Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Well, this one was over in a flash. How many 1-0 wins can you realistically expect a team to get over the course of a season? Anyway, with one swing of the bat, Alexei Ramirez made David Aardsma's save opportunity blow up in his face, and he made Doug Fister's first Major League win go kaput. Of course, John Danks' masterful eight innings of work shouldn't get overshadowed in all of this. It's pretty simple, though. Aardsma gets three outs, the Mariners win. He didn't, so they didn't.

The loss dropped the Mariners' record to 59-54 after 113 games. This pace is four wins worse than the 2007 pace, but three better than 2006, 10 better than 2005, 15 better than last year, and 16 better than 2004. Fifty-nine wins is also eight worse than 2000, 10 worse than 2002 and 2003, and 23 worse than 2001. Other new-millennium Mariner teams' records at loss number 54: 69-54 in 2000, 116-46 in 2001, 78-54 in 2002, 76-54 in 2003, 32-54 in 2004, 42-54 in 2005, 52-54 in 2006, 73-54 in 2007, and 35-54 last year.

Seattle hitting went a combined 8-for-32 on the night, walking once and striking out eight times. The team also went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and they stranded five runners. Franklin Gutierrez and Adrian Beltre had the only extra-base hits, both doubles. Beltre and Russell Branyan had two hits apiece as the only multi-hit Mariners. Ichiro went 1-for-4 and now has 167 hits on the season, putting him on pace for a 245-hit season. He is 27 hits away from his 2000th Major League hit and 32 away from his ninth straight 200-hit season.

Mariner pitching, well...the starting pitcher will be addressed below, as will the closer. Miguel Batista was murder again, slaying the seventh inning. He allowed a leadoff walk, but got a double play ball to erase it. He then walked the next two hitters before getting pulled. That's right -- three walks. Batista threw six strikes out of 19 pitches in his 2/3 of an inning of work. Mark Lowe came in to pick up the scraps, getting a fly ball to end that inning. In the eighth, Lowe was burned by a Gordon Beckham infield single before getting a double-play ball to erase him, then getting a nice strikeout from Thome to end the inning. Lowe gave up the one hit in his 1 1/3 innings of work, throwing seven strikes out of 10 pitches. After Aardsma was unceremoniously removed from the game in the ninth, Shawn Kelley came on to get Chicago's 27th out. Though Podsednik stole second base on the second pitch, Beckham lined out to Ichiro to end the inning. Kelley threw two strikes out of three pitches, facing one hitter to get one out. Imagine that.

1) Russell Branyan
The Mariner first baseman didn't homer on this night, but he did hit a two-out single in the fourth to drive in the Mariners' only run of the game. He also got a base hit to lead off the seventh inning, but was absolute meat trying to stretch it into a double. Seriously, the play wasn't even close. However, with Jack Wilson and Kenji Johjima coming up behind him, I wasn't really wallowing in a sea of regret wondering whether Branyan would have been driven in by Wilson or Johjima. It's not like the Mariners have a righthanded bat to come off the bench. Where's Greg Colbrunn when you need him? Finally, Branyan got too under a fly ball to end the game when he could have tied it with a home run. Still, there's only so much mojo in Branyan's bat, much as there's only so much mojo in David Aardsma's arm. After hitting an awful .159 in July, Branyan has come rip-roarin' back with a .209 August. Okay, that's crap, but he's got 13 RBIs in only 10 games this month after driving in 15 runs for all of July. Branyan has 68 RBIs on the season, and his total would be higher on any team that had a semblance of an offense.

2) Adrian Beltre
The Mariners' third baseman bounced a ball over the wall in rightcenter in the fourth and scored the Mariners' only run of the game on Branyan's single. His other hit was a two-out single in the ninth that brought Branyan to the plate as the tying run. Unfortunately, things didn't really pan out. Nonetheless, Beltre went 2-for-4 on the night and that bone chip removal surgery on his left shoulder must be working wonders -- he's gone 13-for-35 (.371) since coming back off the disabled list. Of course, the drawback is that his only extra-base hits have been doubles. No home runs for Beltre yet. For the record, Beltre's last home run came on June 16th in San Diego. Beltre is now hitting .271 on the season. It's hardly sparkling, but consider that Beltre was hitting .232 at the end of May. Though Chris Woodward was the odd man out when Beltre came back onto the roster, but it's not like Jack Hannahan's getting any playing time. Unfortunately for Woodward, he's not drawing the Major League salary like Hannahan is. Ouch.

3) Doug Fister
Well, normally there are some guys on offense that perform well enough to the point where I can bump the starting pitcher out of the gameball entries if he walks four hitters. This was not that game. Still, Fister had a very not-bad first Major League start. If there's one thing that can negate the fact that he walked four hitters, it's that he only gave up one hit, and that was on a Jim Thome infield single in the first. Maybe that's the sad thing and yet a paradox about this game -- the White Sox found Fister unhittable, while they found Aardsma very hittable. Usually, you would envision the likely scenario being the exact opposite. Fister had runners on the corners with two outs in the first, which was a sort-of jam. He allowed a leadoff walk and hit a batter in the third, but that threat was thwarted. He walked Chris Getz again with one one in the fifth, but got a double-play ball to erase him. It's too bad for Fister. The newest Mariner threw six shutout innings of one-hit ball, walking four and striking out four. He threw 56 strikes out of 94 pitches, got nine groundouts to five flyouts, and faced 23 hitters to get 18 outs.

David Aardsma
Unfortunately, he can't be awesome all the time. Unfortunately for Mariner fans, the three big times he hasn't been awesome have cost the Mariners three wins. Again, it was very odd on this night that the Chicago White Sox couldn't hit Doug Fister at all, but where hitting Aardsma pretty hard. What's the anatomy of an Aardsma blown save? It started with a one-out walk to AJ Pierzynski. It continued with a hard-hit single through the left side by Carlos Quentin to move Pierzynski to second. DeWayne Wise came in to run for Pierzynski, but they wouldn't end up needing his speed. Aardsma then tried to blow a high inner-half fastball past Alexei Ramirez, who somehow got around on it and put it into the back of the visitors' bullpen, making it 3-1 for Chicago. Chris Getz popped a weak liner to Beltre in foul ground, then Aardsma allowed a single to Scott Podsednik before Don Wakamatsu came with the hook. Aardsma gave up three runs on three hits in 2/3 of an inning. He walked one and struck out none, and threw 17 strikes out of 28 pitches, facing six hitters to get two outs.

So...are we going to see Awesome Felix tonight, or are we going to see No-Control Felix who walks five hitters and goes six innings?

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