Sunday, June 06, 2010



I think what hurts most about me from this game is that Joel Pineiro got the win. Ever since the tail end of his Seattle tenure, he sucked. With how high we were on Pineiro at the tail end of the Lou Piniella era of Mariner baseball, it hurt me to see him go to Saint Louis and succeed as one of Dave Duncan's reclamation projects. So, I was hoping for Pineiro to do nothing but suck this year now that he's away from Duncan. He's 4-6 with an ERA of 5.23, so he's definitely achieving some level of suck. The problem, of course, is that he got the winning decision in this game, and that's not cool, especially since he wasn't that good. If trends hold true, however, the Mariners -- after having lost three straight, won three straight, and lost three straight -- should be on the verge of a three-game winning streak. As for roster moves, the latest move had Doug Fister, who missed the Saturday start, getting retroactively placed on the disabled list. Luke French was finally called up to take the roster spot. It was also cover for the Mariners having burned through their bullpen in this series against the Angels.

-- Jason Vargas didn't get clobbered in this game, but he did get hit around a bit. He threw six innings, so he didn't do an awful job of trying to get the bullpen a tiny bit of rest. Of course, the bullpen themselves decided to give themselves overtime, but whatever. Vargas didn't walk anyone, but he gave up ten hits, four of which went for extra bases (three doubles, one home run). He got touched up in the first when Erick Aybar doubled on the game's first pitch and scored on a two-out double by Torii Hunter that got the Angels a 1-0 lead that lasted a few minutes. Vargas gave up another leadoff single in the fourth, and Mike Napoli scored on a two-out double from the ugly swing of Robb Quinlan that cut the Mariners' lead to 3-2. In the fifth, Vargas met his home-run quota by giving up a homer to Hideki Matsui to tie the score at 3-3. So, that was it. The innings where the Angels scored off Vargas really had isolated and quick episodes of scoring rather than legitimate jams, nearly all of which Vargas seemed to escape. He dodged a leadoff Napoli single in the second, and he moved to second with one out. Vargas got outs on the next two pitches. In the third, Howie Kendrick bunted himself aboard with one out and went to second on a Matt Tuiasosopo error (he was put into the game after Chone Figgins was tossed). Vargas got out of that jam of two on and one out. One jam Vargas didn't escape was in the sixth. He got the first two hitters out, but consecutive singles and a Jose Lopez throwing error put the Angels into a 4-3 lead before Vargas got out of the inning.

-- great, the bullpen. Shawn Kelley will be discussed in the entries below (the bad one). Garrett Olson entered the game with runners on second and third and two out with the Mariners down 6-4. He walked Aybar on five pitches to load the bases before getting Kendrick to hit a low liner to shallow leftcenter, but Franklin Gutierrez made a diving catch to keep the game close and postpone the inevitable. Brandon League will be discussed in the entries below (one of the good ones). It was time for David Aardsma to get in some work, but bringing in a closer when down two runs is usually a bad thing, and this time was no exception. Aardsma couldn't finish the ninth inning, in fact. He gave up a leadoff single to Napoli, followed by a Juan Rivera double that made it 7-4. A groundout pushed Rivera to third, and one out later, he scored on an Aybar single that made it 8-4. That's when Aardsma got the hook and Luke French made his 2010 Mariner debut. He gave up a Kendrick triple on his second pitch to cap the scoring at 9-4 before getting a groundout to end the inning.

-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Kelley, Olson, League, Aardsma, and French threw in this game. Going into Monday's game in Arlington, Chad Cordero and Sean White will have a day of rest. Olson has thrown in each of the last three games.

-- offense? The Mariners scored four runs, which I'd say usually gives them a 50/50 shot at winning. In fact, the Mariners scored three times in the first inning to get themselves a 3-1 lead. People had to feel pretty good about this game after one inning of play. Ichiro led off with a walk and went to second on a Figgins infield single. One out later, Lopez singled to tie the game at 1-1, and Figgins was gunned down at third on the play. Milton Bradley then doubled to score Lopez and give the Mariners a 2-1 lead. Finally, a Josh Wilson triple scored Bradley to make it 3-1 for Seattle before a requisite Casey Kotchman groundout ended the inning. The Mariners didn't manage another scoring threat until the fourth. With one out, Kotchman and Eliezer Alfonzo hit back-to-back singles. A Michael Saunders groundout moved the runners up, but now there were two out. Ichiro was intentionally walked to the open base, and Tuiasosopo went down swinging. You have a bad team when as bad as Figgins has been this season, Tuiasosopo coming off the bench to replace him might actually be an offensive downgrade. In the fifth, Gutierrez doubled to lead off, went to third on a groundout, and watched as the next two hitters were retired.

