Saturday, May 22, 2010



What a weird night. I sat in the centerfield bleachers for this game, and it was just an incredibly weird game. The Mariners needed a laugher to go their way at some point, and they got it. Still, it's just odd that Cliff Lee can have his worst start as a Mariner and he gets the win, whereas he lost or got no-decisions in two of his other brilliant starts. All told, it was a grand night for everyone that wasn't named Jose Lopez, Ichiro, Chone Figgins, and Franklin Gutierrez. Those four combined to go 3-for-18 with a double, walk, and three RBIs. Lopez accounted for an 0-for-5 out of all that. This means hitters four through nine in the lineup (sans Lopez) went 12-for-22 with two doubles, three home runs, three walks, and 12 RBIs. I'll note that thanks to Bremerton's idiotic evening ferry schedule, I had to leave in the eighth inning when it was 15-8 (around 10:05p) so I could catch the 10:30p ferry. I never leave games early, but the ferry schedule is so idiotic, I felt the game was mostly out of doubt and I didn't want to wait until 12:50a to catch the next ferry to Bremerton. Idiotic.

-- I kept waiting for Cliff Lee to get pulled in the seventh inning. The Mariners led by 11 runs coming into the seventh, and Lee was right at 100 pitches. There was really no urgent reason for Lee to stay in the ballgame. If he came out to the mound at all for the seventh, he probably should have been yanked after the first or second hitter, definitely before any of the runs scored. Instead, two more runs scored on his watch to make it 15-6, and Jesus Colome came in and set fire to Lee's ERA even more, scoring both of the inherited runners to make it 15-8, which held as the final score. Lee's final ledger had him giving up eight runs (seven earned) on 11 hits, striking out seven. Somehow, he managed not to walk anyone. He just got hit around in this game, plain and simple. Six of the 11 hits given up by Lee were doubles.

-- Colome came in with runners on second and third and one out with the score 15-6. He allowed the Oscar Salazar single that made it 15-8 before getting the next two hitters out to end the inning. Colome allowed a leadoff single to Everth Cabrera and a one-out single to David Eckstein. Other than a wild pitch (I was starting to lose fath a bit in Josh Bard's ball-blocking ability as the game wore on) that moved the runners up 90 feet, it was an otherwise benign inning. Brandon League threw in a ninth inning that was very much a soft landing. He allowed a leadoff single, but set down the next three hitters to end the game.

-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Colome and League threw in this game. Going into Saturday's game, Kanekoa Texeira and Shawn Kelley will have a day of rest, David Aardsma will have two days of rest, and Ryan Rowland-Smith will have four days of rest.

-- the Padres scored twice in the first inning, and as Mariner fans we've grown this year to expect the Mariners to probably not win any game where that happens. The Mariner bats didn'r respond right away, but they exploded in the second inning. Five Mariner hitters reached base (infield single, two walks, two singles, two runs across) before an out was recorded. Figgins hit a sacrifice fly for the first out, pushing the Mariners' third run across the plate to give them a 3-2 lead. A Franklin Gutierrez fielder's choice groudner made it 4-2 before Mike Sweeney blasted off to make it 7-2. Bard tacked on another run with a homer to make it 8-4 in the third inning. In the fourth, Gutierrez doubled and came home on Sweeney's second homer of the game to make it 10-4. Singles by Milton Bradley and Casey Kotchman preceded a Brad double that made it 12-4. Bard scored on a Josh Wilson double that made it 13-4. Finally, in the fifth, an leadoff infield single and a walk preceded a Sweeney single that made it 14-4, a Bradley one-out single loaded the bases, and a Kotchman fielder's choice capped the Mariners' scoring at 15-4. The bats shut down at that point as San Diego pitching retired nine of the final ten Mariner hitters (one walk), but the damage was done.

-- I can't forget to mention the amount of breaks the Mariners were getting. I remember a ball bouncing off the third-base bag, a couple of balls off gloves, balls landing between three converging fielders, etc. The Mariner pitching has been good enough this year where if the Mariners get breaks here and there, they win.

-- Ichiro went 1-for-5, making him 60-for-174 (.345) on the season and putting him on pace for a 231-hit season. It'd probably be good if this pace picked up a little bit.

-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro went 1-for-5 and scored a run, and Figgins went 1-for-4 and scored a run. The Mariners are now 8-2 when both players score and 7-12 when both players collect hits.

1) Mike Sweeney
I feel pretty safe saying he won't have another night like this for the rest of the season. I don't see a lot of 4-for-6 nights with two homers and six RBIs in his future. Hopefully we see a lot of playing time in Sweeney's future. There was a week or so not too logn ago where Sweeney was getting some starts against righthanded starting pitchers, and I think that time has come again. Then again, we have to consider that Sweeney started the very night after Ken Griffey Jr. had the winning hit. Of course, it doesn't exactly take a rocket scientist to figure out who out of the Mariners' two designated hitters has more left in his bat, but since the strings seem to be pulled at a level higher than the manager or the general manager, we're stuck with Griffey making outs until he removes himself from the team. Anyway, I got home and saw the second Sweeney homer on the replay, and Sweeney looked like he hit that homer on his front foot. His swing makes my back hurt just watching it, but if the results are much like they were in this game, he can keep swinging all uncomfortably.

2) Josh Bard
The Mariners finally have a catcher that can catch most of the time, but can actually hit as well. Not to mention he can hit from both sides of the plate as well. Shakespeare went 2-for-3 with a double, home run, and two walks in the game, scoring three times and driving in three runs. Two of his three RBIs came with two out. The bottom third of the Mariner lineup went a collective 5-for-12 with three walks, two doubles, a homer, and six RBIs. They also scored six of the Mariners' 15 runs. Right now I think we should only be seeing Rob Johnson on the days where Felix Hernandez starts, if at all. I don't think the universe will implode if Bard ends up catching Felix one of these days. If Johnson's catching at all, though, right now he should be doing it maybe once per turn through the rotation. He can earn more by catching and blocking the ball and doing positive things on offense. I find it funny whenever Johnson and Adam Moore are both referred to as "young," because Moore is the one I would see being the catcher of the future, if it was anybody. Johnson seems like a seatwarmer, if anything. Bard's a seatwarmer who can hit.

3) Milton Bradley
Anger can be managed by going 3-for-5, right? The Mariners' recent returnee from the restricted list scored twice on the night. His three hits were all singles. One can only hope that a three-hit night can be a jumping-off point on offense for Bradley. As it stands, the golden moment of Bradley's season to date has been the called shot by Jay Buhner in the booth. People can regret having Bradley all they want, but I'd really hate it more if Carlos Silva were still on this team, sucking up a 25-man roster spot and having no chance of upside. The three-hit night pushed Bradley's batting average to .244 (from .221), his slugging percentage to .333 (.318), and his on-base percentage to .378 (.364). It'd be great to see some power out of him, and maybe we'll see that soon enough.

