Saturday, June 13, 2009
At the 61-game mark, the Mariners are 30-31, five games worse than the 2007 team, but better than all the other Bavasi-run Mariner teams -- two better than the 2006 team, four better than the 2005 team, five better than the 2004 team, and eight better than last year. The mark is four games worse than the 2000 team, eight worse than the 2002 team, 12 worse than the 2003 team, and 18 worse than the 2001 team.
Mariner hitting went 8-for-33 in the game, walking four times and striking out three times. Yuniesky Betancourt and Rob Johnson collected two hits apiece. Adrian Beltre and Johnson doubled, and Russell Branyan homered to account for the Mariners' extra-base output. The team was 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position and stranded six runners. Ichiro went 1-for-5 to sink his batting average down to .356. I think the last game he failed to reach base was the first game of the doubleheader in Chicago on April 28th (with a quick perusal of his game logs), which would be a string of 41 straight games. Ichiro is still on pace for a 241-hit season. He's basically going to have to get hurt again or go on a David Ortiz/Adrian Beltre-type dive to not get to his ninth straight 200-hit season.
Seattle's starting pitching will be covered below. Miguel Batista was the only man out of the bullpen, and he threw the seventh and eighth. He gave up an unearned run, walked two, and struck out three. He faced nine hitters to get six outs. The unearned run was due to Rob Johnson overthrowing to second on a stolen base by Troy Tulowitzki, who went to third as a result. Batista finished the job by burying a pitch and bouncing it past Johnson to score the run. Johnson was also tagged with a passed ball in the game, so I don't have him listed in the gameballs despite his two hits.
1) Yuniesky Betancourt
The Mariners' shortstop has only been back for three games since his whatever-the-hell-it-was with Don Wakamatsu, but it was his first multi-hit game since May 26th. He didn't play for a week, but in the span after that game, he's only gone 7-for-39 (.179). Naturally, you're going to lose the swing a bit if you're benched for a week. To be fair, though Ronny Cedeno was a very adequate replacement, going 1-for-13 in his place. Does versatility mean anything at all if you can't hit at all? Cedeno hung another 0-for-4 in this game by the way, and he's now hitting .139. Even if you're sick of Betancourt's lack of work ethic and the falloff of his defensive skills over the past couple years, you have to admit he's the lesser of two evils right now between him and Cedeno. You can't bust on Betancourt for not watching pitches in this game. He saw 14 pitches in four plate appearances in this game, whereas Jose Lopez saw eight in his four plate appearances and went 0-for-4. The 1-3 hitters in the Mariner lineup all saw more pitches than Betancourt, but none of the others did. In the Colorado lineup, Ian Stewart and the pitcher were the only hitters to see less than 14 pitches in their at-bats.
2) Russell Branyan
The guy's having some kind of season. He homered and walked twice. That sends the on-base percentage through the effin' roof. Okay, it put .006 onto his on-base percentage, bumping it to .419. Branyan is now hitting .319 on the season and slugging .628 (he picked up .014 on that in this game). Branyan homered four times in April and has matched that already after 10 games in June. I need to go back through all the boxscores and see how many of his homers are solo shots, though. Granted, the only guy that would have been on base for that home run would have been Ichiro, but it just jumps out at me when I look at Branyan's game logs and see that he hit seven homers in the month of May but only had 13 RBIs. He hit four homers in April and drove in 10 runs. So far in June it's four homers and seven RBIs. This month, his strikeout-to-walk ratio is getting a little more hitter-friendly. After a 16/6 ratio in April and a 31/16 ratio in May, he's struck out ten times and walked nine times in June. It's not bad. He hasn't gotten his whiff on yet in June.
3) Endy Chavez
I just buried Ronny Cedeno in the Betancourt paragraph, but the only guy having just as bad a month as him at the plate was Chavez. The Mariners' leftfielder helped right the ship a bit with a 1-for-3 night, along with a walk. This marks his second straight 1-for-3 game. Actual honest-to-God hitting has been pretty rare for the Mariners as of late. Balentien is 1-for-12 with three walks so far in June. Cedeno is 1-for-20 with a walk in June, though he really only played leftfield in this game (man, they need Franklin Gutierrez to heal from that bruised knee). Lastly, Chavez is now 3-for-22 in June, but was 1-for-16 just two days earlier. Between Chavez and Gutierrez, it's like neither of those guys is grabbing the bull by the horns in terms of offense, which is too bad because Chavez managed to find some holes in April and Balentien has shown flashes of power potential and not-too-bad defense (except for the one horrible game-costing play). The Mariners have managed to get Beltre and Lopez warmed up a bit lately, but if they can just get the odd hit out of whoever's playing left, it's going to help bigtime.
It was a night where Washburn got bit hard by his mistakes. He walked three hitters, all of which came around to score. He hit two batters with pitches, and one of them came around to score. That's four runs, which matches what the Mariners scored in the game. By way of comparison, Ubaldo Jimenez walked four Mariners on the night and zero of those walks came around to score. That's more of an indictment on inconsistent Mariner hitting than it is praise for Ubaldo Jimenez throwing a complete game with his jarring, arm-exploding delivery. I could harp on Washburn for only going six innings when the Mariners need all hands on deck for Morrow's 60-pitch outing on Saturday, but the team has an off day on Monday, and Batista's probably the only guy that won't be able to come out of the bullpen on Saturday. It should be all hands on deck with the bullpen on Saturday, but I think we'll see Morrow, then Jakubauskas, then Sean White, then hopefully David Aardsma. Anyway, Washburn definitely didn't have his worst outing, but it definitely wasn't his best. Still, his worst outing is much more preferable over Carlos Silva's average start.
