Monday, September 14, 2009
I came home after watching the Seahawk game at a friend's house and was very surprised to see that this game was being played live on FSN. I had to originally convince myself that it wasn't a replay of the first game of the doubleheader or something, but once I saw the sky was dark and Felix Hernandez was throwing, then it was given away. Thus, I can actually comment on this game without completely BS'ing the whole thing. Hooray! Other than the pitching awesomeness, the obvious other story in this thing was Ichiro's 200th hit of the season, leapfrogging him past Wee Willie Keller and making him the only hitter in Major League history to attain 200 hits in nine consecutive seasons. It's beyond incredible. Major League Baseball would argue that it's Beyond Baseball. It should come as no surprise that the hit was as a completely nondescript infield single that was a slow roller to short on which Elvis Andrus had no play. It was good that it happened, and maybe now Ichiro can snap out of his slump since he only went 1-for-5 in this game. He only went 4-for-14 (.286) in this Texas series, for goodness' sake.
The Mariners' second win in three games vaulted their record to 74-70 after 144 games. This pace is two wins worse than the 2007 pace, but five better than 2006, 11 better than 2005, 17 better than last year, and 20 wins better than 2004. Seventy-four wins is also four worse than 2000, eight worse than 2003, 10 worse than 2002, and 30 worse than 2001. Other new-millennium Mariner teams' records when getting their 74th win: 74-62 in 2000, 74-29 in 2001, 74-47 in 2002, 74-48 in 2003, 63-99 in 2004, 69-93 in 2005, 74-79 in 2006, 74-62 in 2007, and 61-101 last year.
Seattle hitting went a combined 8-for-35 in the game, walking four and striking out five. They were also 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven runners in all. The only multi-hit Mariner was Franklin Gutierrez, who went 2-for-4 with a walk. The two hitless Mariners were Mike Sweeney and Rob Johnson (surprise). Five of the Mariners' eight hits went for extra bases. Doubles were hit by Jose Lopez, Josh Wilson, and Gutierrez. Bill Hall hit a long drive to the wall and got a friendly carom away from rightfielder Nelson Cruz that enabled him to get a triple out of it. Also, Adrian Beltre homered and there was subsequent dancing in the streets.
Mariner pitching did just fine. The starting pitching will be addressed below. Mark Lowe came into the game and threw the eighth inning. He gave up only a two-out single to Julio Borbon. Lowe gave up one hit in one inning, walking none and striking out one. He got two groundouts and a strikeout, faced four hitters to get three outs, and threw six strikes out of eight pitches. David Aardsma then threw the ninth in his first appearance since September 3rd since the Mariners had sucked so badly in the meantime. Aardsma shook off the rust, getting two flyouts to start the inning and allowing only a David Murphy two-out single before ending it with an exclamation point by striking out Cruz. Aardsma gave up one hit in one inning, walking none and striking out one. he got two flyouts and a strikeout, faced four hitters to get three outs, and threw 10 strikes out of 15 pitches.
1) Felix Hernandez
The Mariners' ace was the only starting pitcher this weekend to really throw on schedule, if you don't count the few hours this game was pushed before finally being played. I'm not necessarily saying that played a part in him throwing seven shutout innings, but it couldn't have hurt. This turned out to be a pretty vintage Felix start. Unfortunately, Julio Borbon led off all Ranger hitting with a single, breaking up the perfect game right away. Borbon ended up on third with one out in the first inning, but Felix struck out the next two hitters to end the inning. The third inning came about nearly the same way -- Taylro Teagarden doubled to lead off, was moved to third on a groundout, and stayed there as Borbon grounded out to first and Elvis Andrus was caught looking to end the inning. Hernandez set down the next nine hitters before Borbon singled with one out in the sixth. A timely double-play ball bailed Felix out of having two on with one out. In the seventh, Felix walked Nelson Cruz with two out, which was his only walk of the game. Felix gave up four hits in seven shutout innings, walking one and striking out five. He got 11 groundouts and five flyouts, threw 65 strikes out of 109 pitches, and faced 25 hitters to get 21 outs.
2) Franklin Gutierrez
In mid-August, the Mariners' centerfielder was hitting so well that going hitless in consecutive games (where he didn't suffer injury in one of them) was a pretty big deal because it hadn't happened since mid-June. Unfortunately, that was the beginning of five groups of consecutive-game hitting stretches. He went hitless on August 12th-13th, August 18th-20th, August 22nd-23rd, August 30th-31st, and September 9th-10th. It's a good way to drop .020 off a batting average in a month span this time of year. He went from .300 on August 11th to .280 on September 10th by going 24-for-111 (.216) at the plate. He was the only Mariner with multiple hits in this game, however, singling with one out in the first inning and scoring the first Mariner run on a Jose Lopez double, and bouncing a double over the wall in centerfield to lead off the fifth. He scored the Mariners' fourth run of the game later that inning went Adrian Beltre homered. Gutierrez right now is a .278 hitter and if he got four at-bats in each of the remaining 18 games, he'd need to finish with 169 hits, i.e., go 32-for-72 (.444) the rest of the way. It could happen, but I highly doubt it. Nonetheless, it's been a very successful season for Gutierrez.
3) Adrian Beltre
The Mariners' third baseman didn't stop the presses in the first game of the doubleheader by going for multiple hits, but he did do it in the second game of the doubleheader. How? He hit a home run. I couldn't believe my eyes, really. The sail sailed over the wall and I couldn't even remember the last time he'd hit a home run, just that it had been a long time. What adds to such memory failure is that Beltre has had an injury-riddled and horrible season as well, so when I learned that the home run was only Beltre's sixth of the season, well, that's even bad for a substandard version of Beltre. Anyway, the home run was Beltre's first since June 16th in San Diego, which is a long time on the calendar as well as just his log. He went 30 games without hitting a home run. This was a guy that coming off three straight 25-homer seasons and drove in 99 runs two years ago. Of course, knowing Beltre, he could have untold injuries aside from the testicle, so there could be reasons why he's hitting .264 when he manages to get on the field at all. He should have been a hockey player.
He caught the second half of the doubleheader, so his playing time was pretty much a given. This was also a Felix Hernandez start, so again, his playing time was pretty much a given. He went 0-for-4 with the number five in the LOB column in the boxscore. He tried to bunt for a base hit with Josh Wilson on second and one out in the second inning, but ended up hitting a fly ball that pushed the runner to third. In the fourth, he grounded out to third with a runner on second and one out (bonus points if you saw the botched double play right before that). In the sixth, Johnson grounded into a double play to end the inning. In the eighth, the Mariners had runners on first and second with two out, but Johnson grounded back to the mound to end the inning. I guess the day could have been worse for Johnson. He's a .217 hitter. He's gotten 249 at-bats this season, and I don't know about you, but I've seen all I need to see out of Rob Johnson to know I don't want the guy catching for the Mariners this year. That's why I welcomed the news of Adam Moore being called up to the big club. Even when I complained about Dan Wilson's hitting back in the day, he would still hit .230 or .240 as opposed to .217...sheesh.
Can Ian Snell win for the fifth time in six starts tomorrow? He'll have to beat the Chief.