Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Well, this marks the second straight outing in which Felix Hernandez has thrown pretty well and didn't win. Last time, he threw seven scoreless innings, but that game was scoreless until the bottom of the 14th inning. This time, it was an inside job as the bullpen (Mark Lowe) imploded and couldn't hold a two-run lead in the eighth. A win in Detroit on July 23rd left the Mariners with a 51-44 record, which at seven games over .500 set their high-water mark of the season. Since that game, the Mariners have gone 10-14 and have failed to win more than two consecutive games. To their credit, they did have a stretch in there where they won seven of 11 games. Now they've dropped five of seven. I really hope there isn't anyone out there agonizing over the Mariners' fate every night. Surely no one's still thinking the Mariners have any chance to sniff the playoffs. I think any hope was crushed in the Cleveland series at Seattle, but if for some reason people were still hanging on, the Rangers' vaulting over Boston had to seal the fate.

The Mariners' fifth loss in seven games dropped their record to 61-58 after 119 games. Their record is six wins worse than the 2007 pace, but five better than 2006, nine better than 2005, and 16 better than 2004 and last year. Sixty-one wins is also eight wins worse than 2000, 11 worse than 2003, 12 worse than 2002, and 25 worse than 2001. Other new-millennium Mariner teams' records at loss number 58: 70-58 in 2000, 116-46 in 2001, 81-58 in 2002 and 2003, 37-58 in 2004, 44-58 in 2005, 56-58 in 2006, 73-58 in 2007, and 36-58 last year.

Seattle hitting went 8-for-33 on the night, walking four times and striking out a whopping 13 times. They also went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine runners in all. The only extra-base hits belonged to Ichiro (double) and Josh Wilson (inexplicable home run). Similarly, Ichiro had four hits and Josh Wilson had two hits as the only multi-hit Mariners of the night. Every hitter in the Mariner lineup struck out. The two-strikeout Mariner hitters were Russell Branyan, Franklin Gutierrez, Rob Johnson, and Ryan Langerhans. The 3-4-5-6-7 hitters in the Mariners' lineup went a combined 0-for-16 with one RBI, four walks, and seven strikeouts.

As for the Mariner arms, the starter was brilliant and will be discussed below. The first reliever was awful and will be discussed below. Sean White got the final two outs of the eighth inning. White came into the game with the Tigers already having gotten the lead at 4-3.

(josh wilson misses ground ball, interference play leads to first detroit run in second inning, blown first-to-third move and putout at home in eighth with Branyan throw a bit high and late)

1) Felix Hernandez
In his last start, I think Felix easily had his best start since the All-Star break. I think he may have outdone himself this time. People would probably disagree and say the duel with Buehrle was a better start since he threw seven shutout innings and struck out 10 hitters, but walks are a big thing for me when it comes to Felix. In that start, he walked four hitters, which made for a total of 14 in his first three starts in August. With this start, however, it was nice to see him get back to the guy we'd see with an insane strikeout-to-walk ratio. He only walked one tonight, and he struck out nine. He just seemed to really have it tonight. I was never really worried about him getting too wild, though I was worried about Rob Johnson behind the plate. Johnson's lucky he turned a passed ball into a 2-5 putout at third (it went into the play-by-play as "runner's fielder's choice"). Anyway, Felix could have been 13-4 with a win in this game, but alas, it was not to be. I hope one day we get to see a 20-win season out of Felix before he leaves Seattle. What, you think the Mariners would outbid the Yankees if Felix hits free agency? Felix gave up a run on five hits in seven innigns, walking one and striking out nine. He threw 69 strikes out of 106 pitches, getting seven groundouts to four flyouts (nice), and facing 25 hitters to get 21 outs.

2) Ichiro
I guess I was just really happy that I think Felix might have the swagger back, and that's the only reason Felix could out-gameball a 4-for-5 night by Ichiro. He led off the game with a single, fell behind 0-2 and struck out to end a 10-pitch at-bat in the fourth, singled with the bases empty and the game tied at 1-1 in the sixth, hit a parachute double down the rightfield line with a man on first and nobody out in the eighth (the Mariners jumped ahead 3-1 in the inning), and singled with one on and one out in the ninth. The Mariners' leadoff hitter raised his batting average from .360 to .365 in one night. Ichiro is now 28-for-75 (.373) in August with two doubles, a home run (slugging .453), and eight RBIs. He now has 179 hits on the season, leaving him 16 hits away from his 2000th Major League hit and 21 hits away from his ninth straight 200-hit season. He is on pace for a 248-hit season despite missing the first eight games of the season. Hypothetically, if he played those eight games, had four at-bats in each of those games, and maintained the .365 average he currently has, that would add 11 or 12 hits (closer to 12), which would put his pace at around 259 or 260 hits, which would break George Sisler's mark again and inch dangerously close to his own 262-hit mark. If only...

3) Josh Wilson
This is clearly not for the do-or-die grounder that he absolutely "died" on in the eighth inning -- no one else was really hitting in the game. On the grounder, Ramon Santiago was on first and Placido Polanco hit the grounder that went off Wilson's left wrist and through, putting runners on the corners with one out with the Mariners up 3-2. The play should have resulted in one out, and there may have been a shot at a double play. In any event, Carlos Guillen then drew a walk, then Miguel Cabrera singled to virtually end the game. As for Wilson's travails at the plate, he whiffed with the bases empty to end the third, drove an 0-2 Rick Porcellp pitch over the fence in leftcenter to tie the game at 1-1, singled to lead off the eighth, and grounded into a fielder's choice with nobody on and a man on first with nobody out in the ninth. I'll be the first to say I'm not very jazzed about Josh Wilson, and that having Jack Hannahan and him as the left side of the infield is close to an offensive black hole, but Wilson's played each of the last five games and gone 6-for-18 with a double and two home runs.

Mark Lowe
The Mariners' most important bullpen arm last threw (game action) on Friday. In that game against the Yankees, Lowe gave up two runs on three hits with a home run thrown in there. In the outing previous to that, Lowe gave up two hits and walked a hitter in one inning. Now we get to add this abomination to the list. Both of Lowe's last two outings have been crappy, and his last three have been sketchy to crappy. Some Mariners' key performers have been falling off a bit, namely Russell Branyan, but when you get guys like Lowe having a rough little stretch and David Aardsma blowing a save, and having to start Josh Wilson and Jack Hannahan at the same time, it's little wonder the Mariners haven't been as consistent for the last month. I guess maybe what hurt the most that inning is that Lowe was getting hit pretty hard. It started with the home run by Alex "I swear to God I'm not here because of nepotism" Avila, and it ended with Miguel Cabrera's absolute smoking of a down-the-freakin'-pipe fastball right through the middle and into centerfield to get the Tigers a 4-3 lead. I can't put the Josh Wilson horrific error on him, but there are times where you have to work through stuff. He gave up four runs (two earned) on three hits in one-third of an inning, walking one and striking out none. He threw 13 strikes out of 21 pitches and faced six hitters to get the one out.

Snell tomorrow? Over-under for when the Tigers put the game out of reach: three innings.

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