Saturday, June 05, 2010
No doubt about it -- this one's on the bullpen. Doug Fister missed the start to rest his fatigued shoulder, and I dreaded this game because I didn't have a lot of confidence in Ryan Rowland-Smith making his first start in three weeks. After this game was over, Mariner fans wouldn't be lamenting an awful start by Rowland-Smith. That's because the bullpen (sans Brandon League and Chad Cordero) was beyond awful. Hey, that's an idea for a new Major League Baseball promo. This is beyond awful -- this is beyond baseball. I guess the good news for Mariner fans was that it was actually a close game through five innings, when it was tied at 1-1. I'd hate to have been at the ballpark to witness the Mariner bullpen giving up ten runs in two innings. At least you would have seen something you don't see every day. I guess it's one of those things -- if your team's going to fail, might they as well fail spectacularly? Sure, the offense sucked like it has many times this season, but even if it's a pretty good day for the Mariner bats, they're not going to score 12 runs.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed in the entries. The fact that Ryan Rowland-Smith got into the entries shows how low I had to put the bar for gameballs
-- what to say about the bullpen? Garrett Olson came in to start the sixth, relieving Rowland-Smith. He faced four hitters with the results being a double, a strikeout, an RBI single that gave the Angels a 2-1 lead (which they never relinquished), and an intentional walk that put the double play back in order after a wild pitch (didn't see it, but keep in mind Rob Johnson was behind the plate) moved Juan Rivera to second. Shawn Kelley will be discussed in the entries below (the bad one). Eight hitters later, Sean White came in with the bases loaded and two out and got Mike Napoli to ground out on the second pitch to end the inning with the Angels leading 7-1. Too bad White's outing didn't end there. The seventh was all his, and he got the three outs, but needed to face all nine Angel hitters to get the outs. He gave up a leadoff walk, but got the next hitter to do the fielder's choice thing. He then gave up back-to-back singles to load the bases with one out. Howie Kendrick then singled home two of the runs to give the Angels a 9-1 lead. White walked Bobby Abreu on four pitches to reload the bases, then Torii Hunter doubled home two more runs to cap the Angels' scoring at 11-1. White got the next two hitters out to end the inning, mercifully. Brandon League threw the eighth, giving up only a leadoff single before setting down the next three hitters. Chad Cordero then threw a 1-2-3 ninth.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Olson, Kelley, White, League, and Cordero threw in this game. Going into Sunday's game, David Aardsma will have two days of rest.
-- would there be any Mariner offense? I'll go over the blown chances first. In the first, Ichiro led off with an infield single, only to be erased by Chone Figgins' third double-play ball in two nights. Josh Wilson hit a one-out single in the second, but Casey Kotchman popped out to short and Rob Johnson did the fielder's choice thing to end the inning. In the third, Michael Saunders bunted himself aboard to lead off, and he moved to second on Ichiro's 12-pitch walk. Figgins then bunted too hard back to the mound, and Ervin Santana had enough time to get the lead runner at third (Saunders). Franklin Gutierrez and Jose Lopez then struck out to end the inning. In the fourth, Milton Bradley got hit with a pitch to lead off. One out later, he stole second with Kotchman at the plate and went to third on Kotchman's groundout. Johnson walked before Saunders grounded out to end the inning. In the fifth, Ichiro doubled to lead off, then got to third on a bunt single by Figgins, who ended up stealing second. Gutierrez grounded out to score Ichiro and tie the game at 1-1, but then Lopez lined out to short to start a double play and squash a golden chance. In the seventh, Figgins walked with one out, but got no further. In the ninth, the Mariners had two on and one out, but Gutierrez whiffed and Lopez grounded into a fielder's choice to end the game.
-- I already mentioned the tying run the Mariners got in the fifth. In the ninth, Johnson walked on four pitches to lead off, and Ryan Langerhans walked an out later. Figgins singled to score Johnson and cap the scoring at 11-2.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro and Figgins had two hits apiece, but only Ichiro scored out of the two players. The Mariners remain 10-3 when both players score but are now 10-17 when both players collect hits.
At least someone's doing what he's supposed to do. The Mariners' leadoff hitter and rightfielder went 2-for-3 with a walk in the game, scoring one of the Mariners' two runs. He led off the Mariners' first inning with an infield single, he walked with a runner on first and nobody out in the third inning, then led off the fifth with a double. Ryan Langerhans was brought into the game and started the eighth inning in rightfield, lifting Ichiro from the awful, awful game. Langerhans got to bat in the ninth, so Ichiro may have had another at-bat in the game, but 2-for-3 with a walk is a day's work, and Don Wakamatsu probably would have never forgiven himself if Ichiro pulled a muscle or collided with something or someone in the outfield of a meaningless game with the Mariners down nine or ten runs. The two-hit game puts Ichiro at 80-for-226 (.354) on the season, and he's on pace to finish the season with 236 hits. Ichiro is on a nine-game hitting streak, having gone 16-for-35 (.457) in that span with two doubles, two walks, six stolen bases, and five RBIs. He has an on-base percentage of .404 and a slugging percentage of .429 on the season.
2) Ryan Rowland-Smith
Before I start saying good things about the Aussie, I'll just point out that the Mariners now have a record of 3-13 when either Ian Snell or Ryan Rowland-Smith is the starting pitcher. He didn't get totally clobbered in the game, which is good considering this was a spot start. Then again, he wasn't dazzling by any means. He yielded three walks, which is never a good thing. He gave up four hits, two of which were doubles. Luckily, none of those four hits were home runs. Home runs are a concern of mine with Rowland-Smith because of his flyball tendencies, and he had all of that and more in this game. The Aussie got ten flyouts and zero groundouts in his five innings of work. The outing lowered his season ERA to a paltry 6.65. Rowland-Smith hadn't started a game since June 17th, and this start snapped a streak where Rowland-Smith failed to get past the fifth inning in each of the last three starts. In fact, he'd only thrown a combined 9 2/3 innings in his three starts before getting sent to the bullpen. All aside, one night after Ian Snell did what Ian Snell does, the Mariners couldn't afford Rowland-Smith getting clubbed on a limited pitch count. Rowland-Smith did enough.
3) Chad Cordero
His second outing as a Mariner was better than the first. He got back onto the horse in Friday's game, but this time he did much better, getting a 1-2-3 ninth inning. Granted, it's not like it was a high-pressure situation since the Mariners were down 11-1 when he came into the game. Still, it's another opportunity to witness what could be the resurrection of a career. Ken Griffey Jr. retired, ending his career, while Cordero got the vacant roster spot and might be seeing his career get somewhere again. If nothing else, Cordero's another guy in the bullpen with closer experience. I don't ever expect him to have to close, since he doesn't have the velocity he had when he was a closer, but he's probably still got the smarts. Maybe the former closer gives David Aardsma some closing tips? Cordero was a closer a lot longer than Aardsma's been, after all. Hopefully the advice has to do with changing speeds and locating pitches. Anyway, three cheers for Cordero on his return to Major League Baseball.
You could really give the goat to anyone out of Garrett Olson, Kelley, and Sean White, but I think Kelley gets it, possibly on a crap-per-time ratio, though Olson only faced four hitters to Kelley's seven. He came into the game with runners on first and second with one out and the Mariners down 2-1. He walked his first hitter to load the bases. He then got a groundout, but it scored the runner from third to make it 3-1, and it also moved the other two runners into scoring position. Maicer Izturis then singled to plate both the runners and make it 5-1. Kelley then hit Kendrick with a pitch to move Izturis to second, then walked Abreu to load the bases again. Then it was a good time for back-to-back walks with the bases loaded to make it 7-1. That's when Wakamatsu came out with the hook. I mean, that's a pretty crazy turn of events. A walk, groundout, and a single -- okay, that's fairly usual. Those final four hitters, though -- a hit batter and three straight walks? Incredible. The band teacher at my high school would say "if you're going to mess up, mess up big," and Kelley certainly did that in this game. His ERA went from 2.14 to 3.38 thanks to this outing.
