Thursday, September 10, 2009
The Mariners' fifth straight loss dropped their record to 72-69 after 141 games. This record at this point in the schedule is three games worse than that of the 2007 team, but four 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, 10 worse than 2003, 11 worse than 2002, and 29 worse than 2001. Other new-millennium Mariner teams' records when losing their 69th game: 86-69 in 2000, 116-46 in 2001, 93-69 in 2002, 90-69 in 2003, 40-69 in 2004, 52-69 in 2005, 57-69 in 2006, 78-69 in 2007, and 41-69 last year.
Seattle hitting went a combined 5-for-29 on the night, walking once and striking out seven times. They also went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and stranded four runners in all. The Mariners went 0-for-19 in the three-game series with runners in scoring position. The only multi-hit Mariner on the night was Bill Hall, who went 3-for-3. Three of the Mariners' five hits were doubles hit by Hall, Ken Griffey Jr., and Kenji Johjima. The top third of the Mariners' lineup (Ichiro, Franklin Gutierrez, Jose Lopez) went a combined, 0-for-10 with a walk and three strikeouts. Lopez and Mike Carp grounded into double plays.
The Mariner arms had a much better night, but once again were on the wrong side of the margin of error. The starting pitcher will be covered below. Shawn Kelley threw the eighth inning with the Angels leading 3-0, which held up as the final score. Kelley got flyouts from Vladimir guerrero and Torii Hunter, then got Juan Rivera to whiff and end the inning. Kelley threw 10 strikes out of 17 pitches in his 1-2-3 eighth.
1) Bill Hall
At least someone in the Mariner lineup had a pretty good night. Hall had gone 1-for-16 with 11 strikeouts in the last four games and had a five-game strikeout streak going into this game (3-for-20 with a double). It's time to start dancing in the streets, because the strikeout streak is now over. Hall started hsi night with a double to centerfield with two out in the second inning. Of course, since the double came with two out, there was no chance in hell of him coming around to score. Hall then led off the fifth with a single, which seemed promising. Unfortunately, Carp grounded into a double play two pitches later. As karma would have it, Johjima doubled right after that. In the seventh, Hall singled once again with two out. Again, he didn't come around to score, but this time it was of his own doing as he was caught stealing second, though Dave Sims and Mike Blowers didn't necessarily agree with the call at second base. Hall is now hitting 17-for-66 (.258) as a Mariner with six doubles and a home run (slugging .394).
2) Ryan Rowland-Smith
It's a shame that the Aussie has to pitch for a team where he can get the loss for the night just by throwing one bad pitch. On the other hand, Rowland-Smith was far from unhittable, giving up 10 hits over his seven innings of work. Still, something has to be said for being able to scatter those 10 hits and only give up three runs. Rowland-Smith only gave up two infield singles through the first three innings. Through the first 3 2/3 innings, Rowland-Smith had only given up the two infield singles and a walk. Guerrero's two-out single to left in the fourth was the Angels' first hit of the game that reached the outfield. Four pitches later, Hunter blasted off into the rockery beyond the centerfield wall and the Angels, as some of us were probably thinking at the time, had all the runs they would need. The Aussie allowed a single and an infield single in the fifth and had to pitch his way out of a two-on, two-out situation. In teh seventh, Howie Kendrick doubled with one out and eventually scored from third on an Erick Aybar double to cap the scoring. Rowland-Smith gave up three runs on 10 hits in seven innings, walking one and striking out five. He got 12 groundouts to four flyouts (very nice), threw 70 strikes out of 106 pitches, and faced 30 hitters to get 21 outs.
3) Kenji Johjima
It's time to stop the presses -- Johjima has extra-base hits in consecutive games, something he hasn't done since May 12th and May 13th. The Mariners' backup catcher has gone 6-for-18 (.333) this month with a double, two home runs (slugging .722), and four RBIs. Johjima has appeared in eight of the Mariners' nine games this month and has started in six. He's not really grabbing the reins of the newfound playing time like Josh Wilson did when Jack Wilson hit the shelf, but he hasn't been awful in his last 10 games, over which he has gone 9-for-25 with a double, two home runs (slugging .640), and five RBIs. Morrow, Doug Fister, and Felix Hernandez throw the next three games, and I'm guessing Johjima will only be out there for one of them, unless Rob Johnson's got nagging injuries or something. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to think that Johnson will be catching Felix's next start, because the earth would fall off its axis if Johjima caught Felix again. Then again, I'm not really going to complain if Johnson catching means Felix does awesome.
The middle game of this series saw the Mariners' leadoff hitter get one hit to stave off hitless consecutive games, which would be a heathen happening for sure. The bad thing is that Ichiro is now hitless in two of his last three games thanks to his 0-for-4 night. In case you're wondering, I've gone through Ichiro's game-by-game logs for this season looking to see if he's sandwiched a one-hit game with two hitless games. The answer is no. Thus, you could draw the conclusion that Ichiro is in the middle of his worst slump of the season. The worst part isn't necessarily just the bare bones (i.e., he isn't hitting), and it's not that he's struck out in six straight games -- his longest such streak of the season -- or that he's struck out seven times in the last six games. The worst part is that Ichiro's looking really awful on some of these strikeouts lately. He swung at a third strike in the dirt tonight that was blocked by Jeff Mathis, and Dave Niehaus wondered aloud why Ichiro wouldn't at least try to leg out to first base and at least make Mathis make that throw. Of course, maybe that's the wisdom of Ichiro. Maybe he already knew the Mariners weren't winning that game.
Tonight is for the Morrow.