Monday, May 17, 2010
Hey, it's another one-run loss and another loss in the final opposing at-bat! Hooray! This time it definitely isn't an indictment on the bullpen since the bullpen wasn't summoned at all in this game. No, this was a clear indictment on the offense. Surprise. Only on this team could Cliff Lee give up seven earned runs over 30 1/3 innings (four starts, ERA of 2.08) and come out with a record of 1-2. The Mariners are 1-3 in Lee's starts. This is just so ridiculous. Now I'm way past the point of thinking the Mariners could possibly keep Lee beyond July. It's not going to happen. He might like the park, but there is just no offense on this team. The organization and the operation can impress him all they want, but the product on the field is abhorrent. I wonder if Lee will ask for a trade before they put him on the block. The good thing right now is that the Mariners could ask for the moon in return for Lee in a trade. Lee's done nothing to diminish his trade value at this point. In roster news, Adam Moore was DL'd after what turned out to be a fibula injury when he slammed his foot into first base late in Saturday's game. Josh Bard came up from Tacoma and started in this game.
-- newest Mariner Josh Bard led off the third with a walk. With one out, Ichiro erased him from the basepaths with a fielder's choice, basically ending the scoring threat. Ichiro got to secodn on a wild pitch, but Chone Figgins was up and grounded out to the mound. In the fourth, Jose Lopez singled with one out and got no further on the basepaths. In the fifth, the Mariners started the inning with three straight singles (Josh Wilson, Bard, Michael Saunders) to get themselves a 1-0 lead. Ichiro then flew out, but Figgins chipped in with his specialty by grounding into a double play. Franklin Gutierrez led off the sixth with a single, and only advanced when Casey Kotchman was hit in the right shoulder blade with a pitch. Too bad that happened with two out. Gutierrez mercifully ended the inning by getting caught stealing third (more on this inning in the next paragraph). Kotchman got a one-out single in the ninth, but advanced no further. The Mariners' offense is awful.
-- unlucky Mariner moments: Saunders was up with nobody out and Bard on first. He took a 2-2 pitch for strike three off the plate and was bewildered. He had a couple words with the plate umpire, and the Emerald Queen Casino reaffirmed his anger. In the fourth, Willy Aybar led off with a high fly ball into shallow right, but both Ichiro and Figgins lost the ball in the roof and Gutierrez was too far away to get to it. Luckily, the Mariners weren't burned by the resulting cheap double. In the sixth, Jose Lopez was up with Gutierrez on first and nobody out. Lopez cranked a line drive toward the leftfield corner that would be a double when mere mortals are playing left, but Carl Crawford ran it down. After that, Ken Griffey Jr. popped a foul ball just in front of the third-base dugout, where Dioner Navarro made a sliding catch over the shoulder. The inning ended when a ball was blocked and got into the righthanded batter's box and Gutierrez was thrown out at third by Navarro when trying to advance on the play.
-- of course, the unluckiest of unlucky plays was the Crawford triple in the eighth inning. Earlier in the game, Lopez hit the line drive that was caught but should have been a double if not for Crawford. Crawford did the Mariners one worse by slicing a double that got just past the reach of the mere mortal leftfielder Saunders. Once Gabe Kapler hit the fly ball to left and Saunders had to run to get it, the game was basically over. Any Mariner fan could have shut off the television at that point knowing the Mariners weren't going to win that game, at that point down 2-1. That margin held as the final score.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: going into Monday's game in Oakland, Brandon League, Sean White, and Jesus Colome will have a day of rest. Kanekoa Texeira, Shawn Kelley, and David Aardsma will have two days of rest. Ian Snell will have four days of rest, coming off a three-inning outing where he threw 55 pitches. In other words, he has enough rest.
-- Ichiro went 0-for-4, snapping his seven game hitting streak which was also a streak of seven straight multi-hit games. Ichiro's batting average sank to .351 as a result. He has an on-base percentaeg of .394 and a slugging mark of .442. He grounded out into a fielder's choice with a runner on first and one out in the third inning. In the fifth, he was the next hitter after the Saunders single that scored the only Seattle run of the game. He had runners on first and second with nobody out and flew out to left. The latter was an inning where the Mariners could have really used him to keep the rally going. Ichiro is 54-for-154 on the season and is now on pace to finish with 236 hits.
