Saturday, May 29, 2010
This one's posted late due to logistics, and I totally didn't see this game, so it's all on how well I read the play-by-play and the boxscores. One week earlier, I saw Cliff Lee have his worst start as a Mariner and still win since the Mariners had themselves an offensive explosion. This time, the Mariners put eight runs on the board, which is more than modest, though not the 15-run kablooie they put up against San Diego. Lee, however, had the game on lockdown. His dependability is approaching Felix-like status (like non-May Felix), and it's going to suck when they trade this guy. I would say it's all but a certainty, but the Mariners do have to get something more awesome than two picks at the end of the first round of the amateur draft, so Jack Zduriencik can almost shoot the moon. I'd have to think some team out there is going to want Cliff Lee, and they're going to need him badly enough to pony up a package better than the value of two first-round picks. Since there's no way some contending team is going to trade a big slugger off their 25-man roster (robbing Peter to pay Paul), the Mariners should be getting top-flight prospects to further bolster their minor-league system. How about someone on offense steps up from the minors one of these days?
-- the starting pitching will be discussed in the entries below
-- Shawn Kelley threw a low-pressure ninth inning with a five-run lead. He allowed only a leadoff single to Kendry Morales before getting the next three hitters out to end the game. Kelley's ERA is now a respectable 2.04.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Kelley threw in this game. Going into Saturday afternoon's game, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Brandon League, and David Aardsma had two days of rest. Jesus Colome and Kanekoa Texeira had five days of rest.
-- a stat that I heard off ESPN was that this marked the first time all year where the Mariners scored five or more runs in three straight games. Someone break up the Mariners!
-- the first four hitters in the Mariner lineup (Ichiro, Chone Figgins, Franklin Gutierrez, Milton Bradley) combined to go 6-for-15 with a double, five RBIs, three walks, and five runs scored. A cliche I like to transfer over from hockey is "your best players have to be your best players." When Ichiro, Figgins, Gutierrez, and Bradley all make meaningful contributions to a game, the Mariners are going to win. They probably have a really good chance if just three of those four make meaningful contributions. Heck, out of the entire lineup, only one hitter went hitless.
-- the Mariners used a three-run third inning to overcome a 2-0 deficit and vault themselves into the lead, and it all occurred with two out. Ichiro singled, Figgins walk, Gutierrez singled to make it 2-1, and Bradley singled to plate two runs and make it 3-2 for Seattle before the inning ended.
-- Jose Lopez led off the fourth with a homer to make it 4-2 in an otherwise meaningless inning. In the fifth, the Mariners scored twice to build up their lead. Ichiro singled to lead off, then Figgins doubled to make it 5-2, with an error putting Figgins on third. One out later, Bradley hit into a deep flyout to score Figgins from third to make it 6-2.
-- the Mariners tacked on a couple more in the ninth. Rob Johnson somehow doubled, just missing a home run, and Josh Wilson followed up with a double of his own to make it 7-3. Ichiro was hit with a pitch, then Figgins walked to load the bases before a Gutierrez single scored one to make it 8-3. It was almost 9-3, but Ichiro was thrown out at the plate.
-- usually I'm putting up blown chances for the Mariner offense, but I don't think a one-out single by Casey Kotchman in the sixth counts as a legitimate scoring threat. When the Mariners had chances in this game, they put at least a run across in those innings.
-- Ichiro went 2-for-4 in the game and scored twice. The two hits game gets him to 66-for-195 on the season (.338) and he is on pace to finish the season with 227 (yeahyeahyeah) hits. I think that pace has to be higher than 230 or 235 for the Mariners to do good stuff. While Ichiro can't win games by himself (2004 proved that), the team's screwed if he goes dry for long stretches. Ichiro's slump got to 0-for-12 before he singled to lead off the third inning. Ichiro now has an on-base percentage of .383 (topped only by Gutierrez and his .388) and a slugging percentage of .415.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro got two hits, and Figgins got one. Both players scored twice apiece, the first time that's happened all season. The Mariners are now 9-2 when both players score and 8-13 when both players collect hits.
