Monday, July 19, 2010



There may be a lot more questions in the starting rotation with Cliff Lee no longer in the mix, Doug Fister not back into pre-injury form, and Ryan Rowland-Smith getting the hyphen kicked out of him. Jason Vargas, however, has been providing all the answers he can every five days. He went deep into this ballgame, which the Mariners needed since their Australian contingent was being roasted on the barbie on the night before by the Angel offense. While Vargas did well, the Mariner offense was being shut down by Ervin Santana, though their eyes weren't as they drew four walks off him. Anyway, the Mariners got just lucky enough to win. There were also more weird calls in the game than usual.

-- the starting pitching will be addressed in the gameballs

-- Brandon League was the first man out of the bullpen. He entered the game with a runner on first and two out in the eighth inning of a 1-1 tie game. He promptly allowed an opposite-field Howie Kendrick single on the first pitch, moving Kevin Frandsen to third. The next pitch was hit to short by Bobby Abreu, and the groundout ended the inning. League also threw a 1-2-3 ninth inning. David Aardsma came out to nail down the save in the 10th inning, protecting a 2-1 lead. He made it interesting and therefore true to form. He gave up a hard-hit infield single to Mike Napoli (Figgins made the dive in the hole, but couldn't get off a throw), who was then bunted over to second. Aardsma walked pinch-hitting Paul McAnulty before getting Erick Aybar and Kendrick to go down swinging to end the game.

-- the bullpen rest bulletin: League and Aardsma threw in this game. Going into Monday's game, Chris Seddon and Brian Sweeney will have a day of rest, and Jamey Wright and Garrett Olson will have three days of rest.

-- as for the offense, there's not really a lot to talk about since there were only five hits. Jose Lopez has two of those hits and is a gameball as a result. Thus, the rest of the lineup went a combined 3-for-29 on the day. As mentioned in the opening, however, they did manage to draw four walks off Ervin Santana, so there were some baserunners after all. In the fifth, Ryan Langerhans walked with one out, stole second, and went to third on a Rob Johnson single (whaaa?!). Santana then uncorked a wild pitch to plate Langerhans (close play) and move Johnson to second, tying the score at 1-1. Josh Wilson then flew out, enabling the Angels to hand Ichiro the open bag at first, and it worked as Figgins grounded out to second. In the tenth, with two out and Lopez at the plate, Gutierrez stole second. Lopez then singled to push Gutierrez across and give the Mariners a 2-1 lead, capping all scoring.

-- as for blown chances, Milton Bradley walked to lead off the second inning, but then leaned too far off first base two pitches later, getting picked off. In the eighth, Figgins drew a leadoff walk, but Gutierrez whiffed and Lopez flew out. Bradley walloped an infield single off the glove off the third baseman, moving Figgins to second, but Smoak was caught looking to end the inning.

-- Ichiro went 1-for-4 in the game, pushing him to 121-for-378 (.318) on the season. This puts him on pace to finish the season with 213 hits.

-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Neither scored or even got a hit. The Mariners remain 12-6 when both score a run and 17-27 when both players collect hits.

1) Jason Vargas
This game tied for his deepest start of the season. The last time he went 7 2/3 innings, the game was in Saint Louis. He got the win in that game, however. This time he wasn't given the gift of meaningful offense. His pitching was the reason he got a no-decision instead of a loss, I guess you could say. The run he gave up came on the obligatory home run by Napoli in the second inning that made it 1-0 for the Angels. His trouble inning was the sixth. In a 1-1 tie game, Kendrick tripled over Franklin Gutierrez and to the wall to lead off the inning. With the infield drawn in, Vargas got Bobby Abreu to ground out to Smoak at first. With the infield still drawn in, Torii Hunter lined out to Josh Wilson at short, and Kendrick was too far off the third-base bag and was the back end of the double play. That was a huge stop for Vargas and for the defense. The average per-start line for Vargas: 6 1/3 innings, 2.2 runs (2.1 earned), 5.8 hits, 1.6 walks, 4.3 strikeouts, 99 pitches (64 strikes), 5.5 flyouts, 9.1 flyouts. He averages 15.4 pitches per inning.

2) Jose Lopez
The Mariners' third baseman had two of the Mariners' three hits, including the game-winning double in the 10th inning. Though the Mariners have already made their big move of the month, maybe Lopez and his four hits in the last two games can spark some interest on the trade market. Okay, probably not, but it's nice to dream. Say what you will about Lopez, at least he just merely sucks when you might be looking to trade him around the deadline, which is better than Erik Bedard coming up with his usual injury around the time you're wanting to put him on the market. Lopez hit .272 last year with an on-base percentage of .303 and a slugging mark of .463. This year he's hitting .243, on base at a .271 clip, and he's slugging .346. If only we knew what happened with the old Lopez. Funny thing is that the old Lopez was younger than the current Lopez, but that's beside the point. Don't try to think about that last sentence for too long. It's like the Mitch Hedberg joke where one of his friends pulls out the picture of when they were younger, then Hedberg points out that every picture is of you when you were younger.

3) Franklin Gutierrez
He was hitless in the game, but he stole two bases. Those two bases on a day when the Mariners weren't really hitting -- they carry a little more weight. In the first, he walked with the bases empty and two out, then stole second on the first pitch to Lopez. Nothing else came of the situation, unfortunately, but the effort was there. In the tenth, he erased Ichiro on a fielder's choice, landing himself on first with two out. He again stole secnod base with Lopez at the plate, but ended up scoring on the Lopez single for the game-winning run. That means a lot. What's unfortunate is that Gutierrez has declined precipitously from month to month. A .326 April has been followed by a .264 May, a .247 June, and a .145 July. I miss the April version of Gutierrez, as would anybody. I guess his season is kinda like the catalog for the band Boston. Maybe Gutierrez doesn't have anything analogous to the best-selling debut album of all time, but he was very good in the first month of the season. Then his May was closer to Don't Look Back and Third Stage was bad, and who knows after that.

Chone Figgins
The Mariner second baseman went 0-for-3 (0-for-1 with runners in scoring position), so that gets stored away in the memory bank. On defense, he made the error that led off the eighth inning in a 1-1 tie game. It really diced things up for Jason Vargas. Figgins was helped greatly by the fact that Jeff Mathis couldn't lay down a bunt. If that bunt gets laid down, perhaps Frandsen is standing on second base when Kendrick singles, and in that case he probably scores and the Angels complete the four-game sweep. Figgins went 1-for-15 in this series with one walk and two strikeouts. He was caught stealing on his only attempt. Combine his total with that of Ichiro, and you get a top two in the Mariner lineup that went 3-for-30 with a double as the only extra-base hit. That was Ichiro's bases-clearing double in the first game of the series. Anyway, 3-for-30 out of Ichiro and Figgins isn't exactly the Mariners' method to winning, that's for sure. They won't be getting very far with those two doing that.

Hudson. Pauley. Tonight.

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