The Morrow is today. Hopefully he gets closer to reclamation and doesn't lose it upstairs.
Friday, June 12, 2009
The Mariners' sixth win in their last eight games finally got them back to the .500 mark, where they haven't been since they won at Minnesota on May 10th. I guess if you plotted this out on a line graph with time as the independent variable and wins as the dependent variable, it'd look like a messed-up sine wave, but the premise is still there. The Mariners were above .500 for most of the season before May 10th, and they've been below .500 up until this game. Anyway, the Mariners are 30-30 at the 60-game mark, better than all but one Bavasi-run Mariner team, that team being the 2007 edition which was 34-26 at this point. Thirty wins is three wins better than the 2006 pace, four wins better than the 2005 pace, six wins better than the 2004 pace, and nine wins better than last year's debacle. Compared to the Gillick-era Mariner teams, thirty wins is three worse than the 2000 team, seven worse than the 2002 team, 11 worse than the 2003 team, and 17 worse than the 2001 team.
Mariner hitting went a combined 12-for-35 on the night, walking five times and striking out six times. Ichiro, Russell Branyan, and Ken Griffey, Jr. all had two hits apiece while Adrian Beltre had three hits. Jose Lopez and Wladimir Balentien went hitless, but Lopez drove a run in with a groundout, and Balentien drew two walks. Even Guillermo Quiroz managed a hit in this game. Yuniesky Betancourt doubled, Ichiro doubled and tripled, and Branyan homered for the Mariners' extra-base hit output. The team finally made some hay with runners in scoring position, going 3-for-9 in such situations. They stranded nine runners on base.
Seattle's starting pitching will be covered below. The bullpen finished the final four innings of the game, giving up one run on two hits, walking none and striking out three. The one run and two hits belonged to Chris Jakubauskas, who gave up his first run this month, which was also his first run (he wild-pitched a runner in from third) since being moved back to the bullpen. He's still got a June ERA of 1.42, though his season mark is an ungodly 5.82. His high-water mark was 7.67, by the way, and he's at 5.82 now. Jakubauskas faced eight hitters to get six outs and got a groundout with four flyouts. Mark Lowe threw a perfect eighth inning, getting a grounder and two flyouts. David Aardsma pitched a perfect ninth, striking out two and getting a fly ball. Aardsma went to a couple of full counts and needed 18 pitches to get through the ninth, but that was the extent of the turbulence.
1) Adrian Beltre
Okay, let's temper our excitement with this: the guy has hit 14 doubles and four homers this season. The guy is still not hitting for power. I didn't mind the last homer, though, which was the one where he unloaded in the final game of the Baltimore series in Seattle. Beltre went 3-for-4 in this game, driving in a run and walking once. Once Beltre snapped his 0-for-23 slump, he went 15-for-43 to finish the month of May. He's gone 15-for-37 so far this month, which makes him a 30-for-80 hitter (.375) over that span, in which he's gotten his batting average up from .200 to its current .258. To be honest with you, I never thought Beltre would raise his numbers that quickly. At least, not this year. I didn't see too many encouraging signs early in the year for Beltre, but he's making better contact. He's not hitting for power, like I mentioned, but these last three weeks are slowly erasing the memories of his start to the season, which was the seven weeks of suck. It can't erase those memories, sure, because the Mariners' slide wouldn't have been quite as precipitous had Beltre just been below-average at the plate, but maybe Beltre has finally righted the ship...and increased his trade value.
2) Russell Branyan
The Mariners' first baseman went 2-for-4 with a homer, scoring twice and driving in three runs. For what it's worth, Branyan is averaging 1.93 total bases per hit. Ichiro is averaging 1.38 bases per hit. Obviously, you don't need these last two tidbits to tell you Branyan's a power hitter and Ichiro's a singles hitter. Still, 1.93...Branyan's averaging nearly a double every time he gets a hit. If he gets contact and reaches base safely, don't be surprised if he's standing on second base or trotting around the bases. Branyan is hitting .290 for the month so far, cooling down a tiny bit from his torrid .317 May. The slugging percentage for June is still on par with that of May, though, so maybe Branyan will be able to keep up his ridiculously good plate awesomeness for a while longer. I'd really like to see what this guy could fetch in a trade. It's really a shame the Mariners have to stock up the system and go young, because I'd love to keep Branyan around for the low price tag that's on him. That guy's going to get paid handsomely next year.
3) Ken Griffey, Jr.
