Monday, June 22, 2009
At the 69-game mark, the 2009 Seattle Mariners have a record of 35-34. Though that's two games worse than the 2007 team was at this point, it's three wins better than the 2006 team, four better than the 2005 team, six better than the 2004 team, and 11 better than last year's debacle. Thirty-five wins is also four wins worse than 2000, seven worse than 2002, 12 worse than 2003, and 18 worse than 2001.
Mariner hitting went a combined 11-for-34 in the game, walking seven times (two intentionally) and striking out four times. Mike Carp had two hits while Ichiro and Yuniesky Betancourt had three hits apiece. Franklin Gutierrez doubled and Ichiro tripled to account for Seattle's extra-base hit output. The team went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded a mere 12 runners. Since I put Carp as a gameball instead of Betancourt, I'll mention that Betancourt is on the long slow road to respectability concerning his batting average. He went hitless in three games from June 13th-16th, but since then he's gone 8-for-19 (.421) with a couple of doubles, a walk (?!), and three RBIs. I guess maybe I kept him from the gameball in this one because he was nabbed trying to steal second after leading off the seventh inning with a single (the Mariners were ahead 1-0).
Seattle's starting pitcher will be discussed below. Garrett Olson relieved Felix Hernandez immediately after the latter gave up a go-ahead home run to Mark Reynolds with one out in the top of the eighth. Olson needed only six pitches to get the final two outs of the eighth inning, leaving him very fresh if he's needed for another spot start within the next week. Mark Lowe threw the ninth, getting a groundout to lead off, then getting two looking strikeouts with a two-out double sandwiched in between. Truth be told, when Augie Ojeda stretched that single into a double, the throw from Wladimir Balentien in left had Ojeda beat at second, but Cedeno wasn't quite in the right place with the tag. Though it's less than optimal, I'm not burying Cedeno in the goat section in this post. Not this time. Anyway, Lowe had the slider dancing, hence the two strikeouts looking.
1) Felix Hernandez
It wasn't as good as his last start, but how can we expect a complete-game shutout from Felix again? The Mariners' ace threw less pitches per inning as he approached the tail end of his start and carried a scoreless innings streak that was snapped at 20 innings by Mark Reynolds in the top of the eighth. If anything, Felix got screwed out of the win thanks to the Mariners' awful offense that allows absolutely no room for error. Felix's room for error was something less than walking Justin Upton ahead of the Reynolds home run. The pitch that Reynolds hit for a home run was pretty low, and I couldn't believe that ball left the field of play, even with the roof closed. Again, it was a crying shame since Felix was cruising up to that point, and it made Betancourt's blown steal attempt in the bottom of the seventh sting a little bit more. Felix gave up two runs on six hits in 7 1/3 innings of work, walking two hitters and striking out eight. He threw 69 strikes on 112 pitches and got eight groundouts to seven flyouts. He faced 31 hitters to get 22 outs.
After the Mariners' leadoff hitter saw his small eight-game hitting streak end (15-for-34), it appeared he might be cooling off a little bit. He went hitless on June 16th in San Diego, the first game of a 3-for-17 stretch that lasted four games and sank Ichiro's batting average from .360 to .347. In the final two games of the Arizona series, Ichiro went 6-for-9 with a triple, his first extra-base hit since June 11th, ending an eight-game extra-base hit drought for the Mariners' leadoff hitter. Ichiro also drew an intentional walk, good for his 13th overall walk this season. Ichiro has 96 hits through 69 team games, though he's only been available for 61 games. He is on pace for a 242-hit season. I think I was listening to the Mariners' radio broadcast and they mentioned that 30 of Ichiro's hits this season have been infield hits, which is just completely nuts. It's quite often that my dad brings up the thought of just how much Wade Boggs would have been if he'd had Ichiro's speed. It wouldn't be a question of hits, really, just that Boggs could have probably hit .400 with breakneck speed.
3) Mike Carp
With Russell Branyan getting a day off to heal from getting a baseball to the wrist, the guy that's been called the best bat in the Mariners' system got the start at first base. He went 2-for-4 with a walk and was slotted third in the lineup as Don Wakamatsu decided to throw him to the wolves and find out how he would do. The man's 23 years old but has the face of someone who's 35. Maybe it's like a Benjamin Button thing -- he'll look 23 when he's 35. Carp drew a two-out walk in the first, flew out to lead off the fourth, singled to lead off the sixth, and grounded out with one out in the ninth to move runners to second and third. I'm still waiting to see the power stroke on this guy because that way I'll truly know that he's arrived. If he hits third and is playing first base, if he goes yard Branyan style, it'll be awesome, and not to mention it might be easier to part with Branyan that way. Branyan and David Aardsma might be the Mariners' most tradeable assets here with a month and a half remaining until the trade deadline.
He's only here because it has to be somebody. I weighed his three missed bunts with two on and nobody out in the ninth against Ronny Cedeno's handling of a Balentien throw that should have had Augie Ojeda dead to rights to end the top of the ninth, and I went with Woodward. He played third base as Beltre got the day off, but he went 0-for-4 and left two runners in scoring position, though he did manage to draw a walk. I'm still waiting for Cedeno to get his walking papers, but apparently Don Wakamatsu and Jack Zduriencik still like his "versatility" despite the fact that he's hitting every bit of .123. So if someone asks you today what Ronny Cedeno's batting average, just tell them he's easy to get out as .123. I'm nearly convinced that it'd almost be a defensive wash if Mike Morse came up right now and replaced Cedeno. They'd probably be playing him as much as Cedeno anyway. Anyway, Woodward went 4-for-7 in the first two games of this series (his first two games as a Mariner) and hung up and 0-for-4 in this one, so I can only bust him so much.
Apparently Garrett Olson threw six pitches in this game and is slated to go tomorrow. I'm guessing this gameday (Sunday) was his throw day.