Jose Lopez
Not even a night of the Mariner offense erupting could get Lopez going. Though he never struck out, Lopez went 0-for-5. In the first, he grounded into a fielder's choice with runners on the corners that ended the inning. In the second, he flew out right after Sweeney hit the 7-2 homer. In the fourth, he came up again after a Sweeney homer and grounded out on the first pitch. In the fifth, Lopez had two on and one out (the score was 14-4) and he popped out to the second baseman. He ended the seventh inning with a bases-empty flyout to left. That's the anatomy of a game of offensive suck for Lopez. This comes without me even mentioning the God-awful throwing error. He threw way over Kotchman at first base, getting the Padres to cut their deficit to 7-4 in the third inning. Fans in the stands were calling for him to tag the runner that was coming to third base from second, but Lopez chose to throw and was way off target, letting that runner score. I'll once again say that if it takes moving Lopez to jumpstart him at the plate, it needs to be done.

Richard. Snell. Tonight.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010



I'm not sure we'll know the significance of this win until much later in the season. Regardless, this was a much-needed win for the Mariners. Sure, it snapped a five-game losing streak, but they needed something -- anything -- positive out of Ken Griffey Jr., and they finally got it. That might have been Griffey's hardest-hit ball of the season. It was definitely the hardest-hit fair ball for Griffey this season. While Jason Vargas pitched well and got into the seventh again only to not win, at least this time he didn't get the loss as the Mariners scored three runs in the ninth to get him off the hook. Of course, it's unavoidable that Don Wakamatsu's first managerial ejection will be looked at as a possible turning point in the game, but hey, if it sparked the team, all the better. You can't argue with the results. If Wakamatsu got run in each of the next three games and the Mariners won all three, that'd be hilarious. FSNNW usually had a habit lately of re-airing the weekday day games at 7pm, but tonight they aired a Portland Beaver home game, so I only caught the tail end of the replay, which was an earlier replay than I thought it'd be. Fiddlesticks.

-- Mike Sweeney was the first Mariner hitter to reach base, doing so with a leadoff walk in the second. Josh Wilson was the first Mariner to get a hit, singling with a runner on and nobody out in the third inning. Following the Mariners' first hit, Ichiro bunted both runners over, then another bunt by Chone Figgins (not sure I get the strategy here) scored Josh Bard from third to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead.

-- time for some Mariner offensive futility. In the fourth, Jose Lopez walked with one out, but was erased on an inning-ending double-play ball from Milton Bradley. In the fifth, Casey Kotchman and Bard started the inning with singles. Josh Wilson then bunted foul with two strikes on him, Ichiro hit into a fielder's choice, then Figgins grounded out to end the inning. Ichiro proved to be very unclutch in that situation. That's a shame considering the bottom of the lineup did all that work. From there, the Mariners went 1-2-3 in the sixth, got a two-out Bard double in the seventh, and squandered an Ichiro infield single (pitcher Scott Downs and catcher Jose Molina nearly collided between the mound and plate) that led off the eighth.

-- the ninth inning for the Mariners was total station-to-station baseball. Mike Sweeney singled to lead off, then Jose Lopez singled to move Sweeney exactly 90 feet (he was then replaced by Michael Saunders). Bradley and Kotchman then walked, the latter of which forced in the run that cut Toronto's lead to 3-2. Bard then hit the sacrifice fly to score Lopez from third to tie the game at 3-3. Griffey then came up and singled to end the game. Bradley as the winning run was the only runner to move more than 90 feet at a time in that entire inning.

-- the starting pitching will be discussed below. Kanekoa Texeira came into the game with the score 3-1, two runners in scoring position, and two out in the seventh inning. He got a line drive right back to him to end the seventh. He walked the leadoff man in the eighth, but then got a flyout and a double-play ball to end the inning. Shawn Kelley then threw a 1-2-3 ninth.

-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Texeira and Kelley threw in this game. Going into Friday's game, David Aardsma will have a day of rest, Brandon League will have two days of rest, and Ryan Rowland-Smith and Jesus Colome will have three days of rest.

-- Ichiro went 1-for-3 in the game, making him 59-for-169 (.349) on the season. His season pace has dipped a bit now to 233. The pace was bound to drop a bit, since he's not always going to be on a seven-game streak of multi-hit games.

-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro had a hit but didn't score, and Figgins didn't score or get a hit. The Mariners remain 7-2 when both players score and 6-12 when both players collect hits.

1) Jason Vargas
It's too bad he couldn't have gotten the win in this game (and it's too bad he was in line for the loss), but he nonetheless gave the Mariner offense a chance to get back into the game and pull out a win. For once, the Mariner offense actually took the chance given to them by the starting pitching thanks to their ninth inning. Vargas retired the first ten hitters he faced. The first Toronto hit was a single to rightfield by Aaron Hill. He then was struck by some lightning in the fifth as Alex Gonzalez singled and was driven home by a Jose Bautista homer that bounced off the top of the wall (horizontal surface, a case of Vargas' flyball tendencies getting the best of him), barely clearing it. The homer put the Blue Jays ahead 2-1. Vargas walked the next hitter before getting a double-play ball to end the inning. It got dicey again in the seventh for Vargas as he alloewd a one-out Lyle Overbay single followed by a Gonzalez ground-rule double. Bautista was walked intentionally to load the bases, but Edwin Encarnacion hit a deep-enough fly ball to score Overbay and make it 3-1, chasing Vargas. The average per-start line for Vargas: 6 2/3 innings, 2.4 runs (2.3 earned), 4.7 hits, 1.9 walks, 4.4 strikeouts, 97 pitches (61 strikes), 5.6 groundouts, 8 flyouts.

2) Ken Griffey Jr.
We can thank him for not falling asleep in the clubhouse this time. With the score tied 3-3 in the ninth with runners on first and second and one out, Griffey was brought in to hit for Josh Wilson. On a 2-1 pitch, Griffey hit a fairly hard line drive that would have gone to the rightfield wall near the corner, but Griffey didn't need to leg out a double because the winning run had already scored. Michael Saunders (pinch-running for Milton Bradley) scored the winning run and some long-awaited postgame jubilation was had by the Mariners. The hit raised Griffey's batting average to .191, on-base percentage to .252, and slugging percentage to .213. If nothing else, this maybe makes the "does he have anything left?" chat ease up a tiny bit, maybe for about a week. He's done something significant this season. It's a shame it took a quarter of the season for it to happen, but better late than never. If he gets on a tear, it's only a positive.

