Thursday, July 08, 2010



[posted in full ~9:25p...haha]

There's your dagger, folks. Now there can be no doubt that Cliff Lee gets traded, because this series drove the final nail into the Mariners' season. Though it didn't feature quite the monumental collapses as the watershed series at Comiskey did, this series has nearly the same impact because it erases all doubt and puts in perspective the week or so stretch of baseball where the Mariners kinda didn't look awful. In this series, they probably should have won all three games, but they came up empty. When you suck, it's one thing. When you're hanging in there but ultimately getting the same final result as when you sucked, that's quite another. Staying close in games for seven innings and losing by only one run doesn't get you a participation ribbon or anything.

-- the starting pitching will be discussed in the gameballs

-- the bullpen...Brian Sweeney was the first man out of the bullpen, and he gave up a leadoff double to Yuniesky Betancourt. Sweeney got a break when Chris Getz bunted but the ball bounced and hit him after he'd left the batters box, making it a batter's interference play and an out. Scott Podsednik moved Betancourt to third with a flyout, and a wild pitch scored Betancourt to cut the Mariners' lead to 3-2 before Sweeney got Kendall to fly out, ending the inning. Garrett Olson entered the eighth inning with the bases freshly cleared and the Mariners down 5-3. He got Wilson Betemit swinging for the first out of the inning before Mitch Maier clubbed a homer on a 2-2 pitch to put the Royals up 6-3. Betancourt doubled before Olson set down the final two hitters to end the inning. Chad Cordero threw the ninth. He got the first two Royals out before Billy Butler joined the home run parade to make it 7-3. Callaspo reached on a bad throw by Josh Wilson, but Betemit was caught looking to end the inning.

-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Sweeney, League, Olson, and Cordero threw in this game. Going into Thursday's game, Sean White and David Pauley will have a day of rest and David Aardsma will have two days of rest.

-- there was offense in this game for the Mariners, and thy name was Casey Kotchman. His solo shot in the third accounted for one Mariner run, and his two-run shot in the sixth accounted for the other two Mariner runs. Those two homers also accounted for two of the six total Mariner hits as well. The Mariners drew six walks, so they weren't completely without other baserunners.

-- the Mariners' biggest and most pivotal blown chance came in the seventh. With one out and a man on first (and the Mariners down 3-2), Ichiro grounded to short, but Betancourt messed up the double play by throwing wide of short and into rightfield, and Josh Wilson moved to third base. Chone Figgins then grounded out on the first freakin' pitch before Russell Branyan was intentionally walked to load the bases. Jose Lopez then grounded into on a 5-4 fielder's choice, which wasn't the first time in the game he'd ended a threatening inning. In the third, Ichiro legged out an infield single with one out. Figgins walked and Russell Branyan singled to load the bases. Lopez then broke his bat on a grounder back to the mound, which went for a 1-2-3 inning-ending double play. Ouch.

-- Ichiro went 1-for-5 in the game, pushing him to 112-for-346 (.324) on the season. He is now on pace to finish the win with 216 hits.

-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro got a hit and didn't score, while Figgins didn't score or get a hit. The Mariners remain 11-6 when both players score and 16-25 when both collect hits.

1) Casey Kotchman
Holy hell, what's gotten into this guy? He asked Don Wakamatsu for some playing time, and now Kotchman has raised his season from the dead. I didn't see Kotchman bouncing back like this -- definitely not with the power that he's shown lately. I would have expected maybe two singles, not two home runs that accounted for all the Mariners' scoring in the game. Obviously it's time to dispel the myth that the Mariners are a bunch of on-base guys that do situational hitting and move runners over and stuff. It's obvious they just sit back and wait for the long ball. Haha. They'd be even more screwed if this were actually the case. In his last five games, Kotchman has gone 9-for-18 with three home runs, six RBIs, and four walks. The five-game stretch has sent his numbetrs skyrocketing -- he's gone from .187 to a .215 batting average, a .267 to a .297 on-base percentage, and a .289 to a .356 slugging percentage. I guess what's unfortunate for Kotchman is that the All-Star break is coming up just in time to flag his momentum. Well, that and facing Yankee pitching the next four nights.

2) Doug Fister
To be honest, there weren't a lot of selectable players for the gameball on this night. This was Fister's third start coming back off the disabled list. He was all over the place with his control, but still only walked two and got through six innings, giving up six hits and no home runs despite leaving the ball up in the zone quite a lot. He gave up his only run in the first inning by walking Jason Kendall, who then went to third on a David DeJesus single and scored on a Billy Butler sacrifice fly. Fister then faced five batters each in the second and third innings before retiring nine of the final ten batters he faced. If you only had seen Fister's body of work since returning from the DL, you'd probably a pitcher like that would never lead the American League in ERA, but somehow he got there before he went on the disabled list. Hopefully he can get back to such crazy heights, though I'm not banking on it. Maybe this just means Jason Vargas is going to have a crazy-good stretch.

3) Russell Branyan
Again, the bar wasn't very high for gameballs. Branyan got a hit and drew a walk. In nine games with the Mariners, Branyan has gone 9-for-32 with three homers and nine RBIs. He's drawn three walks and struck out 12 times. I like power in my offense, and he's provided that in his thus-far short second tenure as a Mariner. In a way, it's too bad it took trading for Branyan again to light a fire under the arse of Kotchman, but whatever works. Ever wonder what happens to the Mariners during the first two months of the season if Figgins and Kotchman hit just .250 over that span? I wonder just how much less screwed this team would be right now. They wouldn't be a .500 team by any means, but could they be less than 10 games under .500? Well, that would be admitting that having those two guys hit with mediocrity would make the team seven games better. That's kind of a quantum leap. Anyway, hooray for moon shots.

Brandon League
I'm actually not so sure this was his worst game of the year. It was pretty close. He walked the first two hitters he faced, then Alberto Callaspo was up there to bunt but ultimately couldn't. He fouled the 3-1 pitch into the catcher's glove and the Royals took off the bunt with two strikes on the hitter. Callaspo then went yard, putting the Royals into a 5-3 lead. League was then pulled, and as his game ended, the game had ended as well. It was pretty much pointless for the game to keep going. Luckily this is when my internet connection got slogged, so I missed out on most of the remainder of the game, including the Ichiro replay review. At that point, though, the game was a foregone conclusion, so I wasn't too worried. It's weird -- every time I think this team is becoming watchable again, they put out a stretch like this. As for League, though, I guess it's bad that he's been pretty involved in the two most pivotal stretches of games for the Mariners this season, the series in Comiskey and the series we just saw.

Pettitte. Vargas. Tonight.

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