Pineiro. Vargas. Sunday afternoon.
There are many words for what you'd call this game. Stinker. Laugher. Drubbing. Clunker. Clinker. This time, it seems almost like the blame goes toward the starting pitching and the offense equally. The Mariners won't win many games with substandard starting pitching, and they're not going to win many games where they only score one run. By the same token, burying your own offense with a 4-0 deficit after just two and a half innings of play usually isn't part of a recipe for victory either. I just don't know who to blame. The offense sucks, but that doesn't take away the fact that the Mariners have zero wins out of Ian Snell and Ryan Rowland-Smith. I can't really use a fifth-starter stat since Rowland-Smith wasn't exactly the fifth starter going into the season. Rowland-Smith and Snell are a combined 0-8 on the season. The Mariners are 3-12 when either of Snell or Rowland-Smith is the starting pitcher. The reason I've brought the Aussie into this is because he'll be throwing in Saturday's game because Doug Fister is experiencing some shoulder issues and will sit out his turn in the rotation. Ouch.
-- this was game 54 on the season, marking the one-third pole of the season. This of course means that with the current 22-32 record, the Mariners will finish 66-96.
-- I put the starting pitcher in the entries below, but since my rant wasn't exactly about this particular game, I'll talk about it some here. Snell threw a ton pitches over the first three innings. He threw a 14-pitch first inning, but it was a 1-2-3 inning. He wasn't so lucky in the second, walking Torii Hunter despite being ahead 1-2 in the count, then giving up a homer to Hideki Matsui that made it 2-0 for the Angels. He didn't suffer any damage on the scoreboard for the rest of the inning, but he threw 29 pitches in the inning. The Angels sent seven hitters to the plate in the third and came up with two more runs. Erick Aybar bunted himself aboard, then Maicer Izturis walked on five pitches. A Howie Kendrick bunt moved the runners into scoring position, then Bobby Abreu walked. A Hunter sacrifice fly drove home the 3-0 run, then Matsui did the infield single thing to score Izturis. Snell threw 26 pitches in the inning. My count from the ESPN.com play-by-play has Snell having thrown 69 pitches through three innings, but Geoff Baker's postgame wrap has him at 67, which is probably the right number. Snell went 1-2-3 in both the fourth and fifth innings, then walked Matsui with one out in the sixth to end his outing. I wonder if Snell and Rowland-Smith exist just to make us appreciate the good starting pitching the Mariners do have.
-- now, the bullpen. Sean White came in with a runner on first and one out with the Mariners down 4-1. Two pitches later, he got a double-play ball to end the inning. White faced a mere two hitters in the seventh, giving up a leadoff solo shot to Mariner killer Juan Rivera to make it 5-1 followed by a Michael Ryan single. Chad Cordero then made his first Major League appearance in over two years, getting Aybar to fly out before giving up consecutive doubles to Izturis and Kendrick to make it 7-1 and cap the scoring for the game. Garrett Olson then threw two innings of garbage-time, low-pressure relief in the eighth and ninth. Olson gave up only a leadoff single before setting down the final six hitters he faced. I gotta be honest, I'd rather see Olson get that Saturday start than Rowland-Smith.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: White, Cordero, and Olson threw in this game. Going into Saturday's game, David Aardsma will have a day of rest, Brandon League will have two days of rest, Shawn Kelley will have three days of rest, and Rowland-Smith will get the start on Saturday on four days' rest.
-- now the offense, or lack thereof. In the first, Ichiro led off with a single but was erased on a Chone Figgins double-play grounder. Franklin Gutierrez doubled right after that, but there were already two out and he didn't get far. In the third, Ichiro got aboard with an infield single and again was foiled on a Figgins double-play ball. In the fourth, Josh Wilson negated a Jose Lopez leadoff infield single with an inning-ending double-play ball of his own. In the eighth, Gutierrez hit a one-out single, but he went no further on the basepaths in that inning.
-- let's have a moment of observance for the one inning where the Mariners scored a run. Matt Tuiasosopo led off with a single, then one out later went to second base on a groundout to the pitcher. Ichiro then bloop singled to score Tuiasosopo for the Mariners' only run of the game. Ichiro ended up stealing second and going to third on a wild pitch. Figgins then walked, but the runners were frozen by the Gutierrez flyout that ended the inning.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro got three hits and didn't score while Figgins was both hitless and scoreless. The Mariners remain 10-3 when both players score and 10-16 when both collect hits.
The beat goes on and on. Ichiro went 3-for-4 in the game and drove in the only run of the game. All three hits, unsurprisingly, were singles. He singled to lead off the first inning, he legged out an infield single to lead off the third, and he singled in the fifth to drive in the Mariners' only run of the game. His three hits put him at 78-for-223 (.350) on the season. He is on pace to finish the season with 234 hits. That's a few. If the Mariners can't win a World Series any time in the foreseeable future, I at least want Ichiro to break 3000 hits in the Major Leagues. Provided he stays healthy, he shouldn't have too much trouble getting to 3000 North American base hits. Ichiro currently has an on-base percentage of .398 and is slugging at a .422 clip. It's really too bad this team sucks as bad as it does, and it was too bad in this game that Figgins hit into double plays twice with Ichiro on first base both times. You can't buy that kind of crappy luck. What a shame all of it is and was.
2) Matt Tuiasosopo
If this guy gets even one hit in the game, it makes you raise an eyebrow, but if he gets two hits in any game, it's almost a lead-pipe cinch that he'll end up in the gameballs. Here he is. In the second inning, he singled with the bases empty and two out with the Mariners at that point down 2-0. After that, Eliezer Alfonzo singled, and both runners moved up 90 feet when Rivera tried to throw Tuiasosopo out at third. Of course, that's where the rally ended as Ryan Langerhans showed some rust and whiffed on a full count. In the fifth, Tuiasosopo singled to lead off and eventually scored the Mariners' only run of the game. I remember not too long ago suggesting that Tuiasosopo get a clue at the plate, and he's had a couple of good games since. Granted, the games, good or bad, come pretty rarely for Tuiasosopo because he's a bench player, and Langerhans is probably the only player on the Mariner roster who's been getting less playing time than Tuiasosopo. It'd probably be easier to toss Tuiasosopo out into the field more often if his defense wasn't Mike Morse-like.
3) Franklin Gutierrez
Well, in a crap game for the Mariners, I didn't exactly have to try hard when picking the gameballs. I just picked the three Mariners in the lineup that had multi-hit nights. Ichiro had three hits, Tuiasosopo had two hits, and Gutierrez had two hits. Gutierrez went 2-for-4 with a double. Gutierrez rang his double with two out in the first inning right after Figgins hit his first of two double-play balls of the game. In the same situation in the third, Gutierrez flew out to snuff any possibility of false hope. In the Mariners' huge fifth inning, Gutierrez flew out to end the inning with runners on the corners and the team down 4-1. Okay, maybe that wasn't so clutch, but then you'd be asking for Gutierrez to have a three-hit night. In the eighth, Gutierrez singled with one out and the bases empty with the Mariners down 7-1. One of the few things I liked about the now-dead-to-me NBA was that if one team was way ahead in the closing minutes, the 12-man roster enabled a team to take out their entire lineup and play nothing but scrubs. With a game as bad as this one, it makes me wish the Mariners could have swapped out their entire starting lineup in the late innings just to make sure no one semi-important got hurt.