The Mariners' designated hitter and centerfielder emeritus had a 2-for-4 night, though he did need a little bit of luck on one of the hits. It seems like it wasn't too long ago where Griffey was in a bit of a rut and some people were ready to give up on him. It seems like every time it gets to this point, he gets a couple hits or reminds us that there is indeed something still left in his bat. Part of me thinks they should have sent him on the play where he was running the bases right behind Beltre, but I'm guessing Beltre would have opened up the gap before he got to the plate. All told, Griffey's night snapped a three-game hitless streak. The low-water mark in May was .205 for Griffey, and his high-water mark (other than the first day of the season) is .239, which he got to thanks to the May 24th game against San Francisco. Though the Mariners had an off day on Monday (and Thursday of last week), Griffey has played in each of the Mariners' games (eight) this month. I'd have more of an argument here if the Mariners didn't have those off days, but Griffey needs the rest or he digs himself a hole. Also, Mike Sweeney can't just rot on the bench if the Mariners face a string of eight righties in a row.
This is only because someone had to go here, but I think the worst night of any on-field Mariner probably belonged to Olson. The positive spin, of course, is that he managed to get through five innings despite how badly he struggled in the first two innings. Over the course of that first inning, the Orioles kept hitting deep fly balls, but Luke Scott was the guy that finally cleared the wall in leftcenter. The negative spin has more to do with the prolonged tiring of the bullpen, but the Mariners had an off day this week and an off day last week, so maybe it's not so bad. Olson faced 23 hitters to get 15 outs. He gave up two runs on five hits, walked three, and struck out one. He threw 64 strikes on 94 pitches, getting four groundouts and ten flyouts (not really the ballpark where you want that tilted a ratio toward the flyball side). Oddly, Olson had thrown two relief appearances since his last start on the last day of May, where the Angels rocked him for five runs in 5 1/3 innings (the Aardsma meltdown game). The most games Olson has started in a row this season is two. It seems they start him once and throw him in the bullpen for a couple of appearances before his next start.
Flyball pitcher Jarrod Washburn will hope like hell the humidor is working tonight.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
At the 59-game mark, the Mariners are 29-30. The mark is four wins behind that of the 2007 team, but better than all the other Bavasi-run teams. Twenty-nine wins is three better than the paces of the 2005 and 2006 teams, six better than the 2004 pace, and eight better than last year's abomination. The record is three worse than 2000, eight worse than 2002, 11 worse than 2003, and 18 worse than 2001. The last time the Mariners were a .500 team was after they'd won the final game of a three-game series in Minnesota on May 10th. The Mariners lost the next game on their way to a sweep at the hands of the Rangers in Arlington (they'd also witness Brandon Morrow's personal nightmare). The point is, the Mariners blew their chance on May 12th to return to .500, and their next chance to return to .500 was the first game of this current Baltimore series, which they lost. Thanks to this win in the middle game of this Baltimore series, the rubber match won't just be for a series win, it'll be for the Mariners to get back to .500 for the first time in a month. For what it's worth, the low-water mark (recordwise) this season was five games under .500 (21-26 on May 26th), and the high-water mark was six games over .500 (12-6 on April 25th).
Mariner hitting combined to go 7-for-35 on the night, walking zero times and striking out four times. Beltre had two hits and Jose Lopez had three hits for the Mariners' multi-hit players. Ichiro and Beltre doubled, and Lopez homered twice to account for the Mariners' extra-base hits. The team went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded five runners. While 1-for-7 looks bad, the amount of opportunities in this game was better than the night before (four). Ichiro went 1-for-3 and got hit by a pitch, snapping his multi-hit game streak at three. His batting average remained at .359, albeit a slightly lower .359. After playing in 51 games (haha), Ichiro has amassed 80 hits. His current pace will give him a 242-hit season. Even if he'd played the first eight games of the Mariners' season, there's probably still no way he'd be on a pace to smash his own record, so let's not get carried away.
Seattle's starting pitching will be covered below. The bullpen, however, finished out the final two innings of the game. Sean White is continuing his unheralded awesome season, mowing down all three hitters he faced in the eighth and recording a strikeout. This will totally put a Mark Lowe-style implosion curse on him, but White hasn't been charged with a run since May 9th in Minnesota, a string of 14 appearances. His ERA has gone from 3.38 to 1.48 in one month. David Aardsma recorded the save by mowing down his three hitters in the ninth with a strikeout as well. White and Aardsma split a groundout and a flyout apiece in their respective innings. After ending May with the horror show in Anaheim, Aardsma has given up only two total hits in four appearances so far this month.
1) Jose Lopez
Where's the fire, Jose? The Mariners' second baseman is on a four-game hitting streak, bumping his batting average from .227 to .245. In those four games, Lopez has gone 8-for-17 (.471) with a double and three homers (slugging 1.059 in that short short span, bumping the slug mark from .355 to .409), driving in six runs out of his 35 RBIs this season. Lopez only has eight homers so far this season, but he's hit five in his last 11 games to nurture the slugging percentage from the depths of .307 to its current .409. If Jose Lopez is a .260 hitter by the end of this month, then give him some credit for being resilient. Lopez has gotten crap for being a fast starter and an ugly finisher (i.e., the All-Star year), but this season might be the other way around, and it'll be completely different since he sucked for the first month and a half and surely couldn't spend the rest of the season going on like that. Surely that had to take a mental toll on him. It's nice to see Lopez jumping all over mistake pitches like he did in this game.
