Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Holy crap, it's a Mariner win! These have become rare lately. This win was even more rare because it was a road win. The Mariners only needed 66 total games and 34 road games for it to happen, but they finally got their 10th road win of the season. Yes, the Mariners are 25-41 on the season and 10-24 on the road. The Mariners are one game better than the 2008 pace and three games worse than the 2004 pace. Coming into this game, the Mariners had lost 10 of 12 games since the last time they had consecutive wins. A three-game winning streak on the last homestand began the month for the Mariners, but what a distant memory it is. Anyway, the Mariners now get a day off to rest and fly back to Seattle for a six-game homestand. Besides the entire bullpen, one player who'll need the day of rest is Jose Lopez, who left the game due to left knee tendinitis, and there didn't appear to be a particular play that tweaked the knee of Lopez. Unfortunately, this means Matt Tuiasosopo may get more playing time in the near future. Having Jack Wilson returning to the team doesn't seem so bad now.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed in the entries below. It was great.
-- Brandon League came in for Vargas with a runner on third and two out. League's outing was short and sweet, striking out Matt Holliday on exactly three pitches. That was awful Mark Lowe-like of League. David Aardsma working with the slimmest lead possible, came in to nail down the save in the ninth. The first hitter was Albert Pujols, who didn't quite get all of a fastball, flying out to center. That was a huge out, but Ryan Ludwick bounced a double over the leftfield wall in the corner. Aardsma then buckled it down, striking out David Freese and getting a groundout from Colby Rasmus to end the game.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: League and Aardsma threw in this game and will have a day of rest going into Friday's game. Shawn Kelley and Garrett Olson will have two days of rest, Chad Cordero and Sean White will have three days of rest, and Brian Sweeney will be available for his first Mariner appearance in years.
-- the Mariners eked out a win despite only getting six hits in the game, five of them being off Jamie Garcia. Were there blown chances? Ichiro doubled on the fourth pitch of the game and was stranded there. In the second, Ryan Langerhans drew a one-out walk, but was erased on a double-play ball from Eliezer Alfonzo. Ichiro led off the eighth with a single, then stole second, then was picked off trying to go to third and was run down. Chone Figgins walked, then Milton Bradley walked on four pitches. Matt Tuiasosopo whiffed, but a passed ball on strike three moved the runners into scoring position. Josh Wilson then whiffed at three pitches to end the inning. So went all the opportunities where the Mariners had runners in decent situations and failed to score.
-- in the third, the Mariners drew first blood. With one out, Bradley and Lopez hit consecutive singles. Instead of striking out, Wilson was hit with a pitch to load the bases. Ryan Langerhans then grounded to second, where Felipe Lopez turned and threw to Brendan Ryan covering at second, who stepped on the bag, but Wilson executed a wonderful takeout slide to prevent Ryan from throwing to first (the fact that Felipe Lopez led Ryan into the runner with his throw also helped). Thanks to the slide, Bradley scored to put the Mariners ahead 1-0. After the Cardinals got the run right back in the bottom half of the fourth, the Mariners got to work in the fifth. Michael Saunders drove himself a leadoff single and went to second on a nice hit-and-run groundout by Jason Vargas. After Ichiro whiffed, Figgins singled to score Saunders and cap the scoring at 2-1.
-- Ichiro went 2-for-4 in the game and is now 93-for-271 (.343) on the season. He is on pace to finish the season with 228 hits. Ichiro also notched his 20th stolen base of the season. With 20 steals and 15 games remaining to the halfway point of the season, Ichiro is on pace to beat his steal total from 2006, when he stole 45 bases. He'd be hard-pressed to beat the steal percentage from the same year (he was successful on 45 of 47 chances!), but this will definitely beat his 26 steals from last year. This of course leads me to think of why the team could have been so good last year despite Ichiro having only stolen 26 bags, his worst as a Major Leaguer. Previously, his low-water steal mark was a 31-steal season in 2002.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro had two hits and Figgins had one. Neither player scored a run. The remain 10-4 when both players score, but they're now 12-20 when both collect hits.
1) Jason Vargas
Along with Jamie Garcia, Vargas had this game just humming along and going at record pace until the umpires went down the tunnel to review the Pujols long double which shouldn't have taken as long to review as it did, but whatever. This was arguably Vargas' best start of the season. It was definitely his deepest start of the season. In terms of pitches per inning (one way you could measure efficiency, I guess), this was the second-most efficient start of the season by any Mariner starting pitcher. Vargas averaged 12.3 pitches per inning, outdone only by Cliff Lee's 11.9 pitches per inning from his complete game two starts ago (June 7th). Vargas was only burned once, and that came in the fourth. Pujols doubled with one out, went to third on a wild pitch that was blocked by Alfonzo, but the ball got too far in front of Alfonzo, and he Pujols took off as soon as he saw the ball in the dirt. Ryan Ludwick then hit a deep-enough fly ball to score Pujols and tie the game at 1-1. Vargas then gave up a single to Freese before getting Rasmus to fly out and end the inning. Great start by Vargas.
2) Milton Bradley
His almost-catch of the Pujols double saved a home run and probably saved the win for the Mariners. As for his offensive output, he whiffed with Ichiro on second and one out in the first, singled with one out and the bases empty in the fourth, whiffed with Figgins on second and two out in the fifth, and walked on four pitches with Figgins on first and one out in the eighth. The odd thing about the catch, though, was that he might have had a much better chance to catch it if the bullpen gate/fence hadn't given way when he leaped up against it. Back to his offense, Bradley is hitting .271 so far in the month of June with an on-base percentage of .386 and a slugging mark of .500 thanks to his two doubles and three home runs. He's also walked seven times and stolen five bases without being caught. He's had a ten-game stretch where he hasn't gone hitless in consecutive games. In this stretch, he's 10-for-33 with two doubles and three homers, driving in five runs. He's slugging .636 in that span.
3) Chone Figgins
The Mariners' second baseman drove in the run that held up as the winning run in the fifth inning. As for the rest of his day, he grounded out to third with Ichiro on second and nobody out in the first, he grounded out to lead off the fourth, had the single to score Saunders from second with the go-ahead run, and walked after Ichiro was run down trying to steal third. Figgins is now a .230 hitter on the season with an on-base percentage of .339. His slugging percentage is complete crap, but he's not getting paid to hit for extra bases. Of course, he's getting paid to hit way better than .230 on the season, but we've been over this. The season's a lost cause, but now Figgins sucks a bit less than he did a month ago, so that's something to build upon since he'll be with the Mariners for the next few years.
Now that I realized he had the takeout slide that scored the first run of the ballgame, I almost want to take Wilson out of this slot. However, he struck out twice in an 0-for-3 day. He had the key takeout slide right after right after being hit with a pitch. As for his outs, Wilson led off the second with a flyout, got hit with the pitch with runners on the corners and one out in the fourth, whiffed with one out and the bases empty in the sixth, then whiffed with two runners in scoring position to end the eighth. The most damning stat, however, is that Wilson has gone 0-for-14 over the last four games, sinking his batting average like a rock from .307 down to .277. I guess it's entirely possible the offensive mojo has been cashed from Wilson's bat. It was nice while it lasted. It's either that or Wilson really hates hitting in Saint Louis. It should be noted that Wilson had a four-game hitless streak in mid-May as well.
Cueto. Lee. Friday night.