Tuesday, May 18, 2010



Did anybody see the pitching matchups for today and think the Mariners had a chance? Ryan Rowland-Smith has had maybe one good start this year out of his eight starts. In context of the starting rotation, I began the season worrying about Ian Snell in the rotation and wanting him to get sent down or bumped to the bullpen while thinking Ryan Rowland-Smith was going to get it turned around. Snell did eventually get bumped to the bullpen, but Rowland-Smith hasn't righted the ship by any means. He's been terrible. It's neat how with Snell in the bullpen, the Mariners have basically decided to use this spot in the rotation to throw their crappy starters onto the mound. Rowland-Smith is the current crappy starter, and Snell is the former crappy starter, now in the bullpen. It's not like they're going to make Snell a late-inning reliever who only throws an inning or so at a time, so what else is he going to do? Snell's role reminds me of such former Mariner luminaries as Kevin Jarvis and Miguel Batista, who once banished to the bullpen saw action mostly in garbage time when the starters sucked.

-- the top of the first had two delayed steals for the Mariners. Franklin Gutierrez had walked himself aboard and took off on a delayed steal with two out. Kurt Suzuki, apparently surprised, threw wide of second, and Gutierrez ended up on third. Gutierrez then scored on the clutch single by Lopez (I haven't typed that too many times this season). Later on, though it ended up inconsequential, Oakland wanted an appeal on a Ken Griffey Jr. checkswing and Lopez stole second.

-- the third inning started out promising for the Mariners. Ichiro led off and bounced a ball past the mound and the infielders had no play. Chone Figgins then turned in his specialty by grounding into a double play.

-- the fifth inning saw Josh Bard send leftfielder Jack Cust to the leftfield wall to make a catch, so that's something. Bard is also a switch-hitting catcher, so maybe that's something for Don Wakamatsu to consider. Maybe instead of pairing the young Adam Moore with the slightly more experienced Rob Johnson, he could do a righty-lefty platoon.

-- in the sixth, Lopez singled to make it 7-3, and the Mariners had runners on first and second with nobody out. Griffey then hit into a broken-bat double play, leaving a runner on third with two out, and that's how it stood. The Mariners are serial killers of rallies.

-- the trouble started for Ryan Rowland-Smith in the very first inning. After giving up a Daric Barton double, he got Kurt Suzuki to fly out for the second out. Then Kevin Kouzmanoff got a hold of the first pitch and put it over the wall in rightcenter. Oakland never lost the lead from there. Ryan Sweeney doubled right after that for good measure, and even though Rowland-Smith got the next hitter for the final out, he was pretty much screwed. In the second, Oakland started with two singles, then Rajai Davis ripped a ball to where the leftfield foul line met the wall. That hit made it 4-1. Then Cliff Pennington bunted a ball along the third-base line, where Josh Bard didn't have a play on it. Two pitches later, Barton hit a deep-enough fly ball to score Davis from third to make it 5-1. Rowland-Smith got the next two hitters out, but the damage was done. In the third, Ryan Sweeney led off with a single, but Jake Fox hit the next pitch into a double play. Still, Rowland-Smith wasn't home free as he allowed a single to Cust, then hung a pitch to Adam Rosales, who pulverized it, depositing the ball over the wall in leftcenter to make it 7-1. Per the FSNNW broadcast, that was the tenth homer Rowland-Smith had allowed this season. Thankfully, that homer chased Rowland-Smith.

-- Ian Snell came in with the bases clean and two out. Davis greeted Snell with a bouncer over the mound on which Josh Wilson couldn't quite field it cleanly, but Davis is fast. Davis stole second, but Snell got a flyout to end the inning. Snell weathered a leadoff single in the fourth along with a between-wickets error by Lopez by getting a double-play ball to end the inning. Snell allowed only a two-out single in the fifth. In the sixth, Snell's mojo finally ran out as he allowed a one-out triple and a single to make it 8-3. Jesus Colome came in for Snell with a runner on first and one out in the sixth. He needed all of two pitches to get a double-play ball. Colome also threw a 1-2-3 seventh inning. Sean White then threw a 1-2-3 eighth inning, so that's something. The Mariner bullpen retired the last seven hitters they faced. Whaddaya know?

-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Snell, Colome, and White threw in this game. Going into Tuesday's game, Brandon League will have two days of rest. Kanekoa Texeira, Shawn Kelley, and David Aardsma will have three days of rest.