3) Josh Bard
Since being called up from Tacoma, Bard is 4-for-12 in four games and has doubled in consecutive games. He went 2-for-2 in this game, scored a run, and drew a walk. Outside of that, his sacrifice fly in the ninth inning tied the game at 3-3. So far, Bard appears to be the only Mariner catcher this season that can actually catch. In his four games behind the plate, catching everyone in the Mariners' rotation not named Felix Hernandez, there have been zero wild pitches and zero passed balls. Small sample size, I know. While passed balls suck, I like to also argue that wild pitches, though credited in the boxscore to the pitcher, depends a lot of the time on how the catcher blocks the ball (if at all) and whether it gets too far away, even after blocking it. Rob Johnson sometimes has runners advance on balls he manages to block. Other balls he just doesn't scoot to the side to block and refuses to get his body in front of it. Seriously, he tries to backhand scoop some of those balls like a first baseman instead of using the body. Anyway, Bard is going to get a good deal of playing time if he keeps hitting and if Johnson gets banged up.

Franklin Gutierrez
The Mariners' centerfielder was 0-for-4 on the day. He grounded out to third to end the first inning, grounded out to second to end the third inning, whiffed to lead off the sixth, then flew out with one out and Ichiro on first in the eighth. Gutierrez was due to tail off at some point. It's not like he went into suck mode with the snap of a finger or anything. He's hardly in a slump, really, just that he hasn't been crazy on fire at the plate lately. Gutierrez is now down to a .286 batting average with an on-base percentage of .376 and a slugging percentage of .429. He is 2-for-15 over the last four games, sinking his batting average from .303. When he was hot earlier in the year, I kept bringing up how I thought there was no way in hell Gutierrez would stick at the number-three slot in the lineup for the rest of the season. I thought there was no way he'd stay that hot, and I thought one of the other hitters in the lineup would step up, start raking, and get moved into the spot. Gutierrez has cooled off, but there's no other hitter yet to bat third.

LeBlanc. Lee. Tomorrow (Friday).

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I was having a phone conversation going during most of the game and therefore was paying slightly less attention to the game than usual. In very basic terms, Doug Fister went eight innings and lost. Milton Bradley returned from the restricted list and Sean White was sent down to Tacoma. That move has the Mariners going with an 11-man pitching staff (six-man bullpen) for the first time since Ryan Langerhans was let go early on in the season. Yeah, this was another one-run loss, and no, it's not early anymore. This was the 40th game of the season for the Mariners, essentially the quarter-pole. Unless they make moves, this is your team. There is enough sample size. They pitch great, they can't hit, the defense isn't as good as we thought, the catcher's can't hit or catch, and the bullpen isn't anywhere near as good as last year (they were really good last year...unsustainably good).

-- the average per-game Mariner starting pitching line: 6 1/3 innings, 3.2 runs (2.8 earned), 6.6 hits, 2.7 walks, 5.8 strikeouts, 8.6 groundouts, 3.6 flyouts. Those stats could be massaged even more if I took out Ian Snell's numbers and Ryan Rowland-Smith's numbers, but then that'd just be too selective. The starting pitching in this game will be discussed below.

-- David Aardsma appeared in a game for the first time since May 14th. As you may expect, the closer isn't getting a lot of innings when the team is losing. Aardsma gave up only a leadoff double before setting down the next three hitters.

-- the bullpen rest bulletin: only Aardsma threw in this game. Going into tonight's game, Kanekoa Texeira, Shawn Kelley, and Brandon League will have a day of rest. Ryan Rowland-Smith and Jesus Colome will have two days of rest.

-- Chone Figgins' bunt to the pitcher with one out in the third moved Ichiro to second base. Ichiro at that point was the first Mariner runner to reach second base. The second runner to get to second was Josh Bard thanks to his leadoff double in the fifth. Bard then reached third on the seventh before scoring the first Mariner run. The point is that there weren't a lot of Mariner runners in scoring position until the seventh. Not that great a method to winning games.

-- Ichiro went 1-for-5 and drove in a run. He is now 58-for-166 (.349), this night sinking his batting average like a rock. Meanwhile, Chone Figgins went 1-for-4 and raised his batting average. Actually, even a 1-for-5 night would raise Figgins' batting average right now. Anyway, Ichiro is on pace for a 235-hit season.

-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro and Figgins had a hit apiece, though neither scored. As a result, the Mariners remain 7-2 when both players score and are now 6-12 when both players collect hits.

1) Doug Fister
Doug Fister did well again. Three runs on five hits over eight innings. He walked one and struck out five. He got 11 groundouts and seven flyouts. He retired the first six hitters he faced before getting touched up in the third. He gave up a leadoff double to Jose Bautista followed by a John Buck single. That looked dicey with nobody out, but the only run of the inning was driven in by a sacrifice fly. Fister was a bit less lucky in the fourth. A leadoff double was followed by consecutive one-out singles to make it 2-0 for Toronto, then Bautista walked to load the bases. Fister then hit Buck with a pitch to force in the 3-0 run. Fister barred the door at that point, getting the next two hitters out to end the inning. Fister then retired the final 12 hitters he faced. He gave this team more than a fighting chance to win.

2) Josh Wilson
He got two hits, scored one of the Mariners' two runs, and walked once. He's a .233 hitter in his few weeks with the big club, but .233 is a lot better than quite a few of his fellow hitters who have been in the lineup for the whole season. He singled to lead off the third inning, but was erased on Ichiro's fielder's choice grounder. After Josh Bard doubled to lead off the fifth, Josh Wilson walked to put two runners aboard with nobody out. The Mariners failed to score in that inning. In the seventh, Josh Wilsonp had a runner on first and one out and singled to move the runner (Bard) to third. The Mariners eventually plated two runs in the inning when Ichiro and Chone Figgins hit consecutive singles (whaaaa?!!?!).

3) Milton Bradley
The Mariner leftfielder got off the restricted list and went 2-for-4. He singled with the bases empty and two out in the fourth and got aboard with an infield single with one out in the eighth. Additionally, none of the outs he made ended up killing any rallies. There wasn't really any lack of clutch. I do have to confess, I put Bradley here despite the double near the warning track (I think it was the Bautista double, Toronto's first hit of the game) that looked like it landed really close to Bradley's feet to the point where you could debate whether or not it was catchable. Anyway, he got aboard twice, which is more than I expected for his first game back.

Mike Sweeney
He went 0-for-5. Come on. If they wanted that, they could have just put Ken Griffey Jr. out there. In the first, Sweeney grounded to the pitcher to end the inning, though he only had a runner on first with two out. He led off the fourth by popping out on the first pitch. He then led off the sixth by striking out. His unclutch moments, however, saved themselves for his final two at-bats. With two runs in, Sweeney ended the seventh with a popout to the second baseman. He had runners on second and third with two out (though Franklin Gutierrez had second and third with one out and struck out, and that's less clutch). Finally, with runners on first and second with two out, Sweeney ended the game with a flyout to pretty deep leftcenter. It's unfortunate enough to have Sweeney leading off two innings, but he also ended three innings. Weird night.

Romero. Vargas. Today.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010



Know what I miss? I miss when ballplayers either showed sock or wore stirrups as part of the uniform. One of the best things about the uniform of the Oakland Athletics was the sock/stirrup combination (or the paintlined sock) with the green stirrup/line and the yellow sock. That was a really distinctive look, and I wish the players hadn't gotten away from that. Really, the socks nowadays are a really underutilized part of uniform design, and the players are surely partly to blame.

