Monday, June 29, 2009
The Mariners' ninth win in 12 games catapulted them to three games above .500, a place they haven't been since they were 15-12, five games into the month of May. They are 39-36 after 75 games, and that record is three games worse than the 2007 team's pace, but three better than the 2006 pace, six better than 2005, eight better than 2004, and 13 better than last year.
Seattle hitting went 9-for-36 in the game, walking zero times and striking out six times. Jose Lopez collected three hits while Ronny Cedeno somehow collected two. Lopez also doubled for the only extra-base hit of the game for the Mariners. The team went 3-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded six runners overall.
Seattle's starting pitcher will be covered below. The Mariner bullpen handled the final four innings of the game, which they were in decent shape to do since the pitching didn't implode in the first two games of the series and since the Mariners had the next day off. Much like Chris Jakubauskas is the first guy out of the bullpen when Brandon Morrow gets the start, it appears Miguel Batista is the first guy out of the bullpen when Garrett Olson is getting the start. Batista threw the sixth and seventh innings, giving up a hit and a walk, and gettting four groundouts to one flyout. Batista faced seven hitters to get six outs. Mark Lowe threw the eighth inning and struck out one while retiring the side in order. David Aardsma threw a 1-2-3 ninth inning for the save, striking out Matt Kemp to end the game. There you have it, four innings of one-hit shutout ball by the Mariner bullpen.
1) Ronny Cedeno
If this guy goes 2-for-4 and I don't give him the number one gameball, he's never going to get one. He's turned in some decent defensive plays and a couple of good bunts here and there, proving himself to be just worthless, which is better than the "completely worthless" tag that I was throwing around just last week. Even still, with Adrian Beltre apparently now really and totally going to the disabled list this time, I'm designating Cedeno for assignment and bringing up Chris Shelton because there's no way Shelton's going to hit worse than Cedeno at the big-league level. Or I'd throw Josh Wilson into the fire until he proves he can't hit anything over .150 over two weeks of play. If all Cedeno can do is bunt, there's no way I'm keeping him on the roster if he's hitting .133 on the season like he is right now. This 2-for-4 game doubled his hitting output for the month of June. He can't hit (except for this game), he can field decently but nowhere close to what people's expectations were of him...how could this guy play on any Major League team, anyway? It's like having Luis Ugueto except you're playing him every day.
2) Jose Lopez
The Mariners' second baseman went 0-for-5 in his first game back from the bereavement list after the loss of his sister in Venezuela. In the three games since, Lopez has gone 8-for-12 with a double and four RBIs. He's found the hitting shoes he had on before he left for Venezuela, but he hasn't found the power stroke yet. Lopez seems to toss in the odd 0-fer here and there, but when he does get hits, he tends to have multi-hit games -- he has seven hitless games, three one-hit games, two two-hit games, and six three-hit games in the month of June. Lopez is hitting .347 for the month, and I'm glad we didn't have to think too long about having both Lopez and Betancourt gone at the same time. He's hitting .263 on the season, the highest it's been since early May, when the numbers fluctuate so much that it matters a little bit less. One interesting thing is that Lopez hasn't walked in June, and thus his on-base percentage for the month (.333) is lower than his batting average for the month. Still, the Mariners will be better off when Lopez finds the home-run stroke again.
3) Garrett Olson
It's almost on cue in every one of Olson's starts -- he rolls along and almost teases you through the first three or four innings, then he hits the wall. The same thing happened in this outing, but the wall wasn't a brick wall. It was more made of cardboard or couch pillows, and therefore Olson was able to make it through the fifth inning and qualify for the win. It's become clear over his last two starts that it's usually not his pitch count that runs Olson from the game, it's moer than likely how hard the opposing hitters are hitting the pitches. I think another factor is that I think they keep his pitch counts low during the starts in case they need him out of the bullpen midway between his starts. It could be the other way around -- they could bring him out of the pen anyway and keep his count low on his subsequent start. If you look at his game log, he usually throws something like two starts, then a bullpen appearance or two, then another start or two. His role is kind of reminding me of Ryan Franklin's role with the team back in 2002-2003.
I guess between Griffey's 0-for-4, Johjima's 0-for-4, and the fact that Ronny Cedeno didn't go 0-for-4, I went with Johjima's 0-for-4. Since we know of people like Jarrod Washburn saying Rob Johnson is one of the best receivers he's thrown to -- and we never hear anyone say stuff like that about Johjima -- it's clear that Johjima's worth with this team is when he's in the batter's box. When Johjima is going 0-for-4, they might as well have Rob Johnson behind the plate that night. I know the second that Johjima hits a home run (it'll be his first since May 25th) I'll probably just say, "Rob Johnson can't do that," and then forget about most of the stuff I've said here regarding Johjima. That is, until the next time he goes 0-for-4. If Johjima can get his current .229 average up to about .265 or .270 by the end of the year, I think I'll be sort of content with that. I'm just resigned to the fact that the Mariners have him until they don't have him, and that won't happen for another couple of years.
Our reward for this? Watching Brandon Morrow start in the new Yankee Stadium against Joba Chamberlain. This could be really bad or kinda good.