Thursday, August 06, 2009
While a fifth win in eight games isn't too flattering, it ran the Mariners' record to 56-51 after 107 games. This pace is four games behind the 2007 team, but three better than 2006, 10 better than 2005, 16 better than last year, and 17 better than 2004. Fifty-six wins is also six worse than 2000, nine worse than 2002 and 2003, and 21 worse than 2001. Other new-millennium Mariner teams' records when getting their 56th win: 56-39 in 2000, 56-19 in 2001, 56-33 in 2002, 56-32 in 2003, 56-91 in 2004, 56-75 in 2005, 56-57 in 2006, 56-46 in 2007, and 56-86 last year.
Seattle hitting went a combined 16-for-42 on the game, walking three times and striking out five times. They also went 9-for-17 (wow) with runners in scoring position and stranded seven runners in all. While the Mariners hit zero home runs, doubles were hit by Rob Johnson, Russell Branyan, and Jack Wilson, and a triple was legged out by Michael Saunders (his first extra-base hit at the Major League level). Every Mariner starter got at least one hit. Ichiro, Branyan, Franklin Gutierrez, Wilson, and Johnson all had two hits apiece. Jose Lopez singled three times. Ichiro's two hits give him 159 on the season, and he's on pace for 247. He's 36 hits away from 2000 Major League hits and 41 away from his ninth straight 200-hit season. Gutierrez got Sunday's game off and has gone 4-for-10 in this series with a double and an RBI. The first of Jack Wilson's hit was a surprise bunt that got past Kyle Davies and scored Adrian Beltre from third to break a 2-2 tie in the fourth.
One of the Mariner arms is mentioned below. Luke French had a lot of cushion to work with in his later innings, and he pitched just well enough to win. I couldn't ask for much more in a Mariner debut. If anything, French was burned by the long ball as three of the four runs he gave up came via the home run. After Willie Bloomquist singled in the third, Billy Butler clobbered the next pitch out of the yard, tying the game at 2-2. In the fourth, Miguel Olivo led off by hitting a line drive deep into right-center, then lucking a triple out of it because of miscommunication between Gutierrez and Ichiro on the play. Two pitches later, Alex Gordon crushed a home run to pull the Royals to within 8-4. French gave up four runs on nine hits in five innings, walking one and striking out two. He got seven groundouts to six flyouts, and he threw 61 strikes out of 89 pitches. He faced 24 hitters to get 15 outs. Sean White came into the game with the bases loaded and two out in the sixth. He then got a grounder from Mark Teahen to end the inning. White then threw a 1-2-3 seventh inning. White struck out one en route to a perfect 1 1/3 innings of pitching. He threw 10 strikes out of 19 pitches and got one groundout to two flyouts. Garrett Olson continued his flip-the-switch-after-the-breakness, giving up another run and walking two hitters while mopping up the eighth and ninth innings.
1) Russell Branyan
Okay, so he's only been warm for the last couple games. From July 21st to August 2nd (nine games for him), Branyan went 3-for-35 (.086) with one home run (slugging .200) and four RBIs. His batting average went from .278 to .258, his on-base percentage went from .377 to .359, and his slugging percentage went from .570 to .531. Over the last two games, Branyan's gone 4-for-9 with two doubles and five RBIs. The only thing missing now appears to be Branyan showing he can drive the ball, as it appears that hasn't quite returned yet, or at least not in game play. He's probably still blasting off in batting practice. If nothing else, the RBIs in the first two games of this Kansas City series have been pretty important ones. On an interesting note, coming into this game, Branyan had been hit by a pitch in three consecutive games. Thankfully, that's a streak that was broken. What's a bit weird for me with seeing both Branyan and Adrian Beltre back is that Gutierrez has gotten moved back down to sixth in the batting order. I'd gotten so used to seeing him at fifth and seeing him deal with the pressure pretty well and carry some of the mail.
2) Jose Lopez
I very much thought he'd have hung up a hitless game by now. He's on a seven-game hitting streak, matching his longest hitting streak of the season. In the last seven games, Lopez has 16-for-31 (.516) with three doubles and three home runs (slugging .903), driving in 13 RBIs. The streak has bumped his batting average from .261 to .281, his on-base clip from .290 to .309, and his slugging percentage from .426 to .464. Truth be told, Lopez's season average hung around .255 to .265 for most of July. Still, while Branyan's bat was falling off the face of the earth in July, Lopez hit .302 with an on-base mark of .327 and slugged .519. He doubled 11 times and homered four times, ergo, 15 of his 32 hits for the month went for extra bases. In case we forgot, Lopez hit .253 in April and .214 in May, so that's the reason Lopez's season numbers don't look a little better despite a .329 June, a .302 July, and getting 16 hits in a seven-game hitting streak. Also, at 19 homers, Lopez is pretty much a lock for a 20-homer season and thus has an outside shot at a 25-homer season, which wouldn't leave me complaining.
Don't look now, but the Mariner catcher with the best catcher's ERA in the Majors -- that's because he caught Felix Hernandez, Jarrod Washburn, and Erik Bedard for most of the year while Kenji Johjima caught the back end of the rotation -- has gone 5-for-11 with a double and a couple of walks in his last three games. He's now a .224 hitter on the season. His rise at the plate almost reminds me of that pseudo-bump that Ronny Cedeno had at the plate for a couple weeks before he started being himself again. Anyway, Johnson finished June hitting .183 on the season. He followed that up with a very respectable .269 mark in July, which managed to surprise the crap out of me. He even tossed in five doubles and a home run in there, and he drove in eight runs. Add his three games in August to the end of July, and he's gone 19-for-63 (.302) with six doubles and a home run (.444). I was sitting here the whole time saying I'd be content with Johnson being anything above worthless at the plate, and .224 on the season is above that point, especially after what we saw Cedeno put up in his time in Seattle.
Even in a game where the Mariners score 11 runs, leave it to good ol' Miguel Batista to chime in and give us something that sucks. Let's go through the anatomy of this Batista outing. He came into the sixth protecting a 10-4 lead. Alex Gordon singled on a 2-1 pitch. Batista got a groundout from Yuniesky Betancourt to move Gordon into scoring position. Batista got ahead 0-2 on Mitch Maier, but needed nine pitches to strike him out. David DeJesus drew a walk on five pitches. You know it's bad when you're giving up singles to Willie Bloomquist, and that's what Batista did, and Gordon scored to make it 10-5. Then, Batista handed out another five-pitch walk, this one to Billy Butler (actually makes sense in this case since Butler's been tagging the ball in this series) to load the bases. That spelled the end of Batista's outing, and Sean White came in to finish the inning. In his last seven outings, Batista has gone 7 2/3 innings, giving up 10 runs on 15 hits, with five home runs in there. He's also walked seven hitters in that span and struck out nine.
It'll be Vargas on the mound, hopefully with a broom in hand.