-- Felix Hernandez wasn't himself in this game. In fact, he threw 55 pitches in the first two innings. He was having a great bit of trouble trying to get the low strikes that plate umpire Jim Reynolds wasn't calling. It got to the point where Reynolds took time to walk toward the Mariner dugout and jaw at Don Wakamatsu, returning chirping fire. Felix fell behind many hitters early on and finished by throwing first strikes to 15 of the 29 hitters he faced. The three runs in six innings on his ledger for the game looks pretty good. He gave up 11 hits, however, and that doesn't look so good. All told, this was a game where he actually was in line for the win before the bullpen came into the game. Needless to say, that was squandered. Felix has a record of 2-3 with four no decisions. The Mariners are 2-2 in his no decisions. In other words, the Mariners are 4-5 when Felix starts. If you juts look at a chart with all of his starts on it, Felix has pitched well enough to win in six and maybe seven of his starts. He could easily be 6-2 (7-2 if you argue Felix absolutely should have won this game) instead of 2-3. Add that to the team record, and the Mariners could be 17-22 right now, which would still suck, but suck much less.

-- the first man out of the bullpen will be covered below. Sean White came in with two runners on and nobody out and wasn't able to finish the inning. He gave up a game-tying RBI single on his second pitch, then got a big strikeout from Jack Cust. Then Eric Chavez hit a deep-enough fly ball to score Kurt Suzuki and put Oakland into a 5-4 lead. Two straight infield singles loaded the bases and brought Shawn Kelley from the bullpen. Kelley plugged the hole in the dam by striking out Chad Pennington to end the inning.

-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Texeira, White, Kelley, and League threw in this game. Going into Wednesday's game, Ryan Rowland-Smith and Jesus Colome will have a day of rest, and David Aardsma will have four days of rest.

-- Mike Sweeney had a pinch-hit sacrifice fly that tied the game in the eighth! Clutch! Wow!

-- probably one of the most entertaining things about the game was when Josh Blevins got a talking-to from the plate umpire for white embroidery on his black mitt. As you may know, a rule exists in the rulebook against two-timed mitts, and I'm thinking there would definitely be emphasis against something white on a baseball mitt (i.e., color of a baseball).

-- the Mariners tied the game in the eighth, but the whole rally started when Ken Griffey Jr. singled with one out. Yes, he really got a hit. Ryan Langerhans pinch-ran for him and ended up scoring the tying run.

-- three cheers for Michael Saunders and the shoestring catch double play in the eighth inning that delayed the inevitable for the Mariners. Also three cheers for the Figgins running catch along the rightfield line on a looper that ended the inning.

-- Levine's Law in the ninth: Saunders led off with a walk and didn't come around to score. Ichiro did the fielder's choice thing, then Figgins and Gutierrez flew out.

-- I put Johnson in the gameballs, but I have to give him guff for taking a dirtball off the chest protector and having it get away. These blocked balls should be staying close. It's like rebound control in hockey or blocking a ball straight down in volleyball. That blocked ball moved the winning run from second to third in the 10th. Ultimately, the runner could have score from second, but he also could have scored on a wilder pitch as well. Johnson has lost games with his play behind the plate this year, and there will be a couple more.

-- Ichiro went 1-for-3 with two walks. He is now 57-for-161 (.354) on the season and is on pace to finish the season with 237 hits.

-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro had one hit while Figgins somehow had two. Only Figgins scored a run. The Mariners remain 7-2 when both players score a run and are now 6-11 when both players collect a hit.

1) Casey Kotchman
His most unfortunate moment of the game came on what should have been an Ichiro RBI single in the fifth inning. Instead, Rob Johnson was gunned down at third right before Kotchman touched the plate. I'm sure either the on-deck hitter said he could come in standing up, or Kotchman saw no catcher trying to make a play at the plate and just coasted to the plate. A run would have cut the Mariners' deficit to 3-2, but them's the breaks, and the Mariners haven't been getting many of them lately. Oh wait, he also groudned into a double play that ended the second inning. As for Kotchman's hits, the first came with two out in the sixth as he cranked a ball off the wall to plate Figgins and Gutierrez and tie the game at 3-3. In the eighth, he singled to move Ryan Langerhans to third with one out. That set up Langerhans to score on a sacrifice fly on the next pitch to tie the game at 5-5 and delay the inevitable. Kotchman's unbelievable night bumped his batting average from .183 to .194 in one night. His on-base mark went from .272 to .284, and his slugging percentage went from .342 to .347, but that's not going to change much with just singles anyway. Anyway, it was Kotchman's best night in a very long time.

2) Chone Figgins
Also having his best night in a long while was the Mariners' awfully struggling big-money second baseman. Figgins went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored. In the seventh, his other-way single with runners on first and second and two out put the Mariners into a 4-3 lead, which was far from comfortable. Figgins' other hit came in the sixth, when he led off with a double and ended up scoring on the Kotchman single that was almost a double but wasn't. Yes, one great night at the plate raised Figgins' batting average from .185 to .193. His on-base average went from .311 to .314. His slugging percentage went from .244 to .257. Obviously I'd need at least another week of Figgins hitting like this before I could declare him as fully back from the offensive abyss. The best part of the night? /Figgins somehow evaded grounding into a double play. I'm glad that Ichiro and Figgins have gotten a little bit of synergy going the last game or two. I think that's a huge part of jumpstarting this putrid offense. If Franklin Gutierrez is up with two on and nobody out in the first inning, I like his chances.

3) Rob Johnson
The Mariner catcher managed to go 2-for-4 and somehow hit a line drive homer just inside the leftfield foul pole. The homer tied the game at 1-1 in the third. In the fifth, Johnson singled with one out (Cust closed his glove too soon in left) to move Kotchman to second. The Mariners ultimately did not score in the inning. Behind the plate, Johnson also took a foul tip that bounced off the ground and into his nethers (I think that's the only place it could have hit judging by his reaction), which still can totally hurt even with a cup properly affixed. Johnson also picked Adam Rosales off of third base, which was a huge play, and also threw out Rajai Davis at second on a pitchout. In one night, Johnson bumped his batting average from .158 to .180, his on-base percentage from .300 to .311, and his slugging percentage from .246 to .311. It's pretty frustrating to know that the Mariners got six of their ten hits from Figgins, Kotchman, and Johnson, yet the Mariners still found a way to lose this game. Not that this is a mystery or anything, but this is an awful baseball team as it is presently constructed. I think the turnaround has to be augmented by personnel changes as well as everyone htiting closer to normal.

