Saturday, June 12, 2010
What was it going to be this time? Well, after getting pummeled mercilessly in the last three games in Arlington, the Mariners got a visit from an old friend, the walk-off loss. This one was their ninth such loss of the season as well as David Aardsma's fourth blown save of the season, matching his total for all of the 2009 season. Up to that point, though, it seemed like the game was primed for a Mariner win. They had a 3-2 lead after 5 1/2 innings and they looked to be taking it to the bank. That obviously didn't happen. The Mariners are 23-38 on the season at the 61-game mark, a mere single game ahead of the 2008 pace. I don't think there's any doubt now that the season is pretty much over. No way the Mariners are coming back from this. As a team, they've shown us nothing. Sure, there are small bits of individuals that have done okay, but as a team they've gone nowhere. I think we all know they could take a step laterally or a small step backward in comparison to last year, but I'd think few people expected a near-total failure from the offense.
-- Jason Vargas didn't throw the most efficient outing, but two runs over six innings is still quite good. He gave up the two runs in the third inning to give San Diego the 2-0 lead, but he hung around long enough for the Mariners to leapfrog the Padres and put him in line for the winning decision. In that third inning, he gave up a leadoff single, then a triple from Spawn of Tony Gwynn that made it 1-0. One out later, David Eckstein resumed his peskiness and singled to score Gwynn and make it 2-0. After a strikeout, Adrian Gonzalez reached on a Chone Figgins error, then Vargas walked Scott Hairston to load the bases. Vargas finally got a popup to end the inning. If the third inning was a little less nightmarish, Vargas at least gets into the seventh inning and possibly finishes it. That doesn't mean Don Wakamatsu wouldn't have gone with David Aardsma in the ninth, but whatever. Vargas actually set down the first six Padres he faced. In the fourth, he walked Jerry Hairston Jr. with one out before Gwynn doubled to move him to third. Vargas racked up two whiffs to bail himself out of that jam. In the sixth, he gave up a leadoff single, but then got a lineout and two fielder's choices to end the inning and his outing.
-- Shawn Kelley came in for the seventh with the Mariners leading 3-2. He allowed a one-out Chase Headley double. The Mariners then gave Adrian Gonzalez the empty base before Kelley got the whiff from Scott Hairston and Hundley to end the inning. I also just realized the Padres have two Hairstons on their team. Brandon League will be discussed below, as will the closer.
-- there were some offensive moments. In the fifth, Eliezer Alfonzo led off with a double and went to third on Vargas' bunt. Ichiro plated Alfonzo with a groundout to cut the Padres' lead to 2-1. Figgins was hit with a pitch, but scored on a long triple by Franklin Gutierrez to tie the game at 2-2 before Jose Lopez flew out to end the inning. Milton Bradley then led off the sixth with a home run.
-- was there any offensive choke? Ichiro led off the game with a single and never got beyond first base. In the second, Bradley singled to lead off, was moved to second on a Josh Wilson single, then was moved to third on an Alfonzo flyout, but that just set it up for Vargas at the plate, who whiffed to end the inning. Right after Bradley homered in the sixth, Wilson singled, then went to second on a wild pitch by Kevin Correia with Alfonzo at the plate. Unfortunately, Alfonzo whiffed to make it two out, and Vargas popped out to end the inning. In the eighth, Bradley singled with one out, stole second, then went to third because Hundley made a bad throw trying to gun him down. Wilson then grounded out to short, and since Casey Kotchman is what he is, he grounded out to second, ending the inning. Is it odd that the Mariners should have won this game despite going 0-for-9 with urnners in scoring position?
-- Ichiro went 1-for-5 in the game, making him 84-for-249 (.337) on the season and putting him on pace to finish with 224 hits. Yes, he's slipping, and he's gone 2-for-20 in the last five games. Funny how the Mariners got into that hitter-friendly park and scored six runs over the final three games. Awesome.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro got the only hit of the two, and Figgins scored the only run of the two. The Mariners remain 10-3 when both players score and 10-18 when they both collect hits.
1) Milton Bradley
The Mariners' resident enigma had a good day. His boxscore line shows as 3-for-4 with a homer, run scored, and a stolen base. He singled to lead off the second, though no runs ended up scoring. He whiffed with the bases empty and one out in the fourth, the only out he made. In the sixth, he led off with a home run that put the Mariners into a 3-2 lead that should have held. In the eighth, he singled with the bases empty and one out, then stole second and ended up on third thanks to an error. He was on third base with one out and wasn't driven home. Bradley's homer was his fourth and his RBI was his 22nd on the season. Bradley is now a .223 hitter with an on-base percentage of .293 and a slugging mark of .345. As great as it is for Bradley to have a good game like this, I can't help but feel it's too little too late. The sad part this year is that even if they tanked it, there's no Stephen Strasburg this season. Even when they were in line for him, they messed up and swept the final series from Oakland. I've said it a few times before on Sports and B's, but that was another instance of "even when you win, you lose."
2) Josh Wilson
While Ian Snell is once again bumped from the starting rotation by digging himself a grave, the other reason the trade with the Pirates is coming up the opposite of roses is that Jack Wilson sucks at the plate when healthy and can't contribute on defense when he's hurt. To me, Josh Wilson has shown flashes of brilliance at shortstop, though overall he's pretty average. The hitting, however, has been there, and he's done a lot of hitting since getting the call this season to join the big club. His 3-for-4 day puts him at .301 on the season (on-base at .348, slugging at .407). Don Wakamatsu just recently started moving him up in the order, and the Mariners really have nothing to lose when it comes to that. From May 16th to the present, Wilson has gone 31-for-92 (.337), scored seven runs, doubled six times, tripled once, driven in nine runs, and stolen two bases. Okay, so it's not a tear of glamour and it's not exactly headline-grabbing, but how many other Mariners have gotten significant playing time this year and are hitting .300?