1) Cliff Lee
Obviously, Cliff Lee was the lone bright spot in this game for the Mariners. Odd thing for me is that I don't think this was Lee's A-game. An A-game for him probably would have had him issuing zero walks and being just a tad bit more efficient. That doesn't mean I'm complaining about what he did in the game, it's just merely above average for Lee and not crazy awesome. The average per-start line for Lee: 7 2/3 innings, 2 runs (1.7 earned), 6.5 hits, 0.3 walks, 6.3 strikeouts, 108 pitches (78 strikes), 8 groundouts, 7.5 flyouts. There must be some sports book in the United Kingdom where they have an over-under on the date the Mariners trade away Cliff Lee. I think July 4th might be a good over-under date. Jack Zduriencik might get better trade value by presenting the case of the other team getting three months of Lee instead of just two. Seriously, this might end up benefiting the Mariners in much the same way as Oakland did when they signed Matt Holliday to the one-year deal and then traded him to Saint Louis, except Holliday's value was crap when he was traded. Lee is red hot.
2) Michael Saunders
He went 1-for-2 with the only Seattle RBI of the game and also walked out of the ninth slot in the lineup. I wonder where he would hit if/when Jack Wilson comes back. The scary thing is that I'm not really sure how much of an upgrade in any facet of the game Jack Wilson over Josh Wilson right now. If you could put Josh and Jack side by side and tell me Jack would hit no better than .230, I would take Josh if it were possible to cut Jack loose without having to eat his salary. Wait, this is about Saunders? Well, Don Wakamatsu usually hits Jack Wilson ninth is why I thought of this. Can Saunders hit seventh? Josh Wilson hit seventh in this game. Anyway, in his limited time with his latest Mariner stint, Saunders is hitting .296 with an on-base mark of .345 and a slugging percentage of .593. These percentages only mean so much due to small sample size, but they're numbers. The sad thing is that Saunders in a week has given more clutchness to the Mariners than most of the guys on the team. Sad, really.
3) Franklin Gutierrez
That was a ballsy play to try to take third base on the blocked ball at the plate in the sixth. That's not something you can put on Mike Brumley's craziness. Gutierrez led off the sixth with a single before Lopez and Griffey made outs soon after, torpedoing the threat. Kotchman was hit by a pitch, then Gutierrez tried making something happen by stealing third, but was gunned down. I'm sure what he was hoping at that point was that Matt Garza might uncork a wild pitch and allow him to score, which would have put the Mariners up 2-0. Gutierrez bolted for third, sensing an opportunity and maybe subconsciously not thinking Josh Wilson or Bard were going to be able to score him for the 2-0 run. Meanwhile, Gutierrez is a .303 hitter with a .388 on-base percentage and a .462 slugging mark. Hopefully he can get a Gold Glove this season by virtue of being on a slightly less crappier team than Adam Jones. Gutierrez also needs a better nickname than Guti. This leads me to another rant topic for another day...which I'll get to in the goat paragraph...
Can we PLEASE stop adding the -y or -ie suffixes to every player's name just to get a stupid nickname out of it? Every time I hear "Figgy," I just want to put my fist through the nearest object and destroy it. It's even worse because right now Figgins doesn't deserve any sort of positive nickname. Any and all Figgins nicknames right now should be in reference to his futility at the plate. Right now, "Figgy" hits about as well as pudding. Everyone's still waiting for this guy to produce, and in a few days the Mariners, their fans, and Figgins himself will find themselves at the quarter pole, 40 (or 41) games, realizing that one-fourth of the season is gone. That's a fair point to assess what the team is (CRAP OFFENSE) as well as a progress report date for the individual players. Forty games is enough for me to determine that Figgins better get moved around in the batting order or moved to third base or something. Something has to change because this is not working. I might leave everything the way it is if I thought the Mariners could play .700 ball the rest of the way, but the offense hasn't shown me any signs of consistency. Well, they haven't shown me any signs of being consistently good. They're either consistenly bad or consistently inconsistent.
Rowland-Smith. Gonzalez. Tonight.