Saturday, July 25, 2009


I was at this game. The Mariners had early chances and couldn't capitalize, punctuated by their hitting into double plays in each of the first three innings. Then it turned into a pitchers' duel until the seventh, when the margin of error finally caught up to Ryan Rowland-Smith. Though the game was basically out of reach for the Mariners at that point, the real white flag went up when Miguel Batista was sent to the mound for the ninth inning and never got the third out. With Batista on the mound, the game got waaaaay out of hand. On a positive note, other than the return of Rowland-Smith, this game also marked the return of Franklin Gutierrez from the stiff neck suffered after his collision with the scorewall in Chicago. Considering the makeup of the Mariners' offense, I'm surprised games like this don't happen more often. This is a game that definitely aids the whole phenomenon of the Mariners being outscored on the season but still having a winning record.

The Mariners lost for just the fourth time in the last 11 games, dropping their record to 51-45 at the 96-game mark. The pace is three games worse than 2007, six better than 2006, nine better than 2005, 13 better than last year, and 14 better than 2004. Fifty-one wins is also six worse than 2000, eight worse than 2003, nine worse than 2002, and 18 worse than 2001. Records of post-millennium Mariner teams at their 45th loss: 62-45 in 2000, 110-45 in 2001, 71-45 in 2002, 69-45 in 2003, 31-45 in 2004, 33-45 in 2005, 42-45 in 2006, 54-45 in 2007, and 24-45 last year.

Seattle hitting went a combined 4-for-28 on the night, walking three times and striking out ten times. No Mariner recorded a multi-hit game, and no Mariner gathered an extra-base hit. Ichiro, Jose Lopez, Kenji Johjima, and Jack Hannahan collected the four Mariner hits. Russell Branyan, Chris Shelton, and Gutierrez drew the three Mariner walks. Branyan, Ronny Cedeno, and Jose Lopez all grounded into double plays.

The Mariners' starter will be covered below, as will one of the relievers. Shawn Kelley threw a scoreless 1-2-3 eighth inning to keep the Cleveland lead at 4-0. Facing the 2-3-4 hitters of Cleveland's lineup, Kelley got a fly ball from Asdrubal Cabrera, caught Shin-Soo Choo looking, and got a groundout from Victor Martinez. Kelley threw eight strikes on ten pitches. Chris Jakubauskas was needlessly used to finish the ninth inning, doing so by getting Jhonny Peralta, the tenth hitter of the inning, to bounce out to short. Jakubauskas threw four strikes out of seven pitches.

1) Ryan Rowland-Smith
For his first start with the big club since April 10th, there really wasn't a lot to complain about. On a night where the Mariners had no real stars on offense, it's the Aussie who's the easy number-one gameball. He got nicked in the second inning when Jhonny Peralta led off with a single and was doubled to third by Ryan Garko. Jamey Carroll was then walked on four pitches (probably the unintentional intentional variety) to load the bases, and Ben Francisco's sufficiently deep fly ball scored Peralta to make it 1-0. Including that out, Rowland-Smith retired 14 straight hitters leading into the seventh, when he was undone by two pitches, maybe three -- the Peralta leadoff single, the Travis Hafner home run that put Peralta across, and the Francisco homer with two out. A 1-0 game became a 4-0 game, and since the Mariners decided they weren't going to be hitting Aaron Laffey on this night, the game was over. If Rowland-Smith is able to keep this up, then it really augments the top three pitchers in the rotation, but since the top three could really become the top one or top two once the trade deadline rolls around, it's just nice the Mariners have some starting pitching depth. Rowland-Smith gave up four runs on five hits in seven innings, walking one and striking out sevevn. He threw 59 strikes out of 91 pitches, got nine groundouts and ten flyouts, and faced 28 hitters to get 21 outs.

2) Ichiro
The Mariners' leadoff hitter went 1-for-4 on the night. He led off the first inning with a single and was doubled off on a Russell Branyan fly ball. Ichiro also struck out to lead off the third, flew out with one out in the sixth, and flew out with Jack Hannahan on second to end the eighth inning. The one hit puts Ichiro at 138 hits on the season and puts him on pace for a 242-hit season, a mark he equaled in 2001 and obviously topped in 2004. I didn't put Ichiro here for his one hit, though. I put him here for his awesome defense. I know there were two great catches, but unfortunately I only have one embedded in my memory, and that came on a ball that was close to going into the stands along the rightfield line. Ichiro had to go a long way just to get to the right spot, and from that point it appeared a fan was trying to catch it over him, but luckily Ichiro caught the ball. It further cemented Ichiro's reputation as The Most Awesomest Awesome Ballplayer on the Mariners. Since no one wants to beat the Angels, these are the little things we have to hold onto.

3) Kenji Johjima
He hasn't been an everyday player since he got injured in late May. Now that he's back, he's been relegated to catching on the days where none of Felix Hernandez, Jarrod Washburn, and Erik Bedard are pitching. Since coming back from the injury, Johjima has hit 13-for-41 (.317) with two doubles (slugging .366) with two RBIs, a walk, and five strikeouts. Rob Johnson in that same time frame has gone 11-for-45 (.244) with four doubles and a homer (slugging .400). He's driven in six runs, walked six times, and struck out seven times in that span. It's pretty clear how much Don Wakamatsu values Rob Johnson's gamecalling over Kenji Johjima's offense, but if the team has a couple more nights where they hit like this, Rob Johnson's not going to help the offense. Still, I can only be so consumed with this since I believe the Mariners will be parting ways with at least one of Jarrod Washburn or Erik Bedard at the deadline. If one of those guys goes, I think Kenji maybe plays three out of every five days instead of his current two.

Miguel Batista
Recently, Garrett Olson had two awful outings, purging himself from the starting rotation. At that point, I wondered who might take his spot. Would they call Jason Vargas back up? Would Chris Jakubauskas return to the rotation? Why not go nuts and throw Miguel Batista out there? I mean, he's done fairly well in relief this year. After this game, I consider that thought severely shelved. I pretty much called towel when Batista was brought into the game, and sometimes I hate being right. Peralta singled to lead off, Hafner then bounced an infield single to Ronny Cedeno, Ryan Garko homered on the next pitch to make it 7-0, then Jamey Carroll homered two pitches later to make it 8-0. At that point, all doubt was removed and the game was officially a laugher/clinker/stinker/etc. Batista then got a groundout followed by a four-pitch walk to Grady Sizemore. He then allowed a single, struck out Choo, and then allowed a Victor Martinez single that drove in Sizemore. Batista wasn't around for the final out, which is almost more damning than leaving him out on the mound to rot. Batista gave up five runs on six hits, walking one and striking out one. He threw 18 strikes out of 31 pitches and faced nine hitters to get two outs.

Looks like Erik Bedard in some non-televised afternoon madness. Screw you, Fox network. I'll purposely not watch whatever Fox network game they want to give us.

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