Sunday, August 30, 2009


Hey, look! Willie Bloomquist finally saw the field in his return to Seattle! Yeah, I don't care. Anyway, the big news going into the game was that Russell Branyan's back is now screwed up enough to land himself on the 15-day disabled list. Chris Jakubauskas, with his shoulder problems apparently behind him, was called back up from Tacoma to take Branyan's spot on the roster. By the team Branyan comes back, there probably won't be much roster shuffling because the rosters will be expanded by then. With this particular game, however, the Mariners jumped all over Gil Meche in the first inning and never looked back. Maybe the most gratifying thing was that it was nice seeing a former Mariner wearing someone else's uniform and just imploding when facing the Mariners rather than dominating. The Mariner hitters were just tattooing his pitches in the first inning. I guess maybe the biggest sign of the Mariners clobbering Meche's stuff was that in his four innings of work, Meche didn't walk anybody. The Mariners did all their damage by hitting and hitting the ball hard. It was impressive and devastating. While the Friday night game saw Mike Sweeney scoring from third on a grounder to the mound, this game saw an unsurprising Mariner pitcher getting out of a jam with the bases loaded and nobody out.

The Mariners fifth win in six games raised their record to 68-62 after 130 games. This record is five games worse than the 2007 pace, but seven better than 2006, 13 better than 2005, 18 better than 2004, and 20 better than last year. Sixty-eight wins is also three worse than 2000, eight worse than 2003, nine worse than 2002, and 26 worse than 2001. Records of other new-millennium Mariner teams when getting win number 68: 68-47 in 2000, 68-26 in 2001, 68-42 in 2002, 68-43 in 2003, 63-99 in 2004, 68-91 in 2005, 68-73 in 2006, 68-52 in 2007, and 61-101 last year.

Seattle hitting went 10-for-34 on the night, drawing zero walks and striking out six times. The team went 3-for-6 with runners in scoring position and stranded only two runners. The only hitless Mariner was Bill Hall, who went hitless on four at-bats and struck out once. Mike Sweeney and Jack Hannahan had two hits apiece. Doubles were hit by Sweeney, Hannahan, and Jack Wilson. Home runs were hit by Hannahan, Rob Johnson (whaaaa?!), and Jose Lopez. Sweeney, Hannahan, and Johnson drove in two runs apiece. Only Josh Wilson struck out more than once, doing so twice. Only Hall and Jack Wilson didn't cross the plate.

As for Mariner pitching, the arms were sufficient on this night. I almost put Ian Snell in as the number-three gameball, but I bumped him at the last second for Rob Johnson, since Johnson hit a home run, and that happens about as often as a solar eclipse. Snell retired the first six hitters he faced before Mitch Maier singled to lead off the third. Then our giddiness with Snell's outing was quickly tempered when John Buck homered on an 0-2 pitch right after Maier reached, cutting the Mariners' lead in half to 4-2. Right after that, Snell somehow walked Yuniesky Betancourt before getting the next three hitters out. Snell allowed a four-pitch walk with one out in the fourth, but the next hitter lined out to Hannahan at first, who then easily doubled off the runner at first. Maier led off the fifth and lined the ball somewhere off Snell's arm. Hannahan got the ball and ran it to first for the out, but Snell eventually went to the ground in pain. After much deliberation, Snell got up, threw a few warmup pitches, and stayed in the game, allowing a Buck double before getting the final two outs and leaving the game. Snell gave up two runs on three hits, walking two and striking out two over five innings. He got one groundout to 11 flyouts (testing the fence depth of Safeco Field) and faced 19 hitters to get 15 outs. Snell threw 44 strikes out of 68 pitches. Really, it's too bad Snell got hit by the line drive because he probably could have thrown seven innings. Miguel Batista came into the perfect situation, starting the sixth inning with a 7-2 lead. He threw a 1-2-3 sixth. In the seventh, he allowed two singles and a walk to load the bases with nobody out. Buck then flew out to shallow center, Betancourt fell victim to his own aggressiveness (strikeout), and David DeJesus hit a slow bouncer to Jack Wilson to end the inning. Batista gave up two hits, walked one, and struck out one over two shutout innings. He got three groundouts to two flyouts and threw 23 strikes out of 35 pitches, facing nine hitters to get six outs. Randy Messenger came in to mop up the eighth and ninth. He allowed two singles to lead off the eighth before getting a double play ball and cruising throug the rest of the inning. He allowed two solo homers to lead off the ninth, but got the final three hitters out to end it. Messenger gave up two runs on four hits in two innings, walking none and striking out none. He threw 17 strikes out of 25 pitches, getting three groundouts and three flyouts, and facing nine hitters to get six outs.

