Thursday, August 13, 2009
The Mariners' sixth win in nine games and seventh win in 11 games ran their record to 60-54 after 114 games. This pace is four wins worse than the 2007 pace, but four better than 2006, 11 better than 2005, 16 better than last year, and 17 worse than 2004. Sixty wins is also seven worse than 2000, nine worse than 2003, 10 worse than 2002, and 23 worse than 2001. Records of other new-millennium Mariner teams at win number 60: 60-43 in 2000, 60-21 in 2001, 60-36 in 2002, 60-39 in 2003, 60-95 in 2004, 60-79 in 2005, 60-69 in 2006, 60-47 in 2007, and 60-101 last year.
Seattle hitting went a combined 9-for-48 on the night, walking four times and striking out eight times. Adrian Beltre turned in the only multi-hit game, going 3-for-6. Ichiro and Russell Branyan doubled for the Mariners' only extra-base hit. Hitless full-game Mariner starters included the 0-for-5 Franklin Gutierrez, the 0-for-6 Mike Sweeney, and the 0-for-4 Ryan Langerhans (giving Michael Saunders the night off). Ichiro doubled and walked on his 1-for-5 night, giving him 168 hits on the season, and putting him on pace for 244 hits. The Mariners' leadoff hitter is 27 hits away from 2000 Major League hits and 32 away from his record-setting ninth straight 200-hit season.
It was a sparkling night for both teams' pitching. The Mariners' starter will be covered below. Sean White threw the eighth and ninth innings. The only hit he gave up was a one-out Alexei Ramirez infield single in the ninth where Beltre tried to charge and throw, but instead threw wide and the ball bounced into the crowd, landing Ramirez on second. In any case, White had seven balls hit into play, and six resulted in outs. White threw 19 strikes out of 27 pitches and got four groundouts to two flyouts. He faced seven hitters to get six outs. Mark Lowe threw the 10th inning, but it was dicey. Scott Podsednik nubbed an infield hit toward shot to lead off. One out later, new Chicagoite Alex Rios singled to put runners on the corners. On the second pitch to Jim Thome, Rob Johnson snap threw to third base and picked off Podsednik. Lowe walked Thome, but got a flyout from Carlos Quentin to end the inning. It was Lowe's shakiest outing in a while. He gave up two hits and one walk, striking out one in his inning of work. He threw 12 strikes out of 19 pitches and faced five hitters to get three outs. Shawn Kelley threw the 11th and 12th innings and got everybody out, except that Johnson couldn't handle the third strike on AJ Pierzynski to start the 11th. Kelley struck out two in his two innings of work. He threw 16 strikes on 21 pitches and got three groundouts to two flyouts. He faced seven hitters to get six outs. Chris Jakubauskas threw the 13th and 14th innings and did pretty well until he gave up a one-out single to Mark Kotsay followed by a Jayson Nix walk. He struck out the final two hitters of that inning. Jakubauskas, the Lithuanian Laser, gave up a walk and a hit in his two innings of work, throwing 32 strikes out of 43 pitches, getting three groundouts, and facing eight hitters to get six outs.
1) Ken Griffey Jr.
This is definitely a pick that's due to his awesomeness-per-time ratio. To me, it's kind of a lighter version of the last really good game he had. Whereas that game served almost as a reminder by Griffey that he wasn't going to be completely worthless for the rest of the year, this game had one of those instances where Mike Sweeney started at designated hitter, and Don Wakamatsu again had Griffey as his ace in the hole in case something happened in the late innings. Where Rob Johnson had the rotten luck in the 12th of lining out to first and having Jack Hannahan doubled off the bag, Griffey was sent to the plate in the 14th with runners on first and second with one out. What did Griffey do? He got a pitch he could handle and lined it a few feet fair deep toward the rightfield corner. In came Beltre as the only run of the game. Jubilance was had and celebration ensued. All this for a guy hitting .226 on the season. Still, Griffey is the Mariner emeritus and the elder statesmen, and the bulk of the Mariners' fan base is treating him wonderfully.
2) Adrian Beltre
Needless to say, I didn't put him here because of the one error. I put him here because of the one crazy defensive play where he called off Rob Johnson on a Scott Podsednik bunt, then did the barehand charge-and-throw off balance to first base that we've seen millions of times by now. Somehow, it never does get old. The Mariners' third baseman went 3-for-6 on the night with three singles, and he scored the only run of the night. He singled with one out in the second inning before being picked off of first (okay, maybe Felix should be the number-two gameball). He singled with one out in the fifth, but stayed right there as the final two outs were made right behind him in the lineup. Finally, his third and final hit was the single into centerfield with one out in the 14th inning. Beltre still hasn't hit a home run since June 16th, but that doesn't mean he isn't hitting .390 in nine games since coming back off the disabled list. The average is there, the defense has been showing, but the power stroke isn't quite back yet.
3) Felix Hernandez
At first, I was a bit iffy on Felix. Yet again. He let the walk-o-meter creep up too high again, this time walking four hitters. I'd definitely much rather have that number be a zero, one, or two. Instead, the whole of the start was very good, and at the very end you look at his boxscore and realize, my goodness, he struck out 10 htiters. Four walks is a lot easer to stomach when there are 10 strikeouts involved. Best of all was that Felix weathered the four walks to still last through seven innings. The bullpen really needed the rest, and that was true even more this game went extra innings. Hernandez gave up six hits and four walks in his seven shutout innings, striking out 10 hitters. He threw 67 strikes out of 105 pitches, got eight groundouts to two flyouts (very vintage Felix), and faved 29 hitters to get 21 outs. In short, there were a lot of "thinking of you" cards and fragrant bouquets being delivered in the White Sox' dugout. "Dear Dennis. I'm sorry I struck you out. I'm sure your family loves you."
Nothing will sink your numbers like an 0-for-6 night, and by golly, it was Sweeney's turn to have that night. He's now hitting .232 while Griffey is now hitting .226. The quick drop for Sweeney is, of course, linked to his rare playing time. Well, that and the fact that his back is creaky and every time I watch him swing it makes me uncomfortable and may actually make my back hurt, I'm not entirely sure. It's a shame, too, since he seemed to have decent career numbers against Buehrle. Too bad Sweeney wasn't able to get those percentages to roll around in his favor on this night. Griffey's getting all these late-inning heroic moments, but I wonder if Sweeney will get put out there for any similar situations. It's Sweeney's last year too, he's got to get some love on the farewell tour. He needs some chances for some late at-bats where maybe he can come through in the clutch. Or maybe he's not getting such chances because it's a clandestine attempt to keep the team from giving him the slugbugs and stuff after a win, since maybe it'd affect his back.
As mentioned, good thing this was a win, since Ian Snell's a guaranteed L against CC Sabathia and the Yankees. Over/under Yankee runs at eight, maybe?