As tempted as I was to hand the goat to Chone Figgins for twice grounding into double plays, you can't do what Snell did. He didn't get clobbered or hit around, but he threw 67 of his 98 pitches in the first three innings. He's only in the rotation because Ryan Rowland-Smith was unfortunately worse, and he hasn't exactly taken the bull by the horns. Did the Pirates just get the better end of the trade? Though I wasn't a fan of Ronny Cedeno, there's no way he and Jeff Clement haven't made better contributions to the Pirates than Jack Wilson and Ian Snell have for the Mariners. It's weird. It used to be that the Mariners made trades that sucked at the time and everyone knew it, then it just played out to make Woody Woodward look like the idiot he was. Now Jack Zduriencik has a couple deals where he seems to cover all the bases and it seems right, then it just collapses. For instance, there's no way Chone Figgins should only be hitting .211 right now, there's no way Casey Kotchman should be hitting under .200, and there's no way Carlos Silva should have started 7-0 on the north side of Chicago after stealing seven-figure money from the Mariners.
Santana. Rowland-Smith. Today.
Thursday, June 03, 2010
The calendar has turned over to June, and wouldn't you know it, Felix Hernandez dominated. You could argue that he started feeling the calendar turning in his final start of may, but now it feels right. Good to have you officially back, Felix. Though we can't really say anyone's warming up with the weather since the weather still sucks, Hernandez and Jose Lopez are getting warm. Hernandez is contributing like he hasn't done since April, whereas Lopez is contributing with some consistency and power for the first time all season. The Mariners did it with pitching and defense (sans the wild pitch which was probably on Rob Johnson anyway), and they just took three out of four from a pretty good team. The Mariners have won three straight, and their previous two streaks were a three-game winning streak followed by a three-game losing streak. Hopefully this win isn't followed immediately by a three-game losing streak. The Mariners are now nine games under .500, crawling above the double-digit-games-under-.500 mark, and it took them five games to get back to this point. They haven't had consecutive games above that double-digit mark since games 36 and 37, the beginning of a five-game losing streak that made them 14-26.
Also, it appears Chad Cordero got the roster spot after Griffey retired. It's been a long road back for Cordero, so congratulations to him. Kanekoa Texeira became the umpteenth Mariner to be picked up by the Kansas City Royals, who claimed him off waivers.
-- needless to say, the starting pitching will be discussed in the gameball entries
-- David Aardsma faced three hitters in the ninth and got three outs. It wasn't a 1-2-3 inning, though, as Aardsma put his own spin on the situation by giving up a one-out single, then going 3-0 on Delmon Young before getting a double-play ball to end the game.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Aardsma threw in this game. Going into Friday's game, Brandon League will have a day of rest, Shawn Kelley and Garrett Olson will have two days of rest, and Ryan Rowland-Smith will have three days of rest. Sean White has not yet thrown at the big-league level since coming back from injury.
-- there were some moments of offensive squanderage for the Mariners in the game. In the first, Ichiro led off with a walk and was bunted over to second by Chone Figgins. Franklin Gutierrez whiffed, though Ichiro stole third on the strikeout pitch. Lopez hadn't gotten his hitting shoes on yet and grounded out to short to end the inning. With one out in the fourth, Rob Johnson somehow bunted himself aboard and that was followed by a single by Michael Saunders. Ichiro hit a fly ball on the next pitch, and the fly was caught by Denard Span. Johnson tagged on the play and made it safely to third base, but Saunders had gone past second (nearly passing Johnson) and raced back to first base. With Figgins at the plate, the Twins appealed to second base and Saunders was called out for failing to touch second base on the way back to first base, ending the inning. Luckily the Mariners at that point had all the runs they needed. In the sixth, Josh Wilson singled with one out but was erased by Johnson's double-play ball.
-- this leaves the anatomy of the winning inning. Saunders led off by one-hopping a ball over the wall in rightfield. He stole third base with Ichiro at the plate, who then singled to drive in Saunders to tie the game at 1-1. One out later, Gutierrez walked, then Lopez got a hanging curveball and remembered what to do with it, homering to make it 4-1 and cap the scoring.
-- Ichiro went 1-for-3 in the game, driving in the first Mariner run of the game in the third inning. He is now 75-for-219 (.342) on the season and is on pace to finish the season with 229 hits, a pace which I think has to pick up a tiny bit. It's bad that Ichiro's hitting .342 and I want more out of him, but that's how it is.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro scored once and got a hit, while Figgins got neither. The Mariners remain 10-3 when both players score runs and 10-16 when both players get hits.
1) Felix Hernandez
The only thing Felix didn't shake in this start was his early-inning hiccups. This time, however, the early-inning hiccup was only worth one run in the first inning on a two-out flurry by the Twins. Joe Mauer hit a long double, then on the next pitch, Justin Morneau nearly took Felix's head off with a ball up the middle for a single that scored Mauer. From there, Felix barred the door, giving up only three hits the rest of the way. One hit was Danny Valencia's first in the big leagues, and infield single with two out in the second. Another hit was a Delmon Young first-pitch single, again with two out, this time in the fourth. The final hit Felix yielded was a two-out single to Jim Thome in the sixth. Felix set down the final eight hitters he faced, though Joe Mauer got aboard on his strikeout that went as a wild pitch, but Rob Johnson was catching, so that's probably debatable. Felix didn't have the crazy groundball split in this game, but arguing over that is just a spilled milk kind of thing. The guy struck out nine and walked one in eight innings, for goodness' sake. His average per-start line: 6 2/3 innings, 2.8 runs (2.4 earned), 6.4 hits, 2.4 walks, 6.2 strikeouts, 107 pitches (68 strikes), 8.5 groundouts, 4.3 flyouts. He averages 16.1 pitches per inning and averaged 14.5 pitches per inning in this start.
2) Jose Lopez
There's a lot going right in the world of the Mariners' third baseman right now. He went 2-for-4 in the game, basically winning the game in the fourth inning with a home run over the manual scoreboard in leftfield. In the last seven games, Lopez homered twice, doubling his home run total for the year. That just underscores how bad the first two months were for Lopez at the plate. On the morning of May 25th, Lopez was hitting .211 with an on-base percentage of .240 and a slugging mark of .263. An eight-game hitting streak later, Lopez is hitting .244 with an on-base percentage of .273 and a slugging percentage of .335. He now has four homers and 23 RBIs. He's a far cry from flirting with a 100-RBI season like he did last year, but hopefully this is the beginning of Lopez raking for the final four months of the season. Hopefully he hits .500 the rest of the way and hits 30 more home runs. He won't, but we need to dream. Though it took way too long, Don Wakamatsu's belief system theory might be working with Chone Figgins (hitless in this game) and Lopez.
3) Josh Wilson
He might be flying under the radar a bit, but I'll repeat something I said a couple days ago -- Josh Wilson right now is hitting better than Jack Wilson would ever hit at his best. Just look at the guy's game log. He went hitless in four straight games on the east-coast road trip, but hasn't gone hitless in consecutive games since. From May 16th to the present (17 games), Josh Wilson has gone 22-for-60 (.367) with four doubles and seven RBIs. Does anyone out there think Jack Wilson would ever hit .367 over two and a half weeks? I don't. Even counting his rough first couple weeks, Josh Wilson is a .308 hitter on the season. Though I'm being Captain Obvious by saying this, Josh Wilson has by far been the most consistent hitter the Mariners have had in the bottom third of the lineup this season. I don't see this lasting longer than one more week for Josh, at which point someone else in the lineup will have to pick up the slack. Still, it's just a revelation to me that Josh Wilson could hit this well for any long span of time.
Okay, so I'm putting him here despite the fact that he broke Kevin Youkilis' Major League record for consecutive errorless chances. Unsurprisingly, they didn't stop the game and have Kotchman give a speech and take a victory lap around the field. The ball probably went around the horn and right back to the pitcher and was used again in regular gameplay. While Chone Figgins has gotten himself far enough above .200 where this game's 0-for-3 put him at .215, Kotchman hasn't warmed up again since his decent couple games in April. In the second, Kotchman grounded out to short. He ended the third inning with a groundout to third with the bases empty. He led off the sixth with a groundout and capped his night at the plate but whiffing with a runner on first to end the eighth inning. Kotchman is nearly an everyday player despite hitting .191, getting on base at a .273 clip, and slugging .309. At this pace, we're going to see a lot more of Michael Saunders in left, Milton Bradley at designated hitter, and Mike Sweeney playing first.
