Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Well, the Mariners start a road trip, but the off day was eventful, what with all the talk about Ken Griffey Jr. possibly being asked to retire or being released by the end of the month and possibly having been asleep when Don Wakamatsu could have summoned him to pinch hit for Rob Johnson. Ian Furness of KJR seemed to think that since Larry LaRue absolutely hates the concept of blogging, he wouldn't up and post a blog on the Tribune's website if he didn't think he could run with it. Anyway, Don Wakamatsu completely denied that Griffey was asleep in the clubhouse on the night in question. Still, that doesn't quell the thought of this being near the end for Griffey. I think I could count the number of times he's hit the ball hard this season on one hand.
As for the game, the Mariners couldn't have set it up any better, salvaging the final game of the homestand, taking a travel day, then having Cliff Lee on the mound for the first game of the road trip against a team that was 9-23 coming into the game. After the game, the Orioles found themselves 4.5 games worse than the Mariners. I guess it's something off which to build. Unlike the series in Arlington, in which the Mariners had great conditions for the long ball, they managed to get one out in Baltimore tonight, and it was off the bat of one Ryan Langerhans, of all people. The game was scoreless through four innings before David Hernandez started unraveling. Meanwhile, I'm just going to sit back and enjoy the next two months or so of Cliff Lee before he gets traded.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed in the entries
-- Brandon League came into the game with two runners aboard and one out in a 5-1 game. Since the tying run was on deck, he was eligible for the save. He got a double-play grounder to the right side to end the eighth inning. League stayed in the game for the ninth inning and got three straight groundouts to end the game and notch the somewhat cheap save. While Brandon Morrow's struggling as all get-out in Toronto, League has fallen into a groove in Seattle. He has appeared in each of the last four games, which is a bit much, though he obviously didn't throw in a game on the travel day. If nothing else, the absence of Mark Lowe is enabling Wakamatsu to find out how many different roles League can fill. The role in this game ends up in the boxscore as a five-out save. The hard sinking stuff is dancing.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: League threw in this game. Going into Wednesday's game, Shawn Kelley will have two days of rest, David Aardsma will have three days of rest, Jesus Colome and Kanekoa Texeira will have four days of rest, Ian Snell will have five days of rest, and Sean White will have six days of rest.
-- the Mariners sent eight hitters to the plate in the fifth. Ryan Langerhans led off with a homer to rightcenter for the first run of the game and a Mariner 1-0 lead. Josh Wilson hit a line drive into shallow left that was misplayed a bit by Nolan Reimold, Griffey popped out foul, then Rob Johnson hit a grounder to the left side that was snagged by a Miguel Tejada dive, but he lost his footing and never got off a throw. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch, but Michael Saunders popped out to short for the second out. Ichiro was intentionally put aboard to load the bases. Unfortunately, Figgins was up next, so that meant no hitting (but also a wishy-washy half-bunt attempt), but he walked to force in a run and make it 2-0.
-- the Mariners had a more productive inning in the sixth and sent seven hitters to the plate, and the entire rally occurred with two out. Josh Wilson turned an 0-2 count into a walk, then Griffey walked as well. The runners advanced on a dirtball that went five-hole on Matt Wieters behind the plate and toward the backstop. Johnson then drilled a single into left, and Reimold bobbled the ball. Two runs scored on the play to make it 4-0 and Johnson was credited with a single and ended up on second. That hit chased Hernandez and brought on Jason Berken. Saunders then ripped a single through the right side to score Johnson and cap the Mariners' scoring at 5-0. Saunders was then hopelessly out trying to steal second base, and it appeared he was tagged across the face on the play.
-- in addition to hitting the homer, Langerhans made a rangy play to his right and still got the out at first thanks to a covering Lee on a play that ended the sixth inning (Nick Markakis grounder). It looked like a perfectly-executed PFP drill.
-- Ichiro led off the seventh with a double to start what should have been a scoring threat. A Figgins groundout moved Ichiro to third, then Franklin Gutierrez walked. This is where Jose Lopez grounded into a double play to end the inning. Clutch.