3) Brandon League
It's been a topsy-turvy year for the guy, but this day was a good one. Holding a 3-2 lead in the eighth, League got a groundout back to him from Chris Denorfia to lead off, got a Jerry Hairston Jr. groundout, then got a groundout from Gwynn. Three groundouts. That's as advertised, and that's how it's supposed to be with League. The man with the most swung-at-and-missed pitch in the Majors last year has had trouble getting on the horse in Seattle, but then again, it seems like a lot of people do. I'm just hoping League doesn't end up being a pitching version of Jeff Cirillo, though League's not from the state of Washington in the least. I think the year started going south for League when Mark Lowe got hurt. Lowe threw in so many high-leverage situations for this team, and once he was on the shelf, League got more of those situations than he probably should have, and the results were mixed. While the 2009 bullpen was a group of no-name guys that settled into their roles, the 2010 bullpen was heavily dependent on Aardsma at the end and Lowe before him. That hasn't gone well.
It's no contest here. He plain didn't do his job, plain and simple. He blew four saves all of last year, and this was his fourth blown save of 2010. Even if he had notched saves in every single Mariner win this season, he'd be 19-for-23 on save opportunities. How was the ninth inning of horror? Will Venable came off the bench and singled to lead off, and he went to second on an Eckstein bunt. Aardsma then hit Chase Headley with a pitch. Gonzalez then doubled to score Venable to tie the game at 3-3 and put Headley on third. Scott Hairston was intentionally walked (force purposes on the bases, I'm guessing), and Hundley hit a deep-enough fly ball on his first to score Headley from third for a 4-3 Padre win. Like I said, Aardsma is 12-for-16 this year on save chances. To match his numbers last year in terms of saves and chances, he'll have to nail down 26 of 26 the rest of the way. Of course, he's thrown in 21 games so far this season, but we're past the one-third pole of the season, so he's on pace for around 60. He threw in 73 games last season.
Lee. LeBlanc. Tonight.
Friday, June 11, 2010
I had a lawn to mow on Thursday afternoon, so I got to the house and did that, missing the game entirely. I mowed the whole time thinking it'd be quite the riot if I got back to the computer only to see the Mariners had been clobbered again. Hey, wouldn't you know it, they got blasted again. They gave up another dozen runs. While Ryan Rowland-Smith was bad, some defensive gaffes helped set the game ablaze, leading to a whopping eight unearned runs. Something's always wrong, as Toad the Wet Sprocket once told us all. When the Mariners were in the middle of their eight-game tailspin in early May, I thought there was no way Cliff Lee should be a Mariner beyond July 4th. A week or two later, I was definitely in the school of thought saying they should use a few extra weeks (and a few extra starts) as some leverage and move Lee by June 15th. Some team's gotta really want Lee, and they're going to have to pay more than two sandwich picks at the end of the first round to get him. If Jack Zduriencik only does one thing right for the rest of the year, it's to get a good haul from a Cliff Lee deal.
-- the starting pitching is addressed in the entries. The average per-start line for Rowland-Smith: 5 innings, 4.5 runs (3.8 earned), 6.6 hits, 2.2 walks, 2.1 strikeouts, 86 pitches (54 strikes), 5.5 groundouts, 5.6 flyouts.
-- the first man out of the bullpen was Brandon League, who came in with two aboard and two out in the sixth. He got a grounder from his first hitter, Kinsler, but Josh Wilson had it get past him. With two on and two out, Guerrero singled to plate Young and make it 8-3. Josh Hamilton did the infield single thing, plating Kinsler to make it it 9-3. Smoak rang himself a double to plate the previous two hitters and make it 11-3. Finally, David Murphy singled to score Smoak and cap the scoring at 12-3. Funny that no runs were scored by either team in the final three innings of the game.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: League, Kelley, and Olson threw in this game. Going into Friday's game, Luke French and Sean White will have a day of rest, Chad Cordero will have two days of rest, and David Aardsma will have four days of rest.
-- oh, the offense. There was so much of it, after all. Tommy Hunter, whoever the frick that is, held the Mariners' lineup to a mere five hits. Michael Saunders and Chone Figgins had two hits apiece, and Mike Carp had the other hit. Carp also walked once, and Ryan Langerhans walked twice out of the second spot in the lineup. In the third, Saunders led off with a single and went to third on a Figgins single. Saunders scored on the same play when Borbon airmailed the throw to third trying to get Saunders and threw way too high. That put the Mariners on the board, down 3-1. One out later, Langerhans walked, then Franklin Gutierrez hit a deep fly ball that scored Figgins from third to bring the Mariners tantalizingly close at 3-2. That score held for a matter of minutes. In the fourth, Rob Johnson was hit with a pitch to start a two-out ruckus for the Mariners. Saunders singled to move Johnson to third, and Figgins then singled to score Johnson and bring the Mariners to within a grand slam of a tie game at 7-3.
-- were there blown chances for the Mariner offense? In the fifth, Langerhans drew a leadoff walk and only advanced when he stole second base with two out. In the sixth, Carp hit a leadoff single and was erased on a Johnson double-play ball. That was it. Texas pitching retired the final 11 Mariner hitters they faced, and somehow Darren Oliver, apparently an ageless wonder, threw a 1-2-3 inning, striking out the side.
