Saturday, April 24, 2010
If there's a recipe on how to beat the Chicago White Sox on the road, I'm thinking "give up four home runs" is not one of the ingredients. It's been said for a while now that this version of Comiskey Park has been homer-friendly ever since some of the outfield fences were drawn closer to the plate. Taking that into consideration, Ryan Rowland-Smith is a pitcher hasn't struck out that many hitters in any outing this season, but gets a lot of outs via the flyout. Needless to say, some fly balls that are outs in Seattle aren't outs on the south side of Chicago.
-- first, a blurb on Ryan Rowland-Smith. Through four starts, he gives up an average of 5.3 hits, 2.5 walks (while striking out 1.3), and 7.3 flyouts (6.8 groundouts) per start. After what transpired in this start for Rowland-Smith, I couldn't help but think he's probably not a pitcher who's well-suited for pitching in that park. Of course, you're not just going to pull him for one start because the park is gnarly. The first two homers were solo shots that came on first-pitch fastballs in the first and second innings to Andruw Jones and Carlos Quentin, respectively. Rowland-Smith gave up a two-out RBI single to Paul Konerko in the third that put the White Sox out to a 3-2 lead. Konerko got a 2-0 pitch from Rowland-Smith to lead off the sixth and demolished it to make it 4-2 for Chicago. An error by fill-in shortstop Matt Tuiasosopo (Jack Wilson took a hard grounder off his right hand to lead off the third) followed by an Alexei Ramirez double put two runners in scoring position with one out in the sixth, chasing Rowland-Smith.
-- the only starting pitcher who is averaging less innings per start than Rowland-Smith is Ian Snell (5 2/3 to 4 2/3). Hopefully that fixes itself in the next couple turns through the rotation.
-- Kanekoa Texeira was the first Mariner out of the bullpen, coming in for Rowland-Smith. He got a grounder from his first hitter, Donny Lucy, but that grounder scored Quentin from third to make it 5-2. Texeira caught Jayson Nix looking to end the inning and that was it for Texeira. Sean White blew the 6-5 lead in the seventh. He allowed two singles to lead off the inning before getting Jones to hit into a double play to third base, where Lopez got the out at third before throwing to first, putting the remaining runner on second base. Konerko was intentionally walked since he's good and Alex Rios sucks. That didn't hold up this time as Rios doubled (or, Eric Byrnes sold the ranch in left and lost) to score Gordon Beckham and tie the game at 6-6. Brandon League pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning and can't be blamed for any of the bullpen's shortcomings on this night. Mark Lowe got the first two hitters out in the ninth and started out 0-2 on Jones. He threw three straight balls and Jones fouled off three pitches before getting a thigh-high slider over the inside corner and killing it to end the game. Jones drank from the fountain of youth on his birthday.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Texeira, White, League, and Lowe worked in this game. Going into Saturday afternoon's game, David Aardsma will have had three days of rest, Shawn Kelley will have had four days of rest, and Jesus Colome will have had five days of rest.
-- Chone Figgins, in his best offensive game in quite a while, doubled with one out and runners on the corners in the third to draw the Mariners within a run at 2-1. One walk and one out later, Ken Griffey Jr. hit a grounder up the middle that scored Ichiro to tie the game at 2-2. In the seventh, the Mariners loaded the bases with one out, but Franklin Gutierrez lined out to the second baseman. Luckily, Jose Lopez reached into the bag of clutch and golfed one over the leftfield wall for a grand slam to give the Mariners a 6-5 lead, their only lead of the game.
-- Ichiro went 2-for-5, making him 22-for-68 (.324) on the season. Twenty-two hits in 17 games puts him on pace for a 210-hit season.
-- the Ichiro/Figgins stat: Ichiro got two hits while Figgins got one. Ichiro scored twice while Figgins scored once. So, it would seem the Mariners might have a decent chance of winning when both these guys get hits and score runs. Instead, they lost this game, making the Mariners 6-1 when both players score and 2-3 when they both get hits.
1) Jose Lopez
It took 17 games, but the Mariners' second baseman made his first home run of the season a big one. His grand slam catapulted the Mariners from being down 5-2 to being ahead 6-5. The grand slam doubled his season RBI total, going from four to eight. Lopez is a .235 hitter and now slugs .294. For this team to be afloat offensively, Lopez will need to pick up some of the slack when Franklin Gutierrez stops hitting at a near-.400 clip, and the Mariners will need him to warm up his power hitting and his RBI production. Though I really want Gutierrez to succeed, I also don't think Gutierrez will stick as the number-three hitter in the lineup for the whole season. I think that's more than likely where Lopez will and probably should go. Before this game, the Mariners had won seven of eight games, and one of the things missing despite all the good happenings was the lack of hitting and power hitting from Lopez. This game was a loss, but if Lopez gets rolling with the bat, we're going to look back on this game as the turning point for Lopez.
