Thursday, June 04, 2009


Though they horrendously dropped the final game of the series in Anaheim on Sunday and flew home to lose with a whimper on Monday night against the Orioles, the Mariners still found a way to win their second straight series, and they did so in dramatic fashion. The Mariners gladly take their two-game winning streak into Thursday's off day before starting a home series with the Minnesota Twins on Friday. Better yet, we'll be able to watch the Twins and not have to deal with the horrible distant too-high/dead-center camera.

At the one-third pole of the season, the Mariners are 26-28 after 54 games. Of the Bavasi-run Mariner teams, that mark is worse than only the 2007 team, who had 29 wins at this point. Of the other Bavasi teams, 26 wins is three better than the 2005 team, four better than the 2006 team, and six better than the 2004 and 2008 teams. Of the Gillick-run Mariner teams, 26 wins is three worse than the 2000 team, eight worse than the 2002 team, ten worse than the 2003 team, and 16 worse than the 2001 team. I'll note that the 2001 team had won their tenth straight game at this point en route to a 15-game winning streak. The 2003 team won their fifth straight en route to a nine-game winning streak.

Mariner hitting went a combined 9-for-31 on the night, walking five times (three intentionally) and striking out five times. Adrian Beltre doubled and homered en route to a 3-for-5 game, and Franklin Gutierrez tripled en route to a 2-for-3 game to account for the Mariners' extra-base hits and multi-hit games. The team went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position, and that one hit came on the final play of the game. The team stranded 11 runners on base. Since he's not mentioned in the gameballs (maybe I should have), Ichiro stung a single through the right side for his only hit of the game, extending his hitting streak to 27 games. Ichiro has gone 47-for-119 (.395) and has slugged .538 during it. Ichiro's line goes in the boxscore as 1-for-3 with a walk, but that was in the ninth after Gutierrez tripled with one out and they walked Ichiro and Russell Branyan to load the bases for Adrian Beltre. Up until the last week, that would have been a great idea. Let's also note here that Branyan's line shows as 0-for-2 with three walks, but two of those were intentional walks to get to Beltre. Branyan never crossed the plate in the game, though that's probably more to do with the hitters behind Beltre.

Seattle pitching as a whole did fairly well. I thought Don Wakamatsu might have had a short fuse with Jason Vargas when he pulled him in the sixth with two on and one out. I thought maybe he was just trying to get him the win. Vargas had thrown 85 pitches at that point and surely had more left in the tank. That said, there were guys in the bullpen that were very well rested and the next day was an off day. Chris Jakubauskas last pitched on Monday. Mark Lowe last pitched on Saturday in Anaheim. David Aardsma's last appearance was Sunday afternoon's meltdown in Anaheim. Those are the three guys that came into the game after Vargas left, so I sort of understand the short leash with Vargas. Too bad Jakubauskas couldn't hold the 2-1 lead, which devolved into a tie game. After that, though, it was pretty much lights-out relief from the bullpen. Tally it all together, and really the only bad thing was Jakubauskas allowing the RBI single to Luke Scott, and that run goes against Vargas. The bullpen went 3 2/3 innings, allowing two hits, walking none, and striking out two. They got four groundball outs to three flyouts, facing 11 hitters to get 11 outs (hooray for double-play balls).

1) Franklin Gutierrez
Make it back-to-back multi-hit games for the Mariners' centerfielder. The pitch he hit for a triple was driven pretty well, and that would probably go for a home run in a lot of other ballparks in the Majors (it just barely missed being one here). Most centerfielders wouldn't come anywhere near catching that ball, and Adam Jones nearly did (but he didn't, so thank goodness the Mariners traded him and four other guys for Erik Bedard, hahaha). Gutierrez saw the play unfolding and turned on the jets to get to third, setting the scene for the intentional walk-a-thon and Beltre's game-ender. Gutierrez is 4-for-6 with the triple and two walks over the last two games, raising his season batting average from .255 to .270. His slugging percentage has gone from .344 to .368 thanks to the two-game tear, and the on-base percentage has gone from .330 to .348. Once again, I’ll finish this out by paying homage to the awesome range that Gutierrez has in centerfield. It’s occurred to me that a lot of the running catches Gutierrez makes are full-extension diving catches for other lesser centerfielders.