-- Ichiro went 0-for-4 in the game, striking out three times. Even at his best, Ichiro wouldn't have been able to ignite this team to score nine more runs and tie this game. He is now 83-for-244 (.340) on the season and is on pace to finish with 224 hits. The pace has to get some speed.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro went hitless and didn't score in the game, while Figgins went 2-for-3, scored a run, and drove in another run for the Mariners in the game. Thus, the Mariners remain 10-3 when both players score and 10-18 when they both collect hits.
1) Michael Saunders
He went 2-for-4 in the game. He didn't make any egregious errors. He's from Victoria, British Columbia. He played leftfield. He wears number 55 on his back, but I wonder when he'll finally sit down and pick a hitters' number to go onto the back of his jersey. Saunders hit well when he first came back to the big club earlier this season. Since then, he's been running hot and cold with the bat. That said, he's had more hot that Milton Bradley
2) Shawn Kelley
After the two worst outings of his Major League career, Kelley threw a benign seventh inning. He gave up a leadoff single to Julio Borbon on the first pitch, but then got the next three hitters in order. Garrett Olson pitched a good eighth inning, not that the pressure was anything about which to write home. He gave up a two-out double to Smoak, but that was it. I absolutely have faith in Kelley turning himself around.
3) Garrett Olson
The Mariners' all-around lefty reliever pitched a good eighth inning, not that the pressure was anything about which to write home. He gave up a two-out double to Smoak, but that was it. I can't help but think how many of these games would have turned out if French and Olson were starting instead of Ian Snell and Ryan Rowland-Smith.
It's not all him, but he can still be blamed. He got touched up right away in the first, giving up back-to-back singles to lead off before getting as 1-6-3 double-play ball. Unfortunately, that's when Vladimir Guerrero singled score the leadoff runner and make it 1-0 for Texas. Then Josh Hamilton vaporized a pitch, sending it 450 feet to score Guerrero and make it 3-0. In the third, Michael Young led off with a solo shot that made it 4-2 for Texas. The Aussie allowed another single and walk before recording the first out of the inning. Then came a key moment -- Justin Smoak grounded what should have been a double-play ball to Chone Figgins. Instead of the inning ending on a double play, Ian Kinsler scored from second on the play to make it 5-2 for Texas. A fielder's choice then scored Guerrero, and it was 6-2, Matt Treanor (also Mister Misty May) then singled to score David Murphy from second (Murphy stole his way to second) and make it 7-2. The Rangers never looked back. Finally came the sixth. Young singled with one out to chase the Aussie, and the inning unfolded after he left.
Vargas. Correia. Tonight.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
This team is unwatchable. Anyone who's still watching these games is probably delusional in some way. Sure, one can say that the "true fans" are still watching these games, thinking that in time the baseball gods will reward them with a championship or something. However, if there are die-hard fans out there that aren't watching these games every night nowadays, how could I not blame them? It'd be one thing if this team was playing an entertaining brand of baseball and you could convince yourself they had a chance to win every night. Instead, you know pretty early on in a game if it's going to be worth watching or not. If they're down three runs early, they're probably not winning. If the other team ever scores four runs, they're probably not winning. There's no drama unless you consider the Mariners finding different ways to lose every night to be drama by itself. Maybe it's one of those things -- the chase is better than the catch, or getting there is half the fun. If you know the team's going to lose anyway, you might as well enjoy the journey. Maybe making cheap and friendly wagers on how the Mariners will lose every night would make it more fun? I don't know.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed in the goat entry. I don't end up talking much about the starting pitching in the game itself. It's more of a big-picture thing. Can you blame me for not wanting to wade through the wreckage of a 48-pitch, eight-run (seven earned) outing for Ian Snell?
-- the first man out of the bullpen will be discussed in the gameball entries. Sean White threw the eighth inning without incident. He threw a 1-2-3 inning, getting three outs through the air, though supposedly he was supposed to be a groundball guy, I thought. That's what I heard, anyway. Oh well. Dude's not that good.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: French and White threw in this game. Going into Thursday's game, Garrett Olson and Chad Cordero will have a day of rest, while Shawn Kelley, Brandon League, and David Aardsma will have three days of rest.
-- for the second straight night, the suckitude of the starting pitching precluded anything the offense could conjure. Once again, I can't use the argument of "the Mariners won't win much games when they only score two runs" because they're not going to win anyway if the starting pitcher gives up eight runs and doesn't get out of the second inning.
-- it looked okay early, though. In the first, Milton Bradley walked with one out and stole second. He went to third on a Franklin Gutierrez flyout and scored when Jose Lopez doubled on the first pitch he saw. Josh Wilson then doubled to plate Lopez and make it 2-0. Wilson went to third on a wild pitch, but Matt Tuiasosopo flew out to right to end the inning. The Mariners were up 2-0 at that point. It was all downhill from there. After all, Ian Snell hadn't taken the mound yet.
-- were there blown chances? Yeah, but by then the Mariners were down six runs or more. In the fourth, Tuiasosopo drew a one-out walk in an inning otherwise filled with outs. In the fifth, Ichiro hit a cheap double that got past the first baseman and into foul ground, but he was still on second base when the inning was done. In the seventh, Michael Saunders drew an isolated one-out walk. In the eighth, Bradley led off with a single and Gutierrez then flew out. On the play, Bradley had rounded second but had to get back to first base. He got to first base safely, but hadn't touched second base on the way back to first. The Rangers caught that and threw back to second base on an appeal and got their wish. In the ninth, Wilson singled to lead off, then Tuiasosopo walked. With two outs, a wild pitch moevd the runners into scoring position and Chone Figgins walked to load the bases. Finally, Ryan Langerhans, who was in because it was pointless to have Ichiro in the game that late with it so far out of reach. Langerhans whiffed to mercifully end the game.
