Saturday, May 29, 2010
This one's posted late due to logistics, and I totally didn't see this game, so it's all on how well I read the play-by-play and the boxscores. One week earlier, I saw Cliff Lee have his worst start as a Mariner and still win since the Mariners had themselves an offensive explosion. This time, the Mariners put eight runs on the board, which is more than modest, though not the 15-run kablooie they put up against San Diego. Lee, however, had the game on lockdown. His dependability is approaching Felix-like status (like non-May Felix), and it's going to suck when they trade this guy. I would say it's all but a certainty, but the Mariners do have to get something more awesome than two picks at the end of the first round of the amateur draft, so Jack Zduriencik can almost shoot the moon. I'd have to think some team out there is going to want Cliff Lee, and they're going to need him badly enough to pony up a package better than the value of two first-round picks. Since there's no way some contending team is going to trade a big slugger off their 25-man roster (robbing Peter to pay Paul), the Mariners should be getting top-flight prospects to further bolster their minor-league system. How about someone on offense steps up from the minors one of these days?
-- the starting pitching will be discussed in the entries below
-- Shawn Kelley threw a low-pressure ninth inning with a five-run lead. He allowed only a leadoff single to Kendry Morales before getting the next three hitters out to end the game. Kelley's ERA is now a respectable 2.04.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Kelley threw in this game. Going into Saturday afternoon's game, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Brandon League, and David Aardsma had two days of rest. Jesus Colome and Kanekoa Texeira had five days of rest.
-- a stat that I heard off ESPN was that this marked the first time all year where the Mariners scored five or more runs in three straight games. Someone break up the Mariners!
-- the first four hitters in the Mariner lineup (Ichiro, Chone Figgins, Franklin Gutierrez, Milton Bradley) combined to go 6-for-15 with a double, five RBIs, three walks, and five runs scored. A cliche I like to transfer over from hockey is "your best players have to be your best players." When Ichiro, Figgins, Gutierrez, and Bradley all make meaningful contributions to a game, the Mariners are going to win. They probably have a really good chance if just three of those four make meaningful contributions. Heck, out of the entire lineup, only one hitter went hitless.
-- the Mariners used a three-run third inning to overcome a 2-0 deficit and vault themselves into the lead, and it all occurred with two out. Ichiro singled, Figgins walk, Gutierrez singled to make it 2-1, and Bradley singled to plate two runs and make it 3-2 for Seattle before the inning ended.
-- Jose Lopez led off the fourth with a homer to make it 4-2 in an otherwise meaningless inning. In the fifth, the Mariners scored twice to build up their lead. Ichiro singled to lead off, then Figgins doubled to make it 5-2, with an error putting Figgins on third. One out later, Bradley hit into a deep flyout to score Figgins from third to make it 6-2.
-- the Mariners tacked on a couple more in the ninth. Rob Johnson somehow doubled, just missing a home run, and Josh Wilson followed up with a double of his own to make it 7-3. Ichiro was hit with a pitch, then Figgins walked to load the bases before a Gutierrez single scored one to make it 8-3. It was almost 9-3, but Ichiro was thrown out at the plate.
-- usually I'm putting up blown chances for the Mariner offense, but I don't think a one-out single by Casey Kotchman in the sixth counts as a legitimate scoring threat. When the Mariners had chances in this game, they put at least a run across in those innings.
-- Ichiro went 2-for-4 in the game and scored twice. The two hits game gets him to 66-for-195 on the season (.338) and he is on pace to finish the season with 227 (yeahyeahyeah) hits. I think that pace has to be higher than 230 or 235 for the Mariners to do good stuff. While Ichiro can't win games by himself (2004 proved that), the team's screwed if he goes dry for long stretches. Ichiro's slump got to 0-for-12 before he singled to lead off the third inning. Ichiro now has an on-base percentage of .383 (topped only by Gutierrez and his .388) and a slugging percentage of .415.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro got two hits, and Figgins got one. Both players scored twice apiece, the first time that's happened all season. The Mariners are now 9-2 when both players score and 8-13 when both players collect hits.
