Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Yet another series-starting loss dropped the Mariners' record to 39-37 after 76 games. This is four games worse than the 2007 team was at this point, but is also two games better than 2006, six games better than 2005, eight games better than 2004, and 12 games better than last year. Compared to the Gillick-era teams, this record is six games worse than 2000, eight games worse than 2002, 11 games worse than 2003, and 17 games worse than 2001.
Mariner hitting went 12-for-35 on the night, walking four times and striking out seven times. Ichiro and Chris Woodward had two hits apiece while Franklin Gutierrez and Kenji Johjima had three hits apiece. Johjima doubled and Ronny Cedeno homered (inexplicably) to account for the Mariners' extra-base hits. The team went 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 runners overall. Though Johjima was 3-for-4 with a double (how often does Rob Johnson do that?), the non-hit was a rally-killing double-play with two aboard in the second inning. Chris Woodward's two hits were negated by his double-error play in the bottom half of the second inning. Two runs scored before the inning ended. Don Wakamatsu probably didn't feel very confident in Wladimir Balentien hitting, so he snuck Ken Griffey Jr. into leftfield as well as Mike Sweeney at designated hitter. Unfortunately, the 3-4-5 combination of Jose Lopez, Griffey, and Sweeney combined to go 0-for-13 in this game, walking twice and striking out twice.
Seattle pitching had a bad night. Brandon Morrow won't have to worry about a pitch count soon, at least. He threw 58 strikes out of 98 pitches (not a great ratio) in this game, but only got through 4 2/3 innings. I can't tack Chris Woodward's error on him, but the five walks are on him. He gave up three runs (one earned) on five hits, walking the aforementioned five and striking out four. He got eight groundball outs to two flyouts, which is encouraging, but he faced 24 hitters to get 14 outs. He had to do big damage control in the second after Woodward's error play, and only one more run scored. Additionally, Morrow loaded the bases with nobody (including two walks) in the fourth, but got a flyout, run-scoring groundout, and strikeout to get out of it having only given up one run. Chris Jakubauskas again was the first man to throw after Morrow, getting a bases-loaded strikeout of Hideki Matsui to end the fifth. He cruised along into the seventh, when Johnny Damon bounced a ball just fair and over the fence, then one out later, Alex Rodriguez demolished a high pitch. Really, Jakubauskas' line looks bad, but it was really just one pitch gone wrong. He threw 2 1/3 innings, giving up two runs (on the homer) on two hits (the double and homer), walking none and striking out three. He threw 29 strikes out of 40 pitches, getting one groundout to three flyouts, and facing nine hitters to get seven outs. Sean White will be covered below.
1) Franklin Gutierrez
He had two very good long running catches and went 3-for-5, though a couple of those hits were total in-betweeners that managed to drop. But hey, in the boxscore, all the hits might as well be line drives. His two-out single in the fifth inning tied the game at 3-3. Through three months of the season, Gutierrez is hitting .274, is on base at a .360 clip, and is slugging .406. For the month of June, though, Gutierrez hit .304 and slugged .519 with an on-base percentage of .360. He homered twice in April, three times in May, and four times in June. That's nine homers through three months, and if you could do convenient things like multiply that by two, that'd be 18 home runs over a season. If you ask me, he's surpassed all offensive expectations I've had for him for this season. I'll say 15 homers for him is great. Still, the guy has an outside shot at 20 homers. In a couple years, his offensive output could be like Mike Cameron without the strikeouts if he can get above 20 homers a season. No doubt the east coast got a good looksie at Gutierrez last night.
How do you top a month of May in which you hit .377? You do it with a month of June in which you hit .407. Just when you thought Ichiro might fade off a bit after having the long hitting streak snapped, he has a barrage of multi-hit games. In June, he went hitless twice, had eight one-hit games, had ten two-hit games, four three-hit games, and a four-hit game. In other words, that's 15 multi-hit games for Ichiro out of 25 total games in June. The banner week for Ichiro was when he had multi-hit games in seven straight games, going 19-for-32 and bumping his batting average from .347 to .375 in a week's time. He is on pace for a 254-hit season, which would be three short of George Sisler's (broken) record. Still, if you figure Ichiro missed eight games, and that he's an everyday player, he missed out on 32 or so at-bats. If you extrapolate Ichiro's current average onto the eight games he missed, he'd have around 12 more hits, or 124 after 76 games. That would put him on pace afor a 264-hit season, which would break his own record of 262 hits. The point is, the dude's on freakin' fire.
3) Ronny Cedeno
The last two games have been like Ronny Cedeno Apocalypse. He went 2-for-4 and I basically had to gameball him after Sunday's game, and in this game he lays down two good bunts, has a couple of good defensive plays, and somehow hits a home run (totally a new Yankee Stadium homer, but still a homer). The results out of this game pretty much leave me no choice but to throw him in the gameball entries again. Don't get me wrong, I won't hesitate at the chance to bury this guy, and he is still a .140 hitter, but he's throwing some carrots out there. I still can't believe there isn't at least one guy in Tacoma who wouldn't hit better than .140 at the Major League level. While I'm talking about Tacoma, I think it's pretty clear that not only should Chris Shelton be up with the big club, Mike Carp is just rotting on the bench at the big-league level now that Russell Branyan came back after leaving the club for a couple of days. Unless you're going to play Carp at third base or leftfield, you might as well send him back to Tacoma. Back to Cedeno, though, I'll regain my form the next time he pulls an 0-for-4 and strikes out twice.
As you watched the game, it was Brandon Morrow who was the starting pitcher, but it was Sean White who had the Morrow-style implosion. He threw the eighth inning and it was simply an inning of horrors. Matsui stroked a double to lead off. Nick Swisher bunted along the third-base line, and while White picked it up, he stumbled and couldn't get off a throw (yet another occurrence where Beltre might have had it). Melky Cabrera then doubled on the first pitch to get the Yankees a 6-5 lead. Derek Jeter hit a two-run single right after that to make for the final 8-5 margin of the game. If nothing else, White set down the next three hitters in order, so it could have been way worse. White went one inning and gave up three runs on four hits, walking none and striking out none. He got one groundout to two flyouts and threw 12 strikes out of 20 pitches. He faced seven hitters to get three outs. Maybe the amazing thing is that White can have an appearance as bad as this one and his ERA is still only at 2.48. It was at 1.78 before the game, but he's still been money.
It's a night to get Washburned tonight. Or washed and burned.