Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Well, hey! A second full-on bullpen meltdown in three games? Oh yes. I thought we'd have a better possibility of having Erik Bedard blow up, but much like Brandon Morrow's starts lately, it's someone after him that has the blowup. Erik Bedard did about as well as he could given his pitch limit and even left with the lead. It was all downhill from there. This wasn't a one-run Mariner win or a one-run Mariner loss. This was an all-out laugher at the expense of the Mariners, which is not something that has happened too many times this season.

The Mariners are now at 43-40 after 83 team games. This is four games worse than the 2007 pace, but is one better than 2006, eight better than 2005, and 11 worse than both 2004 and last year. Forty-three wins is six worse than 2000, nine worse than 2002, 11 worse than 2003, and 18 worse than 2001.

Mariner hitting went a combined 7-for-32 on the night, walking six times and walking seven times. Ronny Cedeno had two hits as the only multi-hit Mariner. Jose Lopez, Ken Griffey Jr. (who luckily wasn't injured), and Cedeno doubled, and Franklin Gutierrez homered to account for the Mariners' extra-base hits. The team went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight runners in all. Ichiro had his fifth straight one-hit game, going 1-for-4. That five-game streak has sunk his season batting average from .370 to a pedestrian .358. He's following up a .407 June with a .219 July (so far). I'm not worried because I know Ichiro's going to get mad and go nuts again. Russell Branyan and Ryan Langerhans (three strikeouts) both went 0-for-4, but thanks to the bullpen, I get to mention them here instead of in the goat entry.

Now for the arms. The starter is below, as is one of the bullpen guys. Shawn Kelley came into the top of the sixth with one out and the Orioles up 5-3, having gotten three runs across. After going 0-2 on Melvin Mora, he gave up an RBI single to make it 6-3 before getting a double-play ball to end the inning. Then came the seventh. Adam Jones singled with one out, Nick Markakis drew a walk, and then Ty Wigginton doubled to score Jones and make it 7-3. Aubrey Huff was intentionally walked to set up a double play, but then Nolan Reimold singled to score Markakis and Wigginton to make it 9-3. Roy Corcoran came in for Kelley, and gave up a homer on his first pitch to Luke Scott to make it 12-3 and cap the Orioles' scoring. Kelley gave up five runs on four hits, walking two and striking out none in his inning of work. He threw 13 strikes out of 26 pitches, getting two groundouts and one flyout, and facing eight hitters to get three outs. Corcoran gave up one run on one hit, walking one and striking out none in 1 2/3 innings of work. He threw 10 strikes out of 14 pitches, got all five outs on groundouts, and faced six hitters to get five outs. Sean White threw a complete soft-landing ninth, striking out one.

1) Erik Bedard
He threw about as well as you could throw on a limited pitch count. Maybe that's what kept him going. Maybe Bedard is the shutdown lefthanded long reliever the Mariners only kinda/sorta need. After the first inning, Bedard pretty much locked it down. He was freezing hitters with the breaking stuff. Bedard went four innings and gave up two runs on two hits, walking one and striking out eight. He threw 46 strikes out of 72 pitches, and got two groundouts and two flyouts. He faced 16 hitters to get 12 outs. Read that again -- he struck out half the hitters he faced, and eight of his 12 recorded outs were via the strikeout. Granted, it's not a style of pitching that lends itself well to working deep into ballgames, but when it's working, it can be fun to watch. Unfortunately for the team, the bullpen will have to pick up after his scraps the next few outings until he gets back up to speed with the pitch count and everything. This game was almost a double-whammy for the team because not only did the bullpen have to pick up for Bedard, the bullpen was absolutely horrible in picking up after Bedard.

2) Ronny Cedeno
The Mariners' fill-in shortstop went 2-for-4 on the night (a bunt single and a meaningless double in the ninth) and was the only Mariner to collect multiple hits. He's now hitting .156 and might soon hit his weight if he keeps it up. Right now, we're still left to draw a line even lower than the Mendoza Line and call it the Cedeno Line. In an attempt to look at his game log and find the most flattering numbers, the best I can come up with is that Cedeno has hit safely in four of his last five games, going 6-for-21 (.286) with a double, triple, and home run (slugging .571). You could go back to June 28th and say that he's gone 9-for-34 (.265) with a double, triple, and two home runs (slugging .529). Yuniesky Betancourt was injured on June 24th. From June 25th onward as starting shortstop, Cedeno has gone 9-for-42 (.214) with a double, triple, and two home runs, driving in seven runs, walking twice, and striking out 12 times. Still, I can't argue with bumping the batting average from .117 up to .156 in about a week and a half.

3) Franklin Gutierrez
If someone else was really good at the plate on this night, I would have given this one to someone else. Gutierrez threw wild trying to make a play at the plate in the first inning, and was rightfully charged with an error (an honest one, not like that one where the runner slid in front of his throw at the plate and he was charged with an error). Secondly, on the triple by Scott...that's the first time this year where a ball went out that far and Gutierrez missed a ball I thought he should have had. Gutierrez has put the bar so high defensively that I almost feel like I need a week of awesome mistake-free centerfield out of him to full regain my slightly dented confidence in him again. I'm hoping it's an isolated incident. The FSN crew was saying the ball might have knuckled and sliced on him, but I still can't believe that ball got by him. The Orioles led 5-3 after that play and never looked back. It's too bad, since Gutierrez atoned for that first-inning error with a first-inning three-run blast into the bullpen for his ninth homer of the season to get the Mariners their first three runs, and that lead held up until the fifth.

Chris Jakubauskas
The game got out away with Jakubauskas throwing in the sixth inning. Jakubauskas came into the sixth with a 3-2 lead. Nick Markakis got down 0-2 but ended up with a leadoff single. Ty Wigginton grounded out to short to move Markakis to second. Aubrey Huff was intentionally walked to set up what would have been an inning-ending double play. Nolan Reimold singled on the first pitch to tie the game, move Huff to second, and put Jakubauskas on the ropes. Luke Scott, who drove in seven runs in this game, then hit a ball over the head of Franklin Gutierrez (as mentioned above, I really thought he should have had it) for what went in the books and the boxscore as a clean triple to make it 5-3. Jakubauskas threw a good fifth inning, but he didn't get out of the sixth, which ended up being a house of horrors. He gave up four runs on four hits in his 1 1/3 innings of work, walking one (intentionally). He threw 20 strikes out of 33 pitches, got three groundouts to one flyout, and faced eight hitters to get four outs. Most importantly, thanks to the ineptitude of most of the bullpen, the fresh arms available for today's game are Miguel Batista, David Aardsma, Mark Lowe, and Garrett Olson.

Here's to hoping for a seven-inning outing from Jason Vargas.

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