Saturday, October 03, 2009


Should I be glad I didn't see this game? I guess I have to admit I saw the last few outs of the game on replay. At that point, though, it appears I was only 10 minutes late if I wanted to watch the game get away from the Mariners. In short, the Mariners fell behind 3-0, erased that deficit and jumped into a 4-3 lead, then frittered away that lead and more over the eighth and ninth innings. Since Ian Snell didn't light the world on fire with his start, Ken Griffey Jr. didn't smack another home run, and Ichiro didn't get any hits, it appears the one positive storyline of this game is that it was the best one in Mike Carp's young Major League career. Not that we were expecting the Mariners to pull it off, but they had to sweep this series for a share of second place in the division. This loss guaranteed a third-place finish for the Mariners. Considering a 101-loss season just a year ago, I think any Mariner fan would have taken a third-place finish without even knowing what the record might be. The fact that it's 83 wins so far is just a bonus.

The loss dropped the Mariners' record to 83-77 after 160 games. This pace is three games worse than the 2007 team, but it's also seven better than the 2006 team, 14 better than the 2005 team, 20 better than the 2004 team, and 24 better than last year. Records of other new-millennium Mariner teams when losing their 77th: 91-71 in 2000, 116-464 in 2001, 93-69 in 2002 and 2003, 46-77 in 2004, 57-77 in 2005, 69-77 in 2006, 88-74 in 2007, and 46-77 last year.

Seattle hitting went 9-for-35 on the night, walking once and striking out 10 times (this despite Bill Hall not being in the lineup). The team went 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded five runners in all. Jose Lopez and Adrian Beltre had two hits apiece while Mike Carp had three hits for the Mariners' multi-hit hitters. Franklin Gutierrez, Josh Wilson, and Beltre doubled for the Mariners' extra-base hit output. Ichiro went hitless, so that couldn't have been very exciting. Griffey didn't pop another three-run homer or even get a hit, so that couldn't have been very exciting either. Actually, if you take those multi-hit Mariners and add up their total, that leaves exactly two hits for the other six hitters in the lineup, and those two other hits are the doubles I already mentioned. As for the litany of strikeouts, every starter that wasn't Carp struck out at least once. Ranger pitchers Brandon McCarthy, Dustin Nippert, CJ Wilson, and Frank Francisco combined for the 10 strikeouts.

It was a sketchy night for the Mariner arms. Ian Snell had a start that was pretty much what you'd expect out of him, at least given his Mariner tenure. He walked people, as usual, and didn't get overly deep into the game, but didn't get tattooed. His first jam was in the second inning. He walked Andruw Jones with one out, then Taylor Teagarden ground-rule doubled to put both runners into scoring position. An Omar Vizquel groundout put the Rangers on the board, and Julio Borbon singled to make it 2-0 before Snell managed to get out of the inning. Snell was touched up again in the third. David Murphy walked to lead off, then Marlon Byrd singled to move Murphy to second. Ian Kinsler bunted the runners over before strikeout artist Chris Davis singled to push Murphy across and move Byrd to third to make it 3-0. Snell got Jones to bounce into a double play to end the inning. Snell pretty much cruised through his final three innings of work. Snell gave up three runs on nine hits, walking three and striking out three in six innings of work. He got six groundouts and nine flyouts, threw 61 strikes out of 100 pitches, and faced 29 hitters to get 18 outs.

Don Wakamatsu decided to empty out the bullpen in this one. Miguel Batista was the first man out of the pen, and he started the seventh. He got a Muprhy groundout, gave up a Byrd single, and got a lineout from Kinsler. Batista threw six strikes out of eight pitches. Garrett Olson then wild-pitched Byrd to second before getting Davis to ground out for the final out of the inning. Olson threw four strikes out of seven pitches. Mark Lowe started the eighth inning. Jones greeted him with a ringing double before Lowe struck out Teagarden. Lowe then walked pinch-hitter Elvis Andrus, but then got Borbon to line out. Unfortunately, the lineup turned over, and Michael Young singled home pinch-runner Esteban German to tie the game at 4-4 and chase Lowe. Lowe gave up a run on two hits, walking one and striking out one in 2/3 inning. He threw 13 strikes out of 21 pitches and faced five hitters to get two outs. Jason Vargas got the final otu of the inning without incident on three pitches. David Aardsma will be covered below. Randy Messenger was greeted with an Andrus double that scored the Rangers' final two runs and set fire to David Aardsma's ERA. Messenger gave up no runs on a hit in 1/3 inning, got a flyout, and threw four strikes out of six pitches.