During the homestand, Ichiro had a six-game hitting streak where he went 12-for-24. He went hitless in the Felix game to snap that streak. Hopefully he's starting another one with his 2-for-5 night in this game. While the Mariners' home tear didn't come with Lopez tearing the cover off the ball, it obviously did coincide with Ichiro hitting .500 over a span of six games. I guess the good thing is that despite Ichiro's chronicled slow starts over the years, the slow start this season seems to have lasted the first two weeks of the season. Ichiro can hit. Ichiro is good. Ichiro can also design t-shirts, though not a rainbow one, dashing the hopes of Dave Sims.
3) Eric Byrnes
Milton Bradley has a balky calf muscle and this game was played on a rainy night in Chicago. The beneficiary of this is Eric Byrnes, who gets playing time while the Mariners pay him league minimum (sweet deal). In this game, Byrnes went 1-for-3 with a walk. The one hit was a double, and he also stole a base. A Byrnes that was a couple years younger might have caught the ball that went for a double to tie the game at 6-6, but Byrnes did manage to get the tip of his glove on the ball. I hope Byrnes makes the most of this playing time, doing his hustly things and learning to hit the ball somewhere other than straight up into the air for a harmless infield popup. On the other hand, I also hope Milton Bradley comes back soon and puts at least the threat of decent hitting into the lineup.
I could have picked Matt Tuiasosopo here. Tuiasosopo went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and an error after coming in for Jack Wilson. Ultimately, though, only a small amount of this team's success hinges on the fortunes of Tuiasosopo. A much greater amount hinges on the fortunes of Ryan Rowland-Smith. His average per-start line: 5 2/3 innings, 3.8 runs (3 earned), 5.3 hits, 2.5 walks, 1.3 groundouts, 96 pitches (61 strikes), 6.8 groundouts, 7.3 flyouts. His longest start this year was a seven-inning start in an April 12th home start against Oakland where he walked five hitters. In his previous start, Rowland-Smith threw six innings, but pitched into the seventh before being pulled (six-plus). The Mariners just need this guy to work deeper into games like we've seen him do before. I can only get so wrapped up in this since it's still April, but if Rowland-Smith's putting out starts like this one while Doug Fister and Jason Vargas are putting out the starts they're putting out...I know the chance is miniscule, but how bad would Rowland-Smith have to pitch to be pushed aside when Cliff Lee and Erik Bedard come back to the rotation?
Fister. Garcia. Today.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
It appears that Felix Hernandez is sort of good or something. Though we know the Baltimore Orioles are awful and it seems they frequently have pretty bad starts to their seasons, Kevin Millwood isn't yet a chop-liver pitcher. Millwood just hasn't been able to catch onto any solid teams since coming to the American League. Though Felix more than did his job, baseball rules dictate that a team has to score a run or runs to win a ballgame, and the Mariners needed to scratch together some runs to get Felix his second win of the season, though he's pitched well enough to win all four of his starts.
This is a heck of a time to have every Thursday off for the rest of the month, but the Mariners have exactly that.
-- the Mariner defense was tagged with two errors, one of which may have cost Felix the shutout. With two out and the bases empty, Nick Markakis stung a ball hard down the leftfield line, and Matt Tuiasosopo didn't backhand it cleanly. This allowed Markakis to scoot into scoring position at second base. Matt Wieters singled to score Markakis on the next pitch to make it 1-0 for Baltimore. In the fourth, the bases were empty with one out when Matt Wieters rolled what looked to be a routine grounder into the hole on the right side. Chone Figgins just plum had it go under his glove.
-- despite the errors, the lack of run support for his first four innings, and the play where he and Rob Johnson sort of had a slow-speed and sorta-collision on a bunt play in the fifth, Felix weathered all of this and still threw the first and last pitches of the ballgame. Obviously the Orioles scored in the first inning, so that was definitely a threat. Felix set down five straight between the Wieters RBI single in the first and the one-out Lou Montanez single in the third. However, this wasn't a night where Felix set down a ton of hitters in a row. That's impossible to do when you're giving up one run while scattering nine hits. The Orioles had runners on first and second with one out in the fifth inning, but a fielder's choice and a flyout got Felix out of it. That's it. The Orioles' only scoring threats were in the first and fifth. Felix gave up a run (unearned) on nine hits, walked nobody and struck out six, needing 113 pitches to get through the game. That was a thing of beauty.
-- the average Felix line through four starts: 7 1/3 innings, 2.3 runs (1.8 earned), 5.8 hits, 2.3 walks, 6 strikeouts, 107 pitches (69 strikes), 12 groundouts, 3 flyouts.