2) Felix Hernandez
A lot of people praised his last start, though I wasn't a big fan of it. This start, though, was much better. Looking at Felix's lines in his last two starts, I might be splitting hairs since he went seven innings in both starts and actually gave up one more hit in this start than the last (seven to six). He gave up one run in each start. Not that one less walk this time around was such a big deal. He struck out two less hitters this time around as well. If it wasn't for Brian Roberts, the Orioles wouldn't have done too much at all on the night. Felix's only sustained trouble came in the first inning, but once he wriggled out of that, it was off to the races other than when the Orioles got their run in the fifth. Probably the best thing about Felix's line, though, was 11 groundball outs to five flyouts. I wasn't tallying the amount of grounders that were hit right back to the mound, but it seemed like a lot more than usual. Sure, three of the seven hits he gave up were doubles, but Felix was having a pretty good rate of success. He gave up one run on seven hits, walking two and striking out five. He faced 29 hitters to get 21 outs.
3) Adrian Beltre
On the FSNW telecast, Dave Sims declared that Beltre was "back." While I'm a big fan of Sims, I guess the cynical side of me doesn't want to really accept this until his power stroke appears a little more frequently. That said, he's been doing fairly well averagewise since the 0-for-23 slump. The warmup started for Beltre on May 21st with a 2-for-4 day against the Angels. Starting with that aforementioned game, Beltre has gone a nearly Ichironian 27-for-76 (.355) while slugging .489 over that span. It's enough to bump the batting average from .200 to .250 (finally) and bump the slugging percentage from .300 to .360. By the way, he went 2-for-4 with a double in this game (I'm glad the double wasn't immediately followed by being tagged out after oversliding the bag, which nearly did happen) and he scored two of the Mariners' four runs of the game. Overall, I find myself a lot less pissed off about things when Beltre isn't flailing wildly at the slider low and away like Bret Boone used to love to do. I'm really glad Beltre doesn't have the deep-squat nauseating two-strike stance that Boone did.
The long moon shot foul ball that landed in the rightfield corner early in the game was the biggest thrill of the night of Branyan's at-bats. It's good that Beltre and Lopez seem to be warming up because the calendar has flipped over to June and Branyan's only had three extra-base hits so far this month. He's also only hitting .259 in June after a .333 April and a .317 May. If Branyan is tailing off a bit, it's completely understandable because he's been thoroughly exceeding expectations so far and he and Ichiro have basically carried this offense (or the tattered remains thereof) through the first two months of the season. He can probably sit back a tiny bit and watch Lopez and Beltre do some work like they should have been doing all along. Still, the Mariners would be well-served if Branyan scorches for the next month so that they can get an awesome haul for him on the trade market. I love what Branyan's done for this team, but this year's not the year for the Mariners, and the farm system needs its share of building.
Hopefully Garrett Olson can get into the seventh tonight.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
After 58 games, the Mariners have a record of 28-30. This ranks ahead of every Bavasi-run Mariner team except for the 2007 team, which was 32-26 at this point. Twenty-eight wins is two ahead of the 2005 pace, three ahead of 2006, six ahead of 2004, and seven ahead of last year. The mark is worse than all the Gillick-run Mariner teams -- three worse than 2000, nine worse than 2002, 12 worse than 2003 (final game of a nine-game winning streak), and 18 worse than 2001 (14th win on a 15-game winning streak).
Mariner hitting combined to go 7-for-33 in the game, walking zero times and striking out seven times. Endy Chavez and Adrian Beltre doubled to account for all the Mariners' extra-base hits. Ichiro had two hits as the only multi-hit Mariner. Ken Griffey Jr., Ronny Cedeno, and Jamie Burke were the hitless Mariners in the starting lineup. The team went 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position (the number four there is more damning than the number one) and stranded five runners.
The bullpen will be covered below. Jason Vargas had trouble in the first, fifth, and sixth, which is when he gave up runs and was losing a bit of his control. It definitely wasn't the strongest outing we've seen out of Vargas. Still, he's gone at least five innings in each of his six starts and has gotten into the sixth in each of his last five starts. For someone who didn't make his first appearance until May 3rd and who didn't crack the rotation until May 12th, I think that's pretty good. He hasn't gotten into the 90-pitch range in his last two starts, but I think that's more due to the sticky situations he got himself into rather than how tired he was. In this game, Vargas gave up three runs on seven hits, walking one and striking out four. He threw 55 strikes out of 89 pitches, and faced 24 hitters to get 17 outs. He got two groundouts to ten flyouts (in that park, yikes).
We're getting spoiled. There's probably going to be a stretch later this season where Ichiro goes hitless twice in the span of five games, and everyone will be saying he's cooling down and falling off. Since his hitting streak was snapped, Ichiro has had multiple hits in each of the last three games, making him 7-for-12 (.583) with a double (slugging .667). His batting average sunk seven points to .346 thanks to that 0-for-4 against Minnesota, but thanks to these last three games, he's up to .359, his highest mark since he went 2-for-5 in his first game of the season and ended the game at .400, which really doesn't count. Basically, .359 is his high-water mark of the season so far. He's so good that if he goes 1-for-3, his batting average goes down. A 1-for-3 night every night would return Adrian Beltre and Jose Lopez to respectability, but for Ichiro, it sinks his numbers. Ichiro is hitting .393, on-base at .452, and slugging .464 so far this month. Ichiro can't stop. Won't stop. After all the trades happen, he and Felix Hernandez might be the only two reasons to watch this team.
