Saturday, June 20, 2009
The Mariners again climbed to within a game of .500 and have a 33-34 record at the 67-game mark. That record is two games worse than the 2007 team's pace, but two better than 2005 and 2006, four better than 2004, and nine better than last year. The record is also four worse than 2000, eight worse than 2002, 12 worse than 2003, and 19 worse than 2001.
Mariner hitting went a combined 12-for-35 in the game, walking once and striking out five times. Adrian Beltre and Chris Woodward had two hits apiece as the only multi-hit Mariners. Rob Johnson tripled, and Russell Branyan and Ken Griffey Jr. homered to account for the Mariners' extra-base hits. The team was 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left eight runners aboard during the game.
Seattle's starting pitching will be covered below. A night after having his game end quickly, Miguel Batista got through the eighth inning without incident, giving up one hit but retiring the other three. David Aardsma gave up an Eric Byrnes tomahawked single in the ninth, but he struck out the side to end the game. Aardsma's only blown the one save all season, but it still makes me wonder how far he can get with just blowing fastballs past everyone and whether the league's going to catch up to the guy.
1) Jarrod Washburn
He walked three guys, but there was some adversity to this start. The plate umpire was squeezing him a bit, and then came the bunt play where Washburn hit Stephen Drew in the back, but Drew was not within the 45-foot restraining line, which means he should have been out. Instead, the first run of the game scored on that play, the next play was an RBI groundout to make it 2-0, and Washburn went 3-0 on the next hitter before getting a double-play ball. He got the first two hitters out in the fourth before Miguel Montero crushed a solo homer to make it 3-0 for Arizona. From there, Washburn more than got it together and set down the final 10 hitters he faced to get through seven innings. Washburn gace up three runs (two earned) on three hits, walking three and striking out three. He threw 65 strikes on 106 pitches, getting six groundouts and 12 flyouts. He faced 27 hitters to get 21 outs. Nobody likes seeing three walks in the linescore, but considering the stuff he went through early in the game, it was good to see he didn't completely fall apart. Now put Brandon Morrow in that exact same situation and see what happens.
2) Ken Griffey Jr.
The Mariners were down 3-1 thanks to Russell Branyan's drilling of a solo shot to lead off the eighth inning. Scott Schoeneweis came in to pitch, Adrian Beltre singled, Mike Sweeney struck out, Beltre was wild-pitched to second then tagged and moved to third on a Franklin Gutierrez flyout. That was the situation -- a runner on third with two out and the Mariners down 3-1 and a lefthander on the mound. Wladimir Balentien was due up to the plate, but Don Wakamatsu decided to roll the dice and go with the lefty (albeit a very experienced flair-for-the-dramatic lefty) against the lefty. What a beautiful roll of the dice it was. There have been homers this year for Griffey, but some of them just happen to be line drives that get out, or fly balls that happen to leave the yard. The ball he hit off of Tony Pena to tie this game was crushed, but that swing -- that swing -- is the swing. That was the vintage Griffey swing we'd grown accustomed to during all those years he was in Seattle, the no-doubter swing. I don't we've seen that swing out of him a few times this year and it ends up being a warning-track fly, but this time it was glorious. Maybe he really is warming up.
3) Chris Woodward
In his first start as a Mariner and his first Major League game in two years, Woodward went 2-for-4, immediately cementing himself as better than Ronny Cedeno in every way imaginable. I hope Ronny Cedeno's enjoyed his time in Seattle, because when Jose Lopez comes back off the bereavement list, Cedeno should be the first guy to go. I don't care whether Cedeno goes to waivers or Tacoma, the dude's gotta go. Woodward hit a one-out single in the second, lined out to the centerfielder in the fourth, grounded into a double play with two on and one out to end the sixth (could have been incredibly awesome), singled right after Griffey tied the game in the eighth, and scored the winning run on Rob Johnson's triple into the leftfield corner that was zoo'd by Eric Byrnes. I guess what's unfortunate in my extreme desire to get Ronny Cedeno off the roster is that they'll probably keep him for his "versatility" and use him as a leftfielder since Endy Chavez will probably be out for some time. That's a crying shame because Cedeno can't hit, as we know. I thought Woodward doing well would be able to facilitate a Cedeno cut, but I guess not. Did I mention Woodward was also part of turning a nice double play? Also, Woodward is wearing number 6, but based on Mariners’ number-retiring criteria, Dan Wilson would have never had his number retired anyway.
