Sunday, July 25, 2010
[posted in full Sun ~2:41p]
After nearly being held hitless on Friday night, the Mariners looked for half the game like they were going to do one better as Jon Lester took a perfect game into the sixth inning. Fortunately for the Mariners, David Pauley didn't pick that day to implode, and a bit of a break and an isolated slugging incident helped the Mariners get a win. I saw highlights on SportsCenter where they mentioned the Mariners' four hits were a single, double, triple, and home run. The Mariners hit for the cycle. I tell ya, that'd only happen with this team. It seems some crazy crap has to happen for this team to win. Lester flirted with a perfect game, struck out 13 hitters over 7 2/3 innings, and lost.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed in the gameballs
-- Chris Seddon was the first guy out of the bullpen. He entered the game with two out in the sixth inning in a game the Mariners trailed 1-0. He got a ground ball to end the sixth. Protecting a newfound 2-1 lead, he struck out Jeremy Hermida to lead off the seventh, then got a fly ball for the second out of the inning before being lifted. Jamey Wright then took over, getting a ground ball to end the seventh. He caught Marco Scutaro looking before walking Eric Patterson, ending his outing. Garrett Olson took over, and he's one of the gameballs.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Seddon, Wright, and Olson threw in this game. Going into Sunday's game, Brandon League will have a day of rest, and Brian Sweeney and David Aardsma will have two days of rest.
-- the Mariner offense again doesn't give me a lot to write about. Jon Lester retired the first 16 Mariner hitters of the game. With one out in the sixth, Jack Wilson hit a fly ball to centerfield, where Eric Patterson ran over and camped under the ball to make the catch. The ball appeared to go off the top of the pocket of his glove, landing on the ground to put Jack on second and nullifying the perfect game, though keeping the no-hitter alive. Michael Saunders, the next hitter, got a 2-2 pitch and drove it well over the wall in rightfield for the Mariners' first hit, sending the Mariners from being on the bad end of a perfect game to leading 2-1 in the span of a couple minutes. Lester then became unraveled a bit in the eighth. Milton Bradley tripled to lead off. One out later, the squeeze play was put on, and Jack bunted a very high pitch but got it on the ground, enabling Bradley to score the important insurance run and make it 3-1. Saunders got aboard on an infield single, then went to second on an Ichiro walk. Chone Figgins doubled, scoring Saunders to make it 4-1, and pushing Ichiro to third. Lester was lifted for Manny Delcarmen, who walked Franklin Gutierrez to load the bases and hit Jose Lopez with a pitch to force Ichiro across the plate, making it 5-1.
-- Ichiro went 0-for-3 in the game, leaving him at 125-for-401 (.312) on the season. He is now on pace to finish the season with 207 hits.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro was hitless while Figgins got a hit. Neither player scored. The Mariners remain 12-6 when both players score and 17-29 when both collect hits.
1) Michael Saunders
At the end of last season, I was worried the Mariners just wanted to give a bunch of playing time to a leftfielder that hit with absolutely no power. He didn't hit a home run after his extensive audition with the big club last season. This season, he's looked pretty good every time he's managed to hit the ball hard, and he's done that a lot more often this season than last. Though he's hitting .238, that's still better than Chone Figgins and Jose Lopez, though in less at-bats. I'm curious as to what the ceiling for this guy is. I know for me that it's a lot higher than it was last year. Could he hit 15-20 homers in a season and hit .250? As long as he was cheap, I wouldn't mind that at all. Of course, it'd depend on whether the Mariners had a legitimate chance to add a power bat that happened to play leftfield but in the meantime, I'd settle for that line I just spat. It occurred to me the .250 is what I expected out of Gutierrez going into last season. I didn't expect Gutierrez to make a run at a 20-homer season, though.
2) David Pauley
Pushed into the rotation after the trade of Cliff Lee, Pauley has come out of nowhere to throw at least five innings in all three of his starts. Don Wakamatsu let the pitch count top out at 97 this time, and though this was the least efficient start in terms of pitches per inning for Pauley, he only gave up the one run this time, which was a best for him. I floated the hypothesis recently that if Ryan Rowland-Smith kept sucking, it might be possible that Jamey Wright could take his spot in the rotation, and I still think that's possible, if only based on Wright throwing the three innings in the big comeback game. The Aussie has given up 13 earned runs in 13 1/3 innings over his last three starts. Those with only a passing knowledge of the game of baseball probably know that giving up nearly a run per inning as a starting pitcher is a bad thing. I just wonder how much longer the Mariners are going to go before they send Rowland-Smith back to the drawing board, either by banishing him to the bullpen for a while or maybe pushing back a start or something.
3) Garrett Olson
He hasn't had the best season since being called up in the Kanekoa Texeira/Jesus Colome panic, but he ended up nailing down the save in this one. I thought it to be a bit odd that David Aardsma had thrown two nights earlier and therefore had a night of rest beforehand, but Wakamatsu left Olson out there for the ninth. The save was really earned in the eighth, however, as he had a man on first and one out with a 2-1 lead and had to face David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis, and Adrian Beltre. Only Youkilis got aboard, and he did so thanks to a Jose Lopez error. In the ninth, the competition was less stiff as Olson had to face JD Drew, Bill Hall, and Jed Lowrie. He threw a 1-2-3 inning. Don Wakamatsu usually doesn't give Olson any high-leverage situations, but maybe this outing will make him sprinkle a little more Olson in situations where he might go to Brandon League. Does this team miss Mark Lowe or what? Of course, he's been traded away, so they'll never get him back, but...maybe this is what Josh Fields is for?
He was just the most goaty guy in the lineup. Granted, not a lot of Mariners had busted out the hitting sticks in this game, but Bard accounted for three of Lester's 13 strikeouts. If Rob Johnson's name was penciled into the lineup to start this game, he probably strikes out three times as well. Maybe four times. It doesn't seem like Bard is hitting .179, but apparently that's what's in the boxscore. Maybe I just remember all the good stuff. I just know I feel better with him behind the plate instead of Rob Johnson. Best of all, Bard caught the last start for Felix Hernandez, and the earth didn't implode upon itself. In fact, that was one of Felix's best starts. Will Wakamatsu go to the well again and put Bard behind the plate when Felix is on the mound? What I liked about Cliff Lee was that he was awesome this year no matter who was behind the plate.
Matsuzaka. Fister. Today.