2) Adrian Beltre
Okay, the only reason he isn't the first gameball is because that error was huge (it loaded the bases) and the team totally had to bail him out. That said, it's been a while since we've seen him drill the baseball like he did in this game. The double he hit in the first inning was drilled, and he destroyed the pitch he hit for a homer in the third inning. I almost jumped out of my chair along with my usual saying of "get out..." That homer vaulted the Mariners to a 2-1 lead they held until the sixth, when the Orioles managed to tie the game. Gutierrez hit the aforementioned triple, then Baltimore manager Dave Tremblay walked Ichiro and Branyan to load the bases with one out. The situation begged for Beltre to either come through, and the flip side to this would have involved Beltre grounding into a double-play with a drawn-in infield. Luckily he shot a single just past the reach of Cesar Izturis at shortstop and the game was over. All that was left was for Beltre to outrun the rest of the team and their gentle nudges (something akin to slugbugs) of congratulations. Beltre's 3-for-5 night while driving in all three of the Mariners' runs may have been his best offensive night of the year. He didn't homer in the 4-for-4 game he had in Chicago.

3) David Aardsma
The Mariner closer's meltdown of a first blown save of the season came on Sunday. Aardsma had thrown in four straight games for the Mariners over the span of five nights. The meltdown came on Sunday, but it appeared the two days of rest surely didn't hurt. It wasn't a save situation, but the team needed someone to get some high-pressure outs in a tie game, and Aardsma was up to the task. He gave up a hit, but got a double-play ball to erase that runner. Funny thing is that even after Aardsma’s meltdown, his ERA ballooned to a still-awesome 2.13. It went down to 2.05 after this outing. Aardsma had thrown 14 straight scoreless outings before the meltdown. I think the first time Kazuhiro Sasaki blew a save (I think) was in a game against Kansas City, and I remember how badly it sucked since he’d been so good. I remember another incident where Eric Chavez homered down the leftfield line in Oakland off Sasaki. The thing with closers is that when they’re good, I know they’re good and I have confidence in them and everything, but I really remember the blown saves and bad outings.

Jose Lopez
He's here because the other hitless Mariner, Ronny Cedeno, still managed to at least lay a bunt down. The line for Lopez in this game looks like a whole lot of nothing. He went 0-for-4, grounded into a double play, and left two runners in scoring position. Still, coming off a night where he doubled three times, I guess I can give him a bit of a break. I didn’t think I’d say it this year, but I hope Lopez gets on some kind of Beltre-style tear soon. The last tear he had straddled the months of April and May, when over a nine-game span he went 15-for-41 (.366), though he only hit one double over that stretch. His batting average sat at .272 at that point and sunk as low as .216, but now it’s at .231. If nothing else, before this game he had a five-game run of 8-for-19 with four doubles and two homers, bumping the slugging percentage from .307 to .369. I don’t have to tell you this team needs more power in the lineup. They need runs, runs, and more runs.

Friday will be a Felix night, though let’s hope Francisco Liriano doesn’t find himself.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009


The creepy thing about this game was that the Mariners did have an 8-1 lead, and they took it into the ninth. The good thing is that the Orioles proved not to be the Angels and managed to only get one run across in the final frame. The hype going into the game was for Ichiro going for a 26-game hitting streak and Erik Bedard facing his former team for the first time. What none of us could have expected was the extra-base hit barrage the Mariners were going to exact onto the Orioles.

The Mariners stopped a two-game losing streak, elevating them to a 25-28 record after 53 games. The rubber game of the series will be the one-third pole for the Mariners' season. Twenty-five wins at this point is worse than only one Bavasi-run Mariner team, and that is the 2007 team, who was three wins better after 53 games. Twenty-five wins is three games better than the 2005 and 2006 teams, and six better than the 2004 and 2008 teams. The record is worse than all four of the Gillick-run teams - it's three games worse than the 2000 team, nine worse than the 2002 team, 10 worse than the 2003 team, and 16 worse than the 2001 team.

