Saturday, June 12, 2010
What was it going to be this time? Well, after getting pummeled mercilessly in the last three games in Arlington, the Mariners got a visit from an old friend, the walk-off loss. This one was their ninth such loss of the season as well as David Aardsma's fourth blown save of the season, matching his total for all of the 2009 season. Up to that point, though, it seemed like the game was primed for a Mariner win. They had a 3-2 lead after 5 1/2 innings and they looked to be taking it to the bank. That obviously didn't happen. The Mariners are 23-38 on the season at the 61-game mark, a mere single game ahead of the 2008 pace. I don't think there's any doubt now that the season is pretty much over. No way the Mariners are coming back from this. As a team, they've shown us nothing. Sure, there are small bits of individuals that have done okay, but as a team they've gone nowhere. I think we all know they could take a step laterally or a small step backward in comparison to last year, but I'd think few people expected a near-total failure from the offense.
-- Jason Vargas didn't throw the most efficient outing, but two runs over six innings is still quite good. He gave up the two runs in the third inning to give San Diego the 2-0 lead, but he hung around long enough for the Mariners to leapfrog the Padres and put him in line for the winning decision. In that third inning, he gave up a leadoff single, then a triple from Spawn of Tony Gwynn that made it 1-0. One out later, David Eckstein resumed his peskiness and singled to score Gwynn and make it 2-0. After a strikeout, Adrian Gonzalez reached on a Chone Figgins error, then Vargas walked Scott Hairston to load the bases. Vargas finally got a popup to end the inning. If the third inning was a little less nightmarish, Vargas at least gets into the seventh inning and possibly finishes it. That doesn't mean Don Wakamatsu wouldn't have gone with David Aardsma in the ninth, but whatever. Vargas actually set down the first six Padres he faced. In the fourth, he walked Jerry Hairston Jr. with one out before Gwynn doubled to move him to third. Vargas racked up two whiffs to bail himself out of that jam. In the sixth, he gave up a leadoff single, but then got a lineout and two fielder's choices to end the inning and his outing.
-- Shawn Kelley came in for the seventh with the Mariners leading 3-2. He allowed a one-out Chase Headley double. The Mariners then gave Adrian Gonzalez the empty base before Kelley got the whiff from Scott Hairston and Hundley to end the inning. I also just realized the Padres have two Hairstons on their team. Brandon League will be discussed below, as will the closer.
-- there were some offensive moments. In the fifth, Eliezer Alfonzo led off with a double and went to third on Vargas' bunt. Ichiro plated Alfonzo with a groundout to cut the Padres' lead to 2-1. Figgins was hit with a pitch, but scored on a long triple by Franklin Gutierrez to tie the game at 2-2 before Jose Lopez flew out to end the inning. Milton Bradley then led off the sixth with a home run.
-- was there any offensive choke? Ichiro led off the game with a single and never got beyond first base. In the second, Bradley singled to lead off, was moved to second on a Josh Wilson single, then was moved to third on an Alfonzo flyout, but that just set it up for Vargas at the plate, who whiffed to end the inning. Right after Bradley homered in the sixth, Wilson singled, then went to second on a wild pitch by Kevin Correia with Alfonzo at the plate. Unfortunately, Alfonzo whiffed to make it two out, and Vargas popped out to end the inning. In the eighth, Bradley singled with one out, stole second, then went to third because Hundley made a bad throw trying to gun him down. Wilson then grounded out to short, and since Casey Kotchman is what he is, he grounded out to second, ending the inning. Is it odd that the Mariners should have won this game despite going 0-for-9 with urnners in scoring position?
-- Ichiro went 1-for-5 in the game, making him 84-for-249 (.337) on the season and putting him on pace to finish with 224 hits. Yes, he's slipping, and he's gone 2-for-20 in the last five games. Funny how the Mariners got into that hitter-friendly park and scored six runs over the final three games. Awesome.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro got the only hit of the two, and Figgins scored the only run of the two. The Mariners remain 10-3 when both players score and 10-18 when they both collect hits.
