Monday, May 31, 2010
Make it eight walkoff losses for the Mariners. This was the Mariners' 30th loss out of 49 games. So, for every day you've sat down and watch the Mariners, thus far you've seen them lose by a walkoff loss 16.3% of the time. The walkoffs account for 26.7% of their losses. The Mariners usually have games where the offense is just awful and the pitching is wonderful. For the remainder of the games they don't win, the offense steps up and the bullpen -- not knowing what to do with these things called "leads" -- lets it get away. The Mariners took a 7-2 lead into the bottom of the fifth, but the pitching as a whole was already on a bullet train to Suckville as Ian Snell was pulled after facing two batters in the fifth and failing to record an out. To me, this game was a staff-wide fail by the Mariner arms. This wasn't just the bullpen. As for the offense, four Mariner hitters had multi-hit games and only Milton Bradley went hitless (he walked once). When compared to other teams of suck in recent Mariner past, the 2004 and 2008 Mariner teams were both 18-31 (one game worse than the current team) after 49 games.
-- first, the blown chances on offense. In the first, Chone Figgins and Franklin Gutierrez singled with one out, putting runners on the corners with one out. Bradley whiffed on a 1-2 count and Mike Sweeney flew out on the first pitch. In the fourth, after Alfonzo had homered, Ichiro walked and Figgins singled with two out before Gutierrez grounded out to end the inning. In the eighth (with the Mariners leading 7-6), Ichiro doubled with one out, then Figgins walked on four pitches. Gutierrez was then caught looking and Bradley grounded into a fielder's choice. In the ninth (still with the Mariners leading 7-6), Jose Lopez and Casey Kotchman walked with one out. Eliezer Alfonzo, making his first Mariner appearance, had sapped the mojo in his bat and rolled into a double play
-- as for the Mariner offense making good... In the second, the entire thing occurred with two out. Alfonzo singled, Josh Wilson infield singled, then Ichiro singled home Alfonzo, though Wilson was gunned down at the plate by Reggie Willits. The Mariners led 1-0. In the fourth, Sweeney and Lopez singled to start the inning. Kotchman proved unclutch and lined out to the second baseman. Alfonzo then hit his first Mariner homer (a whopping 449 feet according to the ESPN.com play-by-play), vaulting the Mariners back into the lead at 4-2. In the fifth, Bradley drew a leadoff walk for his only offensive contribution of the day, and he moved to second on a Sweeney fly ball. Lopez walked, then Kotchman fired up the clutch gun and singled to score Bradley and move Lopez to third (Mariners 5-2). Alfonzo then singled to score Lopez and make it 6-2, then Wilson signled to make it 7-2, though that play ended with Alfonzo being gunned down by Juan Rivera trying to go from first to third. So, in the fifth, the Mariners were done scoring
-- Josh Wilson was the only multi-hit Mariner that I didn't put into the gameball section. He went 2-for-4 in the game with an RBI. He is hitting .276, which in all likelihood is probably way better than a healthy Jack Wilson would be hitting. If Jack Wilson returns, I'd have to think Matt Tuiasosopo would be the first guy sent back to Tacoma.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed in the entries below. The bullpen...well, it wasn't a good day for anyone on the Mariner mound. Jesus Colome entered the fifth with two runners on and nobody out. He got a flyout from his first hitter, but walked Bobby Abreu to load the bases. He got Hideki Matsui to pop out harmlessly, but then walked Rivera with the bases loaded to cut the Mariners' lead to 7-3. Then Colome struck out Mike Napoli looking. Kanekoa Texeira came in for the sixth to gather some tinder and throw some fuel on the fire. Frustratingly, he got the first two hitters out before everything went blurry. From there, Texeira allowed a single, double, walk (loading the bases), and another walk to make it 7-4 and summon Don Wakamatsu with the hook. Texeira ended his outing by throwing eight straight balls. Shawn Kelley, the best Mariner reliever of the season to date, faced Matsui and had the at-bat end on a catcher's interference call against Alfonzo, scoring Erick Aybar from third to make it 7-5 before Kelley got the final out. Kelley then threw to the end of the eighth inning, allowing a one-out solo homer to Howie Kendrick in the seventh to cut the Mariners' lead to 7-6 as well as a leadoff bunt single by Aybar that ended with him being thrown out trying to stretch it into a double
-- this leaves the closer. David Aardsma came into the ninth trying to take a 7-6 lead to the bank. He fell behind on Matsui and walked him. He got Rivera to fly out, but Napoli did the infield single thing. The Angels had two on and one out with Kendrick coming to the plate. Kendrick fouled off a full-count pitch before homering. It looked like he got a ball on the inner half of the plate (or further) and inside-outted it over the rightcenter scoreboard. Thus, the Angels won 9-7, and Kendrick didn't break bones as he crossed the plate.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Jesus Colome, Kanekoa Texeira, Shawn Kelley, and David Aardsma threw in this game. Going into Monday's game, Brandon League will have a day of rest, and Ryan Rowland-Smith will have four days of rest. It's games like this where you wonder if the Mariners will cave and add a 12th arm to the pitching staff again like earlier in the season. The question then becomes "who gets moved off the 25-man roster?"
