Thursday, July 08, 2010
[posted in full Fri ~8:45p]
There are three more games left in this series? Crap. That doesn't bode well for the Mariners, except that Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez will be throwing in the series, so maybe there's a chance at a win somewhere in there. As for the game, the Mariner offense wasn't really doing anything, the bullpen did what it has done lately, and ultimately it's a bad idea to try and take a 1-0 lead to the bank against the Yankees. Go figure.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed in the gameballs
-- Brian Sweeney came into the game with runners on first and second and nobody out in the eighth with the Mariners ahead 1-0. On his second pitch, Sweeney spiked a changeup a couple feet in front of the plate, and Bard blocked the ball, but the rebound control wasn't too good, as it got far enough away from him to allow Alex Rodriguez to advance from second to third base. Four pitches later, Posada grounded to Figgins to start a 4-6-3 double play, and Rodriguez scored on the play to tie the game at 1-1. Curtis Granderson singled to right before Sweeney got Brett Gardner to fly out to end the inning.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Sweeney and Aardsma threw in this game. Going into Friday's game, Brandon League, Garrett Olson, and Chad Cordero will have a day of rest, and Sean White and David Pauley will have two days of rest.
-- the Mariner offense got only five hits against Andy Pettitte, all of them singles. They managed to draw four walks against Pettitte as well, but Pettitte still got through eight innings on 107 pitches, so the walks didn't do much to rush up his pitch count and get into the Yankees' non-Rivera relievers. As for the inning of scoring, it was the sixth. Josh Wilson led off with a single, then Michael Saunders faked a bunt and drilled a single up the middle. Ichiro bunted, but Andy Pettitte made a last-ditch throw to first trying to get Ichiro and it went wide and toward the tarp in foul ground. Josh scored on the play, and Saunders and Ichiro went to third and second, respectively as the Mariners led 1-0, a lead that held up until the eighth inning.
-- the Mariners had nobody out in the sixth after they'd scored their run, so how did that sixth inning end, you ask? Again, runners were on second and third. Chone Figgins grounded out to third. Franklin Gutierrez was then intentionally walked to load the bases and set up the double play chance. Russell Branyan was then caught looking on a pitch he probably thought was off the plate inside. Jose Lopez then fouled off his first two pitches before whiffing on the third. To futility and beyond! As for other chances, in the first, Ichiro led off with an infield single and tried taking third on a Figgins single, but was thrown out. In the fourth, Figgins drew a leadoff walk, only to be erased from the basepaths on a Gutierrez double-play ball. In the seventh, Casey Kotchman drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second one out later when Josh was hit by a pitch. Saunders then whiffed, followed by an Ichiro groundout. In the eighth, Figgins drew another leadoff walk, but sat back and watched as the next three hitters were set down in order.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat: neither player scored a run, but Ichiro got two hits and Figgins had one. The Mariners remain 11-6 when both players score, but are now 16-26 when both collect hits.
1) Jason Vargas
He appeared to be back on track, and he got back on track against a really good hitting team. He gave up one run while scattering nine hits and two walks over seven innings of work. Obviously, any Mariner fan would take that outing any day of the week and many times on Sunday. Vargas wouldn't be better without having one of his three best outings of the season. He allowed only one extra-base hit, a double by Nick Swisher. The average per-start line for Vargas is 6 1/3 innings, 2.3 runs (2.2 earned), 5.9 hits, 1.7 walks, 4 strkeouts, 99 pitches (63 strikes), 5.5 groundouts, 9.2 flyouts. I know I didn't expect Vargas to be this good this season. I expected him to be maybe 80% as good as he's showing right now. Maybe most of the time he'd get into the sixth, but instead he's getting into the seventh on a regular basis. As far as the Mariners are concerned, I'd have to say the report card for Vargas is a bold-faced A. He's done everything and more that the Mariners could have asked of him.
The Mariners' leadoff hitter and rightfielder went 2-for-4 in the game, pushing him to 114-for-350 (.326) on the season. He is on pace to finish the season with 217 hits. He led off the first inning with an infield single and started the bunt play in the sixth where Andy Pettitte threw the ball down the line, allowing the Mariners to take the 1-0 lead. He has a 10-game hitting streak, going 12-for-44 (.273) over that span. Again, that's the hilarious thing about Ichiro -- he can have a ten-game hitting streak and lose points off his batting average. He's gone from .333 to .326 thanks to the streak. He had multi-hit games in the first and tenth games of the hitting streak. His last set of consecutive hitless games came on June 7th and 8th in Arlington. He was a .358 hitter going into those two games and a .347 hitter afterward. If there's one thing I remember not complaining about as much anymore, it's that Ichiro hasn't been thrown out on the basepaths as much. He was 6-for-10 on steal attempts in April, but is 16-for-19 since.
3) Chone Figgins
The Mariners' second baseman went 1-for-2 with two walks. He didn't steal any bases in this game. He is now a .235 hitter on the season. Considering he was hitting below .200 not very long ago, he's really picked up the pace. Sure, it's too little too late for the team, but he might as well lay a foundation to build upon since the Mariners have him locked up long-term. I thought earlier in the season that if the Mariners were desperate enough, there was nothing to lose in moving Jose Lopez back to second and Figgins to third. Eventually, Figgins started hitting. Now, with the season lost, I almost think if moving Lopez to second gets him hot offensively, I think it's a no-brainer. How could the offense possibly be worse if Lopez was moved back to second base? I never liked the idea of moving Lopez to third anyway. What a lost season. Sigh...
There wasn't a lead for him to hold in this game, but he let the game slip away. What is it with closers getting into non-save situations and then sucking? This used to happen to Kazuhiro Sasaki as well. To Aardsma's credit, the game-breaking pitch to Alex Rodriguez was in on his hands and he just fought it off into rightfield. He walked Derek Jeter on four pitches with one out, then allowed a Swisher double to put two runners into scoring position. One out later is when Rodriguez singled to score both runners and put the game away. I'm pretty sure none of us expected Aardsma to be anywhere near as good as he was last year, but that doesn't make any of the growing pains easier to take. Aardsma has a 5.60 ERA, for goodness' sake. One of the KJR guys compared this year's bullpen to last year's Seahawk defense. The Seahawk offensive line was so atrocious, you almost didn't notice how awful the defense was. Similarly, the Mariner offense has been so bad, most of the time you don't realize the bullpen is awful as well.