Thursday, April 08, 2010
I guess no one can complain about the Mariners not being in any close games. This is three straight games where a team's final at-bat plated the game-winning run. Needless to say, that was just fine on Opening Night, but not so cool getting the wrong end of it for the next two games.
-- The whole 1-2 top-of-the-lineup thing wasn't overly impressive in this game. Ichiro went 1-for-4 and walked, but Chone Figgins' only offensive contribution on the night was a sufficiently deep fly ball that gave the Mariners a 4-3 lead in the fourth. Okay, so I shouldn't just pooh-pooh Figgins driving in a go-ahead run, but that still doesn't erase the fact that Ichiro got aboard twice, and Figgins went hitless. I guess my point is this -- if we're trusting Ichiro and Figgins to be the ones setting the table, they weren't doing much of it in this game.
-- Jose Lopez and Franklin Gutierrez hit sixth and seventh in the lineup and combined to go 5-for-8, scoring twice and driving in a run. Too bad Ken Griffey Jr. went 0-for-4 (two strikeouts) in front of Lopez.
-- Other than Griffey, the most fruitless night for a Mariner hitter goes to Rob Johnson, who went 0-for-3 and struck out thrice (hat trick). He wasn't only bad there, he also allowed a passed ball to move runners to second and third with two out in a 5-5 game in the eighth. I've said I'm fine with Johnson if he hits .245 and blocks a ball every once in a while. If he's batting .100 and doing the passed-ball thing, give me Adam Moore.
-- Speaking of Moore, he came into the game defensively after Ryan Langerhans pinch-hit for the 0-for-3 Johnson and took a pretty good jolt back there, which I think was with Kurt Suzuki's bat on a follow-through or something. Maybe it's better if that bat hits a healthy Moore than a Johnson who is coming off two hip surgeries.
-- Ryan Rowland-Smith was far from efficient with his pitches on this night, which is too bad because he and Felix Hernandez are currently the only two pitchers in this rotation that can be trusted to eat innings. Hernandez at this time of the year I think could steadily get you into the seventh inning or finish it off and maybe get into the eighth. Rowland-Smith, especially with Cliff Lee gone, is someone who I think the Mariners need to get into the seventh at least half the time and possibly finish it off. Ian Snell and Jason Vargas to me are guys that can get you into the sixth when they're solid, and Doug Fister has shown signs of being friendly toward the seventh inning and beyond. Anyway, it lies upon the shoulders of Rowland-Smith and Hernandez to eat their share of innings because the other three-fifths of the starting rotation just can't be trusted anywhere near as much to be eating a bunch of innings.
-- ...and just why do the starters like Rowland-Smith to eat those innings? It's not just for the following couple days' following Rowland-Smith's starts. It's also so the bullpen doesn't get overworked. In the past two games, the bullpen has gone a combined seven innings while giving up three runs on 12 hits, walking two and striking out four. Again, that's 12 hits over seven innings. Obviously, that's more than a hit per inning. It's nice to strand the one guy per inning who's getting the hit, but throw in another walk and you've got yourself some kind of situation a-brewin'. To boil down the last couple nights even further, Kanekoa Texeira gave up five hits in the second game of the series, Mark Lowe gave up two hits last night, and Brandon League was roughed up for four hits in his 1 2/3 innings last night. League hasn't dazzled me so far, and I'm still waiting to see that number-one most-swung-at-and-missed pitch in the Majors last year to appear this year, because I don't think I've seen it work yet.
-- Jack Wilson got an actual hit! And it was a relevant hit!!! Wilson drove in Gutierrez from second base to tie the game up at 3-3 in the fifth, and also made a near-Web Gem play on a ball up the middle.
-- I wonder if Milton Bradley keeps a tally going of sports on-air personalities who say "connect four" over his highlights in the hopes of one day punching everyone on said list in the face.
Gameballs (retroactive, 4.8.2010)
1) Jose Lopez
2) Franklin Gutierrez
3) Milton Bradley
I just realized I've gone three games into the season without picking three gameballs and a goat. Tonight I might go back and do that. Fister and Anderson throw today.