Kanekoa Texeira
This loss wasn't like most of the Mariners' losses this year. This time, the offense put five runs on the board. When this team puts five runs on the board, they simply have to win. Felix Hernandez had a night that was far from great, but he gutted his way through six innings and still gave up only three runs and left with the game tied at 3-3. The Mariners got the lead in the seventh and put Felix in line for the win. Kanekoa Texeira has had quite a few good outings and has been a pleasant surprise. He started the seventh inning in this game and gave up a leadoff single, then hit Kurt Suzuki with a pitch. The only way he could have been worse would have been if he gave up solo shots on the first pitches to those two hitters. He only faced those two hitters, setting the stage for a wonderful inning of bullpen fail. Oakland sent eight hitters to the plate in that inning and scored twice. The Mariners ended up scoring in the eighth to bail Texeira out of the losing decision, but it doesn't make Texeira's start to the seventh inning any less demoralizing. Seriously, the Mariners probably had the lead for all of five minutes when Texeira was pulled from the game.

Fister. Cecil. Tonight.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010



Did anybody see the pitching matchups for today and think the Mariners had a chance? Ryan Rowland-Smith has had maybe one good start this year out of his eight starts. In context of the starting rotation, I began the season worrying about Ian Snell in the rotation and wanting him to get sent down or bumped to the bullpen while thinking Ryan Rowland-Smith was going to get it turned around. Snell did eventually get bumped to the bullpen, but Rowland-Smith hasn't righted the ship by any means. He's been terrible. It's neat how with Snell in the bullpen, the Mariners have basically decided to use this spot in the rotation to throw their crappy starters onto the mound. Rowland-Smith is the current crappy starter, and Snell is the former crappy starter, now in the bullpen. It's not like they're going to make Snell a late-inning reliever who only throws an inning or so at a time, so what else is he going to do? Snell's role reminds me of such former Mariner luminaries as Kevin Jarvis and Miguel Batista, who once banished to the bullpen saw action mostly in garbage time when the starters sucked.

-- the top of the first had two delayed steals for the Mariners. Franklin Gutierrez had walked himself aboard and took off on a delayed steal with two out. Kurt Suzuki, apparently surprised, threw wide of second, and Gutierrez ended up on third. Gutierrez then scored on the clutch single by Lopez (I haven't typed that too many times this season). Later on, though it ended up inconsequential, Oakland wanted an appeal on a Ken Griffey Jr. checkswing and Lopez stole second.

-- the third inning started out promising for the Mariners. Ichiro led off and bounced a ball past the mound and the infielders had no play. Chone Figgins then turned in his specialty by grounding into a double play.

-- the fifth inning saw Josh Bard send leftfielder Jack Cust to the leftfield wall to make a catch, so that's something. Bard is also a switch-hitting catcher, so maybe that's something for Don Wakamatsu to consider. Maybe instead of pairing the young Adam Moore with the slightly more experienced Rob Johnson, he could do a righty-lefty platoon.

-- in the sixth, Lopez singled to make it 7-3, and the Mariners had runners on first and second with nobody out. Griffey then hit into a broken-bat double play, leaving a runner on third with two out, and that's how it stood. The Mariners are serial killers of rallies.

-- the trouble started for Ryan Rowland-Smith in the very first inning. After giving up a Daric Barton double, he got Kurt Suzuki to fly out for the second out. Then Kevin Kouzmanoff got a hold of the first pitch and put it over the wall in rightcenter. Oakland never lost the lead from there. Ryan Sweeney doubled right after that for good measure, and even though Rowland-Smith got the next hitter for the final out, he was pretty much screwed. In the second, Oakland started with two singles, then Rajai Davis ripped a ball to where the leftfield foul line met the wall. That hit made it 4-1. Then Cliff Pennington bunted a ball along the third-base line, where Josh Bard didn't have a play on it. Two pitches later, Barton hit a deep-enough fly ball to score Davis from third to make it 5-1. Rowland-Smith got the next two hitters out, but the damage was done. In the third, Ryan Sweeney led off with a single, but Jake Fox hit the next pitch into a double play. Still, Rowland-Smith wasn't home free as he allowed a single to Cust, then hung a pitch to Adam Rosales, who pulverized it, depositing the ball over the wall in leftcenter to make it 7-1. Per the FSNNW broadcast, that was the tenth homer Rowland-Smith had allowed this season. Thankfully, that homer chased Rowland-Smith.

-- Ian Snell came in with the bases clean and two out. Davis greeted Snell with a bouncer over the mound on which Josh Wilson couldn't quite field it cleanly, but Davis is fast. Davis stole second, but Snell got a flyout to end the inning. Snell weathered a leadoff single in the fourth along with a between-wickets error by Lopez by getting a double-play ball to end the inning. Snell allowed only a two-out single in the fifth. In the sixth, Snell's mojo finally ran out as he allowed a one-out triple and a single to make it 8-3. Jesus Colome came in for Snell with a runner on first and one out in the sixth. He needed all of two pitches to get a double-play ball. Colome also threw a 1-2-3 seventh inning. Sean White then threw a 1-2-3 eighth inning, so that's something. The Mariner bullpen retired the last seven hitters they faced. Whaddaya know?

-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Snell, Colome, and White threw in this game. Going into Tuesday's game, Brandon League will have two days of rest. Kanekoa Texeira, Shawn Kelley, and David Aardsma will have three days of rest.

-- other things proving inconsequential throughout the game... in the fifth, Dave Sims and Mike Blowers resorted to some NBA playoff chat since the Mariners weren't really getting anywhere. In the sixth, Ichiro probably had some sort of communication gaffe with Gutierrez on a ball that went to the track in rightcenter. Ichiro should have had it, but looked to see where Gutierrez was, then by the time he picked up the ball, it was just past the reach of his glove.

-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro had two hits while Figgins had one. Both players scored a run apiece. This is an incredibly rare happening this season. Despite this, the Mariners lost. The Mariners are now 7-2 when both players score in the same game and are now 6-10 when they both collect hits.

1) Jose Lopez
The Mariners were out of this game early (giving up seven runs in the first three innings tends to do that), but if anything good comes out of this game, hopefully we get to point to this game as the game where Lopez finally got back on track at the plate. He hasn't been that bad at third base (the error in this game on a field with crappy wet conditions notwithstanding), but his defense been able to offset his limitless vat of suck on offense. Tonight, however, the Mariners were 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position, and Lopez had both of those hits. During Lopez's at-bat in the first, Franklin Gutierrez got himself from first to third on a delayed steal play where Kurt Suzuki threw wide of second base. Lopez singled to rightfield on the next pitch, getting the Mariners a 1-0 lead that lasted a few minutes. In the sixth, Chone Figgins and Gutierrez both walked to start the sixth, and Lopez singled to left to cut Oakland's lead to 7-3. In the eighth, Lopez had runners on the corners and one out and grounded out on a high chopper along the third-base line, scoring Ichiro to cap the scoring at an 8-4 Mariner deficit. His three RBIs in the game bumped his season RBI total to 15. He also stole a base.

