Saturday, June 19, 2010
Where's the fire? The Mariners have won back-to-back games, giving the Mariners their first set of consecutive wins in just over two weeks, when they fashioned a three-game winning streak. They started the current winning streak improbably by merely winning a game on the road, something with which they've had immense trouble tihs season. After an off day, the Mariners had their chances to win on Friday multiplied exponentially by (1) just merely being at home, and (2) trotting Cliff Lee out to the mound. Let's just say that even though I saw his worst start of the year against San Diego, I'm glad I was able to see him in person throwing in a Mariner uniform. He's just been unbelievable. The last time anyone that wore a Mariner uniform had a stretch of pitching this dominant, it was probably Randy Johnson in a Houston Astro uniform, fresh off being traded away at the deadline by the Mariners. All told, the Mariners now find themselves two games better than the 2008 pace and three games behind the 2004 pace. Also, the roster move of the day had Luke French going back down to Tacoma and Mike Sweeney returning from the disabled list. The off day probably precluded French's slot from appearing in the rotation this time around.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed in the gameball entries, of course.
-- the bullpen got the night off. Going into Saturday's game, Brandon League and David Aardsma will have two days of rest, Shawn Kelley and Garrett Olson will have three days of rest, Chad Cordero and Sean White will have four days of rest, and Brian Sweeney will still be available.
-- as for offense, the Mariner bats mustered all of five hits and one run. Luckily, Cliff Lee was on the mound to take a 1-0 lead to the bank. Josh Wilson's RBI single (and Jose Lopez sliding to evade a tag and sneaking a hand across the plate) gave the Mariners the only run of the game in the sixth. Conveniently, all that nonsense about the Mariners actually scoring occurred with two outs. Lopez started it off by getting hit by a pitch, then Franklin Gutierrez hit a single to move Lopez to second. This is usually where the Mariners fold up the tent and get back into the field, but this time Josh Wilson declared that he still indeed has something left in that bat.
-- there were blown chances for the Mariner offense, but it was still only a 1-0 game. Lopez led off the second inning with a double, then Wilson drew a one-out walk. Rob Johnson drew a two-out walk that loaded the bases, but Michael Saunders struck out to make the inning fruitless.
-- Ichiro went 0-for-4 in the game, leaving him at 93-for-275 (.338) for the season. He is on pace to finish the season with 225 hits. All four of his plate appearances in this game ended with groundouts.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro and Chone Figgins both put up lines of 0-for-4 with no runs scored. The Mariners remain 10-4 when both players score runs, and they're 12-20 when both players collect hits.
1) Cliff Lee
What a piece of mastery this was. Lee has had some great starts this year, sure, but this one was the first complete-game shutout, after narrowly missing one two starts ago. My favorite stat right now regarding Lee is that he's walked four hitters and struck out 67. There's nothing like having a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 16.75:1. As for this game, Lee was teetering a bit early. In the first inning, he had trouble getting the final out as Joey Votto singled and Scott Rolen doubled before Jonny Gomes mercifully grounded out to end the inning. He then set down the next six Cincinnati hitters before Brandon Phillips doubled with two out in the third in an otherwise nothing inning offensively for the Reds. Lee followed that up with another inning of an isolated two-out hit, this time being a Chris Heisey single. Lee had retired 12 straight Red hitters before giving up an Orlando Cabrera single in the eighth, again with two out. Lee then spiked the second pitch to Phillips (I can't put this on Johnson, it really was the pitcher's fault this time) to move Cabrera to second and make it interesting, but Phillips grounded out to end the inning. Lee gave up a leadoff single to Votto on the second pitch of the ninth, but then recorded outs with the final three hitters he faced, culminating with a whiff by Heisey.
2) Josh Wilson
The Mariners' shortstop had gone 0-for-14 over the last four games, dropping his batting average from .307 all the way down to .277 at the end of the road trip. Just as I thought he might be mediocre again on offense, Wilson went 2-for-2 with a walk, a double, and an RBI in this game. Unfortunately for Wilson, his double was a meaningless one with two out and the bases empty in the fourth inning. His single, however, accounted for what held up as the winning run. Just like that, Wilson added ten points to his batting average as well as 13 points to his on-base percentage (now .342) and 16 points to his slugging percentage (now .385). His slugging percentage is now higher than that of Jose Lopez and Milton Bradley, even after Lopez doubled twice in this game. Before the season started, did anyone have Josh Wilson penciled in as a meaningful offensive contributor for the 2010 Mariners? Sure, penciling in Jack Wilson for an injury and some offensive suck would have been predictable, but not what Josh Wilson has done.
