Saturday, July 04, 2009
At the 79-game mark, the 2009 Seattle Mariners are 41-38 and are guaranteed a winning record when they reach the halfway point (81 games). The record, though four games worse than the 2007 team's record at this point, is one better than the 2006 team, eight better than 2005, nine better than 2004, and 12 better than last year. Forty-one wins is six worse than 2000, nine worse than 2002, 11 worse than 2003, and 17 worse than 2001.
Mariner hitting went a combined 13-for-44 on the night, walking twice and striking out five times. Ryan Langerhans and Ronny Cedeno had two hits apiece while Jose Lopez and Rob Johnson had three hits apiece. Lopez doubled once, Langerhans doubled twice, and Johnson doubled three times. Cedeno inexplicably homered, as did Lopez. The team was 5-for-15 with runners in scoring position and they stranded seven runners in all. The sixth through ninth hitters in the Mariner lineup combined to go 7-for-18 with five doubles and a home run, and that's even with Chris Woodward's 0-for-4.
Now for the Mariner arms, starting pitcher first. Felix Hernandez threw way too many pitches in the first inning and got into jams in each of the first two innings, though he escaped the second inning unscathed. He got into a two-out jam in the sixth (aided by Russell Branyan playing a ball he should have let Lopez have), but no Red Sox crossed the plate. In the seventh, Felix didn't get into a jam, but did give up a solo shot to JD Drew. It's a minor miracle Felix got through seven innings, but he did get dialed in after the first two innings. He gave up three runs on seven hits, walking two and striking out seven over seven innings. He threw 70 strikes out of 105 pitches, getting eight groundouts to six flyouts and facing 30 hitters to get 21 outs. Definitely not the best outing we've seen from Felix, but still pretty good.
Now for the bullpen. The first guy out of the bullpen is one of the entries below. Shawn Kelley came in to clean up Sean White's mess, and failed to do so. Kelley came in with two on and one out. He got Jacoby Ellsbury to fly out, but then Nick Green doubled off the Green Monster to tie the game, screwing Felix Hernandez out of a win. In a move on which I'm a bit iffy but can't argue with the results, Chris Jakubauskas came in to throw the ninth and tenth. He got five groundouts and a strikeout, setting down every hitter he faced. He ended up getting the win in this game. Mark Lowe threw a bunch of pitches to his first two hitters, but got both of them out. Then he made it interesting, giving up a solo shot to the ninth hitter in the Boston lineup, George Kottaras. With what was now a one-run lead, Lowe gave up a single to Drew and had Dustin Pedroia as the winning run coming to the plate. Luckily, Pedroia grounded to Woodward at third, who threw to second for the force on Drew. David Aardsma threw 29 pitches the night before, so I'm thinking that's why he didn't come out for the save, but Lowe threw 22 pitches himself the night before. Also, my gripe with the Jakubauskas move is that he won't be as well-rested when Morrow throws on Sunday. You figure Batista will be the first man out of the pen today, but he threw two innings in the final game in the Bronx, so he'll only have so much gas in the tank.
1) Rob Johnson
If this guy gets three hits, he's getting a gameball even if they're all in-between dinkers that parachute into the outfield, barely eluding the grasp of the fielders. Instead, Johnson doubled three times, including what held up as the game-winner, an 11th-inning double off Ramon Ramirez that plated the Mariners' final two runs of the game to make it 7-5 at that point. They ended up needing both of those runs for the nuttiness that ensued in the bottom half of the 11th inning. I guess Don Wakamatsu picked the right night to start Johnson over Kenji Johjima. Johnson is 4-for-8 in his last two games and 5-for-16 over his past four games. The doubles helped tack .035 onto his slugging percentage, which is now at .328 (still bad). Johnson is now hitting .203 and is over .200 for the first time since June 19th. He hit .162 in the month of June. This game aside, I still think you're punting away two lineup spots by starting Johnson and Cedeno in the same game. Also, I didn't Johnson in here because of defense, because it seems like a lot of the times there's a wild pitch thrown, I think he should have had it. He tried to backhand scoop one of Felix's wild pitches instead of using the body, for example, and supposedly they play this guy because of his defense.
2) Ronny Cedeno
To be honest, I kind of miss burying Cedeno on a nearly nightly basis. Though he went 0-for-7 over the two previous games, he hung a 2-for-5 in this game with a mind-bending home run and a single. Three hitters after Langerhans had the fan catch a foul ball and then hit a double, Cedeno got a low knuckleball and somehow reached the out-of-play part of the Triangle in centerfield, breaking a 2-2 tie and making it 4-2 for the Mariners. As we well know, Cedeno's not supposed to be hitting home runs like that, and it's almost a carrot. It's nice that he homered, don't get me wrong, but I'd almost rather it get just barely over the rightfield wall or something rather than let us know that he has even the potential to hit a ball as far as he did. Cedeno also hit a one-out single in the seventh. Also, Cedeno's defense appears to be coming around a bit, though that probably comes with repetition. Cedeno was hitting .117 after the second game in Dodger Stadium, but five games later, he's at .143 thanks to a torrid 5-for-18 stretch. Okay, he still sucks.
3) Ryan Langerhans
We're only two games into Langerhans' tenure as a Mariner, but if he stays hot for a week, it makes it that much easier for Don Wakamatsu and the Mariner braintrust to lose faith and confidence in Wladimir Balentien. Sure, Langerhans could revert into a .250 hitter, but even considering that, Langerhans is lefthanded, and if Wakamatsu goes with strict matchups, Balentien's really not going to see the field a lot. He could be relegated to pinch-hit duty against lefties when a righthander is starting for the other team. Sure, the Mariners still make the Mike Morse-for-Langerhans trade for depth even if Balentien was doing well, but he hasn't done much to take the bull by the horns in leftfield after Endy Chavez went down with the horrific knee injury. It's entirely possible that Balentien just lost his last chance to be the everyday leftfielder for the Seattle Mariners. As for Langerhans, if he keeps hitting the ball hard and plays a passable leftfield, he's going to stay there for a while. Talk about an opportunity for Langerhans.
On KJR Friday afternoon, Tacoma News Tribune writer Ryan Divish hinted that White could be headed to the disabled list if he had a couple more bad outings and that the team hoped they could make him last to the All-Star break, when he could get some well-needed rest. This was a bad outing. The Mariners had a 5-3 lead and White came out for the eighth inning. He got David Ortiz to fly out, so not bad there. He walked Jason Bay on four pitches, and that's definitely bad. He started out 2-0 on Mark Kotsay, who eventually singled on a full count. White was then pulled from the game with two on and one out. For White's efforts, Kelley let the two runs in to burn White's ERA. White gave up two runs on one hit in 1/3 inning, walking one and striking out none. He threw six strikes out of 13 pitches, got one flyout, and faced three hitters to get one out. After a game on June 24th against the Padres, White had an ERA of 1.78. Two outings later, White is sitting with an ERA of 2.95 after giving up five runs in 1 1/3 innings over his last two appearances. It's sad to see since he's been a dependable horse in the bullpen up to this point.
Looks like Garrett Olson followed by Miguel Batista (probably) today.