Saunders. Snell. Tonight.
On the day number 24 retired, the Mariners got win number 21 of the 2010 season. Ken Griffey Jr. donned a uniform on June 1st for the final time and didn't show up for work on Wednesday, calling it a career. The tears have flown and the highlight packages and career retrospectives have been put together, with many more on the way. With Griffey gone, the last vestige of 1995 who's a part of the Mariners' everyday experience is Mike Blowers doing color on the FSNNW broadcasts. This was the end of a great career, sure, but it's also time for this team to finally give itself an identity for which it's been searching since probably 2003. On the night Junior walked away, the Mariners accomplished rare things -- they won a one-run game, and they won an extra-inning game. The extra-inning win was their first of the season in seven tries. Also slipping by my last post was the bullpen overhaul, with Jesus Colome and Kanekoa Texeira being designated for assignment. Sean White and Garrett Olson got the call-ups. We'll see who gets Griffey's roster spot.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed in the entries below
-- David Aardsma threw the ninth inning trying to keep the game tied at 1-1. He walked Joe Mauer to lead off. Rob Johnson then had one of his passed ball episodes to move Mauer to second, and a Justin Morneau groundout moved him to third. Aardsma then put the Twins on lockdown, getting a lineout to short from Mike Cuddyer and a flyout to left from Jason Kubel. Brandon League then threw a 1-2-3 tenth, getting two groundouts, followed by a flyout from pinch-hitter Jim Thome.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Aardsma and League threw in this game. Going into Thursday's game, Shawn Kelley and Garrett Olson will have a day of rest, and Ryan Rowland-Smith will have two days of rest.
-- the Mariner offense in this game didn't blow a lot of chances because they didn't have many chances at all. In the sixth, Chone Figgins singled and Franklin Gutierrez walked with two out, but two-out stuff is a bonus. In the seventh, Milton Bradley bunted himself aboard to lead off, and Jose Lopez singled. Casey Kotchman then killed the rally by grounding into a double play. Rob Johnson popped foul on the first pitch with Bradley on third to end the inning.
-- now, the innings where good stuff happened. Okay, since the fifth inning is basically the first gameball, I'll save that for later. In the tenth, Kotchman got aboard with an infield single. Eliezer Alfonzo came off the bench to hit for Johnson and flew out, so that was a wash (no leftover mojo from the previous night's bat). Josh Wilson then singled to move Kotchman to second. Kotchman was then lifted from the basepaths for Ryan Langerhans. Ichiro then fouled off six 2-2 pitches before grounding a ball up the middle, where Matt Tolbert dove for the ball and underhand-flipped to JJ Hardy at the second-base bag, and honestly, Wilson looked like he was out at second. He was called safe, and the Twins' middle infielders couldn't believe it. Hardy threw home, but Langerhans scored, and the game was done. Probably a bad call, but the Mariners won, and the Twins didn't get screwed out of a perfect game.
-- Ichiro went 1-for-5 with his only hit generating the game-winning RBI. He struck out three times. His final two at-bats were epic -- in the eighth, he fouled off six 1-2 pitches en route to an 11-pitch strikeout. In the game-ending at-bat, Ichiro had another 11-pitch at-bat, but this time it ended with the infield single that probably should have been a fielder's choice, but I'll take the result. Ichiro is now 74-for-216 (.343) on the season with an on-base percentage of .391 and a slugging mark of .417. He is on pace to finish the season with 231 hits.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Neither player scored a run in the game, but both had a hit apiece. The Mariners remain 10-3 when both players score and are now 10-16 when both players get hits.
1) Milton Bradley
The Mariners' leftfielder generated the first run of the ballgame almost singlehandedly. He led off the fifth inning with a single, then stole second on a 2-0 pitch to Jose Lopez. Lopez then flew out, but Bradley then stole third base on an 0-2 pitch to Kotchman. Kotchman then hit a sufficiently deep fly ball to centerfield, scoring Bradley from third to make it 1-0 for Seattle. Johnson flew out for good measure to end the inning. Bradley bunted himself aboard to lead off the seventh in an inning that ultimately went nowhere thanks to Kotchman's double-play ball. Bradley's hitting .222 with an on-base percentage of .298 and a slugging mark of .342. In other words, he's definitely got a long way to go before he does anywhere near his capabilities, but two hits is a start, that's for sure. Also for sure, Griffey won't be stealing any of his at-bats anymore, that's for sure. But now who will keep Bradley in check in the clubouse? Does Mike Sweeney bang the gavel for the kangaroo court?
2) Cliff Lee
Only some exemplary duty by Bradley could bump Lee from the number-one gameball. This guy held the Twins at bay for the first six innings of the game before Cuddyer homered to tie the score at 1-1. In the second, Cuddyer got aboard with an infield single with one out, but didn't score. In the fourth, Mauer and Morneau (single and double, by the way) got aboard with one out. Lee then sent Cuddyer and Kubel away with a strikeout and groundout, ending the inning. Lee's average per-start line: 7 2/3 innings, 2.9 runs (2.4 earned), 6.6 hits, 0.6 walks, 7.1 strikeouts, 111 pitches (78 strikes), 6.7 groundouts, 7.1 flyouts. In this start, he averaged 14 pitches thrown per inning, which is slightly worse than his season average of 14.7. This ranks second in the Mariners' starting rotation to Doug Fister's 14.4 pitches per inning. Lee has gotten into the seventh inning in all seven of his starts this season. He has gone seven or more innings in all but one start this season. He has recorded outs in the eighth inning in five of his seven starts.
3) Franklin Gutierrez
The Mariners' centerfielder didn't have a huge day by any means, but he got a hit and walked, so he got aboard twice. In a game where only three combined runs were scored, getting aboard twice with a walk and a hit was quite important. The Gutierrez single was of the infield variety with two out in the first inning. Gutierrez flew out in the fourth with one out and the bases empty. In the sixth, Gutierrez walked with a man on first and two out. Gutierrez also led off the ninth with a groundout. He is now a .294 hitter with an on-base percentage of .384 and a slugging mark of .433. I highly doubt there's a way for Gutierrez to flirt with 20 homers this season (like last season) but one can always hope. I still don't think he's going to hold onto that third spot in the lineup for the rest of the season, but every time I think that, he tends to come up with something to make you think he deserves a little more time hitting third before getting bumped down in the order. Gutierrez is good. The scoreboard graphic reading "Gutius maximus" at Safeco Field is not good.
He has had passed ball and wild pitch episodes that have cost the Mariners a couple of wins this season, and it nearly happened again in this game. In the ninth, with the score tied 1-1, Mauer drew a four-pitch walk off Aardsma. Mauer took second base on a Johnson passed ball from a 1-2 pitch. Morneau grounded out, but Mauer went to third. Cuddyer, who belted a homer for the Twins' only run of the game, lined out to Wilson at short. Kubel then flew out to left to end the inning. If Cuddyer hits a fairly deep fly ball, Mauer scores and the Mariners have to face all 6'11" of Jon Rauch in the ninth inning trying to score a run to tie and two runs to win. Through a bit of luck, I'm typing this after a Mariner win rather than a Mariner loss, which would just make me spit hot fire when it comes to Johnson. One good thing for him in the game was that he threw out Tolbert trying to steal second base. Other than that, he went 0-for-3 with a strikeout at the plate. How about a catching tandem of Josh Bard and Eliezer Alfonzo? Yes, please.
Pavano. Hernandez. Tonight.