2) Brandon Morrow
I saw on The News Tribune's Larry LaRue blog that apparently Morrow has changed his mind and told the Mariners he'd like to start again. I don't know why it took this long, but thank goodness for that. Maybe the Mariners can get Philippe Aumont back to starting as well and the organization can actually have decent starting pitching depth again. Anyway, Morrow's seen that David Aardsma has taken the reins at closer and is excelling at it. Really, I don't think Morrow had the mental makeup for it anyway. Outings like the blown save(s) in Texas are supposed to disappear out of the mind of a closer, but clearly that wasn't happening with Morrow, even when he was shifted to middle relief. If this was his last appearance before moving to Tacoma's rotation, though, it's a good thing. Morrow faced nine hitters to get seven outs, pitching shutout ball on two hits, walking none and striking out one. The only blemish is that he let one of Vargas' runners score before he finished the sixth. Still, when you look at all the reasons the Mariners lost this game, Morrow's not high on the list. The lack of offense is probably each of the top five reasons why.
3) Jose Lopez
The Mariners' second baseman drove in the Mariners' only run of the game, scoring Beltre from third with two out in the ninth. It was the Mariners' only hit in only four opportunities with runners in scoring position. He also struck out once. Lopez is 8-for-29 (.276) on the month, slugging .517. His batting average for the year is .236, so he's still a good tear away from respectability. Ironically, for all the crap we've given Adrian Beltre this season, he's hitting .246, 12 points better than Lopez. Sure, Lopez has the 32 RBIs, but I'd really like to dig back through all the logs and see how many of those RBIs came on groundouts. To me, just going through my head, it seems like that'd be a pretty high number. I guess something that's worth considering is whether we've seen enough of Lopez to know about his offensive ceiling and whether he's already reached it. I'd love to see a 25-homer season out of his guy, but right now he's only at six. If nothing else, the Mariners spent a couple of picks on their first day of the draft on middle infielders.
For someone that quite a few Seattle media folks thought would be the starting shortstop over Yuniesky Betancourt out of spring training, surely back then he didn't look completely overmatched at the plate. If there's one thing Cedeno has proven so far this season, it's that (aside from a 3-for-4 game against Boston) he flat out cannot hit Major League pitching. Screw batting average, he's only gotten hits in eight of the 22 games in which he's played. By comparison, Ichiro has gone hitless in only five games this entire season. We've heard that Don Wakamatsu is sitting Betancourt due to issues about preparation and things like that, and that's fine and dandy, but Betancourt's proven that he can hit the odd single. I know the entire offense sucks right now, but when you start Cedeno out there, you're basically punting two slots in your starting lineup (catcher being the other). Wakamatsu might be trying to prove a point, but this is enough. I think it's almost worse that he's starting Cedeno than sitting Betancourt.
It’s a good night for a Felix night. It’s a better night for the offense to do something, but hitting in this park hopefully should help.
Monday, June 08, 2009
The rubber game of the series at least had the Mariners sending Erik Bedard to the mound, so one would figure the Mariners had a decent chance of winning. However, the opponent was formidable as Kevin Slowey had an 8-1 record coming into the game and had only walked seven hitters on the season thanks to his impeccable control. The Mariners were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position in the series after the first two games. The Mariners' roster move going into this game was the designation of Denny Stark for assignment and the call-up of Jamie Burke, meaning the Mariners are carrying three catchers. Unsurprisingly, he caught Erik Bedard in this game.
The Mariners brought their mark to 28-29 after 57 games after winning their fourth game in five tries and their seventh in ten tries. Of the Bavasi-run Mariner teams, 28 wins is worse than only the 2007 team by three games. Twenty-eight wins is three better than the 2005 and 2006 teams, six better than the 2004 team, and seven better than last year. It's also two worse than 2000, eight worse than 2002, 11 worse than 2003, and 17 worse than 2001.
Mariner hitting went a combined 12-for-35, walking five times (including an astronomical two off of Kevin Slowey) and striking out six times. Russell Branyan, Jose Lopez, and Jamie Burke all hit solo homers and Lopez also doubled to account for the Mariners' extra-base hits. The Mariners went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position (0-for-17 for the series) and stranded 13 runners. Ichiro, Branyan, Adrian Beltre, and Jamie Burke all had two hits apiece while Lopez had three hits.
Mariner starting pitching will be covered below. Four pitchers out of the Mariner bullpen threw an inning each (and gave up a hit apiece) to finish off the game. Miguel Batista walked a guy in his inning, facing five hitters. Garrett Olson struck out one hitter (Justin Morneau) out of the four he faced. Mark Lowe faced four hitters in his inning. The Mariners gave David Aardsma some rest and had Sean White close the game out. He gave up a leadoff single and had two on with two out, but other than that, it was without incident on the way to a save. That's 18 hitters faced for 12 outs by the bullpen.