-- Ichiro went 1-for-4 with a double in the game. He's now 83-for-239 (.346) on the season, putting him on pace to finish the season with 228 hits.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro had the only hit out of the two players, and neither scored a run. The Mariners remain 10-3 when both players score and 10-18 when both players collect hits.
1) Josh Wilson
The Mariner shortstop hit an RBI double that gave the Mariners a 2-0 lead. Of course, that's when the game was still close. He ended up hitting a single later on in the game. Wilson's good hitting over the last month has finally gotten him a couple spots higher in the lineup, and in this game Wilson was in the fifth slot in the lineup. I don't think it's any stretch to think that the Jack Wilson rehabilitation assignment can kinda take as long as it wants to take. There's no rush to see Jack up with the big league any time soon. Josh is now a .296 hitter on the season with a .347 on-base percentage and a .409 slugging percentage. Josh Wilson just seems to be the little middle infielder that never seems to go away over the last couple seasons. The difference this year, of course, is that he seems to have an idea at the plate.
2) Luke French
The man who should take this rotation spot five days from now stepped in and sucked up some innings for the team, and didn't look horrible while doing it. Try to replay this game in your mind, except with French having his line plugged into the boxscore as the starting pitcher. What probably would end up happening is that I'd be complaining about how crappy the offense is, and whether there's an end in sight. French gave up four runs (three earned) on six hits in 5 1/3 innings, striking out three. Snell and Ryan Rowland-Smith have had tons of trouble trying to just get through five innings in starts for the Mariners, and it wasn't so bad when just one of those guys was in the rotation, but right now two of those guys are in the rotation, and it's crippling. If French can just consistently get through five innings, that's what the rotation needs right now until they can get Erik Bedard to do it.
3) Milton Bradley
The Mariners' resident enigma went 1-for-3 with a walk in the game. The worst thing he did was forget to step on second base on the way back to first base on a flyout. In any event, he got aboard twice, so that's fine and dandy for the on-base percentage. Bradley's still bad, hitting .208 with an on-base percentage of .281 and a slugging mark of .313. Now that Ken Griffey Jr. doesn't have the locker right next to Bradley's, will Bradley eventually have an outburst? I think another Bradley eruption, while unfortunate, might be the most entertaining thing that could possibly happen to the team right now. Yes, we've fallen pretty far. Actually, the only other thing right now that could be entertaining would be if Ichiro took a run at a 56-game hitting streak. You know what they say, though, is that if he got to 55 games, the opposing team would walk him every time.
He can't be on this roster any longer. He just can't. He's shown no progress whatsoever. He's this year's Carlos Silva, except the real-life version of this year's Carlos Silva is like 8-0 or something for the Cubs. So I guess I'm saying Snell is this year's version of last year's version of Silva. As much as I'd like for all of Jack Zduriencik's moves to come up golden and everything, he's gotta cut bait with Snell. Sure, Ronny Cedeno and Jeff clement were not that big of a package to give up anyway (though I liked Clement), but the Mariners have gotten next to nothing out of that trade. Jack Wilson is hurt and wouldn't hit well anyway if healthy. Snell sucks. In eight starts this season, Snell has failed to record an out past the sixth inning. In only two starts has he recorded an out in the sixth inning. The only role he might be able to fill on this roster is the garbage-time guy you throw when the starting pitcher gets lit. His average per-start line: 4 1/3 innings, 3.4 runs (3 earned), 5.5 hits, 2.6 walks, 2.1 strikeouts, 85 pitches (52 strikes). As a starter, he averages 19.4 pitches per inning, by far the worst of any Mariner starting pitcher.
Rowland-Smith. Hunter. Tomorrow.
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
This game was number 58 of 162 on the Mariners' season, and it was another stinker. To me, anyone can tell me that the Mariners might still mathematically be in the hunt for the AL West lead, but that hasn't been a realistic thought for me since early May. I don't care that the Mariners aren't behind by a margin of double-digit games yet, they're not going to go anywhere until they carve out some kind of identity that's actually positive. Sure, the Cliff Lee start on Monday night was awesome, but the Mariners scored four runs in that game. If they averaged four runs a game as an offense, they'd probably be leading the division right now. I'm reminded of a conversation on KJR that David Locke had with (I think) Mike Gastineau in 2003, when the Mariners slid in the final 61 games of the season, going 51-50 after a 42-19 start. Gastineau thought the Mariners were a good team, just that they could never get good pitching on the same days they got good hitting, or they couldn't get the bullpen to throw well when they got the other two facets of the game in their favor. Locke's reply: isn't that the mark of a bad baseball team?
That's where we are with this team. We thought this was a team built on starting pitching that was good enough to win games where the Mariners scored just enough runs to win. We knew the offense would be worse (definitely in terms of power) than last year, and we knew there was no way the bullpen could possibly be better than it was last year. What's happened? The Mariners are worse in basically every phase of the game than they were last year. Doug Fister and Jason Vargas are probably the only guys that have improved upon last season. In retrospect, how huge does the Cliff Lee abdominal injury coming out of spring training look now? He would have only missed four starts, but if only two of those were wins, how would that have changed the course of the season? Cliff Lee's injury was the first damper on this season, if you ask me.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed below in the entries
-- now, the bullpen. Garrett Olson came into the game with the bases empty, nobody out, and the Mariners down 7-1. He allowed a one-out walk and was victim to a Josh Wilson error with two out, but the inning ended with Olson stranding runners on first and second. Chad Cordero's outing will be discussed in the entries below.
