Sunday, June 13, 2010
Cliff Lee was slightly less than superhuman on Saturday night and the Mariners lost their fifth straight. On Sunday afternoon, Felix Hernandez was superhuman and threw long enough for the Mariner bullpen not to be a factor. The Mariners also scored four runs, which was more than enough for Felix to win and end the team's losing streak. The Mariners have had losing streaks of four, two, one, four, eight, two, five, two, three, three, and five. Before I show more of a visually friendly thing regarding the Mariners' losing streaks this season, I'll bring up that the Mariners, for those not in the Pacific Northwest, are totally being shown on ESPN for Monday night's game in Saint Louis. Unfortunately, now the whole nation will be witness to the vat of suck that is the Seattle Mariners. Hopefully Luke French has a decent start, but I don't see the Mariner offense getting to Adam Wainwright. Also in Saint Louis: get ready for the crappy distant dead-center camera on FSN for that series. There are few things on this earth I hate more than watching baseball with the camera aligned and centered through the mound and the plate.
In more of a vertical format, the Mariners' losing streaks this season, accounting for all 39 of their losses...
- one game: once (one loss)
- two games: three times (six losses)
- three games: twice (six losses)
- four games: twice (eight losses)
- five games: twice (ten losses)
- eight games: once (eight losses)
-- the starting pitcher will be discussed below. David Aardsma came into the game with a runner on first and two out. Said runner took off for second base on indifference before Nick Hundley flew out to end the game. Aardsma, having blown the same number of saves this year as he did all of last year, notched his 13th save of the year, which was probably his cheapest and easiest.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Aardsma threw in this game. Going into Monday's game in Saint Louis, Sean White and Brandon League will have a day of rest, Shawn Kelley will have two days of rest, Garrett Olson will have three days of rest, Ian Snell will have four days of rest, and Chad Cordero will have five days of rest.
-- the offense managed nine hits. Three of them belonged to Rob Johnson (whaaa?!) and two belonged to Milton Bradley. That left four hits for the other seven hitters in the lineup. Quick math and a boxscore peek shows that Josh Wilson (he had to cool off sometime), Mike Carp, and Felix Hernandez (lest we forget the pitcher hits in the National League park) went hitless.
-- the Mariners' first baserunner of the game was Ichiro, who walked to lead off the game. He was immediately the front end of a double play. Clayton Richard faced the minimum of seven Mariner hitters before Rob Johnson singled with one out in the third. He was bunted over to second by Hernandez, but stayed there as an Ichiro groundout ended the inning. In the fifth, Johnson singled (again) with one out, but was erased when Hernandez hit into a fielder's choice. Ichiro whiffed to end that inning. In the sixth, the Mariners sent six hitters to the plate and didn't score. Figgins drew a leadoff walk and was moved to second on a Gutierrez single. Lopez hit into a double play, moving Figgins to third. Bradley was intentionally walked, then Wilson was unintentionally walked, loading the bases. Mike Carp then grounded out to short, ending the inning.
-- the Mariners had two offensive innings that aren't too centered around who I picked for gameballs, and they broke a tie and added insurance in the eighth and ninth. In the eighth, Chone Figgins did the infield single thing, and one out later, Lopez atoned for some moments of suck earlier in the game by doubling to break the tie and put the Mariners into a 3-2 lead. Bradley was hit by a pitch right after that, but Wilson flew out and Carp whiffed to derail the inning. In the ninth, well...I guess I address that in the Ichiro paragraph right after this.
-- Ichiro went 1-for-4 in the game with his only hit being a double. He also drew a walk. His walk led off the first inning, but he was erased two pitches later on Figgins' 3858205th double-play ball of the season. In the ninth, Rob Johnson was on second base when Ichiro doubled. Johnson scored, and the Mariners had an important insurance run to make it 4-2 going into the bottom of the ninth. As for the outs, Ichiro had a runner on second and two out in the third, but grounded out. In the fifth, he had a runner on first and two out, but whiffed. In the seventh, he grounded out with the bases empty to end the inning. He is now 88-for-258 (.341) on the season, putting him on pace to finish the season with 226 hits.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Only Figgins scored out of the two players, but they collected one hit apiece. The Mariners remain 10-3 when both players score, but are now 11-19 when they both collect hits.
