Saturday, August 15, 2009


This was a night where the little things bit the Mariners. How did the first Yankee run score? Jose Lopez double-clutched on what should have been a double-play ball. How did the second Yankee run score? A ball rolled past Jack Hannahan on the left side, and shortstop Josh Wilson completely came up empty (you could argue both guys should have had the ball). Worse yet, Ryan Rowland-Smith had a 2-0 lead and had to watch it get frittered away on piddly crap plays like the aforementioned. Unfortunately, the Mariners were completely done producing runs, and they've been pretty bad at that lately to the tune of five total runs over the last four games. With one swing of the bat, Mark Teixeira effectively ended the game in the top of the ninth, taking the wind out of the Mariners' sails and sending people scurrying out of the ballpark to beat traffic or make it to the ferry terminal. All that came before the Yankees tacked on an insurance run in the ninth.

The Mariners' third loss in four games dropped their record to 60-56 after 116 games. This pace is six worse than the 2007 pace, but is four better than 2006, 11 bebtter than 2005, 15 better than last year, and 17 better than 2004. Sixty wins is also nine wins worse than 2000, 10 worse than 2003, 11 worse than 2002, and 23 worse than 2001. Records of other new-millennium Mariner teams at loss number 56: 70-56 in 2000, 116-46 in 2001, 79-56 in 2002, 77-56 in 2003, 33-56 in 2004, 43-56 in 2005, 53-56 in 2006, 73-56 in 2007, and 36-56 last year.

Seattle hitting went 7-for-33 at the plate, walking three times and striking out a whopping 12 times. The team also went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven runners in all. Jose Lopez doubled for the only Mariner extra-base hit of the game. Ichiro had two hits as the only Mariner with multiple hits. As for Mariners that reached base safely more than once, Franklin Gutierrez walked once and got a hit, as did Ken Griffey Jr. In baserunning news, Josh Wilson was caught stealing as well as picked off, though it all happened on the same play. I think if it was just one play, it has to be one or the other.

Mariner pitching, well...the starting pitcher couldn't have been much better. He and the guy that came into the game immediately after him will be dealt with in the entries below. That leaves Shawn Kelley, who allowed a single to Jerry Hairston Jr., but then got Melky Cabrera to ground out to short. Kelley needed a mere seven pitches to get the Yankees' 27th out.

1) Ryan Rowland-Smith
I guess maybe what hurts the most about this start by the Aussie is that he was tagged with the first two Yankee runs, but neither of them crossed the plate because of his missing a spot or throwing the wrong pitch or anything like that. As I mentioned, the first one scored because with runners on the corners and one out, Jose Lopez couldn't make the turn quickly enough at second for the double play, and the run scored. As for that "hit" that scored the second run, sheesh. I don't know how the hell that ball got through the left side of the infield. Beltre probably has the ball, bruised testicle and all, but I'm a lot more aghast that Josh Wilson couldn't even get a glove on that ball. These technically are Major League baseball players, sure, but we have to keep in mind these two guys were getting regular bench time right up to a couple days ago. As for Rowland-Smith, his breaking ball was getting over really nicely. Jorge Posada was not pleased at one of Rowland-Smith's called strikeouts. The current number-two man in the Mariner rotation gave up two runs on three hits in seven innings, walking two and striking out five. He threw 67 strikes out of 99 pitches, getting nine groundouts and seven flyouts, and facing 26 hitters to get 21 outs.

2) Ichiro
Once again, the beat goes on for the Mariners' leadoff hitter. He led off the first and third innings with singles. At 171 hits for the sdeason, Ichiro is 24 hits away from his 2000th Major League hit and 29 hits away from his ninth straight 200-hit season. For the record, he piled up 1278 hits in Japan before coming over to the Majors. Ichiro is on pace for a 244-hit season. That would leave him with 2049 hits in the Majors at the end of the year. If Ichiro keeps up this same breakneck pace at the plate and manages to escape the injury bug at every turn, he'll reach 3000 Major League hits in only five more seasons (possibly less) and be a lead-pipe cinch for the Hall of Fame based on his Major League exploits alone. I hope he's able to do that just so there's absolutely no question about Ichiro's awesomeness. If it takes him five years to get to 3000 Major League hits, he'll be 40 years of age when he gets that hit. Back a bit in the paragraph, if you add those 2049 hits to his Japanese hits, you get 3327 overall hits. Four more years (but possibly just three) should give him 4000 career-spanning hits.

3) Ken Griffey Jr.
THe Mariners' elder statesman didn't have a multi-hit game or get the game-ending base hit like the other night. He went 1-for-3 with a walk in the game. With two runners in scoring position in the first inning, Griffey grounded out to second base to drive to give the Mariners an early 2-0 lead. He singled with one out in the sixth, with the score being 2-2 at that point. In the Mariners' last-gasp attempt at doing anything, Griffey walked with two out in the eighth to put the tying run aboard and Russell Branyan at the plate. Branyan worked a 1-2 count for a walk, but they needed some kind of hit out of him right there, or preferably a go-ahead home run, which would have sent David Aardsma to the mound in the ninth. Instead, the Mariners' fortunes were pinned on Jack Hannahan at the plate, and that's never good. It wasn't good here, the Yankees scored two in the ninth, Mariano Rivera appeared in the game, and the Mariners pretty much wilted because Edgar Martinez isn't still there to have an anomalously large batting average against Rivera.

Mark Lowe
If Josh Wilson didn't have a base hit in the game (wow, stop the presses), I'd probably have put him here because then he would have been hitless, been picked off, and completely whiffed on the ground ball that tied the game at 2-2 for the Yankees. Instead, Lowe threw a breaking ball fairly low in the strike zone and Mark Teixeira absolutely demolished the baseball, sending it many rows back into the seats in rightfield. That was full extension, full everything. To be completely fair, Lowe had thrown seven straight scoreless outings over 9 1/3 innings, and he was probably overdue to give up a run or two. Of course, the bad thing is that when Lowe falters, it probably doesn't spell a good fate for the Mariners. We've learned this by somewhat more stressful methods with David Aardsma's blown saves. Though Lowe isn't at the end of the game, sometimes his role proves to be just as vital as Aardsma's role. Not that I don't think I'm stating the obvious here or anything. Lowe's still awesome in my book, and if he keeps up his usual habits, he won't give up a run for about six or so outings.

Luke French against a guy named Sergio tonight. Will Le Skywalker pull out a win?

