Tuesday, June 08, 2010
This game was number 58 of 162 on the Mariners' season, and it was another stinker. To me, anyone can tell me that the Mariners might still mathematically be in the hunt for the AL West lead, but that hasn't been a realistic thought for me since early May. I don't care that the Mariners aren't behind by a margin of double-digit games yet, they're not going to go anywhere until they carve out some kind of identity that's actually positive. Sure, the Cliff Lee start on Monday night was awesome, but the Mariners scored four runs in that game. If they averaged four runs a game as an offense, they'd probably be leading the division right now. I'm reminded of a conversation on KJR that David Locke had with (I think) Mike Gastineau in 2003, when the Mariners slid in the final 61 games of the season, going 51-50 after a 42-19 start. Gastineau thought the Mariners were a good team, just that they could never get good pitching on the same days they got good hitting, or they couldn't get the bullpen to throw well when they got the other two facets of the game in their favor. Locke's reply: isn't that the mark of a bad baseball team?
That's where we are with this team. We thought this was a team built on starting pitching that was good enough to win games where the Mariners scored just enough runs to win. We knew the offense would be worse (definitely in terms of power) than last year, and we knew there was no way the bullpen could possibly be better than it was last year. What's happened? The Mariners are worse in basically every phase of the game than they were last year. Doug Fister and Jason Vargas are probably the only guys that have improved upon last season. In retrospect, how huge does the Cliff Lee abdominal injury coming out of spring training look now? He would have only missed four starts, but if only two of those were wins, how would that have changed the course of the season? Cliff Lee's injury was the first damper on this season, if you ask me.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed below in the entries
-- now, the bullpen. Garrett Olson came into the game with the bases empty, nobody out, and the Mariners down 7-1. He allowed a one-out walk and was victim to a Josh Wilson error with two out, but the inning ended with Olson stranding runners on first and second. Chad Cordero's outing will be discussed in the entries below.
-- as much as I wouldn't mind piling on the offense for scoring just one run, their level of suck in this game is precluded by Felix giving up seven runs. If Felix gives up seven runs, the only way this team will win is if they score like they did in the Cliff Lee start against San Diego, and that maybe happens twice per season. That doesn't mean I'm not disappointed in the offense for this game. Colby Lewis struggled mightily against the Mariners in the early innings, and the Mariners got his pitch count way up, and he was stalling on the mound and really slowing down the game. There's no way he should have won, but -- oh, wait -- he was facing the Mariners. No problem. Thus, the Mariners got a mere four hits against Colby frigging Lewis and went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Unbelievable.
-- the Mariners went six up and six down with their first six hitters before threatening in the third. Rob Johnson got aboard on a throwing error to lead off, and he got to second on a Michael Saunders walk. Johnson then got run down between second and third, eventually getting tagged on what was apparently a blown hit-and-run play with a 3-0 count on Figgins (Saunders went to second). Chone Figgins walked, the runners moved over on an Ichiro groundout, and Milton Bradley grounded out on the first pitch to end the inning. Franklin Gutierrez led off the sixth with a single and moved to second on a groundout by Jose Lopez. He got to third on a deep flyout by Mike Carp, but Josh Wilson fell victim to an absolutely ridiculous play by Elvis Andrus on the right side. He had to go quite a way to his right to get the ball, then had to make the long throw. That's the kind of crap luck the Mariners have been getting. In the seventh, Johnson hit a leadoff double off Julio Borbon's glove and never moved off second base thanks to a Saunders strikeout, a Figgins flyout, and an Ichiro first-pitch groundout. Ranger pitching retired the final nine Mariner hitters.
-- in the fourth, the Mariners did manage to score a run. Gutierrez led off with a single, then went to second on a Lopez walk. One out later, Wilson did the fielder's choice thing, which moved Gutierrez to third. Johnson singled to score Gutierrez and move Wilson to second. Saunders flew out to end the threat with the Mariners down 2-1. Unfortunately, that was as close as it got.
-- Ichiro went 0-for-4 in the game, striking out once. He led the game off with a flyout. He grounded out with runners on first and second with two out in the third, moving the runners ahead with the Mariners still down 2-0. He was caught looking (on a pitch way off the plate outside) with the bases empty and one out in the fifth. Ichiro grounded out with a runner on second to end the seventh inning. He's now 82-for-235 (.347) on the season, putting him on pace to finish the season with 229 hits.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Neither player had a hit or scored a run, though this stat takes a slightly different twist now with Figgins hitting ninth. The Mariners remain 10-3 when both players score and 10-18 when both players collect hits.
1) Rob Johnson
You know it's either a really good game or a really bad game if I'm putting the Mariners' light-hitting, iffy-catching catcher into the number-one gameball slot. He was hitting the ball pretty well on this night, which was a good thing. He was also charged with zero passed balls, and can't be blamed for any Felix Hernandez wild pitches because there were none. It's like the anti-Rob Johnson took over the body of Usual Rob Johnson for a night. He's in the boxscore as having been caught stealing to seriously defuse a rally in the third inning, but he can hardly be blamed for it since he can't swing Figgins' bat on a hit-and-run with a 3-0 count. Johnson tried throwing on the brakes once he saw Figgins didn't swing, but Saunders had already advanced to second base, so Johnson had nowhere to go. As for his hits, he singled home Gutierrez for the only Mariner run of the game in the fourth and he also drove a ball deep to rightcenter that went off Borbon's glove for a double. Johnson's batting average is now a sparkling .194. He has an on-base percentage of .300 (better than Lopez somehow) and a slugging percentage of .312.
2) Franklin Gutierrez
The Mariner catcher got two of the Mariners' four hits, and the Mariners' centerfielder got the other two Mariner hits on the night. He singled to lead off the fourth inning and eventually came around to score the only Seattle run of the game. He also singled to lead off the sixth inning, but never came around to score what would have been the tying run (the Mariners were down 2-1 at that point). Gutierrez is now a .288 hitter with an on-base percentage of .374 and a slugging mark of .420. He saw 16 pitches. To be honest, this game sucked so bad I don't feel like reaching for too much material. Gutierrez saw 16 pitches in the game.
3) Chad Cordero
What did Comeback Chad have to do to get me to put him on the list for the number-three gameball? He went 1-2-3 in the eighth inning after giving up a leadoff single in a game where his team was six runs behind. He's part of the bullpen, and he didn't get lit up, so that's good. It's also good because the bar wasn't set too high for me to try and pick three players to put into these gameball things. Chad Cordero in the past has been called Coco, but I seem to remember a mountain gorilla or some sort of other primate at either Point Defiance Zoo or Woodland Park Zoo that carried the name of Coco. This, of course, is before Conan O'Brien's name attached to it and it became ridiculously cool. Anyway, yeah, Cordero didn't suck.
Though it's not too early to tell if the Mariners roster as it stands will not make the playoffs this season, I think it's too early to say Felix will have a subpar season. So far, it hasn't looked good. Worse yet, we turned the calendar over to June and now Felix unloaded this dud on us all. It didn't help that the offense couldn't take care of some of their early scoring opportunities, but this team will hardly ever win if Felix is giving up seven runs. When the Mariners fell behind 3-1, I felt it would be a bit steep for the Mariners to come back, but when Elvis Andrus doubled to make it 5-1, the game had basically ended. Vladimir Guerrero absolutely destroying a pitch, well, that was just aesthetically pleasing and majestic. The game was done by that point, and it was just about saving the bullpen then. I wonder if they found the cover on that Guerrero home-run ball. That thing was crushed to smithereens.
Snell. Wilson. Tomorrow (Wednesday night).