Thursday, July 02, 2009


Lately the Mariners have had the knack of dropping the first game of a three-game series and winning the next two. Obviously, they would have liked to pull off the same thing in the Bronx. It was not to be. The difference? Three bad pitches by Jarrod Washburn. Well, okay, more like the Mariners only scratching six hits against Yankee pitching. Okay, probably Ichiro and Branyan putting an 0-for-8 anchor in the top two spots in the lineup, making it hard for the Lopezes, Griffeys, and Gutierrezes (hitting fifth!) of the world to drive in runs. Instead of looking for a series win in a rubber game tonight, they'll instead be looking to stave off the sweep. It's too bad, since Joba Chamberlain and Andy Pettitte would be the easier pitchers to do that against as opposed to that guy named Sabathia.

The Mariners lost consecutive games for the first time since they were swept in three games in Denver. This dropped them to 39-38 at the 77-game mark. This makes them five games worse than the 2007 team was at this point, but one game better than the 2006 team, six better than the 2005 team, seven better than the 2004 team, and 11 better than last year's team. Thirty-nine wins is six games worse than the 2000 team, nine worse than 2002, 12 games worse than 2003, and 17 worse than 2001.

Mariner hitting went 6-for-31 in the game, walking once and striking out six times. The Mariners' centerfielder of old in Ken Griffey Jr. went 2-for-4 and the current centerfielder, Franklin Gutierrez, went 2-for-3 with a walk. Five of the remaining seven hitters in the Mariner lineup went hitless. Jose Lopez doubled and Griffey homered to account for the Mariners' extra-base hits. The team went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and stranded three runners in all.

Seattle's starting pitcher will be covered below. Miguel Batista threw the eighth inning for the Mariners, giving up one hit in one shutout inning and getting three groundouts. He threw six strikes out of eight pitches and faced three hitters to get three outs. We've seen terrible stretches out of Batista, but those seem to now be in the not-too-distant past, like in April or something. He's doing well and isn't complaining much about how badly he wants to start. It's not a mystery that the guy wants to start. A week or two ago, I was almost inclined to let him start since Garrett Olson was having a bit of trouble.

1) Ken Griffey Jr.
I can't remember the last time I was this pleased with a .219 hitter. We're not quite at the halfway point of the season and Griffey has reached double digits in home runs. I'm sure some people had certain expectations of the guy before the season started, and I think after a couple weeks it was pretty clear what the Mariners and their fans could realistically expect out of him. He's warmed up a bit lately, hitting four homers in his last eight games (two pinch-hit appearances). He's 6-for-25 (.240) in that span, which isn't anything to write home about, but four of those six hits are homers, which means a slugging percentage of .720 over those eight games. If Griffey somehow reaches 20 homers this season, that's money well spent. Griffey has walked 35 times on the season, only one walk short of everyday player Russell Branyan. The cyclical trend early in the season seemed like Griffey would get a couple hits and then fall off to the point where people were ready to give up on him, then he'd put a little carrot out there to remind you that there's still something left. It's been quite a while since he's looked completely overmatched for a week at a time.

2) Jarrod Washburn
This guy really needs to get traded. I don't know how much longer he's going to be able to stand not getting run support, but he also only has maybe a handful of starts left to get his trade value higher. His record is 4-6 over 15 starts. Out of his 15 starts, he's only had three starts where he's given up more than four runs (he lost them all, deservedly). In his three other losses, he gave up two (one earned), one, and four (this game) runs. His no-decisions saw him give up one, four, zero, one, and three (two earned) runs. I don't think it's unrealistic to say that on a team with a decent offense, Washburn could have a record along the lines of 9-3 (I'll leave a couple of no-decisions in there because we've gotta keep it somewhat real). How much more awesomely tradeable would Washburn be if he was 9-3 right now? Hopefully some teams with needs out there can sort through the bullcrap of the Mariners' lack of offense. As for this game, Washburn got burned by three bad pitches that all went over the fence (Johnny Damon, Melky Cabrera, Alex Rodriguez) and accounted for all four of the Yankees' runs. He gave up four runs on eight hits, walking one and striking out six in seven innings. He threw 60 strikes out of 100 pitches, getting eight groundouts to seven flyouts and facing 29 hitters to get 21 outs.

3) Franklin Gutierrez
The one thing you could bash him for in this game was when he took off on a 2-2 count with two out and was easily gunned down at second to end the sixth inning. Even if he stays on, he'd have had to be driven in by Chris Woodward with a triple or something since Rob Johnson and Ronny Cedeno were up after Woodward and they weren't going to do it. Anyway, it was another night of the same awesome defense and a couple of hits for Gutierrez, fast becoming The Most Awesomest Centerfielder In Baseball. Gutierrez has collected hits in 12 of his last 14 games, going 20-for-54 (.370) and slugging .648 (three doubles, fuor home runs). In a little over two weeks, he's gone from a .253 hitter to a .278 hitter. You can imagine how awesome I think this is because to me, everything over .245 is pure gravy if Gutierrez is healthy and playing the kind of centerfield we see him playing out there every day. Gutierrez is the Mariners' third great centerfielder in the last 20 years, and we Mariner fans have been incredibly spoiled with the quality of centerfield defense over the last two decades.

Russell Branyan
Mariners' television play-by-play man Dave Sims remarked that Branyan was wearing a collar of size four. The Mariners' first baseman went 0-for-4, striking out all four times he was in the batters box. On June 23rd, Branyan also struck out four times. A glut of strikeouts is pretty much what everyone expected out of Branyan, though the fact that he was a .300 hitter coming into this game made the strikeouts a lot easier to take. Still, any game where Ichiro and Branyan combine to go 0-for-8 doesn't bode well for the Mariners' chances to win. Oddly, neither does the fact that there's a zero in the LOB column next to Branyan's name. I guess if there was ever a night where Branyan could strike out four times, why not have it be the night where there's nobody on when he's at the plate? To me, that's almost worse than the fact he struck out four times. The 0-for-4 night snapped Branyan's hitting streak at ten games. He went 11-for-40 (.275), which actually sunk his batting average (now below .300 for the first time since May 15th), but he tripled once and homered four times (slugged .625).

I'm fearing the brooms as it's Vargas going up against XL Sabathia in the final game of the series.

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