1) Mike Carp
The Friday night crowd of 27899 was a lot better than what the Mariners were drawing for the Oakland series, so quite a few more people got to witness Mike Carp's best game as a big leaguer. He hit a two-out single in the second to start off the night, hit a two-run single with one out in the fourth to tie the game at 3-3, then legged out an infield single to lead off the six inning before being lifted for Mike Sweeney in the eighth, who promptly struck out looking with Beltre on third base. Carp has three two-hit games as a big leaguer -- June 21st against Arizona, September 3rd at Oakland, and September 15th against the White Sox. His only big-league home run came on September 16th against the White Sox. With seven walks and nine strikeouts, Carp is the anti-Bill Hall. The thing about all this is that the Mariners have all these guys like Carp, Saunders, and Matt Tuiasosopo, and other guys like Jack Hannahan and Bill Hall, and I really have no idea where they're going to fit in because thanks to the nature of Jack Zduriencik, we really don't know how this roster's going to look by the time spring training rolls around.

2) Adrian Beltre
There's no way Beltre was going to homer in consecutive games, but he turned in another 2-for-4 night. Don't look now, but Beltre has had four straight 2-for-4 games, making it an 8-for-16 tear with two doubles and a home run (.813 slugging percentage). I hope Beltre's biggest fan, Red, has been enjoying this, because Beltre's so freakin' gone after this season. I'll really miss his defense, and I just wish it could have worked out better for him here. Of course, I wish the Mariner teams around him could have been better too. Of the five years Beltre has been here in Seattle, three of the teams have been pretty crappy. Still, you could say the same kind of thing for Raul Ibanez and Ichiro, to a lesser extent. You'd have to raise the criteria to "playoff appearances" when you talk about Ichiro, though, and realize the guy hasn't been to the playoffs since his first year on American shores, which is beyond sad. What the hell happened to this team? I can't help but think at least one or two of the Mariners' teams from 1995 to 2003 should have gone to the World Series.

3) Jose Lopez
The Mariners' second baseman went 2-for-4 in the game with an RBI, his 94th of the season. I'd been holding out hope that Lopez might get to 100 RBI, seeing as to how it's probably the best individual single-season milestone left for anyone on this Mariner club. Lopez was sitting at 92 RBIs after the end of the Tampa Bay series on September 23rd. He then went six games without driving in a run, pretty much torpedoing his campaign for the century mark. That said, though, I'd decided quite a while ago that I'd be more than happy if Lopez turned in a 95-RBI season, and he just needs to accidentally drive in a single run over the final two games to accomplish that feat. That six-game RBI drought sunk his 100-RBI thing, but it made Franklin Gutierrez' pursuit if 20 home runs a bit more likely, though that appears to be shelved now unless Gutierrez pops homers in consecutive games to end his fabulous season. Lopez whiffed to end the first inning, legged out an infield single with Gutierrez on second in the fourth, singled Josh Wilson home from third in the fifth to give the Mariners a 4-3 lead, then popped out to lead off the eighth.

David Aardsma
He lit the match and got a flame going before Randy Messenger threw a giant bottle of lighter fluid onto the fire. Aardsma fell into the trap that for some reason exists with closers. You would think someone with the mentality of a closer could preserve a tie, but there are times where it goes awry. We used to see the same thing with Kazuhiro Sasaki. The sad thing about all this is that Aardsma got the first two hitters out. Then came singles by Davis, German, and Teagarden, and the Rangers had themselves a 5-4 lead. Wakamatsu came out with the hook. Thanks to Messenger letting both of his runners come across, Aardsma's line looks terrible. He's in the books as having given up three runs on three hits in 2/3 inning, walking and striking out none. He got a groundout and a flyout, faced five hitters to get two out, and threw 11 strikes out of 17 pitches. It's not a blown save (Lowe blew his 10th in the eighth inning), but it does drop his record to 3-6 on the season. Part of me was hoping Aardsma would get to 40 saves because this will probably be the best season of his life, but the team let off the gas a bit after mid-July.

The Aussie gets one final kick at the can for the year tonight, one hour earlier.

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Friday, October 02, 2009


I caught most of this on the replay broadcast due to Canucks/Flames opening night. The Iron Fister turned in a great start, as since the Mariners got their third straight great start, it means a three-game winning streak for the Mariners. The Mariners could run the table and finish with 86 wins, but for now, they have 83 wins, which is still a 21-game improvement over last season, which is monumental. Also, the ballgame was over before the hockey game was over, so it was a nice quick game and quick pace by Fister. It also helped that all of the pitchers in the game only combined to walk two hitters. That's pretty rare. Pinpoint control by everyone involved. Rare happenings in this game included an Adrian Beltre home run and the first big-league stolen base for Adam Moore. Honestly, I thought Moore was very out on his stolen-base attempt, and you could see the look of surprise on the Oakland middle infielders' faces when he was called safe. All told, it's always good when the Mariners can sweep Oakland because they're still Oakland, no matter how bad they are.