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Thursday, August 13, 2009


I said in the last piece that this was pretty much as close to a guaranteed Mariner loss as you could get. Sometimes I hate being right. Ian Snell's been horrible since his first Mariner start, and CC Sabathia and the team with the best record in baseball were in Seattle. That was enough for me to pencil in a loss. Then came the news that Josh Wilson was starting at short instead of Jack Wilson since Jack was giving the hamstring a rest after Felix Hernandez made a wild throw to second that led him off the bag on what should have been a double play. THEEEEN came the news that the Alexei Ramirez ninth-inning grounder that Adrian Beltre fielded last night bruised his testicle (Beltre doesn't wear a cup). Thus, Beltre ended up on the disabled list, though he somehow gutted out the injury for five more innings. Needless to say, Josh Wilson took Beltre's roster spot. If someone before the final Chicago game would have told me the only way Jack Hannahan was going to get playing time for the rest of the year would be if Beltre got ballbusted, I would have laughed. Then after the game, I would have asked the guy for the winning numbers of the upcoming lottery. Anyway, the game took a little longer to get out of hand than I thought it would, but the final score was pretty much what I expected.

This totally-saw-it-coming loss dropped the Mariners' record to 60-55 after 115 games. This pace is five wins worse than 2007, but four better than 2006, 11 better than 2005, 15 better than last year, and 17 better than 2004. Sixty wins is also eight wins worse than 2000, nine wins worse than 2003, 11 wins worse than 2002, and 23 wins worse than 2001. Records of other new-millennium Mariner teams at loss number 55: 69-55 in 2000, 116-46 in 2001, 78-55 in 2002, 76-55 in 2003, 33-55 in 2004, 42-55 in 2005, 53-55 in 2006, 73-55 in 2007, and 35-55 last year.

Seattle hitting went a combined 3-for-29 in their futile attempt to solve CC Sabathia. No Mariner went for multiple hits, and the only extra-base hit of the game belonged to Josh Wilson, of all people. It's almost fitting that his best game as a Mariner was a game where they were beat 11-1. The only other notable numbers in the Mariners' offensive boxscore is that Russell Branyan, Kenji Johjima, and Michael Saunders struck out twice apiece. The Mariners would have stood little chance in this game if anyone other than Felix Hernandez was pitching. Throw in Snell, and a loss was a foregone conclusion. You could have called this game five days ago.

Mariner pitching...not a good night. The starting pitcher will be dealt with below. Garrett Olson came into the game with two on and nobody out in the seventh. It took Olson only three pitches to starting throwing Molotov cocktails at Snell's earned run average as Hideki Matsui singled into rightfield to score Johnny Damon. Olson then walked Nick Swisher to load the bases. Though Olson showed some signs of hope by getting Robinson Cano to look at strike three, Melky Cabrera had an RBI groundout, then Jerry Hairston Jr. singled to score Matsui. Matsui was Olson's run, while the groundout scored Teixeira, who was Snell's eighth and final run. A Jose Molina flyout ended the carnage in the seventh. Olson still had two more runs to give the Yankees, and those two scored on Matsui's two-out homer in the eighth. You know, the one where the fan totally tipped the ball out of Ichiro's glove. That would have been a SPECTACULAR FREAKIN' CATCH by Ichiro if the fan wouldn't have reached out. The game was so crap that the umpires didn't even go back for video review to see if that was fan interference or not. Hell, I sure as hell didn't care at that point. It was 11-1 for the Yankees, and that held up as the final score. Olson still gave up two more hits in the ninth, but nobody scored. Olson gave up three runs on six hits, walking one and striking out two in three innings, continuing his freefall since the All-Star break. He threw 34 strikes out of 52 pitches, getting three groundouts and four flyouts, and he faced 16 hitters to get nine outs.

1) Josh Wilson
Vancouver Canucks' radio color commentator uses the adage of, "when a star goes down, there's another one on the horizon." Well, Beltre is sort of a star. I'm fairly sure Josh Wilson the Mariner is never going to be a star. Josh Wilson the Seahawk has a better chance of that happening, and even that's slim. Even still, Josh Wilson has Beltre's bruised testicle to thank for even having a roster spot right now, and he took full advantage. Okay, 1-for-4 isn't really full advantage, but Sabathia was throwing so well that you could pretty much call it a good night for anyone just to get one hit and have it be a homer. Think about what a horrible competitive disparity that is -- CC Sabathia, who's been awesome and has a reputation of awesomeness, against Josh Wilson, who's completely unremarkable and is below replacement level as far as I'm concerned (I'm sure a stathead could definitely prove that in more detail). Guess what? Wilson's now 2-for-6 in seven games as a Mariner. Stop the presses! This guy could save the Mariners' season...he's hitting .333!!!

2) Jack Hannahan
Guess what? It's yet another player who can thank Adrian Beltre's bruised testicle for playing time. I've been saying the last couple weeks that the only difference between Hannahan and Chris Woodward (other than handedness) was that Hannahan was drawing a Major League salary. Hannahan for the last couple weeks was getting the same amount of playing time at the Major League level as Woodward, and Woodward's not on the Major League roster. What did Hannahan do in this game? Well, he didn't hit a home run like Josh Wilson (not a Seahawk) did, but he did hit a single and draw a walk. Hannahan drew a two-out walk in the second to push Mike Sweeney to second base. Unfortunately for him, Josh Wilson was hitting behind him, and that wasn't when he hit the home run. That's too bad because a homer right there would have put the Mariners up 3-2, then maybe Sabathia has to pitch a bit differently, etc. Hannahan also singled to lead off the ieghth inning, and he was able to bust out the lawn chair because the next three hitters went away in order, ending with an awkward-looking strikeout by Ichiro. It's not like he ever looked good when he struck out.

3) Ichiro
Okay, so I just knocked him for the icky-looking strikeout, but the Mariners' leadoff hitter did go 1-for-4 in the game. He singled with one out in the fourth inning, but was erased on the next pitch when Franklin Gutierrez grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. The hit was Ichiro's 169th of the season, putting him on pace for a 243-hit season. He is 26 hits away from his 2000th Major League hit and 31 hits away from his ninth straight 200-hit season. Dude's incredible. Also, Ichiro would have had a four-star wicked amazing catch off of Hideki Matsui, but that dunce fan out past the rightfield wall decided he'd reach over the wall and interfere with the play. Do these people not see these kind of clips on television?! Do they not understand? Public shame, I say. I hope everyone that guy works with watched the game on television last night, and I hope he goes to work on a Casual Friday and just gets laid into by all of his coworkers. I hope all his coworkers get him to go to a big dinner tomorrow night and everyone leaves and sticks him with the bill. Come on.