The Mariners' shortstop has always shown the ability to cover a decent amount of ground on popups down the leftfield line or into the outfield, and on many occasions there are balls where I wish the outfielder would have caught the ball instead. I won't say the collision was with Endy Chavez was all Betancourt's fault (if Chavez was looking up for the whole play, then a lot of it would be on him), but I think this was bound to happen at some point. The collision itself wasn't just two guys smashing into each other, rather a knee-on-knee hit, then a tumbling kind of thing by Chavez. I'm not sure if anyone communicated with anyone on the play, and it might cost Chavez some significant time, which is really too bad because the Mariners don't have a lot of options in leftfield that can hit with any consistency. Other than the collision, I should add that Betancourt was the only hitless starter in the Mariners' lineup, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout and lowering his batting average to .233. To his credit, he did see 17 pitches over his four at-bats and got to counts of 1-2, 2-1, 1-2 with a foul, and a three-pitch whiff.
Tonight, it’ll be Only Vargas.
Friday, June 19, 2009
At the 66-game mark, the 2009 Mariners are 32-34. This puts them three wins behind the 2007 team, but one ahead of the 2006 team, two ahead of the 2005 team, four ahead of the 2004 team, and eight ahead of last year. Thirty-two wins is five behind the 2000 pace, nine behind the 2002 pace, 12 behind the 2003 pace, and 20 behind the 2001 pace.
Mariner hitting went a combined 8-for-38 in the game, walking once and striking out 11 times (way too many again). Ken Griffey Jr. and Franklin Gutierrez had two hits apiece and were the multi-hit Mariners on the night. Griffey and Yuniesky Betancourt doubled, and Gutierrez homered twice to account for the Mariners' extra-base hits. The team went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position (three hitters went away 1-2-3 after Betancourt doubled to lead off the second inning) and stranded seven runners. Adrian Beltre went hitless in consecutive games for the first time since his 0-for-23 slump (his last two hitless games were May 19th and 20th). Ichiro managed another one-hit game but has gone 2-for-13 in his last three games, causing his batting average to tumble from .360 all the way down to a pedestrian .349. Lastly, Ronny Cedeno and Jamie Burke made worthwhile contributions with twin 0-for-4s and twin hat tricks for striking out three times apiece. Kenji Johjima can't come back soon enough, and as for Cedeno, well, he got one of the below paragraphs.
Seattle pitching didn't get any of the below entries, so here we go. Brandon Morrow was stretched out a bit more, throwing 74 pitches this time, ten more than in his previous start. He lasted four innings and got four strikeouts over his final two innings. The first inning felt like it was going to be same ol' struggling Morrow, but he got back on the horse a bit and his final line shows that. This wasn't a four-walk bonanza, this time Morrow walked one hitter and struck out six, which is worlds better than what he did five days earlier. He gave up two runs on five hits, got two groundouts with four flyouts, and faced 18 hitters to get 12 outs. Chris Jakubauskas again was the first man out of the bullpen, and the only blemish on his 2 2/3 innings is the Adrian Gonzalez home run ball that Franklin Gutierrez nearly grabbed from over the centerfield wall. It would have been a mind-blowingly incredible catch and could have meant a Mariner sweep of the series, but alas, it was not to be. I would have thought about listing Gutierrez first, second, and third in the gameballs if that would have happened. Roy Corcoran walked two of the four guys he faced but came away unscathed with the help of Mark Lowe, who cleaned up his mess and ended the eighth. Sean White threw a 1-2-3 ninth inning. Miguel Batista got the first two hitters out in the ninth but no Mariner pitcher could stop Adrian Gonzalez in this game, who doubled and scored the winning run on the subsequent Kevin Kouzmanoff base hit.
1) Franklin Gutierrez
I'm okay with him hitting the odd home run, but a two-homer came is almost too much of a carrot for the Mariner fan who is dying to see more power hitting from this team. In a way it's almost fitting that Jose Lopez leaves the team (bereavement list) and someone else steps up in terms of power hitting. Needless to say, Gutierrez isn't the first guy you think of when it comes to stepping up with power hitting. Gutierrez reached the sand pit over the fence in rightcenter, which was quite a shot. The second homer reached the lower basket on the Western Metal Supply Co. building inside the leftfield foul pole. Gutierrez also made the almost-catch on the Adrian Gonzalez game-tying homer in the sixth inning. In May, Gutierrez had a 20-game extra-base hit drought, sinking his slugging percentage from .461 to .353. He snapped that drought with two doubles in Oakland on May 27th. Starting with that game, Gutierrez has hit two doubles, a triple, and three homers (those coming all in the last three games), resulting in a slugging percentage of .463 over the last 17 games and a .383 slugging mark for the year. He picked up .034 on his slugging percentage with just this game.
