Thursday, September 10, 2009
The Mariners have successfully followed up a four-game winning streak with a four-game losing streak, leaving them at 72-68 after 140 games. That record at this point is two games worse than 2007, but five better than 2006, 11 better than 2005, 17 better than last year, and 20 better than 2004. Seventy-two wins is also four worse than 2000, nine worse than 2003, 10 worse than 2002, and 28 worse than 2001. Other Mariner teams' records when getting their 68th loss: 86-68 in 2000, 116-46 in 2001, 93-68 in 2002, 90-68 in 2003, 39-68 in 2004, 52-68 in 2005, 56-68 in 2006, 73-68 in 2007, and 41-68 last year.
Seattle hitting went 9-for-36 in the game, walking once and striking out a hefty 11 times. They also went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven runners in all. The Mariners have gone 0-for-15 with runners in scoring position in the first two games of this series. Two Mariners had multi-hit nights, and their names are Kenji Johjima (two hits) and Jose Lopez (three). Five of the Mariners' nine hits went for extra bases. The three doubles belonged to Josh Wilson, Adrian Beltre, and Mike Carp. The two home runs went to Johjima and Lopez. Ichiro only went 1-for-5, but that once again kept his streak alive -- the streak where he never goes hitless in consecutive games. I tossed in the Bill Hall nugget in the opening paragraph, and Hall went for the hat trick tonight with three strikeouts. Hall has a five-game strikeout streak going, and he's piled up 12 strikeouts in that span. He's 3-for-20 over those give games. He's struck out 27 times in 17 games as a Mariner. I'd have an easier time brushing this off if he had more than five doubles and a homer as a Mariner.
As for the pitching, although the game was never completely out of reach, it wasn't a good night. The starting pitcher will be covered below. With two on and one out with the Angels up 4-2 in the sixth, Jason Vargas was brought in for only his second appearance since being recalled from Tacoma. He got Jeff Mathis to line right to Beltre at third, and they easily had Juan Rivera doubled off of second base to end the inning. Vargas threw a 1-2-3 seventh before running into trouble in the eighth. Vladimir Guerrero led off by doubling on a too-inside pitch. Vargas got the next two out, but threw a meaty pitch to Rivera, who hit the camera well in centerfield to make it 6-2 and all but end the game. Vargas gave up two runs on two hits in 2 2/3 innings, walking none and striking out two. He got no groundouts and five flyouts, threw 23 strikes out of 38 pitches, and faced nine hitters to get eight outs.
1) Jose Lopez
He's not on a crazy RBI tear where he hits a bunch of homers and extra-base hits, but the Mariners' second baseman is nonetheless on a five-game hitting streak. Usually he has bunches of three-game or four-game hit streaks, but that's usually when he hangs up a goose egg just to keep everyone honest. His longest hitting streak of the season was a seven-gamer from July 29th to August 5th which saw him go 16-for-31 (.516) with three doubles, three homers (slugged .903), and 13 RBIs. What's his current five-game streak look like? He's gone 10-for-22 (.455) with three home runs (slugging .864) and five RBIs. The one RBI from his solo homer in this game puts him at 85 RBIs on the year, 15 short of the century mark. He's driven in six runs in the eight games he's played so far in September. The Mariners have 22 games left in the season. He should be a lead-pipe cinch to finish with at least 90 RBIs, he should get to 95 RBIs, and I really hope he gets to 100 RBIs. Once Ichiro finally gets off his duff and gets his 200th hit, the Lopez RBI chase will be the last cool individual Mariner milestone remaining this season.
2) Kenji Johjima
I guess I'll start this off by saying I hope Adam Moore goes north with the big club next spring and shows us next year that he can become the best catcher this franchise has ever had. I'm mainly talking about offense, of course. I say this because this gameball makes it so I have to hype up a catcher that's hitting .249 and only has hit seven homers on the year, but that's better in comparison to the other guy, who's supposedly sound defensively and supposedly can call a better game, but has hit only two home runs despite oodles of playing time. Johjima put the Mariners on the board with a homer off Jered Weaver in the third inning that cut the Angels' lead to 4-1. He also singled with one out in the seventh inning to chase Weaver from the ballgame. Johjima is 8-for-21 with two home runs in his last nine games. He has a line of .249 with eight homers and 21 RBIs on the season, an injury-riddled season. Again, I really want Adam Moore to impress us because I don't think Rob Johnson needs to be in a Mariner uniform next year. It's no slight on Rob Johnson, it's just more of a "thanks, but no thanks" deal.
3) Adrian Beltre
The two multi-hit guys were already taken, and the other two guys who hit doubles in the game both struck out twice, so that left Beltre to get the third gameball. I read on the Mariners Insider blog at the News Tribune that Beltre is apparently wearing a cup nowadays (per Larry Larue), though he'd much rather go without it. I think there's a Beltre quote in there where he says he went nine years without getting hit in the nards (we need to bring back the word "nards," people), and I find that incredible with all the grounders they take. Part of me is going to dread next year if only for those moments where an opposing player bunts to the third-base side and Beltre isn't there doing the charge-and-throw move. I'm not going to miss Beltre's no-power bat from this year, but I've always liked the glove. Would I rather take that than have Bill Hall playing every day and striking out a gobton of times? Is he what you get if you cross Mark McLemore with Mike Cameron? Do you get a utility guy with power that strikes out a bunch and plays good defense?
I really wanted to goat one of the hitters. Three Mariners had hitless nights (Franklin Gutierrez, Ken Griffey Jr., Hall), and they combined for six strikeouts. There were tons of chances where the Mariners had runners on base and a chance to raise hell, but they never could come through. That's not on Ian Snell. However, when I see the number five in the walk column of Snell's line, I just can't get over that. Snell had his nightmare in the first, all starting with a Maicer Izturis walk. A bases-loaded walk pushed the Angels' first run across before Kendry Morales put the big blow on the game with a bases-clearing double that made it 4-0. In other words, the game-winning RBI in this one came in the bottom of the first. Snell settled down until the sixth, but the Angels are good and the margin of error against such a team is small, so the damage had been done. Snell gave up four runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings, walking five and striking out two. He got eight groundouts and six flyouts, threw 54 strikes out of 100 pitches, and faced 26 hitters to get 16 outs.
A Felix night opened the series, and an Aussie night closes it out on Thursday night.