The Mariners' third straight win upped their record to 83-76 after 159 games. This pace is two games worse than the 2007 pace, but seven better than 2006, 15 better than 2005, 21 better than 2004, and 25 better than last year. Eighty-three wins is also six worse than 2000, seven worse than 2003, nine worse than 2002, and 31 worse than 2001. Other new-millennium Mariner teams' records at win number 83: 83-66 in 2000, 83-31 in 2001, 83-58 in 2002, 83-62 in 2003, 63-99 in 2004, 69-93 in 2005, 78-84 in 2006, 83-71 in 2007, and 61-101 last year.

Seattle hitting went 8-for-31 on the night, walking once and striking out seven times. They also went 2-for-5 with runners in scoring position and stranded four runners in all. Ichiro and Adrian Beltre got two hits apiece as the only multi-hit Mariners. Franklin Gutierrez doubled and Beltre homered for the Mariners' only extra-base hits. Bill Hall, Adam Moore, and Josh Wilson struck out twice apiece.

Mariner pitching again had a pretty good night. The starting pitcher will be covered below. Mark Lowe came in for the eighth inning and allowed only a two-out single to Rajai Davis, a ball that barely eluded Josh Wilson at short. Lowe allowed one hit and struck out one in his shutout inning of work, getting two flyouts along the way. He threw eight strikes out of 10 pitches and faced four hitters to get three outs. David Aardsma had another imperfect outing but still nailed down the save. Jack Cust greeted Aardsma by homering into the visitors' bullpen near the camera well in left, cutting the Mariners' lead to 4-2. From there, though, it was fairly smooth sailing. Daric Barton grounded out and Mark Ellis flew out. Aardsma fell behind 2-0 and 3-1 on Eric Patterson, but came back to make him swing at strike three. Aardsma gave up a run on one hit, walking none and striking out one. He threw 13 strikes out of 21 pitches and faced four hitters to get three outs.

1) Doug Fister
The Mariners have won three straight, and while part of it's probably a function of the Mariners facing a horrid team such as the Oakland Athletics, it's also because the Mariners have gotten three great starts in a row from their starting pitchers. The Iron Fister kept this going, cruising through seven innings. Hilariously, his only walk was the first hitter of the game, Adam Kennedy, who fouled off the first pitch and took the next four for balls. Davis was the next hitter, and he grounded into a double play to end the threat. In the second, Cust singled to lead off and went to third on a two-out Patterson single, but Fister got the final out without incident. Kurt Suzuki tripled to lead off the fourth and came home on Barton's one-out double to tie the score at 1-1. Fister retired the final seven hitters he faced. He gave up a run on five hits in seven innings, walking one and striking out four. He got seven groundouts and 10 flyouts, throwing 70 strikes out of 107 pitches, and facing 26 hitters to get 21 outs. I guess we have to ask ourselves how many people out of Fister, Jason Vargas, Garrett Olson, and Luke French we want to see as starters for the Mariners next season.

2) Adrian Beltre
Anyone watching this game more than likely saw Beltre's last home run as a Mariner. What a horrific season this has been for the guy. He missed over a month (July), then another three weeks for Testiclegate. He had a single and a home run in this game, but you know what kind of year it's been for Beltre if the homer was only his eighth of the season. I guess the scary thing could be who would replace Beltre at third base next year, but really anything is speculation until at least the end of the winter meetings, since Jack Zduriencik is Jack Zduriencik. To me, it seems there's no one suitable on the roster right now to be an everyday leftfielder or an everyday third baseman next year. Truth is, Beltre might be really cheap next year, but even if the Mariners wanted to bring him back, I don't think Beltre would want to come back. The one man that would be the most sore about this would be Beltre's biggest fan, Red. You know, the fan with the red hair, Beltre jersey, and the three-foot picture of Beltre's head on a stick? Surely you do.

3) Ichiro
Though he had two singles that probably weren't as eventful as Mike Sweeney's two-run single, it's still Ichiro, and it's still two hits. The two hits were Ichiro's 220th and 221st of the season. With three games remaining in the season, Ichiro is a .352 hitter with 221 hits on the season, this despite missing 16 games. Playing the hypothetical game, if you extrapolated Ichiro's .352 average over the 64 at-bats he won't get, he could have 23 more hits, which would put him at 244 hits right now. Even 221 hits is a better mark than Ichiro's hit totals in 2002, 2003, 2005, and last year. Four more hits this season out of Ichiro would have him eclipse his 2006 hit total as well. As you might guess, the extrapolated hit total (248) would be better than every season other than the crazy 262-hit record-breaking season. That's not a surprise, since Ichiro was on such a torrid pace at times this season. Still, with Ichiro and Franklin Gutierrez cemented in center and right, the Mariners have to have a bat with pop in leftfield.