2) Ichiro
Two more hits. Ho hum. The Mariners' leadoff hitter went 2-for-4 and scored a run. Ichiro is 56-for-158 (.354) on the season and is on pace to finish the season with 239 hits. He led off the third with a bouncer past the mound on which the infielders had no play. Ichiro then served a single into left to lead off the eighth and he eventually scored the fourth and final Seattle run. He went 0-for-4 in Sunday's game, but this game gives Ichiro eight multi-hit games in the last nine games. I wish the Mariners were as simple as "where Ichiro goes, the offense goes," because the Mariners would have just won eight out of nine games instead of losing their five of six and 13th out of 16. Seriously, we all should have found a way to immortalize the game tape of the top of the eighth because Ichiro and Figgins hit back-to-back singles to lead off the inning. How many times has that happened this season? How many times have things actually gone as planned this season?

3) Matt Tuiasosopo
One thing's for sure. Even if that homer would have been a flyout to centerfield, that ball was absolutely stung. Most of the time I've seen Tuiasosopo at the plate this season, the first word that comes to mind is "overmatched." Finally we got to see him get a pitch he could drive, and he took it deep to centerfield, where centerfielder Rajai Davis leaped at the wall only to have the ball go off the heel of his glove and over the wall. It's a cheap homer for Tuiasosopo, but much like Lopez, he needed some positivity and some confidence at the plate as well. Any offense off the bench or in a spot start is quite welcome right now. Actually, any offense out of the two-thirds of the lineup that hasn't been producing is quite welcome. As we all know, Milton Bradley is going to reappear on the roster at some point, and that probably means Tuiasosopo or Michael Saunders will be sent back to Tacoma. Tuiasosopo's righthandedness (at the plate) and his ability to play multiple positions (albeit not very well) might help him, whereas Saunders is lefthanded (at the plate) like Ryan Langerhans is.

Ryan Rowland-Smith
He actually made some progress in this game. He didn't walk anybody. If it weren't for those seven runs he gave up, this would have been a great outing for him, though you'd hope it would have been a lot longer than 2 2/3 innings. When talking about the Mariners' starting pitching and how great it is, we really have to consider that the great starting pitching only has a good chance of occuring four days out of every five right now. In other words, the Mariners haven't found a worthy pitcher to go into this Ryan Rowland-Smith slot. Later on this year, hopefully it will be Ryan Rowland-Smith. Right now, though, I think the Aussie's gotta be bumped to the bullpen or something (per Geoff Baker, Rowland-Smith is out of options and would have to clear waivers to end up in Tacoma again). It's not doing the team or the Aussie any good to go out there every five days and stink up the joint. I don't think the Mariners can wait for Erik Bedard to return to bump Rowland-Smith out of the rotation. I think this should be Rowland-Smith's last start for a while, at least at the big-league level. I mean, sheesh, you almost have to try to suck if you're giving up ten hits in 2 2/3 innings. Unbelievable.

Hernandez. Sheets. Tonight.

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Monday, May 17, 2010



Hey, it's another one-run loss and another loss in the final opposing at-bat! Hooray! This time it definitely isn't an indictment on the bullpen since the bullpen wasn't summoned at all in this game. No, this was a clear indictment on the offense. Surprise. Only on this team could Cliff Lee give up seven earned runs over 30 1/3 innings (four starts, ERA of 2.08) and come out with a record of 1-2. The Mariners are 1-3 in Lee's starts. This is just so ridiculous. Now I'm way past the point of thinking the Mariners could possibly keep Lee beyond July. It's not going to happen. He might like the park, but there is just no offense on this team. The organization and the operation can impress him all they want, but the product on the field is abhorrent. I wonder if Lee will ask for a trade before they put him on the block. The good thing right now is that the Mariners could ask for the moon in return for Lee in a trade. Lee's done nothing to diminish his trade value at this point. In roster news, Adam Moore was DL'd after what turned out to be a fibula injury when he slammed his foot into first base late in Saturday's game. Josh Bard came up from Tacoma and started in this game.

-- newest Mariner Josh Bard led off the third with a walk. With one out, Ichiro erased him from the basepaths with a fielder's choice, basically ending the scoring threat. Ichiro got to secodn on a wild pitch, but Chone Figgins was up and grounded out to the mound. In the fourth, Jose Lopez singled with one out and got no further on the basepaths. In the fifth, the Mariners started the inning with three straight singles (Josh Wilson, Bard, Michael Saunders) to get themselves a 1-0 lead. Ichiro then flew out, but Figgins chipped in with his specialty by grounding into a double play. Franklin Gutierrez led off the sixth with a single, and only advanced when Casey Kotchman was hit in the right shoulder blade with a pitch. Too bad that happened with two out. Gutierrez mercifully ended the inning by getting caught stealing third (more on this inning in the next paragraph). Kotchman got a one-out single in the ninth, but advanced no further. The Mariners' offense is awful.

-- unlucky Mariner moments: Saunders was up with nobody out and Bard on first. He took a 2-2 pitch for strike three off the plate and was bewildered. He had a couple words with the plate umpire, and the Emerald Queen Casino reaffirmed his anger. In the fourth, Willy Aybar led off with a high fly ball into shallow right, but both Ichiro and Figgins lost the ball in the roof and Gutierrez was too far away to get to it. Luckily, the Mariners weren't burned by the resulting cheap double. In the sixth, Jose Lopez was up with Gutierrez on first and nobody out. Lopez cranked a line drive toward the leftfield corner that would be a double when mere mortals are playing left, but Carl Crawford ran it down. After that, Ken Griffey Jr. popped a foul ball just in front of the third-base dugout, where Dioner Navarro made a sliding catch over the shoulder. The inning ended when a ball was blocked and got into the righthanded batter's box and Gutierrez was thrown out at third by Navarro when trying to advance on the play.

-- of course, the unluckiest of unlucky plays was the Crawford triple in the eighth inning. Earlier in the game, Lopez hit the line drive that was caught but should have been a double if not for Crawford. Crawford did the Mariners one worse by slicing a double that got just past the reach of the mere mortal leftfielder Saunders. Once Gabe Kapler hit the fly ball to left and Saunders had to run to get it, the game was basically over. Any Mariner fan could have shut off the television at that point knowing the Mariners weren't going to win that game, at that point down 2-1. That margin held as the final score.

-- the bullpen rest bulletin: going into Monday's game in Oakland, Brandon League, Sean White, and Jesus Colome will have a day of rest. Kanekoa Texeira, Shawn Kelley, and David Aardsma will have two days of rest. Ian Snell will have four days of rest, coming off a three-inning outing where he threw 55 pitches. In other words, he has enough rest.

-- Ichiro went 0-for-4, snapping his seven game hitting streak which was also a streak of seven straight multi-hit games. Ichiro's batting average sank to .351 as a result. He has an on-base percentaeg of .394 and a slugging mark of .442. He grounded out into a fielder's choice with a runner on first and one out in the third inning. In the fifth, he was the next hitter after the Saunders single that scored the only Seattle run of the game. He had runners on first and second with nobody out and flew out to left. The latter was an inning where the Mariners could have really used him to keep the rally going. Ichiro is 54-for-154 on the season and is now on pace to finish with 236 hits.