1) Cliff Lee
Like I said at the beginning, it's really going to suck when the Mariners trade this guy. As for the game, Lee had some trouble in the first inning. With one out, he walked Howie Kendrick on four pitches, then allowed a single to Bobby Abreu. Lee then was charged with a throwing error after a Torii Hunter grounder, and it scored Kendrick to make it 1-0. A Kendry Morales groundout made it 2-0 before Lee could get the third out. From there, Lee got into a bit of a groove. In the second, he allowed only a two-out bunt single to Kevin Frandsen. He walked a hitter in the fourth, but retired seven of eight hitters going into the fifth. Frandsen doubled to lead off, then he scored one out later on a Kendrick single to cut the Mariners' lead to 6-3. From there, Lee tightened the screws on the Angels by retiring the final 11 hitters he faced. Lee's two walks were the most he's given up all year (he's had four starts with no walks and one start with one walk), but this was the second time he's struck out ten hitters in a start this season. I remember a few years ago when Lee was with Cleveland and at the time he was just another no-name starter who the Mariners couldn't seem to beat (this is when the Mariners were kinda good).
2) Franklin Gutierrez
The Mariners' centerfielder has kept his warm streak going with a 2-for-4 night with a walk and two RBIs. Gutierrez singled with two out to cut the Angels' lead to 2-1 in the third inning. His other hit was a one-out single that drove home Josh Wilson in the ninth inning to account for the final margin of 8-3, and Gutierrez would have had another RBI if Ichiro hadn't been thrown out at the plate. Gutierrez was a .277 hitter with a .366 on-base percentage and a .415 slugging percentage going into the two-game series against Detroit. Three games later, Gutierrez is back up to .296 with a .388 on-base percentage and a .444 slugging percentage. If Gutierrez gets back up to .300, I don't think he'll keep above that for the rest of the year, but then again, Gutierrez didn't sink below .277 three games ago. Who am I to doubt him? I keep waiting for a sophomore slump to happen, but it never seems to happen at the plate. If anywhere, it's happen with his home runs and on defense with some concentration lapses.
3) Chone Figgins
He's still hasn't returned to .200, but in this game he went 1-for-3 with a double and a couple of walks, and he scored two runs in his first game back in Anaheim after signing the big free-agent deal with the Mariners and then doing virtually nothing for two months in a Mariner uniform. Figgins saw 24 pitches in the game, and one might expect a high number since he drew two walks. In the third inning, he worked a 1-2 count for a seven-pitch walk. In the seventh, Figgins struck out, but needed six pitches to do it. In the ninth, they made it easy on Figgins and walked him on four pitches. So this look inside how he saw all those pitches didn't turn out the way I thought, but he did lead the Mariners in pitches seen in this game. Anyway, that's 24 pitches over five plate appearances. Granted, he can see all the pitches in the world and it won't mean a damn thing if he doesn't start hitting, but I'd like to figure he'll put it together eventually this season. I think I'd be content with Figgins finishing the season hitting .260 or .265 because it'll mean he'd have torn ass to get a .196 average up that high. Even a substandard Figgins well help this team a ton compared to the awful Figgins we've seen thus far.
The other night it was Ichiro who didn't join the hit parade, and this time, despite the Mariners scoring eight runs, it was Sweeney who went hitless. I'd rather have Rob Johnson or Josh Wilson go hitless than have Sweeney go 0-for-5. Despite going hitless in five at-bats, Sweeney's batting average still stands at .288, even with the sample size being affected by how little action he saw early on in the season. In the second inning of this game, he was up with one out and the bases empty and grounded out to third. In the third, he ended the three-run inning by flying out to right with Milton Bradley on first. In the fifth, he ended a two-run inning by popping out foul on the left side with the bases empty. Sweeney led off the eighth with a groundout, then ended the Mariners' two-run ninth with a groundout to short, which came with two runners in scoring position. All in all, Sweeney went hitless, though I'd have to say none of the outs were made in really high-leverage situations where the Mariners really needed a hit. It still sucks to end three innings in the same game with outs you made. The feeling definitely sucked when I was playing youth baseball.
Hernandez. Weaver. Today (it totally would have been if this was posted in time).