1) Cliff Lee
Like I said at the beginning, it's really going to suck when the Mariners trade this guy. As for the game, Lee had some trouble in the first inning. With one out, he walked Howie Kendrick on four pitches, then allowed a single to Bobby Abreu. Lee then was charged with a throwing error after a Torii Hunter grounder, and it scored Kendrick to make it 1-0. A Kendry Morales groundout made it 2-0 before Lee could get the third out. From there, Lee got into a bit of a groove. In the second, he allowed only a two-out bunt single to Kevin Frandsen. He walked a hitter in the fourth, but retired seven of eight hitters going into the fifth. Frandsen doubled to lead off, then he scored one out later on a Kendrick single to cut the Mariners' lead to 6-3. From there, Lee tightened the screws on the Angels by retiring the final 11 hitters he faced. Lee's two walks were the most he's given up all year (he's had four starts with no walks and one start with one walk), but this was the second time he's struck out ten hitters in a start this season. I remember a few years ago when Lee was with Cleveland and at the time he was just another no-name starter who the Mariners couldn't seem to beat (this is when the Mariners were kinda good).
2) Franklin Gutierrez
The Mariners' centerfielder has kept his warm streak going with a 2-for-4 night with a walk and two RBIs. Gutierrez singled with two out to cut the Angels' lead to 2-1 in the third inning. His other hit was a one-out single that drove home Josh Wilson in the ninth inning to account for the final margin of 8-3, and Gutierrez would have had another RBI if Ichiro hadn't been thrown out at the plate. Gutierrez was a .277 hitter with a .366 on-base percentage and a .415 slugging percentage going into the two-game series against Detroit. Three games later, Gutierrez is back up to .296 with a .388 on-base percentage and a .444 slugging percentage. If Gutierrez gets back up to .300, I don't think he'll keep above that for the rest of the year, but then again, Gutierrez didn't sink below .277 three games ago. Who am I to doubt him? I keep waiting for a sophomore slump to happen, but it never seems to happen at the plate. If anywhere, it's happen with his home runs and on defense with some concentration lapses.
3) Chone Figgins
He's still hasn't returned to .200, but in this game he went 1-for-3 with a double and a couple of walks, and he scored two runs in his first game back in Anaheim after signing the big free-agent deal with the Mariners and then doing virtually nothing for two months in a Mariner uniform. Figgins saw 24 pitches in the game, and one might expect a high number since he drew two walks. In the third inning, he worked a 1-2 count for a seven-pitch walk. In the seventh, Figgins struck out, but needed six pitches to do it. In the ninth, they made it easy on Figgins and walked him on four pitches. So this look inside how he saw all those pitches didn't turn out the way I thought, but he did lead the Mariners in pitches seen in this game. Anyway, that's 24 pitches over five plate appearances. Granted, he can see all the pitches in the world and it won't mean a damn thing if he doesn't start hitting, but I'd like to figure he'll put it together eventually this season. I think I'd be content with Figgins finishing the season hitting .260 or .265 because it'll mean he'd have torn ass to get a .196 average up that high. Even a substandard Figgins well help this team a ton compared to the awful Figgins we've seen thus far.
The other night it was Ichiro who didn't join the hit parade, and this time, despite the Mariners scoring eight runs, it was Sweeney who went hitless. I'd rather have Rob Johnson or Josh Wilson go hitless than have Sweeney go 0-for-5. Despite going hitless in five at-bats, Sweeney's batting average still stands at .288, even with the sample size being affected by how little action he saw early on in the season. In the second inning of this game, he was up with one out and the bases empty and grounded out to third. In the third, he ended the three-run inning by flying out to right with Milton Bradley on first. In the fifth, he ended a two-run inning by popping out foul on the left side with the bases empty. Sweeney led off the eighth with a groundout, then ended the Mariners' two-run ninth with a groundout to short, which came with two runners in scoring position. All in all, Sweeney went hitless, though I'd have to say none of the outs were made in really high-leverage situations where the Mariners really needed a hit. It still sucks to end three innings in the same game with outs you made. The feeling definitely sucked when I was playing youth baseball.
Hernandez. Weaver. Today (it totally would have been if this was posted in time).