Mariner hitting went a combined 16-for-38 against Baltimore pitching, walking three times and striking out three times. Twenty-eight total bases made for a .684 slugging night for the team. Only Yuniesky Betancourt and Endy Chavez went hitless for the Mariners. Rob Johnson was the lone one-hit Mariner. Ichiro, Russell Branyan, and Franklin Gutierrez each had two hits. Adrian Beltre, Ken Griffey Jr., and Jose Lopez had three hits apiece. Johnson doubled once (after Dave Niehaus referred to him three or four times as Nolan Reimold on the FSNW telecast), Griffey doubled twice and homered, Lopez doubled three times, and Branyan homered to account for the Mariners' extra-base hits. Ichiro got aboard in the first on what was ruled as an infield single. Though he wouldn't be down with the extra-base hit barrage on this night, he went 2-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to a now-franchise record 26 games. He has gone 46-for-115 (.400) over the span of the streak and is slugging .548 during the streak thanks to eight doubles and three homers. Ichiro is at 61 hits and is on pace for a 243-hit season (assuming a 154-game season due to his season-beginning injury).

For the first time in a while, none of the pitchers are talked about in the entries below. Erik Bedard cruised for the most part through the first six innings of his start. He struck out Melvin Mora to lead off the seventh, but then he hit the wall, allowing a single and two walks before he was sent to the showers. Bedard faced 26 hitters to get 19 outs, giving up one run on four hits, walking three and striking out seven. He threw 71 strikes out of 112 pitches and split six groundouts and flyouts apiece. Sean White came in with the bases loaded full of Bedard's runners with one out. White got two groundball outs from the next two hitters, though a run scored on the first. White also allowed one hit in a scoreless eighth inning. Denny Stark pitched a low-leverage inconsequential ninth inning, allowing one run on one hit.

1) Ken Griffey, Jr.
A lot of people were close to giving up on Griffey. I thought he might occasionally have some pop in the bat, though it would come about sparingly. Did I ever seen a 3-for-5 night with two doubles and a homer? I'm not sure I ever expected him to do that at all this season. Maybe that one night of rest in the first game of the series (Mike Sweeney DH'd that night) was what he needed. After pinch-hitting in the Randy Johnson game on May 22nd, Griffey started at DH for the next eight games. He went 3-for-28 (.107) in that span, though two of the hits were a double and a homer (.250 slugging percentage). This ordeal sank his batting average from .235 down to .208. One more really bad night could have bumped it to .200 or lower. The night Griffey had against Oriole pitching bumped his batting average to .222 (up .014), his on-base percentage to .335 (up .007), and his slugging percentage up to .407 (up .045). The only blemishes on Griffey's night were a strikeout and a foul pop to third, and those were his first two at-bats before he really warmed up.

2) Jose Lopez
After an 0-for-3 night in the first game of the series, Lopez made up for some lost time, going 3-for-5 and driving in three runs, with all of the hits being doubles. Lopez has hit safely in four of his last five games, going 8-for-19 (.421) over that span, even with the 0-for-3 in there. That has bumped what was a .216 batting average up to a .236 batting average, and his on-base percentage from .259 to .278. More importantly, he's doubled four times and homered twice in that span, bumping his slugging percentage from .307 to .369 (.947 in the five-game span). A nice tear of a couple of weeks could put Lopez back into respectability numberswise. Other than Ichiro and Branyan, I'm tired of looking at the Mariners' boxscore and seeing some very good hitters hitting below .250 on the season. Right now, that includes Beltre, Lopez, and even Betancourt. I must say I don't mind Lopez hitting second in this lineup. I don't like him hitting second (I think that should be Chavez or Betancourt), and I really don't like him hitting third or fourth.

3) Adrian Beltre
The Mariners' third baseman has hit safely in nine of his last 12 games. He's 18-for-52 (.346) in that span, bumping a .200 batting average up to .236. Unlike the thing Lopez has going, Beltre has hit for barely any power, doubling once and homering once in that span of games for a .423 slugging mark. He slugged .300 before the span, and is at .330 now. If you really want to bog his numbers down, Beltre has hit for extra bases in only two of his last 17 games. Ouch, folks. If somehow he goes on a tear for the next month, though, maybe his trade value is something north of nothing. Though Beltre's hardly the player on this team that would fetch the most in a trade, I have said that of any year, this is the one where I'm okay with a white-flag deal by the Mariners because this just isn't going to be the year. They could be within five games of the division lead at the beginning of July, but I'd still say trade anything that can be traded. Luckily we have a general manager that's proven he can unearth a Franklin Gutierrez in a trade, so that bodes well for the Mariners.

