Friday, October 02, 2009


I caught most of this on the replay broadcast due to Canucks/Flames opening night. The Iron Fister turned in a great start, as since the Mariners got their third straight great start, it means a three-game winning streak for the Mariners. The Mariners could run the table and finish with 86 wins, but for now, they have 83 wins, which is still a 21-game improvement over last season, which is monumental. Also, the ballgame was over before the hockey game was over, so it was a nice quick game and quick pace by Fister. It also helped that all of the pitchers in the game only combined to walk two hitters. That's pretty rare. Pinpoint control by everyone involved. Rare happenings in this game included an Adrian Beltre home run and the first big-league stolen base for Adam Moore. Honestly, I thought Moore was very out on his stolen-base attempt, and you could see the look of surprise on the Oakland middle infielders' faces when he was called safe. All told, it's always good when the Mariners can sweep Oakland because they're still Oakland, no matter how bad they are.

The Mariners' third straight win upped their record to 83-76 after 159 games. This pace is two games worse than the 2007 pace, but seven better than 2006, 15 better than 2005, 21 better than 2004, and 25 better than last year. Eighty-three wins is also six worse than 2000, seven worse than 2003, nine worse than 2002, and 31 worse than 2001. Other new-millennium Mariner teams' records at win number 83: 83-66 in 2000, 83-31 in 2001, 83-58 in 2002, 83-62 in 2003, 63-99 in 2004, 69-93 in 2005, 78-84 in 2006, 83-71 in 2007, and 61-101 last year.

Seattle hitting went 8-for-31 on the night, walking once and striking out seven times. They also went 2-for-5 with runners in scoring position and stranded four runners in all. Ichiro and Adrian Beltre got two hits apiece as the only multi-hit Mariners. Franklin Gutierrez doubled and Beltre homered for the Mariners' only extra-base hits. Bill Hall, Adam Moore, and Josh Wilson struck out twice apiece.

Mariner pitching again had a pretty good night. The starting pitcher will be covered below. Mark Lowe came in for the eighth inning and allowed only a two-out single to Rajai Davis, a ball that barely eluded Josh Wilson at short. Lowe allowed one hit and struck out one in his shutout inning of work, getting two flyouts along the way. He threw eight strikes out of 10 pitches and faced four hitters to get three outs. David Aardsma had another imperfect outing but still nailed down the save. Jack Cust greeted Aardsma by homering into the visitors' bullpen near the camera well in left, cutting the Mariners' lead to 4-2. From there, though, it was fairly smooth sailing. Daric Barton grounded out and Mark Ellis flew out. Aardsma fell behind 2-0 and 3-1 on Eric Patterson, but came back to make him swing at strike three. Aardsma gave up a run on one hit, walking none and striking out one. He threw 13 strikes out of 21 pitches and faced four hitters to get three outs.

1) Doug Fister
The Mariners have won three straight, and while part of it's probably a function of the Mariners facing a horrid team such as the Oakland Athletics, it's also because the Mariners have gotten three great starts in a row from their starting pitchers. The Iron Fister kept this going, cruising through seven innings. Hilariously, his only walk was the first hitter of the game, Adam Kennedy, who fouled off the first pitch and took the next four for balls. Davis was the next hitter, and he grounded into a double play to end the threat. In the second, Cust singled to lead off and went to third on a two-out Patterson single, but Fister got the final out without incident. Kurt Suzuki tripled to lead off the fourth and came home on Barton's one-out double to tie the score at 1-1. Fister retired the final seven hitters he faced. He gave up a run on five hits in seven innings, walking one and striking out four. He got seven groundouts and 10 flyouts, throwing 70 strikes out of 107 pitches, and facing 26 hitters to get 21 outs. I guess we have to ask ourselves how many people out of Fister, Jason Vargas, Garrett Olson, and Luke French we want to see as starters for the Mariners next season.

2) Adrian Beltre
Anyone watching this game more than likely saw Beltre's last home run as a Mariner. What a horrific season this has been for the guy. He missed over a month (July), then another three weeks for Testiclegate. He had a single and a home run in this game, but you know what kind of year it's been for Beltre if the homer was only his eighth of the season. I guess the scary thing could be who would replace Beltre at third base next year, but really anything is speculation until at least the end of the winter meetings, since Jack Zduriencik is Jack Zduriencik. To me, it seems there's no one suitable on the roster right now to be an everyday leftfielder or an everyday third baseman next year. Truth is, Beltre might be really cheap next year, but even if the Mariners wanted to bring him back, I don't think Beltre would want to come back. The one man that would be the most sore about this would be Beltre's biggest fan, Red. You know, the fan with the red hair, Beltre jersey, and the three-foot picture of Beltre's head on a stick? Surely you do.

3) Ichiro
Though he had two singles that probably weren't as eventful as Mike Sweeney's two-run single, it's still Ichiro, and it's still two hits. The two hits were Ichiro's 220th and 221st of the season. With three games remaining in the season, Ichiro is a .352 hitter with 221 hits on the season, this despite missing 16 games. Playing the hypothetical game, if you extrapolated Ichiro's .352 average over the 64 at-bats he won't get, he could have 23 more hits, which would put him at 244 hits right now. Even 221 hits is a better mark than Ichiro's hit totals in 2002, 2003, 2005, and last year. Four more hits this season out of Ichiro would have him eclipse his 2006 hit total as well. As you might guess, the extrapolated hit total (248) would be better than every season other than the crazy 262-hit record-breaking season. That's not a surprise, since Ichiro was on such a torrid pace at times this season. Still, with Ichiro and Franklin Gutierrez cemented in center and right, the Mariners have to have a bat with pop in leftfield.

Bill Hall
...and unless this guy hits .275 and shows 30-homer pop, I don't want Hall to be the guy in leftfield. What he he proven so far? He's an athlete who can play multiple positions, and the Mariners seem to be big fans of that. He has the potential for pop and can really hit the ball hard. What he's really good at, though, is striking out. He struck out 13 times in August and 32 times in September. Add two more in this game, and he's struck out 45 times as a Mariner. By comparison, he walked six times in August and 10 times in September. He's struck out 45 times in 117 at-bats, in other words, 38.5% of the time. It's one thing if he's Adam Dunn, Mark Reynolds, or even Mike Cameron. I guess I'll chalk it up to league adjustment, but if it's not that, I'm not sure I can put up with a full year of Bill Hall. Again, though, we don't even really know what kind of role Hall might play next year for at least a few months. I just need to see Hall hit at least .270 if he's going to strike out as much as he's done so far as a Mariner.

Can't you Snell that Snell?

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