Monday, May 24, 2010
I'm not sure what team I saw at Safeco Field on Friday night. What I do know is that the Hopeless Mariners have returned. This was far from a one-run loss. This one had Felix Hernandez pitching fairly well, the offense managing next to nothing, and the bullpen making sure the offense would have no chance to come back after the seventh-inning stretch. Also, a passed ball and a wild pitch, further indictments on the Mariners' catching deficiencies. All told, as bad as the bullpen was, even the greatest teams won't win a lot of games by scoring one run. The Mariners, of course, are far from great. Only a crap starting rotation could preclude the suckness of everything else on the Mariners, and that only happened the first week of the season. Since, the starting pitching has been great. Other than that, the offensive suck has precluded the bullpen sucking (apart from a couple games). I can start blaming the bullpen for the Mariners' woes once the offense starts scoring at least four runs a game. Until then, it's on the offense.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed in the gameballs
-- average starting line for Felix Hernandez: 6 1/3 innings, 3.2 runs (2.7 earned), 6.6 hits, 2.5 walks, 5.8 strikeouts, 106 pitches (66 strikes), 8.5 groundouts, 3.8 flyouts
-- you have to appreciate the Mariner bullpen working as a team. Jesus Colome allowed two singles and a walk to load the bases with nobody out and get chased, then Kanekoa Texeira came in and set the place ablaze. He allowed two doubles that made it 7-1, got a flyout, then allowed another single. He then got a fly ball, but it was deep enough to score the runner from third to make it 8-1, which held up for the final margin. Separate from this fiasco was Ryan Rowland-Smith, who threw a 1-2-3 inning against Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Headley, and Matt Stairs in a garbage-time ninth inning.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Colome, Texeira, and Rowland-Smith threw in this game and will have a day of rest heading into Tuesday's game. Shawn Kelley and Brandon League will have two days of rest, and David Aardsma will have five days of rest since this offense never gives him anything to close.
-- this is one of those games where you can't lament the Mariners' ability to hit with runners in scoring position because it's precluded by the Mariners' inability to get runners into scoring position in the first place. The Mariners were 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position. Ichiro singled to lead off the first, but was erased on a fielder's choice. Eight straight Mariners failed to reach base until Ichiro got up again and doubled with two out in the third (first Mariner runner in scoring position). Mike Sweeney singled with one out in the fourth and stayed there. Josh Wilson singled with two out in the fifth. Sweeney walked with two out in the sixth. In the seventh, Ken Griffey Jr. drew a leadoff walk and went to third on Matt Tuiasosopo's double. Rob Johnson's fly ball scored Griffey from third to make it 3-1. With Tuiasosopo remaining on second, Josh Wilson flew out and Ichiro went down swinging. With the game well out of reach, Sweeney drew another two-out walk in the eighth. I think I just went over every Mariner baserunner in the game.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro got two hits and Figgins went hitless. Neither scored. The Mariners remain 8-2 when both players score and 7-13 when both collect hits.
The Mariners' leadoff hitter and rightfielder went 2-for-4 with a double in this game and is now 64-for-182 (.352) on the season. He also has a .395 on-base percentage and a .434 slugging percentage and is on pace to finish the season with 236 hits. I don't know whether I just hadn't noticed it before or what, but it seems Ichiro's using leftfield a lot more lately with his hitting approach. I'm liking what I'm seeing. I know the 2001 Ichiro will never be seen again -- partly due to age and partly due to teams having more knowledge of how to pitch to him -- but the memories I have of him that season involve him being able to drive the ball into the gap in leftcenter to split the outfielders and get doubles and triples. Maybe he can't two-hop the wall in the gap, but if he could shoot ground balls that split the leftfielder and centerfielder, I'm all for that. Ichiro's holding the bargain, definitely. The guy hitting right behind him in the lineup is hitting .195 and is totally not holding up his end of the bargain.
2) Felix Hernandez
He rebounded from a subpar start, but drew the loss this time as opposed to a no-decision last time. In this game, Felix was the recipient of some bad luck. Quite a few jamshots seemed to fall in for hits, and Rob Johnson's defensive misgivings figured greatly into two of the Padres' runs. In the first inning, David Eckstein doubled and Adrian Gonzalez singled (both on 0-2 pitches) to make it 1-0. Felix got the next two hitters out to end the inning. Felix retired the next seven Padre hitters before Nick Hundley rolled a ball up the middle that Josh Wilson gloved, but couldn't make a play (and had no play anyway). That play led off the fifth, and Everth Cabrera bunted Hundley to second. A passed ball by Rob Johnson on a low pitch pushed Hundley to third. Tony Gwynn Jr. grounded to first, and Hundley took off on contact and scored, making it 2-0 for San Diego. Felix got through the sixth despite a leadoff single, a wild pitch (probably on Johnson), and a two-out walk. In the seventh, Cabrera singled with one out and stole second when Johnson bounced the throw, forcing Josh Wilson to come up with his glove. Will Venable singled on the next pitch, making it 3-0.
3) Mike Sweeney
The Mariners' best designated hitter didn't take the day off as originally announced in the media. He went 1-for-2 and walked twice. Both his walks came with two out. In fact, all of his plate appearances came with two out other than the one where he singled. In all of Sweeney's two-out plate appearances, Figgins and Franklin Gutierrez made the two outs in front of him. That's not exactly a lineup clicking on all cylinders. I'm not sure it's clicking on any cylinders at all. To take the analogy further, the Mariners situation would be like when your car is dead and gets jumpstarted, then you start it up and it seems to work well. You take the jumper cables off and it stills seems to work well for all of a minute or two before it quits again, and you can't seem to start it back up again. There's your Mariner offense for you. Hell, that could be the entire team. They're not good. Know what'd be hilarious? If Mike Sweeney was one of the guys that leaked the Griffey Napgate story to Larry LaRue. Hey, if the play on the field can't be entertaining, can we at least get some Mariner entertainment off the field?
As much as I blame the offense for this game, no one player from the Mariner offense managed a higher crap-per-time ratio in this game than Colome. I'm not so sure Don Wakamatsu shouldn't have just let Colome lie in the bed he made. Of course, if he did, the media and the fans would have probably been all over Wakamatsu for not pulling Colome at that point. I'm trying to think if there is any way that outing could have been worse for Colome. If he got injured, it would have been worse. If he stayed in for one extra hitter and gave up a grand slam, that might have been worse. If Texeira allowed a grand slam right off the bat, it would have been worse (though Texeira still would have let in all three of Colome's runners). This was just an unbelievably bad outing for Colome. To make matters worse, he didn't record an out, which means the three runs given up result in a meteoric rise to his ERA. In other words, Colome went from a 3.94 ERA to a 5.63 ERA in one outing. The Mariners weren't going to be scoring any runs, but man, that was bad.
Verlander. Fister. Tomorrow.