Saturday, September 26, 2009


This game was a real nutty one. Ian Snell went 6 2/3 innings and lost, Snell lost a routine toss from Josh Wilson in the lights, Vernon Wells was in position to field a line drive and lost it in the lights, and Ichiro was tossed. Throw Adam Moore's first Major League RBI into the mix, and the game was full of stuff you definitely don't see every day. Though the boxscore doesn't necessarily bear it out, the Mariners had tons of opportunities to widen their lead before the Blue Jays tied it in the eighth. The Mariners had won eight of 12 going into Friday's loss, but maybe the fatigue is finally catching up with the team. Of course, we don't want to see the team just show up and go through the motions and play out the string, but since they've been out of the playoff race for nearly two months, it's all about playing for pride now. I wished they could have matched the 2007 win total of 88, but this loss nixes that possibility. Even if they lost every game for the rest of the season, an 80-82 record would still give them a 19-game improvement on last year, and that's still phenomenal. Anyway, the Mariners would really have to bone things to not finish over .500, so this looks like a 20-plus-win improvement.

The Mariners' third loss in their last four games dropped their season record to 80-75 after 155 games. This record is two games worse than the 2007 pace, but five better than the 2006 pace, 13 better than 2005, 20 better than 2004, and 23 better than last year. Eighty wins is also six wins worse than 2000, nine worse than 2002 and 2003, and 30 worse than 2001. Other new-millennium Mariner teams' records when losing their 75th game: 91-71 in 2000, 116-46 in 2001, 93-69 in 2002 and 2003, 45-75 in 2004, 55-75 in 2005, 68-75 in 2006, 88-74 in 2007, and 46-75 last year.

Seattle hitting went a combined 13-for-39 on the day, walking twice and striking out nine times. They went 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 runners in all. Franklin Gutierrez and Adam Moore both doubled for the Mariners' only extra-base hits. Mike Sweeney, Matt Tuiasosopo, and Moore had two hits apiece while Gutierrez and Jose Lopez had three hits apiece. Bill Hall struck out three times on an 0-for-4 day because that's what he does. Ichiro was 0-for-3 when he got tossed by home plate umpire Brian Runge after drawing a line in the dirt with his bat. Ichiro has 216 hits on the season and is on pace to finish with 227 hits.

The Mariner arms had a checkered night. The starting pitching (good) will be covered below, as will the following pitcher, Mark Lowe. Garrett Olson came into the game with the runner on first and two out. He walked his first hitter on four pitches before getting a groundout to end the inning. Olson threw 1/3 inning of shutout ball, walking one of the two hitters he faced, and throwing two strikes out of seven pitches. Shawn Kelley threw a 1-2-3 ninth, which was good. In the 10th, Kelley started Lind off 3-0 before getting a gimmie strike. Kelley's next pitch was sent well over the leftfield wall to end the game. Kelley gave up a run on a hit in one-plus innings of work, throwing nine strikes out of 15 pitches, getting a groundout and two flyouts, and facing four hitters to get three outs.

1) Ian Snell
For having his deepest outing as a Mariner, he could get the gameball for that alone. Snell walked two hitters, which ties for his lowest amount of walks in a Mariner start. After 11 starts as a Mariner, Snell has walked 36 hitters and struck out 34 hitters. That's an awful ratio, and we know that. Hopefully Snell can work on righting that brutal ratio with a full spring training. The phrase "full spring training" also has us brimming with anticipation to see what the Mariners' trade deadline acquisitions and call-ups can do next year. Still, the walks are a pretty good reason why Snell doesn't get deeper into his starts on a regular basis. Snell gives up about five hits a start (5 1/3 innings), which isn't necessarily bad, but he also averages a little over three walks a start. That's just too many baserunners to be allowing in short an amount of time. In this game, though, the seven strikeouts more than exceeded his previous Mariner best of four. Snell gave up two runs (one earned) on five hits in 6 2/3 innings, walking two and striking out seven. He got four groundouts and nine flyouts, faced 27 hitters to get 20 outs, and threw 67 strikes out of 106 pitches. He also had rotten luck because of that error where he lost a toss in the lights, and it's too bad every run mattered in this game.

2) Jose Lopez
Only the cruelty of baseball could make it possible for Lopez have three hits while batting third in the lineup and manage not to drive in any runs. The Mariners' second baseman is sitting at 92 RBIs on the season with seven games remaining. I think around the end of last month (he ended August with 79 RBIs) I said Lopez should be an absolute lock for 90 RBIs, that he'd have been more than solid with 95 RBIs, and that it'd be completely awesome if he managed to get a 100-RBI season out of all of this. Like I said, though, he needs eight RBIs in the final seven games, which wouldn't be so hard if Lopez hadn't gone RBI-less in the last four games. Lopez singled with a man on first and one out in the first, but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. Lopez then whiffed with Gutierrez on second and nobody out in the fourth. Lopez then singled with a man on first with two out in the fifth and singled with a man on first and one out in the seventh. He led off the ninth with a flyout, though that was hardly an RBI-ready situation. I'd like to see him get 100 RBIs because I think that's the last milestone for any individual Mariner remaining this season.

3) Franklin Gutierrez
The Mariners' centerfielder mainly functioned as the guy that got on base ahead of Jose Lopez in this game. He singled with one out in the first, doubled to lead off the fourth, walked with one out in the fifth (Adam Moore scored the Mariners' 2-0 run on a wild pitch in his at-bat), singled with one out in the seventh, and grounded into a double play to end the eighth. That last part is the main reason he's the number-three gameball instead of the first. A 3-for-4 day with a double and a walk is a pretty good day, and I know it's bad for me to wish Gutierrez would have had a four-hit day, but a hit instead of a double-play ball there might mean a Mariner win. All told, this has been an amazing season for Gutierrez, who is hitting .283 on the season. His decline at the plate (if any) has been very slow, as he hit .252 in August and is hitting .274 in September. After flirting some with .300, Gutierrez spent much of the second half of the season in the .290s, and it wasn't until a couple weeks ago that he dipped below .280 for a while. Still, this is way more than I expected out of him, this soon.

Mark Lowe
Looks like the Mariners' ace setup man has been up to some stuff while I was out of state. His last three appearances have all been save opportunities. He converted in the first game of the series in Tampa Bay, but flubbed the chance the next day. After having the first two games of the Toronto series off, Lowe still didn't fare very well at all. He came into the game with runners on the corners and two out in the seventh and caught Jose Bautista looking at a 2-2 pitch. The eighth didn't go so well for Lowe. He gave up a ringing leadoff double to Aaron Hill and then Adam Lind crushed a home run to tie the game. After getting a Wells groundout, Lowe gave up a single and got Lyle Overbay to line out before being pulled. Lowe gave up two runs on three hits in one inning, walking none and striking out one. He threw 10 strikes out of 15 pitches and faced six hitters to get three outs. In his game log, the last time Lowe had a two-game stretch like this, he gave up two runs on three hits in 1 2/3 innings against the Yankees on August 14th and four days later gave up four runs (two earned) on three hits in 1/3 inning in Detroit.

I guess it's the Aussie tomorrow.

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