-- Ichiro went hitless, going 0-for-3 with a walk. This makes him a mere 20-for-63 (.317) on the season. Twenty hits in 16 games puts him on pace for a 203-hit season, which would make for his 10th straight 200-hit season in the Majors.
-- the Ichiro/Figgins stat: both Ichiro and Figgins were hitless, and neither scored runs. The team is 6-0 when both players score a run, and they're 2-2 when they both get hits.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: the whole bullpen got a rest in this game. Going into Friday night's game in Chicago, Mark Lowe and David Aardsma will have two days of rest, Brandon League and Shawn Kelley will have three days of rest, and Kanekoa Texeira, Sean White, and Jesus Colome will have four days of rest.
-- interestingly, the first through fourth hitters in the Mariner lineup combined to go 0-for-13 in the game with three walks and two strikeouts. Jose Lopez out of that group scored the tying run on the Rob Johnson infield single in the fourth. Similarly, the bottom third of the Mariner lineup combined for a 4-for-9 night with four RBIs, and they also scored two of the Mariners' four runs.
1) Felix Hernandez
The man's incredible. We're watching this guy mature before our eyes, and he's already this good. It looks and feels even better on the heels of two great starts by Doug Fister and Jason Vargas that ended up in wins. He did it this time wearing the knee-high socks, which is the way to go, as far as I'm concerned. Not quite as awesome as the Jamie Moyer stirrups, but still awesome.
2) Jack Wilson
The Mariners' shortstop, of whom I haven't been a big fan on offense this season, went 1-for-3 with the three-run double that cleared the bases in the fourth and gave Felix all the runs he needed. He's gotten hits in each of his last five games and gone 7-for-15 in that stretch. He drove in four runs over the final two games of this Baltimore series. Or maybe he's only doing so well because this is Baltimore pitching he was facing.
3) Rob Johnson
He went 2-for-3, driving in the tying run of the game and even stealing a base (whaaaaaa?!). Also, there were no passed balls in the game, which is also good. Johnson is now a .208 hitter on the season. It's still not the .240 I want, but this night definitely wasn't a bad one. What a night for the bottom third of the lineup. I think I heard Dave Sims mentioned on the television broadcast that the Mariner fourth inning in this game was the third time in the homestand in which the Mariners had batted around. Of course, when you bat around, the bottom third has to hold up their end of the bargain. If Felix went just 7 1/3 innings or something, I probably would have put Johnson as the number-one gameball because I don't know when Johnson's going to get two hits in a game again. It could be a while.
He went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout. He's hitting .192 on the season with an on-base percentage of .338 and a slugging percentage of .250. He's gone hitless in his last 16 at-bats, going back to a strikeout in his final at-bat in the last game of the Oakland series. The reason it's only 0-for-16 over five games is because he's drawn seven walks in that stretch and he ended up scoring seven runs. I suppose this could all be way worse if he wasn't getting on base at all, but eventually I'd like for him to actually get aboard with hits and pull off the first-and-third game with Ichiro that we want so badly to mess with other teams. So far this year, that prototypical first-to-third game with Ichiro and Figgins hasn't really materialized this year. I'm still waiting for him to warm up a bit with the bat. Hopefully it happens on the road trip.
Rowland-Smith. Floyd. Tomorrow.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
What a difference good starting pitching makes. Though the Mariner offense wasn't hitting much during the team's 2-6 start, the starting pitching (sans Felix Hernandez) wasn't exactly holding up their end of the bargain. In this game, the Mariners scored early and Jason Vargas made the lead stand through seven innings before giving way to the bullpen. In this last turn through the rotation, no pitcher went less than five innings, which couldn't be said about the first two turns through the rotation. Ian Snell was the pitcher that went five innings in the last five days, Ryan Rowland-Smith went six (but came out for the seventh), Felix Hernandez threw 6 2/3 innings, and Doug Fister and Jason Vargas both went seven innings. Ryan Langerhans would have liked this if it had happened a little bit earlier. All in all, the end result has the Mariners one game above .500 at 8-7, and one game above .500 is the high-water mark of the season (Opening Night win). I saw most of this game, but if anything, this post may be shortened due to me once again facing a lengthy drive in the morning.
-- Jason Vargas gave up the Nolan Reimold double in the first that drove in Baltimore's only run of the game. As for other jams, Vargas gave up leadoff doubles in the second and sixth, but came away unscathed both times.
-- Mark Lowe threw a 1-2-3 eighth and David Aardsma allowed only a two-out single to round out a fairly easy night for the bullpen.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Lowe and Aardsma worked in this game. Going into tonight's final game of the series, Brandon League and Shawn Kelley will have a day of rest. Kanekoa Texeira, Sean White, and Jesus Colome will have two days of rest.
