Saturday, August 01, 2009
The Mariners' sixth loss in eight games sent their record to 53-50 after 103 games. That record is four wins worse than the 2007 pace, but three better than 2006, eight better than 2005, 14 better than 2004, and 15 better than last year. Fifty-three wins is also seven worse than 2000, nine worse than 2002, 10 worse than 2003, and 21 worse than 2001. Records of other new-millennium Mariner teams when incurring their 50th loss: 69-50 in 2000, 116-46 in 2001 (they were done losing), 75-50 in 2002, 76-50 in 2003, 32-50 in 2004, 39-50 in 2005, 44-50 in 2006, 63-50 in 2007, and 28-50 last year.
Seattle hitting went 9-for-34 on the night, walking once and striking out five times. They were 2-for-4 with runners in scoring position and stranded four runners in all. Franklin Gutierrez doubled and Jose Lopez homered for the only Mariner extra-base hits. Jack Wilson and Lopez had two and three hits, respectively, as the only Mariners with multiple hits. Kenji Johjima, Jack Hannahan, and Michael Saunders were the three hitless Mariner starters on the night. Ichiro went 1-for-4 to vault his hit total to 151 on the season with two months remaining. Two-hundred hits would be a ridiculously easy mark to attain, but he's on pace for 245 hits.
It actually wasn't too bad a night for any Mariner pitcher that wasn't the starter (below). Shawn Kelley threw the sixth inning, mowing down Hank Blalock, Andruw Jones, and Josh Hamilton in order. Kelley threw 12 strikes out of 19 pitches, struck out one, and got a groundout and a flyout. Miguel Batista, unfortunately not moved at the deadline, came out for the seventh and got two quick outs. He then gave up a single to the elder statesman Omar Vizquel and had a full count on Michael Young before the rains came. Note that the time of actual gameplay in this game was eight minutes shorter than the duration of the rain delay. The at-bat finished with Sean White throwing a ball way up and in for ball four, and Batista was charged with that walk. Batista threw 2/3 of an inning, walking one and striking out one. He threw 11 strikes out of 19 pitches and faced four hitters to get two outs. Sean White finished off the seventh and threw the eighth for Seattle. After throwing ball four to Young, White managed to get a flyout from Marlon Byrd. White then got two groundouts and a strikeout in a 1-2-3 eighth. He struck out one in his 1 1/3 inning, throwing eight strikes out of 11 pitches, and facing four hitters to get four outs.
1) Jose Lopez
It took ten innings into the series in Arlington for the Mariners to finally hit a home run. Thus, at that point the Mariners were only being outhomered by a 5-1 margin in the series. At the end of the game, the Rangers were outhomering the Mariners by a 7-1 margin with two games to go. Lopez had his first three-hit game since, well, the Roy Halladay start two days earlier. Lopez went 3-for-4 in the game, driving in three runs, all with two outs. In his last three games, Lopez has gone 7-for-12 with a double and two home runs, bumping the batting average up from .261 to .271 and his slugging percentage up from .426 to .450. Lopez only sat one (and change) game(s) with the back problem, but did pretty well in July where his fellow back-problem comrade, Russell Branyan, had a terrible month. Lopez had a .302 July, with an on-base mark of .327 (three walks, Betancourt rubbed off on him), and a slugging percentage of .519 (could be better, but oh well). That wasn't a horrible way to follow up a .329 June where he slugged .592. Lopez had a not-bad month, but Russell Branyan was the one Mariner praying like hell for the calendar to flip away from the month of July.
2) Jack Wilson
The new Mariners' shortstop collected his first two hits as a Mariner. He collected a one-out single in the second inning flew out to lead off the fifth, singled off Eddie Guardado to lead off the seventh, and grounded back to the mound in the ninth to put the Mariners down to their final out. He nearly pulled off a ridiculous defensive play where I'm not sure how he got a throw away as he appeared to be falling down and have no footing. It'll be fun watching Adrian Beltre and Wilson doing pure defensive nuttery over the final two months of the season. As a Pittsburgh Pirate, Wilson hit .341 in the month of June with an on-base percentage of .368. He doubled seven times and homered twice on his way to a .484 slugging percentage for June. However, he followed that up with an almost Branyanian decline in July, as he's finished with a .206 month with an on-base percentage of .267 and a slugging mark of .279. He doubled twice and homered once for his only extra-base hits of the month. Let's hope he doesn't suffer the standard "I moved from the NL to the AL, so now I have to suck" thing like Adrian Beltre and Jeff Cirillo did.
3) Russell Branyan
Since sitting the whole Toronto series with the back injury, the Mariners' biggest power threat has been moved down one spot in the batting order to third, where he probably should have been all along. That's not to say that having Branyan hit second didn't work. That said, no one on the Mariners was praying like hell for July to end more than Branyan. Branyan hit .317 in May, getting on-base at a .412 clip and slugging .614. He had a bit of decline in June, hitting .265, getting on-base at a .376 clip,. and slugging .590. As for July, it's a forgettable one for Branyan, who hit .159, had a on-base percentage of .262, and slugging .375. Branyan was a .323 hitter on June 2nd, and we all knew that was way too high to maintain. That said, I didn't think his decline would be quite this precipitous. I guess the end result is that his season numbers look a lot more Branyanian than the all-world numbers he had after the first two months of the season. Now he's a .264 hitter with an on-base mark of .363 and a slugging percentage of .544. He's hit 24 homers and driven in 55 runs.
I don't want to necessarily repeat everything from the Garrett Olson paragraph one night earlier, but the Mariners' rotation depth was a hell of a lot better when Vargas and Olson were turning in average starts. It really didn't help that they both went to crap around roughly the same time. Vargas' last start before the All-Star game was a five-inning start against the Orioles in Seattle where he didn't give up any runs. The Mariners deemed him the fifth starter and sent him to Tacoma as the fifth starter wouldn't have to throw again until about a week after the All-Star break. Consequently, they kept Olson up with the big club. Olson made five appearances between July 8th and July 26th (Vargas' big-club appearance gap). He had two very good appearances out of the bullpen, followed by two awful starts and one innings-eating bullpen appearance against Cleveland where he mopped up after the awfulness of Erik Bedard and Chris Jakubauskas. Now that Olson and Vargas have been turning in subpar starts, and now that Jarrod Washburn's gone and Erik Bedard's hurt/crap, the Mariners' rotation is Felix Hernandez and pray for rain. By the way, Vargas threw 50 strikes out of 80 pitches in his five innings of work. he gave up five runs on seven hits, walking one and striking out two. He got seven groundouts and seven strikeouts, and faced 22 hitters to get 15 outs.
There's no better time for a Felix Hernandez start than tonight.