Ian Snell
I don't know, but it seems like it's been way more than three starts as a Mariner for Snell. One thing's for sure, his control leaves something to be desired. He's walked 12 hitters in 13 1/3 innings, which obviously is nearly a walk per inning. That doesn't balance favorably with nine walks. I and many other people like 2-to-1 as a nice strikeout-to-walk ratio, but this Snell has a 0.75 ratio in that realm. Know what the sad part is? He gave up eight runs in this game, but it was a step up from his last start. The game he had five days ago was so bad that there was nowhere to go but up! If this team were in the playoff hunt, I really wonder if Snell would have thrown after the third inning. The Mariners were down 5-0 after three. After four innings, the Mariners were down 6-0, and they were down 6-1 after Josh Wilson's homer in the fifth. Honestly, with how horribly overworked the bullpen's been, if he'd have thrown seven innings and given up the six runs, I would have been all right with it. But then he set the table for Olson to scarf it down in the seventh. Also, I've never been a fan of Derek Jeter and quite honestly dislike him, but that pitch he crushed off Snell that went to the back of the Mariner bullpen to the far right end of the scoreboard...wow, what a shot that was.

Hopefully some Australianism can give the Mariners a chance to still take three of four from the series. Okay, they won't do that even with a win tomorrow.

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This game certainly took long enough to end. It was moving along just fine when Mark Buehrle and Felix Hernandez holding down the hitters. Then both of them were out of the game, yet no runs had been scored. Some time passed, then eventually the Mariners got some hitters aboard in the 14th inning and Don Wakamatsu still had Ken Griffey Jr. waiting on the bench. Maybe the only kinda bad news of the night was Jack Wilson suffering a hamstring injury after Hernandez made a weird throw to second on what should have been a double-play ball. Also, the Mariners are now a crazy 13-3 in rubber games of series. It's a good thing the Mariners won this game, because Thursday's game of CC Sabathia against Ian Snell looks like as sure of a loss as you can get.

The Mariners' sixth win in nine games and seventh win in 11 games ran their record to 60-54 after 114 games. This pace is four wins worse than the 2007 pace, but four better than 2006, 11 better than 2005, 16 better than last year, and 17 worse than 2004. Sixty wins is also seven worse than 2000, nine worse than 2003, 10 worse than 2002, and 23 worse than 2001. Records of other new-millennium Mariner teams at win number 60: 60-43 in 2000, 60-21 in 2001, 60-36 in 2002, 60-39 in 2003, 60-95 in 2004, 60-79 in 2005, 60-69 in 2006, 60-47 in 2007, and 60-101 last year.

Seattle hitting went a combined 9-for-48 on the night, walking four times and striking out eight times. Adrian Beltre turned in the only multi-hit game, going 3-for-6. Ichiro and Russell Branyan doubled for the Mariners' only extra-base hit. Hitless full-game Mariner starters included the 0-for-5 Franklin Gutierrez, the 0-for-6 Mike Sweeney, and the 0-for-4 Ryan Langerhans (giving Michael Saunders the night off). Ichiro doubled and walked on his 1-for-5 night, giving him 168 hits on the season, and putting him on pace for 244 hits. The Mariners' leadoff hitter is 27 hits away from 2000 Major League hits and 32 away from his record-setting ninth straight 200-hit season.

It was a sparkling night for both teams' pitching. The Mariners' starter will be covered below. Sean White threw the eighth and ninth innings. The only hit he gave up was a one-out Alexei Ramirez infield single in the ninth where Beltre tried to charge and throw, but instead threw wide and the ball bounced into the crowd, landing Ramirez on second. In any case, White had seven balls hit into play, and six resulted in outs. White threw 19 strikes out of 27 pitches and got four groundouts to two flyouts. He faced seven hitters to get six outs. Mark Lowe threw the 10th inning, but it was dicey. Scott Podsednik nubbed an infield hit toward shot to lead off. One out later, new Chicagoite Alex Rios singled to put runners on the corners. On the second pitch to Jim Thome, Rob Johnson snap threw to third base and picked off Podsednik. Lowe walked Thome, but got a flyout from Carlos Quentin to end the inning. It was Lowe's shakiest outing in a while. He gave up two hits and one walk, striking out one in his inning of work. He threw 12 strikes out of 19 pitches and faced five hitters to get three outs. Shawn Kelley threw the 11th and 12th innings and got everybody out, except that Johnson couldn't handle the third strike on AJ Pierzynski to start the 11th. Kelley struck out two in his two innings of work. He threw 16 strikes on 21 pitches and got three groundouts to two flyouts. He faced seven hitters to get six outs. Chris Jakubauskas threw the 13th and 14th innings and did pretty well until he gave up a one-out single to Mark Kotsay followed by a Jayson Nix walk. He struck out the final two hitters of that inning. Jakubauskas, the Lithuanian Laser, gave up a walk and a hit in his two innings of work, throwing 32 strikes out of 43 pitches, getting three groundouts, and facing eight hitters to get six outs.

1) Ken Griffey Jr.
This is definitely a pick that's due to his awesomeness-per-time ratio. To me, it's kind of a lighter version of the last really good game he had. Whereas that game served almost as a reminder by Griffey that he wasn't going to be completely worthless for the rest of the year, this game had one of those instances where Mike Sweeney started at designated hitter, and Don Wakamatsu again had Griffey as his ace in the hole in case something happened in the late innings. Where Rob Johnson had the rotten luck in the 12th of lining out to first and having Jack Hannahan doubled off the bag, Griffey was sent to the plate in the 14th with runners on first and second with one out. What did Griffey do? He got a pitch he could handle and lined it a few feet fair deep toward the rightfield corner. In came Beltre as the only run of the game. Jubilance was had and celebration ensued. All this for a guy hitting .226 on the season. Still, Griffey is the Mariner emeritus and the elder statesmen, and the bulk of the Mariners' fan base is treating him wonderfully.

2) Adrian Beltre
Needless to say, I didn't put him here because of the one error. I put him here because of the one crazy defensive play where he called off Rob Johnson on a Scott Podsednik bunt, then did the barehand charge-and-throw off balance to first base that we've seen millions of times by now. Somehow, it never does get old. The Mariners' third baseman went 3-for-6 on the night with three singles, and he scored the only run of the night. He singled with one out in the second inning before being picked off of first (okay, maybe Felix should be the number-two gameball). He singled with one out in the fifth, but stayed right there as the final two outs were made right behind him in the lineup. Finally, his third and final hit was the single into centerfield with one out in the 14th inning. Beltre still hasn't hit a home run since June 16th, but that doesn't mean he isn't hitting .390 in nine games since coming back off the disabled list. The average is there, the defense has been showing, but the power stroke isn't quite back yet.