Thursday, May 27, 2010
[actual post 29 May 2010 at ~12:08p]
Late, due to logistical reasons. Less than 24 hours after a fun and resounding eighth-inning win, this day game looked like a nine-inning dud. Instead, the Mariners pulled another rabbit from the hat, this time coming back from three runs down in the eighth inning (the first time they'd surmounted a lead of more than two runs all season to win) to come out on top of a one-run game. Yes, the Mariners actually won a one-run game. Unbelievable. On a scheduling note, I was surprised to see 12:40p starts on the schedule this season, which I thought had gone away. I thought they were sticking with the 3:35p starts, but the earlier time of course brings back the nine-inning lunch. For about two hours of this game, though, the lunch didn't taste quite as good as it should have. Luckily, that's where the Mariners' eighth inning magic came into play. It was refreshing to have the Mariners win back-to-back games in their final at-bat after losing so many games in the opposition's final at-bat.
-- Jason Vargas wasn't the most efficient he's been this season. He needed 109 pitches to get through five innings, which wasn't so good. Despite this, his boxscore line reads more like Erik Bedard without the strikeouts. He gave up seven hits and walked two in five innings, but still only gave up two runs before turning it over to the bullpen. Vargas' average starting line through nine starts: 6 1/3 innings, 2.3 runs (2.2 earned), 4.9 hits, 1.9 walks, 4.2 strikeouts, 98 pitches (62 strikes), 5.4 groundouts, 7.9 flyouts. Vargas' flyball tendency led him to give up the requisite home run, this time to Magglio Ordonez.
-- Ryan Rowland-Smith started the sixth inning after Vargas left. He got his first two hitters out before bad stuff happened. Jose Lopez made an error that put Danny Worth on first base. Rowland-Smith then gave up a double to Adam Everett that scored worth and gave Detroit a 3-1 lead. Brandon League came into the game at that point and gave up a single to his first hitter, Austin Jackson, to make it 4-1 before getting a lineout from Johnny Damon to end the inning. If not for that, I would have given League a gameball because he then retired six of the final seven hitters he faced, allowing only an Ordonez one-out single in the seventh. He got the winning decision, however. David Aardsma cashed in on his second straight save opportunity. Amazingly, it was another 1-2-3 ninth inning for Aardsma, making it two straight. Usually he at least walks somebody or allows a hit. Something tells me I shouldn't get too accustomed to Aardsma throwing 1-2-3 innings. That something is all those times he hasn't thrown 1-2-3 innings.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Rowland-Smith, League, and Aardsma threw in this game. Going into Friday's game, Shawn Kelley had two days of rest, and Jesus Colome and Kanekoa Texeira both had four days of rest.
-- with the Mariners only getting on the board in the second and eighth innings, there were quite a few blown chances for the offense. In the first, they had two aboard and one out, but Milton Bradley and Mike Sweeney both did the fielder's choice thing. In the third, the Mariners had two aboard with two out before Jose Lopez tapped in front of the plate. They also had two on and two out in the fifth, but Sweeney grounded to short. Bonderman retired the final seven Mariner hitters he faced before giving way to the bullpen with a pitch count of 93.
-- Josh Bard got aboard on an error and reached second base on the play with one out in the second. He was injured on the play, and Rob Johnson ran for him. Johnson reached third on a Josh Wilson single, and Johnson scored on Michael Saunders' single that made it 1-0 for the Mariners before Ichiro grounded into a double play for only the second time this season.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Neither player had a hit or run in the game. Somehow, the Mariners won despite their first and second hitters going a combined 0-for-8 with four strikeouts. Figgins managed to draw a walk. Anyway, the Mariners remain 8-2 when both players score and 7-13 when both players collect hits.
1) Josh Wilson
The Mariners' current shortstop went 2-for-4 and hit the leftfield single that vaulted the Mariners into the lead in the eighth inning. His other hit was a one-out single that moved Rob Johnson over to third base in the second inning. That inning resulted in the Mariners scoring the first run of the game. Unfortunately, that lead didn't last past the next half-inning, but the only healthy Mariner named Wilson did his part.
