Sunday, June 20, 2010
Normally when the Mariners score a total of seven runs in a three-game series, there's a great chance the Mariners lose two of those three games if not the entire series. This time, Mariner pitchers held the Cincinnati Reds to one run in three games. The duo of Ryan Rowland-Smith and Ian Snell had a combined record of 0-11 going into this game, and the Mariners had a record of 3-16 whenever Snell or the Aussie started. It took until the 69th game of the season, but the Mariners finally won a game in that scenario. They won this game despite going 0-for-1 with runners in scoring position, a stat not only damning for the hitless part, but also for the lack of opportunities. Probably the revelation of this game, however, was that the bullpen put the win on lockdown.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed in the entries below
-- the first arm out of the bullpen will be discussed in the entries below. David Aardsma came into the ninth trying to cash in on a 1-0 lead. He had the Reds' sixth, seventh, and eighth hitters to face, and he threw a 1-2-3 inning. He got authoritative strikeouts off of Jay Bruce and Laynce Nix, then Chris Heisey popped into foul ground, where Casey Kotchman, he of the now-Major League record of consecutive games without an error, made the catch and a Fathers Day crowd of 32712 erupted in a flood of joy.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Brandon League and David Aardsma threw in this game and will have a day of rest for Tuesday's game. The rest of the bullpen will be even more rested. Shawn Kelley and Garrett Olson will have six days of rest, Chad Cordero and Sean White will have seven days of rest, and Brian Sweeney is still available when needed.
-- as for the offense...what offense? The teams in this game combined for six hits, three apiece. Chone Figgins, Jose Lopez, and Josh Wilson accounted for the three Mariner hits, all of which were singles, and all of which occurred in the fourth inning. Mike Carp drew the only Mariner walk of the game, doing so as the first Mariner baserunner of the game, leading off the third inning. Chone Figgins broke up the no-hitter with an infield single to lead off the fourth. Lopez singled one out later to move Figgins to third. Franklin Gutierrez then hit a fly ball deep enough to center to score Figgins from third. After the Reds relayed the ball to the infield, they threw to third, appearing to appeal to third to see if Figgins left third base early. Figgins was never called out, and so the Gutierrez sacrifice fly capped the scoring. Josh Wilson singled after the sacrifice fly to move Lopez to second, but Carp flew out to end the inning.
-- in one of the more hilarious stats from this game, the final 13 Mariners to step into the batters box in the game all made outs. The Mariners somehow won despite this.
-- Ichiro went 0-for-4 in the game, leaving him at 95-for-283 (.336) on the season. Is 240 hits too lofty an expectation for me to have of Ichiro? His current pace will give him a 223-hit season.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro had no hits and didn't score a run, and Figgins had a hit and scored the only Mariner run. The Mariners remain 10-4 when both players score and 13-20 when both collect hits.
1) Brandon League
After the wheels finally were falling off the Ryan Rowland-Smithmobile, League came in and threw probably his best two innings of the season, excelling in two different roles. League came aboard in the seventh after the Aussie walked the first two hitters of the inning. Corky Miller was up to bunt the runners over, and he succeeded. With both runners in scoring position, League had the grade-A sinking stuff going, and he got Orlando Cabrera and Brandon Phillips whiffing to end the inning. So in the seventh, he played the role of fireman, and he bailed out Rowland-Smith. The eighth inning was all his, and he was due to face the third, fourth, and fifth hitters in the lineup. League got a tapper to the right side from Joey Votto and backhand flipped it to first. League then got Scott Rolen whiffing and got Jonny Gomes to ground out to third. There's 93 games remaining on the Mariners' schedule, but I think there's a great chance this will hold up as League's best outing of the season. He was dominant.
2) Chone Figgins
The Mariners' second baseman broke up the no-hitter with an infield single in the fourth, and he ended up scoring the only run of the game. Figgins is now a .236 hitter with an on-base percentage of .340 and a slugging mark of .285, but he's really not meant to slug. He hit 30 doubles, seven triples, and five home runs last season with the Angels. Right now, he's sitting on 10 doubles and one triple, and we're 12 games from the halfway point of the season. He also drove in 54 runs last season, and he has 18 so far. There's no way he'll get close to 54 RBIs this season. The batting average has a better chance of righting itself than the RBI total, that's for sure. Figgins is a .288 career hitter, and he'll have to go on an ungodly kind of tear in order to get to his career mark. How about another stat that Figgins has no chance in hell of matching? Figgins has 70 total bases this season after piling up 242 total bases last season. His career high is 255 total bases in 2005. He failed to break 200 total bases in 2007 and 2008, but that's more a result of playing about three-fourths of both of those seasons.
3) Ryan Rowland-Smith
The Aussie needed this. Sure, he walked five hitters. Sure, this wasn't his deepest outing of the season (he went seven innings in his second start of the season). He was far from perfect, sure, but the results finally turned up roses for him, and that's something he's needed and this team has needed. More importantly for his confidence, Don Wakamatsu gave him a longer leash when he sent him back out to the mound to start the seventh inning. Granted, it was a bad move in hindsight, but it probably means a lot to Rowland-Smith. You could say Wakamatsu gave Rowland-Smith just enough rope to hang himself, but that's not the point. Wakamatsu let the Aussie break 100 pitches for only the second time this season. Five walks are bad, sure, but all in all, six shutout innings looks great on Ryan Rowland-Smith. The Mariners are really going to need someone to eat up a bunch of innings after Cliff Lee totally gets traded, and having the resident Australian throw seven innings every time out like he did the second half of last year would surely help.
I can only pile on Bradley so much when the rest of the lineup only managed three hits. I have no idea if and when this guy is going to turn it around. Even though the consensus was that he sucked with the Cubs last year, he still hit .257, which is a hell of a lot better than the .215 he's hitting right now. He's halfway to last year's home run total of 12, however. Sure, the Mariners just swept Cincinnati, but it was on the strength of their pitching and definitely not on the strength of the offense. Bradley's 0-for-11 in the series says as much. It's a bit of a shame. From June 6th to the 16th, he went 10-for-33, which isn't horribly good, but it got him from .211 all the way up to .230. Three hitless games later, he's back down to .215. That didn't take long at all. What's weird is that despite sitting out two weeks in May, he still had 20 RBIs after two months of play. This month, he's driven in all of five runs, though that can be partially attributed to people in the lineup sucking in front of him.
Dempster. Vargas. Tuesday.