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
Twenty wins! Dancing surely erupted in the streets of Seattle as the Mariners came away with their 20th win in 51 tries, beating a pretty good team in the Minnesota Twins. I'd have to say it qualifies as another offensive explosion as the Mariners put seven runs on the board. That said, the pitching also allowed only one run. Any time this team puts more than three runs on the board, it's a huge bonus. If they put four runs on the board every night, they should have at least a 50/50 shot at winning every night. Quite simply, this was a good lineup that the Mariner arms mostly shut down, allowing four singles, a double, and the requisite Justin Morneau home run. The Mariner bats put seven runs across on 11 singles, a double, and a home run. Additionally, the Mariners made a roster move to bring up Garrett Olson, which means it was decision time for someone else on the 25-man roster.
-- the starting pitching will discussed in the entries below
-- Shawn Kelley threw a low-pressure 1-2-3 eighth inning against Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Mike Cuddyer, the meat of the Twins lineup. The Mariners' newfound six-run lead was successfully held. New call-up Garrett Olson likewise threw a low-pressure 1-2-3 ninth.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Kelley and Olson threw in this game. Going into Wednesday's game, Ryan Rowland-Smith and Brandon League will have a day of rest, and Jesus Colome, Kanekoa Texeira, and David Aardsma will have two days of rest.
-- ESPN's computer crapped itself in the first inning, both in the play-by-play after the game as well as the ESPN ticker during the game. I saw via the BottomLine that the Mariners had managed runners on the corners with one nobody out and Franklin Gutierrez at the plate. The ticker later showed the game in the second inning with the Mariners having not scored. The ESPN.com's play-by-play shows Gutierrez taking a ball, then nothing else happening. The inning ends with Jose Lopez flying out to right. It also shows the Twins taking a 1-0 lead in the third, then the Mariners magically tie it at 1-1 with a leadoff infield single by Mike Sweeney. Without having read an article (obviously I don't have an immediate internet connection), I'm led to believe Gutierrez singled and drove a run across, then somehow two outs were recorded on the play or during the course of his at-bat (or Jose Lopez, who shows as flying out on the first pitch) to put the Mariners up 1-0.
-- as for the offense that looks like I can corroborate it based on other stuff I saw or can discern, the Mariners put together a four-run fourth inning -- where they sent all nine hitters to the plate -- that put them well on the way to victory. Sweeney got aboard with an infield single, then Lopez got a pitch that was up and mashed it above the manual scoreboard in left to give the Mariners a 3-1 lead. Josh Wilson and Eliezer Alfonzo hit back-to-back singles with one out. One out later, Ichiro made an out and somehow Josh Wilson scored from secodn on the play to make it 4-1. Chone Figgins then doubled to score Alfonzo and make it 5-1. In the seventh with one out, Figgins walked and stole second, then went to third on the same play on a bad Mauer throw. Sweeney walked, then Lopez singled to plate Figgins and move Sweeney to second, making it 6-1 for Seattle. Casey Kotchman then singled on the first pitch to make it 7-1, capping the scoring.
-- ultimately, the Mariners didn't squander any innings where they had scoring chances. Minnesota pitching set down eight straight Mariner hitters from the fourth to seventh innings, and in a slightly larger time frame, Minnesota pitching went 11 straight hitters without giving up a hit.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro had three hits and scored in the game, while Figgins was 2-for-4 and scored a run. The Mariners are now 10-3 when both players score and 9-16 when both players collect hits.
1) Jose Lopez
The Mariners' third baseman has caught a bit of fire lately. In this game, he was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and an RBI single. Lopez is 10-for-26 during his current eight-game hitting streak. He was hitting .211, on-base at a .240 pace, and slugging .263 before the streak. Right now, he's up to .239 with an on-base percentage of .269 and a slugging percentage of .318. Okay, so the slugging percentage is still pretty awful, but the batting average is at least moving toward respectability. The guy's not going to flirt with 100 RBIs like he did late last season, but all doesn't appear to be lost for Lopez at the plate. Sure, we want power, but just not making outs hopefully is enough for Lopez to gain some confidence at the plate and start raking the ball. The Mariners can use all the power they can get. The home run for Lopez in this game was only his third of the season, which is infinitely awful. We're 51 games into the season and the guy's not even on pace to reach double digits in home runs after the year he had last season.
2) Jason Vargas
It's like I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop with Doug Fister and Jason Vargas, yet it never seems to be happening. I probably cursed them both just by saying that, but what we've seen after the first two months has just been amazing. I just wish the offense was good enough to reward these guys with more wins than they've had, but at least the starters got a win in this game. The Mariners (by my count) are 6-4 in the games where Vargas starts (his record is 4-2 with the Mariners going 2-2 in his no-decisions). His average per-start line: 6 1/3 innings, 2.2 runs (2.1 earned), 5 hits, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts, 99 pitches (63 strikes), 5.8 groundouts, 7.8 flyouts. He averaged 14.9 pitches per inning in this start, which is better than his average for the year (15.3). In the first, he wriggled out of a jam where he had two runners in scoring position with one out. Delmon Young stole himself into scoring position with one out in the second, but Vargas got out of it. JJ Hardy singled to lead off the fifth, but Vargas got his glove on a lineout and got a double-play ball to end the inning.
The Mariners' leadoff hitter and rightfielder was setting the table all night. He went 3-for-5, drove in a run, and scored a run. The three hit night makes him 73-for-211 (.346) on the season with an on-base percentage of .395 and a slugging mark of .422. He is on pace to finish the season with 232 hits. He led off the first with a single, flew out to lead off the third, grounded out to score Josh Wilson to make it 4-1 in the fourth, grounded out to lead off the seventh, and singled with two out and the bases empty in the eighth. I think having Ichiro hitting leadoff is a double-edged sword since he's setting the table theoretically for the rest of the lineup, but every other time around the lineup, the bottom third of the lineup probably isn't giving him a lot with which to work, i.e., probably a lot of two-out at-bats with the bases empty. Anyway, the happy thing is that Ichiro is hitting the ball and is therefore holding up his end of the bargain. Who wants a 250-hit season out of Ichiro? Raise your hands!
He started out all right at the plate when he was first called up from Tacoma after the whole Milton Bradley situation was gaining some legs. Now, though, Saunders is being way and way less relevant. It's getting bad. It might be Jack Wilson bad. It just seems like Saunders has fallen off the face of the earth at the plate lately, and what a shame. Saunders was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the game. In his last two games, the man from Victoria BC has gone 0-for-7 with five strikeouts. Saunders is going to have to wake up with the bat pretty quickly if he's hoping to stick with the big club. If not, they might as well just start throwing Milton Bradley back out there in leftfield. How could it be worse? Bradley can strike out a whole bunch of times, but he can also crank the occasional home run. As we know, it takes Saunders quite a long time to muster up everything needed to hit a home run.
Slowey. Lee. Tonight.
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
I'll note that until I get a means to see the games where I currently am, these will totally be scourings of the boxscores and the play-by-plays. As for the game, the Mariners scored four times and got ten hits, but Doug Fister gave up three homers. I suppose there isn't really any shame into losing to a team with a record nearly the exact opposite of yours. This is why the Mariners had to take advantage of the piddly teams on their schedule, but the main problem with such an observation is that the Mariners themselves are piddly. I'm not sure if anyone remembers that whole three-game winning streak the Mariners had not too long ago. They had also won five of seven. Now, they've merely counteracted a three-game winning streak with a three-game losing streak. While .500 is better than what they're doing right now, it still sucks. If they play .500 ball the rest of the season, they'll end up 75-87, and that's no fun. At 19-31, this year's Mariners are one game worse than the 2008 pace and tied with the 2004 pace.