2) Ken Griffey Jr.
I gave the FSNW Mariners Live telecast some crap after Wednesday's game since they rolled a highlight package with a graphic that pointed out Griffey was 2-for-7 over two games, which isn't much to scream about. He went 2-for-5 with a double in this game, so at least the graphic on the highlight montage could be 4-for-14 and be a little bit less ridiculous. Still, Griffey with a hit in his next game would tie a season high with a four-game hitting streak. He didn't register a walk and is therefore still only two behind Russell Branyan. Griffey has homered only once this month, on June 2nd against the Orioles, but he hasn't homered since. That said, he's hitting .239 in June, along with a .352 on-base percentage and a .413 slugging percentage, all of which will be season-bests for a month this season if the numbers hold. Probably the nicest single thing about this year is that he's walked 32 times and struck out only 33 times. That means an on-base percentage that's .045 higher than Adrian Beltre's on-base percentage.
3) Mike Carp
The call-up first baseman went 1-for-3 with a walk in his first Major League start. First thing's first -- the guy has a face that looks about ten years older than his actual age. Second thing is that he's wearing number 59, which Felix Hernandez wore when he first came up. It's so obviously a pitcher's number that hopefully he manages to get a decent number soon or the next time he gets the call. Ditto the numbers thing for Guillermo Quiroz as well, though I think Quiroz wore 27 in his first go-around with the Mariners. Anyway, though he's only been up for all of two days, I really want to see Carp's power stroke, since this team really needs power and everything. His only problem is that he's lefthanded and plays first base, and the Mariners already have that unless they're willing to trade Branyan. As I've said quite a few times, I'd be okay with anyone but Felix and Ichiro being traded, and that includes Branyan, whose trade value is probably the best it's going to be right now. Erik Bedard's trade value was big a few weeks ago, but now...ugh. I think they waited too long.
Just to make it clear to anyone that hasn't figured this out already -- Ronny Cedeno cannot hit Major League pitching. Ronny Cedeno cannot hit Major League pitching. Ronny Cedeno cannot hit Major League pitching. Ronny Cedeno cannot hit Major League pitching. Ronny Cedeno cannot hit Major League pitching. Ronny Cedeno cannot hit Major League pitching. Ronny Cedeno cannot hit Major League pitching. Ronny Cedeno cannot hit Major League pitching. Ronny Cedeno cannot hit Major League pitching. Ronny Cedeno cannot hit Major League pitching. Ronny Cedeno cannot hit Major League pitching. Ronny Cedeno cannot hit Major League pitching. Ronny Cedeno cannot hit Major League pitching. Ronny Cedeno cannot hit Major League pitching. Ronny Cedeno cannot hit Major League pitching. Ronny Cedeno cannot hit Major League pitching. Ronny Cedeno cannot hit Major League pitching. Ronny Cedeno cannot hit Major League pitching. Ronny Cedeno cannot hit Major League pitching. Ronny Cedeno cannot hit Major League pitching. Ronny Cedeno is hitting .132 (10-for-76) on the season with a double, a triple, and two homers, now all a distant memory.
It's a night fit to get Washburned. Burning snakes.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
The win put the Mariners at 32-33 after 65 games. Of the Bavasi-run teams, only 2007's 35-win team after 65 games was better than the current mark. Of the other Bavasi teams, 32 wins is one better than 2006, three better than 2005, five better than 2004, and nine better than 2008. Of the Gillick teams, 32 wins is four worse than 2000, eight worse than 2002, 12 worse than 2003, and 19 worse than 2001.
Mariner hitting went a combined 7-for-32 in the game, walking three times and striking out ten times (Chad Gaudin struck out eight?!!?). Ken Griffey Jr. and Jose Lopez accounted for the extra-base hits with a double and a homer, respectively. The middle infielders Lopez and Yuniesky Betancourt had two hits apiece as the only multi-hit Mariners of the game. The team went 2-for-6 with runners in scoring position and stranded five runners. Ichiro did not go hitless and this game is probably the start of a 57-game hitting streak. Ha.
Seattle's starting pitching will be covered below. The bullpen finished out the final three innings of the game and threw shutout baseball. Mark Lowe walked one and struck out two in the seventh inning, Sean White walked one and gave up a hit in the eighth inning, and David Aardsma gave up a hit and struck out two in the ninth inning. The combined bullpen faced 14 hitters to get nine outs, but that's what happens when you walk a couple guys and give up a couple of hits.