-- as much as I wouldn't mind piling on the offense for scoring just one run, their level of suck in this game is precluded by Felix giving up seven runs. If Felix gives up seven runs, the only way this team will win is if they score like they did in the Cliff Lee start against San Diego, and that maybe happens twice per season. That doesn't mean I'm not disappointed in the offense for this game. Colby Lewis struggled mightily against the Mariners in the early innings, and the Mariners got his pitch count way up, and he was stalling on the mound and really slowing down the game. There's no way he should have won, but -- oh, wait -- he was facing the Mariners. No problem. Thus, the Mariners got a mere four hits against Colby frigging Lewis and went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Unbelievable.
-- the Mariners went six up and six down with their first six hitters before threatening in the third. Rob Johnson got aboard on a throwing error to lead off, and he got to second on a Michael Saunders walk. Johnson then got run down between second and third, eventually getting tagged on what was apparently a blown hit-and-run play with a 3-0 count on Figgins (Saunders went to second). Chone Figgins walked, the runners moved over on an Ichiro groundout, and Milton Bradley grounded out on the first pitch to end the inning. Franklin Gutierrez led off the sixth with a single and moved to second on a groundout by Jose Lopez. He got to third on a deep flyout by Mike Carp, but Josh Wilson fell victim to an absolutely ridiculous play by Elvis Andrus on the right side. He had to go quite a way to his right to get the ball, then had to make the long throw. That's the kind of crap luck the Mariners have been getting. In the seventh, Johnson hit a leadoff double off Julio Borbon's glove and never moved off second base thanks to a Saunders strikeout, a Figgins flyout, and an Ichiro first-pitch groundout. Ranger pitching retired the final nine Mariner hitters.
-- in the fourth, the Mariners did manage to score a run. Gutierrez led off with a single, then went to second on a Lopez walk. One out later, Wilson did the fielder's choice thing, which moved Gutierrez to third. Johnson singled to score Gutierrez and move Wilson to second. Saunders flew out to end the threat with the Mariners down 2-1. Unfortunately, that was as close as it got.
-- Ichiro went 0-for-4 in the game, striking out once. He led the game off with a flyout. He grounded out with runners on first and second with two out in the third, moving the runners ahead with the Mariners still down 2-0. He was caught looking (on a pitch way off the plate outside) with the bases empty and one out in the fifth. Ichiro grounded out with a runner on second to end the seventh inning. He's now 82-for-235 (.347) on the season, putting him on pace to finish the season with 229 hits.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Neither player had a hit or scored a run, though this stat takes a slightly different twist now with Figgins hitting ninth. The Mariners remain 10-3 when both players score and 10-18 when both players collect hits.
1) Rob Johnson
You know it's either a really good game or a really bad game if I'm putting the Mariners' light-hitting, iffy-catching catcher into the number-one gameball slot. He was hitting the ball pretty well on this night, which was a good thing. He was also charged with zero passed balls, and can't be blamed for any Felix Hernandez wild pitches because there were none. It's like the anti-Rob Johnson took over the body of Usual Rob Johnson for a night. He's in the boxscore as having been caught stealing to seriously defuse a rally in the third inning, but he can hardly be blamed for it since he can't swing Figgins' bat on a hit-and-run with a 3-0 count. Johnson tried throwing on the brakes once he saw Figgins didn't swing, but Saunders had already advanced to second base, so Johnson had nowhere to go. As for his hits, he singled home Gutierrez for the only Mariner run of the game in the fourth and he also drove a ball deep to rightcenter that went off Borbon's glove for a double. Johnson's batting average is now a sparkling .194. He has an on-base percentage of .300 (better than Lopez somehow) and a slugging percentage of .312.
2) Franklin Gutierrez
The Mariner catcher got two of the Mariners' four hits, and the Mariners' centerfielder got the other two Mariner hits on the night. He singled to lead off the fourth inning and eventually came around to score the only Seattle run of the game. He also singled to lead off the sixth inning, but never came around to score what would have been the tying run (the Mariners were down 2-1 at that point). Gutierrez is now a .288 hitter with an on-base percentage of .374 and a slugging mark of .420. He saw 16 pitches. To be honest, this game sucked so bad I don't feel like reaching for too much material. Gutierrez saw 16 pitches in the game.
3) Chad Cordero
What did Comeback Chad have to do to get me to put him on the list for the number-three gameball? He went 1-2-3 in the eighth inning after giving up a leadoff single in a game where his team was six runs behind. He's part of the bullpen, and he didn't get lit up, so that's good. It's also good because the bar wasn't set too high for me to try and pick three players to put into these gameball things. Chad Cordero in the past has been called Coco, but I seem to remember a mountain gorilla or some sort of other primate at either Point Defiance Zoo or Woodland Park Zoo that carried the name of Coco. This, of course, is before Conan O'Brien's name attached to it and it became ridiculously cool. Anyway, yeah, Cordero didn't suck.
Though it's not too early to tell if the Mariners roster as it stands will not make the playoffs this season, I think it's too early to say Felix will have a subpar season. So far, it hasn't looked good. Worse yet, we turned the calendar over to June and now Felix unloaded this dud on us all. It didn't help that the offense couldn't take care of some of their early scoring opportunities, but this team will hardly ever win if Felix is giving up seven runs. When the Mariners fell behind 3-1, I felt it would be a bit steep for the Mariners to come back, but when Elvis Andrus doubled to make it 5-1, the game had basically ended. Vladimir Guerrero absolutely destroying a pitch, well, that was just aesthetically pleasing and majestic. The game was done by that point, and it was just about saving the bullpen then. I wonder if they found the cover on that Guerrero home-run ball. That thing was crushed to smithereens.
Snell. Wilson. Tomorrow (Wednesday night).
