Wednesday, September 09, 2009


How many more times do I have to sit through a Mariner game and see the FSN crew put up the AL West division graphic? I don't know how many times I need to say it, but the Mariners were out of the playoff race since Cleveland swept them in Seattle, and that was before the trading deadline. Does anyone still watching the Mariners at this point really think the Mariners are going to gain 10 games on the Angels and overtake them? In addition, does that mean the Mariners would vault the Rangers as well? They'd vault two teams? Come on. Now I almost take it as an insult to my intelligence. As for this game, I guess one obvious question that comes through in hindsight is why Don Wakamatsu didn't throw David Aardsma in the 10th as opposed to Miguel Batista. The obvious answer would be that if the Mariners got a lead, there would be nobody to throw. Also, Batista seemed to have some outings lately where he'd throw well for an inning and then run into trouble the second inning. Beyond that, Scott Kazmir did better than he probably should have, and Felix Hernandez did a little worse than he should have. Jack Wilson was teh pits.

The Mariners' third straight loss (after four straight wins) dropped their record to 72-67 after 139 games. That record is two wins worse than the 2007 team's record at this point, but six better than 2006, 12 better than 2005, 18 better than last year, and 20 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 losing the 67th game: 86-67 in 2000, 116-46 in 2001, 92-67 in 2002, 89-67 in 2003, 39-67 in 2004, 49-67 in 2005, 56-67 in 2006, 75-67 in 2007, and 40-67 last year.

Seattle hitting went 6-for-37 in the game, walking four times and striking out six times. They also went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine runners in all. Multi-hit games went to Jose Lopez and Mike Sweeney, who had two hits apiece. Two of the Mariners' six hits went for extra bases, and they were both home runs, coming from Franklin Gutierrez and Sweeney. Rob Johnson, Adrian Beltre, and Mike Carp each left two runners in scoring position with two out. All Mariners who combined to hit in the bottom third of the lineup went 0-for-10 with two walks and three strikeouts. If you add Ichiro's hitless night to that train, it's 0-for-15 with two walks and four strikeouts from the 7-8-9-1 hitters in the Mariner lineup.

As for the pitching, it was a bit mixed, run totals aside. The runs allowed were minimal, but all the Mariner arms struggled in some way. The starting pitcher will be covered below. With the Angels leading 2-1, Mark Lowe came out of the bullpen to throw the eighth inning. He got a flyout from Bobby Abreu, but allowed a single to Vladimir Guerrero. Luckily, Lowe got a nice grounder from Torii Hunter that made for a double play to end the inning. In the ninth, Lowe was trying to preserve what had turned into a 2-2 tie. He struck out Kendry Morales to lead off, but strike three got by Kenji Johjima and went to the backstop, and they didn't have a play on Morales going to first. Erick Aybar then came up and bunted to the third-base side, where Beltre pounced on the ball and threw to get the force at second, blowing up the bunt. One out later, Lowe decided to walk the next two hitters to load the bases with two out, but Maicer Izturis flew out to end the inning. That was eventful. Lowe threw two shutout innings of one-hit ball, walking two and striking out one. He got three groundouts and three flyouts, threw 16 strikes out of 29 pitches, and faced nine hitters to get six outs. Miguel Batista threw the final fuel on the fire. He allowed a leadoff single to Abreu, who was bunted over to second. A Hunter groundout moved Abreu to third, then Morales was intentionally walked. Aybar then atoned for his awful bunt in the ninth by singling to center to end the game. Batista gave up a run on two hits in 2/3 inning, walking one and striking out none. He threw seven strikes out of 18 pitches, got two groundouts, and faced five hitters to get two outs.