2) Mike Sweeney
Don Wakamatsu benched Casey Kotchman and started Sweeney at first base. The related lineup move, of course, was putting Milton Bradley into the designated hitter spot. Really, the lineup card as written actually looked like a passable Major League lineup. Since there aren't really any immediate alternatives to Figgins and Lopez, this lineup was probably the best one they could trot out there. Kotchman can pick the ball all he wants on defense, but if he's hitting .190, it gets more difficult trying to justify having him out there every day. As for Sweeney, he went 2-for-4 in the game and drove in two runs. His big contribution was the two-run homer (a 407-foot blast according to ESPN.com's play-by-play) with one out in the eighth that cut a 4-1 deficit to 4-3. Sweeney's other hit was a fairly inconsequential two-out single with a runner aboard in the third. Look, all Mariner fans love Ken Griffey Jr., but at some point this franchise has to establish a new era and identity, and they need to stop hanging so much onto 1995, a year where they lost in the second round of the playoffs. At least when Canuck fans get crap for hanging onto 1994, the team at least won the Western Conference that year.
3) Franklin Gutierrez
The Mariner centerfielder went 2-for-3 with a walk in the game. He finished the two-game series going 4-for-6 with a walk, an RBI, and he scored four of the Mariners' ten runs in the series. The series also pushed his .277 batting average up to .291. He now has a .382 on-base percentage and a .442 slugging percentage, improvements from .366 and .415, respectively, before the series started. Gutierrez started the day with a four-pitch walk in the first inning, moving Chone Figgins to second with one out. Unfortunately, the Mariner offense hadn't woken up yet, and they failed to score in the inning. After a third-inning strikeout, Gutierrez got his hitting shoes on, legging out an infield single with two out in the fifth. Most importantly, he singled with a full count to lead off the eighth inning and set the table for what ended up being a four-run inning that put the Mariners into the lead.
For the second straight night, the Mariners celebrated a great win, yet Ichiro contributed little to nothing at the plate in the win. What he did contribute at the plate wasn't actually anything on offense -- he had an outfield assist where he gunned down Ryan Raburn at the plate. Ichiro struck out twice on the way to an 0-for-5 day, sinking his batting average to a pedestrian .335. Granted, I think Ichiro's probably the last guy we should be worrying about when it comes to this team's offense. He was hitting .352 coming into this series and is now at the aforementioned .335, and his season hit pace has fallen to 225. His slump actually goes back a couple of at-bats into the San Diego series. Two strikeouts in the final game of that series make for an 0-for-11 slump for Ichiro, which he'll be taking into the series in Anaheim. Wouldn't it just be a gas if the New Jersey Devils instead called themselves the New York Devils of New Jersey? How about the New York Devils of Newark? Remember, the place once known as the carjacking capital of the world is not to be confused with the swamp.
Lee. Kazmir. Friday (if this would have been posted in time).
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
[actual post 29 May 2010 at 12:07p]
Late, due to logistical reasons. Somehow I think this game was more along the lines of what we expected out of the Mariners. Sure, it helped that Miguel Cabrera wasn't in the lineup for the Tigers, but you take all the breaks you can get. You'd have to presume Cabrera would automatically hit a two-run homer for him to be a difference in this game, and that's not a certainty. All in all, the Mariners got great starting pitching and just enough offense to get by. That was the formula for winning going into this season, and this is one of the few times this season where the Mariners cooked according to the recipe.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed in the entries
-- Shawn Kelley threw the eighth inning and held a 3-3 tie. The worst thing he did was walk Magglio Ordonez after he had him in an 0-2 count. Kelley then set down the next three Tiger hitters in order. David Aardsma then threw the ninth with the Mariners having a newfound 5-3 lead. Aardsma hasn't had a lot of chances this season to nail down the save since the Mariners don't have a lot of leads that late in the game, but Aardsma had a rare 1-2-3 save.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Kelley and Aardsma threw in this game. Going into Wednesday's game, Jesus Colome, Kanekoa Texeira, and Ryan Rowland-Smith had two days of rest, and Brandon League had three days of rest.
-- the Mariner offense drew first blood in the first inning. Franklin Gutierrez singled and was driven home when Milton Bradley cranked a first-pitch fastball over the rightfield wall to make it 2-0. Unfortunately, that lead didn't even last through the next half-inning.
