Thursday, May 13, 2010



I went with this tagline after Ryan Rowland-Smith's last start, and I'll go with it again: Ryan Rowland-Smith is the new Ian Snell. This is too bad since the Aussie was good for seven innings every five days once he got back onto the roster. As a matter of fact, I was at the game where Rowland-Smith came back against Cleveland, and he pitched great, but the Mariners ended up getting drubbed. Miguel Batista couldn't even complete his garbage-time relief assignment. That was the home series sweep against Cleveland that ended the Mariners' playoff hopes, by the way. Anyway, there were also a couple of lineup tweaks, which...ugh. Franklin Gutierrez got the night off, so it's almost like Rowland-Smith was set up to fail by having the knees cut from under the offense. Matt Tuiasosopo got back onto the roster after Jack Wilson was DL'd, but then Tuiasosopo found himself hitting fifth in this lineup and playing third because Jose Lopez was the designated hitter. Casey Kotchman hit third, which I'd rather not see. Gutierrez didn't play centerfield, so Ryan Langerhans was the guy doing it.

-- the starting pitching will be discussed below. Way below.

-- Ian Snell came into the game with the bases clean and nobody out in the fourth. He went 1-2-3 to finish off the fourth. Adam Jones singled off Snell to lead off the fifth, and he got to second with two out after Tuiasosopo had a grounder play him at third. Snell got the next hitter out to avoid any jam. Luck ran out for Snell, however, in the sixth. Consecutive doubles greeted Snell to start the sixth. A Cesar Izturis fly ball scored Luke Scott from third to make it 4-0, and one out later, Jones singled to scored Garrett Atkins from second to make it 5-0 and basically put the game away with three innings to spare. Sean White threw the seventh, giving up only a leadoff infield single to Miguel Tejada. Jesus Colome came in to start the eighth. He struck out Atkins to lead off, and after the strikeout pitch, it seemed he bent over at the waist in a bit of discomfort. Nothing seemed to come of it, then Izturis grounded to second. It was a play where Colome had to come off the mound in case he had to cover first base, and afterward he was clutching his right hip. Colome left the game at that point, and Kanekoa Texeira got the final hitter out to end the eighth.

-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Snell, White, Colome, and Texeira all worked in this game. Going into Thursday's midday game, Brandon League will have a day of rest, Shawn Kelley will have two days of rest, and David Aardsma will have three days of rest.

-- Langerhans helped postpone the Orioles' third run by gunning down Tejada at home plate to end the third inning. Really, Langerhans airmailed the throw all the way to Adam Moore behind the plate, and Tejada probably doesn't run like he did as a young'un.

-- Lopez had only one hit in the game, but it was a poke through the right side with a runner on first, so it was of a bit of note. The fact he had a hit at all is of note, sadly. Lopez is now hitting .215, which is better than Casey Kotchman (.198) and Chone Figgins (.190). His on-base percentage (.241) is still worse than all other Mariner regulars. That inning ended with Josh Wilson grounding to third into a step-on-third/throw-to-first double play started by Tejada. Tejada threw wide of first, but Atkins pulled it down and was able to tag Josh Wilson as he ran past.

-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Only Ichiro scored a run while Figgins did not. Ichiro had two hits, and Figgins collected one and drove in a run. Thus, the Mariners remain 7-1 when both players score, but are now 5-8 when both players get hits. The latter number is baffling to me, while the former is baffling only because it's so infrequent.

-- I didn't goat him because the starting pitching was going to sink this game anyway, but Josh Wilson cooled off, going 0-for-4, striking out once, and grounding into two double plays.

1) Ryan Langerhans
He started in centerfield and batted sixth, going 2-for-3 with a walk. Pretty much any time when a Langerhans, a Josh Wilson, or a Michael Saunders gets multiple hits in a game, they're going to get high consideration for one of these gameball slots. What should be happening is people like Jose Lopez, Casey Kotchman, Chone Figgins, Ryan Rowland-Smith should be challenging for this spot every time they take the field, but not a lot of things about this season have gone quite as planned. In other news, Langerhans has reached base in each of the last four games and has hit more home runs at the big-league level this season than Jose Lopez.

2) Ichiro
The Mariners' rightfielder and leadoff hitter went 2-for-4 with a double (barely missing a homer). He is now 46-for-137 (.336), putting him on pace for 226 hits. He also scored one of the two Mariner runs and stole a base with the Mariners down 5-0 (Dave Niehaus wondered aloud on the radio side why Ichiro was stealing the bag down five runs, but at least it made the broadcast eventful). I hope this isn't another year like 2004 where the team sucks and all that's worth watching is Ichiro amassing hits. Granted, the components of Mariner suckness would be way different than 2004, but it would still be suck.

3) Casey Kotchman
The bar wasn't very high for a third gameball. Kotchman went 1-for-3 and also walked, so that's enough for the third gameball. This was enough to boost Kotchman's batting average to .198, his on-base percentage to .283 (still better than Lopez), and his slugging percentage to .377 (worse than Ichiro). Along with Figgins and Rowland-Smith, and the offense collectively, I'd have to say Kotchman has been a huge disappointment at the plate this season. He can defend, sure, and the team can defend, but the rules of baseball require you to be able to score at least one run to win, and this team has demonstrated on quite a few occasions that they have trouble even scoring once, let alone three or four times.

Ryan Rowland-Smith
If the Mariners are still in it, I'm not sure if they can afford to have Ryan Rowland-Smith work out his kinks at the Major League level. He's not keeping the ball down and he's gotten hit hard in nearly every start. His average per-start line has him giving up 4.1 runs (3.7 earned) on 5.9 hits, walking 2.4, striking out 1.9, throwing 89 pitches (56 strikes), and getting 6.6 groundouts and 5.6 flyouts. The problem is that he amasses all those numbers in 5 1/3 innings. I expected these numbers maybe to come out of Doug Fister or Jason Vargas, but I guess I was tricking myself when I thought Rowland-Smith could be the number-two starter in this rotation. His performance so far this year has been really disappointing, and I was pretty surprised Don Wakamatsu had that quick of a hook on him after the solo homer that started the bottom of the fourth. Apparently, Wakamatsu saw 55 pitches and he didn't need to see any more. Maybe the hole Hyphen thing went to his head. The Hyphen shirts aren't going to sell very well until he picks up his performance.

Hernandez. Millwood. Today.

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