Sunday, May 30, 2010
A graphic showed during the game saying the Angels hadn't lost a series to the Mariners since 2003. Also, this was the Angels' first win this season when trailing after six innings. That's disturbing. Still, there were other things in this game that were more disturbing. For instance, losing another game in the final opposition at-bat was disturbing. Seattle being winless in six extra-inning games is also disturbing. Still, the most disturbing thing about this game obviously was Kendry Morales fracturing his left leg after jumping onto home plate and into the mass of celebration. It took his teammates a few seconds to realize what was going on, and then the mood quickly dimmed. In an odd way, though the Mariners lost, this game may play a huge role in terms of the division. The Angels, who are minus Vladimir Guerrero (and John Lackey, though not a hitter) during the offseason, need Morales to pick up some of the slack. In addition (I don't know the results of it yet), something overshadowed by the Morales freak injury was that Felix Hernandez drilled Torii Hunter square in the left wrist with a fastball, and Hunter left the game for X-rays. It's obvious that Morales will miss significant time, but if the Angels lose Hunter for a few weeks, they could be screwed.
-- I knew as the game went on that there was no way the Mariners were going to win this game 1-0, no matter how well Felix Hernandez was throwing. Unfortunately, Bobby Abreu tied the game in the ninth, and the Mariner offense did barely anything.
-- speaking of the Mariner offense doing nothing, their only run of the game scored on an error. In the fourth, Jose Lopez looped a leadoff single, took off on a hit-and-run, and Matt Tuiasosopo grounded hard to Erick Aybar at short, who was very close both Howie Kendrick and the second-base bag. Aybar eschewed tossing over to Kendrick for the out and instead went for the bag. Lopez had already slid into the bag (just barely), so Aybar didn't record that out, and Aybar threw into the crowd. Lopez was awarded home plate on the play and Tuiasosopo was put on second base. The Mariners led 1-0, a lead that held up until the bottom of the eighth. What happened next, though, was wonky. Josh Wilson flew out to fairly deep rightfield. Abreu then threw to third base. Tuiasosopo had the throw beat, but failed to anchor his right hand to the third-base bag. In other words, he overslid the bag and was tagged by the third baseman (Izturis) before he could put his right hand back on the bag. Granted, Rob Johnson and Michael Saunders were the next two hitters, but I can't help but thinking that inning could have gone a little better.
-- there were definitely some blown offensive chances in this game. Ichiro led off the game with a walk, but Chone Figgins flew out to right. Ichiro stole second, and Franklin Gutierrez walked to make it more interesting. With Milton Bradley at the plate and a 1-1 count, Ichiro and Gutierrez pulled off a double steal. Unfortunately, Bradley swung and missed at two of the next three pitches, then Jose Lopez grounded out to short to end the inning. In the third, though with two out, the Mariners had two runners aboard and Bradley was caught looking. In the fifth, Ichiro shot a ball through the mound and into centerfield with one out and never moved from first base.
-- Jered Weaver set down the final eight Mariner hitters he faced
-- after Hunter took the Felix fastball off his wrist and left the game, news came onto the Fox telecast that Hunter went off for "precautionary X-rays," and former Dodger and current color analyst Eric Karros had a huge problem with that phrase, feeling that the phrase implies that a precautionary X-ray is somehow different or of a different procedure than a regular X-ray. Sadly, this was one of the more entertaining parts of the entire broadcast. I don't mind Kenny Albert doing NFL games or NHL games (he's figured into the New York Ranger experience), but I'm not so sure about baseball. He's not terrible or anything, I just think certain voices are suited for certain sports.
-- Brandon League came into the bottom of the ninth inning with the game tied and a runner on first. Howie Kendrick tried bunting the runner over to second, but he bunted too hard, and League nicely fielded and threw to second to get the lead runner. Including Kendrick, League retired four straight hitters. League then allowed a Maicer Izturis double off the wall in rightcenter with one out. Though Izturis was the winning run, the inning deteriorated. Abreu was intentionally walked to put the double play in order. Reggie Willits then hit a grounder to Figgins, a ball nearly tailor-made for a double play. Instead, Figgins bobbled it, everyone was safe, and the bases were loaded. Really, that should have been a double play to end the inning. I'm wondering if the Angels wouldn't have rather had that double play turned than have Morales suffer a broken lower left leg.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: League threw in this game. Going into Sunday's game, Shawn Kelley will have a day of rest. Ryan Rowland-Smith and David Aardsma will have three days of rest. Jesus Colome and Kanekoa Texeira will have six days of rest.
