Wednesday, April 21, 2010
What a difference good starting pitching makes. Though the Mariner offense wasn't hitting much during the team's 2-6 start, the starting pitching (sans Felix Hernandez) wasn't exactly holding up their end of the bargain. In this game, the Mariners scored early and Jason Vargas made the lead stand through seven innings before giving way to the bullpen. In this last turn through the rotation, no pitcher went less than five innings, which couldn't be said about the first two turns through the rotation. Ian Snell was the pitcher that went five innings in the last five days, Ryan Rowland-Smith went six (but came out for the seventh), Felix Hernandez threw 6 2/3 innings, and Doug Fister and Jason Vargas both went seven innings. Ryan Langerhans would have liked this if it had happened a little bit earlier. All in all, the end result has the Mariners one game above .500 at 8-7, and one game above .500 is the high-water mark of the season (Opening Night win). I saw most of this game, but if anything, this post may be shortened due to me once again facing a lengthy drive in the morning.
-- Jason Vargas gave up the Nolan Reimold double in the first that drove in Baltimore's only run of the game. As for other jams, Vargas gave up leadoff doubles in the second and sixth, but came away unscathed both times.
-- Mark Lowe threw a 1-2-3 eighth and David Aardsma allowed only a two-out single to round out a fairly easy night for the bullpen.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Lowe and Aardsma worked in this game. Going into tonight's final game of the series, Brandon League and Shawn Kelley will have a day of rest. Kanekoa Texeira, Sean White, and Jesus Colome will have two days of rest.
-- the Ichiro/Figgins stat: only Ichiro got hits or scored a run in this one. The Mariners are 6-0 when both Ichiro and Chone Figgins score and are 2-2 when they both register hits. Another way to say this is that there have been six games out of 15 where both players scored, and only four games where they've both gotten hits. To Figgins' credit, he did see 28 pitches in this game, helping drive up the pitch count on David Hernandez.
-- Ichiro went 2-for-4 again, making him 20-for-60 (.333) on the season. Twenty hits after 15 games puts him on track for a 216-hit season, which would be solid stuff.
-- Milton Bradley has a balky calf muscle, giving Eric Byrnes some playing time. Not that it helps the offense.
1) Jason Vargas
One run on three hits is exactly what Doug Fister allowed the previous night, but Vargas walked one more hitter and struck out two more. Still, it does a lot for the starting rotation when the fourth and fifth starters turn in seven innings apiece. It keeps the bullpen fresh for when they have to relieve Ian Snell, for instance. Interestingly, all three hits against Vargas were doubles. Vargas got eight groundouts and eight flyouts, which is a good sign since I'm used to him tilting more toward the flyball end of the scale. I like having him in the back end of this rotation, but I think he'll eventually be on the losing side of the numbers game unless Don Wakamatsu wants to roll four lefties and Felix in the rotation. Now if Doug Fister loses the numbers game to Ian Snell, I'm going to be pretty angry. I know Snell has to pan out for the Mariners to get full value on the Jeff Clement trade, but Snell really has only impressed me maybe once, in whichever of his starts was the longest.
2) Adam Moore
I pretty much have to throw him a bone here because he's a Mariner catcher, he's Adam Moore, and he hit a double. If I don't put him here, he might not be here for a while. I even checked in the boxscore to make sure he didn't have a passed ball charged to him. The 1-for-3 night raised Moore's average into the stratosphere at .120. Early in the game on the radio, I heard Dave Sims mention that the Mariner catchers had combined to hit at a torrid .116 clip. I only care so much about how well either of these guys can call a game if they really can't hit worth a damn. These guys are making me long for the days when Dan Wilson would block every ball that came to him, not throw out anyone at second base, and hit .230. Back then, I complained about that. Right now, that .230 average would be sparkling compared to what the catchers have now. Moore's double came on the first pitch with one out in the seventh inning. He ended up scoring on Jack Wilson's double. You know it's a weird night when Adam Moore and Jack Wilson hit back-to-back doubles.
3) Ken Griffey Jr.
The elder statesman went 2-for-3 and drew a walk. Junior is hitting .263, outhitting Jose Lopez and his .246 clip. Still, Griffey's on-base percentage of .317 is higher than his slugging percentage (.289). I wish I knew how long we were going to have to wait to see a home run out of this guy. Any little bit of power hitting helps with this team. Griffey drew a two-out walk with Lopez on first. Milton Bradley, the next hitter, singled to get the Mariners a 2-1 lead. Griffey's two singles both occurred with two outs in the sixth and eighth.
Well, an 0-for-4 night is a great way to come back down from a 2-for-4 night with three RBIs. In addition, he was unable to pick a throw from Lopez, and we've seen Kotchman make that pick this year. Kotchman is still a .261 hitter, playing a solid first base.
Millwood. Hernandez. Tonight.