Friday, July 23, 2010
This was a night where you'd wonder as a Mariner fan why the Red Sox can hit homers at Safeco Field (two of them by righthanders, one by Bill freakin' Hall) while the Mariners have a complete aversion to it. Well, I guess it's only relative since the Mariners never get to face Ryan Rowland-Smith at Safeco Field. Who would the Mariners have to face at Safeco Field to hit homers? There used to be a guy named Bob Kipper, whose nickname was Round-Tripper Kipper. Maybe some of those guys in the Texas rotation when Alex Rodriguez signed the big deal -- Doug Davis, Ryan Glynn, Rob Bell -- would be great candidates to give up a bunch of homers to the Mariners in Seattle. Anyway, it was a longball war, and the Mariners lost. Hell, the Mariners didn't even get a hit until the eighth inning. Ichiro made a great catch off David Ortiz in the first, sure, but when your only other highlight is Milton Bradley scoring from third on a passed ball, then you know it's been a bad night. Then the ninth inning happened. These last two nights have been weird nights, to say the least. Also, it was a pretty weird night for Bill Hall, with the homer being sandwiched by two kinda bad defensive plays. Anyway, Eric Patterson mercifully had the game-breaking hit in the 13th to virtually end the game.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed at the end of the post
-- now, the bullpen. Brian Sweeney was the first man out of the bullpen, throwing the seventh inning and facing two hitters to start the eighth inning. It wasn't his best outing by any means. He gave up a walk and three hits, including one home run. Jamey Wright will be covered later in the post. David Aardsma threw a 1-2-3 inning in the 11th, striking out two. Garrett Olson threw the 12th inning, striking out two in a 1-2-3 inning. In the 13th, Olson's first bounce didn't go his way as Kevin Youkilis got aboard on an infield single to Jack Wilson. It looked like Olson might wriggle out of it as he got the next hitters out, but then he walked Mike Cameron and then Eric Patterson doubled to make it 8-6, capping the scoring.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Sweeney, Wright, Aardsma, and Olson threw in this game. Going into Friday's game, Brandon League will have a day of rest and Chris Seddon will have two days of rest.
-- the offense? They scored a run without the benefit of a hit early on, and they didn't break up the no-hitter until the eighth inning when Josh Bard singled with two out. He got to second on a Jack Wilson single, but that was the end of any half-threat. Then came the ninth. Chone Figgins led off with a single and scored on the Franklin Gutierrez homer over the manual scoreboard that made it 6-3. Jose Lopez then walked, and Milton Bradley got aboard on an error by Marco Scutaro, pushing Lopez to second. Jonathan Papelbon then came in, which probably should have been the end of the line. Justin Smoak foul-tipped a fastball in his at-bat, but ended up striking out. Casey Kotchman then ripped a double to score Lopez and push Bradley to third, making it 6-4. Bard then walked to load the bases. Jack then grounded to short, where the force was easily made, but the throw to first by Bill Hall was a bit wide, so the third out was not recorded and two runs scored to tie the game at 6-6. Incredibly, it was the biggest ninth-inning comeback in Mariner history.
-- the only whimper the Mariners had in extra innings was in the 12th, and my, what a blown chance it was. A single by Jack, an infield single by Ichiro, and a Figgins bunt put runners on second and third with one out. Gutierrez was intentionally walked to load the bases and set up the double-play possibility. Two pitches later, Lopez popped out in foul ground on the first-base side. One pitch after that, Bradley popped to third. Awful.
-- Ichiro went 1-for-5, just barely beating out Adrian Beltre's throw (after a bobble) in the 12th inning. This pushed him to 123-for-394 (.312), and it occurred to me that I've been one hit ahead on Ichiro's pace for at least the last couple games. Anyway, he is on pace to finish with 208 hits.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. They had a hit apiece, but only Figgins crossed the plate. The Mariners remain 12-6 when both players score and 17-29 when both collect hits.
1) Franklin Gutierrez
The Mariners' centerfielder hit a two-run homer in the ninth to give the Mariners a foundation of runs. He's cooled off a ton since the first month and a half of the season, sure, but I looked at the boxscore. His homer was his ninth of the season after having an outside shot at 20 last year. The two RBIs tonight give him 40 on the season. At this pace, he could get 75 or so, and since the Mariners will probably go on some kind of completely meaningless and inexplicable run of wins somewhere in the final two months of the season, his numbers might be buoyed by such things as AAA pitching coming to the Majors in September as the rosters expand.
2) Jamey Wright
The journeyman and former Mariner spring-training invite (who nearly made the starting rotation out of Peoria that year) came on to start the seventh inning of what seemed to be a nothing game, what with the Mariners being down 6-1. Wright did his job and threw three perfect innings, and the Mariners finally strung together some baserunners and hits in the ninth and tied the game. Without Jamey Wright's three innings, there's no way the Mariners get this game into extra innings. I'm not sure who else in the bullpen would have been able to pull off what Wright did on this night. Well, maybe Brian Sweeney would have been able to do it, and maybe Don Wakamatsu was looking for that out of him until he saw Sweeney give up that homer and three hits in the one inning.
3) Casey Kotchman
What business does Kotchman have doubling off Jonathan freakin' Papelbon in the ninth inning of a three-run game? Probably none. Still, with Gutierrez, Kotchman was part of a huge Mariner comeback in the ninth inning. It's hard to find playing time for Kotchman, seeing as to how Justin Smoak is the future at first base and how Kotchman has sucked hard most of the season. It'd be awesome if Kotchman were a tradeable asset right now, but it'd have to come down to some other team seeing something in Kotchman that the Mariners do not. Maybe in another sport the Mariners would be able to package him with a good player, with the ultimatum of "you can have this guy you want, but you have to take this guy we're trying to get off our hands." Of course, it's more likely the deal is along the lines of Carlos Silva for Milton Bradley.
It's weird. He got through six innings. With his luck and the Mariners' luck, though, it's just fitting that his flyball tendency came back to bite him hard in this game. The Aussie gave up eight hits, one of which was a double, and three others that were home runs. Of the home runs, one was a solo shot and the other two were two-run homers. If you did the math, then yes, all of Rowland-Smith's runs scored via the home run. In a way, that makes this a little more frustrating. Sure, you can't take away three pitches that went yard, but other than that, he wasn't completely awful. Still, Rowland-Smith will beat himself up for it and therefore probably won't get too many redeeming things out of this outing. The way it's been going lately, having Rowland-Smith throw 84 pitches in six innings is really good. Still, he's in the goat slot because we can't ignore the penchant for all the home runs. If nothing else, the Aussie went easy on the bullpen, so there will be well-rested guys in case Jason Vargas or Doug Fister falter or if David Pauley is who we think he is.
Beckett. Vargas. [now].