Wednesday, July 29, 2009


If this was Jarrod Washburn's final start as a Mariner, then it was a great note on which to end, and a great capper on the season for him. It'd have been a lot nicer for Washburn if he'd have gotten a winning decision out of it, but Mark Lowe had some other ideas. Luckily after four straight losses, even the Mariners couldn't find a way to not score in the ninth inning despite having the bases loaded and nobody out. They tried their damnedest to fail, but the lineup rolled over, and Ichiro stepped to the plate. The news going into the game to begin with was the fact that Washburn was around at all to make the start and therefore hadn't been traded. I should note that during the game, Mariners play-by-play man Dave Sims delivered the news that Jeff Clement had been taken out in the third inning of a game with Tacoma. Muy interesante.

The win snapped the Mariners' losing streak at four games and moved them to a 52-48 record after 100 games. The pace is two wins worse than the 2007 team, but four better than 2006, eight better than 2005, and 14 better than 2004 and last year. Fifty-two wins is also six worse than 2000, nine worse than 2002 and 2003, and 20 worse than 2001. Other new-millennium Mariner teams' records when getting the 52nd win: 52-36 in 2000, 52-14 in 2001, 52-30 in 2002, 52-26 in 2003, 52-87 in 2004, 52-67 in 2005, 52-53 in 2006, 52-38 in 2007, and 52-83 last year. Interestingly, in both of the previous two seasons, the Mariners were involved in seven-game losing streaks at the 100-game mark.

Seattle hitting went a combined 9-for-33 on the night, walking three times and striking out ten times. They were 4-for-13 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven runners in all. Ichiro and Jack Hannahan collected three hits apiece. Chris Shelton's double accounted for the Mariners' only extra-base hit, their first since Mike Sweeney's double off Cliff Lee on Sunday afternoon. Chris Woodward went 1-for-3 with a walk, so he got aboard twice, so that deserves some mention. Since I didn't choose him in the goat paragraph, I'll note that Ronny Cedeno has proven to be completely worthless and has extended his slump to a torrid 0-for-26. Cedeno's last hit was a sixth-inning single in Detroit on July 21st (the Magglio Ordonez grand slam game). Thanks to this slump, Cedeno has turned a horrid .193 batting average into an even more horrid .167 average. If this guy is starting for any Major League team after the trade deadline, something's wrong. This guy doesn't deserve a Major League job, and he's not part of the future, so cut bait already. Did I mention that Yuniesky Betancourt, for all his faults, was hitting .250 on the season before being traded? Cedeno's hitting .167. Awful.

Mariner arms did what they could despite getting squeezed by the home plate umpire all night, and they did fairly well considering the small strike zone. Since two of the three pitchers are in the entries below, that leaves David Aardsma, who tried to keep the game tied at 3-3 in the ninth. The Kazuhiro Sasaki days have me preconditioned to expect closers to suck horribly when placed in non-save situations. After allowing a leadoff single and having the runner bunted over to second, Aardsma buckled down and got air outs from both Adam lind and Marco Scutaro. He gave up one hit in one shutout inning, throwing 11 strikes out of 19 pitches. He faced four hitters to get three outs.

1) Ichiro
The Mariners' leadoff hitter went 3-for-4 with a walk and the game-winning RBI. He beat out an infield grounder to lead off the first, struck out on a 1-2 pitch to start the third, led off the sixth with a walk, led off the eighth with a single, and in the ninth fished for an 0-2 breaking ball before it touched the ground, serving it into shallow centerfield to push Rob Johnson across the plate for the win. With the game tied 3-3 in the ninth, the Mariners very nearly failed to score despite having the bases loaded and nobody out. Jose Lopez pinch-hit for Michael Saunders and grounded to third to force out Hannahan at the plate, then Ronny Cedeno swung at all three pitches he saw, fouling off one and missing the other two for a strikeout before Ichiro came to the plate to save the day. Ichiro's three hits pushed him to 148 on the season, putting him on pace for a 248-hit season. Ichiro missed eight games to start the season. If he had those extra 32 at-bats (estimate) and still carried the same .366 batting average, Ichiro would have 11 or 12 hits, which would put him on pace for 259 or 260 hits. Both of those numbers would again surpass George Sisler's 257-hit season and would fall short of Ichiro's 262-hit monster 2004 season.

2) Jack Hannahan
The Mariners' stopgap third baseman tried to make up for some recent not-so-good offense by going 3-for-4, his first three-hit game as a Mariner. Hannahan is now 10-for-40 as a Mariner with two doubles, two home runs, and four RBIs. He's also walked four times and struck out 11 times. Hannahan singled to lead off the second, struck out swinging for the second out in the fourth, singled on a 1-2 pitch with two runners in scoring position to score Sweeney and make it 3-0 in the sixth and chase Mark Rzepczynski, and singled to lead off the ninth. Defensively, Hannahan's been sufficient. There were a couple of balls that ate him up in the first game of the series, and there are some balls that he can't get to and you can't help but think, "crap, Beltre can field that ball in his sleep," but chances are that Chris Woodward or Russell Branyan or Jose Lopez wouldn't be getting to those balls either, so the Mariners could be doing a lot worth than having Hannahan manning the hot corner. As long as Hannahan isn't Cedeno-awful at the plate, he's passable.

3) Jarrod Washburn
It might have been his final start in a Mariner uniform, but he did quite well. He especially did well considering he was getting absolutely squeezed by the home plate umpire, thus making the three walks in his line a bit misleading. Washburn had a shutout going into the seventh, when home plate and the strike zone magically shrunk. Scott Rolen and Alex Rios started the inning off with singles, but then Kevin Millar turned a 1-2 count into a walk. Jose Bautista then hit a fly ball long enough to score Rolen from third, and then Raul Chavez worked a 1-2 count full before flying out on a running-in catch by Michael Saunders. Millar and Chavez probably would have struck out looking with a decent umpire behind the plate. Washburn gave up one run on five hits (zero extra-base hits), walking three and striking out one. He threw 59 strikes out of 102 pitches (again, the umpire) and got six groundouts to 13 flyouts (vintage Washburn). He faced 27 hitters to get 21 outs. It's just really too bad he couldn't get the win, but that's more an indictment on Mark Lowe on this night than anything. On quite a few other nights, it's been the offense that's screwed Washburn out of wins, but it's Lowe this time.

Mark Lowe
The hard-throwing late-inning man came out of the bullpen for the eighth trying to protect a 3-1 lead. Marco Scutaro and Aaron Hill started the inning with doubles, with Scutaro scoring on the Hill double to make it 3-2 for the Mariners. Lowe then got Vernon Wells and Scott Rolen to fly out, but then Alex(is) Rios took an up-and-in pitch and nearly hit the third-base umpire with it, doubling down the leftfield line to score Hill and tie the game. Luckily Lowe got Lyle Overbay swinging to end the inning. The two runs have put Lowe's earned-run total up to five in the month of July, giving him a July ERA of 3.86. His season ERA is at 3.42 and its badassery is largely due to a 14-outing span from May 26th to July 2nd where he gave up zero earned runs. Lowe gave up two runs on three hits (all doubles, Toronto's only extra-base hits of the game), walking none and striking out one. Lowe threw 11 strikes on 19 pitches and faced six hitters to get three outs. In short, Lowe's here because he screwed Jarrod Washburn out of a win.

Looks like it'll be Ryan Rowland-Smith pitching under the blazing sun today. It won't look good for the Mariners unless Roy Halladay is traded before game time.

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