Endy Chavez
The other hitless Mariner was Betancourt (whose 0-for-5 night dropped him to .249 on the season), but I'm giving him a break because one of his groundouts drove in a run that made it 3-0 for the Mariners. Chavez landed a bunt and struck out once on his way to an 0-for-3 night. This snapped a four-game hitting streak for Chavez. He went 7-for-14 (.500) over the streak with a triple and a home run (slugging percentage of .600). I think it'll take a couple more games like this for Don Wakamatsu to consider putting Wladimir Balentien in leftfield a little bit more often. It'll take Balentien's swing to sort itself out a little bit as well. So far, it's so good for the Endy Chavez Experience. He's now hitting .283 on the season despite decreased playing time in the month of May, in which he hit .264. He finished April hitting .305. Out of all the lineup shuffling that occurred for this game, none of it involved Ichiro being moved from the leadoff spot. I think it's pretty safe to assume that Chavez would take the leadoff spot if Ichiro was moved from the leadoff spot, but after seeing Branyan slotted in the second spot, I'm not so sure.

Maybe the unfamiliarity thing will work for the Mariners tonight with Jason Vargas.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009


It's back to the 2002-2003 Mariner mentality of making the unfamiliar opposing pitcher look good. Now, though, the team isn't leaning as heavily on the unfamiliarity issue like they did back in the day. I remember it like it was yesterday. Doug Waechter? That name could have equaled a one-run complete game for the then-Devil Rays. Sean Lowe? He could take down Freddy Garcia. For this game, it was Rich Hill, whose near-eephus curveball that barely broke 70mph on the gun had the Mariner hitters handcuffed. Naturally, Jarrod Washburn was the starting pitcher for the Mariners and got zero run support.

The Mariners have quickly tried to negate their three-game winning streak by dropping the last two. The team is 24-28 after 52 games. They're three wins worse than the 2007 team, but two better than the 2005 and 2006 teams, five better than the 2004 team, and six better than last year's team. Of the Gillick teams, the Mariners are three wins worse than the 2000 team, 10 worse than 2002 and 2003, and 16 worse than the 2001 team.

Mariner hitting went a collective 2-for-28, walking three times and striking out nine times. Ichiro doubled to lead off the bottom of the first to extend his hitting streak and account for the Mariners' extra-base output. Yuniesky Betancourt stung the first pitch he saw in the third inning for a single and the Mariners' last hit of the game. Baltimore pitching set down the final 20 Seattle hitters of the game.

Mariner pitching will be covered in the gameball entries.

1) Jarrod Washburn
You can't really ask for much more out of Washburn, and this probably isn't the first time I've said that this season. Washburn has a record of 3-4 on the season. In the four losses, he has given up six, two (one earned), six, and one runs. In the no-decisions, he has given up one, four, and zero runs. In the three wins (also known as his first three starts of the season), he has given up zero, two, and two runs. In a just world, Washburn could easily be 7-2 right now instead of 3-4. In this game, he definitely pitched to contact, walking one while striking out three. He faced 28 hitters to get 21 outs, giving up one run on six hits. He got six groundouts and 12 flyouts. I'm sure he'd fetch a lot more in a trade right now if he was 7-2 rather than 3-4, but as we've said on this weblog many times in the past, God hates Seattle sports fans. To think we were even saying that before the Sonics left town. Anyway, I'm sure we can start up the Washburn-for-Pujols bandwagon. Maybe the Washburn-for-Sizemore bandwagon. Any completely ridiculous trade idea that will never happen, really.

2) Chris Jakubauskas
The Mariners decided eight starts in the rotation was enough for the Lithuanian Laser. In his first appearance out of the bullpen since April 10th, Jakubauskas kept the Mariners within one run through the eighth and ninth innings. Jakubauskas threw two no-hit shutout innings, walking one and striking out two. He threw 16 strikes out of 25 pitches, getting three groundouts to one flyout. Hopefully, Jakubauskas can get a little confident in the bullpen over a couple weeks. Then the Mariners can assess what they want to do. If they, like me, envision the Mariners' starting rotation to eventually not include Jarrod Washburn and Erik Bedard, we're probably looking at Jakubauskas getting stretched out and starting again. The funny thing at that point will be that only Felix Hernandez (and Ryan Rowland-Smith, whenever he comes back) will be the only guys left from the season-opening rotation. Though it's bad for the Mariners' getting return on the investment, I'm assuming Carlos Silva is shut down for the year. I don't want to see him again.