1) Jose Lopez
The Mariners' second baseman went 3-for-5 with a double and a homer, driving in two of the Mariners' four runs. He doubled in the third to score Adrian Beltre and make it 2-0 for the Mariners. Right after the Twins tied the score in the top of the fifth, Lopez led off the bottom of the fifth with a homer to put the Mariners back into the lead at 3-2. Lopez rounded out the goodness with a one-out single in the seventh. One Sunday afternoon bumped Lopez's batting average up by .009 to .236, his on-base percentage up by .007 to .274 (still bad), and his slugging percentage by .024 to .377 (i.e., what Ichiro's batting average was for the month of May). Lopez is hitting .280 so far in June after a .214 May, but the .280 is despite Lopez going hitless in three of the Mariners' six games this month. That said, Lopez has five extra-base hits after only six games this month. He had eight extra-base hits in all of May (27 games). He slugged .339 in May, which again, is lower that Ichiro's batting average for the same month. Anyway, if Lopez can get the average back up to .270 and respectability, this team will be clicking a little better.
2) Jamie Burke
In his fifth big-league game of the season and his first since April 28th, Burke homered on his way to a 2-for-4 day along with a strikeout. It had to be tough when Kenji Johjima went down with the injury and Burke was skunked on the call-up in favor of Guillermo Quiroz. It seems the Mariners thought they'd be better off designating Denny Stark for assignment rather than putting Rob Johnson on the disabled list, but either way, the move is Jamie Burke's gain. Maybe it was a combination of not wanting to put Johnson on the disabled list along with Erik Bedard maybe chirping about not wanting Guillermo Quiroz to catch him. It didn't appear to really help Bedard in this game, but whatever. Every time I've seen Johjima or Burke hit a home run this season, I just sit back and think to myself, "hey, that's something Rob Johnson can't do!" Johnson can't turn on a ball like Johjima can, that's for sure. Burke's swing looked a bit funny on his homer in this game, but Johnson can't seem to luck out and hit a homer with his swing, which doesn't seem fully realized.
3) Russell Branyan
He might not last on this team for the entire season, but Branyan's charmed season continues. He went 2-for-4 with a walk and a home run that was absolutely crushed. It's been a while since I saw someone reach the grass behind the wall in dead centerfield. The great thing is that it seemed throughout that at-bat that he was slowly squaring up the pitches, and he fouled off four pitches during the course of that at-bat until he got the money pitch. Branyan hit .317 in May and is hitting 6-for-19 (.316) so far in June along with a double and two homers (slugging .684 for the month). So far we've learned that Branyan is way better than the bad version of Richie Sexson. If it's a gripe at all, Branyan's defense isn't quite as good as Sexson's was, but the Mariners didn't get either of those guys for their defense. Also interesting is that although Branyan's ratio of hits to strikeouts is nearly one-to-one, he walked six times in April, but walked 16 times in May and has seven already so far in June. So...let's have the Mariners trade him with his value is sky-high.
Yes, I can give the goat to the winning pitcher. It's starts like this one that make me hate watching Bedard pitch. He had the curveball going, sure, but the guy was all over the freakin' place. He only threw 59 strikes out of his 101 pitches. He walked four hitters and struck out four, and got five groundouts to six flyouts. He faced 23 hitters to get 15 outs. He made the game go slow as molasses, and when you're watching him throw balls all over the place and the game goes over three hours, it's just exhausting. Sure, he managed to wriggle out of every jam he was in, but I can't believe we all got duped into thinking this guy last year could be a staff ace. A guy that's barely averaging six innings per start cannot be your staff ace. As far as I'm concerned, that guy is a decent third starter and a great fourth starter. The best part is that the Mariners only had to trade five guys to get him. Just wonderful. I didn't even get the chance to thank Bill Bavasi on his way out before the door hit him in the behind.
It'll be Vargas and crab cakes and Charm City Cakes tomorrow.
Sunday, June 07, 2009
After 56 games, the 2009 Mariners are 27-29. The mark is three games worse than the 2007 Mariners, but it's better than the rest of the Bavasi-run teams -- two better than 2005, three better than 2006, five better than 2004, and six better than last year. Twenty-seven wins is three worse than 2000, nine worse than 2002, 11 worse than 2003, and 17 worse than 2001.
Mariner hitting went 8-for-31 in the game, walking once and striking out twice. Russell Branyan, Ichiro, and Ken Griffey Jr. doubled to account for the Mariners' extra-base hits. Ichiro had three hits as the only Mariner with a multi-hit game. The team went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and stranded six runners.
Now for the pitching. It wasn't a top-of-the-line start for Washburn, but it was passable. He gave up one run on seven hits, walking one and striking out six over six innings. He faced 24 hitters to get 18 outs and threw 61 strikes out of 96 pitches. The bullpen shut it down over the final three innings, pitching two-hit shutout ball, walking one. Combined, they faced 13 hitters to get nine outs, walking one and striking out three. Brandon Morrow didn't completely implode in the seventh, getting the first two hitters out before surrendering a double. He would have gotten the third out had Jose Lopez not muffed a grounder. Perhaps as a pre-emptive move to prevent Morrow from mentally imploding, Garrett Olson was brought in to finish the inning and he got Joe Mauer to ground out. Olson got Justin Morneau on a flyout to start the eighth, then Chris Jakubauskas got Joe Crede and Mike Cuddyer to end that inning. David Aardsma made the ninth a bit adventurous, getting Brendan Harris to strike out to lead off, but then walking mike Redmond. Aardsma got Jason Kubel to strike out, but then a passed ball by Guillermo Quiroz moved pinch-running Carlos Gomez to second. Brian Buscher then reached on an infield single to put Gomez 90 feet away with the tying run. Luckily, Denard Span grounded out to Lopez, who cleanly fielded the ball this time and threw to first to end the game.