3) Felix Hernandez
At first, I was a bit iffy on Felix. Yet again. He let the walk-o-meter creep up too high again, this time walking four hitters. I'd definitely much rather have that number be a zero, one, or two. Instead, the whole of the start was very good, and at the very end you look at his boxscore and realize, my goodness, he struck out 10 htiters. Four walks is a lot easer to stomach when there are 10 strikeouts involved. Best of all was that Felix weathered the four walks to still last through seven innings. The bullpen really needed the rest, and that was true even more this game went extra innings. Hernandez gave up six hits and four walks in his seven shutout innings, striking out 10 hitters. He threw 67 strikes out of 105 pitches, got eight groundouts to two flyouts (very vintage Felix), and faved 29 hitters to get 21 outs. In short, there were a lot of "thinking of you" cards and fragrant bouquets being delivered in the White Sox' dugout. "Dear Dennis. I'm sorry I struck you out. I'm sure your family loves you."

Mike Sweeney
Nothing will sink your numbers like an 0-for-6 night, and by golly, it was Sweeney's turn to have that night. He's now hitting .232 while Griffey is now hitting .226. The quick drop for Sweeney is, of course, linked to his rare playing time. Well, that and the fact that his back is creaky and every time I watch him swing it makes me uncomfortable and may actually make my back hurt, I'm not entirely sure. It's a shame, too, since he seemed to have decent career numbers against Buehrle. Too bad Sweeney wasn't able to get those percentages to roll around in his favor on this night. Griffey's getting all these late-inning heroic moments, but I wonder if Sweeney will get put out there for any similar situations. It's Sweeney's last year too, he's got to get some love on the farewell tour. He needs some chances for some late at-bats where maybe he can come through in the clutch. Or maybe he's not getting such chances because it's a clandestine attempt to keep the team from giving him the slugbugs and stuff after a win, since maybe it'd affect his back.

As mentioned, good thing this was a win, since Ian Snell's a guaranteed L against CC Sabathia and the Yankees. Over/under Yankee runs at eight, maybe?

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Well, this one was over in a flash. How many 1-0 wins can you realistically expect a team to get over the course of a season? Anyway, with one swing of the bat, Alexei Ramirez made David Aardsma's save opportunity blow up in his face, and he made Doug Fister's first Major League win go kaput. Of course, John Danks' masterful eight innings of work shouldn't get overshadowed in all of this. It's pretty simple, though. Aardsma gets three outs, the Mariners win. He didn't, so they didn't.

The loss dropped the Mariners' record to 59-54 after 113 games. This pace is four wins worse than the 2007 pace, but three better than 2006, 10 better than 2005, 15 better than last year, and 16 better than 2004. Fifty-nine wins is also eight worse than 2000, 10 worse than 2002 and 2003, and 23 worse than 2001. Other new-millennium Mariner teams' records at loss number 54: 69-54 in 2000, 116-46 in 2001, 78-54 in 2002, 76-54 in 2003, 32-54 in 2004, 42-54 in 2005, 52-54 in 2006, 73-54 in 2007, and 35-54 last year.

Seattle hitting went a combined 8-for-32 on the night, walking once and striking out eight times. The team also went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and they stranded five runners. Franklin Gutierrez and Adrian Beltre had the only extra-base hits, both doubles. Beltre and Russell Branyan had two hits apiece as the only multi-hit Mariners. Ichiro went 1-for-4 and now has 167 hits on the season, putting him on pace for a 245-hit season. He is 27 hits away from his 2000th Major League hit and 32 away from his ninth straight 200-hit season.

Mariner pitching, well...the starting pitcher will be addressed below, as will the closer. Miguel Batista was murder again, slaying the seventh inning. He allowed a leadoff walk, but got a double play ball to erase it. He then walked the next two hitters before getting pulled. That's right -- three walks. Batista threw six strikes out of 19 pitches in his 2/3 of an inning of work. Mark Lowe came in to pick up the scraps, getting a fly ball to end that inning. In the eighth, Lowe was burned by a Gordon Beckham infield single before getting a double-play ball to erase him, then getting a nice strikeout from Thome to end the inning. Lowe gave up the one hit in his 1 1/3 innings of work, throwing seven strikes out of 10 pitches. After Aardsma was unceremoniously removed from the game in the ninth, Shawn Kelley came on to get Chicago's 27th out. Though Podsednik stole second base on the second pitch, Beckham lined out to Ichiro to end the inning. Kelley threw two strikes out of three pitches, facing one hitter to get one out. Imagine that.

1) Russell Branyan
The Mariner first baseman didn't homer on this night, but he did hit a two-out single in the fourth to drive in the Mariners' only run of the game. He also got a base hit to lead off the seventh inning, but was absolute meat trying to stretch it into a double. Seriously, the play wasn't even close. However, with Jack Wilson and Kenji Johjima coming up behind him, I wasn't really wallowing in a sea of regret wondering whether Branyan would have been driven in by Wilson or Johjima. It's not like the Mariners have a righthanded bat to come off the bench. Where's Greg Colbrunn when you need him? Finally, Branyan got too under a fly ball to end the game when he could have tied it with a home run. Still, there's only so much mojo in Branyan's bat, much as there's only so much mojo in David Aardsma's arm. After hitting an awful .159 in July, Branyan has come rip-roarin' back with a .209 August. Okay, that's crap, but he's got 13 RBIs in only 10 games this month after driving in 15 runs for all of July. Branyan has 68 RBIs on the season, and his total would be higher on any team that had a semblance of an offense.

2) Adrian Beltre
The Mariners' third baseman bounced a ball over the wall in rightcenter in the fourth and scored the Mariners' only run of the game on Branyan's single. His other hit was a two-out single in the ninth that brought Branyan to the plate as the tying run. Unfortunately, things didn't really pan out. Nonetheless, Beltre went 2-for-4 on the night and that bone chip removal surgery on his left shoulder must be working wonders -- he's gone 13-for-35 (.371) since coming back off the disabled list. Of course, the drawback is that his only extra-base hits have been doubles. No home runs for Beltre yet. For the record, Beltre's last home run came on June 16th in San Diego. Beltre is now hitting .271 on the season. It's hardly sparkling, but consider that Beltre was hitting .232 at the end of May. Though Chris Woodward was the odd man out when Beltre came back onto the roster, but it's not like Jack Hannahan's getting any playing time. Unfortunately for Woodward, he's not drawing the Major League salary like Hannahan is. Ouch.

3) Doug Fister
Well, normally there are some guys on offense that perform well enough to the point where I can bump the starting pitcher out of the gameball entries if he walks four hitters. This was not that game. Still, Fister had a very not-bad first Major League start. If there's one thing that can negate the fact that he walked four hitters, it's that he only gave up one hit, and that was on a Jim Thome infield single in the first. Maybe that's the sad thing and yet a paradox about this game -- the White Sox found Fister unhittable, while they found Aardsma very hittable. Usually, you would envision the likely scenario being the exact opposite. Fister had runners on the corners with two outs in the first, which was a sort-of jam. He allowed a leadoff walk and hit a batter in the third, but that threat was thwarted. He walked Chris Getz again with one one in the fifth, but got a double-play ball to erase him. It's too bad for Fister. The newest Mariner threw six shutout innings of one-hit ball, walking four and striking out four. He threw 56 strikes out of 94 pitches, got nine groundouts to five flyouts, and faced 23 hitters to get 18 outs.

