Saturday, June 05, 2010



There are many words for what you'd call this game. Stinker. Laugher. Drubbing. Clunker. Clinker. This time, it seems almost like the blame goes toward the starting pitching and the offense equally. The Mariners won't win many games with substandard starting pitching, and they're not going to win many games where they only score one run. By the same token, burying your own offense with a 4-0 deficit after just two and a half innings of play usually isn't part of a recipe for victory either. I just don't know who to blame. The offense sucks, but that doesn't take away the fact that the Mariners have zero wins out of Ian Snell and Ryan Rowland-Smith. I can't really use a fifth-starter stat since Rowland-Smith wasn't exactly the fifth starter going into the season. Rowland-Smith and Snell are a combined 0-8 on the season. The Mariners are 3-12 when either of Snell or Rowland-Smith is the starting pitcher. The reason I've brought the Aussie into this is because he'll be throwing in Saturday's game because Doug Fister is experiencing some shoulder issues and will sit out his turn in the rotation. Ouch.

-- this was game 54 on the season, marking the one-third pole of the season. This of course means that with the current 22-32 record, the Mariners will finish 66-96.

-- I put the starting pitcher in the entries below, but since my rant wasn't exactly about this particular game, I'll talk about it some here. Snell threw a ton pitches over the first three innings. He threw a 14-pitch first inning, but it was a 1-2-3 inning. He wasn't so lucky in the second, walking Torii Hunter despite being ahead 1-2 in the count, then giving up a homer to Hideki Matsui that made it 2-0 for the Angels. He didn't suffer any damage on the scoreboard for the rest of the inning, but he threw 29 pitches in the inning. The Angels sent seven hitters to the plate in the third and came up with two more runs. Erick Aybar bunted himself aboard, then Maicer Izturis walked on five pitches. A Howie Kendrick bunt moved the runners into scoring position, then Bobby Abreu walked. A Hunter sacrifice fly drove home the 3-0 run, then Matsui did the infield single thing to score Izturis. Snell threw 26 pitches in the inning. My count from the ESPN.com play-by-play has Snell having thrown 69 pitches through three innings, but Geoff Baker's postgame wrap has him at 67, which is probably the right number. Snell went 1-2-3 in both the fourth and fifth innings, then walked Matsui with one out in the sixth to end his outing. I wonder if Snell and Rowland-Smith exist just to make us appreciate the good starting pitching the Mariners do have.

-- now, the bullpen. Sean White came in with a runner on first and one out with the Mariners down 4-1. Two pitches later, he got a double-play ball to end the inning. White faced a mere two hitters in the seventh, giving up a leadoff solo shot to Mariner killer Juan Rivera to make it 5-1 followed by a Michael Ryan single. Chad Cordero then made his first Major League appearance in over two years, getting Aybar to fly out before giving up consecutive doubles to Izturis and Kendrick to make it 7-1 and cap the scoring for the game. Garrett Olson then threw two innings of garbage-time, low-pressure relief in the eighth and ninth. Olson gave up only a leadoff single before setting down the final six hitters he faced. I gotta be honest, I'd rather see Olson get that Saturday start than Rowland-Smith.

-- the bullpen rest bulletin: White, Cordero, and Olson threw in this game. Going into Saturday's game, David Aardsma will have a day of rest, Brandon League will have two days of rest, Shawn Kelley will have three days of rest, and Rowland-Smith will get the start on Saturday on four days' rest.

-- now the offense, or lack thereof. In the first, Ichiro led off with a single but was erased on a Chone Figgins double-play grounder. Franklin Gutierrez doubled right after that, but there were already two out and he didn't get far. In the third, Ichiro got aboard with an infield single and again was foiled on a Figgins double-play ball. In the fourth, Josh Wilson negated a Jose Lopez leadoff infield single with an inning-ending double-play ball of his own. In the eighth, Gutierrez hit a one-out single, but he went no further on the basepaths in that inning.

-- let's have a moment of observance for the one inning where the Mariners scored a run. Matt Tuiasosopo led off with a single, then one out later went to second base on a groundout to the pitcher. Ichiro then bloop singled to score Tuiasosopo for the Mariners' only run of the game. Ichiro ended up stealing second and going to third on a wild pitch. Figgins then walked, but the runners were frozen by the Gutierrez flyout that ended the inning.