He had his 27-game hitting streak snapped, then took out his vengeance on Minnesota pitching, going 3-for-4 with a double, and driving in one run. The 0-for-4 night on Friday sunk his batting average by .007, but he more than got it back, raising it by .008 to .354 thanks to this three-hit day. He has accumulated 75 hits through 48 games (again, he sat out the first eight games of the season with that injury). This puts Ichiro on pace for a 241-hit season. To expect Ichiro to finish this season as a .354 hitter I think is a bit lofty, which would also make that 241-hit target a bit lofty. I'll settle for .330 out of him. For any other hitter in the Mariner lineup, I'll more than gladly take .330, but for Ichiro, I'll merely settle for .330. Lest we forget just how good Ichiro is. Maybe in a couple years, Ichiro will get sick of the whole 200-hit seasons thing and start drawing walks in an attempt to hit .400. Could you imagine if he had ten straight 200-hit seasons and then had a .400 season? Combine that with his stuff in Japan, and he'd have to be one of the top five or top three hitters ever.
2) Ken Griffey, Jr.
The elder statesman walked and went 1-for-3 with the double that drove in the go-ahead run. As mentioned, the Mariners didn't get a hit with runners in scoring position, so the fact that Griffey's double drove in a run is more a testament to Ichiro's speed since he scored from first base on the play. In his last five games (five starts), Griffey has gone 6-for-16 (.375) with four doubles and a home run (.813 slugging percentage). Again, I have to say Griffey doing well is in a large part due to him getting periodic rest. I don't think we saw Griffey suck any worse this year than when Sweeney sat for a few days with the back spasms. It's a good day whenever I can think about Griffey and think of what he can still do at the plate this year instead of having to focus on the good that he's already done. I'm not here to talk about the past. Ha. Still, it's hits like the double he hit in this game that give Mariner fans that carrot that Griffey still has something left and that he still has a flair for the dramatic.
3) Chris Jakubauskas
Garrett Olson may have gotten the two big outs in the bullpen before the ninth, but I've got Jakubauskas here because he got his first win since being sent back to the bullpen. May 25th was his last start, and that was an implosion in Oakland. He didn't pitch for another week, but in his three relief appearances since, he's gotten 15 outs and given up one hit, walking one and striking out three. Okay, so the one hit blew the win for Jason Vargas, but Jakubauskas hasn't hit the fan since moving to the bullpen, and that's a good thing. If he gets some confidence back, that just gives the Mariners more guys that are capable of being starting pitchers, and while that's not such a big deal right now, it'll become a big deal if and when Erik Bedard and Jarrod Washburn are traded away. We could be looking at a rotation that has Hernandez, Jakubauskas, Vargas, Olson, and Ryan Rowland-Smith (if he gets it together). I say throw Brandon Morrow into those five, but apparently he's too mentally fragile to deal with such a thing, so maybe not.
It's weird because no matter how hot Beltre's gotten this season, he always manages to foul up any sort of streak by throwing in an obligatory 0-for-4 in there somewhere. Starting with May 21st, Beltre has gone 22-for-64 (.344) over 14 games, but he went hitless in four of those games. I think the solution is easy. What do we need to see out of Beltre? How about a 27-game hitting streak? That'll do it. Also, errorless baseball from right now until he gets traded. If he goes on a tear, the Mariners are obviously getting Albert Pujols for him. Funny. Right now I don't even know if they'd get Willie Bloomquist for him, and I of course would be vehemently against such a trade. That said, Beltre is hitting .241 at this point, and I thought it'd take a lot longer than 14 games for Beltre to get his average up from .200 to the .245 it was before this game. If there's some way for him to get this up to .260, I think he suddenly has decent trade value. So even if the Mariners have a three-game division lead in July (somehow), I still say trade everyone away.
It'll be a Sunday afternoon fit for Bedardation.
This team has had some really crushing defeats this season. I don't know if it's because this team is nearly a .500 team, but it just seems like the losses sting a little bit more than they have in six years. Though people have stated this about the Mariners' defense for a couple of years now, it really didn't occur to me until this game that maybe their defense really is starting to fail them. Sure, this was the leftfielder and not the middle infielders, but yikes. I've thought Wladimir Balentien has looked like a passable leftfielder at times this season, but plays like the 10th inning missed catch just knock a little too much reality into the situation. Anyway, that play helped quell any hopes of a three-game winning streak for the Mariners.
The Mariners are 26-29 after 55 games. Of the Bavasi-run Mariner teams, that mark is worse than only the 2007 Mariners, who were 30-25. Twenty-six wins is two better than the 2005 team, three better than the 2006 team, five better than the 2004 team, and six better than last year's team. Compared to the Gillick-era Mariner teams, 26 wins is four games worse than the 2000 team, nine worse than 2002, 11 worse than 2003, and 17 worse than 2001.
