Friday, July 16, 2010
The roster upheaval has continued for the Mariners as they brought up Chris Seddon from Tacoma and signed Jamey Wright as a free agent. To make room, the Mariners mercifully sent Sean White back to Tacoma and offered Chad Cordero the same fate, but he instead chose free agency. It's really too bad it didn't work out here for him. He'd come a long way to make it back to the Majors, and that's a victory in itself. As for the logjam in leftfield, at first base, and at designated hitter, part of that problem was made a little easier thanks to a freak Russell Branyan toe injury involving a hotel table (thanks to Geoff Baker for that tidbit). Thus, Milton Bradley got the at-bats at DH in this game while Michael Saunders played left and Justin Smoak played first. As for the game itself, the offense was confined to one inning, and after getting back on the horse after early troubles, Doug Fister lost control of the game again and the Angels put it away.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed toward the end of the post
-- Brian Sweeney was the first man out of the bullpen. He entered the game with a runner on first and two out in the sixth inning and the Angels leading 5-3. He fought back from a 3-0 count only to allow a double to Howie Kendrick that moved Erick Aybar to third, followed by a Bobby Abreu single on a 1-2 pitch that drove both runners home to make it 7-3. In the seventh, he allowed a one-out infield single but got two outs. Jamey Wright then made his first Mariner regular-seaosn appearance, though he nearly made the team out of spring training a couple years ago before being shuffled off somewhere else. He gave up a walk and a single to make it 8-3, capping the scoring before he got the final out of the inning. Garrett Olson then pitched a completely meaningless 1-2-3 eighth.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Sweeney, Wright, and Olson threw in this game. Brandon League, David Pauley, and Chris Seddon are rested coming off the All-Star break.
-- the offense had one inning of glory. It came in the fifth. It started with Michael Saunders laying down a perfect bunt along the third-base side. Rob Johnson then managed a single to move Saunders to second. Jack Wilson then hit a soft liner that barely eluded the shortstop, but Saunders scurried back to the bag thinking it would be caught. As a result, Saunders only got to third. Thus, the bases were loaded with nobody out for Ichiro. That's good timing. He doubled to the wall in rightcenter, clearing the bases and cutting the Angels' lead to 4-3. That's when the futility began. With Ichiro on second and nobody out, Chone Figgins grounded out to second to move Ichiro to third. Franklin Gutierrez then bounced to third, but Ichiro went toward home and didn't stop, and the play ended with him being tagged out on his way home. That was pretty much the end of the threat.
-- as for other blown chances, Jose Lopez doubled to lead off the second and stayed there. In the fourth, Gutierrez led off the fourth with a single but was erased on a fielder's choice, virtually ending the threat. In the eighth, Gutierrez doubled with one out and didn't score, but the Mariners were down 8-3 at that point, so nobody cares.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro had the only hit or run between the two players. The Mariners remain 12-6 when both players score and 17-27 when both collect hits.
1) Franklin Gutierrez
The Mariners' centerfielder had a two-hit game. One of the hits was a double. This was his first multi-hit game since July 4th. After that game, he went hitless over the next five games (0-for-19) before scratching out a hit in the third game of the Yankee series (the Felix game). Even with this two-hit game, he's only a .259 hitter. That's too bad, considering he pretty much carried the team's offense for the first month and a half of the season. Of course, if you're depending on Franklin Gutierrez to carry your team's offense, you're pretty much screwed. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to tell you how the Mariners fared as a result of Gutierrez being the only one hitting consistently over the first month and a half of the season.
He only had one hit in the game, but it was clutch and accounted for all the Mariners' runs. The 1-for-4 day pushed him to 119-for-366 (.325), putting him on pace to finish the season with 217 hits. Ichiro kept the hitting streak going, and it now stands at 14 games. He has gone a mere 17-for-63 (.270) during the streak, so while the length of the streak is Ichiro-like, an average of .270 over two weeks isn't very Ichiro-like. Imagine if Ichiro had hit his season average of .325 during the hitting streak, the Mariners would have probably won...okay, maybe one more game during that hitting streak. If that. I still want Ichiro to hit .400 for the rest of the season. Quick math says there's 73 games remaining, and if he got four at-bats a game, that'd make it 292 at-bats for the rest of the season. That'd shape out to about 117 more hits. Add that to his current total, and he'd finish the season with 236 hits, which would be an awesome thing.
3) Michael Saunders
The Mariners' leftfielder had the bunt single that started the rally in the fifth inning, and he also drew a walk. The lineup had Justin Smoak hitting seventh and Saunders hitting eighth, and when they're facing righties, they both look like tall lefthanded hitters who are capable of drilling the ball. Now if they could just drill the ball more often, those two guys could be a huge asset. Smoak, for example, nearly homered in this game, but also struck out three times for yet another hat trick. Hopefully he's actually good and doesn't end up like a lefthanded Richie Sexson (the bad version, that is). If Smoak and Saunders got up to .260 before the season ended, that's just be grand, and it'd give me a little optimism about the future of this team.
He absolutely has not been himself since he came back from the disabled list. It's a shame, since he was among the league leaders in ERA before he got hurt, but since then, he just hasn't gotten it back. He hasn't gotten through six innings in four starts since returning from injury. In his 11 previous starts, he went seven or more innings eight times. Now the ball is always up in the zone and getting crushed. The six runs and 12 hits were season worsts for Fister. He averaged 16.1 pitches per inning in this game, which needless to say was worse than many of his pre-disabled list starts. There's a lot of 13s and 14s in the earlier starts. I certainly hope Fister can figure it out before in his next few starts or else there's another question mark about next year's starting rotation.
Hernandez. Weaver. Tonight.