1) Cliff Lee
Obviously, Cliff Lee was the lone bright spot in this game for the Mariners. Odd thing for me is that I don't think this was Lee's A-game. An A-game for him probably would have had him issuing zero walks and being just a tad bit more efficient. That doesn't mean I'm complaining about what he did in the game, it's just merely above average for Lee and not crazy awesome. The average per-start line for Lee: 7 2/3 innings, 2 runs (1.7 earned), 6.5 hits, 0.3 walks, 6.3 strikeouts, 108 pitches (78 strikes), 8 groundouts, 7.5 flyouts. There must be some sports book in the United Kingdom where they have an over-under on the date the Mariners trade away Cliff Lee. I think July 4th might be a good over-under date. Jack Zduriencik might get better trade value by presenting the case of the other team getting three months of Lee instead of just two. Seriously, this might end up benefiting the Mariners in much the same way as Oakland did when they signed Matt Holliday to the one-year deal and then traded him to Saint Louis, except Holliday's value was crap when he was traded. Lee is red hot.

2) Michael Saunders
He went 1-for-2 with the only Seattle RBI of the game and also walked out of the ninth slot in the lineup. I wonder where he would hit if/when Jack Wilson comes back. The scary thing is that I'm not really sure how much of an upgrade in any facet of the game Jack Wilson over Josh Wilson right now. If you could put Josh and Jack side by side and tell me Jack would hit no better than .230, I would take Josh if it were possible to cut Jack loose without having to eat his salary. Wait, this is about Saunders? Well, Don Wakamatsu usually hits Jack Wilson ninth is why I thought of this. Can Saunders hit seventh? Josh Wilson hit seventh in this game. Anyway, in his limited time with his latest Mariner stint, Saunders is hitting .296 with an on-base mark of .345 and a slugging percentage of .593. These percentages only mean so much due to small sample size, but they're numbers. The sad thing is that Saunders in a week has given more clutchness to the Mariners than most of the guys on the team. Sad, really.

3) Franklin Gutierrez
That was a ballsy play to try to take third base on the blocked ball at the plate in the sixth. That's not something you can put on Mike Brumley's craziness. Gutierrez led off the sixth with a single before Lopez and Griffey made outs soon after, torpedoing the threat. Kotchman was hit by a pitch, then Gutierrez tried making something happen by stealing third, but was gunned down. I'm sure what he was hoping at that point was that Matt Garza might uncork a wild pitch and allow him to score, which would have put the Mariners up 2-0. Gutierrez bolted for third, sensing an opportunity and maybe subconsciously not thinking Josh Wilson or Bard were going to be able to score him for the 2-0 run. Meanwhile, Gutierrez is a .303 hitter with a .388 on-base percentage and a .462 slugging mark. Hopefully he can get a Gold Glove this season by virtue of being on a slightly less crappier team than Adam Jones. Gutierrez also needs a better nickname than Guti. This leads me to another rant topic for another day...which I'll get to in the goat paragraph...

Chone Figgins
Can we PLEASE stop adding the -y or -ie suffixes to every player's name just to get a stupid nickname out of it? Every time I hear "Figgy," I just want to put my fist through the nearest object and destroy it. It's even worse because right now Figgins doesn't deserve any sort of positive nickname. Any and all Figgins nicknames right now should be in reference to his futility at the plate. Right now, "Figgy" hits about as well as pudding. Everyone's still waiting for this guy to produce, and in a few days the Mariners, their fans, and Figgins himself will find themselves at the quarter pole, 40 (or 41) games, realizing that one-fourth of the season is gone. That's a fair point to assess what the team is (CRAP OFFENSE) as well as a progress report date for the individual players. Forty games is enough for me to determine that Figgins better get moved around in the batting order or moved to third base or something. Something has to change because this is not working. I might leave everything the way it is if I thought the Mariners could play .700 ball the rest of the way, but the offense hasn't shown me any signs of consistency. Well, they haven't shown me any signs of being consistently good. They're either consistenly bad or consistently inconsistent.

Rowland-Smith. Gonzalez. Tonight.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010



Ah, new and exciting ways to lose. Oh wait, maybe it wasn't new and exciting at all. A loss on the road in the opponents' final at-bat isn't really a rare thing for the Mariners. Of course, while this can be blamed on the bullpen (their 2009 probably raised our expectations to unrealistic levels for 2010), one can't help but think the bullpen wouldn't have as many problems if, say, the Mariners scored more runs when they had the chances. If the Mariners go 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position in this game instead of 0-for-7 (like they did), this game probably ends up a lot differently. Who are we kidding? The Mariners got a big stroke of luck in Friday's game when Mike Sweeney's homer pushed the lead to 4-1. That may have used up their luck quotient for about a week. Of course, what hurts about this outing again is that Jason Vargas pitched wonderfully but didn't get the win. Vargas left the game with two runners aboard, and the two following pitchers in the inning let those two runners across to tie the game. Vargas' 2-0 lead didn't even last through the end of the eighth.

-- the Mariners got a stroke of really bad luck in the eighth when Adam Moore got aboard with an infield single and stretched his front leg out to touch first base. He looked to have slammed his heel pretty hard into the ground on the play. The trainers came out to attend to Moore, who stayed in the game. Ichiro then ripped what looked to be a sure double. Moore pulled up lame about 15 feet away from second base and hopped safely to the bag. This of course means Ichiro didn't get to second base and in fact had to throw on the brakes and slide back into first base. What should have easily been two runners in scoring position with one out instead was runners at first and second with one out. Sure enough, Chone Figgins grounded into a double play on the first pitch. Nice job, Figgins. Of course, I also can't help but think of what kind of crazy double play Figgins would have hit into if Moore hadn't been injured. It's also too bad for Moore since he had progressed to not looking completely overmatched at the plate lately. If Moore's injured badly enough, we may be looking at Josh Bard to make the big club. Of course, the organization will probably bypass him for Guillermo freakin' Quiroz.

-- the Mariners had a 2-0 lead into through 7 1/2 innings, but let's not forget the fact that James Shields mastered the Mariners' lineup once again. In Seattle, Shields gave up two more hits than in this game, but the rest of the line was similar: two runs, no walks, ten strikeouts. The Mariners of course blew many chances, which is easy to surmise from their 0-for-7 mark with runners in scoring position. In the first, Figgins somehow doubled and was moved to third on a botched pickoff attempt, then scored when Franklin Gutierrez whiffed on a pitch that got away from the catcher. Mike Sweeney then singled to move Gutierrez to third with one out. Jose Lopez then grounded to short to force Sweeney out at second, then Matt Tuiasosopo (who looks completely overmatched at the big-league level offensively) tapped in front of the plate to end the inning. Ichiro singled to lead off the third, but then Figgins lined out to short and Gutierrez grounded into a double play to end the inning. Moore then snapped Shields' streak of 12 straight retired Mariners with his infield single to lead off the eighth. I spent the previous paragraph talking about how that ended. In the ninth, Gutierrez drew a leadoff walk but advanced no further thanks to the next three hitters' futility.