-- after Ichiro singled with one out in the fifth inning, the only Mariner to reach base was Lopez with a dying quail of a single to left with one out in the ninth inning.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Neither player scored, but both players had a hit apiece. The Mariners are still 9-2 when both players score, but are now 8-14 when both players collect hits.
1) Felix Hernandez
This was a pretty good but pretty weird start for the Mariners' ace. He got the first two hitters out in each of the first four innings, but didn't throw a 1-2-3 inning until the fifth. In the first, Abreu singled past the mound. In the second, Bobby Wilson doubled deep to centerfield off the glove of Gutierrez for a double. In the third, Willits bunted himself aboard, though I thought he could have been called out. In the fourth, Felix got squeezed a bit on a full count. Still, those four innings were fairly inconsequential unless you're talking about the pitch count for Felix. From the two-out Bobby Wilson walk in the fourth until the Abreu homer in the eighth, Felix faced 11 hitters and recorded 11 outs. Granted, he got a double play in there, but he got on a roll. The Hideki Matsui single in the sixth was the first Angel baserunner of the game with less than two out. The average per-start line for Felix through 11 starts: 6 2/3 innings, 3 runs (2.6 earned), 6.6 hits, 2.6 walks, 5.9 strikeouts, 106 pitches (67 strikes), 8.6 groundouts, 4 flyouts. Felix averaged 13.9 pitches per inning in this game, lower than his season average of 16.2.
The Mariner offense only had four hits altogether in the game, so the bar isn't very high when it comes to gameballs...at least in terms of hits. The Mariners' leadoff hitter and rightfielder went 1-for-4 with a walk and two stolen bases in the game. The one hit was the aforementioned single. He is now 67-for-199 (.337) and is on pace to finish the season with 226 hits. Hopefully his pace picks up a bit soon. Ichiro's walk led off the game, and he stole both second base and third base in the first inning. His single came with one out in the fifth inning. He grounded out with one out and the bases empty in the third. He grounded out to lead off the eighth. Ichiro was caught looking with the bases empty to end the tenth inning. Ichiro has stolen 13 bases through 48 games. Could he get to 40 steals this season? Could he get there despite definitely not being at the same speed he was back in 2001? If the team as a whole is crap, we have to pick things like this to hang onto.
3) Jose Lopez
Two loopy bloopy singles amounted for the 2-for-4 day of the Mariners' third baseman. He scored the only run of the game for the Mariners. Don't look now, but Lopez has a five-game hitting streak and is 7-for-19 (.368) over that span. He has pushed his batting average all the way up to .226, rescuing it from the depths of .211-ville where it was before this hitting streak. Know what I miss? Seeing this guy hit for power. The guy only has two homers all year after hitting all those homers last year. I just don't understand how the power stroke can just suddenly dry up. Then again, it's probably just further proof that God hates Seattle sports fans, somewhere in the same room with the Sonics leaving, the Seahawks getting flagged like crazy in a Super Bowl, Carlos Silva starting out 7-0 with the Cubs after stealing money from the Mariners, etc. Just awful, the whole lot of it. It makes me wonder why I even bother following sports anymore, but somehow reality itself actually sucks more than sports even if all my teams are awful.
He gets the goat for striking out in two very key situations early in the game. In the first, the Mariners pulled off the double steal during Bradley's at-bat, only for Bradley to whiff away. In the third, Figgins and Gutierrez were on second and first, respectively, with two out. Bradley got behind 0-2 immediately and took a 1-2 pitch for strike three. Sure, the entire offense sucked as a whole, but Bradley had the opportunities to put the Mariners ahead earlier in the game and maybe put some more pressure on Jered Weaver and ease a little pressure off of Felix Hernandez. Anyway, the pure fact that Bradley is still scuffling while Carlos Silva hasn't lost a game for the Cubs...well, I just said what that was. The key for Bradley is how he bounces back from a game like this, an 0-for-4 day with two strikeouts as the designated hitter. Still, he's batting .229, which is still better than Figgins, Lopez, Casey Kotchman, and Rob Johnson.
Snell. Saunders. Today.