Mariner hitting went a combined 4-for-32 on the night, walking four times and striking out eight times. There were no multi-hit games for any individual Mariner. Wladimir Balentien doubled and Mike Sweeney homered to account for the Mariners' extra-base hits. The closest thing to multi-hit games were Russell Branyan and Adrian Beltre both drawing walks to go with their hit apiece. The team went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and stranded six runners. And I almost forgot Ichiro struck out to end the game and snap his hitting streak at 27 games. Ichiro went 47-for-118 (.398) and slugged .542 during the streak, hitting eight doubles and three home runs. He finished with a .377 month of May with an on-base percentage of .417, slugging .515. He couldn't quite get to 30 games, and that's a shame. It took plays like the one from Alexi Casilla (robbing an infield single) to stop the streak, though.
Felix gets his piece below, so I'll take care of the bullpen here. In terms of earned runs, they threw three shutout innings. Mark Lowe gets tagged with the unearned run and the loss. Though they didn't give up any earned runs, the three pitchers issued a walk apiece. The Twins got eight hits and six walks in this game. Sean White faced four hitters, David Aardsma faced three, and Mark Lowe faced five hitters to get three outs. Aardsma got through the ninth inning without having a ball put into play thanks to two strikeouts, a walk, and Rob Johnson nailing Denard Span trying to steal second base.
1) Mike Sweeney
On a night where no Mariner had a multi-hit game, Sweeney's home run in the second inning accounted for all of the Mariner offense. It was a lead that held up all the way to the next half-inning of play. Not surprisingly, none of his numbers look horribly great -- he's only hitting .231 (23-for-91) and has only three homers and is slugging .396, and the occasional injury has put him on the shelf for a few days at a time. He's proven at times this year that he doesn't bring complete shame on our house, as evidenced by his .308 April, in which he had one two-hit game and two three-hit games. Maybe he's a tradeable commodity when the deadline rolls around. If he goes on a tear the next couple of weeks, maybe they can grab a random low-level prospect for him. Needless to say, it's obvious Sweeney has no future with this ballclub, so if they even get a little value in return for him, it'd be nice. Also, since Jack Zduriencik would be the one pulling the trigger on such a deal, it'd be interesting to see what he'd be able to get in such a deal.
2) Felix Hernandez
I've heard people say that Felix was great or Felix was dominant in this start. If you stop looking at his line after seven innings and one run on six hits, I'd agree with that. There's something about the three walks that really irks me, though. I think if Felix is really on his game, he's not walking three hitters in a game. Usually that's something you see in his line if he didn't get through the sixth inning. It just seemed to me there were too many deep counts that Felix got into, that's all. Hernandez threw 70 strikes out of 111 pitches and faced 30 hitters to get 21 outs, walking three and striking out seven. One Felix-friendly stat is that he got eight groundouts to six flyouts. The sick irony of this game is that the Mariners scoerd exactly one run but had Jarrod Washburn slated to start the next afternoon, so they could have been looking at scoring one run over a span of two games. All told, Felix held a tie game through five frames, so something's got to be said for that. He has 79 strikeouts through 12 starts. We just passed the one-third pole of the season, so if you multiplied that by three, he'd end up with 238 for the season. I think he'll break 200, at least, if he stays healthy.
3) Adrian Beltre
Over his last nine games, Beltre has gone 16-for-40 (.400) with two doubles and a home run (slugging .525 over that span). Obviously we're all hoping for a monster July from him so that someone can take him off the Mariners' hands and hopefully bring something decent in return. You never know, maybe he can show some potential of a wicked-crazy tear, and maybe he can do that for some team that picks him up for the stretch run. It's too bad it never happened for this team, and it's too bad nothing really resembling a good team has donned Mariner uniforms since 2003 (I refuse to believe the 2007 team was a good team). It's just a shame that the Mariners could get nothing done as a team despite having the best third-baseman in franchise history for five seasons. It's really too bad. It was nearly the same thing with Randy Winn -- we'd seen everyone and their mother play leftfield for the Mariners since Griffey came into the Majors, but finally Winn gave some stability to the position, only to have the team bottom out in 2004.
It's really too bad Balentien's double earlier in the game got overshadowed by his missing the catch in the 10th inning, but unfortunately it does. It's a shame that he's been trying to get his bat to come around but his defense seemed to have been somewhat solidified, and he has a decent arm. This one play, though, was a killer. With Mark Lowe pitching, Joe Mauer hit a leadoff double on a full count. Justin Morneau was then intentionally walked. Jason Kubel flew out to move Mauer to third. With the count 1-2 on Matt Tolbert, Mauer got hung up between third and home (Morneau went to second on the play). On the same 1-2 count, Tolbert hit a fly ball to left and Balentien looked to have broken in on the ball, and by the time he hit full stride going backward, it was too late. The thing that hurts most is that the ball went off the end of his glove. Morneau scored easily, the next hitter flew out to end the inning, but the damage was more than done. Complete hindsightists will look at this and wonder why Endy Chavez wasn't thrown into leftfield in extra innings.
It was hoped the Twins would get Washburned on Saturday afternoon. Seeing as to how the Mariners scored one run for Felix and tend to score low for Washburn, the Twins could have been the ones doing the burning.