Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Now past the halfway point of the season, the Mariners are 43-39 after 82 games. This is three games worse than their 2007 pace, but it's one better than 2006, eight better than 2005, 11 better than 2004, and 12 better than last year. The mark is six worse than 2000, nine worse than 2002, 10 worse than 2003, and 18 worse than 2001. I should note that before these 2009 Mariners lost 20 of 29 by not winning consecutive games for an entire month, their high-water mark was six games above .500, and they are now up to four games above even. It's been a long road back for this team.
Seattle hitting went a combined 9-for-32 in the game, walking four times and striking out seven. Doubles were hit by Franklin Gutierrez, Ryan Langerhans, and Chris Woodward, and Russell Branyan chipped in with a home run to account for the Mariners' extra-base hits. Gutierrez had two hits other than the double and was the only Mariner with multiple hits on the night. The team went 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded six runners in all. Ichiro had his fourth straight 1-for-5 game, a streak that has dropped his batting average from .370 to .360. Only in the world of Ichiro is a one-hit streak nearly as bad as a hitless streak for a mere mortal player. Whatever...the guy's still on pace for a 246-hit season. Ichiro looks like a cinch to get 200 hits for the ninth straight season, but apparently (as I heard on KJR the other day) he has a, eight-year streak of 100 runs scored per season that is in great jeopardy -- he's scored 41 runs through 82 games. The KJR dialogue went on to say that if Ichiro ends up with 100 runs at the end of the season, this team would have won 90 games, which would be awesome. Still, it’s quite pie-in-the-sky on both things happening.
Mariner pitching...well, there was only one pitcher, so look for him in the gameballs.
1) Jarrod Washburn
He definitely threw his best start of the season, his best start of his Mariner tenure, and though I wasn't following his travails every day when he was in Anaheim, this was the first one-hitter he's thrown in his career. He attributes a lot of his success this season to a sinking two-seam fastball and some mechanical adjustments shown to him by pitching coach Rick Adair and bullpen coach John Wetteland. I say whatever he's been doing, keep doing it. Lost in the glow of this one-hitter is the fact that the Mariners actually scored five runs for the guy. Earlier in the season, this could easily have been a one-hitter where Washburn lost 1-0. One look at the game logs and you see that Washburn in his 16 starts has given up zero earned runs three times, one earned run four times, two earned runs four times, four earned runs three times, and six earned runs twice. His record is 5-6, but he could easily be a 10-game or 11-game winner at this point if the team scored runs for him on a semi-consistent basis. At that point, though, you'd have to consider him an All-Star. He is verrrry tradeable at this point. Washburn gave up only the one hit in nine innings of work, striking out three and walking none. He threw 75 strikes out of 110 pitches, got 11 groundouts and 13 flyouts (not as high a flyball ratio as usual), and faced 28 hitters to get 27 outs.
2) Franklin Gutierrez
With Ichiro and Russell Branyan cooling down just a shade, who'd have thought it'd be the Mariners' centerfielder who would be picking up the slack? The only bad thing he did in this game was get gunned down by a wide margin trying to steal third base. Gutierrez went 3-for-4 in this game, his fourth three-hit game in his current nine-game hitting streak. In his hitting streak, he has gone 19-for-38 (.500) with three doubles and a home run (slugging .658). Gutierrez has hit safely in 17 of his last 19 games. Over that stretch, he has gone 30-for-76 (.395) with four doubles and five home runs (slugging .645). His batting average went from .258 to .293 with the nine-game hitting streak, and from .251 to .293 with the 19-game stretch. His slugging percentage over the 19 games has gone from .339 to .429. This guy could be hitting .300 by the All-Star break, which I'm sure exactly none of us Mariner fans expecting going into this season. Behold, Mariner fans, and bask in the glory of your awesome centerfielder.
3) Russell Branyan
The Mariners' first baseman took out his All-Star snub frustration (there were way too many good first basemen, and too many from bigger media markets) out on a 3-0 pitch that was destroyed and ended up over the wall in leftcenter. I was hoping Branyan would chime in with something since the Mariners just had a three-game series in Boston in which Branyan didn't hit a single homer. I wanted to see him reach the red Ted Williams seat in rightfield, but it was not to be. For the record, the longest home-run drought for Branyan this season has been seven games, which happened twice in the month of May. He still homered seven times in May. Branyan is currently on a five-game hitting streak, but it's a lot like the one Ichiro is on where all of the games are one-hit games. Thus, Branyan has gone 5-for-20 over that five-game streak with a double and two home runs, but his batting average has sunk from .298 to .294. Still, who expected 20 homers at the halfway point from Branyan? Who expected 21 homers after 82 games? It's like Jack Zduriencik had a magic touch with Branyan that Bill Bavasi wished he'd had with Scott Spiezio.
Ah, welcome back, old friend. Cedeno came close to not being worthless in this game when he nearly suicide squeezed Rob Johnson home from third base in the fifth inning. He didn't whiff on the bunt, but he fouled it off. Cedeno otherwise was back to having terrible at-bats where it looked like he either didn't have a clue or he was completely overmatched. I know the division sucks and I know the Mariners aren't out of contention for a playoff spot, but along with three fifths of the rotation not being to work deep into games and an overworked bullpen, the fact that the starting shortstop is hitting .145 right now is yet another thing that proves there are too many holes in this team for them to be sellers at the trade deadline. Apparently Yuniesky Betancourt will be back with the team at some point after the break, so I'm anticipating the day when a shortstop hitting .145 will be replaced by a shortstop hitting closer to .250. Versatility is overrated. I thought we learned that already with Willie Bloomquist.
Hooray, nothing like a Tuesday night with Erik Bedard on a pitch count.