Sunday, October 04, 2009


Thanks to a good start by a certain Australian guy (not Austrian...Jim Carrey might say "G'day, mate!" to an Austrian), the Mariners were able to even up the series heading into the final game with Felix Hernandez on the mound. The Mariners tallied single runs in the fourth and fifth innings and held on for the 2-1 win. They were completely awful with runners in scoring position, stranded too many runners, and Don Wakamatsu decided not to go with David Aardsma in the ninth inning because he'd already worked in the previous two games. With Mark Lowe having been a bit shaky lately, who Wakamatsu chose to close was a surprise unto itself. I know if I was sitting there watching the game, I'd probably have been dumbfounded, but after it was all over, I'd probably be laughing with glee wondering how the Mariners just got away with it. It's a one-game lightning-in-a-bottle, I guess. Or as Spider-Man says when he appears on Family Guy, everybody gets one.

The Mariners' fourth win in five games pushed their record to 84-77 after 161 games. This pace is three wins worse than 2007, but seven wins better than 2006, 15 better than 2005, 21 better than 2004, and 24 better than last year. Eighty-four wins is also six worse than 2000, eight worse than 2003, nine worse than 2002, and 32 worse than 2001. Records of other new-millennium Mariner teams when getting the 84th win: 84-66 in 2000, 84-33 in 2001, 84-58 in 2002, 84-62 in 2003, 63-99 in 2004, 69-93 in 2005, 78-84 in 2006, 84-74 in 2007, and 61-101 last year.

Seattle hitting went a combined 10-for-33 in the game, walking twice and striking out six times. They also went an awful 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 runners in all. Josh Wilson had two hits and Ichiro had three hits as the only multi-hit Mariners. Ken Griffey Jr. went 1-for-3 with a walk, so he got aboard twice. Adrian Beltre, Josh Wilson, and Jose Lopez all doubled, and Griffey homered to round out the Mariners' extra-base hit output. Griffey's homer was the 630th of his career. If he came back next year and somehow hit 31 homers to pass Willie Mays, I would probably soil myself.
Griffey has 19 homers on the season with 57 RBIs as a part-time designated hitter. Also, Franklin Gutierrez drove in his 68th run of the season to go with 18 home runs, a .282 batting average, and incredible all-galaxy defense.

Mariner pitching had a great night, as one might expect if they gave up only one run. The starting pitcher will be covered below. The bullpen finished it out with 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Shawn Kelley entered the game with a runner on third and two out in the seventh inning. Kelley promptly walked Ian Kinsler, but then got Michael Young to fly out on the first pitch. Kelley threw two strikes out of six pitches. Garrett Olson gave up a one-out single to Marlon Byrd, but got Chris Davis to line into a double play to end the inning. Olson gave up a hit and didn't strike out or walk anyone. He threw six strikes out of nine pitches, got a groundout and a flyout, and faced three hitters to get three outs. The closer will be covered below.

1) Ichiro
Make it three more hits for the Mariners' leadoff hitter, making it 224 on the season. Of his nine seasons in the Major Leagues, only three have surpassed 224 hits. Again, Ichiro has done this despite missing 16 games this season. Ichiro is a .352 hitter going into the final day of the season, and if that holds up, it'll be his second-best season in terms of batting average, with only 2004 being better. I'm really wishing he could have had 16 extra games. One of Ichiro's streaks that will get broken, however, is the streak of seasons where he's scored 100 runs or more. He'll need to score 13 runs in the final game to keep that streak alive, so basically, that streak is broken. It's amazing to think that since the Gillick era ended, this year's team was the second-best team Ichiro's been on, yet it's with this year's team that Ichiro sees the run-scoring streak broken. It's just nuts knowing that this ballclub has managed to win 84 games despite having such an anemic offense. As we all know, the runs-scored stat says even more about the team than it does Ichiro.

2) Ryan Rowland-Smith
The Aussie made 15 starts at the big-league level this year with 14 coming after his most recent call-up, a week before the trading deadline. He completed at least seven innings in eight of his starts this season. Only his first start back in April and his first start in the month of August saw him not finish at least five innings. Rowland-Smith averaged 6 1/3 innings per start, though if you throw out the anomalous start in April, he averaged 6 2/3 innings per start. Overall, Rowland-Smith's average game saw 2.87 runs (2.67 earned), 5.8 hits, 1.8 walks, 3.5 strikeouts, 6.9 groundouts, 8.8 flyouts, and 100.1 pitches (64.3 strikes). I didn't expect much out of the Aussie when they recalled him in July, but he's been a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately for the Mariners, I think slotting him as a number-two starter behind Felix Hernandez next year is asking way too much from him because I think he's a number-three starter at best. Again, this is where Jack Zduriencik comes in and gets something unexpectedly awesome off the trade market or waiver wire that turns out awesomely. Rowland-Smith in this particular start gave up a run on six hits, walking two and striking out four in 6 2/3 innings. He got eight groundouts and eight flyouts, threw 64 strikes out of 104 pitches, and faced 27 hitters to get 20 outs.

3) Miguel Batista
Why is this guy getting the number-three gameball when Josh Wilson got two hits and probably had his last good game as a Mariner? Well, who the hell holds a 2-1 lead going into the ninth inning and brings in Batista to close it out? On this night, apparently Don Wakamatsu was that guy. Very unexpectedly, what we then saw out of Batista was a 1-2-3 inning. He sandwiched an Elvis Andrus groundout between two swinging strikeouts (Andruw Jones and Taylor Teagarden) to end the game. Since his Roberto Clemente award nomination and this game are probably his only shining moments of the year (okay, maybe I'll give you that murder novel he wrote and released), I'd be remiss not to at least give him the number-three gameball on his way out the door. I'm not sure if the obvious answer to the question is "winning," but why weren't there many engaging personalities with the Mariners after the Gillick era ended? It's like there's no connection like we had with the guys like we did with Edgar Martinez, Ken Griffey Jr., Jay Buhner, Dan Wilson, Jamie Moyer, Randy Johnson, etc. When I know Miguel Batista's going to go, I'm like, "meh," like 90% of the Mariners' existence from 2004 to the present day has been completely faceless.

Kenji Johjima
It's probably not the worst day Johjima ever had as a Mariner, but it wasn't one of the best. He went 0-for-4, has a number five next to his name in the LOB column, and stranded three runners in the game with two out. What's the anatomy of a day of suck for Johjima? He was caught looking with the bases empty and one out in the second. He grounded out for the first out in the fourth inning, moving Beltre from second to third. He flew out on the second pitch with the bases loaded to end the fifth inning. Lastly, he popped out to the shortstop to end the seventh inning with Jose Lopez still standing on second after a leadoff double. It's a really good thing the Mariners won this game, because that 2-for-17 stat with runners in scoring position is a really damning stat, though the 10 runners stranded is a damning stat as well. Come to think of it, how does your team still win despite posting numbers like that? Thank goodness for the pitching in this game. The Aussie and three guys out of the bullpen won this game for the Mariners.

One final 2009 kick at the can for Felix.

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