Wednesday, June 02, 2010
Twenty wins! Dancing surely erupted in the streets of Seattle as the Mariners came away with their 20th win in 51 tries, beating a pretty good team in the Minnesota Twins. I'd have to say it qualifies as another offensive explosion as the Mariners put seven runs on the board. That said, the pitching also allowed only one run. Any time this team puts more than three runs on the board, it's a huge bonus. If they put four runs on the board every night, they should have at least a 50/50 shot at winning every night. Quite simply, this was a good lineup that the Mariner arms mostly shut down, allowing four singles, a double, and the requisite Justin Morneau home run. The Mariner bats put seven runs across on 11 singles, a double, and a home run. Additionally, the Mariners made a roster move to bring up Garrett Olson, which means it was decision time for someone else on the 25-man roster.
-- the starting pitching will discussed in the entries below
-- Shawn Kelley threw a low-pressure 1-2-3 eighth inning against Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Mike Cuddyer, the meat of the Twins lineup. The Mariners' newfound six-run lead was successfully held. New call-up Garrett Olson likewise threw a low-pressure 1-2-3 ninth.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Kelley and Olson threw in this game. Going into Wednesday's game, Ryan Rowland-Smith and Brandon League will have a day of rest, and Jesus Colome, Kanekoa Texeira, and David Aardsma will have two days of rest.
-- ESPN's computer crapped itself in the first inning, both in the play-by-play after the game as well as the ESPN ticker during the game. I saw via the BottomLine that the Mariners had managed runners on the corners with one nobody out and Franklin Gutierrez at the plate. The ticker later showed the game in the second inning with the Mariners having not scored. The ESPN.com's play-by-play shows Gutierrez taking a ball, then nothing else happening. The inning ends with Jose Lopez flying out to right. It also shows the Twins taking a 1-0 lead in the third, then the Mariners magically tie it at 1-1 with a leadoff infield single by Mike Sweeney. Without having read an article (obviously I don't have an immediate internet connection), I'm led to believe Gutierrez singled and drove a run across, then somehow two outs were recorded on the play or during the course of his at-bat (or Jose Lopez, who shows as flying out on the first pitch) to put the Mariners up 1-0.
-- as for the offense that looks like I can corroborate it based on other stuff I saw or can discern, the Mariners put together a four-run fourth inning -- where they sent all nine hitters to the plate -- that put them well on the way to victory. Sweeney got aboard with an infield single, then Lopez got a pitch that was up and mashed it above the manual scoreboard in left to give the Mariners a 3-1 lead. Josh Wilson and Eliezer Alfonzo hit back-to-back singles with one out. One out later, Ichiro made an out and somehow Josh Wilson scored from secodn on the play to make it 4-1. Chone Figgins then doubled to score Alfonzo and make it 5-1. In the seventh with one out, Figgins walked and stole second, then went to third on the same play on a bad Mauer throw. Sweeney walked, then Lopez singled to plate Figgins and move Sweeney to second, making it 6-1 for Seattle. Casey Kotchman then singled on the first pitch to make it 7-1, capping the scoring.
-- ultimately, the Mariners didn't squander any innings where they had scoring chances. Minnesota pitching set down eight straight Mariner hitters from the fourth to seventh innings, and in a slightly larger time frame, Minnesota pitching went 11 straight hitters without giving up a hit.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro had three hits and scored in the game, while Figgins was 2-for-4 and scored a run. The Mariners are now 10-3 when both players score and 9-16 when both players collect hits.
1) Jose Lopez
The Mariners' third baseman has caught a bit of fire lately. In this game, he was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and an RBI single. Lopez is 10-for-26 during his current eight-game hitting streak. He was hitting .211, on-base at a .240 pace, and slugging .263 before the streak. Right now, he's up to .239 with an on-base percentage of .269 and a slugging percentage of .318. Okay, so the slugging percentage is still pretty awful, but the batting average is at least moving toward respectability. The guy's not going to flirt with 100 RBIs like he did late last season, but all doesn't appear to be lost for Lopez at the plate. Sure, we want power, but just not making outs hopefully is enough for Lopez to gain some confidence at the plate and start raking the ball. The Mariners can use all the power they can get. The home run for Lopez in this game was only his third of the season, which is infinitely awful. We're 51 games into the season and the guy's not even on pace to reach double digits in home runs after the year he had last season.
2) Jason Vargas
It's like I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop with Doug Fister and Jason Vargas, yet it never seems to be happening. I probably cursed them both just by saying that, but what we've seen after the first two months has just been amazing. I just wish the offense was good enough to reward these guys with more wins than they've had, but at least the starters got a win in this game. The Mariners (by my count) are 6-4 in the games where Vargas starts (his record is 4-2 with the Mariners going 2-2 in his no-decisions). His average per-start line: 6 1/3 innings, 2.2 runs (2.1 earned), 5 hits, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts, 99 pitches (63 strikes), 5.8 groundouts, 7.8 flyouts. He averaged 14.9 pitches per inning in this start, which is better than his average for the year (15.3). In the first, he wriggled out of a jam where he had two runners in scoring position with one out. Delmon Young stole himself into scoring position with one out in the second, but Vargas got out of it. JJ Hardy singled to lead off the fifth, but Vargas got his glove on a lineout and got a double-play ball to end the inning.
The Mariners' leadoff hitter and rightfielder was setting the table all night. He went 3-for-5, drove in a run, and scored a run. The three hit night makes him 73-for-211 (.346) on the season with an on-base percentage of .395 and a slugging mark of .422. He is on pace to finish the season with 232 hits. He led off the first with a single, flew out to lead off the third, grounded out to score Josh Wilson to make it 4-1 in the fourth, grounded out to lead off the seventh, and singled with two out and the bases empty in the eighth. I think having Ichiro hitting leadoff is a double-edged sword since he's setting the table theoretically for the rest of the lineup, but every other time around the lineup, the bottom third of the lineup probably isn't giving him a lot with which to work, i.e., probably a lot of two-out at-bats with the bases empty. Anyway, the happy thing is that Ichiro is hitting the ball and is therefore holding up his end of the bargain. Who wants a 250-hit season out of Ichiro? Raise your hands!
He started out all right at the plate when he was first called up from Tacoma after the whole Milton Bradley situation was gaining some legs. Now, though, Saunders is being way and way less relevant. It's getting bad. It might be Jack Wilson bad. It just seems like Saunders has fallen off the face of the earth at the plate lately, and what a shame. Saunders was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the game. In his last two games, the man from Victoria BC has gone 0-for-7 with five strikeouts. Saunders is going to have to wake up with the bat pretty quickly if he's hoping to stick with the big club. If not, they might as well just start throwing Milton Bradley back out there in leftfield. How could it be worse? Bradley can strike out a whole bunch of times, but he can also crank the occasional home run. As we know, it takes Saunders quite a long time to muster up everything needed to hit a home run.
Slowey. Lee. Tonight.