1) Jose Lopez
It's officially a power binge for the Mariners' second baseman. Since snapping his extra-base hitless streak at eight games with a double on May 24th, Lopez has gone 23-for-76 (.303) with six doubles, seven homers (slugging .658), and 21 RBIs over that span of 20 games. Such things have propelled his batting average from .223 to .248 (bump of .025), his on-base percentage from .264 to .278 (.014 bump), and his slugging percentage from .313 to .421 (.108 bump). I think we'll all agree as Mariner fans that we're glad there's another power-hitting threat on this team whose name isn't Russell Branyan. Lopez went 2-for-4 in this game with the one homer. The pitch he hit for a home run was absolutely a mistake pitch (it wasn't even close to the target) and he completely destroyed it. That ball was demolished. The home run broke a 1-1 tie and put the Mariners up 3-1. Lopez is hitting .309 for the month of June, and it appears he and Yuniesky Betancourt are having a no-walkoff, as Betancourt hasn't walked since May 29th, and Lopez hasn't walked since May 31st. Lopez has a June on-base percentage (.293) that is lower than his lower than his .309 batting average for the month.
2) Garrett Olson
The Mariners' spot starter retired the last seven hitters he faced after giving up the two-run homer to Chase Headley (who hit it more like Chase Utley). That home run, by the way, was mammoth. Mastodonic, even. To a lesser spot starter, that could wreck the outing and make Olson hit the wall. Frankly, Olson in most of his starts has displayed a proclivity to do pretty well at the beginning of the game and cruise along before hitting a wall and losing it, usually around the fifth or sixth. While he did retire the last seven hitters he faced, I can say that when I was sitting there watching the game, I thought Olson was done. Olson gave up three runs on two hits, walking one and striking out four. He threw 62 strikes out of 94 pitches, getting four groundouts and ten flyouts (yikes). He faced 21 hitters to get 18 outs. Thanks to Felix the night before and the off day the day before that, the Mariners had a well-rested full cadre of relievers in case Olson crapped the bed. With Morrow going in the final game of the series on a pitch count, we'll likely see Chris Jakubauskas again along with Miguel Batista and Roy Corcoran.
3) Ken Griffey Jr.
A friend noted that although Griffey is hitting all of .211 on the season with six homers and 19 RBIs, it seems a good portion of his hits seem to tie a game or drive in a go-ahead run. Of course, though he's still very legitimately cold, Griffey has gone 2-for-7 in his last two games, and that small sample size was more than enough for FSNW's Mariners Live show to edit together a highlight package and to have Angie Marzetta/Arlati/Mentink and Bill Krueger engage in a couple minutes of dialogue about Griffey's torrid doings at the plate. Things like mountains and molehills seem to come to mind. As I've noticed a few times this year, it seems that right when everybody's about ready to give up on Griffey, he gets a couple of key hits to remind you that he indeed does exist and can hit in some capacity, and then he fades into the crowd a bit until everyone's nearly ready to give up on him again. Griffey has drawn 32 walks on the season while Ichiro has 12 and Branyan has 34, but Branyan's played nearly the whole season while Griffey's played 50 games.
It's hard to put him here since he had a couple of very solid defensive plays on which mere mortal third basemen might get eaten up. Beltre gets to those plays and did so in this game, but he is supposed to be a main cog in the Mariners' lineup, and he did go 0-for-4. This hitless game snapped an eight-game hitting streak in which he went 14-for-33 (.424) with five doubles, a home run (slugging .667), and five RBIs. From the start of his tear (May 21st), he had gone 36-for-97 (.371) with seven doubles, three home runs (slugging .536), and 15 RBIs. Obviously, you can add an 0-for-4 to all of those totals. If we can hang on to nothing else, we can hang on to the fact that Beltre hasn't gone hitless in consecutive games since the 0-for-23 slump. Obviously that fact is on the line in the day game today. Though he wasn't the goat in the game and got two hits, I should mention that I might have thought about Yuniesky Betancourt for his two-hit game, but he made an icky error. Considering Beltre, he looks a lot more comfortable with Betancourt next to him at shortstop rather than Ronny Cedeno.
Oh boy, Morrow on a pitch count today.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
At the 64-game mark, the Mariners have a record of 31-33. That's four wins worse than the 2007 Mariners were at this point, but better than every other Bavasi-run team -- one better than the 2006 team, three better than the 2005 team, five better than the 2004 team, and eight better than last year's perfect s%*#storm. Compared with the Gillick-era Mariner teams, 31 wins is four worse than 2000, eight worse than 2002, 12 worse than 2003, and 19 worse than 2001.
