Wednesday, May 26, 2010
[actual post 29 May 2010 at 12:07p]
Late, due to logistical reasons. Somehow I think this game was more along the lines of what we expected out of the Mariners. Sure, it helped that Miguel Cabrera wasn't in the lineup for the Tigers, but you take all the breaks you can get. You'd have to presume Cabrera would automatically hit a two-run homer for him to be a difference in this game, and that's not a certainty. All in all, the Mariners got great starting pitching and just enough offense to get by. That was the formula for winning going into this season, and this is one of the few times this season where the Mariners cooked according to the recipe.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed in the entries
-- Shawn Kelley threw the eighth inning and held a 3-3 tie. The worst thing he did was walk Magglio Ordonez after he had him in an 0-2 count. Kelley then set down the next three Tiger hitters in order. David Aardsma then threw the ninth with the Mariners having a newfound 5-3 lead. Aardsma hasn't had a lot of chances this season to nail down the save since the Mariners don't have a lot of leads that late in the game, but Aardsma had a rare 1-2-3 save.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Kelley and Aardsma threw in this game. Going into Wednesday's game, Jesus Colome, Kanekoa Texeira, and Ryan Rowland-Smith had two days of rest, and Brandon League had three days of rest.
-- the Mariner offense drew first blood in the first inning. Franklin Gutierrez singled and was driven home when Milton Bradley cranked a first-pitch fastball over the rightfield wall to make it 2-0. Unfortunately, that lead didn't even last through the next half-inning.
-- with a runner on first and one out in the top of the second, Alex Avila hit a hard grounder to Josh Wilson at short. The Mariner shortstop had it right in his hands, but had it deflect past, putting the runners on the corners (instead of an inning-ending double play). Danny Worth then shot a grounder past Casey Kotchman at first on a hit-and-run to make it 2-1. Austin Jackson grounded near the line to third, but Jose Lopez had the ball go off the heel of his glove and past him, tying the score at 2-2. Luckily the damage was done for that inning.
-- in the third, Chone Figgins drew a one-out walk, but Justin Verlander struck out the side
-- aiding Ichiro's hitless night was a play in third where Ichiro tapped to the side of the mound, but Verlander came off the mound, barehanded the ball, and made a turnaround throw to get Ichiro at first.
-- interesting note: in the fourth and fifth, both Verlander and Fister went six up and six down with the hitters they both faced
-- in the sixth, Lopez got a hit! Hooray!
-- something odd: Josh Wilson doubled after his error and until the eighth was the only runner the Mariners had put into scoring position. The odd thing is that the double was in the second inning with two out. Thus, I really don't have a lot of Mariner blown chances about which to write. They seriously got nothing going offensively from innings two through seven...aside from the totally isolated solo shot from Gutierrez in the sixth, which came out of nowhere.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro went hitless in the game and didn't score, whereas Figgins went 1-for-3 and scored a run. The Mariners remain 8-2 when both players score and 7-13 when both collect hits.
1) Milton Bradley
I'm not sure if he needed this kind of game more than we all did as fans. That home run in the first inning wasn't drilled like the Jay Buhner called shot earlier this season, but a lot has happened since that homer, and this one might have been just as important, if not more important. He wasn't done, however, as he singled in the eighth inning to break the tie and give the Mariners the lead they never relinquished. Bradley drove in three of the Mariners' five runs on the night, though with a bonus point to Figgins for sliding to the outside on the go-ahead run. The Mariners sure could use some nights of power out of a couple players in their lineup, and Bradley's production can only help. His numbers still aren't too sparkling -- he is at .234 with an on-base percentage of .314, and he slugs .383 -- but that .234 average is still better than Figgins and Lopez, and those two guys have played just about every game this season, if not every game.
2) Doug Fister
He continues to not disappoint, this time throwing another seven solid innings with few hiccups. I talked about the second inning, and frankly, that inning should have been over if not for Josh Wilson misplaying a grounder hit right at him. In the third, he was in a bit of a jam with runners on the corners and one out, but he got Don Kelly to line out (to Figgins) into a double play to end the inning. That was the first of eight hitters he retired before Brandon Inge destroyed one of his pitches, depositing it into the far end of the Mariner bullpen (no small feat, and apparently a 411-foot shot) to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead that fortunately didn't last through the bottom half of the same inning. Fister retired the final four hitters he faced, including a 1-2-3 seventh inning. His average per-start line: 6 2/3 innings, 1.7 runs (1.6 earned), 5.4 hits, 1.1 walks, 2.9 strikeouts, 100 pitches (64 strikes), 10.4 groundouts, 5.7 flyouts.
3) Franklin Gutierrez
The Mariners' centerfielder had seen his offensive numbers slide a good deal in the last couple weeks, and he was hitting .277 coming into the game. He went 2-for-3 in this game (including the homer that tied the game at 3-3), pushing the average to .284, the on-base percentage to .374 (from .366), and the slugging percentage to .438 (from .415). In fact, having Gutierrez slip at the plate the last few weeks was probably a huge reason the Mariners fell upon hard times as badly as they did. Granted, I sure didn't think going into the season that Gutierrez would have to be depended upon to hit like he was hitting. I thought maybe some other guys in the lineup would step the frick up in case something like that happened. Just because Gutierrez had an outside shot at 20 homers last year doesn't mean he should be shouldering a ton of the burden for this offense to get itself into gear. I still don't think he'll be hitting third in the lineup for all of the remaining games this season. Someone else has to get hot. It has to happen.
Too bad that in such a big and uplifting Mariner win, the Mariners' star player figured little into the win. Ichiro went 0-for-4 in the game, striking out twice. He grounded out on the first pitch in the first inning, he whiffed to lead off the third, had the tough groundout that ended the fifth, and was caught looking to lead off the eighth (in other words, the entire rally took place after he struck out). He is 64-for-186 (.344) on the season and is on pace to finish with 230 hits. I like a 240-hit pace for Ichiro myself, but who can argue when the guy's hitting .344? He's still quite good. Just to recap Ichiro's career in the Majors, the Mariners have only made the playoffs once and had teams close to the playoffs three other times out of nine seasons. I wish the Mariners could stop wasting these Ichiro years and get back to the playoffs. I remember this franchise for the longest time lacked a leadoff hitter. It wasn't like the bar was very high for leadoff hitters for the Mariners. The best ones were probably rent-a-players by the names of Vince Coleman and Rickey Henderson, and the latter wasn't exactly scorching as a Mariner.
Bonderman. Vargas. Today (well, it totally would have been today if I'd been able to get this one posted in time).