Bill Hall
...and unless this guy hits .275 and shows 30-homer pop, I don't want Hall to be the guy in leftfield. What he he proven so far? He's an athlete who can play multiple positions, and the Mariners seem to be big fans of that. He has the potential for pop and can really hit the ball hard. What he's really good at, though, is striking out. He struck out 13 times in August and 32 times in September. Add two more in this game, and he's struck out 45 times as a Mariner. By comparison, he walked six times in August and 10 times in September. He's struck out 45 times in 117 at-bats, in other words, 38.5% of the time. It's one thing if he's Adam Dunn, Mark Reynolds, or even Mike Cameron. I guess I'll chalk it up to league adjustment, but if it's not that, I'm not sure I can put up with a full year of Bill Hall. Again, though, we don't even really know what kind of role Hall might play next year for at least a few months. I just need to see Hall hit at least .270 if he's going to strike out as much as he's done so far as a Mariner.

Can't you Snell that Snell?

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Thursday, October 01, 2009


The game was out of doubt pretty early on, but the big picture didn't change -- this win guaranteed a winning season for the Mariners. Yes, 2009 is a winning season, just one year after a completely unwatchable Mariner team lost 101 games. I expected maybe the mid-70s in the win column, maybe an incremental improvement on last year, but to have a winning season? Given what the Mariners have gone through since the end of the Pat Gillick era, I won't be scoffing at any winning seasons for a while. At least not until the expectations rise again and we're not content with just playoff appearances, but that's probably at least three years away. Also, in probably his final homestand, Ken Griffey Jr. hit a three-run homer for the second straight game, this one putting the Mariners on the board with a 3-0 lead in the first inning. The Mariners led 4-0 after the first inning and 6-0 after the second inning, and the game was pretty much in cruise control. I don't have the attendance numbers within reach, but just looking at the pre-game pan shots of the crowd, it was looking pretty sparse out there. Hopefully the weekend is different.

This win pushed the Mariners' record to 82-76 after 158 games. This is two wins worse than the 2007 team's pace at this point, but it's also six better than 2006, 15 better than 2005, 20 better than 2004, and 24 better than last year. Eighty-two wins is also seven worse than 2000, eight worse than 2003, 10 worse than 2002, and 31 worse than 2001. Other Mariner teams' records when winning their 82nd game: 82-66 in 2000, 82-31 in 2001, 82-58 in 2002, 82-59 in 2003, 63-99 in 2004, 69-93 in 2005, 78-84 in 2006, 82-71 in 2007, and 61-101 last year.

Seattle hitting went 12-for-36 on the night, walking once and striking out 10 times. They also went 5-for-13 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven runners in all. Multi-hit games were turned in by Ichiro, Franklin Gutierrez, Adrian Beltre, and Michael Saunders. Jack Hannahan and Jose Lopez both doubled, Ichiro and Saunders both tripled, and Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Moore both homered. Lopez's double was his 40th of the season to go with his 25 home runs. Moore's homer was his first as a big leaguer. Griffey's three-run homer (his second in back-to-back nights) was the big blow in the first inning, allowing Morrow to cruise. Lopez, Griffey, Moore, and Josh Wilson struck out twice each.

The Mariner arms had a good night, as one might guess since Oakland was shut out. The starting pitcher will be covered below. Shawn Kelley threw the ninth inning and successfully protected a 7-0 lead. He gave up only a two-out single to Landon Powell, the only Oakland hit of the game that reached the outfield. Kelley got a flyout from Adam Kennedy to lead off before striking out Rajai Davis and Jack Cust. Kelley threw 12 strikes out of 20 pitches and faced four hitters to get three outs.

1) Brandon Morrow
There were moments in this game where I was reminded of the broken-up perfect game Morrow threw against the Yankees. It was apparent pretty early on that Morrow was dealing and had great command of all of his pitches, and he was throwing just enough breaking stuff. As the game went on, I started realizing things like -- hey, has he given up a hit yet? Has he walked anybody yet? The only hit Morrow gave up was on a one-out roller up the middle by Rajai Davis. Josh Wilson made a really nice play to plug up the hole and throw quickly to first, and only the breakneck speed of Davis kept it from being eight no-hit innings for Morrow. Other than that, it was seven incredible innings and one slightly cumbersome one. The eighth inning finally saw Morrow lose the radar as he allowed consecutive walks with two out before getting a flyout to mercifully end the inning. If not for the two walks, we're probably looking at a complete-game shutout for Morrow. Nonetheless, he retired the first 10 Oakland hitters, then retired the next 13 after the Davis single. This easily is in the top three of all of Morrow's big-league starts. Morrow gave up one hit in eight shutout innings, walking two and striking out a career-high nine. He got five groundouts and 10 flyouts, threw 70 strikes out of 105 pitches, and faced 27 hitters to get 24 outs.

