Sunday, August 30, 2009
The loss dropped the Mariners' record to 68-63 after 131 games. This pace is five games worse than the 2007 pace, but is six better than the 2006 pace, 12 better than the 2005 pace, 17 better than the 2004 pace, and 19 better than last year's pace. Records of other new-millennium Mariner teams when getting loss number 63: 74-63 in 2000 and 2007, 116-46 in 2001, 84-63 in 2002, 86-63 in 2003, 39-63 in 2004, 47-63 in 2005, 56-63 in 2006, and 38-63 last year.
Seattle hitting took a day off against Zack Greinke, going 1-for-28 and walking once while striking out five times. They were 0-for-1 with runners in scoring position and stranded two runners in all. Kenji Johjima had the only hit of the day for the Mariners, and it was merely a parachute job. The Mariners' only other baserunner was Bill Hall, who walked.
As for the pitching, it was very good, but Greinke was leaps and bounds better. Since not a lot of Mariners were hitting in this game, the two Mariner pitchers are in the gameball entries, so read all about them below.
1) Ryan Rowland-Smith
This was such a well-pitched game that it was really too bad someone had to lose it. Unfortunately for the Aussie, he was that man. What's also really too bad is that he was undone by one fly ball in the sun that didn't get caught. Let's go through the anatomy of Rowland-Smith's start. He allowed a Billy Butler single with two out in the first, He retired the next five hitters before Yuniesky Betancourt singled with one out in the third, but then David DeJesus grounded into a double play to end the inning. He threw a 1-2-3 fourth before the fateful fifth. Alberto Callaspo hit a high fly ball to leftfield on which Michael Saunders broke inward, lost the ball in the sun, then couldn't get back in time, and the ball went over his head. Callaspo got a "double," and the Royals were in business. Mark Teahen's groundout moved Callaspo to third, then Miguel Olivo (of all people) singled to score Callaspo as the first run of the game, and it turns out that's all Greinke would need. Rowland-Smith then walked Mitch Maier, got a Betancourt flyout, then allowed a DeJesus single that scored Olivo to make it 2-0. A wild pitch with Bloomquist at the plate scored Maier to make it 3-0 before Bloomquist grounded out to end the inning. Rowland-Smith then retired the his final nine hitters in order, striking out the side in the seventh. Just like Chris Jakubauskas had his best start of the year in a Mariner loss, it appears Rowland-Smith has had his best start of the year in a Mariner loss. He gave up three runs on five hits in eight innings, walking one and striking out seven. He got 10 groundouts to seven flyouts, threw 80 strikes out of 113 pitches, and faced 29 hitters to get 24 outs.
2) Shawn Kelley
Since I can't really rate too many Mariner hitters' performances over a nondescript outing by a Mariner relief pitcher, it's a nondescript outing by a Mariner relief pitcher that gets gameball number two. Kelley came in and threw a 1-2-3 ninth inning with the Mariners down 3-0. He got Butler to go down swinging, got Brayan Pena to ground out, and got a flyout to left by Callaspo that Saunders didn't lose in the sun. Kelley threw 12 strikes out of 16 pitches. Though I'd completely forgotten about it, this was Kelley's rebound appearance after he and Randy Messenger got roughed up in the latter portion of the game on Friday night where the Royals hit a bunch of home runs. Prior to that outing, Kelley had thrown seven straight scoreless appearances. For a guy that a lot of people didn't even think would make the team out of spring training, Kelley has done mighty good for himself. Probably the worst thing he did all year was try to throw one more pitch after he felt a twinge in his oblique muscle. That turned out to be a mistake that cost him nearly two months.
3) Kenji Johjima
The black sheep of the Mariners' catching tandem got the only Seattle hit of the day. Yes, Johjima holds the key to unlocking the genius that is Zack Greinke. Unfortunately for Johjima, as much as I try to defend him and would rather have him at the plate than Rob Johnson, the guy's only gone 9-for-48 (.188) for the month of August. The odd thing is that four of his nine hits in August have gone for extra bases (one double, three home runs), so his slugging percentage is still .396. Since missing a month due to injury, Johjima has gone 23-for-100 (.230) with three doubles, three home runs (slugging .350), and seven RBIs. Rob Johnson hit .269 in July and is hitting .281 so far in August, so big kudos to him, though he hit like Ronny Cedeno for two whole months. I still can't believe for the life of me how Don Wakamatsu could look in the mirror at himself in the morning and still put Ronny Cedeno and Rob Johnson on the same lineup card. That still irks me. Don't get me wrong, I've had little problem with Wakamatsu this year, but that still eats at me a bit.
This was not exactly a golden moment in the month-long career of the kid from Victoria. Everyone but Kenji Johjima in the Mariner lineup had a hitless day, so Saunders simply matching that wouldn't put him here. Ryan Rowland-Smith was cruising through the first four innings. Alberto Callaspo led off the fifth with a fly ball to leftfield. Saunders appeared to take his first step inward (generally a big no-no), lost the ball in the sun, then broke backward but couldn't get back far enough. He missed what should have been a catch, and it gave the Royals just enough of a window of opportunity to score three runs, and with Zack Greinke on the mound, the game was over once Michael Saunders didn't catch that ball. I guess it's really too bad for Saunders since he's generally been pretty good defensively, showing he has pretty good range and even robbed someone of a home run by reaching above the wall. Losing the ball in the sun...well, I had it happen to me back in junior high ball with the bases loaded in an extra-inning game on the road, so I know what it's like, except with way less people watching. It still feels like crap, though. Overall, I like Saunders, but when the hell is he going to hit a home run? Damn, he's played in 28 Major League games and hasn't popped one yet.
Here's hoping French can fry some Rally Monkey. If somehow there's a Yankees/Angels series or a Red Sox/Angels series in the postseason, nobody wins. Nobody wins.