-- Doug Fister has been so good this season, his ERA is still a very good 2.45 (from 2.03) even after giving up five runs in this game. If someone told me Fister gave up three home runs in the game, I'd expect his groundout/flyout ratio to be a lot more wonky than usual. Fister had nine groundouts to eight flyouts in the game. In his ten starts this season, Fister has recorded double-digit groundouts six times. As for flyouts, Fister has recorded less than seven flyouts six times. Fister averaged 13.4 pitches per inning in this start, which is below his season average of 14.4, and he is the most efficient Mariner starting pitcher by this measure. I'm not sure how badly you can bash Fister for this game. All three of the homers came with two out, and two of the three were solo shots (the other was a two-run homer). Fister had just gotten a double-play ball in the fourth before Mike Cuddyer and Jason Kubel homered on consecutive pitches. The guy still went 7 2/3 innings (despite not breaking 100 pitches) and a deep start was something the bullpen really needed one night after Ian Snell made them work overtime.
-- with two out in the eighth, Don Wakamatsu pulled Fister for Ryan Rowland-Smith. The Aussie came on to face Joe Mauer and got him to fly out on a 2-0 pitch, ending the inning. Unfortunately, Rowland-Smith's luck ran out after just one hitter as he allowed a double and a single to start the eighth (Justin Morneau and Cuddyer) on just three pitches. Brandon League was summoned to put out the fire and keep the deficit at 5-3, which he did. He got three ground balls that led to outs, which is more like why he was brought to Seattle. Cuddyer, Kubel, and Delmon Young -- all three Twins who homered in the game -- were set down on two fielder's choices and a groundout.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Rowland-Smith and League threw in this game. Going into Tuesday's game, Jesus Colome, Kanekoa Texeira, Shawn Kelley, and David Aardsma will have a day of rest. In other words, the entire bullpen has thrown in the last two games.
-- what happened on offense that was good? In the third, Chone Figgins and Franklin Gutierrez hit back-to-back singles with one out. Milton Bradley's fielder's choice scored Figgins from third to put the Mariners on the board, down 3-1. In the fifth, Ichiro ignited the inning with an infield single, and he went to third on a Figgins single. Ichiro scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-2, and Figgins went to second on the pitch and third on a Gutierrez flyout. Another groundout by Bradley got him another RBI, scoring Figgins to cut the Mariners' deficit to 5-3. In the ninth, Jose Lopez doubled to lead off, then Wilson singled to scored Lopez and make it 5-4.
-- what happened on offense that was bad? In the first, they managed only a Gutierrez double. In the second, Lopez and Wilson singled with one out and stayed there as Rob Johnson and Matt Tuiasosopo both went down swinging. In the fourth, a Wilson single wasn't enough to get the inning going. From the fifth to the eighth, 12 straight Mariners made outs (though two runs scored with the first two outs). In the ninth, after Josh Wilson had driven in Lopez, Rob Johnson was lifted in favor of Ken Griffey Jr., who erased Wilson from the basepaths with a ground ball and was lifted for Michael Saunders on the bases himself. Matt Tuiasosopo was then lifted for Casey Kotchman, who grounded into a double play to end the game. It's just the way, really.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro had a run and a hit in the game, and Figgins had two runs and two hits. The Mariners are now 9-3 when both players score and 8-16 when both players collect hits.
1) Josh Wilson
Batting from the seventh slot in the lineup, the Mariners' shortstop for the foreseeable future (I think if Jack Wilson comes back, they won't have him play every day for at least a couple weeks) went 3-for-4 with an RBI in the game. The reason I brought up Jack Wilson as well: Josh Wilson is hitting .300 right now with pretty regular playing time. I don't think it's a stretch to say Jack Wilson will never hit as well as a Mariner as Josh wilson has been hitting ever since he got called up earlier this season. Josh singled with Lopez on first and one out in the second inning. He then singled with an out and the bases empty in the fourth. He struck out as the second out of a 1-2-3 sixth inning, but with Lopez on second with nobody out in the ninth, Josh Wilson singled to drive in Lopez and bring the Mariners within one run at 5-4. Josh has an on-base percentage of .364 and a slugging percentage of .413. In sum, Josh Wilson has stepped up, Ichiro is himself, and Franklin Gutierrez is a better average hitter than last year, while pretty much every other Mariner hitter sucks.
2) Jose Lopez
The Mariners' third baseman went 2-for-4 with a double. His single came with one out in the second in an inning that should have gone somewhere. His double led off the ninth inning and he eventually scored the run that brought the Mariners within a run at 5-4.
3) Chone Figgins
The Mariners' second baseman went 2-for-4 in the game and scored two of the Mariners' four runs. He singled with one out in the third and ended up scoring the first Mariner run. He also singled with one out to move Ichiro to third in what ended up being a two-run inning that brought the Mariners to within two runs at 5-3. Figgins has a four-game hitting streak during which he's gone 6-for-15 with four runs and three walks. He might finally be above .200 for good. He was hitting .194 before this streak and is now at .211 with an on-base percentage of .324 (from .308) and a slugging percentage of .272 (from .255). I've said .260 is a realistic finishing mark for Figgins this season, and if he does that, it'll be fun because it means he'll be hitting pretty well the rest of the way. As bad as it's been this year, I really hope this guy does better in the remaining years of his contract. Know what? Figgins' molasseslike slow start reminds me of Adrian Beltre's first year in a Mariner uniform and how awfully slow he started.
Seriously, just reading the play-by-play of the ninth inning is depressing, and it speaks volumes as to how awful the bench is. The Mariners were down 5-4 with a man on first and nobody out. Rob Johnson's awful, so you don't want him to hit, but then Ken Griffey Jr. is also awful, so it's probably a wash. Maybe Johnson could actually get around on a Jon Rauch fastball? Anyway, after Griffey did his fielder's choice thing, Michael Saunders ran for Griffey, which wasn't the curious substitution off the bench. Tuiasosopo is terrible, so Casey Kotchman was brought in for him. How bad is it that Kotchman is considered an improvement off the bench from Tuiasosopo? Is it curious that Wakamatsu brought in two lefties to replace two righties against a righthanded pitcher? Anyway, Kotchman pulled the plug on the Mariners' rally, grounding into a double play. What to say about Tuiasosopo? The guy rarely has shown me this season that he even has a clue at the plate. That's concerning considering all the positives I heard about him in the minors had to do with his hitting because his defense was awful. What is he good at right now?
Blackburn. Vargas. Tonight.
Monday, May 31, 2010
Make it eight walkoff losses for the Mariners. This was the Mariners' 30th loss out of 49 games. So, for every day you've sat down and watch the Mariners, thus far you've seen them lose by a walkoff loss 16.3% of the time. The walkoffs account for 26.7% of their losses. The Mariners usually have games where the offense is just awful and the pitching is wonderful. For the remainder of the games they don't win, the offense steps up and the bullpen -- not knowing what to do with these things called "leads" -- lets it get away. The Mariners took a 7-2 lead into the bottom of the fifth, but the pitching as a whole was already on a bullet train to Suckville as Ian Snell was pulled after facing two batters in the fifth and failing to record an out. To me, this game was a staff-wide fail by the Mariner arms. This wasn't just the bullpen. As for the offense, four Mariner hitters had multi-hit games and only Milton Bradley went hitless (he walked once). When compared to other teams of suck in recent Mariner past, the 2004 and 2008 Mariner teams were both 18-31 (one game worse than the current team) after 49 games.