-- with a runner on first and one out in the top of the second, Alex Avila hit a hard grounder to Josh Wilson at short. The Mariner shortstop had it right in his hands, but had it deflect past, putting the runners on the corners (instead of an inning-ending double play). Danny Worth then shot a grounder past Casey Kotchman at first on a hit-and-run to make it 2-1. Austin Jackson grounded near the line to third, but Jose Lopez had the ball go off the heel of his glove and past him, tying the score at 2-2. Luckily the damage was done for that inning.
-- in the third, Chone Figgins drew a one-out walk, but Justin Verlander struck out the side
-- aiding Ichiro's hitless night was a play in third where Ichiro tapped to the side of the mound, but Verlander came off the mound, barehanded the ball, and made a turnaround throw to get Ichiro at first.
-- interesting note: in the fourth and fifth, both Verlander and Fister went six up and six down with the hitters they both faced
-- in the sixth, Lopez got a hit! Hooray!
-- something odd: Josh Wilson doubled after his error and until the eighth was the only runner the Mariners had put into scoring position. The odd thing is that the double was in the second inning with two out. Thus, I really don't have a lot of Mariner blown chances about which to write. They seriously got nothing going offensively from innings two through seven...aside from the totally isolated solo shot from Gutierrez in the sixth, which came out of nowhere.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro went hitless in the game and didn't score, whereas Figgins went 1-for-3 and scored a run. The Mariners remain 8-2 when both players score and 7-13 when both collect hits.
1) Milton Bradley
I'm not sure if he needed this kind of game more than we all did as fans. That home run in the first inning wasn't drilled like the Jay Buhner called shot earlier this season, but a lot has happened since that homer, and this one might have been just as important, if not more important. He wasn't done, however, as he singled in the eighth inning to break the tie and give the Mariners the lead they never relinquished. Bradley drove in three of the Mariners' five runs on the night, though with a bonus point to Figgins for sliding to the outside on the go-ahead run. The Mariners sure could use some nights of power out of a couple players in their lineup, and Bradley's production can only help. His numbers still aren't too sparkling -- he is at .234 with an on-base percentage of .314, and he slugs .383 -- but that .234 average is still better than Figgins and Lopez, and those two guys have played just about every game this season, if not every game.
2) Doug Fister
He continues to not disappoint, this time throwing another seven solid innings with few hiccups. I talked about the second inning, and frankly, that inning should have been over if not for Josh Wilson misplaying a grounder hit right at him. In the third, he was in a bit of a jam with runners on the corners and one out, but he got Don Kelly to line out (to Figgins) into a double play to end the inning. That was the first of eight hitters he retired before Brandon Inge destroyed one of his pitches, depositing it into the far end of the Mariner bullpen (no small feat, and apparently a 411-foot shot) to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead that fortunately didn't last through the bottom half of the same inning. Fister retired the final four hitters he faced, including a 1-2-3 seventh inning. His average per-start line: 6 2/3 innings, 1.7 runs (1.6 earned), 5.4 hits, 1.1 walks, 2.9 strikeouts, 100 pitches (64 strikes), 10.4 groundouts, 5.7 flyouts.
3) Franklin Gutierrez
The Mariners' centerfielder had seen his offensive numbers slide a good deal in the last couple weeks, and he was hitting .277 coming into the game. He went 2-for-3 in this game (including the homer that tied the game at 3-3), pushing the average to .284, the on-base percentage to .374 (from .366), and the slugging percentage to .438 (from .415). In fact, having Gutierrez slip at the plate the last few weeks was probably a huge reason the Mariners fell upon hard times as badly as they did. Granted, I sure didn't think going into the season that Gutierrez would have to be depended upon to hit like he was hitting. I thought maybe some other guys in the lineup would step the frick up in case something like that happened. Just because Gutierrez had an outside shot at 20 homers last year doesn't mean he should be shouldering a ton of the burden for this offense to get itself into gear. I still don't think he'll be hitting third in the lineup for all of the remaining games this season. Someone else has to get hot. It has to happen.
