Thursday, June 24, 2010
Well, you certainly can't complain about the starting pitching in this game, that's for sure. However, one of the things that has been masked by how well the starting pitching has been lately -- the lack of quality bullpen depth. What I'm trying to say is that the Mariners still have Sean White on the roster. It wasn't all his fault, though. The Mariners went 3-for-16 in this game with runners in scoring position. I guess the surprising thing for me about this game was that the Mariners got 41329 people for a paid attendance total for a 12:40pm game on a Thursday afternoon. That surprised me. Anyway, the Mariners had their six-game winning streak snapped, and they should still totally deal Cliff Lee. Strike while the iron's hot.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed below
-- David Aardsma came into the game to start the tenth inning. In true Aardsma fashion, something had to be interesting, and walking Chad Tracy on four pitches to lead off the inning certainly qualified. Koyie Hill then bunted Tracy to second. Aardsma got a groundout from Kosuke Fukudome, but Starlin Castro (pinch running) got to third. Fortunately, Aardsma got Ryan Theriot to fly out to Ichiro (in some tough sun) to end the inning. Brandon League's outing will be discussed in the gameball/goat section. Garrett Olson came in to start the 13th. He walked pinch hitter Alfonso Soriano on a 3-1 pitch. Fukudome bunted him over to second, which is when Don Wakamatsu pulled Olson in favor of Sean White, whose outing will be discussed in the gameball/goat section.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Aardsma, League, Olson, and White threw in this game. Going into Friday's game, Shawn Kelley will have nine days of rest, Chad Cordero will have ten days of rest, and Brian Sweeney is wondering whether or not the Mariners actually have a secret player on the 25-man roster that is actually taking what he thinks is his roster spot. Sweeney still hasn't appeared in a game for the Mariners this year. Why does this team have to have two people named Sweeney and two people named Wilson, and both with the same first initial, at that?
-- the offense mustered 11 hits, but they were scattered and only produced two runs. The Mariners struck quick in the fourth when Chone Figgins legged out an infield single to lead off, then Mike Sweeney doubled to the wall in left to score Figgins and tie the game at 1-1. Later in that inning...well, I'll talk about that later. The seventh also started with an infield single, this time by Josh Wilson. He was bunted over to second by Rob Johnson, then Jack Wilson one-hopped the wall in leftfield to score Josh Wilson and tie the game at 2-2. Multi-hit Mariners on the day included Ichiro and Jose Lopez with two apiece and Jack Wilson with three. Figgins, Sweeney, and Franklin Gutierrez drew a walk apiece to go with their 1-for-5 days.
-- now, the blown chances, of which there were many. Gutierrez singled with one out in the second, then stole second base with Josh Wilson at the plate. Josh flew out to right, then Johnson was caught looking to end the inning. In the fourth, Sweeney was on second with nobody out after he'd doubled home the tying run. Lopez singled Sweeney over to third. Then it fell apart as Gutierrez was caught looking, Josh whiffed, and Johnson grounded to Ted Lilly. In the seventh, Jack had bounced a double over the wall to tie the game and was standing on second with one out. Saunders was caught looking, Ichiro was given the open bag at first base, and Figgins whiffed. In the eighth, Lopez singled with one out only to be erased on a Gutierrez double-play ball. In the ninth, Milton Bradley drew a pinch-hit walk with one out, then he was moved to second by a Jack single. Then Saunders whiffed and Ichiro grounded to first to end the threat. In the tenth, Figgins and Sweeney drew consecutive walks to lead off the inning. Lopez then whiffed. The runners pulled off a double steal, then Gutierrez was given the open bag at first to load the bases. Josh and Eliezer Alfonzo then whiffed in succession. It's fitting that the tenth-inning threat was the last real chance the Mariners had in the game.
