Monday, July 26, 2010
In short, the Mariners were Danktified again and Felix Hernandez couldn't get the low strike. All in all, that's far from a recipe that would result in a Mariner win. It got bad enough to where in the sixth inning, Felix basically put a pitch right down the pipe (and the EQC Tracer loved that pitch) and plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt called it a ball. Rob Johnson started jawing with Wendelstedt, and eventually Don Wakamatsu came in to shoulder some of the argumentative burden. Still, the White Sox are a good team, and luckily not all teams in the Majors are as good as the White Sox, because if Felix was trotted out to the mound every five days and I knew the Mariners had no chance of scoring runs, it'd be a pretty dismal remainder of the season, to say the least.
-- the starting pitching will be covered toward the end of the post
-- Brian Sweeney came out of the bullpen for the Mariners and threw the eighth inning. He came in with the Mariners down 4-1 and threw some dirt on the grave. He gave up singles to the first two hitters, then AJ Pierzynski hit a sacrifice fly to make it 5-1. Alexei Ramirez singled, then one out later, Juan Pierre singled to make it 6-1 and cap the scoring.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Sweeney threw in this game. Going into Tuesday's game, Chris Seddon, Brandon League, and David Aardsma will have a day of rest. Jamey Wright and Garrett Olson will have two days of rest.
-- once again, the offense doesn't give me a lot of material. Not any material in the vein of the positive, anyway. The Mariners racked up six hits in all, with the only extra-base hit being a Michael Saunders double. The only Mariner run of the game scored on a Jack Wilson single that scored Saunders after the double in the third inning.
-- as for blown offensive opportunities, the Mariners would have had to put some real baserunners aboard to have a bunch of those. As a quick aside, both Rob Johnson and Chone Figgins flew out with bunts in the third inning. In the fourth, Jose Lopez singled with one out, but then found himself on the front end of an inning-ending double-play ball (Casey Kotchman). With the Mariners down 2-1 in the sixth, Ichiro singled with one out and stayed there. With the Mariners down 4-1 in the eighth, Rob Johnson statred the inning with an infield single and was erased on a fielder's choice. Ichiro did the infield single thing to move Jack to second, but the inning ended with another double play (Figgins).
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro had two hits while Figgins went hitless. Neither player scored. The Mariners remain 12-6 when both players score and 17-29 when both collect hits.
The Mariners' money man, leadoff hitter, and rightfielder snapped an 0-for-12 slump with a one-out single in the sixth inning. He added an infield single in the eighth in what looked to be a situation where the Mariners might score a run, though they were already down four runs at that point. Nonetheless, the 2-for-4 night pushes Ichiro to 127-for-410 (.310) on the season. He's on pace to finish the season with 206 hits. If you're a dreamer like me, you wanted Ichiro to finish the season with 240 hits. The realistic side of my mind expected Ichiro to get about 220 to 225 hits. For that to happen, though, he'd have to rack up around 95 hits in the remaining 62 games. Sure, if anyone can do it, it's Ichiro, but that's a pretty tall order. Quick math -- 62 games times four at-bats per game makes it 248 at-bats...95 hits over 248 at-bats means...a rough estimate says Ichiro will have to hit .383 over the final 62 games of the season to get to 222 hits. Again, I'm not saying he can't do it, but that'd be quite a prolonged tear. I do think he has one good tear left in him this season, but I'm not sure it'll equate to .383 over the final 62 games.
2) Jack Wilson
The Mariners' not-quite-as-crappy-hitting (nowadays) shortstop named Wilson didn't have to display any bunting skills in this game, but he did have the only Mariner RBI of the game. One really fun pipe dream right now is to try to convince yourself that some other team sees something in Jack Wilson and they try to get him in a trade. Maybe some National League team sees his bunting wizardry and wants some of it. Of course, Jack Zduriencik traded for Jack Wilson expecting to have the starting shortstop for the next few years, but it's apparent the dude gets banged up too often. He's not dependable enough, but no one in the minors is exactly knocking on the door to take the spot at short. Still, it'd be awesome to have some kind of salary dump, though you'd certainly have to send some cash away in the deal. I like sound defense as much as the next guy and everything, but this team needs some more offense. They don't need an all-hit, no-glove shortstop necessarily, but there has to be some balance in this team.
3) Michael Saunders
The lanky Victorian Mariner (sounds like a boat name) hit a double for the Mariners' only extra-base hit, and he also scored the only Mariner run of the game. With all the assumptions I made about him after last season, now he's turning all of those assumptions around. I think the last guy that proved me wrong this badly was Raul Ibanez. Of course, Ibanez did it in the home run and RBI variety. Saunders has the capability to rip line drives, but the Mariners just need him to do it more consistently and more often. It'd be nice for the Mariners to get some powerful offensive in a corner outfield position, and if they did, Saunders would be gone instantaneously. They're sure as hell not getting any power hitting in the other corner outfield position, that's for sure. It would take the team getting sold for Ichiro to no longer be on this team. Then again, what would another team trade in terms of assets for someone with Ichiro's skillset and with Ichiro's age? The guy's pretty up there in age, though he is better conditioned than most athletes his age.
Don't get me wrong, Felix has to get some credit for getting through seven innings despite not getting the low strike called all night. What irks me, though, is that it visibly upset him to not get those strikes called. Granted, not every player can be completely emotionless, and most of the time I like that Felix shows a little but of give-a-damn while he's on the mound. Maybe I'm being a little fickle, but it seemed to me like Felix couldn't adapt to not having the low strike getting called, and I guess I want him to cross over that threshold of mental toughness. I hate to bring up his name now that he's gone, but I think a Cliff Lee manages to get through that situation unscathed. Maybe Felix can't exactly be a crafty righthander, but he's gotta use all the tools in the bag and he has to be the workhorse even when he doesn't have his best stuff or he isn't getting all the calls. Look at me -- I'm complaining about a start where Felix went seven innings and gave up four runs, which on a normal team should mean about a 50/50 shot for a win every night. On this team, it's more like a 90% chance of a loss, but them's the breaks when it comes to the 2010 Mariners.
Rowland-Smith. Floyd. Tuesday night.