Coming off a dreadful sweep at home at the hands of the hated Angels, things didn't look good for the Mariners. In order to keep baseball meaningful past mid-June, the Mariners have to put some pedal to the metal in the very near future. Going to Arlington isn't exactly something that would seem to help the Mariners much other than helping tiny middle infielders hit home runs that wouldn't get out of 30 other Major League ballparks. On this night, however, it was a good night for Cliff Lee's turn to come up in the rotation. It might have been a night of stifling heat in the Metroplex, but the Ranger bats weren't stifled by the heat, unless the heat's name was Cliff Lee. As for the offense, well...in the early 2000s, the Mariners a lot of times had a recipe of winning where they would score early and hang on for the win. This game pretty much followed that recipe, except now the Mariners have Cliff Lee to put in some main ingredients. The latest roster move involved Mike Sweeney having his back act up and land him on the disabled list. Mike Carp was called up in his place.
-- needless to say, the starting pitching will be discussed in the gameball entries.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: thanks to Lee, the entire bullpen got the night off. Going into Tuesday's game, Shawn Kelley, Garrett Olson, Brandon League, David Aardsma, and Luke French will have a day of rest. Chad Cordero and Sean White will have two days of rest.
-- I guess this leaves the offense. They scored their four runs in the second and third innings and were held off the board the rest of the way. Still, it was enough, and it was more than enough for Cliff Lee, who had a shutout going through 8 1/3 innings. In the second inning, Mike Carp led off with a single and was serased from the basepaths on a Josh Wilson fielder's choice. Rob Johnson then singled to move Wilson to second. Michael Saunders then homered to rightfield to put the Mariners up 3-0. With the things Mariner fans have put up with this season, it would have been naive to think the Mariners could get a 3-0 lead in the second inning and take it to the bank. As it turns out, that's exactly what the Mariners did. The three runs turned out to be al they needed. Still, the Mariners had one more to put onto the board. In the third, Mike Carp reached on an error by the first baseman. A Wilson single moved him to third, and Johnson singled next, to score Carp and cap the Mariners' end of the scoring at 4-0. Since Cliff Lee was awesome and didn't have to turn this one over to the bullpen, the four runs were more than enough.
-- were there blown chances for the offense? Of course, but that's inevitable. Milton Bradley, hitting second in the game, singled with one out in the first, but was stranded. In the fourth, Ichiro drew a one-out walk, went to second on a Bradley bunt, then went to third on a Scott Feldman wild pitch with Franklin Gutierrez at the plate. Unfortunately, Gutierrez whiffed to end the at-bat. In the ninth, Chone Figgins singled with one out and was erased on an Ichiro fielder's choice. In fact, after the Johnson RBI single, Texas pitching retired 17 of the next 19 Mariners that came to the plate until the Figgins single in the ninth. Talk about pulling off the throttle -- holy crap.
-- Ichiro went hitless in the game (0-for-3), but walked twice and stole a base. He has stolen 18 bases this season through 57 games. He's on pace to finish the season with 51 steals, which would be the most since his crazy 2001 season. He stole 56 times out of 70 chances in 2001. This season, he's stolen 18 bags in 24 chances. His most prolific stealing season since 2001 was his 2006 season, when he was successful on an incredible 45 of 47 attempts. As for the hitting, Ichiro had his ten-game hitting streak snapped, leaving him 82-for-232 (.353) on the season, putting him on pace for a 232-hit season. Ichiro has an on-base percentage of .412 and a slugging percentage of .431.
1) Cliff Lee
The stat I heard from SportsCenter was that Lee came into this game having posted a 9.19 career ERA when pitching in Arlington. This was a good game to put that little stat to bed. He scattered seven hits on the way to a complete game, and he was two outs away from a shutout. He walked zero hitters, again signifying his awesomeness. He was perfect through three innings before Craig Gentry singled to lead off the fourth. In the fifth, he had a runner on first with one out, but got a fielder's choice, then gave up another single, but got a groundout to end the inning. After the Andres Blanco single in the fifth, Lee retired the next ten Ranger hitters he faced. In the ninth, he fell off the rails a bit, allowing back-to-back singles to start the inning. One out later, Josh Hamilton singled to make it 4-1, then Ian Kinsler scored on a fielder's choice to make it 4-2. A grounder to the right side resulting in Lee failing to catch the ball while covering first, but no one scored on the play. David Aardsma had been warming up in the bullpen, and Don Wakamatsu came out to the mound, but it was more to five Lee a rest than anything. Two pitches later, Lee got the flyout that ended the game. His average per-start line: 7 2/3 innings, 2.8 runs (2.4 earned), 6.6 hits, 0.5 walks, 7.1 strikeouts, 110 pitches (79 strikes), 7 groundouts, 7.5 flyouts. He averages 14.3 pitches per inning, tops on the club, just ahead of Doug Fister, who is currently off the active roster due to shoulder fatigue.
2) Chone Figgins
Being bumped all the way down into the ninth slot in the order didn't seem to faze the Mariners' second baseman. He went 3-for-4 in the game and went 1-for-2 on steal attempts. After Saunders homered in the first, Figgins singled with two out and stole second, but then got caught stealing third on the very next pitch. He led off the fourth with a flyout, the only out he made at the plate in the game. He singled with two out and the bases empty in the sixth. Finally, he singled with one out and the bases empty in the ninth. After all this time waiting for Figgins to get his batting average above .200 to stay, I think we're finally beyond that point. He'd have to be incredibly bad to sink back below .200 again, and that just really can't happen unless he really hits the skids, in which case I think Don Wakamatsu might actually pull him a time or two before he sank back below .200 again. Figgins has a .337 on-base percentage and a .289 slugging percentage. You'd also have to think that having Ichiro hitting behind you can only get you a better selection of pitches to hit.