Mariner hitting went a combined 3-for-30 on the night, walking twice and striking out six times. Ken Griffey Jr. had the only single, and the other two hits were solo home runs by Franklin Gutierrez and Adrian Beltre. Griffey's two-run single that padded the Mariner lead in the ninth was the Mariners' only hit in two chances with runners in scoring position. The Mariners stranded one runner on base, though they barely had any runners at all. Not a lot of hitting on this night, and that included Ichiro, who went a quiet 0-for-4 with a strikeout, sending his batting average plummeting all the way down to .354. Maybe it was due to the negative aura of Bret Boone, who was in the stadium and visited the Mariners' broadcast booth. Ichiro had a lot of hitless company in the Mariner lineup since I've already mentioned the three guys that did get hits.
Usually the paragraph I put right here is reserved for whatever pitchers I don't mention in the gameball or goat entries, but since there was only one pitcher in this game and he's a gameball, nothing goes here. Ain't that a b'.
1) Felix Hernandez
The only deceptive thing about his line are the four walks. If four walks weren't in the boxscore for Felix, and I hadn't seen this game, I'd be tempted to think he could have been more dominant. He really couldn't have been much more dominant than he was, and he was obviously a ton more efficient when it came to the hitters that he wasn't walking. I know we used to use the term "heavy ball" a lot with Freddy Garcia in his prime, but Felix was throwing a heavy ball in this game, the ball with late movement that the Padre hitters were either whiffing over or hitting the top half of and grounding harmlessly to the infielders. The best thing about this complete-game two-hitter, of course, is the complete rest of the bullpen, which is something they'll need since Jarrod Washburn is the only opening-day member of the starting rotation that's still in the rotation. Other than him, it's a bunch of fill-in guys and Brandon Morrow, all of whom you can't really expect to get deep into ballgames. Felix gave up two hits, walked four and struck out six. He faced 32 hitters to get 27 outs, and got 12 groundouts to eight flyouts (great ratio for him).
2) Franklin Gutierrez
He made a great catch at the wall in centerfield to save an extra-base hit, which now we almost come to expect from Gutierrez, but he also unloaded on a mistake pitch from Correia and put it well over the same wall. I didn't think he could hit a ball that far in that park, but lo and behold, he did. In the early going of the season, Gutierrez was hitting the odd home run, but not so much lately. He last homered on May 4th against Texas in a 3-for-4 game that bumped his batting average up to .303. To his credit, the lowest his batting average has gotten since then is .251 (the game before this one). Not counting this game, from May 5th to June 14th, Gutierrez went 23-for-104 (.221) with two doubles and a triple (slugged .260) and six RBIs. I'll venture to guess the league figured out a way to pitch to this guy, but as I've been saying all along, I'll gladly settle for .245 or .250 out of this guy if it means we get to see that calibre of defensive play in centerfield. Have we been spoiled as Mariner fans when it comes to centerfielders or have we been spoiled as Mariner fans when it comes to centerfielders?
3) Adrian Beltre
Two home runs in the month of June? Where's the fire, Adrian? Oddly, Ichiro had a hitting streak snapped in this game, but Beltre has a modest eight-game hitting streak going in which he's 14-for-33 (.424) with five doubles, a home run (slugging .667), and five RBIs. If we go all the way back to the start of his tear on May 21st, Beltre has gone 36-for-97 (.371) with seven doubles, three home runs (slugging .536), and 15 RBIs. It's a testament to his early-season suck that slugging .536 over 23 games can only get his slugging percentage up to .389 on the year. Just reading over this paragraph and look at his numbers for this year, half of Beltre's RBIs have come in the last 23 games. He basically waited until the season was one-fourth over with to finally heat up. I hope he tears it up through July, because then his trade value will be pretty high. That's a good thing. I don't care where this team is on July 31st, this team has to sell, sell, sell, and if the name isn't Felix Hernandez or Ichiro, they can go and I won't put up an argument against it.
He saw 12 pitches in this game. He put the fourth pitch into play in his first at-bat and worked a 3-1 count his second time up. The only problem is that both of those at-bats resulted in very weak outs. The first was a pop foul to the first baseman and the catcher caught the foul pop on the second one (on a 3-1 pitch...thought I should mention that again). I guess maybe he just doesn't know how to handle having a 3-1 count on him. I don't know. In his next at-bat, he grounded out on the second pitch, and in his final at-bat, he grounded out on the first pitch. I guess since he didn't get rewarded by seeing more pitches the first two times at the plate, he just threw everything out the window and decided he'd swing at the first pitch that looked okay. It should be noted that the other guy I was going to put into the goat spot was Ichiro for going hitless, but he did have a couple of pretty good catches in rightfield late in the game. Those and the fact that Betancourt's first two outs were pretty weak were the main reasons he got this paragraph instead of Ichiro.