1) Milton Bradley
The Mariners' resident enigma had a good day. His boxscore line shows as 3-for-4 with a homer, run scored, and a stolen base. He singled to lead off the second, though no runs ended up scoring. He whiffed with the bases empty and one out in the fourth, the only out he made. In the sixth, he led off with a home run that put the Mariners into a 3-2 lead that should have held. In the eighth, he singled with the bases empty and one out, then stole second and ended up on third thanks to an error. He was on third base with one out and wasn't driven home. Bradley's homer was his fourth and his RBI was his 22nd on the season. Bradley is now a .223 hitter with an on-base percentage of .293 and a slugging mark of .345. As great as it is for Bradley to have a good game like this, I can't help but feel it's too little too late. The sad part this year is that even if they tanked it, there's no Stephen Strasburg this season. Even when they were in line for him, they messed up and swept the final series from Oakland. I've said it a few times before on Sports and B's, but that was another instance of "even when you win, you lose."
2) Josh Wilson
While Ian Snell is once again bumped from the starting rotation by digging himself a grave, the other reason the trade with the Pirates is coming up the opposite of roses is that Jack Wilson sucks at the plate when healthy and can't contribute on defense when he's hurt. To me, Josh Wilson has shown flashes of brilliance at shortstop, though overall he's pretty average. The hitting, however, has been there, and he's done a lot of hitting since getting the call this season to join the big club. His 3-for-4 day puts him at .301 on the season (on-base at .348, slugging at .407). Don Wakamatsu just recently started moving him up in the order, and the Mariners really have nothing to lose when it comes to that. From May 16th to the present, Wilson has gone 31-for-92 (.337), scored seven runs, doubled six times, tripled once, driven in nine runs, and stolen two bases. Okay, so it's not a tear of glamour and it's not exactly headline-grabbing, but how many other Mariners have gotten significant playing time this year and are hitting .300?
3) Brandon League
It's been a topsy-turvy year for the guy, but this day was a good one. Holding a 3-2 lead in the eighth, League got a groundout back to him from Chris Denorfia to lead off, got a Jerry Hairston Jr. groundout, then got a groundout from Gwynn. Three groundouts. That's as advertised, and that's how it's supposed to be with League. The man with the most swung-at-and-missed pitch in the Majors last year has had trouble getting on the horse in Seattle, but then again, it seems like a lot of people do. I'm just hoping League doesn't end up being a pitching version of Jeff Cirillo, though League's not from the state of Washington in the least. I think the year started going south for League when Mark Lowe got hurt. Lowe threw in so many high-leverage situations for this team, and once he was on the shelf, League got more of those situations than he probably should have, and the results were mixed. While the 2009 bullpen was a group of no-name guys that settled into their roles, the 2010 bullpen was heavily dependent on Aardsma at the end and Lowe before him. That hasn't gone well.
It's no contest here. He plain didn't do his job, plain and simple. He blew four saves all of last year, and this was his fourth blown save of 2010. Even if he had notched saves in every single Mariner win this season, he'd be 19-for-23 on save opportunities. How was the ninth inning of horror? Will Venable came off the bench and singled to lead off, and he went to second on an Eckstein bunt. Aardsma then hit Chase Headley with a pitch. Gonzalez then doubled to score Venable to tie the game at 3-3 and put Headley on third. Scott Hairston was intentionally walked (force purposes on the bases, I'm guessing), and Hundley hit a deep-enough fly ball on his first to score Headley from third for a 4-3 Padre win. Like I said, Aardsma is 12-for-16 this year on save chances. To match his numbers last year in terms of saves and chances, he'll have to nail down 26 of 26 the rest of the way. Of course, he's thrown in 21 games so far this season, but we're past the one-third pole of the season, so he's on pace for around 60. He threw in 73 games last season.
Lee. LeBlanc. Tonight.