3) Rob Johnson
How often does Rob Johnson go 2-for-4 with an RBI and not get charged for a single passed ball (or the pitcher for a probably-blockable wild pitch)? This may never happen again for the rest of the season. He singled with a runner on first in the second inning and ended up scoring the second Mariner run on the Saunders homer. In the third, he singled with two on and two out to score one and give the Mariners a 4-0 lead. He led off the sixth with a groundout. He ended the eighth with a groundout to third. All of this aside, Johnson is hitting .180 (still crappy) with an on-base percentage of .292 and a slugging percentage that's roughly the same. Also a weird dynamic here is that Lee was being caught by Rob Johnson instead of being caught by the usual backup catcher or something. Not that any of this affected Cliff Lee at all. Lee throws, you catch. Seems pretty simple. As for Johnson, he'll get his plaque or bust somewhere in western Montana for being one of the best Major Leaguers to ever come out of Montana.
Really, this is only because it had to be somebody. Ichiro and the Mariners' centerfielder were the only hitless Mariners on this night, so the goat had to be between one of the two of them. Ichiro walked twice and stole a base, but Gutierrez didn't really manage to reach base safely, so he wears the goat horns. Unsurpringly, his batting average has been falling off a bit in the last couple weeks after flirting with being a .300 average for a few weeks earlier in the season. Gutierrez is now hitting .284 with an on-base percentage of .372 and a slugging percentage of .418. But hey, he made the incredible diving catch over the weekend, so that's good. In short, some other hitters were going to have to pick up the slack when Gutierrez started to falter. Jose Lopez might be that guy, I'm not sure. This would all be a lot better if Gutierrez would just wake up and hit .500 for a month or something. Unfortunately, it's never that easy, and Don Wakamatsu responded to it in this game by messing with the lineup, benching Casey Kotchman, bumping Figgins to ninth, and having Bradley hit second. This was a trip of a lineup card.
Hernandez. Lewis. Tonight.
Sunday, June 06, 2010
I think what hurts most about me from this game is that Joel Pineiro got the win. Ever since the tail end of his Seattle tenure, he sucked. With how high we were on Pineiro at the tail end of the Lou Piniella era of Mariner baseball, it hurt me to see him go to Saint Louis and succeed as one of Dave Duncan's reclamation projects. So, I was hoping for Pineiro to do nothing but suck this year now that he's away from Duncan. He's 4-6 with an ERA of 5.23, so he's definitely achieving some level of suck. The problem, of course, is that he got the winning decision in this game, and that's not cool, especially since he wasn't that good. If trends hold true, however, the Mariners -- after having lost three straight, won three straight, and lost three straight -- should be on the verge of a three-game winning streak. As for roster moves, the latest move had Doug Fister, who missed the Saturday start, getting retroactively placed on the disabled list. Luke French was finally called up to take the roster spot. It was also cover for the Mariners having burned through their bullpen in this series against the Angels.
-- Jason Vargas didn't get clobbered in this game, but he did get hit around a bit. He threw six innings, so he didn't do an awful job of trying to get the bullpen a tiny bit of rest. Of course, the bullpen themselves decided to give themselves overtime, but whatever. Vargas didn't walk anyone, but he gave up ten hits, four of which went for extra bases (three doubles, one home run). He got touched up in the first when Erick Aybar doubled on the game's first pitch and scored on a two-out double by Torii Hunter that got the Angels a 1-0 lead that lasted a few minutes. Vargas gave up another leadoff single in the fourth, and Mike Napoli scored on a two-out double from the ugly swing of Robb Quinlan that cut the Mariners' lead to 3-2. In the fifth, Vargas met his home-run quota by giving up a homer to Hideki Matsui to tie the score at 3-3. So, that was it. The innings where the Angels scored off Vargas really had isolated and quick episodes of scoring rather than legitimate jams, nearly all of which Vargas seemed to escape. He dodged a leadoff Napoli single in the second, and he moved to second with one out. Vargas got outs on the next two pitches. In the third, Howie Kendrick bunted himself aboard with one out and went to second on a Matt Tuiasosopo error (he was put into the game after Chone Figgins was tossed). Vargas got out of that jam of two on and one out. One jam Vargas didn't escape was in the sixth. He got the first two hitters out, but consecutive singles and a Jose Lopez throwing error put the Angels into a 4-3 lead before Vargas got out of the inning.
-- great, the bullpen. Shawn Kelley will be discussed in the entries below (the bad one). Garrett Olson entered the game with runners on second and third and two out with the Mariners down 6-4. He walked Aybar on five pitches to load the bases before getting Kendrick to hit a low liner to shallow leftcenter, but Franklin Gutierrez made a diving catch to keep the game close and postpone the inevitable. Brandon League will be discussed in the entries below (one of the good ones). It was time for David Aardsma to get in some work, but bringing in a closer when down two runs is usually a bad thing, and this time was no exception. Aardsma couldn't finish the ninth inning, in fact. He gave up a leadoff single to Napoli, followed by a Juan Rivera double that made it 7-4. A groundout pushed Rivera to third, and one out later, he scored on an Aybar single that made it 8-4. That's when Aardsma got the hook and Luke French made his 2010 Mariner debut. He gave up a Kendrick triple on his second pitch to cap the scoring at 9-4 before getting a groundout to end the inning.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Kelley, Olson, League, Aardsma, and French threw in this game. Going into Monday's game in Arlington, Chad Cordero and Sean White will have a day of rest. Olson has thrown in each of the last three games.