Our reward for this Felix start? Seeing if Garrett Olson can get through six innings.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Well, the Mariners, though relatively warm coming into this series, were not able to put a dent in the buzzsaw that is the Colorado Rockies. The Mariners put Jason Vargas on the mound, but unfortunately he was way overdue for a bad start if you look at how he's done since he was called up. I know the offense has been bad this year, and it was bad in this game, only scoring the one run. By the same token, if the Mariners had a normal offense, there still isn't a very good chance they'd win a game where the other team scores seven runs. Worst thing about this for a Bremerton guy is that Jason Hammel's a South Kitsap guy and shut down the Mariners for 5 1/3 innings.
The 2009 Seattle Mariners are 30-33 after 63 games. Of the Bavasi-run teams, it's five wins worse than 2007, but better than all other such teams -- one better than 2006, two better than 2005, five better than 2004, and eight better than last year. It should be noted that the fluky 2007 team at this point lost their second straight game on a six-game losing streak (seven of nine). That team somehow won 88 games, but I forgot how streaky they were -- they had two six-game losing streaks, one seven-game losing streak, and a nine-game losing streak. That 2007 team lost 15 of 17 at one point. Of course, they also won 19 of 26 at another point during the season. If that team was a little less streaky on the loss side, they could have easily been a 90-win team, and that's scary to think about. Anyway, of the Gillick-run teams, the 2009 team is five wins worse than 2000, nine wins worse than 2002, 12 wins worse than 2003, and 19 wins worse than 2001.
Mariner hitting went a combined 6-for-31 in the game, walking once and striking out six times. Ichiro had two hits as the only multi-hit Mariner. All the Mariners' hits were singles. Four of the Mariners' non-pitching starters were held hitless. The team went 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position. This isn't the first time I've said this, but that runners-in-scoring-position stat isn't damning for the zero as much as it is the two, i.e., they only had two chances with runners in scoring position. The Mariner offense also stranded five runners on base.
Seattle's starting pitcher will unfortunately be covered below, as will the middle relief. That leaves us with Miguel Batista, who threw shutout ball through the seventh and eighth innings, giving up only one hit and striking out one. He faced seven hitters to get six outs and it appears the Rocky offense was spent from hammering Vargas in the fifth inning, even after the rain delay. They'd done more than enough, however. Meanwhile, Batista inexplicably has an ERA of only 3.16. I have to say I'm glad they brought up guys from AAA to fill Silva's spot in the rotation because I'm kind of afraid to know how Batista would do if he were plugged back into the starters' role.
Ho hum. It's clockwork. The Mariners can be complete crap, but here comes Ichiro with another 2-for-4 while scoring the Mariners' only run of the game. There were quite a few nights during the hitting streak where Ichiro was just putting in a 1-for-4 or a 1-for-5. He had four straight one-hit games frmo May 19th to May 22nd before the multi-hit barrage started. From May 23rd to the present, Ichiro has had multi-hit games in 13 of the 20 games he's played. In that stretch, Ichiro has gone 38-for-84 (.452) with eight doubles, a triple, and a home run (slugging .607). Ichiro is sitting at 87 hits on the season and is on pace for a 244-hit season. There's no way he hits .360 for the rest of the season. I don't think he's quite within range to where the eight games he missed would be the difference between breaking his own single-season hit record. He's not quite close to that. If you do play with the numbers and give him eight hits in the eight games he missed, that could possibly put him at a 252-hit pace, which would be interesting, but he's not close to complete nuttiness (for him) yet.
2) Jose Lopez
It's easy to forget that Lopez hit a sacrifice fly in the first inning to score Ichiro and put the Mariners into a 1-0 lead. He has now 39 RBIs on the season. The game log for Lopez this month is a bit weird. He's hitting .313 in June despite going hitless in five out of 12 games. The hitting games, however, three one-hit games and four three-hit games, so it's scattered goose eggs with some nice bits thrown in there. Lopez has four doubles and four homers on the month (.646 slugging percentage), which is part of the power injection this team needed, but what's somehow more shocking is that Lopez has pulled a Betancourt and hasn't walked at all in June. He's hitting .313 in June but has an on-base percentage of .300. Lopez has hit well lately for power, but the regular batting average has been somewhat slow to come along. This is a guy that was hitting .272 after a game against Oakland on May 3rd. He sunk down to .216 after a game in Oakland on May 26th, the damage being a 21-game stretch where he went 13-for-84 (.155). At least he doubled four times and homered during that span (slugged .238) and drove in four runs.