-- the Ichiro/Figgins stat: only Ichiro got hits or scored a run in this one. The Mariners are 6-0 when both Ichiro and Chone Figgins score and are 2-2 when they both register hits. Another way to say this is that there have been six games out of 15 where both players scored, and only four games where they've both gotten hits. To Figgins' credit, he did see 28 pitches in this game, helping drive up the pitch count on David Hernandez.
-- Ichiro went 2-for-4 again, making him 20-for-60 (.333) on the season. Twenty hits after 15 games puts him on track for a 216-hit season, which would be solid stuff.
-- Milton Bradley has a balky calf muscle, giving Eric Byrnes some playing time. Not that it helps the offense.
1) Jason Vargas
One run on three hits is exactly what Doug Fister allowed the previous night, but Vargas walked one more hitter and struck out two more. Still, it does a lot for the starting rotation when the fourth and fifth starters turn in seven innings apiece. It keeps the bullpen fresh for when they have to relieve Ian Snell, for instance. Interestingly, all three hits against Vargas were doubles. Vargas got eight groundouts and eight flyouts, which is a good sign since I'm used to him tilting more toward the flyball end of the scale. I like having him in the back end of this rotation, but I think he'll eventually be on the losing side of the numbers game unless Don Wakamatsu wants to roll four lefties and Felix in the rotation. Now if Doug Fister loses the numbers game to Ian Snell, I'm going to be pretty angry. I know Snell has to pan out for the Mariners to get full value on the Jeff Clement trade, but Snell really has only impressed me maybe once, in whichever of his starts was the longest.
2) Adam Moore
I pretty much have to throw him a bone here because he's a Mariner catcher, he's Adam Moore, and he hit a double. If I don't put him here, he might not be here for a while. I even checked in the boxscore to make sure he didn't have a passed ball charged to him. The 1-for-3 night raised Moore's average into the stratosphere at .120. Early in the game on the radio, I heard Dave Sims mention that the Mariner catchers had combined to hit at a torrid .116 clip. I only care so much about how well either of these guys can call a game if they really can't hit worth a damn. These guys are making me long for the days when Dan Wilson would block every ball that came to him, not throw out anyone at second base, and hit .230. Back then, I complained about that. Right now, that .230 average would be sparkling compared to what the catchers have now. Moore's double came on the first pitch with one out in the seventh inning. He ended up scoring on Jack Wilson's double. You know it's a weird night when Adam Moore and Jack Wilson hit back-to-back doubles.
3) Ken Griffey Jr.
The elder statesman went 2-for-3 and drew a walk. Junior is hitting .263, outhitting Jose Lopez and his .246 clip. Still, Griffey's on-base percentage of .317 is higher than his slugging percentage (.289). I wish I knew how long we were going to have to wait to see a home run out of this guy. Any little bit of power hitting helps with this team. Griffey drew a two-out walk with Lopez on first. Milton Bradley, the next hitter, singled to get the Mariners a 2-1 lead. Griffey's two singles both occurred with two outs in the sixth and eighth.
Well, an 0-for-4 night is a great way to come back down from a 2-for-4 night with three RBIs. In addition, he was unable to pick a throw from Lopez, and we've seen Kotchman make that pick this year. Kotchman is still a .261 hitter, playing a solid first base.
Millwood. Hernandez. Tonight.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
This one will be straight from the boxscore due to Canucks/Kings Game 3 and the fact that I have to make a lengthy drive in the morning.
-- the big inning strikes again! I actually did see the Franklin Gutierrez single before I flipped back to the hockey, so I knew Gutierrez staked the Mariners out to a 1-0 lead. A few minutes later, I flipped back to see the start of the fourth inning with the Mariners leading 7-0. The sequence of the inning: flyout, double, two walks, single (scoring one), fielder's choice and error (scoring one), single (scoring two), double (scoring one), home run (scoring two), and strikeout (because it's Rob Johnson starting and ending the inning with outs).
-- the Mariners piled up eight runs on 12 hits with the assistance of two Baltimore errors and a nightmare start for Brad Bergesen. Bergesen gave up six hits, four of them going for extra bases (three doubles and the Casey Kotchman homer).
-- in all, six of the Mariners' 12 hits went for extra bases. Ichiro, Milton Bradley, and Kotchman all doubled once, and Jack Wilson doubled twice. Kotchman had the two-run homer that made it 7-0.
-- Ichiro went 2-for-4 with a double, putting him at 18-for-56 (.321) on the season and on pace for a 208-hit season, which would make for his tenth straight 200-hit season, which would be boss. Ichiro also has a .387 on-base mark and a .411 slugging percentage.