3) Jose Lopez
The Mariners' third baseman goes into the boxscore with a 2-for-3 day, doubling twice. Of course, one of these doubles was a pure gift. With two out in the eighth and the Mariners looking for an insurance run, Lopez popped a ball high into leftfield. Gomes looked up, but he lost it in the twilight sky that only one of the longest days of Seattle's calendar year can provide. The ball fell about 10-20 feet in front of him, and Lopez coasted into second base with what went for a double. He keyed what should have been a rally resulting in a Mariner run or runs, doubling to lead off the second inning, but the Mariners were held scoreless. His inning of good luck, however, was the sixth. He was hit by a pitch with two out. From there, the rally materialized as he went to second on a Gutierrez single, then came home on the Wilson single. There was a play at the plate, but Lopez avoided the tag, sliding nicely off to the outside and reaching back for the plate to make it 1-0, capping the scoring.
This is only because it has to be somebody. With the bases loaded and two out in the second inning, the Mariners' leftfielder popped out foul along the third-base line to end an inning in which the Mariners really should have scored. One can only expect so much out of Saunders -- he's the number-nine hitter in the lineup for a reason. In his first five games after being called up from Tacoma this season, Saunders went 7-for-18 (.389) with two doubles, two homers, and five RBIs. Since, he's gone 10-for-59 (.169) with one double, one homer, and five RBIs. As badly as he's sucked, the Mariners are getting more out of his roster spot by giving him a bunch of playing time in leftfield instead of having, say, Ken Griffey Jr. still on the roster hardly playing, and hitting nothing whenever he did appear on the field. That's a pretty sad state of affairs, sure, but it's also true. As we know, the truth hurts.
LeCure. Hernandez. Tonight.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Holy crap, it's a Mariner win! These have become rare lately. This win was even more rare because it was a road win. The Mariners only needed 66 total games and 34 road games for it to happen, but they finally got their 10th road win of the season. Yes, the Mariners are 25-41 on the season and 10-24 on the road. The Mariners are one game better than the 2008 pace and three games worse than the 2004 pace. Coming into this game, the Mariners had lost 10 of 12 games since the last time they had consecutive wins. A three-game winning streak on the last homestand began the month for the Mariners, but what a distant memory it is. Anyway, the Mariners now get a day off to rest and fly back to Seattle for a six-game homestand. Besides the entire bullpen, one player who'll need the day of rest is Jose Lopez, who left the game due to left knee tendinitis, and there didn't appear to be a particular play that tweaked the knee of Lopez. Unfortunately, this means Matt Tuiasosopo may get more playing time in the near future. Having Jack Wilson returning to the team doesn't seem so bad now.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed in the entries below. It was great.
-- Brandon League came in for Vargas with a runner on third and two out. League's outing was short and sweet, striking out Matt Holliday on exactly three pitches. That was awful Mark Lowe-like of League. David Aardsma working with the slimmest lead possible, came in to nail down the save in the ninth. The first hitter was Albert Pujols, who didn't quite get all of a fastball, flying out to center. That was a huge out, but Ryan Ludwick bounced a double over the leftfield wall in the corner. Aardsma then buckled it down, striking out David Freese and getting a groundout from Colby Rasmus to end the game.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: League and Aardsma threw in this game and will have a day of rest going into Friday's game. Shawn Kelley and Garrett Olson will have two days of rest, Chad Cordero and Sean White will have three days of rest, and Brian Sweeney will be available for his first Mariner appearance in years.
-- the Mariners eked out a win despite only getting six hits in the game, five of them being off Jamie Garcia. Were there blown chances? Ichiro doubled on the fourth pitch of the game and was stranded there. In the second, Ryan Langerhans drew a one-out walk, but was erased on a double-play ball from Eliezer Alfonzo. Ichiro led off the eighth with a single, then stole second, then was picked off trying to go to third and was run down. Chone Figgins walked, then Milton Bradley walked on four pitches. Matt Tuiasosopo whiffed, but a passed ball on strike three moved the runners into scoring position. Josh Wilson then whiffed at three pitches to end the inning. So went all the opportunities where the Mariners had runners in decent situations and failed to score.