3) Roy Corcoran
Although he walked a guy during 1 1/3 innings of no-pressure relief since the game was already way out of reach, how about three cheers for Corcoran in his first appearance back from the shelf? Corcoran's last appearance with the big club was on April 28th. He had a good string of three outings to start the season, but then he hit the skids, giving up runs in four of five outings before going off with the injury. He gave up a total of seven runs in those five appearances (12.60 ERA). Knowing that the injury may have been a reason as to why he'd been doing so badly, it's probably safe to say we wipe the slate clean with Corcoran and see how he does from here on out. More importantly, I think it means the Mariners should finally send Brandon Morrow down to get some starts under his belt. While I didn't mind that the Mariners stretched Morrow's pitch count in the Saturday game of this series, I'd rather they send him down so he can dominate AAA hitting as a starter. If he gets his pitch count stretched out on the big-league level as a starter but he gets lit up, does that really do the job?
As I mentioned at the beginning of all this, Vargas was very long overdue for a start like this. In his six prior starts, Vargas gave up 11 runs (10 earned) in 34 2/3 innings (5 2/3 innings per start, 2.60 ERA). For someone who's pretty much been put into the rotation out of necessity, he's gotten far enough into the games. What's shocking is that the Mariners were only behind 2-1 going into the bottom of the fifth. Vargas did not finish that inning. The roof fell in on Vargas, most likely because his former college teammate, Troy Tulowitzki, surely gave the team all they needed about his pitching. A double by Brad Hawpe made it 3-1 for the Rockies, then the catcher Chris Iannetta hit a three-run double with the bases loaded to break the game wide open. Dexter Fowler doubled Iannetta home to make it 7-1, and Vargas was pulled for Corcoran, who mercifully got the final out of the inning. I like having Vargas in the rotation, but I seriously hope he doesn't end up going all Jakubauskas on us all. They need him. He's better than Carlos Silva.
A Monday off day, yes indeed, before a Felix night.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Seattle is 30-32 after 62 games. Thirty wins is five behind the pace of the 2007 Mariners, but better than all other Bavasi-run Mariner teams -- the mark is two better than the 2006 team, three better than the 2005 team, five better than the 2004 team, and eight better than last year's team. The pace is four worse than 2000, eight worse than 2002, 12 worse than 2003, and 19 worse than 2001.
Mariner hitting combined to go 10-for-36 in the game, walking four times and striking out six times. None of the Mariners' walks came around to score. Oddly enough, the Rockies' offense got seven walks, and none of them came around to score. Adrian Beltre and Jose Lopez had three hits apiece and will be covered below. In the extra-base hit column, Beltre doubled twice and Lopez hoemred. Ichiro went 2-for-5, and is now at .357 on the season. He's been on a ridiculous tear. Something in his game logs -- starting with May 23rd, he had a two-game span where he went 1-for-3 in the first game and had his hitting streak snapped in the second game. Other than that, he's never gone two games without a multi-hit game. He's gone 36-for-80 (.450) over that span with eight doubles, a triple, and a home run (slugging .613). That's a good way to put .047 onto your batting average in about three weeks' time (he was at .310 before this torridness). At 85 hits on the season, Ichiro is on pace for a 242-hit season. Back to the bad news -- the team went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded ten runners on base.
Now for Mariner pitching. Two of their four pitchers in this game got their entries below. The other two are in this paragraph. Brandon Morrow ended up throwing 64 pitches over three innings, so Nicole Zaloumis on the FSNW pregame show made good on her 1-3 innings choice on the Fan Pulse question. Morrow fell behind 3-0 on his first hitter, but got a double play en route to a pretty good inning of work. He gave up a single to lead off the second inning, and that runner (Brad Hawpe) got moved to second on a groundout. He then walked Troy Tulowitzki, and ball four was a passed ball, putting Hawpe on third. Carlos Gonzalez struck out after that, but then Morrow pretty much lost it. He walked Chris Iannetta to load the bases, then walked pitcher Jason Marquis to force in the first run of the game. He got Dexter Fowler to ground out to end the inning, but he'd hit the wall mentally again. His third and final inning went better as he struck out the side with a Todd Helton double and an Ian Stewart walk sandwiched in between. If not for Mark Lowe's fielding adventures, Sean White could have gotten the goat in this game. White faced six batters and gave up two runs on three hits (two singles and a double). To his credit, White was about due to give up a run because he hadn't done so since May 9th at Minnesota, a string of 14 consecutive scoreless appearances (17 innings in those appearances).
