Sunday, August 23, 2009
The Mariners' seventh loss in 10 games dropped their record to 63-61 after 124 games. This record is eight games worse than the 2007 pace, but seven better than 2006, 10 better than 2005, and 17 better than 2004 and last year. Sixty-three wins is also six wins worse than 2000, 12 worse than 2002 and 2003, and 26 worse than 2001. Other new-millennium Mariner teams' records when losing their 61st game: 72-61 in 2000, 116-46 in 2001, 84-61 in 2002, 82-61 in 2003, 38-61 in 2004, 46-61 in 2005, 56-61 in 2006, 73-61 in 2007, and 38-61 last year.
Seattle hitting went a disappointing 6-for-33 on the day, walking once and striking out a horrific 11 times. This was actually the sixth time in 10 games that Mariner hitting has piled up more than 10 strikeouts in a game. Additionally, the team went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position in the game and stranded six runners in all. Jack Hannahan and Rob Johnson both had two hits apiece as the only multi-hit Mariners. Hannahan doubled twice and Johnson doubled once, while Ken Griffey Jr. homered to account for the Mariners' extra-base hits. Five of the starters in the Mariner lineup went hitless. Namely, Russell Branyan and Jose Lopez at the second and third slots in the lineup combined for an 0-for-8 with three strikeouts, while Josh Wilson and Ryan Langerhans at seventh and eighth combined for an 0-for-7 day with three strikeouts.
As for Mariner pitching, I guess it wasn't so bad before the error by Jose Lopez. Felix Hernandez cruised pretty well through the first five innings. In the first, Ryan Langerhans had a long run toward a Grady Sizemore fly ball and looked to almost have caught it, but had a pretty good collision with the wall. Langerhans rolled around on the ground and eventually somehow threw the ball in despite being on the ground. Sizemore got a triple out of it, though without Langerhans' effort, it's probably an inside-the-park home run. Sad thing is, the Indians wasted two more outs and the Mariners nearly stranded Sizemore on third, but Jhonny Peralta singled with two out to put the Indians into a 1-0 lead. Hernandez didn't get burned again until the fourth, when again it was Peralta, this time leading off the inning with a homer to make it 2-1 for Cleveland. After getting the first out in the sixth, Peralta (again?!) hit a routine grounder to Lopez at second, who apparently completely muffed it. The next five hitters, in order, singled, singled, doubled, sacrifice flew, and singled. By the end of that mess, the Indians led 6-1, and that held up as the final margin. Hernandez gave up six runs (three earned) on nine hits in six innings, walking none (encouraging) and striking out six. He threw 67 strikes out of 101 pitches, got seven groundouts to five flyouts, and faced 28 hitters to get 18 outs. Miguel Batista threw a completely inconsequential seventh and eighth innings, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out three. He threw 19 strikes out of 35 pitches and faced eight hitters to get six outs.
1) Jack Hannahan
When Bill Hall played third the night before, I figured Hannahan would be doomed to platoon duty, and since Fausto Carmona is righthanded, I might still be right in my prediction. Still, the mere fact that most starting pitchers are righthanded means Hannahan should still get most of the starts at third. In any event, his two hard-hit doubles in this game helped state his case toward maintaining the playing time he's already been getting. I guess the more shocking thing about all this is that these two doubles were his first extra-base hits since July 23rd in Detroit. He played 20 games without collecting an extra-base hit. All in all, he really needed the two hits to make his road trip look a little better -- he still finished 3-for-19 on the road trip with the two doubles, and he walked twice and struck out six times. He's now hitting .245 as a Mariner and .216 on the season. I guess what's sad about following the Mariners right now is that Adrian Beltre was back for barely over a week, and I miss him already. Beltre hit .390 after coming back from the bone chip surgery. Sure, it was a no-power .390, but it was still .390.
2) Rob Johnson
There's pretty much an unwritten rule within my game posts that states if Johnson has a multi-hit game, he gets a gameball. It's way too easy. He went 2-for-3 in this game with a double. As we sit here watching an expensive Kenji Johjima getting playing time mostly sparingly, and look at Johnson getting the bulk of the playing time despite hitting .229, I can't help but wonder where the Mariners would be if Jeff Clement's knees would have held up and he would have been able to catch on a regular basis. Sure, he wasn't a defensive whiz back there, but every ball in the dirt that gets past Johnson makes me wish anyone else was behind the plate. It'd be different if Johnson hit even .240 or .250. When Dan Wilson was being vintage Dan Wilson and not hitting a lot, even he could pull a .240 out of it. Given that logic, it's hard for me not to be expecting more out of Johnson. Unfortunately, Johnson's nowhere near as defensively sound or as sound calling a game as Wilson was. Realistically, though, how many good things come out of the Butte-Whitehall area of Montana?
3) Ken Griffey Jr.
The elder statesman, the Mariner emeritus, chimed in once again. It was a day in which only he and three other Mariners would manage to get hits, and only he managed to have a run-scoring hit off Fausto Carmona, which in his case was a home run, the 624th of his long career. Just think -- if he hits 36 homers in the next five weeks, he'll catch Willie Mays on the all-time career home runs list. Yeah, it's not happening. Still, we'll be able to watch what is likely the last five weeks of Griffey's Major League career. We'll be more than happy with what Griffey has brought to Seattle, though there will always be that little nugget in everyone's mind that wonders what kind of numbers Griffey would have put up if he hadn't been hurt so many times. Might he be scraping 800 career home runs right now? Who knows? I remember being at a game against the Twins at the Kingdome where Griffey homered off a speaker and after the game said that the ball would have gone 800 feet if not for the speaker. Anyway, Griffey has 13 homers on the year and is hitting .220. Do any of those numbers surprise anyone?
Again, I won't try and hash too much over a very terrible error that I never got the chance to see with my own eyes. All I've been hearing was that it was a pretty bad gaffe on a pretty routine play. Instead of two outs and nobody on in the sixth, suddenly Felix Hernandez had a runner on first and one out. Though you'd think this shouldn't affect how Felix goes about his business on the mound, the floodgates opened on Felix. What used to be a one-run deficit for the Mariners at that point became a five-run deficit. It didn't take very long at all, I'm sure. Of course, it wasn't just the back-breaking error that Lopez gave to this game. No, it was also the 0-for-4 with a strikeout. With runners on the corners and two out in the third (Indians up 1-0), Lopez grounded out to end the inning. This team looks to Lopez for RBIs, lest we forget. With the Mariners down 2-1 in the fifth, Lopez had a runner on third and lined out to end the inning. It was not the best day for the Mariners' second baseman. It still doesn't erase his outside shot at a 100-RBI season.
Will Ian Snell be the streak-stopper? Yikes.