-- in the third, the Mariners drew first blood. With one out, Bradley and Lopez hit consecutive singles. Instead of striking out, Wilson was hit with a pitch to load the bases. Ryan Langerhans then grounded to second, where Felipe Lopez turned and threw to Brendan Ryan covering at second, who stepped on the bag, but Wilson executed a wonderful takeout slide to prevent Ryan from throwing to first (the fact that Felipe Lopez led Ryan into the runner with his throw also helped). Thanks to the slide, Bradley scored to put the Mariners ahead 1-0. After the Cardinals got the run right back in the bottom half of the fourth, the Mariners got to work in the fifth. Michael Saunders drove himself a leadoff single and went to second on a nice hit-and-run groundout by Jason Vargas. After Ichiro whiffed, Figgins singled to score Saunders and cap the scoring at 2-1.
-- Ichiro went 2-for-4 in the game and is now 93-for-271 (.343) on the season. He is on pace to finish the season with 228 hits. Ichiro also notched his 20th stolen base of the season. With 20 steals and 15 games remaining to the halfway point of the season, Ichiro is on pace to beat his steal total from 2006, when he stole 45 bases. He'd be hard-pressed to beat the steal percentage from the same year (he was successful on 45 of 47 chances!), but this will definitely beat his 26 steals from last year. This of course leads me to think of why the team could have been so good last year despite Ichiro having only stolen 26 bags, his worst as a Major Leaguer. Previously, his low-water steal mark was a 31-steal season in 2002.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro had two hits and Figgins had one. Neither player scored a run. The remain 10-4 when both players score, but they're now 12-20 when both collect hits.
1) Jason Vargas
Along with Jamie Garcia, Vargas had this game just humming along and going at record pace until the umpires went down the tunnel to review the Pujols long double which shouldn't have taken as long to review as it did, but whatever. This was arguably Vargas' best start of the season. It was definitely his deepest start of the season. In terms of pitches per inning (one way you could measure efficiency, I guess), this was the second-most efficient start of the season by any Mariner starting pitcher. Vargas averaged 12.3 pitches per inning, outdone only by Cliff Lee's 11.9 pitches per inning from his complete game two starts ago (June 7th). Vargas was only burned once, and that came in the fourth. Pujols doubled with one out, went to third on a wild pitch that was blocked by Alfonzo, but the ball got too far in front of Alfonzo, and he Pujols took off as soon as he saw the ball in the dirt. Ryan Ludwick then hit a deep-enough fly ball to score Pujols and tie the game at 1-1. Vargas then gave up a single to Freese before getting Rasmus to fly out and end the inning. Great start by Vargas.
2) Milton Bradley
His almost-catch of the Pujols double saved a home run and probably saved the win for the Mariners. As for his offensive output, he whiffed with Ichiro on second and one out in the first, singled with one out and the bases empty in the fourth, whiffed with Figgins on second and two out in the fifth, and walked on four pitches with Figgins on first and one out in the eighth. The odd thing about the catch, though, was that he might have had a much better chance to catch it if the bullpen gate/fence hadn't given way when he leaped up against it. Back to his offense, Bradley is hitting .271 so far in the month of June with an on-base percentage of .386 and a slugging mark of .500 thanks to his two doubles and three home runs. He's also walked seven times and stolen five bases without being caught. He's had a ten-game stretch where he hasn't gone hitless in consecutive games. In this stretch, he's 10-for-33 with two doubles and three homers, driving in five runs. He's slugging .636 in that span.
3) Chone Figgins
The Mariners' second baseman drove in the run that held up as the winning run in the fifth inning. As for the rest of his day, he grounded out to third with Ichiro on second and nobody out in the first, he grounded out to lead off the fourth, had the single to score Saunders from second with the go-ahead run, and walked after Ichiro was run down trying to steal third. Figgins is now a .230 hitter on the season with an on-base percentage of .339. His slugging percentage is complete crap, but he's not getting paid to hit for extra bases. Of course, he's getting paid to hit way better than .230 on the season, but we've been over this. The season's a lost cause, but now Figgins sucks a bit less than he did a month ago, so that's something to build upon since he'll be with the Mariners for the next few years.