Too bad that in such a big and uplifting Mariner win, the Mariners' star player figured little into the win. Ichiro went 0-for-4 in the game, striking out twice. He grounded out on the first pitch in the first inning, he whiffed to lead off the third, had the tough groundout that ended the fifth, and was caught looking to lead off the eighth (in other words, the entire rally took place after he struck out). He is 64-for-186 (.344) on the season and is on pace to finish with 230 hits. I like a 240-hit pace for Ichiro myself, but who can argue when the guy's hitting .344? He's still quite good. Just to recap Ichiro's career in the Majors, the Mariners have only made the playoffs once and had teams close to the playoffs three other times out of nine seasons. I wish the Mariners could stop wasting these Ichiro years and get back to the playoffs. I remember this franchise for the longest time lacked a leadoff hitter. It wasn't like the bar was very high for leadoff hitters for the Mariners. The best ones were probably rent-a-players by the names of Vince Coleman and Rickey Henderson, and the latter wasn't exactly scorching as a Mariner.
Bonderman. Vargas. Today (well, it totally would have been today if I'd been able to get this one posted in time).
Monday, May 24, 2010
I'm not sure what team I saw at Safeco Field on Friday night. What I do know is that the Hopeless Mariners have returned. This was far from a one-run loss. This one had Felix Hernandez pitching fairly well, the offense managing next to nothing, and the bullpen making sure the offense would have no chance to come back after the seventh-inning stretch. Also, a passed ball and a wild pitch, further indictments on the Mariners' catching deficiencies. All told, as bad as the bullpen was, even the greatest teams won't win a lot of games by scoring one run. The Mariners, of course, are far from great. Only a crap starting rotation could preclude the suckness of everything else on the Mariners, and that only happened the first week of the season. Since, the starting pitching has been great. Other than that, the offensive suck has precluded the bullpen sucking (apart from a couple games). I can start blaming the bullpen for the Mariners' woes once the offense starts scoring at least four runs a game. Until then, it's on the offense.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed in the gameballs
-- average starting line for Felix Hernandez: 6 1/3 innings, 3.2 runs (2.7 earned), 6.6 hits, 2.5 walks, 5.8 strikeouts, 106 pitches (66 strikes), 8.5 groundouts, 3.8 flyouts
-- you have to appreciate the Mariner bullpen working as a team. Jesus Colome allowed two singles and a walk to load the bases with nobody out and get chased, then Kanekoa Texeira came in and set the place ablaze. He allowed two doubles that made it 7-1, got a flyout, then allowed another single. He then got a fly ball, but it was deep enough to score the runner from third to make it 8-1, which held up for the final margin. Separate from this fiasco was Ryan Rowland-Smith, who threw a 1-2-3 inning against Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Headley, and Matt Stairs in a garbage-time ninth inning.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Colome, Texeira, and Rowland-Smith threw in this game and will have a day of rest heading into Tuesday's game. Shawn Kelley and Brandon League will have two days of rest, and David Aardsma will have five days of rest since this offense never gives him anything to close.
-- this is one of those games where you can't lament the Mariners' ability to hit with runners in scoring position because it's precluded by the Mariners' inability to get runners into scoring position in the first place. The Mariners were 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position. Ichiro singled to lead off the first, but was erased on a fielder's choice. Eight straight Mariners failed to reach base until Ichiro got up again and doubled with two out in the third (first Mariner runner in scoring position). Mike Sweeney singled with one out in the fourth and stayed there. Josh Wilson singled with two out in the fifth. Sweeney walked with two out in the sixth. In the seventh, Ken Griffey Jr. drew a leadoff walk and went to third on Matt Tuiasosopo's double. Rob Johnson's fly ball scored Griffey from third to make it 3-1. With Tuiasosopo remaining on second, Josh Wilson flew out and Ichiro went down swinging. With the game well out of reach, Sweeney drew another two-out walk in the eighth. I think I just went over every Mariner baserunner in the game.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro got two hits and Figgins went hitless. Neither scored. The Mariners remain 8-2 when both players score and 7-13 when both collect hits.
The Mariners' leadoff hitter and rightfielder went 2-for-4 with a double in this game and is now 64-for-182 (.352) on the season. He also has a .395 on-base percentage and a .434 slugging percentage and is on pace to finish the season with 236 hits. I don't know whether I just hadn't noticed it before or what, but it seems Ichiro's using leftfield a lot more lately with his hitting approach. I'm liking what I'm seeing. I know the 2001 Ichiro will never be seen again -- partly due to age and partly due to teams having more knowledge of how to pitch to him -- but the memories I have of him that season involve him being able to drive the ball into the gap in leftcenter to split the outfielders and get doubles and triples. Maybe he can't two-hop the wall in the gap, but if he could shoot ground balls that split the leftfielder and centerfielder, I'm all for that. Ichiro's holding the bargain, definitely. The guy hitting right behind him in the lineup is hitting .195 and is totally not holding up his end of the bargain.