3) Ichiro
Since there were only two pitchers in the game, I had to pick someone with one of the two Mariner hits, and tonight that is the guy with a 25-game hitting streak. The funny thing with Ichiro is that he can keep the hitting streak going, but if it's a 1-for-4 night like this one, his batting average takes a hit. During the streak, Ichiro has gone 44-for-110 (.400) and has slugged .555. With the offense (sans the occasional eight-run game against the Angels) in such a crap spiral right now, is Ichiro really the only reason to watch this team? I think he might be. There's a really good chance tonight that when Ichiro's not at the plate in the first few innings of the game, I'm probably going to flip over and watch the Husky softball team go for a national title. Obviously the whole drama with Erik Bedard going up against his former team really isn't sparking a lot of intrigue with me. Sure, Ichiro in his first three years here was a player that was part of a playoff-chase team, but now he's an integral part of being the only thing to watch on a bad team.

Adrian Beltre
The lasting image I have of this entire night is Beltre waving at a pitch way out of the zone for strike three. The 0-for-4 night snapped a three-game streak of multiple-hit games for Beltre, who is hitting .000, on-base at a .000 clip, and slugging .000 so far for the month of June (hahahaaahaaahahaaaa). For the season, Beltre is hitting .227, has an on-base percentage of .260, and is slugging .324. With all the anticipation coming in terms of what Bedard and Washburn could fetch in a trade, it would be tons more awesome if Beltre was even having a half-respectable season so he could have any trade value at all. Instead, his travails on the diamond this season remind me more of Bret Boone's final months in a Mariner uniform. Of course, Beltre's a lot younger than Boone was, so I think he could catch on somewhere else and do fairly well. Beltre's not completely washed up like Boone was. Normally I'd be the last guy who would rather see Mike Morse at the plate than Beltre, but I would think something has to give by the end of this month.

Bedardation comes tonight. What will be over first -- the Husky softball game, or Bedard's start?

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Monday, June 01, 2009


Not even 24 hours after the Mariners pulled off a game they had no business of winning, they choked and lost a game they had no business losing. The Mariners led 6-0 (after the top of the fifth) and 8-1 (after the top of the sixth) in this game before the Angels scored the final eight runs of the game to come away with the win. It's really too bad. If the Mariners score eight runs, they need to be winning the game. They can't waste a game where they hung eight runs on Ervin Santana. Instead, the Mariners are two games back of the Angels when they could have been in a virtual tie with them. Shame, really.

With that, the Mariners' winning streak stopped at three games, leaving them with a record of 24-27, worse than only the 2007 team of all the Bavasi-run teams of Mariners. Of that same group, 24 wins is two wins better than the 2006 team, three better than the 2005 team, five better than the 2004 team, and six better than last year's team. Since no Gillick-led Mariner team was sub-.500 past the 11th game of the season, 24 wins is worse than every Gillick-run Mariner team -- it's three worse than 2000, nine worse than 2002 and 2003, and 15 worse than 2001.

Mariner hitting went a combined 15-for-36, walking four times (one intentional walk) and striking out three times. Ichiro doubled twice while Russell Branyan, Yuniesky Betancourt, Jose Lopez, and Ken Griffey Jr. all doubled once. To round out the extra-base hit output for the Mariners, Endy Chavez and Ichiro homered. That's right, eight of the Mariners' 15 hits went for extra bases. Proving the team is way too bunt-happy, Betancourt successfully bunted twice, and Guillermo Quiroz did so once in his first Mariner game since 2006 (he also hit a two-run single). The team went 4-for-13 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 runners. If not for a certain closer, Franklin Gutierrez would have worn the goat horns with his 0-for-5 and a strikeout while leaving three runners in scoring position with two out. Ichiro had four hits, Lopez had three hits, and Adrian Beltre and Branyan had two hits apiece to account for multi-hit Mariner hitters.