-- other things proving inconsequential throughout the game... in the fifth, Dave Sims and Mike Blowers resorted to some NBA playoff chat since the Mariners weren't really getting anywhere. In the sixth, Ichiro probably had some sort of communication gaffe with Gutierrez on a ball that went to the track in rightcenter. Ichiro should have had it, but looked to see where Gutierrez was, then by the time he picked up the ball, it was just past the reach of his glove.

-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro had two hits while Figgins had one. Both players scored a run apiece. This is an incredibly rare happening this season. Despite this, the Mariners lost. The Mariners are now 7-2 when both players score in the same game and are now 6-10 when they both collect hits.

1) Jose Lopez
The Mariners were out of this game early (giving up seven runs in the first three innings tends to do that), but if anything good comes out of this game, hopefully we get to point to this game as the game where Lopez finally got back on track at the plate. He hasn't been that bad at third base (the error in this game on a field with crappy wet conditions notwithstanding), but his defense been able to offset his limitless vat of suck on offense. Tonight, however, the Mariners were 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position, and Lopez had both of those hits. During Lopez's at-bat in the first, Franklin Gutierrez got himself from first to third on a delayed steal play where Kurt Suzuki threw wide of second base. Lopez singled to rightfield on the next pitch, getting the Mariners a 1-0 lead that lasted a few minutes. In the sixth, Chone Figgins and Gutierrez both walked to start the sixth, and Lopez singled to left to cut Oakland's lead to 7-3. In the eighth, Lopez had runners on the corners and one out and grounded out on a high chopper along the third-base line, scoring Ichiro to cap the scoring at an 8-4 Mariner deficit. His three RBIs in the game bumped his season RBI total to 15. He also stole a base.

2) Ichiro
Two more hits. Ho hum. The Mariners' leadoff hitter went 2-for-4 and scored a run. Ichiro is 56-for-158 (.354) on the season and is on pace to finish the season with 239 hits. He led off the third with a bouncer past the mound on which the infielders had no play. Ichiro then served a single into left to lead off the eighth and he eventually scored the fourth and final Seattle run. He went 0-for-4 in Sunday's game, but this game gives Ichiro eight multi-hit games in the last nine games. I wish the Mariners were as simple as "where Ichiro goes, the offense goes," because the Mariners would have just won eight out of nine games instead of losing their five of six and 13th out of 16. Seriously, we all should have found a way to immortalize the game tape of the top of the eighth because Ichiro and Figgins hit back-to-back singles to lead off the inning. How many times has that happened this season? How many times have things actually gone as planned this season?

3) Matt Tuiasosopo
One thing's for sure. Even if that homer would have been a flyout to centerfield, that ball was absolutely stung. Most of the time I've seen Tuiasosopo at the plate this season, the first word that comes to mind is "overmatched." Finally we got to see him get a pitch he could drive, and he took it deep to centerfield, where centerfielder Rajai Davis leaped at the wall only to have the ball go off the heel of his glove and over the wall. It's a cheap homer for Tuiasosopo, but much like Lopez, he needed some positivity and some confidence at the plate as well. Any offense off the bench or in a spot start is quite welcome right now. Actually, any offense out of the two-thirds of the lineup that hasn't been producing is quite welcome. As we all know, Milton Bradley is going to reappear on the roster at some point, and that probably means Tuiasosopo or Michael Saunders will be sent back to Tacoma. Tuiasosopo's righthandedness (at the plate) and his ability to play multiple positions (albeit not very well) might help him, whereas Saunders is lefthanded (at the plate) like Ryan Langerhans is.

Ryan Rowland-Smith
He actually made some progress in this game. He didn't walk anybody. If it weren't for those seven runs he gave up, this would have been a great outing for him, though you'd hope it would have been a lot longer than 2 2/3 innings. When talking about the Mariners' starting pitching and how great it is, we really have to consider that the great starting pitching only has a good chance of occuring four days out of every five right now. In other words, the Mariners haven't found a worthy pitcher to go into this Ryan Rowland-Smith slot. Later on this year, hopefully it will be Ryan Rowland-Smith. Right now, though, I think the Aussie's gotta be bumped to the bullpen or something (per Geoff Baker, Rowland-Smith is out of options and would have to clear waivers to end up in Tacoma again). It's not doing the team or the Aussie any good to go out there every five days and stink up the joint. I don't think the Mariners can wait for Erik Bedard to return to bump Rowland-Smith out of the rotation. I think this should be Rowland-Smith's last start for a while, at least at the big-league level. I mean, sheesh, you almost have to try to suck if you're giving up ten hits in 2 2/3 innings. Unbelievable.

Hernandez. Sheets. Tonight.

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