1) Jack Hannahan
Now that Branyan's on the disabled list, I'm not sure if they're going to have Hannahan playing first base every day, but the one thing that's for sure is that he's going to get a good deal of playing time. I think the only thing that could bump him out of the lineup would be if Don Wakamatsu decided to put Bill Hall or Mike Sweeney at first base when Ichiro returns to the lineup. Even then, Wakamatsu would probably move Hannahan back over to third base and bump Josh Wilson (who was playing third in this game) out of the lineup. Anyway, this was a night where Hannahan went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs. His first hit was a ringing double with two out off Gil Meche in the first inning, which scored Sweeney to give the Mariners a 3-0 lead. Hannahan then homered to lead off the fourth inning, giving the Mariners a 5-2 lead. The game was blown open later that inning, so the outs he made in his two following at-bats are almost immaterial. The 2-for-4 night leaves Hannahan hitting .250 for the month of August. Thanks to Hannahan's mad count-working skizzillz, his August on-base percentage coming into the game was .352 while his August slugging mark was .283. Thanks to this game, Hannahan's August slugging percentage now sits at .359, so it was a good night.

2) Mike Sweeney
Someone should probably call the fire department or something since Sweeney is a house ablaze. He got yet another start against a righthanded pitcher, though this appears to be due to Ken Griffey Jr. having swelling in his knee. All the same, Sweeney's probably doing more with his at-bats than Griffey would have done. Sweeney went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs in the game. Sweeney's double in the first inning started the merry-go-round against Gil Meche, and it scored the Mariners' first two runs to make it 2-0. His other hit was a single that was fairly inconsequential in the scope of the game, but it came right after the Jose Lopez home run made it 8-2 in the eighth. What does this mean for Sweeney? He's now on a seven-game hitting streak, over which he's gone 13-for-26 (.500) with five doubles, a home run, and seven RBIs. He's slugging .808 over the seven-game hitting streak, which is completely ridiculous and completely a small sample size. All in all, in limited playing time, Sweeney is a .266 hitter on the season. I won't lie, I'd much rather have had Chris Shelton on the big club for the bulk of the season, but Sweeney's been way better than worthless.

3) Rob Johnson
At some point while typing all these game pieces, I made an unofficial promise to myself that if Rob Johnson managed to somehow hit a home run in a game or get multiple hits, I'd try to throw him into the gameball entries. Lo and behold, the two multi-hit guys already got the first two entries and I already found a way to talk about Ian Snell, so here's Johnson. The home run was his only hit of the game, as he just squared up a hanging breaking ball and sent it above the manual scoreboard in leftfield. The home run broke the game open and gave the Mariners a 7-2 lead, which eventually afforded the Mariners the opportunity to yank Snell from the ballgame after five innings and set up the perfect situation in which to put Miguel Batista on the mound. Seriously, this almost reminds me of that short span of time when Kevin Jarvis was a Mariner -- he was just so bad that it had to be a six-run or seven-run margin to even think of putting him on the mound. Still, Batista at least had the 2007 season he had with the Mariners, and I don't ever remember Jarvis loading the bases with nobody out and managing to wriggle his way out of it, so there's that.

Bill Hall
The scrap-heap acquisition will be getting everyday playing time until Ichiro gets back, and I'm hoping that sometime is soon. Not that I don't want Hall getting playing time, I'm just getting a little uneasy watching this team without Ichiro. I have this sick feeling that Ichiro's going to land on the disabled list again or something. I mean, there were points this season where Ichiro's pace would have had him nearly matching his 262-hit record if not for his missed time. With the way this calf injury is going, a thought enters my mind about the Mariners bringing him back long enough to get his 200th hit and then shutting him down for the rest of the season. Obviously I'm hoping it doesn't come down to that. Also obvious is that I feel I've spent the creative fountain the last few nights writing about Hall, and that I only have so much material when it comes to the guy. When Ichiro comes back, it'll be a logjam in leftfield and the infield positions that aren't second base. If Branyan comes back to finish out the season, it'll be a logjam between left side of the defense.

It'll be the Aussie against Greinke. I hope they can pull it off. Actually, they should have just found a way to win the first game of the series. In short, they better win this series. You can't split against the sorry Royals.

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