David Aardsma
Unfortunately, he can't be awesome all the time. Unfortunately for Mariner fans, the three big times he hasn't been awesome have cost the Mariners three wins. Again, it was very odd on this night that the Chicago White Sox couldn't hit Doug Fister at all, but where hitting Aardsma pretty hard. What's the anatomy of an Aardsma blown save? It started with a one-out walk to AJ Pierzynski. It continued with a hard-hit single through the left side by Carlos Quentin to move Pierzynski to second. DeWayne Wise came in to run for Pierzynski, but they wouldn't end up needing his speed. Aardsma then tried to blow a high inner-half fastball past Alexei Ramirez, who somehow got around on it and put it into the back of the visitors' bullpen, making it 3-1 for Chicago. Chris Getz popped a weak liner to Beltre in foul ground, then Aardsma allowed a single to Scott Podsednik before Don Wakamatsu came with the hook. Aardsma gave up three runs on three hits in 2/3 of an inning. He walked one and struck out none, and threw 17 strikes out of 28 pitches, facing six hitters to get two outs.

So...are we going to see Awesome Felix tonight, or are we going to see No-Control Felix who walks five hitters and goes six innings?

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009


This was quite the topsy-turvy game indeed, what with the lead changes. The entire day was kind of weird, seeing as to how the sun never came out today and Puget Sound saw its first true rain in weeks. Thus, the roof was closed (or extended, per official ballpark speak) for the first time in a while. What happened? Both starting pitchers cruised until both starting pitchers kind of hit the wall. Gavin Floyd gave up a couple of hits while Luke French continued the walk party of the Mariners' starting pitchers of late, instead rebranding it as a Skywalk party (in fact, through the last turn in the rotation, the starting pitchers have averaged nearly a walk per inning). Other than that, the game provided me with a couple of nice moments where I say, "get the f#*$ out!" to my television screen. Beautiful moments, those.

The Mariners' fifth win in seven games and sixth in nine games ran their record to 59-53 after 112 games. This pace is four wins worse than the 2007 mark after 112 games, but four better than 2006, 10 better than 2005, 16 better than last year, and 17 better than 2004. Fifty-nine wins is also seven worse than 2000, 10 worse than 2002 and 2003, and 22 worse than 2001. Other new-millennium Mariner teams' records when getting win number 59: 59-43 in 2000, 59-21 in 2001, 59-36 in 2002 and 2003, 59-94 in 2004, 59-78 in 2005, 59-69 in 2006, 59-47 in 2007, and 59-101 last year.

Seattle hitting went 9-for-31 in the game, walking three times and striking out seven times. They also went 3-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded four runners in all. Multi-hit games were turned in by Ken Griffey Jr. and Adrian Beltre, who had two hits apice. The only hitless Mariners were Jack Wilson and Michael Saunders, who still managed to draw a walk apiece, so their plate appearances weren't completely fruitless. Franklin Gutierrez also singled and walked, maintaining his .300 average and getting the on-base percentage up a tick. Ichiro, though victim of a questionable strikeout, singled in the game to make him 15-for-43 (.349) in the month of August. Since it's the world of Ichiro we're dealing with here, that's actually lower than his season average, which now rests at .362. Ichiro got two hits in each of the first six games of this month, by the way, but he's gone 3-for-13 in the three games since, so he's totally fallen off the face of the earth. Anyway, Ichiro's at 166 hits on the season, 29 short of 2000 Major League hits and 34 short of his ninth straight 200-hit season.

Mariner starting pitching will be covered below. As for the bullpen, they threw 3 2/3 innings of shutout ball, though Sean White had a 3-2 lead turn into a 4-3 deficit on his watch. White came into the sixth inning after Luke French had walked the bases loaded. While it would have been nice to get a double-play ball out of Carlos Quentin, White fell behind and had to throw a strike on a 3-1 pitch, which Quentin smacked for a double. French was out of the running for a win and was now on the hook for the loss. White got a strikeout and a groundout to end the inning. Ramon Castro led off the seventh with a single, but White got a double-play ball to erase him and allowed only a two-out Gordon Beckham single before the inning ended. White gave up no runs and three hits in 1 2/3 innings, walking none and striking out one. He threw 15 strikes out of 25 pitches, got three groundouts and a flyout, and faced seven hitters to get five outs. Mark Lowe is one of the entries below, so that leaves David Aardsma. Aardsma gave up a leadoff single to Alexei Ramirez before asserting dominance. Mark Kotsay lined out to Michael Saunders in left, then AJ Pierzynski grounded into a nicely-turned 4-6-3 double play to end it. Aardsma threw 14 strikes out of 20 pitches and faced three hitters to get three outs, though it wasn't really a 1-2-3 inning. All in all, it's 27 saves in 29 chances for Aardsma, but I don't remember a single DA reference or "case closed" from Dave Sims. Go figure.

1) Ken Griffey Jr.
I know this isn't the first time I've mentioned it here in this space, but here it goes again. This was another one of those nights where Griffey -- the elder statesman, the Mariner emeritus -- leaves you a little reminder that he's still got something left in the tank, no matter how close you may have gotten to giving up on him. He may not necessarily be doing it with the home run like he used to back in the day, but singles can do the job. After Gavin Floyd retired the first ten hitters he faced, Franklin Gutierrez walked and Jose Lopez doubled him over to third. Up to the plate stepped Griffey, and he singled up the middle to break a scoreless tie and make it 2-0 in the fourth. As for the other single, he led off the sixth inning with a single which would have been nice if it had led directly to a rally, but then Adrian Beltre snuffed that out immediately by grounding into an around-the-horn double play. Interestingly, the Mariners took that two-out situation and turned it into a three-run inning thanks to a couple of long balls. All told, Griffey somehow remains relevant and not completely useless despite his .223 batting average.

2) Mark Lowe
After the Mariners got the lead in the sixth, I felt pretty good about the Mariners' chances in the game. First off, Sean White would start the seventh inning with the bases clear, so that was a plus. Then it just came down to whoever would throw the eighth before Aardsma came out in the ninth. That someone was Lowe. The opposing hitters? Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin. The outcome? Thome was caught looking, Konerko went down swinging, and Quentin flew out to center. That, Mariner fans, is how you slice through the meat of the White Sox order. This outing took his ERA back down under 3.00, now at 2.98, the lowest it's been since April, when the sample sizes are so small it doesn't even matter. If you take the multiply-by-nine factor out of the ERA, Lowe gives up .331 runs per inning. Most of the time he's throwing an inning per outing, so you could say he gets nicked (runs) every third or fourth outing. That's deceiving, though, since it skews toward the two meltdowns he's had. A look at his game log says he gets nicked up closer to every seven or eight outings. Still, Lowe has looked unhittable at times this season, and this game was one of those times.

