Sunday, September 06, 2009


I have to say that when the Mariners won the first two games of this series in Oakland, I felt good about their chances to at least win three of four and possibly get a sweep. Instead, Luke French went through some more growing pains on Saturday, and in this game, Shawn Kelley had an inning to forget, and it costs the Mariners the game. Other than that, the best thing that happened to the Mariners in this game was that Ichiro led the game off with his 2000th hit, a double. It was good. I can't say it was downhill from there, because the Mariners had a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning and looked to be on their way to feeling kinda good about winning and coming away with three of four wins in the series. Instead, one big blow put the Mariners away, and it's a bitter-tasting split. In other news, the two individual feats left for Mariner players to attain are Ichiro's ninth straight 200-hit season and a 100-RBI season for Jose Lopez. The first one's almost a foregone conclusion, whereas the second one will be a bit more challenging. I'm hoping for both.

The Mariners' second straight loss after winning four straight dropped their season record to 72-66 after 138 games. This record is two wins worse than the 2007 team's record at this point, but seven better than 2006, 12 better than 2005, 18 better than last year, and 21 better than 2004. Seventy-two wins is also three worse than 2000, nine worse than 2002 and 2003, and 27 worse than 2001. Other new-millennium Mariner teams' records when getting loss number 66: 78-66 in 2000, 116-46 in 2001, 88-66 in 2002, 87-66 in 2003, 39-66 in 2004, 49-66 in 2005, 56-66 in 2006, 74-66 in 2007, and 40-66 last year.

Seattle hitting went 7-for-31 on the afternoon, walking twice and striking out five times. They also went 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded six runners in all. The only extra-base hit of the game for the Mariners was Ichiro's 2000th Major League hit, a double down the rightfield line that led off the game. The only multi-hit Mariner on the day was Jose Lopez. The only multi-strikeout Mariner on the day was Bill Hall, who has struck out seven times over the last two games. Hall and Saunders both went hitless and didn't drawn any walks. Mike Sweeney, however, drew a walk to make his 0-for-3 look a little less worse. Adrian Beltre drove in a tie-breaking in the sixth with a single that put the Mariners in the lead 2-1. However, Beltre also grounded into a double play during the game, as did Sweeney. This game is really difficult to write about when it comes to Mariner hitters that aren't getting gameballs. It was pretty unremarkable for the hitters that weren't gameballers.

As for the pitching, two out of three ain't bad. Doug Fister had a bit of struggle early on, but settled down. It got dicey, though, since he apparently grew a blister on his pitching hand around the third inning and left after five innings as a result, though it's doubtful he could have gone more than about six innings, I'd say. In the first inning, Fister let the first two hitters aboard, but retired the next three hitters. A leadoff single in the second by Mark Ellis only got dicey when a pickoff throw went awry and into foul ground, landing Ellis on third. Undaunted, Fister finished out that at-bat by striking out Cliff Pennington. He threw a 1-2-3 third before allowing a one-out Landon Powell home run in the fourth. The fifth inning saw him pull a rabbit out of the hat, though, as he loaded the bases with one out and got a foul pop and a strikeout to escape the jam. Fister gave up one run on six hits in five innings, walking two and striking out five. He got two groundouts to eight flyouts (he'd like that ratio the other way around), threw 56 of 94 pitches for strikes, and faced 23 hitters to get 15 outs. Shawn Kelley will be covered below. Randy Messenger threw the eighth inning with Oakland leading 5-2. He got a groundout and two flyouts in a 1-2-3 inning, and threw 13 of 18 pitches doing so.

1) Jose Lopez
The Mariners' second baseman seems to be in the middle of one of those four- or five-game stretches where he's pretty good before going hitless, then continuing the cycle. After enduring a nine-game stretch where he went 4-for-32 (.125), Lopez finished the final three games of this Oakland series by going 5-for-13 (.385) with two home runs and five RBIs. As for the Lopez RBI quest, Lopez collected one more RBI in this game, giving him five RBIs over six games this month as well as 84 for the season. Obviously if he approaches anything close to an RBI-per-game pace, he'll be a lead-pipe cinch to break the century mark for RBIs this season. The team has 24 games left in the season, and even an RBI every other game will net him a 96-RBI season. Like I keep saying, I'll be more than glad with 95 RBIs. Sure, all of his home runs go out to leftfield, but dammit, look at all the runs this guy's driven in this season. Who is The Boone? Who cares?

2) Ichiro
If you were late getting to a television to watch the game, you weren't feeling too good about yourself because Ichiro ripped a double down the rightfield line on the second pitch of the game for his 2000th Major League hit. There was a smattering of applause from the Oakland crowd and tips of the helmet by Ichiro to the crowd. That was his only hit of the game, but it was definitely an Ichiro-looking hit. At least it wasn't some weak flare into shallow centerfield or something. I like the choice of a ringing double for a milestone hit. Two thousand hits is a lot of damn hits. If Ichiro can keep the 200-hit thing going for a while longer, he could get to 3000 Major League hits in four or five years. If he gets to 3000 hits, I think he'll be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. By that point, he would have the single-season hits record, at least nine straight 200-hit seasons (possibly 10-plus), the 3000 hits, and he'd have a reputation as the greatest leadoff hitter of this generation, and one of the best (singles) hitters this game has ever seen.

3) Franklin Gutierrez
He went 1-for-3 in the game, which isn't such a big deal. The one hit was a leadoff single in the sixth. After Ichiro doubled in the first, Gutierrez bunted him over to third base, and apparently that was 12th sacrifice bunt of the year, which leads the American League. The pure fun came after the single in the sixth, however. He went to second base when Lopez singled on the next pitch. On the first pitch to Sweeney, Gutierrez took off and stole third base without a throw. Sweeney grounded back to the mound and Gio Gonzalez forced out Lopez going to second. Then Beltre singled into centerfield, enabling Gutierrez to score, and it wasn't that hard of a single, so it's conceivable Gutierrez may not have scored if he didn't steal third base. That made for a 2-1 Mariner lead, and the way the bullpen has thrown this season, I wouldn't have blamed the common Mariner fan for thinking the Mariners had a pretty good chance to win this game. Unfortunately for the Mariners, Gutierrez can only catch fly balls and hit balls at the plate. He doesn't stand on the mound.

Shawn Kelley
The good news is that Kelley threw a 1-2-3 sixth inning. The bad news is that once Kelley loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh inning, the game was basically over. How did Kelley load the bases with nobody out? Very carefully. In more detail, Pennington singled to lead off, Adam Kennedy singled two pitches later, and then Kelley hit Rajai Davis with a pitch. Kelley was in deep, but got ahead 0-2 on Ryan Sweeney and got him to strike out. At that point, maybe there was a little hope since Kelley really only needed a well-placed ground ball to get a double play and escape the jam unscathed. Two pitches later, however, Scott Hairston clobbered the ball, and the slam was indeed grand. The Mariners went from a 2-1 lead to being behind 5-2, and that margin held up as the final score. Kelley had a one-run lead, and obviously the margin of error was pretty small to begin with, and there are times in baseball when even the worst team in the league won't let you get away with loading the bases with nobody out. The moral of the story? Don't load the bases with nobody out.

As we know, Felix followed SuperFister. I think Fister would totally get sued if those shirts said SUperFIster on them and had some variation of the SUperFInger.

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