Friday, July 02, 2010
Okay, this was much more of a 2010 Mariners-y game where they get behind early, they have barely any offense of which to speak, and Sean White makes an appearance. Those are all ingredients of a sure Mariner loss, and that's what this was. Doug Fister was bitten by the big inning, and the Mariner offense had no answer. Worse yet, the Detroit Tigers put seven runs on the board in this game without Miguel Cabrera in the lineup. That's less than good, to say the least. Still, in Max Scherzer the Mariners were facing a pitcher that's caught a bit of fire, having given up only two earned runs over his last 20 2/3 innings (thanks to the ESPN BottomLine for that stat). The Mariners are 0-for-July. Sure, they're only two games into the month of July, but the sooner you win, the better. The pressure mounts with each consecutive loss. The importance of this really isn't that high since it's pretty much a lost season. Also, Erik Bedard will be getting the start on Tuesday. I say it's hello bullpen for Ryan Rowland-Smith and hello something-other-than-the-active-roster for Sean White.
-- the starting pitching will be covered in the ending bullet points
-- the first arm out of the Mariner bullpen will be discussed in the ending bullet points. Sean White came out for the seventh inning and wasn't able to finish it. Ramon Santiago somehow singled with one out, then Johnny Damon took White yard to make it 7-1 and cap the scoring. White caught Magglio Ordonez looking, then was pulled for Garrett Olson. Olson gave up a single to Brennan Boesch before getting a groundout from Carlos Guillen to end the inning. Brandon League came in and threw a 1-2-3 eighth inning, needing only eight pitches to do so.
-- as for the offense...what offense? One run on five hits isn't much. The top third of the lineup combined to go 4-for-11 in the game. The problem, of course, is that all the other hitters went 1-for-18. Not good. The only extra-base hit was a home run by Franklin Gutierrez which accounted for the only run of the game.
-- so there really weren't that many blown chances, what with the lack of baserunners. In the third, Rob Johnson walked and was erased on an Ichiro fielder's choice for the second out. In the fourth, Russell Branyan led off with a single and was erased on a Milton Bradley fielder's choice. Bradley was then erased on an inning-ending double play, hit into by Jose Lopez. In the seventh, Lopez walked with one out and was the front-end of an inning-ending double play, hit into by Franklin Gutierrez. In the ninth, Ichiro led off with a single and went to second on an infield single by Figgins. Casey Kotchman then hit one of his most well-hit balls of the year, going pretty deep to leftcenter. Boesch covered a lot of ground and made the running catch, but the runners were far from tagging up -- in fact, they had to retreat to their bags. Ichiro got back safely, but Figgins had come all the way around second and had to get back to first base. He couldn't do it in time. Quite the double play, that.
-- Ichiro, who was the designated hitter in this game, went 1-for-4 in the game, pushing him to 107-for-323 (.331) on the season. He is on pace to finish the season with 219 hits. Of his nine previous seasons, Ichiro has had four seasons where he finished with less than 219 hits -- he had 208 in 2002, 212 in 2003, 206 in 2005, and 213 last year. His last set of consecutive hitless games came on June 7th and 8th in Arlington. Despite this, his batting average has gone from .347 to .331 since. He's gone 25-for-87 in that span. That's a very pedestrian and totally not Ichiro-like .287 over a span of about three weeks. That's the odd thing about Ichiro. He could have a crazy-long hitting streak, but manage to lose points on his batting average because he's only getting one hit a game.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Neither player scored a run in this game, but Ichiro had a hit and Figgins had two. The Mariners remain 10-5 when both players score, but are now 15-23 when both players collect hits.
1) Franklin Gutierrez
Let's set the scene here. Top of the second inning. Two out. Gutierrez has a 3-1 count. He gets a hold of it and homers to leftfield. The Mariners have an early 1-0 lead. In other words, yes, the Mariners did have a lead at one point in this game. As has usually happened this season, the Mariners gave away this lead in the very next half-inning. Dating to the beginning of the series against the Cubs, Gutierrez has gone 9-for-27 with a double, three homers, and six RBIs. It's raised him from a .272 average to a .278 average, but he's also turned a .396 slugging percentage into a .426 slugging percentage in just a week and a half. That's not too shabby. He's not flirting with .300 like he did for a large portion of last season, but maybe he can get warm. As long as he can improve on a .247 June, I'll be fine with it.
2) Chad Cordero
He's only appeared in six games as a Mariner. In this one, he gave up a hit and struck out two in 1 1/3 innings when the Mariners were down 5-1. To be honest, if you wrote a book about Chad Cordero's tenure with the Mariners, you'd be finished pretty quickly. If you included some backstory about what he had to overcome to get back to the Majors, you'd have more of a story, that's for sure. Now that I think about it, I hope he's not the odd man out when Erik Bedard gets put back onto the roster and makes that start on Tuesday. That would not be good. I hope it's Sean White designated for assignment before it's Cordero getting designated for assignment. Actually, they'll probably just cut Brian Sweeney loose since they have the least amount of time invested in him. Lame, but that'll be more likely to happen than the just cutting of White.
3) Chone Figgins
Usually I would have put the only multi-hit Mariner at least first or second, but I've got him here because he got doubled off on the fly ball in the ninth inning. Granted, it's not like the Mariners would have scored six runs to tie the game or seven to leap ahead in the ninth inning. At some point, Mariano Rivera would have trotted out of the bullpen once the game got a bit close, and the Mariners wouldn't be able to touch him because Edgar Martinez is long retired. Anyway, Figgins singled twice and is hitting .232. I remember the last time I was at Safeco Field, he was still hitting under .200. In fact, Figgins hit .271 in the month of June, finally not being a complete vat of suck at the plate. His batting average was .194 on May 26th and is now .232, thanks in large part to that .271 June. I also thought Figgins' stolen-base pace was a little more gradual this year, but it has not been so. Figgins stole 13 of his 23 bases in June. Funny what happens when you get on base more often. Figgins has only been caught four times out of 27 attempts.
In short, he was bitten by the big inning. There was sure to be an adjustment period after Fister returned from the disabled list, and it seesm the adjustment period is at least two starts. The Tigers sent eight men to the plate in the second inning, though they didn't score until the sixth hitter came to the plate. In other words, he had trouble getting out number three. He caught Ordonez looking to lead off, but then Boesch singled. Guillen grounded out to move Boesch to second. Boesch went to third on a Brandon Inge infield single. Fister then walked Alex Avila on four pitches to load the bases. Don Kelly then bounced a ball over the wall in left for a double to score Boesch and Inge and make it 2-1. Austin Jackson then singled on the first pitch to score Avila and Kelly to make it 4-1. At that point, the Tigers had more than enough runs to win and could have put the game on autopilot. They could have changed out their entire starting nine at that point and still won the game. I'd like to see someone do that, in fact.
Vargas. Verlander. Saturday night.