-- Ichiro went 2-for-4 with a walk, making him 44-for-133 (.331) on the season. Ichiro is on pace to finish the season with 223 hits, which is still about ten or so short of what I'd consider a solid season for Ichiro, at least by Ichiro standards.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Neither player scored a run, but they both got hits. Ichiro went 2-for-4 with a walk, as mentioned above, while Figgins went 1-for-4 with a walk and an RBI. As such, the Mariners remain 7-1 when both players score. When both players both collect hits, the Mariners are now 5-7.
1) Cliff Lee
Through three starts as a Mariner, Lee has gone seven innings or longer in every start. He has given up a total of five earned runs this season. The only thing that might be concerning is that he's given up 18 hits over his last two starts. The thing that makes that stat was less concerning is the fact that he has issued zero walks this season while striking out 15. In this game, he really didn't face adversity (non-weather) until the fourth, when Markakis and Miguel Tejada singled and doubled, respectively. He got a strikeout from Ty Wigginton and a Wieters groundout to end the inning. A double-play ball (nicely turned by Figgins) ended a fifth inning that saw Lee give up a leadoff single. Wigginton and Wieters doubled and singled to put themselves onto the corners with one out in the seventh. Lee got Reimold for a key strikeout, and it appeared he might get out of it, but Garrett Atkins blooped a single down the rightfield line to make it 5-1 and ruin the shutout. Lee's average per-start line: 7 1/3 innings, 2 runs (1.7 earned), 7 hits, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts, 108 pitches (78 strikes), 8.7 groundouts, 7.7 flyouts.
2) Josh Wilson
The Mariners' fill-in shortstop was probably needed only a home run to be the number one gameball. He went 2-for-3 with a walk and scored two of the Mariners' five runs. He hit in the sixth spot in the lineup now that Wakamatsu had the guts to slot Griffey seventh. Defensively, he wasn't charged with any errors this time, and even made a spin-throw from the hole on the left side that nailed Adam Jones in the first inning and got him the top Web Gem on Baseball Tonight for May 11th. In the fifth, he singled right after the Langerhans homer and helped set up what should have been way more than a two-run inning. In the seventh, he walked with two out and the bases empty to set up a three-run inning. He also singled with one out in the eighth, but that inning didn't really get interesting (other than the Cesar Izturis crazy dive and flip that ended the inning). Since he hasn't been up with the big club very long this season, it allows for small sample size mania. This of course means his .353 batting average, .500 on-base percentage, and .647 slugging percentage are all completely sustainable. Totally.
3) Rob Johnson
The first pitch to Markakis totally went off his glove in the fourth, but at least the requisite ball off Johnson's glove came with the bases empty and no consequence at all. He went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Johnson was probably the beneficiary of Tejada being past his prime as the latter was able to dive and stop the former's hard grounder to the right side, but Tejada lost his footing and Johnson got an infield single out of it. He eventually got to third base on Figgins' bases-loaded walk, but got no further. Johnson singled to left with runners on second and third, then Reimold bobbled the ball in leftfield. Both runners scored on the play and make it 4-0 for the Mariners, and that play basically broke the game. Johnson has three hits in his last two games, which is notihng short of a revelation. This spike in offense has raised Johnson's average to .167. He has an on-base mark of .313 (still better than Jose Lopez and Griffey) and a slugging percentage of .259 (ugh).
The Mariners' power-hitter-in-waiting went 0-for-5 in the game, contributing only defensively. He flew out to lead off the second, grounded out with the bases empty to end the fourth, grounded out to lead off the sixth, grounded into a double play to end the seventh, and flew out with runners on the corners to end the ninth. If you read that right (and if I read the play-by-play correctly), Lopez ended three innings and led off two others, with nothing really positive happening (other than seeing 22 pitches to lead the team in that category). The team's thrown a ton of money at Figgins, who has woefully underachieved at the plate thus far, but we know what Lopez can do, and we've seen him do it. Right now, he's a .214 hitter with a .241 on-base percentage and a truly abhorrent .282 slugging percentage. The Orioles' ninth hitter, Cesar Izturis, has a higher slugging percentage (.261) than Lopez. Did someone forget to pay their power bill or something? This is nuts. Dude should have at least five homers by now.
Rowland-Smith. Bergesen. Tonight.