-- now for the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Chone Figgins went hitless again, going 0-for-4 with a walk. Both players scored a run. The Mariners are a perfect 6-0 when both Ichiro and Figgins score, but are 2-2 when both players register hits.
-- I'll talk about Doug Fister in the gameball entry. The bullpen pitched two largely inconsequential innings. Brandon League needed all of 10 pitches to get through the eighth with ease. Shawn Kelley allowed a Ty Wigginton leadoff homer in the ninth to account for the 8-2 final score, and allowed only a two-out Matt Wieters single before wrapping up the game.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: League and Kelley threw in this game. Going into Tuesday's game, Kanekoa Texeira, Sean White, and Jesus Colome will have one day of rest, and Mark Lowe and David Aardsma will have two days of rest.
-- I'm hoping Gutierrez doesn't have a lingering injury. On a play where he came around to score, he looked to be grimacing as he finished off the final 45 feet or so down the third-base line. It would be severely bad to lose Gutierrez for any length of time.
1) Jack Wilson
Holy crap, how bad are the Orioles? They've got a sparkling 2-12 record, and they let Jack Wilson have a 3-for-4 night with two doubles. Incredible. Now I look at the boxscore and see Wilson's a .250 hitter, but it sure doesn't seem like it. I've seen enough of his defense to realize how good he is in the field, which is good considering there were some early hiccups. I keep saying an underrated part of the Mariners' approach is that Wilson hits right before Ichiro when the lineup turns over. If he gets on with Ichiro up, stuff should ensue.
2) Doug Fister
The Orioles are bad, sure, but Fister took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, and he did so without having a fielding error behind him. Weirdly, this wasn't one of those no-hitters where the pitcher is perfect through four innings or anything like that. Fister's perfect game was gone with the second batter of the ballgame when Wigginton was hit by a pitch. Fister also walked Nolan Reimold with two out later in the first inning. Fister then set down the next 16 Oriole hitters he faced. If Cliff Lee and Erik Bedard get healthy in a few weeks, and if Bedard starts, we're looking at a Hernandez/Lee/Rowland-Smith/Fister/Bedard rotation. I like Jason Vargas, but I'm guessing he could stick around as lefty long relief or bolster the Tacoma rotation. Ian Snell can go be unimpressive somewhere else, though he's got a couple more starts to prove his worth before Lee comes back.
3) Casey Kotchman
From the seventh spot in the lineup, the Mariner first baseman went 2-for-4 with a home run, driving in three runs (all with two out). Does it seem like he's a .286 hitter? That's what he is here in the early going. Kotchman has a .367 on-base percentage and a .595 slugging mark, which of course adds up to a .962 OPS. It's weird to me...it doesn't seem to me like he's been ridiculously awesome at the plate or anything. I like how he drives through the ball, but it doesn't seem like he's tearing the cover off the ball.
I'm really hoping he fully bounces back the hip surgeries. Other than when he's catching or hitting, Johnson's doing a great job as a Mariner catcher.
Hernandez (not Felix). Vargas. Tonight.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
After a topsy-turvy week or so (including a death in the family and a bout with the flu), Ian Snell made his first home start. Unfortunately for the 30419 in attendance, the Tigers had all the runs they needed pretty early in the game. Right now, I'd have to say if you go through the Mariners' rotation and try to pick one pitcher whose game has the biggest chance of ending up in a Mariner loss, it's any Ian Snell start. As such, even though I knew it was Max Scherzer throwing for Detroit as opposed to Justin Verlander, it was Ian Snell throwing for the Mariners. Anyway, the result was pretty much what I expected, and the Mariners dropped back below .500. The timely hitting wasn't quite as prevalent for the Mariners as it was in the four previous games.
-- I guess I'll first write about Ian Snell. On purpose, I don't listen to or watch any postgame analysis or anything like that. I do that in effort to keep my take somewhat original. Taking that into account, Snell finished with 85 pitches after five innings. There are probably quite a few reasons why he was pulled even though he probably could have at least came out for the sixth inning. One reason: Snell had given up four walks. Another reason: Snell registered three groundouts to eight flyouts, and a fly ball gone wrong was the Magglio Ordonez three-run homer that got Detroit all the runs they needed. Another reason: I'm guessing Snell wasn't doing a lot of physical exercise or conditioning when he left the team to be with his family, so maybe they figured he couldn't last quite as long, and the flu wouldn't have helped. Another reason: Snell put the leadoff hitter aboard in each of the first four innings, and Ordonez burned him for it in the third inning. In case no one has been able to tell, when Cliff Lee comes back, I want Snell to be the first guy bumped from the rotation because he impresses me the least. When Erik Bedard comes back, I'd probably lean toward Jason Vargas getting the bump even though I like him more than Doug Fister. That'll come down to Bedard being a lefty and Vargas also being a lefty. Plus, Fister eats up more innings than Vargas.