Now that I realized he had the takeout slide that scored the first run of the ballgame, I almost want to take Wilson out of this slot. However, he struck out twice in an 0-for-3 day. He had the key takeout slide right after right after being hit with a pitch. As for his outs, Wilson led off the second with a flyout, got hit with the pitch with runners on the corners and one out in the fourth, whiffed with one out and the bases empty in the sixth, then whiffed with two runners in scoring position to end the eighth. The most damning stat, however, is that Wilson has gone 0-for-14 over the last four games, sinking his batting average like a rock from .307 down to .277. I guess it's entirely possible the offensive mojo has been cashed from Wilson's bat. It was nice while it lasted. It's either that or Wilson really hates hitting in Saint Louis. It should be noted that Wilson had a four-game hitless streak in mid-May as well.
Cueto. Lee. Friday night.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
At least it was a close game this time. The Mariners lost, but they didn't get clobbered. Really, though, the day was a winner because the Mariners finally cut bait with Ian Snell, designating him for reassignment. The call-up in his place was former Mariner Brian Sweeney, who threw for the team in 2003 and went away in the trade where the Mariners cut bait with Jeff Cirillo, trading him to San Diego. Though the Cardinals' record is now only 36-29, I still expected absolutely nothing out of this series in Saint Louis, and nothing is ultimately what I've seen so far. Nothing good, anyway.
-- it's rare that anyone can say this about this year's Mariner team, but in this game, they scored all their runs on homers. The problem was that the homers were both solo shots. Even when the starting pitching is awesome, the Mariners will still have trouble winning games in which they score a mere two runs. Ryan Rowland-Smith obviously has not shown himself to be an elite starter this season, so it's an expectation that the offense probably has to score at least four runs to give him a chance to win. Last year, that might have been three, but Rowland-Smith's numbers have undergone inflation this season. Anyway, the first homer will be addressed in the gameballs below. The second homer was Ryan Langerhans' second of the year. He came off the bench in the ninth inning and hit in the pitcher's spot (Brandon League, in this case). While ultimately (and unfortunately) Ryan Franklin ended up with the save, he did at least give up the homer to Langerhans, who put it over the rightfield wall to cap the scoring at 4-2.
-- so with two of the Mariners' seven hits being solo shots that scored their only runs, were there any other real chances? The Mariners managed some two-out craziness in the first that got nowhere. Franklin Gutierrez and Jose Lopez singled back-to-back and Milton Bradley walked to load the bases before Josh Wilson hit into a fielder's choice to end the inning. In the second, Rob Johnson hit a one-out double. Rowland-Smith failed in his bunting mission, bunting foul with two strikes. Ichiro whiffed to end the inning, leaving the game scoreless. In the fifth, the Mariners were down 3-1 when Ichiro led off with an infield single. He went to third when Lopez hit an infield single with two out. Bradley walked to load the bases again before Wilson did the same thing he did the first time when he had the bases loaded with two out. That was it. Those were the Mariners' only true legitimate scoring chances in the game.
-- Ichiro went 1-for-5 in the game, getting aboard on an infield single. He is now 91-for-267 (.341) on the season, putting him on pace to finish the season with 227 hits.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro got the one hit and didn't score, while Figgins failed to hit or score. The Mariners remain 10-4 when both players score and 11-20 when they both collect hits.
-- Ryan Rowland-Smith wasn't bad, but he wasn't good either. If there's one thing I learned from the past two games, it's that the National League rules and Saint Louis' righthanded power hitters really made Don Wakamatsu have a bit of a short leash with Luke French and Rowland-Smith once the fourth and fifth innings came around. The bullpen is getting overworked, but the saving grace is that the Mariners have Thursday off. Much like Garrett Olson last year, Rowland-Smith really was only burned by the big inning. The inning this time was the fourth inning, but the big inning was three runs. He didn't exactly sail through the first three innings, but he did face 12 hitters over those three innings. No 1-2-3 innings, sure, but nothing big. In the fourth, the Cardinals sent eight htiters to the plate. David Freese bounced a ball over the fence with one out, and he scored on Colby Rasmus' homer that put the Cardinals in the lead for good at 2-1. One out later, the Aussie managed to give up a double to opposing pitcher Jeff Suppan, which probably was a red flag to Wakamatsu. Brendan Ryan then singled Suppan home to make it 3-1 for Saint Louis. Rowland-Smith's average per-start line: 5 innings, 4.4 runs (3.7 earned), 2.1 walks, 2 strikeouts, 83 pitches (53 strikes), 5.5 groundouts, 5.6 flyouts.
