Saturday, June 26, 2010
If you were a Mariner fan, you felt pretty good through the first three and a half innings of this game. After the bottom of the fourth was through, it felt as if that six-game winning streak had never happened. It felt like same ol' 2010 Mariners again. Really, though, the Mariners probably had long odds to win this game anyway. Why? It was an unfortunate mix of Ryan Rowland-Smith's penchant for flyball outs (and fly balls in general) with the fact that the Brewers are a homer-happy team in a homer-happy Miller Park. Fitting that the guy that had the big blow to tie the game did so with his first big-league homer, but isn't that the way for the Mariners this year? As for the small group of fans convinced after the six-game winning streak that the Mariners should keep Cliff Lee -- just stop it already. Anyone who thinks the Mariners will throw $100 million at Lee is on some sort of mind-altering substance. I'd really like him to stay, sure, but he's got no attachment here, and I think the Mariners are basically pulling the same thing the Oakland A's tried to do with Matt Holliday last year, except Holliday sucked for Oakland. Lee is laying waste to the American League as a Mariner, so Jack Zduriencik should be able to shoot the moon.
Oh, and the roster move of the day was Doug Fister coming off the disabled list for a Saturday start, but Shawn Kelley was put onto the disabled list.
-- the starting pitching will be addressed in the gameball/goat section
-- Chad Cordero entered the game with two on and one out in the sixth and the Mariners down 4-3. This was Cordero's first appearance since June 14th. He had an 0-2 count on Carlos Gomez, but eventually walked him to load the bases. Alcides Escobar then hit a fly ball to rightfield and Ichiro squared up for the throw home. He threw to the plate, but it was cut off and the relay to third base got Jonathan Lucroy (barely) for the third out, but the Brewers now led 5-3. In the seventh, Cordero sandwiched a hit batter with a couple of outs before being lifted. Garrett Olson came in with the runner on first and two out. On Olson's second pitch, Fielder destroyed it, doubling to the rightfield wall to score Rickie Weeks (the hit batter) and make it 6-3 before Olson got a groundout to end the inning. Olson had a nightmare eighth and didn't finish the inning. He allowed a walk, double, single (made it 7-3) and a sacrifice fly (made it 8-3). He got another flyout before giving way to David Aardsma, who got the final out and some work.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Cordero, Olson, and Aardsma threw in this game. Going into Saturday's game, Brandon League and Sean White will have a day of rest, and Brian Sweeney will be waiting patiently to show up in a big-league boxscore for the first time since 2006, which is all but a certainty now that there's one less arm in the bullpen. As mentioned earlier, Kelley was put onto the disabled list and will be eligible to return on July 1st.
-- how many times will your team win a game at Miller Park if you get three runs on seven hits? The Mariners tried and failed this time. In fact, the Figgins single with one out in the fifth was the Mariners' final hit of the game. It's like once the Brewers got ahead, the Mariners ran away and hid.
-- there was a portion of offensive goodness in the early innings, though. In the second, Jose Lopez led off with a double, went to third on a Mike Sweeney single, and came home on a Milton Bradley fly ball to give the Mariners an early 1-0 lead. In the third, Ichiro singled with one out and went to third on a Figgins single. Figgins then stole second, and Ichiro scored on a Franklin Gutierrez fly ball that made it 2-0. Figgins took third when Lopez grounded to short, but Escobar had the ball go off his forearm or something when he charged it. Sweeney then singled through the middle to score Figgins and cap the Mariners' scoring at 3-0.
-- as for blown chances, Jack Wilson led off the fourth with a single, then tried to take second base against the arm of leftfielder Corey Hart. Jack was not successful. In the fifth, Figgins singled with one out, stole second and third, then broke for home on a grounder to third base and was out by a mile. As I mentioned, the Figgins single was the Mariners' final hit of the game, so that was the end of their threats.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro had a hit in the game, and Figgins had two. Ichiro scored a run, and so did Figgins. As a result, the Mariners are now 10-5 when both players score and 13-22 when both collect at least a hit.
1) Chone Figgins
Tne Mariners' second baseman was the team's final offensive gasp. Not only did he have the final Mariner hit of the game, he stole second and third right afterward. With the team having just gotten down 4-3, it certainly appeared Figgins was trying to manufacture the tying run by himself. On a better team, he would have scored after that display. All in all, Figgins goes into the books as having gone 2-for-4 with three stolen bases and a run scored. He is a .235 hitter with an on-base percentage of .337 and a slugging mark of .281. That's a far cry from where he was after the only Mariner game I've attended this season. That was the night of Cliff Lee's worst start of the season, the 15-8 thrashing of the Padres on May 21st. Figgins went 1-for-4 in that game and finished at .192 (with a .308 on-base percentage). A month and a half later, he's at .235. I was saying back around that time that all I wanted Figgins to do was get to about .245 or .250 and just stay there and I'd be fine with it. He's now given himself at least a fighting chance.
2) Mike Sweeney
There hasn't been a lot of Sweeney lately, due in part to back issues. Don Wakamatsu has therefore given us large doses of Milton Bradley, which hasn't gotten the team any production of which to speak. Sweeney went 2-for-4 in the game, pretty much rolling the ball through the infield both times. Despite all the injuries he's had and all the time he's missed, Sweeney is still a .263 hitter, which is still better than Figgins, Lopez, Bradley, and of course Johnson. With the Mariners in the National League park, Wakamatsu started Sweeney at first base to get him into the lineup, and in fact, he did make a diving stab to end the fifth inning.
The Mariner rightfielder and leadoff hitter went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored in the game, leaving him at 101-for-298 (.339) on the season. He also has an on-base percentage of .396 on the season, no doubt helped by the numerous times he's been intentionally walked. His only hit of the game was the one-out single that started the two-run inning that put the Mariners ahead 3-0. His walk came when the game was long meaningless, a two-out walk with the bases empty in the seventh. All told, he is on pace to finish the season with 224 hits, though I'd like to see him get about 240. He's got time to ramp up the pace, sure, but I guess I'm surprised at how well he'd have to hit to maintain that 240-hit pace. I've forgotten his 2004 already.
He reverted back to his new old self. His old old self would have gone seven innings and given up no more than three runs. This of course means his old old self appeared a mere 10 months or so ago. His new old self, however, is the one that was floundering earlier this season to the point where bringing Ian Snell back into the rotation was a good idea. This of course means the Aussie was extremely bad. While he wasn't extremely bad in this game, once he gave up the three-run homer to Lucroy, he was done. Two pitches later, the Aussie was taken yard again, and that was the solo shot by Carlos Gomez that gave the Brewers the lead at 4-3, and Milwaukee never looked back. In other words, Rowland-Smith was eaten alive by the big inning again. It's like all of his outings are a slippery slope. He may start out really well, but once there's adversity, it's all over and it's nearly a certainty that he'll get lit up if Wakamatsu leaves him out there to face that adversity. That's certainly not a trait you want to see in your starting pitcher.
Fister. Wolf. Today.