-- the average per-start line for a Mariner starter: 5 2/3 innings, 2.8 runs (2.5 earned), 5.2 hits, 2.3 walks, 3.7 strikeouts, 95 pitches (60 strikes), 6.8 groundouts, and 5.7 flyouts. The average per-start line for Mariner starters sans Felix Hernandez: 5 2/3 innings, 2.8 runs (2.6 earned), 5.3 hits, 2.1 walks, 3 strikeouts, 92 pitches (58 strikes), 5.5 groundouts, 6.7 flyouts.
-- in the writeup for Saturday's game, I said it was a lead-pipe cinch that Jesus Colome was going to throw in this game. While that did come true, I kinda thought Colome would be the first guy out of the bullpen. Instead, that honor went to Kanekoa Texeira. In his first Mariner home appearance, he allowed only a one-out walk. Sean White threw the seventh inning, allowing a leadoff infield single to Johnny Damon as his only hit. Damon went to second when Wilson tried to make a throw he probably shouldn't have made to first base. One groundout later, Damon was on third, and White intentionally walked Miguel Cabrera before Carlos Guillen hit into the nice double play to end the inning. Jesus Colome had a turbulent eighth inning, walking Brandon Inge on four pitches to lead off, then allowing a double to Avila to put two runners in scoring position with nobody out. Colome got Scott Sizemore to ground out, then got Ramon Santiago (awesome former Mariner...ha) to ground to third, where Lopez threw home and Adam Moore tagged out Inge. Colome couldn't quite get out of the jam, though, giving up a jamshot of a single to Austin Jackson to score Avila for the important insurance run to make it 4-2. Colome allowed another walk to Damon for good measure (though not if you believe the almighty EQC Tracer) before Ordonez whiffed to end the inning. Colome threw 33 pitches of madness, only 16 of which were strikes. Shawn Kelley threw a scoreless ninth, allowing a leadoff Cabrera double and a two-out walk to Inge, but also getting a double play to end the inning.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Texeira, White, Colome, and Kelley all worked in this game. Going into Monday's game, the three remaining bullpen arms -- Brandon League, Mark Lowe, and David Aardsma -- will all have had one day of rest from having pitched in Saturday's game.
-- Mariner pitchers issued a combined nine walks (one intentional) in this game. The Tiger offense amassed nine hits in the game.
-- the Mariner defense turned in a couple of key plays. With runners on first and second with nobody out in the fourth inning, Casey Kotchman nicely played a bunt and went to third for the force on nepotism beneficiary Alex Avila. That play helped keep the score at 3-1. In the seventh, with runners on the corners and one out, Chone Figgins covered a wicked hop and started a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
-- how many outs are we comfortable with the Mariner offense making on the basepaths? Figgins was out trying to steal second base, ending the first inning. There were already two out, so I guess you could say he was trying to make something out of next to nothing. If nothing else, Lopez got a fresh count to work with for the next inning. On the play that staked the Mariners out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning, Eric Byrnes really should not have tried to score on the play, but he did, and his only hope to score was to try to bowl over the catcher to jar the ball loose. Pretty much fail. Granted, Adam Moore and Jack Wilson were the next two hitters, so no more runs were probably going to score anyway. In the sixth, Ichiro led off with a single and took off on contact when Figgins hit a line drive to rightfield. Unfortunately, the speed and trajectory of the line drive were just perfect for Ordonez to make the catch and throw back to first to double off Ichiro. I can't help but think if the Mariners just avoid having one of the three aforementioned situations end with outs, maybe it changes the complexion of the game a little bit.
-- other than those weird baserunning happenings I just addressed, the Mariners really only had one tailor-made blown chance offensively, and that came in the eighth. The Mariners were down 4-2 and had the inning set up perfectly for the meat of the order to do what it's supposed to do. Jack Wilson was better than worthless, legging out an infield single to lead off. Ichiro drew a walk, then Figgins bunted the runners over 90 feet, though I'm not sure that's the thing to do when down two runs. I could maybe understand it if they were playing for one run to try and tie or take the lead, but this was not that time. Anyway, Franklin Gutierrez took a 1-2 pitch for strike three in probably his most unclutch moment of the season, not that there have been many. Jose Lopez came up, now with two out, and flew out. It's a new situation for Gutierrez, but that situation was nothing new for Lopez, who this team is depending on for some home runs and some RBIs. Lopez has a double as his only extra-base hit of the season so far, and he's driven in a grand total of three runs.
