Saturday, June 05, 2010



No doubt about it -- this one's on the bullpen. Doug Fister missed the start to rest his fatigued shoulder, and I dreaded this game because I didn't have a lot of confidence in Ryan Rowland-Smith making his first start in three weeks. After this game was over, Mariner fans wouldn't be lamenting an awful start by Rowland-Smith. That's because the bullpen (sans Brandon League and Chad Cordero) was beyond awful. Hey, that's an idea for a new Major League Baseball promo. This is beyond awful -- this is beyond baseball. I guess the good news for Mariner fans was that it was actually a close game through five innings, when it was tied at 1-1. I'd hate to have been at the ballpark to witness the Mariner bullpen giving up ten runs in two innings. At least you would have seen something you don't see every day. I guess it's one of those things -- if your team's going to fail, might they as well fail spectacularly? Sure, the offense sucked like it has many times this season, but even if it's a pretty good day for the Mariner bats, they're not going to score 12 runs.

-- the starting pitching will be discussed in the entries. The fact that Ryan Rowland-Smith got into the entries shows how low I had to put the bar for gameballs

-- what to say about the bullpen? Garrett Olson came in to start the sixth, relieving Rowland-Smith. He faced four hitters with the results being a double, a strikeout, an RBI single that gave the Angels a 2-1 lead (which they never relinquished), and an intentional walk that put the double play back in order after a wild pitch (didn't see it, but keep in mind Rob Johnson was behind the plate) moved Juan Rivera to second. Shawn Kelley will be discussed in the entries below (the bad one). Eight hitters later, Sean White came in with the bases loaded and two out and got Mike Napoli to ground out on the second pitch to end the inning with the Angels leading 7-1. Too bad White's outing didn't end there. The seventh was all his, and he got the three outs, but needed to face all nine Angel hitters to get the outs. He gave up a leadoff walk, but got the next hitter to do the fielder's choice thing. He then gave up back-to-back singles to load the bases with one out. Howie Kendrick then singled home two of the runs to give the Angels a 9-1 lead. White walked Bobby Abreu on four pitches to reload the bases, then Torii Hunter doubled home two more runs to cap the Angels' scoring at 11-1. White got the next two hitters out to end the inning, mercifully. Brandon League threw the eighth, giving up only a leadoff single before setting down the next three hitters. Chad Cordero then threw a 1-2-3 ninth.

-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Olson, Kelley, White, League, and Cordero threw in this game. Going into Sunday's game, David Aardsma will have two days of rest.

-- would there be any Mariner offense? I'll go over the blown chances first. In the first, Ichiro led off with an infield single, only to be erased by Chone Figgins' third double-play ball in two nights. Josh Wilson hit a one-out single in the second, but Casey Kotchman popped out to short and Rob Johnson did the fielder's choice thing to end the inning. In the third, Michael Saunders bunted himself aboard to lead off, and he moved to second on Ichiro's 12-pitch walk. Figgins then bunted too hard back to the mound, and Ervin Santana had enough time to get the lead runner at third (Saunders). Franklin Gutierrez and Jose Lopez then struck out to end the inning. In the fourth, Milton Bradley got hit with a pitch to lead off. One out later, he stole second with Kotchman at the plate and went to third on Kotchman's groundout. Johnson walked before Saunders grounded out to end the inning. In the fifth, Ichiro doubled to lead off, then got to third on a bunt single by Figgins, who ended up stealing second. Gutierrez grounded out to score Ichiro and tie the game at 1-1, but then Lopez lined out to short to start a double play and squash a golden chance. In the seventh, Figgins walked with one out, but got no further. In the ninth, the Mariners had two on and one out, but Gutierrez whiffed and Lopez grounded into a fielder's choice to end the game.

-- I already mentioned the tying run the Mariners got in the fifth. In the ninth, Johnson walked on four pitches to lead off, and Ryan Langerhans walked an out later. Figgins singled to score Johnson and cap the scoring at 11-2.

-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro and Figgins had two hits apiece, but only Ichiro scored out of the two players. The Mariners remain 10-3 when both players score but are now 10-17 when both players collect hits.

