Friday, May 07, 2010
We're to the point now where it's more fun to keep track of the Milton Bradley situation than it is to watch the product that's actually on the field. Bradley is now on the "restricted list" while he gets professional help, keeping him away from the team for five days. You have to figure it'll be less than 15 days or they might as well have put him on the disabled list. Anyway, Michael Saunders, who apparently has been struggling in Tacoma, was brought up to the big club even though he's a lefty hitter like Ryan Langerhans. I'm glad my day job right now isn't a Mariner beat writer because I don't know how many times I could say "same sh#%, different day." The scary thing is that Jeff Niemann probably threw the least dominant outing of the seriers for the Rays, yet his game was the one that ended in a shutout. Anyway, maybe it isn't the same sh%* on a different day in this game because as bad as the Mariner offense was, Ryan Rowland-Smith more than likely would have buried it. FSNNW showed us the hyphen shirts are now on sale, but now it's a big minus sign as Rowland-Smith is the new Ian Snell, and that's really not good for this rotation.
I'd almost rather talk about Mark Lowe getting an epidural on his back than talk about this game.
-- in the second inning, Gabe Kapler blooped a two-out 'tweener in shallow center that fell between Josh Wilson and Franklin Gutierrez. I guess Gutierrez could have called off the shortstop, but he was running full speed, and Gutierrez probably didn't want to get Endy'd. The Rays got their 2-0 run on that play. At that point, there were probably quite a few Mariner fans thinking that run, scored in the second inning of the game, was an insurance run and it'd be all the Rays needed to sew up the win.
-- keeping with the defensive yuckiness, Carl Crawford hit a hard grounder to first with a man on second. The ball ate up Casey Kotchman, who had no play, resulting in runners at first and third with nobody out. The score was 3-0 at that point, and both of those runners scored on the next two plays to make it 5-0. The 4-0 run scored on a squeeze bunt, and the 5-0 run scored on a Longoria double. In the following at-bat, Carlos Pena hit a high fly ball into foul ground by the leftfield line, but Jose Lopez couldn't channel his inner Beltre and make an over-the-shoulder catch. Ultimately the at-bat ended in a strikeout and was the last hitter Rowland-Smith faced. With two out, Ian Snell threw wild to the plate, but I still think Rob Johnson has to block the ball and nicely control it afterward rather than have it roll away and cause a runner to advance?
-- the make-or-break moment in this game obviously came in the second inning, though there were two out. Jose Lopez got aboard with a single before Niemann completely lost the radar, throwing 11 straight balls. Basically, eight of the balls walked Ryan Langerhans and Josh Wilson, loading the bases, but unfortunately doing so with two out. Unfortunately, this put Rob Johnson in the batter's box for the pivotal at-bat. It looked great when he was up 3-0 (that accounted for the remainder of the 11 straight balls). Since he's Johnson, he took the 3-0 pitch for a strike. At this point, Dave Niehaus said Johnson had to be taking the next pitch to make him throw another strike, but Mike Blowers disagreed and said Johnson should absolutely rip the next pitch if it's a fastball down the middle. Sure enough, the 3-1 pitch was a fastball that was right down the pipe. Johnson took the full-count pitch a little up and in, but it was called a strike. Obviously, he wasn't up there to hit.
-- Chone Figgins blooped a single to shallow left with one out in the third. It was nearly caught on a dive by Crawford. The Mariners didn't do much with that break, obviously. Kotchman cranked a deep fly ball to center which was deep enough for Figgins to tag and advance to second. Gutierrez drove a ball to leftcenter, but Bossman Junior Upton caught it on the track. End of sorta-threat, end of inning.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed below.
-- Ian Snell came in for Ryan Rowland-Smith with one out in the fifth and runners on second and third. Snell got a grounder, but then gave up a single to score one of Rowland-Smith's run and blast his ERA a little bit more before the threat was extinguished. Snell gave up only a two-out double in the sixth and a one-out walk in the seventh. He gave up a leadoff walk in the eighth and was burned when Crawford homered to rightcenter to make it 8-0 before being pulled. This game was so bad, I almost put Snell into the gameballs.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Snell and Kelley worked in this game. Going into Friday's game, Sean White and Kanekoa Texeira will have a day of rest, Brandon League and Jesus Colome will have two days of rest, and David Aardsma and Mark Lowe (shelf) will have four days of rest. Let's hope Mark Lowe is back soon.
-- Ichiro went 1-for-4, making him 37-for-116 (.319) on the season. He is on pace for a 214-hit season.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. No Mariners scored in this game, and Ichiro and Figgins had a hit apiece. The Mariners remain 7-1 when both players score but are now 4-7 when both collect hits.
1) Ken Griffey Jr.
Holy hell, he got a hit! He hit the ball with more authority than he did in a while, not just on this single through the shift, but also on a fly ball elsewhere in the game. The single led off the fourth inning. The euphoria quickly died down as Lopez needed all of two pitches to ground into a double play to clean the bases.
2) Shawn Kelley
Fresh off being recalled from Tacoma, Kelley got the final four Tampa Bay outs of the game, giving up two hits along the way. He didn't even give up any runs, and that makes it one of the fortunate things to happen in this game. Thus, it's a gameball. The bar isn't very high for the Mariners right now.
3) Chone Figgins
He singled with one out in the third. The Mariners' second baseman is now a .204 hitter with an on-base percentage of .336 with a slugging percentage of .265. Figgins also had a nice jump-and-throw play on a ground ball up the middle. For a game like this, it's enough for a gameball.
The Aussie just hasn't been himself on the mound this season. He's had maybe one start, if that, where he looked like he might be on the way to turning it around. Not so. It's like he's the new Snell or something. You have to be a certain amount of bad to be replaced in a game by Snell, who appears to have the very long relief role in an effort to reclaim him as a starting pitcher. Rowland-Smith gave up his three walks in the first 3 1/3 innings. One of the walks scored as Tampa Bay's first run while the other was the Rays' third run of the game. I know the Mariners' offense sucks, but even if they were performing up to snuff, they wouldn't have been able to overcome Rowland-Smith's performance. With Snell now in the bullpen, Rowland-Smith remains as the only weak link in the starting rotation. Four out of five ain't bad, but this guy gave you a dependable seven innings every time out last year.
Weaver. Hernandez. Tonight.