2) Franklin Gutierrez
The injury to Russell Branyan has opened up the number-two spot in the lineup to the more obvious choice to fill that role, and it's Gutierrez. This game saw him go 2-for-4 with a walk and an RBI. He scored two runs and struck out once. The RBI was his 67th of the season to go with 18 home runs and a .282 batting average. This guy has been nothing short of awesome this year, surpassing even my most optimistic expectations. I was the guy that would be content with him hitting .240 if he was playing that kind of defense out in centerfield. Instead, we see that kind of defense along with a .282 hitter with 18 homers and 67 RBIs. The future is so bright I have to wear shades or something, except this is for optimism and not a nuclear winter like in the musical reference. Gutierrez moved Ichiro to second with a nobody-out single in the first. He singled again in the second with nobody out, but that scored Ichiro from third to make it 5-0. Gutierrez walked with two out and Michael Saunders on third base in the third inning.

3) Michael Saunders
This kid just cannot buy a home run. I don't think he'll be hitting one this season. He's got four games left to do it, but he probably won't be playing all four of those games (more like two). It's been 114 at-bats, and he'd be hard-pressed to get any closer than he did with the hit that went for a triple -- it was a well-struck line drive that needed about one more foot of vertical to clear the rightfield wall. He came very very close. Instead, it banked off the wall and got away from rightfielder Travis Buck, and Saunders sprinted all the way to third since he has crazy speed. Saunders' other hit was a one-out single in the eighth inning. Don Wakamatsu has given Saunders a good deal of playing time since the call-up before the deadline, and it appears he's being groomed to be the everyday leftfielder for years to come, but is that a good thing? The Mariners are sacrificing enough power hitting with their rightfielder, so can they really afford that in left? There's a chance Jose Lopez will be the only carryover power hitter on next year's team. I guess it's up to Jack Zduriencik to uncover some more power somewhere on the wires.

Josh Wilson
He made the nice play and nearly preserved Brandon Morrow's then-perfect game, but Rajai Davis proved to be just too quick of a runner. That's the good news, but the reason Wilson is here is because he was the only hitless Mariner on the night (not counting Kenji Johjima, who was hitless, but also got hit above the body armor above the left elbow). I still think this guy's played himself onto a Major League roster for next year and could probably play 80-90 games or something. He's a .201 hitter on the year, which is bad, but I can't count the number of times where I say to myself, "how did Ronny Cedeno get any playing time over this guy?" In the big scheme of things, though, he shouldn't be a Mariner next year because he can't hit consistently. Thus, with Josh Wilson and Rob Johnson, for me it's a big "thanks, but no thanks" when I think about their relation to the Mariners' plans for next season. Josh Wilson hopefully will be supplanted by a healthy Jack Wilson that can actually hit (unless they move him too), and Johnson saw Adam Moore hit an opposite-field homer in this game, so he's basically screwed.

The Iron Fister will end the series against Oakland.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009


The Mariners snapped a three-game losing streak thanks to this win, but really, it was just another fun chance to watch Felix Hernandez pitch. He's awesome, and we know this, but we know what kind of year it's been for him when he can fight through not having his grade-A stuff and still throw into the eighth inning. It's incredible. When Felix first came up, Mariner fans were brimming with anticipation and hoped Felix would get incrementally better. He had a bit of growing pains, sure, and we patiently waited for Felix to turn the corner, and this year he finally did. The crowd at the game looked sparse, and the factors for this are many -- school's very much in session, the weather was a bit inclement and cold, etc. Today may have been the first time since April that I decided it was long-pants cold. Of course, the weather doesn't matter to Felix, who will defiantly wear his long sleeves no matter how hot the weather. Again pertaining to the crowd, it appears the larger crowds must be waiting for the weekend before people will want to see what could be their final glimpse of Ken Griffey Jr.