-- offense? The Mariners scored four runs, which I'd say usually gives them a 50/50 shot at winning. In fact, the Mariners scored three times in the first inning to get themselves a 3-1 lead. People had to feel pretty good about this game after one inning of play. Ichiro led off with a walk and went to second on a Figgins infield single. One out later, Lopez singled to tie the game at 1-1, and Figgins was gunned down at third on the play. Milton Bradley then doubled to score Lopez and give the Mariners a 2-1 lead. Finally, a Josh Wilson triple scored Bradley to make it 3-1 for Seattle before a requisite Casey Kotchman groundout ended the inning. The Mariners didn't manage another scoring threat until the fourth. With one out, Kotchman and Eliezer Alfonzo hit back-to-back singles. A Michael Saunders groundout moved the runners up, but now there were two out. Ichiro was intentionally walked to the open base, and Tuiasosopo went down swinging. You have a bad team when as bad as Figgins has been this season, Tuiasosopo coming off the bench to replace him might actually be an offensive downgrade. In the fifth, Gutierrez doubled to lead off, went to third on a groundout, and watched as the next two hitters were retired.
-- the Mariners lost their lead in the top of the sixth, but crawled back to tie it in the bottom half of the sixth. Saunders walked with two out, then was doubled home by Ichiro to tie the game at 4-4.
-- but then it was back to futility for the hitters. In the eighth, with the Mariners down 6-4, Josh Wilson led off with a double, but the next two hitters were retired. Saunders then walked, but Ichiro grounded into a fielder's choice. Finally, in the ninth, Tuiasosopo somehow singled to lead off, but he was erased on a fielder's choice. Lopez singled to make it runners on the corners with one out. Bradley then whiffed and Wilson grounded out to end the game. The Mariners went 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position in the game.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro had two hits in the game, and Figgins had one. Only Ichiro scored a run. The Mariners remain 10-3 when both players score, but they're now 10-18 when both players collect hits.
Once again, at least someone's holding their end of the bargain. The Mariners' leadoff hitter and rightfielder went 2-for-3 with two walks, a double, and an RBI in the game. He is now 82-for-229 (.358) on the season and is on pace to finish the season with 237 hits. Ichiro extended his hitting streak to ten games, having gone 18-for-38 (.474) in that span with three doubles, four walks, six stolen bases, and six RBIs. He has an on-base percentage of .412 and a slugging percentage of .437. He walked to lead off the first, singled with two out and the bases empty in the second, was intentionally walked with two in scoring position and two out in the fourth, doubled with a runnner on first and two out in the sixth to tie the game at 4-4, and hit into a fielder's choice with runners on first and second and two out to end the eighth inning. I wish Ichiro could hit 30 home runs and bat fourth in this lineup. The Mariners could really use that kind of hitter. I really miss Russell Branyan.
2) Josh Wilson
The Mariners' shortstop hasn't had consecutive hitless games since May 14th and May 15th. Since, Wilson has gone 25-for-72 (.347) with five doubles, a triple, and eight RBIs. He's also drawn four walks and stolen two bases. In this game, he tripled with two down and a runner on second in the first inning, giving the Mariners a 3-1 lead. He popped out foul to lead off the fourth. With a runner on third and two out, he lined out to rightfield to end the fifth. He doubled to lead off the eighth. Finally, he grounded out with runners on the corners and two out to end the game. It's really too bad Jack Wilson makes too much money to not be played if he's on the big-league roster because Josh is hitting better right now than Jack Wilson ever would at his best. If Jack Wilson retired, would that free up his money? That might be the only way the Mariners get anything out of the trade that sent Ronny Cedeno and Jeff Clement to the Pirates for Ian Snell and Jack Wilson. If Jack's going to come back, can Josh fetch anything in a trade?
3) Brandon League
There were people in the bullpen that didn't completely suck. Garrett Olson didn't completely suck. Luke French also didn't completely suck either. This paragraph, however, is about Brandon League. With the Mariners still conceivably within reach in this game (down 6-4), League came into the game slated to face Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, and Hideki Matsui. He got Abreu swinging on a 1-2 pitch, got Hunter swinging on a 1-2 pitch, and got Matsui to ground out to first base on a 2-2 pitch. It's just weird that League gets clobbered sometimes, then he has stellar innings like this. Then he might have one or two more of these before the wheels fall off again. Don't get me wrong, I like having League in this bullpen, but there's been a lot of a feeling-out process by Don Wakamatsu, who's been trying to see how many different roles League can play. Still, Wakamatsu's kind of playing with fire when it comes to this, but these are the kinds of things that happen when a key figure such as Mark Lowe misses a significant amount of time due to injury.
Simply incredible. Up until this weekend, Kelley had mostly escaped being a suck part of the Mariner bullpen, but he just had the worst two games he's ever had wearing a Mariner uniform. In just two outings, Kelley took his ERA from 2.14 to 4.09. He went 0-1 on the weekend, throwing a combined one inning and giving up five runs on five hits (one home run), walking four and striking out one. He also allowed two inherited runners to score in the Saturday game. He faced a combined 13 hitters. Yes, that's 13 hitters to get three outs. Luckily, we've seen Kelley do pretty well, so we know what he's capable of unless he gets mentally weak or goes Rick Ankiel or Chuck Knoblauch on everyone. Before these two games, Kelley had given up runs in four out of his 17 total appearances. That's now six of 19 appearances. I think it's safe to say this is rock bottom for Kelley. I think he's probably one of the last two or three guys that should be kicked out of the bullpen with the next roster move. It shouldn't be him.
Feldman. Lee. Tonight.