Tuesday, June 15, 2010
At least it was a close game this time. The Mariners lost, but they didn't get clobbered. Really, though, the day was a winner because the Mariners finally cut bait with Ian Snell, designating him for reassignment. The call-up in his place was former Mariner Brian Sweeney, who threw for the team in 2003 and went away in the trade where the Mariners cut bait with Jeff Cirillo, trading him to San Diego. Though the Cardinals' record is now only 36-29, I still expected absolutely nothing out of this series in Saint Louis, and nothing is ultimately what I've seen so far. Nothing good, anyway.
-- it's rare that anyone can say this about this year's Mariner team, but in this game, they scored all their runs on homers. The problem was that the homers were both solo shots. Even when the starting pitching is awesome, the Mariners will still have trouble winning games in which they score a mere two runs. Ryan Rowland-Smith obviously has not shown himself to be an elite starter this season, so it's an expectation that the offense probably has to score at least four runs to give him a chance to win. Last year, that might have been three, but Rowland-Smith's numbers have undergone inflation this season. Anyway, the first homer will be addressed in the gameballs below. The second homer was Ryan Langerhans' second of the year. He came off the bench in the ninth inning and hit in the pitcher's spot (Brandon League, in this case). While ultimately (and unfortunately) Ryan Franklin ended up with the save, he did at least give up the homer to Langerhans, who put it over the rightfield wall to cap the scoring at 4-2.
-- so with two of the Mariners' seven hits being solo shots that scored their only runs, were there any other real chances? The Mariners managed some two-out craziness in the first that got nowhere. Franklin Gutierrez and Jose Lopez singled back-to-back and Milton Bradley walked to load the bases before Josh Wilson hit into a fielder's choice to end the inning. In the second, Rob Johnson hit a one-out double. Rowland-Smith failed in his bunting mission, bunting foul with two strikes. Ichiro whiffed to end the inning, leaving the game scoreless. In the fifth, the Mariners were down 3-1 when Ichiro led off with an infield single. He went to third when Lopez hit an infield single with two out. Bradley walked to load the bases again before Wilson did the same thing he did the first time when he had the bases loaded with two out. That was it. Those were the Mariners' only true legitimate scoring chances in the game.
-- Ichiro went 1-for-5 in the game, getting aboard on an infield single. He is now 91-for-267 (.341) on the season, putting him on pace to finish the season with 227 hits.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro got the one hit and didn't score, while Figgins failed to hit or score. The Mariners remain 10-4 when both players score and 11-20 when they both collect hits.
-- Ryan Rowland-Smith wasn't bad, but he wasn't good either. If there's one thing I learned from the past two games, it's that the National League rules and Saint Louis' righthanded power hitters really made Don Wakamatsu have a bit of a short leash with Luke French and Rowland-Smith once the fourth and fifth innings came around. The bullpen is getting overworked, but the saving grace is that the Mariners have Thursday off. Much like Garrett Olson last year, Rowland-Smith really was only burned by the big inning. The inning this time was the fourth inning, but the big inning was three runs. He didn't exactly sail through the first three innings, but he did face 12 hitters over those three innings. No 1-2-3 innings, sure, but nothing big. In the fourth, the Cardinals sent eight htiters to the plate. David Freese bounced a ball over the fence with one out, and he scored on Colby Rasmus' homer that put the Cardinals in the lead for good at 2-1. One out later, the Aussie managed to give up a double to opposing pitcher Jeff Suppan, which probably was a red flag to Wakamatsu. Brendan Ryan then singled Suppan home to make it 3-1 for Saint Louis. Rowland-Smith's average per-start line: 5 innings, 4.4 runs (3.7 earned), 2.1 walks, 2 strikeouts, 83 pitches (53 strikes), 5.5 groundouts, 5.6 flyouts.
-- now, the bullpen. Shawn Kelley threw the fifth inning, giving up the requisite Albert Pujols homer (that made it 4-1) and an inifield single to David Freese. Garrett Olson threw the sixth and seventh. He gave up two singles in the sixth and a leadoff walk (to Pujols) in the seventh. Brandon League threw the eighth, giving up only a two-out walk.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Kelley, Olson, and League threw in this game. Going into Wednesday's game, Chad Cordero and Sean White will have one day of rest, David Aardsma will have two days of rest, and Brian Sweeney will be available. Thursday is an off day for the Mariners.
1) Milton Bradley
The Mariners' resident enigma homered to give the Mariners' a 1-0 lead that lasted a few minutes. He also drew two walks. He also tried bunting himself aboard in the later innings when nothing else seemed to be working for the Mariner offense. About the worst thing he did during the game was throw toward the plate on a play where he really had no chance getting the runner at the plate, and the runner (hitter) moved to second base on the play. Like Figgins, Bradley is now a .228 hitter, though with much more power. That's not to say Bradley's been hitting with a ton of power -- on this team, everything is relative.
2) Jose Lopez
The Mariners' third baseman was the only Mariner on the night with multiple hits. He singled in a fruitless first inning, then later hit an infield single. Lopez is now a .232 hitter on the season with an on-base percentage of .258 and a slugging mark of .313. Who in the Mariners' lineup has a better slugging percentage? In this game, not Figgins and not Casey Kotchman. Even Rob Johnson has a high slugging percentage than Lopez. That's one big problem with this team, but how much can I really cry over spilled milk? The season's over, so should I really let myself get worked up over this? Did Brandon Morrow find Lopez's lucky bat and take it with him to Toronto or something? Lopez just hasn't hit for power with any regularity this season, and that's a huge problem.
The Mariner catcher went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk in the game, and he also gunned down Brendan Ryan trying to steal second base. His batting average is now up to a grand .211 with an on-base percentage of .318. His slugging percentage, though, is better than that of Lopez. Slightly more importantly, if Johnson is getting the odd hit here and there, I get to pull off on the throttle a bit on the Eliezer Alfonzo bandwagon. I think slightly less about the dream catching tandem of Josh Bard and Alfonzo. I don't even see a wild pitch or a passed ball in the boxscore. What's gotten into Rob Johnson?
After a ten-game stretch where he went 12-for-35, the immortal Jeff Suppan and the Cardinal pitching staff threw some spike strips down in front of the Figgins Express. The Mariners' second baseman went 0-for-5, but luckily Figgins had done well enough lately that even an 0-for-5 day wouldn't send his batting average below .200. He is now a .228 hitter on the season. Figgins flew out with one out and the bases empty in the first, was caught looking to lead off the third, whiffed with Ichiro on first and nobody out in the fifth, grounded out to lead off the seventh, and grounded out for the final out of the game.
Vargas. Garcia. Wednesday night.