Saturday, August 15, 2009


This was a night where the little things bit the Mariners. How did the first Yankee run score? Jose Lopez double-clutched on what should have been a double-play ball. How did the second Yankee run score? A ball rolled past Jack Hannahan on the left side, and shortstop Josh Wilson completely came up empty (you could argue both guys should have had the ball). Worse yet, Ryan Rowland-Smith had a 2-0 lead and had to watch it get frittered away on piddly crap plays like the aforementioned. Unfortunately, the Mariners were completely done producing runs, and they've been pretty bad at that lately to the tune of five total runs over the last four games. With one swing of the bat, Mark Teixeira effectively ended the game in the top of the ninth, taking the wind out of the Mariners' sails and sending people scurrying out of the ballpark to beat traffic or make it to the ferry terminal. All that came before the Yankees tacked on an insurance run in the ninth.

The Mariners' third loss in four games dropped their record to 60-56 after 116 games. This pace is six worse than the 2007 pace, but is four better than 2006, 11 bebtter than 2005, 15 better than last year, and 17 better than 2004. Sixty wins is also nine wins worse than 2000, 10 worse than 2003, 11 worse than 2002, and 23 worse than 2001. Records of other new-millennium Mariner teams at loss number 56: 70-56 in 2000, 116-46 in 2001, 79-56 in 2002, 77-56 in 2003, 33-56 in 2004, 43-56 in 2005, 53-56 in 2006, 73-56 in 2007, and 36-56 last year.

Seattle hitting went 7-for-33 at the plate, walking three times and striking out a whopping 12 times. The team also went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven runners in all. Jose Lopez doubled for the only Mariner extra-base hit of the game. Ichiro had two hits as the only Mariner with multiple hits. As for Mariners that reached base safely more than once, Franklin Gutierrez walked once and got a hit, as did Ken Griffey Jr. In baserunning news, Josh Wilson was caught stealing as well as picked off, though it all happened on the same play. I think if it was just one play, it has to be one or the other.

Mariner pitching, well...the starting pitcher couldn't have been much better. He and the guy that came into the game immediately after him will be dealt with in the entries below. That leaves Shawn Kelley, who allowed a single to Jerry Hairston Jr., but then got Melky Cabrera to ground out to short. Kelley needed a mere seven pitches to get the Yankees' 27th out.

1) Ryan Rowland-Smith
I guess maybe what hurts the most about this start by the Aussie is that he was tagged with the first two Yankee runs, but neither of them crossed the plate because of his missing a spot or throwing the wrong pitch or anything like that. As I mentioned, the first one scored because with runners on the corners and one out, Jose Lopez couldn't make the turn quickly enough at second for the double play, and the run scored. As for that "hit" that scored the second run, sheesh. I don't know how the hell that ball got through the left side of the infield. Beltre probably has the ball, bruised testicle and all, but I'm a lot more aghast that Josh Wilson couldn't even get a glove on that ball. These technically are Major League baseball players, sure, but we have to keep in mind these two guys were getting regular bench time right up to a couple days ago. As for Rowland-Smith, his breaking ball was getting over really nicely. Jorge Posada was not pleased at one of Rowland-Smith's called strikeouts. The current number-two man in the Mariner rotation gave up two runs on three hits in seven innings, walking two and striking out five. He threw 67 strikes out of 99 pitches, getting nine groundouts and seven flyouts, and facing 26 hitters to get 21 outs.

2) Ichiro
Once again, the beat goes on for the Mariners' leadoff hitter. He led off the first and third innings with singles. At 171 hits for the sdeason, Ichiro is 24 hits away from his 2000th Major League hit and 29 hits away from his ninth straight 200-hit season. For the record, he piled up 1278 hits in Japan before coming over to the Majors. Ichiro is on pace for a 244-hit season. That would leave him with 2049 hits in the Majors at the end of the year. If Ichiro keeps up this same breakneck pace at the plate and manages to escape the injury bug at every turn, he'll reach 3000 Major League hits in only five more seasons (possibly less) and be a lead-pipe cinch for the Hall of Fame based on his Major League exploits alone. I hope he's able to do that just so there's absolutely no question about Ichiro's awesomeness. If it takes him five years to get to 3000 Major League hits, he'll be 40 years of age when he gets that hit. Back a bit in the paragraph, if you add those 2049 hits to his Japanese hits, you get 3327 overall hits. Four more years (but possibly just three) should give him 4000 career-spanning hits.

3) Ken Griffey Jr.
THe Mariners' elder statesman didn't have a multi-hit game or get the game-ending base hit like the other night. He went 1-for-3 with a walk in the game. With two runners in scoring position in the first inning, Griffey grounded out to second base to drive to give the Mariners an early 2-0 lead. He singled with one out in the sixth, with the score being 2-2 at that point. In the Mariners' last-gasp attempt at doing anything, Griffey walked with two out in the eighth to put the tying run aboard and Russell Branyan at the plate. Branyan worked a 1-2 count for a walk, but they needed some kind of hit out of him right there, or preferably a go-ahead home run, which would have sent David Aardsma to the mound in the ninth. Instead, the Mariners' fortunes were pinned on Jack Hannahan at the plate, and that's never good. It wasn't good here, the Yankees scored two in the ninth, Mariano Rivera appeared in the game, and the Mariners pretty much wilted because Edgar Martinez isn't still there to have an anomalously large batting average against Rivera.

Mark Lowe
If Josh Wilson didn't have a base hit in the game (wow, stop the presses), I'd probably have put him here because then he would have been hitless, been picked off, and completely whiffed on the ground ball that tied the game at 2-2 for the Yankees. Instead, Lowe threw a breaking ball fairly low in the strike zone and Mark Teixeira absolutely demolished the baseball, sending it many rows back into the seats in rightfield. That was full extension, full everything. To be completely fair, Lowe had thrown seven straight scoreless outings over 9 1/3 innings, and he was probably overdue to give up a run or two. Of course, the bad thing is that when Lowe falters, it probably doesn't spell a good fate for the Mariners. We've learned this by somewhat more stressful methods with David Aardsma's blown saves. Though Lowe isn't at the end of the game, sometimes his role proves to be just as vital as Aardsma's role. Not that I don't think I'm stating the obvious here or anything. Lowe's still awesome in my book, and if he keeps up his usual habits, he won't give up a run for about six or so outings.

Luke French against a guy named Sergio tonight. Will Le Skywalker pull out a win?

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