Tuesday, April 27, 2010



Congratulations, Mariners. By throwing away a Felix start, you've pinned your hopes of salvaging a win on this road trip onto the shoulders of Ian Snell (to beat Zack Greinke) and Ryan Rowland-Smith, the two most inconsistent starting pitchers thus far in your rotation. That's right -- the Mariners, thanks to the offense not showing up in Kansas City, blew a chance to halt a three-game losing streak and instead have a chance to go winless on a six-game road trip. Instead of a different hero every night, it's more like a different goat every night. Well, with the Mariners, it's more like it's an entire phase of their game that doesn't show up on a certain night. In Chicago, it was the bullpen three straight nights. In this game, it was the offense's turn to do nothing. I'm not sure a team could try to be as bad collectively on the road as the Mariners. This team has a 2-9 record on the road and is 7-2 on the road. I know this team is well-suited to win at Safeco Field, but I think people sometimes forget that Major League Baseball teams play half their games away from home. I wanted there to be more balance (power) in this lineup so it would have been suited better to scratch out runs in any ballpark, not just Safeco Field.

-- the Mariners were held hitless for 5 1/3 innings by Kyle freaking Davies. The no-hitter was broken up by a well-placed Ichiro bouncer to the right side of the infield, which started what should have been a good Mariner inning. Ichiro's hit moved Rob Johnson to second. Chone Figgins did his part to kill the rally by flying out to left. Franklin Gutierrez fouled off three 2-2 pitches before walking. Jose Lopez, just a few days departed from a grand slam, rode the first pitch to the warning track in left to end the inning.

-- Ken Griffey Jr. hit a ball just a few feet further from the second baseman than usual to lead off the seventh. Two hitters later, Casey Kotchman stood on first base with two out. Johnson tagged a double to left, but it wasn't enough to move Kotchman past third. Jack Wilson ended the inning by tapping weakly back to the pitcher.

-- the Mariners actually did score in the ninth. Milton Bradley doubled with one out, and it was a hustle double. One out later, Johnson walked. Then Mike Sweeney came in to hit for Johnson, and his single scored Bradley to make the score 3-1. Ichiro finished off the game by popping to second.

-- the Ichiro/Figgins stat: only Ichiro collected hits. Figgins was hitless. Thus, the Mariners are still 6-1 when both Ichiro and Figgins score, and they are still 2-4 when both get hits.

-- Johnson would have earned a spot in the gameballs below for his 1-for-2 night with a double and a couple of walks, but he still fails to do things a catcher should be able to do behind the plate. I know it's been a serious defensive drop-off ever since Dan Wilson retired. That said, I thought Miguel Olivo was bad, and now we've had to watch Rob Johnson. Yuniesky Betancourt whiffed on a ball in the dirt, and Johnson let it through the five hole. That ball should not get through his legs and roll to the backstop. To aggravate this matter, his throw to first base pulled Casey Kotchman off the bag, or else they would have had Betancourt.

-- the starting pitching will be addressed in the gameball entries. This leaves the bullpen. Sean White held the game to 3-0 in the eighth, allowing only a double to Betancourt. For the record, I never hated Betancourt, who is now hitting .347, on-base at a .365 clip, and slugging .472. Stuff went wrong in Seattle, but in this game, he perfectly executed a hit-and-run.

-- the bullpen rest bulletin: White threw in this game (on consecutive days). Going into tonight's game, Brandon League will have a day of rest, David Aardsma will have two days of rest, Kanekoa Texeira and Mark Lowe (back stiffness) will have three days of rest, Shawn Kelley will have seven days of rest, and Jesus Colome will have eight days of rest.

1) Ichiro
The Mariners' lead off hitter went 2-for-5, hitting the infield single and nearly taking off the head of Dusty Hughes with a scorched single through the mound and into centerfield to lead off the eighth. He is now 25-for-81 (.309) on the season and has 25 hits, which puts him on pace for a 203-hit season. He hit himself aboard in this game and therefore did his job while the next three hitters in the lineup went 0-for-10 combined (though Franklin Gutierrez walked twice, so he escapes some of this). When Ichiro gets aboard and the next three hitters do that, the fifth hitter in the lineup is Ken Griffey Jr., which is not a good thing.

2) Mike Sweeney
The Mariners' righthanded pinch-hitting specialist got a pinch-hit single off Kyle Farnsworth, which isn't the easiest thing to do. Sweeney's swing still makes me uncomfortable when I watch it, but it's slightly less so when the results are like this. Ultimately, the single capped the scoring to only make it a 3-1 game, but Sweeney can't control when he gets up to the plate. He was promptly pulled from first base for Matt Tuiasosopo. AH the efficiency of the Mariners' bench.

3) Felix Hernandez
The Mariners' ace actually didn't have that good of a start by Felix standards. He walked three and struck out seven, giving up three runs (two earned) on seven hits in seven innings. Hilariously, his own error made one of the runs unearned. The error occurred in the first inning and led to the Royals 1-0 lead. Hernandez then stranded a leadoff walk in the second. In the third, the first two hitters got aboard before Felix got the next three hitters out. In the fourth, two straight one-out singles followed by a ground ball made it 2-0 for the Royals. In the sixth, Felix threw seven more pitches than necessary since Johnson can't block a ball behind the plate. Felix couldn't sneak a meaty fastball past Billy Butler to lead off the seventh, and Butler absolutely wrecked it for a 3-0 lead. The point is, Felix struggled but he still went seven innings, and he still only gave up three runs. This team needs to win these games.

Chone Figgins
A stat that I hope to not have to show soon has to do with Figgins being awful at the plate. This game saw him going 0-for-4 and striking out three times (hat trick) and failing to draw a walk. Thus, he is in a 2-for-32 slump (with nine walks) going back to his final at-bat in the game on April 14th. You'd figure he should be getting all the pitches he wants since Franklin Gutierrez is tearing the cover off the ball right behind him. Figgins is now a .179 hitter with an on-base mark of .318 and a slugging percentage of .239. His on-base percentage is still better than that of such lineup cogs as Jose Lopez (.262) and Milton Bradley (.283).

Snell. Greinke. Tonight.

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