This win pushed the Mariners' record to 81-76 after 157 games, guaranteeing this won't be a losing season. The record at this point is two games worse than the 2007 team, but five better than 2006, 14 better than 2005, 20 better than 2004, and 23 better than last year. Eighty-one wins is also seven wins worse than 2000, nine worse than 2003, 10 worse than 2002, and 31 worse than 2001. Records of other Mariner teams when winning their 81st game: 81-66 in 2000, 81-31 in 2001, 81-57 in 2002 and 2003, 63-99 in 2004, 69-93 in 2005, 78-84 in 2006, 81-70 in 2007, and 61-101 last year.

Seattle hitting went a combined 9-for-32 on the night, walking twice and striking out five times. They went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded six runners in all. Adrian Beltre and Josh Wilson had two hits apiece as the only multi-hit Mariners, and they both doubled. Bill Hall also doubled, and Ken Griffey Jr. homered to account for the rest of the Mariners' extra-base hits. Ichiro picked up his 217th hit of the season with five games remaining in the season. Despite missing 16 games this season, Ichiro has already surpassed his hit totals from 2002, 2003, 2005, and last year. If he collects more than seven hits over the final five games, Ichiro can also eclipse his 224-hit season from 2006. Again, this is despite missing 16 games due to injury. He's at .351 on the season, which roughly matches his .351 season in 2007 and is below only his crazy 2004 season when he finished with a .372 mark. Jose Lopez is still sitting at 92 RBIs after another RBI-less night, his sixth straight. I thought after Ichiro got his milestone that Lopez getting to 100 RBIs would be the final attainable individual Mariner goal, but now it seems a more likely scenario would involve Franklin Gutierrez popping two more home runs and finishing with a 20-homer season.

The Mariner arms had a fairly decent night. The starter and the closer will be covered below. Mark Lowe came into the eighth inning with the bases loaded and two out and the Mariners ahead 6-2. Lowe got Cliff Pennington to go down swinging to end the threat. Lowe four pitches, all strikes, to the only hitter he faced. This snapped Lowe's two-outing crappy streak.

1) Felix Hernandez
Like I mentioned in the intro paragraph, Felix has absolutely turned a corner this season. If there's only one fact to support that statement, it's that he can struggle for an inning or two, yet when you look at the boxscore a few hours later, there he is with a start of seven or more innings and two or three runs or less. I guess I'm putting him here at the number-one gameball, which I wouldn't normally do if he's walking four hitters in a game like he did here. It started oddly enough as Felix threw a 1-2-3 first inning, then hti Kurt Suzuki with a pitch to lead off the second inning, then the next hitter walked. A strikeout and a double play ended that threat. A one-out Jack Cust walk in the fourth came around to score after a wild pitch pushed him to second, a groundout pushed him to third, then a Mark Ellis single pushed Cust across with the tying run at 1-1. Eric Patterson then singled, and the throw to third was late, so that made it two in scoring position with two out, but a foul pop ended that. Felix had seet down eight straight before Patterson singled with one out in the seventh. Pennington then singled to make it two on with one out, but Felix got the next two hitters out. Finally, Felix allowed consecutive singles to lead off the eighth. A grounder resulted in an out and runners at the corners, then Daric Barton's fly ball scored Travis Buck to make it 6-2. Felix hit Ellis with a pitch, then walked Patterson to load the bases and earn a trip to the showers. It used to be a five-inning start when Felix struggled this badly, but these days he's into the eighth. Felix gave up two runs on seven hits, walking four and striking out four in 7 2/3 innings of work. He got 11 groundouts and eight flyouts, threw 69 strikes out of 120 pitches, and faced 35 hitters to get 23 outs.

2) Ken Griffey Jr.
There's five games remaining after this game, and it appears there's a little bit more memory-making juice left in that bat of his. With two runners aboard and one out in the fifth inning, Griffey jumped all over Trevor Cahill's first pitch and sent it into the rightfield stands to make it a 5-1 lead for the Mariners. He also drew a leadoff four-pitch walk in the second inning, was pushed to third on a double by Beltre, and scored on a Bill Hall groundout for the first run of the game. Griffey struck out with runners on the corners to end the third inning, then struck out with the bases empty and one out in the seventh. He had time off from August 28th to September 2nd, and while I'm sure his knee was swelling and stuff, the rest probably was given to rest him up for the final stretch. Somehow I get the feeling we won't be seeing a lot of Mike Sweeney at all on this final homestand. The .214 hitter this season will definitely get the applause, though I'm hoping his cohort in clubhouse cohesiveness (and .283 hitter) will get some pinch-hit love.

