Saturday, October 03, 2009


Should I be glad I didn't see this game? I guess I have to admit I saw the last few outs of the game on replay. At that point, though, it appears I was only 10 minutes late if I wanted to watch the game get away from the Mariners. In short, the Mariners fell behind 3-0, erased that deficit and jumped into a 4-3 lead, then frittered away that lead and more over the eighth and ninth innings. Since Ian Snell didn't light the world on fire with his start, Ken Griffey Jr. didn't smack another home run, and Ichiro didn't get any hits, it appears the one positive storyline of this game is that it was the best one in Mike Carp's young Major League career. Not that we were expecting the Mariners to pull it off, but they had to sweep this series for a share of second place in the division. This loss guaranteed a third-place finish for the Mariners. Considering a 101-loss season just a year ago, I think any Mariner fan would have taken a third-place finish without even knowing what the record might be. The fact that it's 83 wins so far is just a bonus.

The loss dropped the Mariners' record to 83-77 after 160 games. This pace is three games worse than the 2007 team, but it's also seven better than the 2006 team, 14 better than the 2005 team, 20 better than the 2004 team, and 24 better than last year. Records of other new-millennium Mariner teams when losing their 77th: 91-71 in 2000, 116-464 in 2001, 93-69 in 2002 and 2003, 46-77 in 2004, 57-77 in 2005, 69-77 in 2006, 88-74 in 2007, and 46-77 last year.

Seattle hitting went 9-for-35 on the night, walking once and striking out 10 times (this despite Bill Hall not being in the lineup). The team went 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded five runners in all. Jose Lopez and Adrian Beltre had two hits apiece while Mike Carp had three hits for the Mariners' multi-hit hitters. Franklin Gutierrez, Josh Wilson, and Beltre doubled for the Mariners' extra-base hit output. Ichiro went hitless, so that couldn't have been very exciting. Griffey didn't pop another three-run homer or even get a hit, so that couldn't have been very exciting either. Actually, if you take those multi-hit Mariners and add up their total, that leaves exactly two hits for the other six hitters in the lineup, and those two other hits are the doubles I already mentioned. As for the litany of strikeouts, every starter that wasn't Carp struck out at least once. Ranger pitchers Brandon McCarthy, Dustin Nippert, CJ Wilson, and Frank Francisco combined for the 10 strikeouts.

It was a sketchy night for the Mariner arms. Ian Snell had a start that was pretty much what you'd expect out of him, at least given his Mariner tenure. He walked people, as usual, and didn't get overly deep into the game, but didn't get tattooed. His first jam was in the second inning. He walked Andruw Jones with one out, then Taylor Teagarden ground-rule doubled to put both runners into scoring position. An Omar Vizquel groundout put the Rangers on the board, and Julio Borbon singled to make it 2-0 before Snell managed to get out of the inning. Snell was touched up again in the third. David Murphy walked to lead off, then Marlon Byrd singled to move Murphy to second. Ian Kinsler bunted the runners over before strikeout artist Chris Davis singled to push Murphy across and move Byrd to third to make it 3-0. Snell got Jones to bounce into a double play to end the inning. Snell pretty much cruised through his final three innings of work. Snell gave up three runs on nine hits, walking three and striking out three in six innings of work. He got six groundouts and nine flyouts, threw 61 strikes out of 100 pitches, and faced 29 hitters to get 18 outs.

Don Wakamatsu decided to empty out the bullpen in this one. Miguel Batista was the first man out of the pen, and he started the seventh. He got a Muprhy groundout, gave up a Byrd single, and got a lineout from Kinsler. Batista threw six strikes out of eight pitches. Garrett Olson then wild-pitched Byrd to second before getting Davis to ground out for the final out of the inning. Olson threw four strikes out of seven pitches. Mark Lowe started the eighth inning. Jones greeted him with a ringing double before Lowe struck out Teagarden. Lowe then walked pinch-hitter Elvis Andrus, but then got Borbon to line out. Unfortunately, the lineup turned over, and Michael Young singled home pinch-runner Esteban German to tie the game at 4-4 and chase Lowe. Lowe gave up a run on two hits, walking one and striking out one in 2/3 inning. He threw 13 strikes out of 21 pitches and faced five hitters to get two outs. Jason Vargas got the final otu of the inning without incident on three pitches. David Aardsma will be covered below. Randy Messenger was greeted with an Andrus double that scored the Rangers' final two runs and set fire to David Aardsma's ERA. Messenger gave up no runs on a hit in 1/3 inning, got a flyout, and threw four strikes out of six pitches.