-- first, the blown chances on offense. In the first, Chone Figgins and Franklin Gutierrez singled with one out, putting runners on the corners with one out. Bradley whiffed on a 1-2 count and Mike Sweeney flew out on the first pitch. In the fourth, after Alfonzo had homered, Ichiro walked and Figgins singled with two out before Gutierrez grounded out to end the inning. In the eighth (with the Mariners leading 7-6), Ichiro doubled with one out, then Figgins walked on four pitches. Gutierrez was then caught looking and Bradley grounded into a fielder's choice. In the ninth (still with the Mariners leading 7-6), Jose Lopez and Casey Kotchman walked with one out. Eliezer Alfonzo, making his first Mariner appearance, had sapped the mojo in his bat and rolled into a double play
-- as for the Mariner offense making good... In the second, the entire thing occurred with two out. Alfonzo singled, Josh Wilson infield singled, then Ichiro singled home Alfonzo, though Wilson was gunned down at the plate by Reggie Willits. The Mariners led 1-0. In the fourth, Sweeney and Lopez singled to start the inning. Kotchman proved unclutch and lined out to the second baseman. Alfonzo then hit his first Mariner homer (a whopping 449 feet according to the ESPN.com play-by-play), vaulting the Mariners back into the lead at 4-2. In the fifth, Bradley drew a leadoff walk for his only offensive contribution of the day, and he moved to second on a Sweeney fly ball. Lopez walked, then Kotchman fired up the clutch gun and singled to score Bradley and move Lopez to third (Mariners 5-2). Alfonzo then singled to score Lopez and make it 6-2, then Wilson signled to make it 7-2, though that play ended with Alfonzo being gunned down by Juan Rivera trying to go from first to third. So, in the fifth, the Mariners were done scoring
-- Josh Wilson was the only multi-hit Mariner that I didn't put into the gameball section. He went 2-for-4 in the game with an RBI. He is hitting .276, which in all likelihood is probably way better than a healthy Jack Wilson would be hitting. If Jack Wilson returns, I'd have to think Matt Tuiasosopo would be the first guy sent back to Tacoma.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed in the entries below. The bullpen...well, it wasn't a good day for anyone on the Mariner mound. Jesus Colome entered the fifth with two runners on and nobody out. He got a flyout from his first hitter, but walked Bobby Abreu to load the bases. He got Hideki Matsui to pop out harmlessly, but then walked Rivera with the bases loaded to cut the Mariners' lead to 7-3. Then Colome struck out Mike Napoli looking. Kanekoa Texeira came in for the sixth to gather some tinder and throw some fuel on the fire. Frustratingly, he got the first two hitters out before everything went blurry. From there, Texeira allowed a single, double, walk (loading the bases), and another walk to make it 7-4 and summon Don Wakamatsu with the hook. Texeira ended his outing by throwing eight straight balls. Shawn Kelley, the best Mariner reliever of the season to date, faced Matsui and had the at-bat end on a catcher's interference call against Alfonzo, scoring Erick Aybar from third to make it 7-5 before Kelley got the final out. Kelley then threw to the end of the eighth inning, allowing a one-out solo homer to Howie Kendrick in the seventh to cut the Mariners' lead to 7-6 as well as a leadoff bunt single by Aybar that ended with him being thrown out trying to stretch it into a double
-- this leaves the closer. David Aardsma came into the ninth trying to take a 7-6 lead to the bank. He fell behind on Matsui and walked him. He got Rivera to fly out, but Napoli did the infield single thing. The Angels had two on and one out with Kendrick coming to the plate. Kendrick fouled off a full-count pitch before homering. It looked like he got a ball on the inner half of the plate (or further) and inside-outted it over the rightcenter scoreboard. Thus, the Angels won 9-7, and Kendrick didn't break bones as he crossed the plate.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Jesus Colome, Kanekoa Texeira, Shawn Kelley, and David Aardsma threw in this game. Going into Monday's game, Brandon League will have a day of rest, and Ryan Rowland-Smith will have four days of rest. It's games like this where you wonder if the Mariners will cave and add a 12th arm to the pitching staff again like earlier in the season. The question then becomes "who gets moved off the 25-man roster?"
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Neither player scored, but both had two hits apiece. The Mariners are still 9-2 when both players score, but are now 8-15 when both players collect hits. It's mind-boggling.
1) Eliezer Alfonzo
There were actually quite a few bad things Alfonzo did in this game. He grounded into a double play, was gunned down at third base, and got called for catcher's interference, leading to one of the Angel runs. That aside, I really don't expect there will be a lot of games where Alfonzo goes 3-for-5 with a home run and drives in four runs while scoring twice himself. What do I know about Alfonzo? Not much. The Mariners occasionally would face him when he was a San Diego Padre whether it was during the season or more likely in spring training. Alfonzo isn't exactly the face of an awesome era of Padre baseball, but if he can hit, give him the playing time. If he can block balls to Rob Johnson's capability but can hit, give him the playing time. If he can block better than Johnson and hit, then you start to wonder if you shouldn't put another catcher out there when Felix Hernandez is on the mound. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I wish Josh Bard could be up with Alfonzo right now.
The Mariners' leadoff hitter and rightfielder went 2-for-3 in the game with a double, an RBI, and two walks. Thus, he was on base four times and never scored. Each of the Mariners' fourth through eighth hitters scored runs in the game, yet Ichiro wasn't driven across for any of the seven runs. Such is life for this team. The two hits pushed him to 69-for-202 (.342) on the season with an on-base percentage of .393 and a slugging percentage of .421. As for the game, Ichiro grounded out to lead off the game, but was done making outs at that point. He singled with two out in the second to drive home Eliezer Alfonzo to cut the Angels' lead to 2-1, but Josh Wilson was thrown out at the plate on the play, ending the inning. In the fourth, Ichiro walked with two out and the bases empty. In the fifth, Ichiro was intentionally walked with a runner on third with two out and the Mariners ahead 7-2. In the seventh, Ichiro doubled with one out to chase Kevin Jepsen with the Mariners up 7-6. He is on pace to finish the season with 228 hits, which I think is still a tiny bit low.
3) Chone Figgins
The Mariners' second baseman finally got his batting average back over .200. Figgins is now sitting at .205 on the season. He also walked with his 2-for-4 outing, pushing the on-base percentage to .321, which is worse only than Ichiro among regular Mariner hitters. I said it in the last couple of posts, but if Figgins gets to .250 or .260, the Mariners should have a couple good months ahead of them, provided the starting pitching doesn't implode or all get injured at the same time. We've seen the hitting all suck at the same time, so the chances of all five guys in the starting rotation being awful all at the same time are pretty small. Unfortunately, those chances are still greater than zero. Still, it goes without saying that if the Mariners can get a couple of their guys in the lineup to just be kinda okay instead of absolutely awful, they'll win more games. For now, though, at 11 games under .500, they'd have to nearly run the table to return to .500 in mid-June and they'd just have to be pretty good to get to .500 by the end of June. How hot Figgins gets has a lot to do with how quickly the Mariners can get back to .500.
I know the fifth starter's role by rule goes to your worst starting pitcher, but would it kill the Mariners to get any kind of consistency (the good kind) out of their fifth starters? Ultimately I'd want Ryan Rowland-Smith back into the rotation and throwing seven innings every time, but the Mariners need to fill the gap until Erik Bedard returns. Until then, the Mariners have to do better than Snell and Rowland-Smith, but their hands are a bit tied. By sending down Shawn Kelley the first time, the Mariners showed they don't want to let Jesus Colome walk for nothing. They also don't want to sell Kanekoa Texeira back to the Yankees. So yes, I'd rather give Luke French or even Garrett Olson (though last I heard he was sucking in Tacoma) another shot at the final spot in the rotation. All they have to do is throw five innings, possibly get into the sixth inning, and not be awful. Olson showed last year he could do exactly that. Rowland-Smith used to be able to show that. Snell has shown that, but not with any sort of consistency. Snell threw 82 pitches in four innings in this game.
Liriano. Fister. Tonight.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
A graphic showed during the game saying the Angels hadn't lost a series to the Mariners since 2003. Also, this was the Angels' first win this season when trailing after six innings. That's disturbing. Still, there were other things in this game that were more disturbing. For instance, losing another game in the final opposition at-bat was disturbing. Seattle being winless in six extra-inning games is also disturbing. Still, the most disturbing thing about this game obviously was Kendry Morales fracturing his left leg after jumping onto home plate and into the mass of celebration. It took his teammates a few seconds to realize what was going on, and then the mood quickly dimmed. In an odd way, though the Mariners lost, this game may play a huge role in terms of the division. The Angels, who are minus Vladimir Guerrero (and John Lackey, though not a hitter) during the offseason, need Morales to pick up some of the slack. In addition (I don't know the results of it yet), something overshadowed by the Morales freak injury was that Felix Hernandez drilled Torii Hunter square in the left wrist with a fastball, and Hunter left the game for X-rays. It's obvious that Morales will miss significant time, but if the Angels lose Hunter for a few weeks, they could be screwed.