1) Ichiro
At least someone's doing what he's supposed to do. The Mariners' leadoff hitter and rightfielder went 2-for-3 with a walk in the game, scoring one of the Mariners' two runs. He led off the Mariners' first inning with an infield single, he walked with a runner on first and nobody out in the third inning, then led off the fifth with a double. Ryan Langerhans was brought into the game and started the eighth inning in rightfield, lifting Ichiro from the awful, awful game. Langerhans got to bat in the ninth, so Ichiro may have had another at-bat in the game, but 2-for-3 with a walk is a day's work, and Don Wakamatsu probably would have never forgiven himself if Ichiro pulled a muscle or collided with something or someone in the outfield of a meaningless game with the Mariners down nine or ten runs. The two-hit game puts Ichiro at 80-for-226 (.354) on the season, and he's on pace to finish the season with 236 hits. Ichiro is on a nine-game hitting streak, having gone 16-for-35 (.457) in that span with two doubles, two walks, six stolen bases, and five RBIs. He has an on-base percentage of .404 and a slugging percentage of .429 on the season.

2) Ryan Rowland-Smith
Before I start saying good things about the Aussie, I'll just point out that the Mariners now have a record of 3-13 when either Ian Snell or Ryan Rowland-Smith is the starting pitcher. He didn't get totally clobbered in the game, which is good considering this was a spot start. Then again, he wasn't dazzling by any means. He yielded three walks, which is never a good thing. He gave up four hits, two of which were doubles. Luckily, none of those four hits were home runs. Home runs are a concern of mine with Rowland-Smith because of his flyball tendencies, and he had all of that and more in this game. The Aussie got ten flyouts and zero groundouts in his five innings of work. The outing lowered his season ERA to a paltry 6.65. Rowland-Smith hadn't started a game since June 17th, and this start snapped a streak where Rowland-Smith failed to get past the fifth inning in each of the last three starts. In fact, he'd only thrown a combined 9 2/3 innings in his three starts before getting sent to the bullpen. All aside, one night after Ian Snell did what Ian Snell does, the Mariners couldn't afford Rowland-Smith getting clubbed on a limited pitch count. Rowland-Smith did enough.

3) Chad Cordero
His second outing as a Mariner was better than the first. He got back onto the horse in Friday's game, but this time he did much better, getting a 1-2-3 ninth inning. Granted, it's not like it was a high-pressure situation since the Mariners were down 11-1 when he came into the game. Still, it's another opportunity to witness what could be the resurrection of a career. Ken Griffey Jr. retired, ending his career, while Cordero got the vacant roster spot and might be seeing his career get somewhere again. If nothing else, Cordero's another guy in the bullpen with closer experience. I don't ever expect him to have to close, since he doesn't have the velocity he had when he was a closer, but he's probably still got the smarts. Maybe the former closer gives David Aardsma some closing tips? Cordero was a closer a lot longer than Aardsma's been, after all. Hopefully the advice has to do with changing speeds and locating pitches. Anyway, three cheers for Cordero on his return to Major League Baseball.

Shawn Kelley
You could really give the goat to anyone out of Garrett Olson, Kelley, and Sean White, but I think Kelley gets it, possibly on a crap-per-time ratio, though Olson only faced four hitters to Kelley's seven. He came into the game with runners on first and second with one out and the Mariners down 2-1. He walked his first hitter to load the bases. He then got a groundout, but it scored the runner from third to make it 3-1, and it also moved the other two runners into scoring position. Maicer Izturis then singled to plate both the runners and make it 5-1. Kelley then hit Kendrick with a pitch to move Izturis to second, then walked Abreu to load the bases again. Then it was a good time for back-to-back walks with the bases loaded to make it 7-1. That's when Wakamatsu came out with the hook. I mean, that's a pretty crazy turn of events. A walk, groundout, and a single -- okay, that's fairly usual. Those final four hitters, though -- a hit batter and three straight walks? Incredible. The band teacher at my high school would say "if you're going to mess up, mess up big," and Kelley certainly did that in this game. His ERA went from 2.14 to 3.38 thanks to this outing.

Pineiro. Vargas. Sunday afternoon.

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