probably be out for some time. That's a crying shame because Cedeno can't hit, as we know. I thought Woodward doing well would be able to facilitate a Cedeno cut, but I guess not. Did I mention Woodward was also part of turning a nice double play? Also, Woodward is wearing number 6, but based on Mariners’ number-retiring criteria, Dan Wilson would have never had his number retired anyway.
The Mariners' shortstop has always shown the ability to cover a decent amount of ground on popups down the leftfield line or into the outfield, and on many occasions there are balls where I wish the outfielder would have caught the ball instead. I won't say the collision was with Endy Chavez was all Betancourt's fault (if Chavez was looking up for the whole play, then a lot of it would be on him), but I think this was bound to happen at some point. The collision itself wasn't just two guys smashing into each other, rather a knee-on-knee hit, then a tumbling kind of thing by Chavez. I'm not sure if anyone communicated with anyone on the play, and it might cost Chavez some significant time, which is really too bad because the Mariners don't have a lot of options in leftfield that can hit with any consistency. Other than the collision, I should add that Betancourt was the only hitless starter in the Mariners' lineup, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout and lowering his batting average to .233. To his credit, he did see 17 pitches over his four at-bats and got to counts of 1-2, 2-1, 1-2 with a foul, and a three-pitch whiff.
Tonight, it’ll be Only Vargas.