Saturday, May 22, 2010
What a weird night. I sat in the centerfield bleachers for this game, and it was just an incredibly weird game. The Mariners needed a laugher to go their way at some point, and they got it. Still, it's just odd that Cliff Lee can have his worst start as a Mariner and he gets the win, whereas he lost or got no-decisions in two of his other brilliant starts. All told, it was a grand night for everyone that wasn't named Jose Lopez, Ichiro, Chone Figgins, and Franklin Gutierrez. Those four combined to go 3-for-18 with a double, walk, and three RBIs. Lopez accounted for an 0-for-5 out of all that. This means hitters four through nine in the lineup (sans Lopez) went 12-for-22 with two doubles, three home runs, three walks, and 12 RBIs. I'll note that thanks to Bremerton's idiotic evening ferry schedule, I had to leave in the eighth inning when it was 15-8 (around 10:05p) so I could catch the 10:30p ferry. I never leave games early, but the ferry schedule is so idiotic, I felt the game was mostly out of doubt and I didn't want to wait until 12:50a to catch the next ferry to Bremerton. Idiotic.
-- I kept waiting for Cliff Lee to get pulled in the seventh inning. The Mariners led by 11 runs coming into the seventh, and Lee was right at 100 pitches. There was really no urgent reason for Lee to stay in the ballgame. If he came out to the mound at all for the seventh, he probably should have been yanked after the first or second hitter, definitely before any of the runs scored. Instead, two more runs scored on his watch to make it 15-6, and Jesus Colome came in and set fire to Lee's ERA even more, scoring both of the inherited runners to make it 15-8, which held as the final score. Lee's final ledger had him giving up eight runs (seven earned) on 11 hits, striking out seven. Somehow, he managed not to walk anyone. He just got hit around in this game, plain and simple. Six of the 11 hits given up by Lee were doubles.
-- Colome came in with runners on second and third and one out with the score 15-6. He allowed the Oscar Salazar single that made it 15-8 before getting the next two hitters out to end the inning. Colome allowed a leadoff single to Everth Cabrera and a one-out single to David Eckstein. Other than a wild pitch (I was starting to lose fath a bit in Josh Bard's ball-blocking ability as the game wore on) that moved the runners up 90 feet, it was an otherwise benign inning. Brandon League threw in a ninth inning that was very much a soft landing. He allowed a leadoff single, but set down the next three hitters to end the game.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Colome and League threw in this game. Going into Saturday's game, Kanekoa Texeira and Shawn Kelley will have a day of rest, David Aardsma will have two days of rest, and Ryan Rowland-Smith will have four days of rest.
-- the Padres scored twice in the first inning, and as Mariner fans we've grown this year to expect the Mariners to probably not win any game where that happens. The Mariner bats didn'r respond right away, but they exploded in the second inning. Five Mariner hitters reached base (infield single, two walks, two singles, two runs across) before an out was recorded. Figgins hit a sacrifice fly for the first out, pushing the Mariners' third run across the plate to give them a 3-2 lead. A Franklin Gutierrez fielder's choice groudner made it 4-2 before Mike Sweeney blasted off to make it 7-2. Bard tacked on another run with a homer to make it 8-4 in the third inning. In the fourth, Gutierrez doubled and came home on Sweeney's second homer of the game to make it 10-4. Singles by Milton Bradley and Casey Kotchman preceded a Brad double that made it 12-4. Bard scored on a Josh Wilson double that made it 13-4. Finally, in the fifth, an leadoff infield single and a walk preceded a Sweeney single that made it 14-4, a Bradley one-out single loaded the bases, and a Kotchman fielder's choice capped the Mariners' scoring at 15-4. The bats shut down at that point as San Diego pitching retired nine of the final ten Mariner hitters (one walk), but the damage was done.
-- I can't forget to mention the amount of breaks the Mariners were getting. I remember a ball bouncing off the third-base bag, a couple of balls off gloves, balls landing between three converging fielders, etc. The Mariner pitching has been good enough this year where if the Mariners get breaks here and there, they win.
