Monday, September 14, 2009
The Mariners' sixth loss in seven games dropped their record to 73-70 after 143 games. That pace is two wins worse than the 2007 team, but five better than 2006, 11 better than 2005, 17 better than last year, and 20 better than 2004. Seventy-three wins is also five worse than 2000, nine worse than 2003, 11 worse than 2002, and 30 worse than 2001. Other new-millennium Mariner teams' records when losing their 70th: 89-70 in 2000, 116-46 in 2001, 93-69 in 2002 and 2003, 41-70 in 2004, 53-70 in 2005, 63-70 in 2006, 78-70 in 2007, and 44-70 last year.
Seattle hitting went a combined 6-for-33 (bad) in the game, walking once and striking out three times. They were also 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position and stranded five runners in all. Adrian Beltre had two of the Mariners' six hits as the only Mariner with multiple hits in the game. Ichiro doubled for the Mariners' only extra-base hit of the night. Franklin Gutierrez, Jose Lopez, and Kenji Johjima each went 0-for-4.
It was a bit of a sketchy game for Mariner pitching. The starting pitcher will be covered below. Jason Vargas entered the game in the fifth inning with two out, a man on first, and one run across the plate in the inning (David Murphy solo shot that made it 5-1). He caught Chris Davis looking to end the fifth. In the sixth, a leadoff double eventually came around to score and make it 6-1. In the seventh, Nelson Cruz homered with two out to give the Rangers a 7-1 lead. Vargas threw a 1-2-3 eighth inning to end his outing. He gave up two runs on two hits in 3 1/3 innings, walking none and striking out two. He got three groundouts and five flyouts, threw 28 of 42 pitches for strikes, and faced 12 hitters to get 10 outs.
In a game that really wasn't eventful for Mariner hitting as a whole, Ichiro had the most eventful hit. His two-out double in the third inning scored Ryan Langerhans from first to cut the Rangers' lead to 2-1 at that point. The hit was also his 199th of the season, placing him just one short of 200 hits and nine straight 200-hit seasons. Really the only thing you could complain about is that Ichiro's hit pace has slowed tremendously compared to his pace for most of this season. That's a bit nit-picky, though. Ichiro is Ichiro, but when he's hitting under .300 for a long stretch of time, it sinks his season average a bit (obviously), but it makes you wonder if there's something wrong with him. I just hope this isn't the beginning of a span where Ichiro is prone to muscle pulls and intestinal things and misses a dozen or so games every year. Unfortunately for him, the legend he's built for himself is so incredibly ridiculous that now we hold him to a pretty lofty and probably unfair standard. Then again, he does have that contract to justify the standard. By the way, 199 hits leaves him on pace ti finish with about 229 hits.
2) Adrian Beltre
The Mariners' third baseman went 2-for-4 with an RBI, good for his second straight multi-hit game. His game log for this month ramps up -- he goes from a hit every three games to a hit every other game to a couple of multi-hit games. He's still hitting all of .167 (7-for-42) for September, so it's not really stop-the-presses time yet for Beltre. What's really nuts is that when Beltre came back from injury in August and played nine games before Testiclegate, he went 16-for-41 (.390). Granted, his only power hitting during that entire stretch consisted of two doubles, but it really helped at least having those hits. Five of those nine games were multi-hit games for Beltre, and he had a three-hit game and a four-hit game in there. I feel pretty bad about the way Beltre's final season in Seattle went. I don't think I feel badly enough about it to re-sign him again, but I just wish he'd had way better luck with injuries and thus had a fair shake on his way out the door. Then again, if somehow he wants to sign for one year and $5 million to build his stock back up, I'm not sure I'd be against it. Yeah, it's not happening.
3) Jack Hannahan
Playing time for the Man With the Blatantly Irish Name was far from plentiful in the first half of September, but this game marked his second straight start at first base, so now the playing time is raining like mana from heaven. Sure, there were two other one-hit guys that weren't Ichiro that I could have written about here, but I chose Hannahan because I'm not truly sure how many more times I'll get to write a Hannahan paragraph for the rest of the year. What is a number-three gameball day for Hannahan? He hit a leadoff single in the fifth and was forced out on a ground ball by Kenji Johjima. As for the outs he made, he lined out to centerfield to end the second inning, flew out to center with the bases empty and one out in the seventh, and whiffed with a runner on first and one out in the ninth and a 7-2 deficit. Somehow I don't think Hannahan's outs figured too much into the final outcome of this game. But hey, he's 3-for-8 in his last two games, which is beyond insane. It's his first hitting streak since August 28th-29th.
Without seeing the game, this looks in the boxscore like it's the Iron Fister's worst start out of his seven big-league starts with the Mariners. He only walked one hitter, but the one thing that convinced me to throw him into the goat slot here had to be the 10 hits he allowed in only 4 2/3 innings. The Rangers had him solved. Also, a ratio of six groundouts to seven flyouts might be pretty good for some other pitchers, but I want to see that ratio break the other way, especially when you're facing the Texas Rangers in Arlington. Two of the 10 hits he gave up were home runs, though they were both solo shots. In other words, it's a good thing Fister only walked one hitter in those 4 2/3 innings. Unsurprisingly, Fister gave up at least a hit in every inning, though I guess some credit has to be given to him in that his hitter friendliness in the game never got out of control and snowballed into the big inning. It's pretty surprising to see 10 hits in his line and not have the big inning. Fister gave up five runs on 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings of work, walking one and striking out one. He threw 65 strikes out of 101 pitches and faced 25 hitters to get 14 outs.
It was a Felix nightcap to end the rain-drenched series in Arlington.