-- time to talk about the nightmare eighth. Jason Vargas, who had thrown seven great innings, was on to throw an eighth. Rob Johnson was now behind the plate, so that probably threw a wrinkle into things. Bossman Junior Upton got aboard on an infield single, then stole second, prompting Tim McCarver to talk about stealing off a catcher with a fresh arm. Dioner Navarro then singled to move Upton to third with nobody out. With Vargas' pitch count at 90, Don Wakamatsu pulled Vargas for Brandon League. Reid Brignac came on to pinch hit. He fouled off the first two pitches, took two balls, then fouled off three more pitches before reaching for a pitch down and in and putting it into centerfield for a single to cut the Mariners' lead to 2-1. What happened to the most swung-at-and-missed pitch in the Majors? Jason Bartlett then bunted the runners over to second and third. Carl Crawford was intentionally walked to load the bases, then Wakamatsu pulled League for Sean White, which seemed like an awful idea to me. Ben Zobrist got ahead 2-0 and popped high to left on the 3-1 pitch. I later watched Baseball Tonight and I think it was Bucky Showalter that thought Michael Saunders in leftfield hadn't gotten enough of a run behind the catch to get off a harder throw, and I'd have to say I agree. The throw home wasn't that bad of a throw, it just could have used more gas, and it didn't beat pinch-runner Sean Rodriguez to the plate. Thus, the game was tied 2-2 before Evan Longoria weakly lined out just foul of the third-base bag on a diving play by Lopez.

-- as for the ninth, it was pretty quick. Jesus Colome fell behind 2-0 on Willy Aybar, then put a strike across, then Aybar fouled off the 2-2 pitch. The count went full, and while Colome didn't want to put the winning run aboard with a walk, I'm guessing he probably wasn't trying to throw a waist-high fastball right over the plate either. The latter is exactly what was served up, and Aybar destroyed the pitch, ending the game and bringing out the stage crew to set up for Nelly.

-- the bullpen rest bulletin: League, White, and Colome threw in this game, none of whom appeared in Friday's game. Going into Sunday's game, Kanekoa Texeira, Shawn Kelley, and David Aardsma will have a day of rest. Ian Snell will have three days of rest after having thrown 55 pitches in three innings on Wednesday.

-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro got two hits while Figgins had one. Only Figgins scored. Thus, the Mariners remain 7-1 when both players score, but are now 6-9 when they both collect hits.

-- since his homer in the final game of the Baltimore series, Michael Saunders has gone 0-for-8 with five strikeouts. Soneone go back to Baltimore and find his bat!

-- with how well Shields was throwing, Saunders wasn't alone on the multi-strikeout train as Tuiasosopo and Josh Wilson struck out twice apiece. The only Mariner starters not striking out in the game were Sweeney and Lopez.

1) Jason Vargas
It was yet another wasted start by the Mariners, and this time the victim was Vargas. He left the game with two runners on and nobody out with a 2-0 lead in the eighth inning, then saw said lead evaporate and his ERA inflate. In fact, Vargas set down the first 12 hitters he faced before Longoria broke up the perfect game with a leadoff single in the fifth. He was doubled off on the next hitter, but Carlos Pena then singled before the inning ended. The sixth saw Vargas give up a leadoff walk to Navarro, but Navarro advanced no further. Vargas allowed only a two-out walk in the seventh. Then came the eighth, but I discussed that above. Vargas' average per-start line: 6 2/3 innings, 2.3 runs (2.1 earned), 4.6 hits, 1.9 walks, 4.7 strikeouts, 96 pitches (61 strikes), 5.6 groundouts, 7.6 flyouts. He has gotten into the seventh inning in each of his last five starts. This season, he remains with a 3-1 record with two no-decisions in which the Mariners went on to lose. He's probably pitched well enough to be 6-1 or at least 5-1.

2) Mike Sweeney
He's getting starts against righthanders at designated hitter, and he's shown no signs of slowing. He homered in this game, making it homers in three straight games. As you might expect, this has led to talk and speculation about Ken Griffey Jr. being asked to retire or resign by the end of May. It doesn't help Griffey that Sweeney is basically making him obsolete. Unless Griffey gets one last miracle, the Mariners aren't better served by having him on the roster. I saw how a very experienced manager like Lou Piniella did when he was basically handed a 24-man roster in 2002. If you recall, Luis Ugueto was a Rule 5 guy that year, and the brass wanted to couch-surf him to keep him in the minor-league system. This hamstrung what Piniella could do that year. In much the same way, Wakamatsu is facing this same kind of problem, though with more of a pinch-hitter than a pinch-runner type of player. I'd love Matt Stairs in the same spot Griffey is in right now. He'd definitely be more of a power threat.

3) Ichiro
The Mariners' rightfielder and leadoff hitter went 2-for-4 and is now 54-for-150 (.360) on the season. After an 0-for-4 game against the Angels on May 7th, Ichiro sat with a .308 batting average. Since then, he's gone on a seven-game streak of multi-hit games, going 17-for-30 (.567) over that span. Granted, a good deal of these are infield singles, but who cares? He still ends up on first base, so who cares how he does it? By the way, Ichiro is currently on pace for a 243-hit season. I hope Ichiro stays healthy and eventually gets his 3000th Major League hit. If he did, he'd be a lock for the Hall of Fame. He kinda should be already, seeing as to how the Hall of Fame isn't an exclusively Major League Baseball Hall of Fame or anything like that. Anyway, I'll say once again that I wish this offense went where Ichiro went, but they need more cogs clicking in the lineup behind him. The team's had trouble stringing together hits all season, and it's not only trashing some great starting pitching, it's trashing some quality offense from Ichiro. The Mariners have a record of 3-4 over Ichiro's current multi-hit game streak.

Jose Lopez
The Mariners' third baseman and supposed power hitter failed to join in the hitting in the game, going 0-for-4 and falling to a .212 batting average on the year. You know it's bad when a guy that should be one of your best power hitters is instead trailing Ichiro in home runs on the season. What's going to get this guy going? Maybe Wakamatsu should push Lopez back in the batting order until he shows progress. He was the fifth hitter on the lineup card for this game. Again, one can't help but wonder how well this team would be saying if Lopez was simply below average instead if completely sucking. If Wakamatsu switched Figgins and Lopez on defense and they both magically started hitting .250 for no apparent reason, I'd leave those two at those positions. It shouldn't matter, but it might. Lopez is currently a .212 hitter with an on-base percentage of .242 and a slugging percentage of .274. The slugging percentage is better than only Figgins out of all the Mariner regulars.

Lee. Garza. Today.

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