-- Ichiro was 2-for-5 on the day with a walk. The two hits pushes him to 100-for-295 (.339) on the season, putting him on pace to finish the season with 225 hits. Ichiro also has an on-base percentage of .394 and a slugging mark of .441.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro had two hits and Figgins had one. Only Figgins scored a run. The Mariners remain 10-4 when both players scpre runs, but they are now 13-21 when both players collect hits.
1) Felix Hernandez
If Felix and Cliff Lee are getting into some kind of arms race or a start-by-start version of a pitching-adapted version of a game of H-O-R-S-E, then it's going quite well in the last two starts for both guys. For Felix, it was a second straight game throwing nine innings. He threw one more pitch than in his last start and gave up one more run than in his last start. The last two starts have been Felix's most efficient starts in terms of pitches per inning. Felix threw 12.9 pitches per inning in his last start, and averaged 13 pitches per inning in this game. The oddity is that Felix didn't throw a 1-2-3 inning until the sixth, and the eighth inning was his only other 1-2-3 inning. It was the 16th start of the season for Felix, and the seventh in which he recorded double-digit groundouts. Amazingly, he hasn't notched double-digit strikeouts in a game yet this season. He's struck out nine hitters four times. In his last three starts, he's gone 26 2/3 innings. If it wasn't clear to you before, let it be known now and forever -- Felix Hernandez is good.
2) Jack Wilson
The Mariners' most defensively adept shortstop had probably his best offensive game as a Mariner, and also ended the eighth with a rangey play into the hole on the left side and a spin-and-throw move that nailed the runner at first. Jack finished the day 3-for-6 with a double and an RBI in the game. He started his day at the plate by being caught looking to lead off the third. He then led off the fifth with a groundout to the third baseman. His fortunes started turning in the seventh, though, as he bounced a ball over the leftfield wall to score Josh and tie the game at 2-2. In the ninth, he was up with a runner on first and one out, and he singled the runner over to second. In the 11th, he popped to the first baseman in foul ground. In the 13th, he singled with two out and was the final Mariner baserunner, and he had a seat on the basepaths to watch Saunders whiff for the final out of the game. Jack is hitting a small sample size-friendly .262 with an on-base percentage of .281 and a slugging percentage of .357. May he hit like this for the rest of the season.
3) Brandon League
He had an outing much like his mega-clutch outing in the final game at Cincinnati which started the Mariners' winning streak. This time, however, he didn't have to bail out the starting pitcher when he took the mound. Right after the Mariners' offense all but had the win giftwrapped for them but blew it, League came in for the 11th and had to keep the Mariners in it momentumwise. It started ominously as League walked Marlon Byrd on four pitches to lead off the inning, but then Derrek Lee flew out and Tyler Colvin grounded into a double play. All three outs were recorded on back-to-back pitches. In the 12th, League bounced back by striking out the side, all via the whiff. Xavier Nady did so on an 0-2 pitch, Mike Fontenot met his fate on a 2-2 pitch, and Starlin Castro ended the inning on an 0-2 pitch. The impressive outings are starting to be a bit more plentiful for the Hawaiian. I guess the key now is hopefully that he doesn't have a hiccup in his next appearance. He's had five staright outings that have been good to really good. This one was really good.
The weak link in the Mariner bullpen was on watch when the game got away. He came in with the game tied at 2-2 and a runner on second with one out. He then walked Theriot, but that was probably one of those unintentional intentional walks that sets up the double play. It did, but then Marlon Byrd singled to score Soriano and give the Cubs the lead they wouldn't relinquish, making it 3-2 to cap the scoring. One hitter late, White got a double-play ball to end the inning, but alas, timing is everything. I really wish the Mariners could easily replace his spot in the bullpen with someone less sucky, but right now that appears to be not that possible. I remember earlier in the year when Kelley was sent down, I was upset and thinking the Mariners had sent down the pitcher named Shawn/Sean. Anyway, White put the final dagger into what should have been a Mariner win. It would have been a seven-game winning streak for the Mariners, but it was not to be.
Rowland-Smith. Bush. Tonight.