1) Mike Sweeney
This is really getting ridiculous. The tear is now at 23-for-55 (.418) with five doubles and three home runs (slugging .673) over his last 15 games. It gets to the point where I'm not even sure what to say about the guy. Just trot the guy out there every day. In the sixth, Sweeney walked with a man on second and two out. In the ninth, Sweeney came up against Angel closer Brian Fuentes and took him yard on the second pitch, hitting it well out of Hunter's reach and into the rockery beyond the wall. That blast tied the game, blew up Fuentes' save, and gave the Mariners and their fans some good feeling that hadn't existed since the Angels tied the game at 1-1 back in the third inning of this game. It should also be noted that Sweeney singled with Lopez on first and two out in the 10th inning. It's become apparent over the past few weeks that this is indeed Mike Sweeney's world and that we are merely his puppets under his control, though right now we are more than amused by his performances at the plate.

2) Jose Lopez
The Mariners' second baseman was playing first base in this game, and Josh Wilson was playing second base. Given that, I can't really refer to Lopez as the Mariners' second baseman if it's only partially true. All told, Lopez wasn't really able to continue forth on his path to a 100-RBI season. Despite going 2-for-5 in this game, Lopez didn't push any runs across. After a Gutierrez double-play ball had killed the promise of the sixth, Lopez singled on a 3-1 pitch. He also singled with two out in the 10th to give the Mariners a tiny bit of hope that they might get themselves in the lead. Lopez has a four-game hitting streak going, which unfortunately means he's due for a hitless game, given his game-to-game tendencies this year (i.e., game log). During the four-game streak, Lopez is 7-for-18 with two home runs and four RBIs. Lopez has 84 RBIs on the year, which obviously means he needs 16 RBIs to get to 100, and he has 23 games left to get to the century mark. He's hit 22 home runs so far, and if he got to 100 RBIs, I think it's safe to say he'd have hit 25 homers. Imagine that -- 25 homers and 100 RBIs for Lopez.

3) Felix Hernandez
This was a pretty weird game for Felix. He definitely did not have his best stuff, that's for sure. He has Mike Sweeney to thank for bailing him out of what would have been a loss and a sure dent in his chances for the Cy Young Award, which I'm sure there's no chance in hell he'd win anyway since CC Sabathia is not only good, he also pitches in New York for a winning team. I thought Felix had chased the walk monsters away with his final three starts in August, but it appears the ugly walks have returned. He was very good in his last start, but he did walk three hitters. In this game, he walked four hitters, three of them coming in the third inning. That third inning was almost like a Garrett Olson-style hiccup inning, except somehow Felix only gave up one run to tie the game at 1-1. Felix walked the first two hitters of the inning, got a bunt from the next hitter, walked Izturis to load the bases, got a fly ball that scored a run, then got Guerrero to end the inning with a grounder. Of Felix's seven innings, the Angels had runners in scoring position in every inning except the second, sixth, and seventh, all of which were 1-2-3 innings. Hernandez gave up two runs (one earned) on three hits in seven innings, walking four and striking out three. He got 11 groundouts and seven flyouts (good), threw 69 strikes out of 113 pitches, and faced 29 hitters to get 21 outs.

Jack Wilson
He climbed high up the ladder to catch a line drive, and he also walked twice, so I'll give him that. He went 0-for-2, which is meh, but those two errors he committed couldn't have been timed worse if he tried. With two runners on and one out in the fifth, Abreu grounded what should have been a double-play ball to Jack Wilson to end the inning, but the ball was misfielded and it went into leftfield, scoring Chone Figgins and giving the Angels a 2-1 lead. Kangaroo Jack wasn't done there. With one on and nobody out in the ninth, Aybar made the ill-advised bunt right to a charging Beltre, who threw to second for the out on lead runner Morales. Jack Wilson, after tagging the bag for the force, then badly threw the ball toward first, and it bounced into the crowd, putting Aybar on second. Fortunately for Jack Wilson, the Angels didn't push Aybar across to make him completely feel like crap. That's not to say Aybar didn't come 90 feet away from scoring after Lowe loaded the bases with two out. It's not the first time I've said this, but Jack Wilson hasn't really impressed me at all at the plate so far with the Mariners, and the defense shows promise, but has been kinda hit-and-miss.

The middle game of the series in Anaheim will feature Ian Snell going after his fifth straight win. This means that he's won his last four starts, which is true, because I just checked.

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