Friday, June 26, 2009


News came before the game that Yuniesky Betancourt had been placed on the 15-day disabled list with his hamstring injury, which for the Mariners conveniently coincided with Jose Lopez coming back from Venezuela and back off the bereavement list. He ended up hitting in this game like a big-league ballplayer who'd been off for a week, but he's been through some stuff in that week, so I'll cut a bit of slack (I didn't give him the goat). If there was ever a good time for the Mariners to get themselves a laugher instead of a one-run game, this game was that game, and that's exactly what they got. While I love what the bullpen's done this year, probably the most awesome thing about this game was when David Aardsma got up during the bottom of the eighth inning to warm up, but then sat back down once Mike Sweeney's two-run single made it an 8-3 ballgame. There would be no one-run game stress this time around.

With this win, the Mariners ascended to two games above .500, somewhere they hadn't been since they were 15-13 after 28 games. After 72 games, the Mariners are 37-35, two games worse than the 2007 team at this point, but two games better than 2006, four games better than 2005, seven games better than 2004, and 12 games better than last year's uggggghhhh. Thirty-seven wins is five worse than 2000, eight worse than 2002, 11 worse than 2003, and 17 worse than 2001.

Mariner hitting went 15-for-36 in the game, walking five times and also striking out five times. Adrian Beltre had three hits while Ichiro and Mike Sweeney had four hits apiece. Sweeney, Rob Johnson, Ichiro, and Beltre all doubled, while Ichiro and Wladimir Balentien homered to account for the Mariners' extra-base output. The team went 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine runners overall. Only Ronny Cedeno (0-for-2) and Jose Lopez (back from the bereavement list, going 0-for-5) went hitless.

One of the Mariner pitchers is covered below. Jarrod Washburn, meanwhile, managed to get some run support and had a pretty smooth ride after the Mariners staked him out to a 4-0 lead after the first inning. Trouble nearly came in the fourth inning when Kevin Kouzmanoff bounced a double over the fence to lead off the inning. Washburn got the next three hitters out to quash the threat, but was eventually nicked in the sixth inning when Chase Headley blasted a two-run homer. Washburn gave up two runs on six hits in six innings of work, walking one and striking out six. He threw 67 strikes out of 102 pitches, got six groundouts and flyouts apiece, and faced 25 hitters to get 18 outs. Mark Lowe came into the seventh inning with two on and nobody out and finished that inning as well as the eighth. He allowed only a two-out walk in the seventh and a one-out double in the eighth. He got one groundout to four flyouts and faced eight hitters to get six outs. Miguel Batista pitched a perfect ninth, getting two groundouts and a flyout and lowering his ERA to 3.00.

1) Mike Sweeney
It would take something pretty crazy to happen for Sweeney to get four hits and not get the number-one gameball that night. It'd have to be something pretty irrationally awesome, like a four-hit game by Ronny Cedeno, Rob Johnson, or this new Josh Wilson fella I know virtually nothing about. The hilarious thing about all this is that with a mere one game, Sweeney tacked .027 onto his batting average, going from a meh .248 to a pretty respectable .275. One of the balls he drove in this game looked like he totally front-footed it, but if that gets the job done, then it gets the job done. I'll also mention that not only was it a 4-for-4 day for Sweeney, he also managed to draw a walk, so it's all sorts of crazy for the on-base percentage, which went up by .030 to .322 as a result of the game. Unsurprisingly, this is Sweeney's first four-hit game of the year, and in all seriousness, I hope you all enjoyed it because it's more than likely his last four-game hit of the season. I'd have to say that safe money bets against Sweeney having another four-hit game.

2) Ichiro
I mentioned a couple days ago that Ichiro was due for a home run. The Mariners' leadoff hitter finally ended his 20-game homerless drought by leading off the Mariners' half of the first inning with a solo shot to rightfield. He led off the following inning with a double and led off the fourth with a single. He also led off the ninth with an Ichiro Special, i.e., the infield single. The only blemishes for Ichiro in this boxscore were the one groundout and when he got hung out to dry on a steal attempt. All told, Ichiro's not just on an eight-game hitting streak, he's had five straight multi-hit games as well. Over those five games, Ichiro has gone 14-for-23 (.609) with a double, triple, and home run (.870). Ironically, Ichiro was a triple from the cycle in this game. Before Ichiro had his long hitting streak snapped, he was hitting .353 and I thought there would be no way he'd get back to that. This 4-for-5 game put him at .369 on the season, and he picked up .008 on the batting average in one day. He also now has a .500 slugging percentage.

3) Adrian Beltre
It's three cheers for the man who is hitting on one shoulder. Make it a 3-for-5 day for the Mariners' third baseman, putting him at .264 on the season. Other than in the first two weeks of the season when batting averages don't matter in any way, shape, or form, Beltre's high-water mark is .265, which he hit a little over a week ago. Beltre is hitting .346 so far this month, but has only homered twice in June. Of course, I'm not sure how much power hitting we can really expect out of Beltre when he's got raucous bone chips in his left shoulder that really need to be removed. nto the disabled list and getting the bone chips cleared. Maybe all is not lost for Beltre, since his monster 2004 season was largely completed with a broken foot.

Chris Jakubauskas
Despite having thrown two innings the night before, Jarrod Washburn was at the end of his rope and Don Wakamatsu went to the well again, bringing out the Lithuanian Laser to bridge the gap from Washburn to the end of the bullpen. This time, Wakamatsu rolled snake eyes. Edgar Gonzalez homered on the second pitch, Henry Blanco ground-rule doubled to left, and Everth Cabrera drew a walk. That was all she wrote for Jakubauskas, who was yanked for Mark Lowe, who came in and cleaned up the mess quite nicely. Jakubauskas faced three hitters and got none of them out, and while that's bad, I think this one hangs mostly on Wakamatsu and not Jakubauskas. I was definitely raising an eyebrow after Jakubauskas was the first pitcher coming out of the bullpen to relieve Washburn. I'd rather have seen Miguel Batista in that situation if you're looking for middle relief. Actually, if the starting rotation didn't have everyone get hurt, Garrett Olson or Jason Vargas might have been decent in that role, though they'd have been more of the very long-relief guys, as in one or more innings.

I wish there was some sort of Scully SAP button on my television so I could hear him call the game for Prime Ticket tomorrow, but alas, there is not. It’ll be Vargas.

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