3) Kenji Johjima
When the front three of the Mariners' rotation consisted of Felix Hernandez, Jarrod Washburn, and Erik Bedard, Johjima ended up catching the scraps of the rotation, and you heard all the ballyhoos of catchers' ERA and everything like that. Of course Rob Johnson's catching ERA was going to be awesome if those three guys were all he caught. Thus, it seemed Johjima was a complete write-off of the team and we were just counting down the days left on his contract, even though it runs past this season. Put Bedard on the shelf and trade away Washburn, however, and it puts a bit of a question mark on the catching situation. Sure, Johnson's still catching Felix, though Felix hasn't been himself since the All-Star Game. Lo and behold, look who's played in back-to-back games? Johjima didn't dazzle anyone with an 0-for-4 day on Sunday and presiding over Ryan Rowland-Smith's four walks. Luke French also walked six guys with him behind the plate also, so that won't help. In the sixth inning, the game was tied at 4-4 thanks to Russell Branyan's cannon blast off the VisitLasVegas.com sign under the Hit It Here Cafe. Jack Wilson walked, and Johjima stepped to the plate. Johjima then jumped all over Tony Pena's third pitch, sending it into the back of the Chicago bullpen to make it 6-4. Johnson has one home run to show for all that playing time, while Johjima has four. Johjima has five doubles, four homers, and a .252 average in 151 at-bats while Johnson has 16 doubles, two triples, one homer, and a .231 average in 195 at-bats. Point is, I think Johjima's going to get some more time behind the plate from this point to the end of the season.

Luke French
Here's a short treatise on the Mariners' walk party. Felix Hernandez started off August by walking four hitters. Ian Snell then walked three in his first Mariner start. Ryan Rowland-Smith stemmed the tide a bit with a one-walk start. French then one-walked his way to his first Mariner victory in Kansas City. Then Jason Vargas walked three in his swan song before heading to Tacoma. Instead of righting the ship, Felix walked six. Snell crapped the bed and walked six of his own. The Aussie then walked four. Finally, French walked six in this game. In the last turn through the Mariners' rotation, the starting pitchers have walked 25 hitters, and the starting staff has walked 34 hitters this month. Despite this, the Mariners are 6-3 in August. As for French, he mostly cruised in this game, facing the minimum 13 hitters through 4 1/3 innings. He ran into some trouble in the fifth, giving up a one-out Quentin double and a two-out Jayson Nix walk before nine-hitting Castro doubled to the wall in rightcenter to tie it at 2-2. Then came the God-awful sixth that saw French walk the first two hitters, strike out Thome, then walk Konerko to load the bases, spelling the end for French. He gave up four runs on three hits in 5 1/3 innings, walking six (uuugggghh) and striking out five. He threw 50 strikes out of 90 pitches, got four groundouts to five flyouts, and faced 23 hitters to get 16 outs. It's a shame since he wasn't doing too bad until he lost the radar in the sixth.

Know what tonight is? It’ll be the Major League starting debut of Doug "Iron" Fister. His last name just begs for a nickname. Even the G-rated possibilities are nearly endless.

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Sunday, August 09, 2009


Though the Mariners have gotten a ton of one-run wins this season, much to the glee of David Aardsma and much to the detriment of our stress levels, it's nice to see the Mariners get a laugher in their favor every once in a while. Today was that day. Franklin Gutierrez homered to break a 2-2 tie and the barrage began. The piece de resistance came on the grand slam by Russell Branyan, which all but ended the game. The Mariners played some long ball, and it turns out the ol' Scott Kazmir ain't what he used to be. The Mariners, as per the Marines-sponsored stat during the game, came in with an 11-3 record in rubber games of series. Make it 12-3, I guess. Also, big thanks to Ryan Rowland-Smith for getting the deepest into a game of any Mariner starting pitcher without getting clobbered (so scratch the seven-inning, seven-earned-run start by Jason Vargas) since Felix Hernandez did so on the 1st of the month. The game also saw Russell Branyan being moved down to sixth on the lineup card, with Franklin Gutierrez being moved up to the second slot. It worked.

The Mariners have alternated wins and losses for the last five games, but this win ran their record to 58-53 after 111 games. This pace is four wins worse than the 2007 pace, but four better than 2006, 10 better than 2005, 16 better than last year, and 17 better than 2004. Fifty-eight wins is also seven worse than 2000, 10 worse than 2003, 11 worse than 2002, and 22 worse than 2001. Records of other new-millennium Mariner teams when getting their 58th win: 58-40 in 2000, 58-21 in 2001, 58-34 in 2002, 58-35 in 2003, 58-94 in 2004, 58-77 in 2005, 58-69 in 2006, 58-46 in 2007, and 58-99 last year.

Seattle hitting went a combined 14-for-35 on the afternoon, walking four times and striking out five times. The team also went 5-for-11 with runners in scoring position while stranding seven runners on base. Kenji Johjima and Michael Saunders, the eighth and ninth hitters in the lineup, went hitless. The first seven hitters in the Mariner lineup all had hits. Ichiro, Mike Sweeney, and Adrian Beltre had two hits apiece while Franklin Gutierrez and Jose Lopez had three hits apiece. Less than 24 hours after the 1-4 hitters in the Mariner lineup went 0-for-16 with two walks and four strikeouts, the 1-5 hitters in the Mariner lineup went 12-for-22 with one walk, one strikeout and five RBIs (and Russell Branyan hit sixth), and they scored nine of the Mariners' 11 runs on the day. Ichiro and Lopez doubled, while Gutierrez and Branyan homered.

Mariner pitching cut down on the walks compared to the night before, though there were still walks. Starting pitcher first -- less than 24 hours after Ian Snell lost his marbles in the first inning, Ryan Rowland-Smith walked Ben Zobrist to load the bases with one out in the first. Luck was on his side, however, as Pat Burrell smoked a pitch up the middle that Jose Lopez caught, and Lopez doubled off the runner at second to end the inning. Rowland-Smith gave up a leadoff single in the second, and one out later, Dioner Navarro homered to put the Rays into a 2-1 lead. He allowed a two-out walk before the inning ended. The Aussie allowed a one-out walk in a third inning that saw him strike out the side. He struck out the first two hitters in the fourth before BJ Upton lined out to end the inning. Rowland-Smith had a stretch from the second inning to the fourth where he struck out six of seven hitters. He threw a 1-2-3 fifth, then alloewd a one-out Burrell single in the sixth. Rowland-Smith then walked Willy Aybar to make it dicey before getting a double-play ball to end the inning. Rowland-Smith got two quick outs before allowing two straight singles to end his outing. Rowland-Smith gave up two runs on six hits in 6 2/3 innings, walking four and striking out six. He got four groundouts to nine flyouts, threw 70 strikes out of 109 pitches, and faced 29 hitters to get 20 outs.