-- now, the bullpen. Shawn Kelley threw the fifth inning, giving up the requisite Albert Pujols homer (that made it 4-1) and an inifield single to David Freese. Garrett Olson threw the sixth and seventh. He gave up two singles in the sixth and a leadoff walk (to Pujols) in the seventh. Brandon League threw the eighth, giving up only a two-out walk.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Kelley, Olson, and League threw in this game. Going into Wednesday's game, Chad Cordero and Sean White will have one day of rest, David Aardsma will have two days of rest, and Brian Sweeney will be available. Thursday is an off day for the Mariners.
1) Milton Bradley
The Mariners' resident enigma homered to give the Mariners' a 1-0 lead that lasted a few minutes. He also drew two walks. He also tried bunting himself aboard in the later innings when nothing else seemed to be working for the Mariner offense. About the worst thing he did during the game was throw toward the plate on a play where he really had no chance getting the runner at the plate, and the runner (hitter) moved to second base on the play. Like Figgins, Bradley is now a .228 hitter, though with much more power. That's not to say Bradley's been hitting with a ton of power -- on this team, everything is relative.
2) Jose Lopez
The Mariners' third baseman was the only Mariner on the night with multiple hits. He singled in a fruitless first inning, then later hit an infield single. Lopez is now a .232 hitter on the season with an on-base percentage of .258 and a slugging mark of .313. Who in the Mariners' lineup has a better slugging percentage? In this game, not Figgins and not Casey Kotchman. Even Rob Johnson has a high slugging percentage than Lopez. That's one big problem with this team, but how much can I really cry over spilled milk? The season's over, so should I really let myself get worked up over this? Did Brandon Morrow find Lopez's lucky bat and take it with him to Toronto or something? Lopez just hasn't hit for power with any regularity this season, and that's a huge problem.
The Mariner catcher went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk in the game, and he also gunned down Brendan Ryan trying to steal second base. His batting average is now up to a grand .211 with an on-base percentage of .318. His slugging percentage, though, is better than that of Lopez. Slightly more importantly, if Johnson is getting the odd hit here and there, I get to pull off on the throttle a bit on the Eliezer Alfonzo bandwagon. I think slightly less about the dream catching tandem of Josh Bard and Alfonzo. I don't even see a wild pitch or a passed ball in the boxscore. What's gotten into Rob Johnson?
After a ten-game stretch where he went 12-for-35, the immortal Jeff Suppan and the Cardinal pitching staff threw some spike strips down in front of the Figgins Express. The Mariners' second baseman went 0-for-5, but luckily Figgins had done well enough lately that even an 0-for-5 day wouldn't send his batting average below .200. He is now a .228 hitter on the season. Figgins flew out with one out and the bases empty in the first, was caught looking to lead off the third, whiffed with Ichiro on first and nobody out in the fifth, grounded out to lead off the seventh, and grounded out for the final out of the game.
Vargas. Garcia. Wednesday night.
Monday, June 14, 2010
when the most notable occurrence during the game was Albert Pujols getting earholed on a throw to the plate by Jose Lopez, you know it was a bad game. At long last, the Mariners, thanks to this nationally televised game, are now known far and wide as an embarrassingly bad team. The only way this could have been worse would be if that series in Arlington was nationally televised. Though the Cardinals with this win are only 35-29, I don't expect them to do anything other than sweep the Mariners in this three-game series. Thursday's off day can't come soon enough for the Mariners. They won't lose on Thursday. All in all, the Mariners have fallen to 24-40, 16 games under .500. That pace is two games worse than the 2004 team and only one better than the 2008 team. I got to see the game tonight, but over the past couple weeks I haven't been able to see many games, but I feel like I'm not really missing anything. Still, there always exists a chance that you may be rewarded even when watching a crappy team. The Mariners were pretty bad a few years ago when Ichiro made the Spider-Man catch. That was a pretty crap game, too, if I remember correctly. Still, those are the moments that keep you coming to the game of baseball, no matter how crappy the team is and even though it's against your better judgment.