1) Mike Carp
The Friday night crowd of 27899 was a lot better than what the Mariners were drawing for the Oakland series, so quite a few more people got to witness Mike Carp's best game as a big leaguer. He hit a two-out single in the second to start off the night, hit a two-run single with one out in the fourth to tie the game at 3-3, then legged out an infield single to lead off the six inning before being lifted for Mike Sweeney in the eighth, who promptly struck out looking with Beltre on third base. Carp has three two-hit games as a big leaguer -- June 21st against Arizona, September 3rd at Oakland, and September 15th against the White Sox. His only big-league home run came on September 16th against the White Sox. With seven walks and nine strikeouts, Carp is the anti-Bill Hall. The thing about all this is that the Mariners have all these guys like Carp, Saunders, and Matt Tuiasosopo, and other guys like Jack Hannahan and Bill Hall, and I really have no idea where they're going to fit in because thanks to the nature of Jack Zduriencik, we really don't know how this roster's going to look by the time spring training rolls around.

2) Adrian Beltre
There's no way Beltre was going to homer in consecutive games, but he turned in another 2-for-4 night. Don't look now, but Beltre has had four straight 2-for-4 games, making it an 8-for-16 tear with two doubles and a home run (.813 slugging percentage). I hope Beltre's biggest fan, Red, has been enjoying this, because Beltre's so freakin' gone after this season. I'll really miss his defense, and I just wish it could have worked out better for him here. Of course, I wish the Mariner teams around him could have been better too. Of the five years Beltre has been here in Seattle, three of the teams have been pretty crappy. Still, you could say the same kind of thing for Raul Ibanez and Ichiro, to a lesser extent. You'd have to raise the criteria to "playoff appearances" when you talk about Ichiro, though, and realize the guy hasn't been to the playoffs since his first year on American shores, which is beyond sad. What the hell happened to this team? I can't help but think at least one or two of the Mariners' teams from 1995 to 2003 should have gone to the World Series.

3) Jose Lopez
The Mariners' second baseman went 2-for-4 in the game with an RBI, his 94th of the season. I'd been holding out hope that Lopez might get to 100 RBI, seeing as to how it's probably the best individual single-season milestone left for anyone on this Mariner club. Lopez was sitting at 92 RBIs after the end of the Tampa Bay series on September 23rd. He then went six games without driving in a run, pretty much torpedoing his campaign for the century mark. That said, though, I'd decided quite a while ago that I'd be more than happy if Lopez turned in a 95-RBI season, and he just needs to accidentally drive in a single run over the final two games to accomplish that feat. That six-game RBI drought sunk his 100-RBI thing, but it made Franklin Gutierrez' pursuit if 20 home runs a bit more likely, though that appears to be shelved now unless Gutierrez pops homers in consecutive games to end his fabulous season. Lopez whiffed to end the first inning, legged out an infield single with Gutierrez on second in the fourth, singled Josh Wilson home from third in the fifth to give the Mariners a 4-3 lead, then popped out to lead off the eighth.

David Aardsma
He lit the match and got a flame going before Randy Messenger threw a giant bottle of lighter fluid onto the fire. Aardsma fell into the trap that for some reason exists with closers. You would think someone with the mentality of a closer could preserve a tie, but there are times where it goes awry. We used to see the same thing with Kazuhiro Sasaki. The sad thing about all this is that Aardsma got the first two hitters out. Then came singles by Davis, German, and Teagarden, and the Rangers had themselves a 5-4 lead. Wakamatsu came out with the hook. Thanks to Messenger letting both of his runners come across, Aardsma's line looks terrible. He's in the books as having given up three runs on three hits in 2/3 inning, walking and striking out none. He got a groundout and a flyout, faced five hitters to get two out, and threw 11 strikes out of 17 pitches. It's not a blown save (Lowe blew his 10th in the eighth inning), but it does drop his record to 3-6 on the season. Part of me was hoping Aardsma would get to 40 saves because this will probably be the best season of his life, but the team let off the gas a bit after mid-July.

The Aussie gets one final kick at the can for the year tonight, one hour earlier.

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