1) Felix Hernandez
You gotta love the starts where Felix exhibits pure brilliance. It wasn't his best start ever, but it was still awesome. This wouldn't be a game where he was chasing perfection or a no-hitter. In fact, Jerry Hairston Jr. doubled to lead off the third for the Padres' first hit (and baserunner). Very unfortunately, Tony Gwynn Jr. then hit a long fly ball to center that Franklin Gutierrez misplayed, having it get past him and all the way to the wall. Hairston scored, and Gwynn, many orders of magnitude lighter than his dad, came all the way around to score, putting the Padres into a 2-0 lead. From there, Felix put the game on lockdown. After the inside-the-park homer, he struck out the next three hitters, striking out the side for the second straight inning. He allowed a leadoff walk in the fourth, but it was to Adrian Gonzalez, and the next three hitters went down in order. After the Gonzalez walk, Felix retired nine straight Padres. Scott Hairston snapped that streak with a leadoff single in the seventh. Hairston went to second on a balk, but Felix put away the next seven hitters before Gonzalez singled with one out in the ninth. He got a final fielder's choice groundout before yielding to Aardsma. The average per-start line for Felix: 6 2/3 innings, 3.1 runs (2.7 earned), 6.4 hits, 2.4 walks, 6.3 strikeouts, 109 pitches (69 strikes), 9 groundouts, 4 flyouts. He averaged 14.8 pitches per inning, his fourth-best outing this season in those terms. The 128 pitches he threw in this game was a career high, and keep in mind the Mariners have a day off Thursday, so he could get an extra day of rest if needed.
2) Milton Bradley
There always exists the possibility that Felix Hernandez could pitch an incredible game, yet it might not mean crap if the Mariners fail to score runs or they score an insufficient number of runs. Since the minimum amount of runs you can score in a game and still win is one, the Mariners had to score runs. Bradley was a big part of that on Sunday. In the fourth, Franklin Gutierrez singled with one out, but was erased on a fielder's choice groundout off the bat of Jose Lopez. Usually this is where an inning would fizzle out, but that's when Milton Bradley homered to give the Mariners legitimate life in this game, tying it at 2-2. It was his only hit of the game, but the big knock tied it, and the tie help from the top of the fourth through to the top of the eighth, when the Mariners broke the tie. Bradley was also intentionally walked with one out in the sixth to put a double play in order. Bradley is now a .224 hitter, a .308 on-baseman, and a .362 slugger.
3) Rob Johnson
Inexplicably, the Mariners' too-often catcher hit three singles, going 3-for-4 and raising his batting average from .194 to .216 in one game. Amazingly, I don't even see any passed balls or wild pitches in the boxscore for the Mariners' battery. The only odd happening was a balk by Felix. Johnson hitting three singles is pretty Ichiroian. Johnson has an on-base percentage of .322 and a slugging percentage of .333. With how bad he started the season, if he ends up anywhere near .240, I'll be overjoyed, and the Mariners will probably be winning or something. Just think of all that hitting from the bottom third of the lineup. Maybe by then the middle of the lineup would have been doing better, so you could have a decent-hitting Josh Wilson and an okay-hitting Johnson anchoring down the bottom of the lineup. Well, I'm not really holding out hope of any good stuff happening.
The recent call-up went 0-for-4 in the game, leaving five runners aboard. He's now hitting .263 in limited action since being recalled. The problem is that Carp is unimpressive and unremarkable, but Casey Kotchman is remarkably crapnormous. How much longer do the Mariners have Kotchman? Anyway, Carp led off the third with an infield popout and he led off the fifth with a groundout. In the sixth, two hitters were walked ahead of him to load the bases with two out. He had a 2-0 count, but ended up grounding out to end the inning. In the eighth, the Mariners had just taken a 3-2 lead and had runners on first and second with two out, but Carp whiffed to end the inning.
French. Wainwright. Monday night.