1) Jose Lopez
His low-water mark for the month of May was .216 after his 0-for-4 in Oakland on May 26th. Since then, Lopez has gone 19-for-56 (.339) with five doubles and six home runs in 14 games (slugging .750). That's right -- six of his nine homers this season have come in the last 14 games. If only the Mariners could get that kind of power spike from Adrian Beltre. Anyway, those 14 games have bumped the second baseman's average from .216 to .246, his on-base percentage from .259 to .279, and his slugging percentage from .307 to .414, which is huge. In a lineup where Russell Branyan is the only power threat, the Mariners need all the power hitting they can possibly get until Beltre heats up with the power stroke, and I don't think anyone knows when that'll happen. Until the power comes along for the rest of the team, they'll need to learn how to hit with runners in scoring position, even if it isn't with extra-base hits. For now, though, it appears that if you're looking for anyone other than Branyan and Lopez in this lineup to hit a home run, stop looking because it's a fruitless endeavour.
2) Adrian Beltre
Speaking of the guy that doesn't hit for power...okay, I guess I should be specific and say he doesn't hit home runs because he's gotten his share of doubles. He has 17 doubles and four homers this season, though we wished those numbers were switched around. His six doubles and one homer in June have him at a .609 slugging percentage for the month, by far his best month slugging so far. He's also hitting .413 for the month with an on-base percentage of .449. If you go back to the beginning of his tear (or the end of the 0-for-23 slump) on May 21st, he's gone 34-for-89 (.382) with seven doubles and two homers (slugging .528). In this span, he's picked up .065 on his batting average (holy hell, he's hitting .265 now), .068 on his on-base percentage (up to .299, which is still bad), and .082 on his slugging percentage (up to .382, which is still bad). At least Beltre's got one out of those three numbers up near some kind of respectability. The guy needs to hit some home runs, and he needs to do it now. You know it, I know it, and the American people know it.
3) Chris Jakubauskas
The Lithuanian Laser was the first man out of the bullpen after Brandon Morrow struggled through the first three innings and managed to only give up one run. Jakubauskas threw three scoreless innings, giving up two hits and walking one. He faced 11 hitters to get nine outs. Jakubauskas took eight turns in the starting rotation, and gave up 32 runs (30 earned) on 46 hits (5.75 hits per start) in 40 2/3 innings (averaging just over five innings per start), good for a 6.64 ERA. Jakubauskas has been in the bullpen for all of the month of June. In 9 1/3 innings over five appearances, Jakubauskas has given up one run on five hits, good for a 0.96 ERA in the month. On one hand, it's too bad because Jakubauskas had two or three pretty good starts when he was in the rotation, but I think it's time to admit that Jakubauskas has found a home in the bullpen as a pretty good option in middle relief or long relief. He hasn't done all too badly for a guy that I thought had no chance in hell of coming north with the big club.
If there's one good thing Lowe did, it's that he made two fielding errors so that when those two runs came around to score, they wouldn't count against his earned-run average. Thusly, the one inning of two unearned runs decreased his ERA from 4.03 to 3.90 on the season. This also means Lowe hasn't given up any earned runs since the five-run meltdown against the Giants on May 23rd. In the top of the eighth, Lopez clubbed a two-run homer to tie the game at 3-3. Lowe came on in the bottom half of that inning and gave those two runs right back. It's never good when you make errors on the first two balls in play in an inning, and Lowe did exactly that. After that, the Rockies had runners on the corners with nobody out. Chris Iannetta hit a fly ball to score Tulowitzki, and the Rockies were up 4-3. Lowe fell behind on pinch-hitter Ryan Spilborghs and walked him as well as Dexter Fowler after him to load the bases. Clint Barmes hit a fly ball to score Carlos Gonzalez from third to make it 5-3, which is the score that held up. The official scorer gave Franklin Gutierrez a throwing error on that play, and I'm guessing that was because the throw hit Gonzalez right as he was sliding into home plate. That's a bullcrap error since unless Gutierrez laser beams it on a rope to Jamie Burke without bouncing it, there's no way he can control whether the ball hits the runner or not. The odds of hitting a runner from centerfield with a throw to the plate aren't astronomical, but they're pretty long. Bullcrap error.
Hopefully the Mariners can Viva Las Vargas today.