Sunday, September 13, 2009
The win snapped the Mariners' five-game losing streak, raising their record to 73-69 after 142 games. This record is two games off the 2007 pace, but five better than 2006, 12 better than 2005, 17 better than last year, and 20 better than 2004. Seventy-three wins is also four wins worse than 2000, nine worse than 2003, 11 worse than 2002, and 29 worse than 2001. Other new-millennium Mariner teams' records when netting win number 73: 73-62 in 2000, 73-29 in 2001, 73-46 in 2002, 73-47 in 2003, 63-99 in 2004, 69-93 in 2005, 73-79 in 2006, 73-53 in 2007, and 61-101 last year.
Seattle hitting went a splendid 15-for-41 on the night, walking six times and striking out six times as well. They were 5-for-22 with runners in scoring position and stranded 12 runners in all. No Mariner hitter went hitless in this game. The only Mariners that didn't get at least two hits were Franklin Gutierrez, Jose Lopez, Bill Hall, and Rob Johnson. Lopez drew two walks to help his cause, and Johnson walked once. Six of the Mariners' 15 hits went for extra bases. Ichiro, Gutierrez, Jack Hannahan, and Griffey (twice) hit doubles while Ichiro also chipped in with the only Mariner home run of the game. Griffey, Gutierrez, and Hannahan each drove in two runs. Despite his game-breaking two-run double, Gutierrez still stranded three runners in scoring position with two out and has a number seven under his name in the left-on-base column.
When Mariner pitching only gives up six hits and one home run in Arlington, it's a good night. Brandon Morrow came away from the game with decent results. He threw a 1-2-3 first inning before Marlon Byrd singled to lead off the second. Morrow then set down the next three hitters. Morrow had some trouble in the third. He walked Chris Davis to lead off, then Julio Borbon homered one out later to cut the Mariners' lead to 3-2. Ian Kinsler doubled with two out, but was stranded. Morrow allowed another leadoff walk in the fourth, but he got a double-play ball to quell the threat. Davis nearly homered to lead off the fifth, but the original home run call was overturned by video review. Davis scored two outs later on a groundout to cut the Mariners' lead to 5-3. Elvis Andrus legged out an infield single, and that was the final hit that Morrow allowed. Morrow gave up three runs on five hits, walking two and striking out one. He got seven groundouts and seven flyouts, threw 45 strikes out of 80 pitches, and faced 21 hitters to get 15 outs.
As for the bullpen, they were asked to handle leads of 5-3, 7-3, and 8-3 as the Mariners played add-on, which is a rarity. Shawn Kelley threw a 1-2-3 sixth inning, getting a lineout, flyout, and foul pop. His line shows up only as one inning thrown, then zeroes across the board in every category. He threw nine strikes out of 15 pitches. Mark Lowe threw the seventh and eighth innings and dominated. He struck out the first two hitters in each inning. An Esteban German groundout ended the seventh, and an Ian Kinsler foul pop ended the eighth. Lowe got one groundout and one flyout, threw 16 strikes out of 24 pitches, and retired all six hitters he faced. Randy Messenger threw what was played of the ninth inning, allowing a Byrd single and a Nelson Cruz grounder that Jack Wilson couldn't field. Jack Wilson was tagged with an error as a result, though the wire article tells me the ground conditions where deteriorating at that point. The game was then rain-delayed once again before mercifully being called.
1) Ken Griffey Jr.
I've been saying this year that Griffey has had some terrible stretches, but then he slips in that one game every once in a while that lets you know he's still capable of not being a black hole in the lineup. This was one of those games. It was his first multi-hit game since August 23rd, and his first three-hit game since August 1st. His hit in Thursday's game in Anaheim snapped a six-game hitless streak, going 0-for-15, though he only started three times in that stretch. What was the anatomy of the awesome (3-for-4 with a walk and two RBIs) night for Griffey? With Ichiro on second base and two out, Griffey singled to plate Ichiro and open the scoring. With Jose Lopez on first, Griffey doubled to the wall in centerfield, bringing Lopez all the way around to score and make it 3-0 for the Mariners. He drew a four-pitch walk to lead off the seventh and scored on a Jack Hannahan double that expanded the Mariners' lead to 7-3. In the eighth, Lopez once again was on first, though with nobody out this time, and Griffey doubled again, but not well enough to score Lopez, who scored when Beltre singled four pitches later.
He got two hits to snap out of his 1-for-17 slump that went back to his final three at-bats in Oakland on September 6th. In other words, he has slumped ever since collecting his 2000th Major League hit. According to the AP wire article, Ichiro isn't speaking to the media until after he gets his 200th hit of the season. I think he's having trouble filtering out the distractions, though it doesn't help that the media contingent has expanded a bit lately. He ended up with a 2-for-5 game with an RBI and an intentional walk. Anyway, Ichiro doubled to lead off the game and homered to lead off the third inning. He then went hitless the rest of way, which included three at-bats and an intentional walk. He's still on pace to finish with around 230 hits. The Mariners have 20 games remaining in their season. I still have to say that Ichiro's intestinal thing and the calf thing have me worried a bit about whether Ichiro can keep playing over 155 games a season like he had in every Major League season prior to this one. Maybe he doesn't get 200 hits next year, though that would obviously be due to injury and not because he barely hit .300.
3) Jack Hannahan
The only guy on this team getting less playing time than Ryan Langerhans right now is Jack Hannahan. He had made three appearances this month, all as a pinch runner. He hadn't gotten a plate appearance since August 31st. As a result, he brushed off the cobwebs and went 2-for-4 in this game with a double and two RBIs. He singled with the bases empty and one out in the first. He led off the fourth with a walk and scored on the Gutierrez double that expanded the Mariners' lead to 5-2. He grounded out to end the fifth, then doubled with the bases loaded and nobody out in the seventh, driving in Griffey and Beltre to give the Mariners a 7-3 lead. He balanced out the karma by grounding into an inning-ending double play in the eighth. It's safe to say the only reason Hannahan and Langerhans are still on this team is because it's September and the rosters are expanded. Chris Woodward and Chris Shelton might as well be in the dugout right now because they'd be getting as much playing time as Langerhans and Hannahan.
This is incredibly rare -- usually I get the game where the whole team sucks and I have a lot of trouble picking the three gameballs. Instead, the whole team was pretty good in this game and it was really hard picking the goat. The only thing I get as much as the bad game where I have to scrape to get three gameballs is the game where the goat is just incredibly obvious. Usually a game like this one would have eight guys in the lineup tearing things up, then Hall would be the guy that struck out four times and go hitless or something. Not so in this game. Hall singled with two runners on and loaded the bases in the seventh inning, setting it up for the Hannahan double. Thus, Hall was far from worthless in this game. He's hitting .278 this month, which is pretty good considering he's had some trouble at the plate since coming to the Mariners. Maybe it's league adjustment or whatever. Sometimes it seems to me that the Mariners are the only team where guys come over from the National League and have a significant league adjustment time, whether it's Adrian Beltre, Jeff Cirillo, Hall, Jack Wilson, whatever. Maybe you can throw Kevin Mitchell and Eric Anthony in there.
Iron Fister and Felix in the doubleheader today.