-- the Mariners lost their lead in the top of the sixth, but crawled back to tie it in the bottom half of the sixth. Saunders walked with two out, then was doubled home by Ichiro to tie the game at 4-4.

-- but then it was back to futility for the hitters. In the eighth, with the Mariners down 6-4, Josh Wilson led off with a double, but the next two hitters were retired. Saunders then walked, but Ichiro grounded into a fielder's choice. Finally, in the ninth, Tuiasosopo somehow singled to lead off, but he was erased on a fielder's choice. Lopez singled to make it runners on the corners with one out. Bradley then whiffed and Wilson grounded out to end the game. The Mariners went 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position in the game.

-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro had two hits in the game, and Figgins had one. Only Ichiro scored a run. The Mariners remain 10-3 when both players score, but they're now 10-18 when both players collect hits.

1) Ichiro
Once again, at least someone's holding their end of the bargain. The Mariners' leadoff hitter and rightfielder went 2-for-3 with two walks, a double, and an RBI in the game. He is now 82-for-229 (.358) on the season and is on pace to finish the season with 237 hits. Ichiro extended his hitting streak to ten games, having gone 18-for-38 (.474) in that span with three doubles, four walks, six stolen bases, and six RBIs. He has an on-base percentage of .412 and a slugging percentage of .437. He walked to lead off the first, singled with two out and the bases empty in the second, was intentionally walked with two in scoring position and two out in the fourth, doubled with a runnner on first and two out in the sixth to tie the game at 4-4, and hit into a fielder's choice with runners on first and second and two out to end the eighth inning. I wish Ichiro could hit 30 home runs and bat fourth in this lineup. The Mariners could really use that kind of hitter. I really miss Russell Branyan.

2) Josh Wilson
The Mariners' shortstop hasn't had consecutive hitless games since May 14th and May 15th. Since, Wilson has gone 25-for-72 (.347) with five doubles, a triple, and eight RBIs. He's also drawn four walks and stolen two bases. In this game, he tripled with two down and a runner on second in the first inning, giving the Mariners a 3-1 lead. He popped out foul to lead off the fourth. With a runner on third and two out, he lined out to rightfield to end the fifth. He doubled to lead off the eighth. Finally, he grounded out with runners on the corners and two out to end the game. It's really too bad Jack Wilson makes too much money to not be played if he's on the big-league roster because Josh is hitting better right now than Jack Wilson ever would at his best. If Jack Wilson retired, would that free up his money? That might be the only way the Mariners get anything out of the trade that sent Ronny Cedeno and Jeff Clement to the Pirates for Ian Snell and Jack Wilson. If Jack's going to come back, can Josh fetch anything in a trade?

3) Brandon League
There were people in the bullpen that didn't completely suck. Garrett Olson didn't completely suck. Luke French also didn't completely suck either. This paragraph, however, is about Brandon League. With the Mariners still conceivably within reach in this game (down 6-4), League came into the game slated to face Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, and Hideki Matsui. He got Abreu swinging on a 1-2 pitch, got Hunter swinging on a 1-2 pitch, and got Matsui to ground out to first base on a 2-2 pitch. It's just weird that League gets clobbered sometimes, then he has stellar innings like this. Then he might have one or two more of these before the wheels fall off again. Don't get me wrong, I like having League in this bullpen, but there's been a lot of a feeling-out process by Don Wakamatsu, who's been trying to see how many different roles League can play. Still, Wakamatsu's kind of playing with fire when it comes to this, but these are the kinds of things that happen when a key figure such as Mark Lowe misses a significant amount of time due to injury.

Shawn Kelley
Simply incredible. Up until this weekend, Kelley had mostly escaped being a suck part of the Mariner bullpen, but he just had the worst two games he's ever had wearing a Mariner uniform. In just two outings, Kelley took his ERA from 2.14 to 4.09. He went 0-1 on the weekend, throwing a combined one inning and giving up five runs on five hits (one home run), walking four and striking out one. He also allowed two inherited runners to score in the Saturday game. He faced a combined 13 hitters. Yes, that's 13 hitters to get three outs. Luckily, we've seen Kelley do pretty well, so we know what he's capable of unless he gets mentally weak or goes Rick Ankiel or Chuck Knoblauch on everyone. Before these two games, Kelley had given up runs in four out of his 17 total appearances. That's now six of 19 appearances. I think it's safe to say this is rock bottom for Kelley. I think he's probably one of the last two or three guys that should be kicked out of the bullpen with the next roster move. It shouldn't be him.

Feldman. Lee. Tonight.

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