The bullpen finished off the last 2 1/3 innings for the Mariners. Shawn Kelley came into the seventh inning with runners on the corners and two out. Two pitches later, Evan Longoria grounded out to end the inning. Kelley got two quick outs in the eighth before hitting Aybar with a pitch. With Gabe Gross at the plate, Aybar moved to second on an indifference play and found himself on third after Kelley balked. No matter, though, as Kelley caught Gross looking to end the eighth. Kelley gave up no runs or hits in his 1 1/3 innings, walking none and striking out two. He got a groundout and flyout and threw 13 out of 20 pitches for strikes. He faced five hitters to get four outs. Lastly, with the Mariners up 11-2 going into the ninth, the situation practically begged for Miguel Batista to be put into the game. Batista got the first two hitters out before Jason Bartlett singled. Gregg Zaun hit for the pitcher Russ Springer (Burrell the DH was moved into leftfield) and whiffed on an 0-2 pitch to end the game. Batista got two groundouts with the strikeout in his inning of work, giving up one hit. He threw eight out of nine pitches for strikes and faced four hitters to get three outs.

1) Franklin Gutierrez
This guy's been on a tear for nearly two months. The last athlete on a favorite team of mine that exceeded expectations this wildly was Alex Burrows of the Canucks, who came out of nowhere to nearly post a 30-goal season. The only time Gutierrez has been hitless in consecutive games since June 16th was partially aided by him running into the wall in Detroit on July 21st. He was hitless in that game and went hitless in his first game back after nursing the stiff neck. From June 16th to the present, Gutierrez has gone 62-for-177 (.350) with nine doubles, 11 home runs, and 31 RBIs. He's got a slugging percentage of .588 over this 45-game span, and the .350 clip at the plate has bumped his batting average from .249 all the way up to its current .300. What's astounding now isn't necessarily the fact that Gutierrez is hitting .300, it's the fact that he's been at .290 or better for the past month. In this game, his two-out smash with Ichiro aboard broke a 2-2 tie in the second inning, making it 4-2. The Mariners never looked back. Gutierrez also singled to lead off the fifth and sixth innings.

2) Jose Lopez
The Mariners' second baseman had a seven-game hitting streak snapped on Thursday in Kansas City. If you look at a Lopez game-by-game log for the season, he seems to get his hits four games or so at a time, then goes hitless before getting another few straight games of hits. Coming into this game, Lopez had sandwiched a 1-for-5 night with a couple of 0-for-4s. Sunday afternoon in the park proved to be a tonic for Lopez, who went 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI in this game. He got things rolling in the first inning, singling Ichiro in from second with one out. He followed up Gutierrez's leadoff single in the fifth with a double of his own to move Gutierrez to third. The Mariners had a 4-2 lead turn into a 7-2 lead when the inning was done. Finally, Lopez led off the eighth with a single, but by that point the Mariners were done scoring runs. From June 1st onward, Lopez has gone 70-for-219 (.320) with 19 doubles, 10 home runs, and 40 RBIs. In this 53-game span, Lopez has also slugged at a .543 clip. I'd have to say Lopez has a decent shot at a 90-RBI season and an outside shot at a 100-RBI season.

3) Mike Sweeney
I know they only bring him out against lefties and maybe if they had him out there more it might decrease his productivity. Still, based on on-field contributions alone, it's a whole lot easier trying to defend Sweeney having a spot on the roster than it is trying to defend Ken Griffey Jr. having a spot on the roster. Not that Griffey's hits don't have a flair for the dramatic or anything. Sweeney went 2-for-3 with a walk in this game. He singled to lead off the third inning, hit a sacrifice fly to drive in the run that made it 6-2, walked with one on and one out in the sixth, and singled to lead off the ninth. Sweeney's a .248 hitter on the season and hasn't been completely worthless. Maybe in the years to come, the Mariners can actually use the designated hitter spot like it's supposed to be used, i.e., rotating it around to different players to give them a day off from the field, and giving other players some reps on defense. Though this year is kind of an anomaly with the Griffey thing presenting itself, I still wonder why this organization is so married to trying to find an everyday DH and/or the next Edgar. It's not going to happen.

Kenji Johjima
On a day like this where the Mariners pushed 11 runs across the plate and the pitching wasn't too bad, it looks like I have to pick whoever the worst hitter was on the day, and on this day it happens to be the Mariner catcher. In his first action since August 4th, Johjima put the ball in play four times and was out every time. He flew out in each of his first three at-bats and grounded out in his fourth and final at-bat in the sixth. He flew out with one on and one out in the second, flew out to lead off the fourth, flew out with the bases loaded and two out in the fifth, and grounded out with the bases empty to end the seventh inning. To his credit, he nearly parachuted a single into leftfield, only to be completely robbed by Carl Crawford on a sliding catch. I'd say more about how Johjima is doing this season and what he might end up with at the end of the year, but he's just becoming less and less relevant on this team. However, it's a bit of a mystery to see what pitchers he will actually receive since Jarrod Washburn is no longer on the team and Erik Bedard is on the shelf.

We go from an Australian throwing on a Sunday afternoon to a French throwing on a Half-Price Family Night tomorrow.

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There wasn't going to be any late-inning magic in this game. The Mariners fell behind early, then tied it to get Ian Snell off the hook, but then the game turned into a drubbing. Tom Larscheid would call it a "clinker." In short, the game was a walk party. Ian Snell somehow managed to evade major damage in the first inning. The Mariners rallied back to tie it in the fourth, but Tampa Bay reasserted themselves in the fifth, and the game got out of hand in the eighth. This marks the fourth time in the last five games where the Mariners' starting pitcher has either been unsharp or just plain horrible. Lucas French was the exception out of those five starts, by the way. It's a good thing this team's not in a playoff hunt right now, or I'd be a bit ticked off about the fact that the entire rotation isn't really right. Doug Fister made his big-league debut in the game, taking Jason Vargas' spot in the rotation. Fister will start Tuesday's game against the White Sox. This leaves the Mariners with a rotation of Felix Hernandez, Ian Snell, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Lucas French, and Fister. Three righties and two lefties.