2) Felix Hernandez
He rebounded from a subpar start, but drew the loss this time as opposed to a no-decision last time. In this game, Felix was the recipient of some bad luck. Quite a few jamshots seemed to fall in for hits, and Rob Johnson's defensive misgivings figured greatly into two of the Padres' runs. In the first inning, David Eckstein doubled and Adrian Gonzalez singled (both on 0-2 pitches) to make it 1-0. Felix got the next two hitters out to end the inning. Felix retired the next seven Padre hitters before Nick Hundley rolled a ball up the middle that Josh Wilson gloved, but couldn't make a play (and had no play anyway). That play led off the fifth, and Everth Cabrera bunted Hundley to second. A passed ball by Rob Johnson on a low pitch pushed Hundley to third. Tony Gwynn Jr. grounded to first, and Hundley took off on contact and scored, making it 2-0 for San Diego. Felix got through the sixth despite a leadoff single, a wild pitch (probably on Johnson), and a two-out walk. In the seventh, Cabrera singled with one out and stole second when Johnson bounced the throw, forcing Josh Wilson to come up with his glove. Will Venable singled on the next pitch, making it 3-0.
3) Mike Sweeney
The Mariners' best designated hitter didn't take the day off as originally announced in the media. He went 1-for-2 and walked twice. Both his walks came with two out. In fact, all of his plate appearances came with two out other than the one where he singled. In all of Sweeney's two-out plate appearances, Figgins and Franklin Gutierrez made the two outs in front of him. That's not exactly a lineup clicking on all cylinders. I'm not sure it's clicking on any cylinders at all. To take the analogy further, the Mariners situation would be like when your car is dead and gets jumpstarted, then you start it up and it seems to work well. You take the jumper cables off and it stills seems to work well for all of a minute or two before it quits again, and you can't seem to start it back up again. There's your Mariner offense for you. Hell, that could be the entire team. They're not good. Know what'd be hilarious? If Mike Sweeney was one of the guys that leaked the Griffey Napgate story to Larry LaRue. Hey, if the play on the field can't be entertaining, can we at least get some Mariner entertainment off the field?
As much as I blame the offense for this game, no one player from the Mariner offense managed a higher crap-per-time ratio in this game than Colome. I'm not so sure Don Wakamatsu shouldn't have just let Colome lie in the bed he made. Of course, if he did, the media and the fans would have probably been all over Wakamatsu for not pulling Colome at that point. I'm trying to think if there is any way that outing could have been worse for Colome. If he got injured, it would have been worse. If he stayed in for one extra hitter and gave up a grand slam, that might have been worse. If Texeira allowed a grand slam right off the bat, it would have been worse (though Texeira still would have let in all three of Colome's runners). This was just an unbelievably bad outing for Colome. To make matters worse, he didn't record an out, which means the three runs given up result in a meteoric rise to his ERA. In other words, Colome went from a 3.94 ERA to a 5.63 ERA in one outing. The Mariners weren't going to be scoring any runs, but man, that was bad.
Verlander. Fister. Tomorrow.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Friday was almost like a day off. Saturday was a return to business as usual. The Mariners scored only once in the game and went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position. They had runners on the corners and one out in the ninth and moved neither of the runners. They lost by one run. Welcome back, Mariners. I knew you hadn't gone away.
-- Ian Snell had enough rest for a regular start as he was the first man out of the bullpen in Ryan Rowland-Smith's last start. This wasn't Snell's best start of the season (his first start of the season probably was), but given what we would expect from a fifth starter, Snell did brilliantly. He gave up only one run on five hits in five innings, walking only one hitter. The only run came on a Matt Stairs rainmaker of a home run that went off the VisitLasVegas.com sign on the facade of the terrace level in rightfield. Stairs also had an 11-pitch at-bat in the second inning that ended in a strikeout. The home run made it 1-0 and the San Diego Padres never relinquished the lead. Snell allowed a double and a walk with one out in the third, but needed only three pitches to get the final two outs of the inning. That was really the only jam in which Snell found himself. Don Wakamatsu pulled the plug on Snell after five innings and only 83 pitches. It's weird considering Wakamatsu left Cliff Lee in too long on Friday night, and he pulled Snell too soon the next night.