3) Adrian Beltre
The Mariners' third baseman went 2-for-4 with a double and drilled the ball on the two hits he had. It almost made me harken back to other times in the Beltre era in Seattle. Sadly, while hopefully none of us were stupid enough to think Beltre had to have a 48-homer season to fulfill the contract he signed back in the winter after the 2004 season, it's really too bad we never saw a 30-homer season or even a 100-RBI season. In fact, we pretty much saw exactly what he was doing before the monster 2004 season, except with a small uptick in home runs. In 2007, he homered 26 times and finished tantalizingly close to the century mark with 99 RBIs. He doubled Griffey to third base with nobody out in the second inning and Hall's RBI groundout (that scored Griffey) pushed him to third. He led off the fourth with a groundout before following up Griffey's homer with a groundout in the fifth. He also singled with two out in the seventh. Beltre's rounding out what so far is a .209 month of September, which obviously is awful. After the first major injury he had this season, he hit .390 (with little power) for a little over a week in August. He came from Testiclegate, but it appears his bat didn't.

David Aardsma
This was a fairly classic case of a closer coming into something other than a save situation and making it a bit muddy. You know it's bad when the manager comes out to the mound instead of the pitching coach when something's going awry on the mound. Adam Kennedy got aboard when he fouled off an 0-2 pitch, but his bat hit Rob Johnson's glove during the swing, so he was awarded first base on catcher's interference. That's definitely not on Aardsma, but what came thereafter was. Aardsma walked Rajai Davis on four pitches and one out later gave up a Kurt Suzuki single that drove home both of the runners to make it 6-4. Luckily this is when Aardsma clamped down, getting a pop fly from Jack Cust and a flyout from Daric Barton. I'm hoping we get to see some vintage 2009 Aardsma a couple times in the final five games of the season to cap off an amazing year for the guy. The great thing to me is that he pitched well enough to force Brandon Morrow out of the closer's role and out of the bullpen. Our reward is more than likely seeing Morrow walk five guys in six innings tonight, but hopefully it'll be better next year.

It'll be one final appearance for Brandon Morrow this season.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009


Well, make it three straight losses and four of five. After the awesome Felix Hernandez start in the first game of the series in Toronto, the Mariners dropped the final three. The first of the losses was just a plain ol' domination by Roy Halladay, so that was a bit understandable, but having a lead in the eighth inning and nailing down that lead has been a hallmark of Mariner pitching this entire year, and the bullpen has not been able to exhibit that over the last couple days. A 4-2 lead in the eighth turned into a tie game on Saturday afternoon and a 4-3 lead turned into a 5-4 hole in the eighth inning today. You can also add to that an eighth-inning Mark Lowe implosion that led to a 5-4 defeat in Tampa Bay on Wednesday. You know I'll always say that the season started feeling weird when Major League Baseball ordered the Spartan helmets out of the bullpen. Really, though, only so much matters when the Mariners have basically been playing for pride for the last two months.
That may sound bad, but it's a lot better compared to last year at this same time.

The Mariners' fourth loss in five games sent their record to 80-76 after 156 games. This pace is three games worse than 2007, but five better than 2006, 13 better than 2005, 20 better than 2004, and 23 better than last year. Eighty wins is also seven wins worse than 2000, nine worse than 2003, 10 worse than 2002, and 31 worse than 2001. Records of other Mariner teams when losing their 76th: 91-71 in 2000, 116-46 in 2001, 93-69 in 2002 and 2003, 45-76 in 2004, 56-76 in 2005, 69-76 in 2006, 88-74 in 2007, and 46-76 last year.

Seattle hitting went a combined 7-for-34 in the game, walking twice and striking out seven times. Kenji Johjima was the only Mariner with multiple hits, getting two. The Mariners' only extra-base hits were four solo shots, hit by Johjima, Matt Tuiasosopo, Franklin Gutierrez, and Mike Sweeney. Ichiro, Adrian Beltre, Bill Hall, and Josh Wilson all went hitless. Ichiro's hitless game made it his first back-to-back hitless games in a verrrrry long time (I don't have the info on me right now, and I type these things offline). Hall struck out twice and has piled up 45 strikeouts (and eight walks) as a Mariner to go with 15 hits, two home runs, 10 RBIs, a .236 average, and a .345 slugging percentage. Again, that's 45 strikeouts for Hall out of 110 at-bats as a Mariner. I knew he liked to get his strikeout on, but this is a bit ridiculous. I also thought Hall might come around a bit with the bat, but it hasn't happened as he's in a 2-for-22 slump over the last eight games.

As for the Mariner arms, there were seven pretty good innings and one really bad one. Both pitchers ended up in the entries below, so this paragraph is pretty easy for me.