The laugher of a loss dropped the Mariners' record to 57-53 after 110 games. This pace is four games worse than 2007, but four better than 2006, 10 better than 2005, and 16 worse than 2004 and last year. Fifty-seven wins is also seven wins worse than 2000, 10 worse than 2003, 11 worse than 2002, and 23 worse than 2001. Other new-millennium Mariner records when getting loss number 53: 69-53 in 2000, 116-46 in 2001, 77-53 in 2002, 76-53 in 2003, 32-53 in 2004, 41-53 in 2005, 49-53 in 2006, 71-53 in 2007, and 35-53 last year.

Seattle hitting went a combined 8-for-35 on the night, walking three times and striking out nine times. The team also went 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven runners in all. Adrian Beltre, Franklin Gutierrez, and Michael Saunders all doubled, and Gutierrez also homered to round out the Mariners' extra-base hit output. So the good news is that half of the Mariners' hits went for extra bases. The bad news isn't only that they managed just eight hits in the game, but also that the first four hitters in the Mariner lineup combined to go 0-for-16 with two walks and five strikeouts. Ichiro and Russell Branyan both have the number four next to their name under the LOB column in the boxscore, though more specifically, Ichiro stranded a runner in scoring position with two out while Branyan stranded three under the same criteria. As for the daily Ichiro update, his zero-hit night stalled him at 163 hits on the season, and he's still on pace for 246 hits. He is still 32 hits away from 2000 Major League hits and 37 hits away from his ninth straight 200-hit season.

It was a brutal night for Mariner pitching, though that was mostly due to the starting pitcher, who will be dealt with below. Chris Jakubauskas came into the game with the bases loaded and one out in the second inning with the score 3-0 for Tampa Bay. Two pitches later, he got a double-play ball to end the inning. Jakubauskas retired the next six hitters he faced before Evan Longoria broke a 3-3 tie with a homer to lead off the fifth. Then he walked Ben Zobrist on four pitches, balked Zobrist to second with an iffy pickoff move, and served up a pitch on which Carlos Pena absolutely unloaded, making it 6-3 for the Rays. The Lithuanian Laser then set down the final six hitters he faced. Jakubauskas gave up three runs on two hits in 4 2/3 innings, walking one and striking out three. He got seven groundouts to four flyouts, threw 39 strikes out of 58 pitches, and faced 16 hitters to get 14 outs. Garrett Olson continued his freefall since the All-Star break, though it was a bit of a delayed reaction. He threw a 1-2-3 seventh, but walked the first two hitters in the eighth, both of which came around to score thanks to Sean White's doings. Olson gave up two runs on two walks in one-plus inning of work, striking out one. He threw 13 strikes out of 29 pitches and faced five hitters to get three outs. Sean White gave up three straight singles and a sacrifice fly, which loaded the bases then put four runs across the plate to account for the final 10-4 margin. White gave up two runs on three hits in one inning, throwing seven strikes on 12 pitches. He faced five hitters to get three outs. Doug Fister landed in the gameball section.

1) Franklin Gutierrez
Even on Friday night, when he struck out four times, he still drew the walk and was the tying run on base when Ryan Langerhans defied all odds to end the 11-inning game with a home run. The Mariners' centerfielder was back to his awesome self one night later, going 3-for-4 in the game with two RBIs with only one strikeout this time. With the Mariners down 3-0 in the second, Beltre doubled with one out, then Gutierrez followed it up with a laser-beam home run into the back of the visitors' bullpen in leftcenter to cut the Rays' lead to 3-2. The home run was his first since July 18th and only his third extra-base hit since that last homer. On July 18th, his slugging percentage was .461, but it sunk down to .436 coming into this game. With a couple more 1-for-3s or 2-for-4s in the next few games, Gutierrez will get back over .300. Gutierrez also singled to lead off the fourth and doubled into rightcenter to lead off the sixth. Notice how he led off two innings with hits since Beltre wasn't getting it done in front of him (though Beltre double before the homer).

2) Michael Saunders
The Mariners are obviously forgoing more playing time for Ryan Langerhans so that they can groom Saunders to be the leftfielder long term. Saunders has now hit safely in four of the last five games, going 9-for-19 (.474) with a double and a triple (slugging .632), driving in two runs. Probably the only uncomfortable play of the game that involved Saunders was the parachute hit that landed between him, Gutierrez, and Jack Wilson in shallow leftcenter. Saunders was just short of it on the sliding attempt. I'm still getting used to not having some sort of righthanded-hitting backup leftfielder, just like I'm still getting used to the absence of Chris Woodward as a righthanded-hitting backup non-first baseman. Most of the ways you slice it, Saunders is doing quite well for himself after just two weeks at the big-league level. The only thing that seems to missing from his big-league resume is a home run, but I think it'll only be a matter of time. Ladies and gentlemen, Michael freakin' Saunders. You betcha.

3) Doug Fister
The Mariners sent Jason Vargas down to Tacoma to bring up this guy, a rightie. He got his feet wet tonight, waded around a bit in the shallow end of the pool and stuff. He got two quick outs before yielding his first Major League hit, a single by Pat Burrell. With Gabe Gross at the plate, Fister then threw his first Major League wild pitch to move Burrell to second. Four pitches later, Fister issued his first Major League walk, with Gross being the recipient. Up to the plate came Gregg Zaun, who looked at strike one, fouled off a pitch for strike two, and whiffed at the third pitch of the at-bat for strike three, giving Fister his first Major League strikeout. Fister, whose name is totally not Foster, gave up a hit and a walk in his one inning of work, striking out one. He threw 11 strikes out of 19 pitches and faced five hitters to get three outs. Fister threw out of the bullpen in this game, but is slated to start against the White Sox on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Vargas will be in Tacoma trying to figure out what the hell happened to his season. And Olson will be doing the same, except at the Major League level, for whatever reason.

Ian Snell
I think I can speak for all Mariner fans when I say that this had better be rock bottom for Snell as a Mariner. Really, can it get worse than this? If he outdoes this in his next start by not getting out of the first inning, I'll be extremely disappointed. What's the anatomy of a horrible Snell start? He walked the first hitter of the game on four pitches. He somehow got a flyout from Carl Crawford. As for the next four hitters, there was a walk and a single, followed by two more walks. Two runs crossed the plate, but somehow Snell got Willy Aybar to strike out and got a tapper back to the mound to end the inning. As bad as Snell was, I will mention that plate umpire Tim Tschida was absolutely not giving the low strike, and Snell paid dearly. As for the second inning, Jason Bartlett walked on a 3-1 pitch to lead off, Crawford doubled on a 3-1 pitch, then Evan Longoria's grounder scored Bartlett from third to make it 3-0. Ben Zobrist then walked on a full count to load the bases with one out and chase Snell. Mercy killing.

Will an infusion of Australianism in the form of Ryan Rowland-Smith give the Mariners the series win? Will the Mariners rock the Kazmir? Day baseball at the Safe, indeed.

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