-- Ichiro went 1-for-5, making him 60-for-174 (.345) on the season and putting him on pace for a 231-hit season. It'd probably be good if this pace picked up a little bit.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro went 1-for-5 and scored a run, and Figgins went 1-for-4 and scored a run. The Mariners are now 8-2 when both players score and 7-12 when both players collect hits.
1) Mike Sweeney
I feel pretty safe saying he won't have another night like this for the rest of the season. I don't see a lot of 4-for-6 nights with two homers and six RBIs in his future. Hopefully we see a lot of playing time in Sweeney's future. There was a week or so not too logn ago where Sweeney was getting some starts against righthanded starting pitchers, and I think that time has come again. Then again, we have to consider that Sweeney started the very night after Ken Griffey Jr. had the winning hit. Of course, it doesn't exactly take a rocket scientist to figure out who out of the Mariners' two designated hitters has more left in his bat, but since the strings seem to be pulled at a level higher than the manager or the general manager, we're stuck with Griffey making outs until he removes himself from the team. Anyway, I got home and saw the second Sweeney homer on the replay, and Sweeney looked like he hit that homer on his front foot. His swing makes my back hurt just watching it, but if the results are much like they were in this game, he can keep swinging all uncomfortably.
2) Josh Bard
The Mariners finally have a catcher that can catch most of the time, but can actually hit as well. Not to mention he can hit from both sides of the plate as well. Shakespeare went 2-for-3 with a double, home run, and two walks in the game, scoring three times and driving in three runs. Two of his three RBIs came with two out. The bottom third of the Mariner lineup went a collective 5-for-12 with three walks, two doubles, a homer, and six RBIs. They also scored six of the Mariners' 15 runs. Right now I think we should only be seeing Rob Johnson on the days where Felix Hernandez starts, if at all. I don't think the universe will implode if Bard ends up catching Felix one of these days. If Johnson's catching at all, though, right now he should be doing it maybe once per turn through the rotation. He can earn more by catching and blocking the ball and doing positive things on offense. I find it funny whenever Johnson and Adam Moore are both referred to as "young," because Moore is the one I would see being the catcher of the future, if it was anybody. Johnson seems like a seatwarmer, if anything. Bard's a seatwarmer who can hit.
3) Milton Bradley
Anger can be managed by going 3-for-5, right? The Mariners' recent returnee from the restricted list scored twice on the night. His three hits were all singles. One can only hope that a three-hit night can be a jumping-off point on offense for Bradley. As it stands, the golden moment of Bradley's season to date has been the called shot by Jay Buhner in the booth. People can regret having Bradley all they want, but I'd really hate it more if Carlos Silva were still on this team, sucking up a 25-man roster spot and having no chance of upside. The three-hit night pushed Bradley's batting average to .244 (from .221), his slugging percentage to .333 (.318), and his on-base percentage to .378 (.364). It'd be great to see some power out of him, and maybe we'll see that soon enough.
Not even a night of the Mariner offense erupting could get Lopez going. Though he never struck out, Lopez went 0-for-5. In the first, he grounded into a fielder's choice with runners on the corners that ended the inning. In the second, he flew out right after Sweeney hit the 7-2 homer. In the fourth, he came up again after a Sweeney homer and grounded out on the first pitch. In the fifth, Lopez had two on and one out (the score was 14-4) and he popped out to the second baseman. He ended the seventh inning with a bases-empty flyout to left. That's the anatomy of a game of offensive suck for Lopez. This comes without me even mentioning the God-awful throwing error. He threw way over Kotchman at first base, getting the Padres to cut their deficit to 7-4 in the third inning. Fans in the stands were calling for him to tag the runner that was coming to third base from second, but Lopez chose to throw and was way off target, letting that runner score. I'll once again say that if it takes moving Lopez to jumpstart him at the plate, it needs to be done.
Richard. Snell. Tonight.