1) Kenji Johjima
He hasn't had this much playing time since May, when he appeared in 18 games. Johjima has appeared in 17 games in September and the Mariners have six left to play. More importantly for Johjima, he's rebounded from an awful .191 August with a .292 September. Johjima has also doubled five times and homered twice, making for a .583 slugging percentage for September. His last two games have seen him go 4-for-7 with two doubles and a homer. By the way, in this game he went 2-for-3 with a solo shot that put the Mariners on the board at 1-0 in the fifth inning. As for his other at-bats, he singled with two out in the second, walked with two out to push Beltre to second in the sixth, and flew out to right to end the eighth. I'm beginning to think Johjima's getting more playing time because of a combination of the brass thinking that they should get their money's worth out of him, that Rob Johnson's a bit nicked up, and that they've soured on Johnson as a catcher. I don't hate Rob Johnson, but I don't want to see him catching for this team next year. Unless he proves he can hit .240, he shouldn't have a future with this team. Of course, now I have to be pissed off at Johjima's ridiculous contract extension because he's holding back Adam Moore instead of Jeff Clement. I'll have a lot of time in the offseason to do that.

2) Matt Tuiasosopo
It's always a good day when you hit your first big-league home run. His homer was the second of three Mariner solo shots off Brian Tallet in the fifth inning. I'm glad he got this out of the way in his sixth game this season. This of course means Tuiasosopo has one more home run than Michael Saunders, and Saunders had played consistently for nearly six weeks, though he had 11 days off before playing consistently over the last week. That's 110 at-bats for Saunders and no home runs. Anyway, Tuiasosopo is 5-for-19 (.263) with a double and an RBI in six games at the big-league level this season. He played second base in this game with Jose Lopez playing first, though he's listed as a third baseman on his stats page. Thus, the Mariners have some options next year on the infield. Probably the only sure thing is that Jack Wilson plays short since he's got so much money sunk into him and that Jose Lopez will play second or first. I think Tuiasosopo's best shot with the team is probably at third base since Beltre's going to walk and playing Jack Hannahan at third base isn't very future-oriented for this team. I feel bad for Tuiasosopo breaking north with the team and sitting the bench for two weeks before being sent down and not playing until the 17th, but I think Tuiasosopo will spend at least half the season in Tacoma again, but he'll get called up earlier. Really, though, who knows? We're dealing with Jack Zduriencik here, and he could work all sorts of magic in the offseason and there could still be a lot of turnover.

3) Ryan Rowland-Smith
He goes into the books as having thrown seven-plus innings, but it's the plus that's the devil in the details. It's really too bad. He set down the first nine hitters he faced, had a one-hitter through five innings, and had a two-hitter through six innings. The Blue Jays finally touched him up in the seventh. Vernon Wells hit a one-out single, and Randy Ruiz rang a double to move Wells to third. A sufficiently deep Rod Barajas fly ball made it 3-1, and a Kevin Millar single made it 3-2. Rowland-Smith had thrown 104 pitches at the end of seven innings (if my count-back using the ESPN.com play-by-play is right) and came back to the mound to start the eighth inning after Mike Sweeney added an insurance run with a leadoff homer in the top half of the inning. John McDonald led off the bottom half with a double, followed by a Jose Bautista single to drive home the run, making it a 4-3 game. Aaron Hill walked to push Bautista to second, and Don Wakamatsu had seen enough. Unfortunately, Mark Lowe was coming off two horrible outings, Shawn Kelley gave up the winning homer the night before, and David Aardsma apparently had a bit of a sore neck (Brian Tallet should have had one after the fifth inning), so Wakamatsu went with Miguel Batista. That'll be covered below. Rowland-Smith gave up five runs on seven hits in seven-plus innings, walking one and striking out three. He got two groundouts and 16 flyouts (and yet Tallet was the one giving up four homers), faced 29 hitters to get 21 outs, and threw 74 strikes out of 114 pitches.

Miguel Batista
What's hilarious about this is that I've given the goat to a guy who shows up in the boxscore as having thrown an inning of two-hit shutout ball. Of course, the reason he's here is because he came into the game with two runners on and they both scored, putting the Blue Jays in the lead and setting fire to Ryan Rowland-Smith's ERA and tagging him with the loss. Not that Batista doesn't come away with anything bad -- he was tagged for his fourth blown save of the year, though that doesn't really mean much since he's not the closer anyway and hasn't done so in a while. If you look at his game-by-game log, you'll notice that Batista hasn't given up runs in the last five outings, though that does include this one. This means he's probably due to suck more until he gives up some runs. Another thing that can be picked out of the game log is that Batista had a 1.69 ERA over his eight appearances in August, giving up only two runs in 10 2/3 innings. Of course, the same game log I'm looking at doesn't have a little column for inherited runners scored, so...yeah.

A Felix night on Tuesday. I need it. You need it. We need it.

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