Now for the pitching. Garrett Olson cruised through the first four innings. After five innings, his only blemish was a Mike Napoli solo shot with two out in the fifth. Olson came into the fifth with a 6-0 lead and came into the sixth with an 8-1 lead. Olson hit Erick Aybar with a pitch to lead off the sixth, and it was all downhill from there. Olson didn't make it through the 6th inning, and an 8-1 lead turned into an 8-5 lead when he left the game. It's too bad, since Olson had thrown only 65 pitches at that point and surely had the strength to get further, but he was getting pounded. In the end, he faced 22 hitters to get 16 outs. Against any logic I would have employed, Don Wakamatsu brought in Miguel Batista, who managedf to finish the sixth without giving up another run. Batista got the first two hitters out in the seventh, but Chone Figgins got aboard with two out, stole second, then scored on Bobby Abreu's single on an 0-2 pitch. Sean White struck out Vladimir Guerrero to end the seventh. White got through the eighth inning, holding the Angels to a one-out Juan Rivera infield single. Though there was a lot of carnage involved in an 8-1 lead getting down to 8-6 lead, it wasn't over yet.

1) Ichiro
The Mariners' leadoff hitter chimed in with his second four-hit game in the span of a week. Ichiro had a single, two doubles, and a solo homer. His final double unfortunately didn't rattle around enough in the rightfield corner for him to go for a triple. He's started to pull and drive the ball a lot more lately. Needless to say, Ichiro extended his hitting streak to 24 games and has gone 42-for-106 (.396) over the streak, slugging .557 in the process. Ichiro went hitless in only one game in the month of May, a month this year in which he hit .377, had a .417 on-base percentage, and slugged at a .515 clip (this game alone picked up .035 on his season slugging percentage). Ten of his 42 hits in the streak have gone for extra bases. An AP wire article points out that Ichiro's .365 career May batting average is the best for any player since 1955. What's weird is that I seem to think Ichiro only does really well when the team sucks (other than 2001). The 2004 crapfest season gave us Ichiro breaking the single-season hit record, and during an 11-18 month for the Mariners, Ichiro went on a tear.

2) Jose Lopez
The Mariners' second baseman went 3-for-4 with a walk and a double, driving in one run. That enabled him to go from .219 to .230 in one night. Clearly he's following after Ichiro, what with his three-game hitting streak (5-for-10) and all. While this might all seem fine and dandy, Lopez had 11 hitless games in the month of May, and he went 24-for-112 (.214) for the month, slugging .339 (a result of five doubles and three homers). Despite his horrid numbers, his 26 RBIs still leads the team, largely due to Beltre sucking horribly and Branyan not having a lot of guys on base when he's hitting homers. We're three games away from the one-third pole this season, and no one on this team is even close to a 100-RBI pace for the season. For the season, Lopez is hitting .232, is on-base with a .265 mark, and is slugging .330. I'd hope Lopez can manage to bump that up to .270 before the season is over, though he'll need to go on quite the hot streak for that to happen. It's obvious that what we need from Lopez are the Bret Boone numbers from 2001. Ha.

3) Endy Chavez
He's gotten some more consistent at-bats over the past week, and he's doing better as a result. He's also making like Ichiro with a four-game winning streak, over which he's gone 7-for-14 (.500) with a triple and a homer (slugging .857 over the streak). The four-game tear bumped Chavez's batting average up by .025, his on-base percentage by .015, and his slugging percentage by .057. Chavez finished with a .264 month of May, on base at .281, and slugged .377. Chavez slugged what Ichiro hit for the month of May. Chavez appears to be wrestling back some of the playing time away from Wladimir Balentien. He got 53 at-bats in May after an April where he got 82 at-bats, largely due to Ichiro being injured for the first eight games of the season. Chavez seems to swing a really barrel-heavy bat. Every hit off his bat seems like it's whipped since the weight seems disproportional in the bat or something. As for the speed, Chavez has gone 8-for-9 on steal attempts this season. Maybe we see more Chavez in June.

