Sunday, July 11, 2010
[actual post Wed 14 Jul ~8:31p]
A late-inning clutch hit? Whaaaaa?! A home run, at that? Oh yes. The Yankees, until the bottom of the eighth, had scored the only run of the game and Mariner fans were left wondering if a great outing by Felix Hernandez was going to go to waste. Thankfully, Jose Lopez crawled out from offensive hibernation, if only for one night, and rocked Joba Chamberlain for a grand slam in the eighth, making the Mariners and their fans happy for the first time since the mathematical halfway point of the season, nearly a week earlier.
-- the starting pitching will be addressed in the gameballs
-- the bullpen? Cliff Lee may be gone, but the bullpen still got their rest in this game, getting the night off.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: going into Sunday's game, David Pauley and Chad Cordero will have a day of rest though Pauley will be done until the break since he threw five innings in a spot start. Brandon League and Garrett Olson will have three days of rest, and Sean White will have four days of rest.
-- the offense had its night punctuated by one big blow, a timely grand slam. It was the Mariners' only hit on the night with runners in scoring position, and it came late enough in the game that the Yankees couldn't come back from a 4-1 hole with only three outs remaining.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. They had a run and a hit apiece. Thus, the Mariners are now 12-6 when both players score and are 17-27 when both players collect hits.
1) Felix Hernandez
This definitely wasn't the most efficient start for Felix, but even as he labored a bit through the ninth inning and with his pitch count getting higher, Don Wakamatsu kept a long leash and let him finish out the game. Really, between two walks and ten hits, Felix really scattered the baserunners in this game. It's almost a miracle he only gave up one run, but I guess that's why he struck out the nine hitters. Those strikeouts really came in handy. Felix goes into the All-Star break with a per-start average line of 7 1/3 innings, 2.6 runs (2.3 earned), 6.2 hits, 2.2 walks, 6.9 strikeouts, 111 pitches (71 strikes), 9 groundouts, 5.7 flyouts. He averages 15.3 pitches per inning.
2) Jose Lopez
His biggest hit of the season. He definitely reacted like he'd mashed the crap out of the ball right after he'd hit it, but he actually didn't get enough under the ball to really be sure of such a thing. The ball itself traveled on more of a line-drive trajectory than a moon shot befitting of the "yeah, I just smacked the tar out of the ball" reaction he gave. Still, you can't argue with the results. A grand slam is a grand slam, no matter the reaction of the hitter. Couple that with the fact that the grand slam came off of Joba Chamberlain, whom I've heard of way too many times over the last four or so years thanks to the East Coast media that I really don't care if I ever hear of him again, and you can count me among the happy Mariner fans.
The Mariners' leadoff hitter went 1-for-4 and while he actually erased Jack Wilson with a fielder's choice for the first out of the eighth inning, Ichiro remained on base and was the tying run when he came home on the Lopez grand slam. His hit came in the sixth inning, an infield single with two out off Javier Vazquez. He is now 117-for-358 (.327) on the season and is now on pace to finish the season with 218 hits. Not since Tony Gwynn has there been such a non-correlation between a huge accumulation of hits by one hitter and their win total. Still, even Gwynn got to a World Series, though the Yankees swept the living crap out of them that year.
Yeah, it's a bit low to goat him in his first game as a Mariner, but he did strike out three times for the hat trick. It's been said his ceiling is a Mark Teixeira-type player, which would leave me simply overjoyed. I'll settle for a healthy version of Russell Branyan that hits for a little more average. If the Mariners get anything close to Mark Teixeira out of this for three months of Cliff Lee (and ultimately a rickety Mark Lowe, as much as I liked having him around), we can call this a huge win.
Sabathia. Rowland-Smith. [already happened].