-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro got three hits and didn't score while Figgins was both hitless and scoreless. The Mariners remain 10-3 when both players score and 10-16 when both collect hits.

1) Ichiro
The beat goes on and on. Ichiro went 3-for-4 in the game and drove in the only run of the game. All three hits, unsurprisingly, were singles. He singled to lead off the first inning, he legged out an infield single to lead off the third, and he singled in the fifth to drive in the Mariners' only run of the game. His three hits put him at 78-for-223 (.350) on the season. He is on pace to finish the season with 234 hits. That's a few. If the Mariners can't win a World Series any time in the foreseeable future, I at least want Ichiro to break 3000 hits in the Major Leagues. Provided he stays healthy, he shouldn't have too much trouble getting to 3000 North American base hits. Ichiro currently has an on-base percentage of .398 and is slugging at a .422 clip. It's really too bad this team sucks as bad as it does, and it was too bad in this game that Figgins hit into double plays twice with Ichiro on first base both times. You can't buy that kind of crappy luck. What a shame all of it is and was.

2) Matt Tuiasosopo
If this guy gets even one hit in the game, it makes you raise an eyebrow, but if he gets two hits in any game, it's almost a lead-pipe cinch that he'll end up in the gameballs. Here he is. In the second inning, he singled with the bases empty and two out with the Mariners at that point down 2-0. After that, Eliezer Alfonzo singled, and both runners moved up 90 feet when Rivera tried to throw Tuiasosopo out at third. Of course, that's where the rally ended as Ryan Langerhans showed some rust and whiffed on a full count. In the fifth, Tuiasosopo singled to lead off and eventually scored the Mariners' only run of the game. I remember not too long ago suggesting that Tuiasosopo get a clue at the plate, and he's had a couple of good games since. Granted, the games, good or bad, come pretty rarely for Tuiasosopo because he's a bench player, and Langerhans is probably the only player on the Mariner roster who's been getting less playing time than Tuiasosopo. It'd probably be easier to toss Tuiasosopo out into the field more often if his defense wasn't Mike Morse-like.

3) Franklin Gutierrez
Well, in a crap game for the Mariners, I didn't exactly have to try hard when picking the gameballs. I just picked the three Mariners in the lineup that had multi-hit nights. Ichiro had three hits, Tuiasosopo had two hits, and Gutierrez had two hits. Gutierrez went 2-for-4 with a double. Gutierrez rang his double with two out in the first inning right after Figgins hit his first of two double-play balls of the game. In the same situation in the third, Gutierrez flew out to snuff any possibility of false hope. In the Mariners' huge fifth inning, Gutierrez flew out to end the inning with runners on the corners and the team down 4-1. Okay, maybe that wasn't so clutch, but then you'd be asking for Gutierrez to have a three-hit night. In the eighth, Gutierrez singled with one out and the bases empty with the Mariners down 7-1. One of the few things I liked about the now-dead-to-me NBA was that if one team was way ahead in the closing minutes, the 12-man roster enabled a team to take out their entire lineup and play nothing but scrubs. With a game as bad as this one, it makes me wish the Mariners could have swapped out their entire starting lineup in the late innings just to make sure no one semi-important got hurt.

Ian Snell
As tempted as I was to hand the goat to Chone Figgins for twice grounding into double plays, you can't do what Snell did. He didn't get clobbered or hit around, but he threw 67 of his 98 pitches in the first three innings. He's only in the rotation because Ryan Rowland-Smith was unfortunately worse, and he hasn't exactly taken the bull by the horns. Did the Pirates just get the better end of the trade? Though I wasn't a fan of Ronny Cedeno, there's no way he and Jeff Clement haven't made better contributions to the Pirates than Jack Wilson and Ian Snell have for the Mariners. It's weird. It used to be that the Mariners made trades that sucked at the time and everyone knew it, then it just played out to make Woody Woodward look like the idiot he was. Now Jack Zduriencik has a couple deals where he seems to cover all the bases and it seems right, then it just collapses. For instance, there's no way Chone Figgins should only be hitting .211 right now, there's no way Casey Kotchman should be hitting under .200, and there's no way Carlos Silva should have started 7-0 on the north side of Chicago after stealing seven-figure money from the Mariners.

Santana. Rowland-Smith. Today.

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