David Aardsma
Now for the train wreck. we knew at some point this season, Aardsma was going to blow a save. He wasn't going to be perfect. How could he? His best three pitches are his fastball, his fastball, and his fastball. Hopefully this blow-up doesn't result in Brandon Morrow getting delusional and thinking he's any nearer to being the closer on this team. Anyway, throwing in his fourth straight game and for the fourth of five nights (off day in there), Aardsma just couldn't throw a strike. His 33 pitches broke down as 21 balls and 12 strikes. Granted, four of those balls were intentional. It appeared he might get out of his own mess after getting a Bobby Abreu flyout with two on (both walks) and one out. With two on and two out, Vladimir Guerrero floated a fly ball down the rightfield line that fell between Branyan and Ichiro for a double to score one and move Figgins to third. With the score 8-7 and two runners in scoring position with two out, Don Wakamatsu intentionally walked Torii Hunter to load the bases. This is definitely where the hindsight kicks in -- it's the "walk the guy because his run doesn't count" argument versus the fact that Aardsma had proved he couldn't throw a strike. I guess I was thinking that with the way Aardsma was throwing, Hunter could hit his way into a tie game or an Angel win rather than walking him. Rivera walked on four pitches to tie the game, and Kendry Morales completed the mercy killing with a single to win the game. For Aardsma, it was eight hitters for two outs. He gave up three runs on two hits, walking four (one intentional).

We'll be getting Washburned tonight.

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Sunday, May 31, 2009


I'll stop well short of saying this team might get their groove back, but I will say that this game was the type of game they won in April. This was the kind of game that they definitely should not win, but defying all logic and probability, somehow they won. Felix Hernandez was mostly cruising and looked to maybe get into the eighth until Rob Johnson had a strikeout pitch one-hop off his mask, allowing Vladimir Guerrero to get aboard with two out in the sixth. Felix faced two more hitters in the sixth after that. The second break against Felix was after he came back from 3-0 to force a full count on Maicer Izturis. Felix got the grounder he wanted, but Russell Branyan couldn't get a hold of it, and the leadoff runner was on. Felix struggled after that. Wouldn't you know it if the breaks didn't eventually turn the Mariners' way. Miguel Batista managed to get through the ninth without having the winning run cross the plate, and then Wladimir Balentien hit a ball hard behind the bag at third that went off Chone Figgins' glove and down the line. That went for a double, and Balentien came in from third on a Yuniesky Betancourt fly ball that I didn't think was deep enough to score Balentien, but he slid away from the tag even though the throw looked to have had him beat. The final break was David Aardsma getting the comebacker from Torii Hunter to turn the double play in the 10th en route to his eighth save in eight chances. What a game. I'm just glad Erick Aybar's RBI double didn't hold up as the game winner in a 1-0 Angel win.

Someone douse the Mariners with water because they're on fire with their three-game winning streak. At 24-26 after 50 games, the mark is better than all but the 2007 team (by two games) in terms of Bavasi-run Mariner teams. Twenty-four wins is two better than the 2006 team, three better than the 2003 team, five better than the 2004 team, and six better than last year's team. As I mentioned in one of the other game posts, no Gillick-era team took a below-.500 mark past the 11th game of the season, so these current Mariners are worse than every Gillick team recordwise. A 24-win mark is two games worse than the 2000 pace, eight games worse than both the 2002 and 2003 paces, and 14 games worse than the 2001 pace.

Mariner hitting went a collective 9-for-35 in the game, walking once and striking out five times. Wladimir Balentien hit the key double, and Jose Lopez hit the game-tying homer to account for the Mariners' extra-base hits. Adrian Beltre went 3-for-4 and Russell Branyan went 2-for-4 to account for the Mariners' multi-hit hitters. Among the hitless Mariners were Yuniesky Betancourt (though he had the go-ahead RBI on the sacrifice fly), Ken Griffey Jr. (0-for-5, ouch), Rob Johnson, and Franklin Gutierrez (who bunted the go-ahead run to third in the 10th). Griffey has gone hitless in his last five games and is 0-for-18 in that span, sinking the batting average from .239 to .205. It's really too bad, because he was really warming up for a while there. unfortunately, I think this is one of those things where he can't be playing this much -- he's only playing this much because Mike Sweeney got hurt.

I covered the starting pitching and Brandon Morrow below. That leaves Mark Lowe, Miguel Batista, and David Aardsma. Lowe stranded the one runner left over when Felix Hernandez got pulled. It was one hitter and one flyout for Lowe. Batista gave up the leadoff single to Erick Aybar, who was bunted over to second, then made it to third on a groundout. With the winning run 90 feet away with two out, batista got a flyout from Bobby Abreu to end the threat and push the game to extra innings. Finally, David Aardsma faced three hitters in the 10th to get three outs, although he did have to start a double play to make that happen. Overall, the bullpen threw 2 1/3 innings of good relief and one inning of very bad relief that put the game all but out of doubt.