-- Ichiro had a 1-for-3 day with a walk, putting him at 16-for-52 (.308) on the season. With 16 hits in 13 games, Ichiro is on pace to finish the season with 199 hits. Well, that's just not going to hack it. It's hilarious that a .306 average won't hack it, but hey, this team's paying Ichiro that kind of money for a reason.
-- time for the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro got the only hit between him and Figgins, and neither player scored. Ichiro and Figgins have scored in the same game five times and gotten hits in the same game four times after 13 games (note: I had erroneously stated three times for this in the Saturday writeup). Not surprisingly, the Mariners are a perfect 5-0 when both Ichiro and Figgins score (i.e, the team has obviously scored at least two runs in those games), but they're a mere 2-2 when both players get hits.
-- should I bring it back? Oh, what the hay...
Team W L pct GB
2001 10-3 .769 --
2002 10-3 .769 --
2000 8-5 .615 2
2009 8-5 .615 2
2003 7-6 .538 3
2010 6-7 .462 4
2006 6-7 .462 4
2005 6-7 .462 4
2008 6-7 .462 4
2007 5-8 .385 5
2004 5-8 .385 5
1) Casey Kotchman
He was 2-for-3, drove in both of the Mariners’ runs, homered, and made the nice defensive play on the bunt, a play that helped keep the game within reach. He now hits a respectable .263 and is the second Mariner on the season with multiple home runs (Bradley is the other).
2) Eric Byrnes
Despite his problems with the sun in leftfield, he went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk and honestly, I don’t know how long it’ll be before he puts up a boxscore line as good as this one. He played left in this game while Milton Bradley rested a calf ailment and came in only for pinch-hit duty.
He was 1-for-3 with a walk, though he did get caught on the Figgins line drive to rightfield. This wasn’t the easiest game to pick three gameballs for, let me tell you that much. Ichiro is now a .308 hitter with a .368 on-base percentage.
He was 0-for-4 and has a number three in the LOB column in the boxscore. I keep waiting for this guy to start racking up some extra-base hits, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting… A friend pointed out to me that he really hated Lopez being at third base instead of second because it’s ruining his trade value. I’m beginning to buy into that. If they moved Lopez to second and he started hitting again, I’d swap Figgins and Lopez in a heartbeat.
Bergesen. Fister. Tomorrow.
When the Mariners dropped the home opener and found themselves with a 2-6 record and no semblance of an offense or consistent starting pitching, I figured a realistic goal for the Mariners would be to get within sniffing distance of .500 by the end of April. What I didn't see happening was an immediate four-game winning streak. Pretty much everything the Mariners didn't have during the first eight games of the season (except maybe power hitting) has gotten into the team. The Mariners just couldn't get any breaks in the early going. It seemed all the hard grounders they hit didn't have eyes for the outfield, and all the line drives they hit were right at somebody. They managed to run themselves out of some scoring threats. The starting pitching wasn't the strength we thought it was. Even the Mariner defense was having some odd plays fail to work into their favor. In winning four straight, the Mariners have tried to bury the first eight games of the season and burn the tapes. I know which part of the season I'd rather remember.
-- odd thing that the ESPN.com play-by-play shows a run scoring on the Ken Griffey Jr. fielder's choice in the first where Verlander fell on the back of the mound and threw from the seat of his pants to get the out at second. The play-by-play shows the score going from 2-0 to 1-0 on the next play. I thought I'd waited long enough after the game to look at that play-by-play listing for all the errors to be corrected. I miss the days with the ESPN play-by-play would list by pitch 1, pitch 2, pitch 3, etc.
-- odd that Ichiro might not have been a homer away from the cycle if the fan along the first-base side hadn't reached out and grabbed the ball heading into the corner that went for Ichiro's double. Still, that doesn't mean fans should be reaching out into fair territory to grab a live ball. That's bull. Also interesting, Ichiro was up with two out in the second when Jack Wilson was gunned down by about a mile trying to steal second base. Ichiro got a fresh count for the third inning and ended up tripling. Also, Ichiro haters are trifling. Wordplay.
-- what a weird play in the first on the Chone Figgins foul pop to Carlos Guillen on the leftfield side. There was a play in the Giants/Dodgers game earlier in the day that occurred in the same spot on the field and ended up with everyone being confused. I think there were runners on first and second with nobody out when a fly ball went down the leftfield line. Garret Anderson made a sliding catch, touching the ball in fair territory, but then the ball fell out in foul territory. I think one of the umpires signaled out, but then safe. Anderson threw the ball in and the Dodger infield tagged every base and tried to make it a triple play. The inning did not end with that play.
-- Ichiro's 3-for-3 day with a single, double, triple, and a walk puts him at 15-for-49 (.306) on the season. With 15 hits in 12 games, he is finally on pace for about 203 hits for the season, finally exceeding a 200-hit pace.
