Thursday, June 25, 2009
The Mariners got back above .500 with this win, putting them at 36-35 after 71 games. This mark is two games back of the 2007 team's pace, but two ahead of the pace of 2006, four ahead of the pace of 2005, seven ahead of the 2004 pace, and 11 ahead of last year's pace. Thirty-six wins is five behind 2000, eight behind 2002, 12 behind 2003, and 18 behind 2001.
Seattle hitting went a combined 11-for-32, walking three times and striking out four times. Ichiro, Adrian Beltre, Franklin Gutierrez, and Yuniesky Betancourt had two hits apiece. Beltre and Betancourt doubled, and Russell Branyan and Gutierrez homered to account for the Mariners' extra-base hit output. The team went 3-for-6 (huh?) with runners in scoring position and stranded seven runners. Ichiro went 2-for-4 to put himself at 100 hits on the season, and he's on pace for a 244-hit season.
One of the four Mariner pitchers are covered below. Here are the rest. Reportedly on a pitch count of 85, Brandon Morrow threw 87 over the first five innings of this game. Unfortunately for Morrow, the tying run came in on his final pitch, sinking his chances for his first win of the season. He seems to be improving a little bit every start, but until this continues for another month or so, I'm just content to not see Morrow implode whenever he gets into trouble. The trouble Morrow had in this game was confined to the Kevin Kouzmanoff two-run homer in the second inning and the couple of hits he allowed in the fifth that tied the game. Morrow gave up three hits on six hits in five innings, walking one and striking out four. He threw 57 strikes out of 87 pitches, getting three groundouts to six flyouts. Morrow faced 19 hitters to get 15 outs. Sean White threw the eighth inning and maintained a 3-3 tie before he was in line for the win. He gave up (all with two out) a hit and walked one in his inning, so there was a wee bit of turbulence. David Aardsma walked one and struck out two in the ninth on the way to his 15th save. White and Aardsma faced nine hitters to get six outs.
1) Franklin Gutierrez
His last four home runs have been hit against San Diego pitching. He went 2-for-4 with the homer that game the Mariners a 4-3 lead going into the ninth inning and paving the way for a Mariner win. In the last eight games, Gutierrez has piled up a double and four home runs, bumping his slugging percentage from .339 to its current .395. His batting average has gone from .251 to .260 in the same amount of time. We're nine games away from the halfway point of the season, and Gutierrez has seven homers on the season. He could break double digits and hit .245 on the season, and I'll be all right with it because the defense of Gutierrez is simply nothing short of awesome. Your Jim Edmonds types of the world will manage to get onto SportsCenter on the Top 10 Plays or land themselves a Web Gem, but Gutierrez is so fast and gets such a great jump that the resultant play never involves a full-extension dive. Any plays Gutierrez pulls off this season that'd appease the four-letter network would probably have Gutierrez running a mile to get a ball or robbing someone of a home run.
2) Chris Jakubauskas
The way it's been since Morrow has been working back into the starter's role at the Major League level has Chris Jakubauskas being the first guy in long relief out of the bullpen. Jakubauskas threw two perfect innings (the sixth and seventh), striking out one. He threw 13 strikes on 24 pitches, got three groundouts to two flyouts, and faced six hitters to get six outs. Jakubauskas showed some nice potential in the starting rotation, but it's become blatantly apparent since his move to the bullpen that the Lithuanian Laser has found a home in the bullpen for the rest of this season. I think he's generally okay as a starter until the hitters start seeing him one more or two more times. He had a 6.45 ERA before he was sent back to the bullpen. This month, he's been in the bullpen for all seven appearances and has a 1.29 ERA over those seven appearances. Unfortunately for Jakubauskas, mathematics isn't on his side since even his awesome stuff in the bullpen this month as only lowered his season ERA to 5.22.
3) Yuniesky Betancourt
In all likelihood, this will probably be the last of anything I can give to the Mariners' shortstop for probably a few weeks. He pulled up lame halfway down the first-base line on a fielder's choice, so somehow he was safe on the play, but at that point Chris Woodward came out to pinch run, though Woodward supposedly had a bit of a groin injury. If he was still well enough to run, why didn't he start the game at second base so I didn't have to see Ronny Cedeno? After Betancourt left the game, Cedeno slotted to shortstop while Woodward stayed in at second. Given Woodward's semi-gimpy groin, I thought we'd see another occurrence of non-Seahawk Josh Wilson. Betancourt went 2-for-4 in this game, missing a homer by only a few inches. Over the last seven games, Betancourt had gone 10-for-26 (.385) with three doubles, three RBIs, two walks (!!!), and three strikeouts. He'll to the shelf (and most likely the disabled list) hitting .250 on the season with a .278 on-base percentage and a .330 slugging percentage.
It's like having Dan Wilson again, except Johnson can't block balls as well. He sure hits like I imagine Wilson hitting. Though he was a passable hitter when Johjima was out during the month of April, Johnson is showing he's a bad hitter as he's hitting all of .188 on the season. It's almost too bad Jamie Burke can't catch every day because at least then the Mariners would have a fighting chance when the lineup swings down to the bottom third. Johnson hit a respectable .256 in April, hit a Cedeno-esque .125 in May, and is hitting .172 in June. It's bad when the only solace I can take out of Johnson's offensive performance is that he's not as bad as Ronny Cedeno. At least the pitchers like throwing to him, I guess. When Johjima comes back and hits a homer, though, I'll be sitting here watching the game saying, "Rob Johnson can't do that." I'd have a lot less of a problem with Rob Johnson if he could just manage to hit .235. He'd have to go on quite the tear over probably a couple weeks to even get to that.
It'll be a day game to get sunburned and Washburned.