1) Adrian Beltre
He went 3-for-4, and he'll get the gameball even though his three singles were mostly inconsequential. He singled with two out and nobody on base in the sixth. He singled with one out and nobody on base in the ninth, and scored on the Jose Lopez home run (a little more consequential). He singled in the 10th with Ichiro on first and two out and the score already 4-3. He was hit by a pitch in the first and led off the fourth with a groundout, so those were his other plate appearances. Beltre has hit himself aboard in seven of his last nine games and gone 13-for-38 (.342) and slugged .447 over that span. Beltre's season batting average has gone up by .027 to .227, his on-base percentage has gone up .031 (.262), and his slugging mark went up .028 (.328). In that nine-game span, Beltre has an 0-for-3 game and an 0-for-5 game weighing down all the numbers. Also, the dude still needs to hit with some power. Ever notice how the little things like the automatic checkswing appeal to first base and the bat flip thing he does on a foul ball of a way-outside pitch get annoying when he's not doing well?

2) Jose Lopez
Russell Branyan was the one non-Beltre guy that went for multiple hits in this game, but his one error nearly cost the Mariners this game. So, I'll go with the guy that tied the game with one swing of the bat. When Beltre and Branyan got on base with two out in the ninth and the Mariners down 3-0, I couldn't help but think, "oh man, now is when I want Branyan up." Three pitches into his at-bat, Lopez made me gladly eat my words, turning on a pitch and destroying it, putting it into an equipment/vomitorium-like thing in leftfield to tie the game. The only way that could have been more clutch would be if it were a full count with the bases loaded and the Mariners got a lead out of it. The Mariners were down to their last strike before Beltre singled, for goodness' sake. Anyway, Lopez has homered in each of the last two games, pumping the slugging percentage up by .032 to .339 in that span. Since he's only gone 2-for-7 in that span, the on-base percentage in the same span has only gone up by .001 (.260). Lopez, despite these three very huge RBI, is still hitting .219 on the season and only .194 in the month of May. I'll add that Lopez was in on two of the four double plays the Mariners turned in the game.

3) Felix Hernandez
I was cursing at the television when it became apparent that Felix was definitely not going to get through the seventh inning. I really wanted him to finish it. It definitely wasn't as good as his last start, but the Giants are a terrible hitting team. At the same time, it was definitely all kinds of better than two starts ago, which was the stolen-base fest for the Angels. For me, other than the innings pitched, the rest of Felix's line in this game is sparkling. He gave up only an unearned run on six hits, walking one and striking out six. He threw 74 strikes out of 113 pitches, and got nine groundouts to six flyouts. He faced 27 hitters to get 20 outs. With his game log in front of me, I'll say that out of his 11 starts, Felix has had five outstanding starts, one pretty good start (this one), one mediocre start, and four horrible starts. He is averaging 6 2/3 innings per start (I'd like that to get closer to seven) and 102 pitches (66 strikes) per start, along with 1.8 walks and 6.5 strikeouts per start. I'm hoping Felix is warming up with the weather because this team needs to get on a roll.

Brandon Morrow
It could have been Russell Branyan in this spot with that huge error if not for Morrow completely outdoing him in the goat competition. I'll add that Ken Griffey Jr. also went 0-for-5 and I'm still choosing Morrow for this. After getting the 2.5 weeks on the shelf, Morrow has taken the mound seven times and has had runs cross the plate in six of those appearances (one appearance had an unearned run). That stacks up as 11 runs (10 earned) given up in 8 2/3 innings. To heck with the 10.38 ERA, he's giving up 1.15 earned runs per inning. I think it's time for the Mariner brass to make up their minds once and for all on whether Morrow's a reliever or a starter (please pick starter), and send him down now so he can get some confidence and work on some pitches. If they keep him up with the big club for too much longer, he will cost this team a few more ballgames. Those games might not steamroll the soul like the back-to-back blown saves in Texas, but they'd still be losses. Oh, by the way, in this game he threw one inning (the eighth) and gave up two runs on three hits, walking one and striking out none. He threw 13 strikes out of 23 pitches.

The Lithuanian Laser has been deemed not ready for starting primetime, so it looks like it's an afternoon with Garrett Olson.

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