-- time for the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro and Figgins both scored in this game, marking the fifth time this season it's happened. Figgins went hitless, however, and he and Ichiro have only collected hits in the same game three times in 12 games.
-- Ryan Rowland-Smith got into the seventh, gave up a leadoff double to Scott Sizemore, then was promptly pulled. Rowland-Smith isn't totally up to speed yet, but those starts of seven innings or longer are going to come eventually. He hasn't been that sharp, averaging three walks a start. However, he only yields an average of five hits per start, so he's not getting tattered. Still, sometimes he gets a little too flyball friendly, and that Magglio Ordonez homer was just a smash, going off the stairwell near the out-of-town scoreboard.
-- the average line for a Mariner starting pitcher: 6 innings, 2.8 runs (2.5 earned), 5.2 hits, 2.2 walks, 3.7 strikeouts, 96 pitches (61 strikes), and a ratio of 7.1 groundouts to 5.5 flyouts. The average non-Felix start: 5 2/3 innings, 2.8 runs (2.6 earned), 5.6 hits, 1.9 walks, 2.9 strikeouts, 93 pitches (59 strikes), and a ratio of 5.8 groundouts to 6.6 flyouts.
-- Brandon League finished off the seventh inning after Rowland-Smith was pulled. Gerald Laird bunted Sizemore over to third, then pinch-hitting Johnny Damon hit a solid single to center to score Sizemore, tie the game at 2-2, and take a winning decision away from Rowland-Smith. League gave up a single to Austin Jackson on the next pitch before getting outs with the next two hitters. After five days of rest (partially attributable to a back tweak), Mark Lowe worked for the second straight night. He allowed a one-out Guillen single followed by a Brandon Inge walk, but then got a double-play ball to end the inning. Finally, David Aardsma worked a 1-2-3 ninth, which actually seems kind of rare.
-- now for the bullpen rest bulletin: Mark Lowe, Brandon League, and David Aardsma worked in this game. Going into Sunday's game, Sean White will have had one day of rest, Shawn Kelley will have had five days of rest, and Jesus Colome and Kanekoa Texeira will have had six days of rest. With Ian Snell starting the final game of this series, it's pretty much a lead-pipe cinch that Colome will appear on Sunday afternoon and make his debut before the home fans, possibly along with Texeira.
I've already typed a fair amount about him with the above material. I guess all that's left to say is that he also made a sliding basket catch on his knees. I wonder if we're going to start seeing a torrid Ichiro over the next couple weeks. He's 7-for-13 in the last three games, with the only two extra-base hits in that stretch coming in this game. As a result of the double and triple, Ichiro's slugging percentage is now higher than his on-base percentage (.388 to .358).
2) Franklin Gutierrez
About the only thing missing for Gutierrez so far is a home run. Gutierrez went 2-for-4 and drove in two of the Mariners' four runs. His first-inning single drove Ichiro home from third to stake the Mariners out to a 1-0 lead. He then singled with one out off Joel Zumaya to drive home Figgins for an important insurance run (Mike Brumley was nuts to wave Figgins around, but the throw home didn’t have enough oomph on it) to make it 4-2 for the Mariners. Like Ichiro, Gutierrez is also 7-for-13 over the last three games, but with a triple as his only extra-base hit. Gutierrez has 20 hits so far, and we've just crossed the halfway point in the month of April. If he ends up with a 35-hit month, it will have been a hell of a month.
3) Casey Kotchman
The Mariner first-baseman had only one hit, but that hit was the go-ahead double in the seventh that put the Mariners on their way. Kotchman only saw nine pitches in the game, but somehow I care less about that when the results are what they were. Kotchman's 1-for-3 night bumped his batting average up to .229. His coldness at the plate combined with the awesomeness of Gutierrez has resulted in Kotchman not hitting third in the lineup since April 11th, the final game of the season-opening road trip. Part of me hopes Kotchman never hits third for this team again. Actually, I just wish Milton Bradley would catch fire and the Mariners could hit him third. In any event, Kotchman picked the ball to finish the nicely turned double play that ended the eighth inning.
The Mariner second baseman is hitless in the last two games. In this game, he hit a sacrifice fly to drive in a run, but went hitless and failed to draw a walk. He scored a run after getting aboard via a fielder's choice that wiped Ichiro off the basepaths. I just hope we see some stretches this season where Ichiro and Figgins start the hit parade and the rest of the lineup falls in line. Let the table be set! The other thing people usually don't bring up is that when the lineup turns over, Jack Wilson is hitting before Ichiro. If Ichiro gets to the plate with Jack Wilson aboard, surely that would just make it easier for Ichiro to collect hits.
Scherzer. Snell. Today.