Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Okay, that felt great. The Mariners didn't have an offensive explosion by any means. They didn't even get to 10 hits. They did manage to get some great starting pitching, some timely hitting, and some breaks. Thank goodness for that. For the last time the Mariners won, I borrowed something usually reserved for watching football -- a record of 2-4 looked a hell of a lot better than 1-5. After this game, it still holds some water because 3-6 looks a whole lot better than 2-7. I was afraid both teams were going to go scoreless into extra innings, which would have totally spoiled how quickly the game was moving, and it was definitely zipping along. The total time ended up being 2:21.
-- the Mariners scratched out nine hits, but they weren't exactly scattered throughout the lineup. While the hitting wasn't necessarily contagious, the Mariners who were hitting were going to the well multiple times. Casey Kotchman had an infield single as his only hit, but three other Mariners had multiple hits on the night. Milton Bradley had a mother of a 2-for-4 night, and Chone Figgins and Jose Lopez both went 3-for-4.
-- as nice as the final result was, there were still seven other innings of angst thanks to the Mariner offense. The first inning was the only inning in which the Mariners went 1-2-3. In the fourth, Lopez led off with a single, then one out later, Bradley lashed a double down the leftfield line. Kotchman then suffered a totally nonclutch strikeout, and Rob Johnson whiffed to end the inning, but Johnson wasn't the guy I was expecting to do something worthwhile in that situation. With one out in the seventh, Figgins rang a double into left. Craig Breslow then really wasted an 0-2 pitch to Franklin Gutierrez, throwing it way off the plate and outside, to the point where catcher Kurt Suzuki had to move toward the lefthanded batters box to field the ball. Suzuki had to reset his feet, and Figgins decided this was enough of a gap to steal third, and he went. Suzuki threw a perfect strike to Kevin Kouzmanoff at third, and Figgins was tagged out. It was frustrating to see the Mariners lose another runner on the basepaths, but maybe someday the aggressive baserunning will pay off.
-- big thanks to Doug Fister for throwing strikes, working fast, and making this game zoom along. He gave up a mere three hits, all singles, and walked zero hitters. Fister, on his second turn through the rotation, threw the best outing of any Mariner starting pitcher this season. With 100 pitches, he got through eight innings, striking out four and walking none. I still can't believe he got through without walking anyone. The great thing now is that with Fister throwing this outing, I feel a lot better when it comes to the Mariners' non-Felix starters. The average starting line for a Mariner pitcher: 5 2/3 innings, 3 runs (2.7 earned), 5.4 hits, 2.3 walks, 2.9 strikeouts, 96.2 pitches (61 strikes), and 8 groundouts:5.6 flyouts. As much as Ian Snell's first start this season was his ceiling, this start was Doug Fister's ceiling or pretty close to it. I suppose it's possible he could throw a complete game.
-- Jack Wilson made a crazy play on a grounder in the hole on the left side, one of the off-balance variety. This is good, since he went 0-for-4 and once again saw not that many pitches (11 this time). It's easier to let Bradley slide on a night like this because he homered and doubled despite seeing just nine pitches.
-- unfortunately, Ichiro is having another cold April. After an 0-for-4 night with two strikeouts, he now sits at 8-for-36, a pedestrian .222 clip. His grounders right now don't seem to have any eyes, and it's almost like the opposite of what Endy Chavez had going at this time last season. Maybe the Ichiro-Designed T-Shirt is still in design phase, and maybe he's having trouble coming up with a design. A friend and I had a discussion about what a tee-shirt designed by Ichiro might look like, and my friend suggested that maybe the shirt will make the wearer reconsider everything he or she knew about a tee-shirt.
-- now, the Milton Bradley paragraph. The double he hit in the fourth inning was really ripped. There was a bit of karmic regression in the sixth when he grounded into a double play to clean the bases. For the rest of FSNNW's broadcast season, this game will always be remembered as the game where Jay Buhner called Bradley's shot. Buhner was asked what he thought would happen, and he mentioned a three-run homer. On the very next pitch, Bradley sat on a low fastball and got it, sending a rainmaker into the Seattle night. A lot of people in and around Seattle needed that home run, and the fact that Bradley hit it was just a bonus. On the FSNNW postgame show, Jen Mueller fired off the requisite questions, and Bradley got through unscathed. At the end of the interview, Mueller was tossing back and Bradley flashed an exaggerated smile for a second, then walked away.
-- David Aardsma had an adventurous night. He handed out two walks, the only walks issued by the Mariner staff on the night. It wasn't Jose Mesa-like, but it was still a bit nail-biting. In terms of bullpen rest, Aardsma threw in this game, Kelley and White will be on one day's rest, Jesus Colome, Kanekoa Texeira, and Brandon League will be on two days' rest, and Mark Lowe will be on three days' rest.
Gonzalez. Vargas. Tonight.