-- I knew as the game went on that there was no way the Mariners were going to win this game 1-0, no matter how well Felix Hernandez was throwing. Unfortunately, Bobby Abreu tied the game in the ninth, and the Mariner offense did barely anything.
-- speaking of the Mariner offense doing nothing, their only run of the game scored on an error. In the fourth, Jose Lopez looped a leadoff single, took off on a hit-and-run, and Matt Tuiasosopo grounded hard to Erick Aybar at short, who was very close both Howie Kendrick and the second-base bag. Aybar eschewed tossing over to Kendrick for the out and instead went for the bag. Lopez had already slid into the bag (just barely), so Aybar didn't record that out, and Aybar threw into the crowd. Lopez was awarded home plate on the play and Tuiasosopo was put on second base. The Mariners led 1-0, a lead that held up until the bottom of the eighth. What happened next, though, was wonky. Josh Wilson flew out to fairly deep rightfield. Abreu then threw to third base. Tuiasosopo had the throw beat, but failed to anchor his right hand to the third-base bag. In other words, he overslid the bag and was tagged by the third baseman (Izturis) before he could put his right hand back on the bag. Granted, Rob Johnson and Michael Saunders were the next two hitters, but I can't help but thinking that inning could have gone a little better.
-- there were definitely some blown offensive chances in this game. Ichiro led off the game with a walk, but Chone Figgins flew out to right. Ichiro stole second, and Franklin Gutierrez walked to make it more interesting. With Milton Bradley at the plate and a 1-1 count, Ichiro and Gutierrez pulled off a double steal. Unfortunately, Bradley swung and missed at two of the next three pitches, then Jose Lopez grounded out to short to end the inning. In the third, though with two out, the Mariners had two runners aboard and Bradley was caught looking. In the fifth, Ichiro shot a ball through the mound and into centerfield with one out and never moved from first base.
-- Jered Weaver set down the final eight Mariner hitters he faced
-- after Hunter took the Felix fastball off his wrist and left the game, news came onto the Fox telecast that Hunter went off for "precautionary X-rays," and former Dodger and current color analyst Eric Karros had a huge problem with that phrase, feeling that the phrase implies that a precautionary X-ray is somehow different or of a different procedure than a regular X-ray. Sadly, this was one of the more entertaining parts of the entire broadcast. I don't mind Kenny Albert doing NFL games or NHL games (he's figured into the New York Ranger experience), but I'm not so sure about baseball. He's not terrible or anything, I just think certain voices are suited for certain sports.
-- Brandon League came into the bottom of the ninth inning with the game tied and a runner on first. Howie Kendrick tried bunting the runner over to second, but he bunted too hard, and League nicely fielded and threw to second to get the lead runner. Including Kendrick, League retired four straight hitters. League then allowed a Maicer Izturis double off the wall in rightcenter with one out. Though Izturis was the winning run, the inning deteriorated. Abreu was intentionally walked to put the double play in order. Reggie Willits then hit a grounder to Figgins, a ball nearly tailor-made for a double play. Instead, Figgins bobbled it, everyone was safe, and the bases were loaded. Really, that should have been a double play to end the inning. I'm wondering if the Angels wouldn't have rather had that double play turned than have Morales suffer a broken lower left leg.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: League threw in this game. Going into Sunday's game, Shawn Kelley will have a day of rest. Ryan Rowland-Smith and David Aardsma will have three days of rest. Jesus Colome and Kanekoa Texeira will have six days of rest.
-- after Ichiro singled with one out in the fifth inning, the only Mariner to reach base was Lopez with a dying quail of a single to left with one out in the ninth inning.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Neither player scored, but both players had a hit apiece. The Mariners are still 9-2 when both players score, but are now 8-14 when both players collect hits.
1) Felix Hernandez
This was a pretty good but pretty weird start for the Mariners' ace. He got the first two hitters out in each of the first four innings, but didn't throw a 1-2-3 inning until the fifth. In the first, Abreu singled past the mound. In the second, Bobby Wilson doubled deep to centerfield off the glove of Gutierrez for a double. In the third, Willits bunted himself aboard, though I thought he could have been called out. In the fourth, Felix got squeezed a bit on a full count. Still, those four innings were fairly inconsequential unless you're talking about the pitch count for Felix. From the two-out Bobby Wilson walk in the fourth until the Abreu homer in the eighth, Felix faced 11 hitters and recorded 11 outs. Granted, he got a double play in there, but he got on a roll. The Hideki Matsui single in the sixth was the first Angel baserunner of the game with less than two out. The average per-start line for Felix through 11 starts: 6 2/3 innings, 3 runs (2.6 earned), 6.6 hits, 2.6 walks, 5.9 strikeouts, 106 pitches (67 strikes), 8.6 groundouts, 4 flyouts. Felix averaged 13.9 pitches per inning in this game, lower than his season average of 16.2.
The Mariner offense only had four hits altogether in the game, so the bar isn't very high when it comes to gameballs...at least in terms of hits. The Mariners' leadoff hitter and rightfielder went 1-for-4 with a walk and two stolen bases in the game. The one hit was the aforementioned single. He is now 67-for-199 (.337) and is on pace to finish the season with 226 hits. Hopefully his pace picks up a bit soon. Ichiro's walk led off the game, and he stole both second base and third base in the first inning. His single came with one out in the fifth inning. He grounded out with one out and the bases empty in the third. He grounded out to lead off the eighth. Ichiro was caught looking with the bases empty to end the tenth inning. Ichiro has stolen 13 bases through 48 games. Could he get to 40 steals this season? Could he get there despite definitely not being at the same speed he was back in 2001? If the team as a whole is crap, we have to pick things like this to hang onto.
3) Jose Lopez
Two loopy bloopy singles amounted for the 2-for-4 day of the Mariners' third baseman. He scored the only run of the game for the Mariners. Don't look now, but Lopez has a five-game hitting streak and is 7-for-19 (.368) over that span. He has pushed his batting average all the way up to .226, rescuing it from the depths of .211-ville where it was before this hitting streak. Know what I miss? Seeing this guy hit for power. The guy only has two homers all year after hitting all those homers last year. I just don't understand how the power stroke can just suddenly dry up. Then again, it's probably just further proof that God hates Seattle sports fans, somewhere in the same room with the Sonics leaving, the Seahawks getting flagged like crazy in a Super Bowl, Carlos Silva starting out 7-0 with the Cubs after stealing money from the Mariners, etc. Just awful, the whole lot of it. It makes me wonder why I even bother following sports anymore, but somehow reality itself actually sucks more than sports even if all my teams are awful.
He gets the goat for striking out in two very key situations early in the game. In the first, the Mariners pulled off the double steal during Bradley's at-bat, only for Bradley to whiff away. In the third, Figgins and Gutierrez were on second and first, respectively, with two out. Bradley got behind 0-2 immediately and took a 1-2 pitch for strike three. Sure, the entire offense sucked as a whole, but Bradley had the opportunities to put the Mariners ahead earlier in the game and maybe put some more pressure on Jered Weaver and ease a little pressure off of Felix Hernandez. Anyway, the pure fact that Bradley is still scuffling while Carlos Silva hasn't lost a game for the Cubs...well, I just said what that was. The key for Bradley is how he bounces back from a game like this, an 0-for-4 day with two strikeouts as the designated hitter. Still, he's batting .229, which is still better than Figgins, Lopez, Casey Kotchman, and Rob Johnson.
Snell. Saunders. Today.