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Neither player scored, but both had two hits apiece. The Mariners are still 9-2 when both players score, but are now 8-15 when both players collect hits. It's mind-boggling.
1) Eliezer Alfonzo
There were actually quite a few bad things Alfonzo did in this game. He grounded into a double play, was gunned down at third base, and got called for catcher's interference, leading to one of the Angel runs. That aside, I really don't expect there will be a lot of games where Alfonzo goes 3-for-5 with a home run and drives in four runs while scoring twice himself. What do I know about Alfonzo? Not much. The Mariners occasionally would face him when he was a San Diego Padre whether it was during the season or more likely in spring training. Alfonzo isn't exactly the face of an awesome era of Padre baseball, but if he can hit, give him the playing time. If he can block balls to Rob Johnson's capability but can hit, give him the playing time. If he can block better than Johnson and hit, then you start to wonder if you shouldn't put another catcher out there when Felix Hernandez is on the mound. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I wish Josh Bard could be up with Alfonzo right now.
The Mariners' leadoff hitter and rightfielder went 2-for-3 in the game with a double, an RBI, and two walks. Thus, he was on base four times and never scored. Each of the Mariners' fourth through eighth hitters scored runs in the game, yet Ichiro wasn't driven across for any of the seven runs. Such is life for this team. The two hits pushed him to 69-for-202 (.342) on the season with an on-base percentage of .393 and a slugging percentage of .421. As for the game, Ichiro grounded out to lead off the game, but was done making outs at that point. He singled with two out in the second to drive home Eliezer Alfonzo to cut the Angels' lead to 2-1, but Josh Wilson was thrown out at the plate on the play, ending the inning. In the fourth, Ichiro walked with two out and the bases empty. In the fifth, Ichiro was intentionally walked with a runner on third with two out and the Mariners ahead 7-2. In the seventh, Ichiro doubled with one out to chase Kevin Jepsen with the Mariners up 7-6. He is on pace to finish the season with 228 hits, which I think is still a tiny bit low.
3) Chone Figgins
The Mariners' second baseman finally got his batting average back over .200. Figgins is now sitting at .205 on the season. He also walked with his 2-for-4 outing, pushing the on-base percentage to .321, which is worse only than Ichiro among regular Mariner hitters. I said it in the last couple of posts, but if Figgins gets to .250 or .260, the Mariners should have a couple good months ahead of them, provided the starting pitching doesn't implode or all get injured at the same time. We've seen the hitting all suck at the same time, so the chances of all five guys in the starting rotation being awful all at the same time are pretty small. Unfortunately, those chances are still greater than zero. Still, it goes without saying that if the Mariners can get a couple of their guys in the lineup to just be kinda okay instead of absolutely awful, they'll win more games. For now, though, at 11 games under .500, they'd have to nearly run the table to return to .500 in mid-June and they'd just have to be pretty good to get to .500 by the end of June. How hot Figgins gets has a lot to do with how quickly the Mariners can get back to .500.
I know the fifth starter's role by rule goes to your worst starting pitcher, but would it kill the Mariners to get any kind of consistency (the good kind) out of their fifth starters? Ultimately I'd want Ryan Rowland-Smith back into the rotation and throwing seven innings every time, but the Mariners need to fill the gap until Erik Bedard returns. Until then, the Mariners have to do better than Snell and Rowland-Smith, but their hands are a bit tied. By sending down Shawn Kelley the first time, the Mariners showed they don't want to let Jesus Colome walk for nothing. They also don't want to sell Kanekoa Texeira back to the Yankees. So yes, I'd rather give Luke French or even Garrett Olson (though last I heard he was sucking in Tacoma) another shot at the final spot in the rotation. All they have to do is throw five innings, possibly get into the sixth inning, and not be awful. Olson showed last year he could do exactly that. Rowland-Smith used to be able to show that. Snell has shown that, but not with any sort of consistency. Snell threw 82 pitches in four innings in this game.
Liriano. Fister. Tonight.