-- Kanekoa Texeira was the first man out of the bullpen, coming into the game to start the sixth inning. Unfortunately, Chase Headley led off with a jamshot that ended up just inside the leftfield line for a double. He went to third on a groundout and scored when a dirtball appeared to go off the back of Josh Bard's glove and into foul ground on the third-base side. This scored Headley to make it 2-0, and the Padres had all the runs they would need to win. Texeira ended up walking Yorvit Torrealba. He then got a tailor-made double-play ball hit to Jose Lopez at third. Lopez fielded it cleanly and threw nicely to second, where Chone Figgins had the ball go off his glove. Luckily, Texeira recorded two outs with the final two pitches of the inning, getting a not-so-good safety squeeze bunt back to him (Bard had a throw go back to him at the plate, and he thought the runner was coming in, but in fact he could have had the runner hung up between third and home) and a groundout to second. Amazingly, the Mariners weren't burned for anything after the wild pitch.
-- the rest of the bullpen will be discussed below.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Texeira, Kelley, and League threw in this game. Going into Sunday afternoon's game, Jesus Colome will have a day of rest, David Aardsma will have three days of rest, and Ryan Rowland-Smith will have five days of rest.
-- blown Mariner scoring opportunities. The Mariners had runners on first and third with one out in the first, but failed to score. Josh Wilson doubled to lead off the third and couldn't even advance to third base. Finally, in the ninth, they had runners on the corners with one out again and failed to score, needing only one run to tie the game.
-- Ichiro went 2-for-4 and scored a run in the game, making him 62-for-178 (.348) on the season. The Mariners' leadoff hitter is now on pace to finish the season with 234 hits.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro had a 2-for-4 night, as did Figgins. Ichiro scored the only Mariner run of the game. As such, the Mariners are 8-2 when both players score and 7-13 when both players collect hits.
1) Mike Sweeney
If the Mariners just faced the Padres for the rest of the season, Sweeney might be fine with it. He went 2-for-4 with a double and RBI in this game. In the first two games of the series, Sweeney has gone 6-for-9 with two home runs and seven RBIs. Sweeney is now a .290 hitter with a .348 on-base percentage and a .565 slugging percentage. Don wakamatsu nonetheless will give Sweeney a day off on Sunday to rest his balky back. Thus, we'll have to hope Ken Griffey Jr. goes 4-for-5 with two homers and six RBIs. Does anyone even see that as a remote possibility? Sweeney drove in the only Seattle run of the game on a single that was laced pretty well into leftcenter. It was a two-out single that scored Ichiro.
2) Shawn Kelley
Kelley threw two shutout innings of relief in the seventh and eighth innings. He came in for the seventh. He allowed a one-out double to David Eckstein and had to intentionally walk Adrian Gonzalez before getting the next two hitters out to end the inning. Kelley then threw a 1-2-3 eighth. In other words, Shawn Kelley would have to descend deep into the abyss of suck and get sent down to Tacoma before he approached the suck level of Sean White this season.
3) Brandon League
I originally had Ichiro in this spot, but then realized he was picked off and caught stealing. League is getting back onto the non-suck wagon. His 1-2-3 ninth inning kept the Mariners within one run heading into the bottom of the ninth. He got a groundouts from Tony Gwynn's son, Will Venable, and David Eckstein. It remains to be seen whether League will again be used in the spots where Mark Lowe was usually used, but that requires the Mariners to be close or ahead late in the ballgames, and that really hasn't happened too often lately.
This isn't just for the 0-for-4 day with two strikeouts. The final strikeout was the dagger as Bradley in the ninth was ahead 3-1 in his at-bat, only to fail in his attempts to catch up to two fastballs. He was the hitter up with one out in the ninth and runners on the corners. Casey Kotchman hitting behind him had one less out to play with, but Bradley could have just hit a sufficiently deep fly ball to score the runner from third and tie the game.
Latos. Hernandez. Tonight.