-- Luke French wasn't a complete wreck. He did about what I expected, though I was hoping he wouldn't get pulled that quickly. Still, Don Wakamatsu figured it prudent to pull French in the fifth inning with his spot coming up in the batting order, despite having thrown only 60 pitches. It wouldn't have been so bad at first, since Chad Cordero was the first guy warming up in the bullpen. However, that unfortunately changed, and the first man out of the bullpen ended up being Ian Snell (more on Snell later). The Mariners spotted him a 2-0 lead before French threw a pitch, but he gave it all back and more in the bottom half of the inning. Matt Holliday drew a one-out walk and Albert Pujols singled before Ryan Ludwick unloaded, homering to put the Cardinals into a 3-2 lead, and they didn't look back. French allowed only a one-out double in the second, but was otherwise unscathed in the inning. In the third, French allowed a leadoff single to Holliday, who moved to third when Pujols was nailed trying to stretch a single into a double. Ludwick hit a deep-enough fly ball to score Holliday and make it 4-2 for Saint Louis. In the fourth, French allowed only a one-out walk, though it was to the pitcher Adam Wainwright. He threw one more pitch than he should have because Josh wilson muffed a routine grounder with two out. Still, that was it for French.
-- now, the bullpen. Snell's outing will be discussed way below. Chad Cordero threw the seventh inning. He walked Colby Rasmus on four pitches to start the inning, but got a lineout and a double-play ball to end the inning. Three hitters and three outs -- not bad for Cordero. Sean White came on for the eighth inning and did Sean White-like things. He allowed a leadoff single to Brendan Ryan, followed one out later by a Holliday single. Pujols then singled to make it 9-3 to cap the scoring for the game. Nothing like one run on three hits in 19 pitches. The game was far gone by that point, however, so White can only be piled upon so much.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Snell, Cordero, and White threw in this game. Going into Tuesday'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 Garrett Olson will have four days of rest.
-- as for the hitting, the Mariners had six hits and the gameballs below account for five of the six hits. The only other hit was a two-out double by Milton Bradley with the bases empty in the first. Were there any blown chances? Chone Figgins got himself an infield single with one out in the third, but that got nowhere. Figgins walked to lead off the sixth and went to second on an error, but Jose Lopez then grounded into a 5-3 double play that left Franklin Gutierrez on second, virtually ending the scoring threat. At that point, the Mariners were down 8-2 so it was only so much of a scoring threat to begin with.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. They had two hits apiece and scored one run apiece. The Mariners are now 10-4 when both players score and are now 11-20 when they both collect hits.
If Ichiro leads off the game with a home run, his work for the day might as well be done. If he's putting runs on the board by himself, that's a bonus, and you can't ask for much more. With a man on first base in the eighth and nobody out, Ichiro hit a double down the leftfield line that possibly could have been a triple if it wasn't touched by a fan. Anyway, Ichiro went 2-for-4 with the homer and double, driving in one and scoring once (i.e., himself). Ichiro is now 90-for-262 (.344) on the season, putting him on pace to finish the season with 228 hits. In one game, he bumped the batting average up from .341 to .344, but that's not the big news. It's not often that Ichiro doubles and homers in the same game. His slugging percentage went from .422 to .439 in one night. What does this all mean? Ichiro has the best slugging percentage on the team. Sure, he leads the team in batting average, but he always will. Now, however, he leads in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. Now that Franklin Gutierrez is cooling down (might we finally think about moving him off the number-three spot?), it's Ichiro and pray for rain with this offense.
2) Chone Figgins
The Mariners' second baseman went 2-for-3 with a walk, extending his unsuckness of late. In his last ten games, Figgins has gone 12-for-35 (.343, all singles) and has scored four runs, driving in three runs. He has also walked five times and stolen two bases. Figgins is hitting .319 in June with an on-base percentage of .419. Maybe that's what it's going to be for the rest of the year for the Mariners -- the players that underachieved will finally play somewhere close to par, but by then it'll be way too little and way too late. It's very much like when the Mariners swept the final series of the 2008 season only to lose out on drafting Stephen Strasburg. Right now, I think it might be a minor miracle if the Mariners finish the season within 10 games of the .500 mark. The team is 24-40 right now, but can you believe they were 11-11 at one point? Nothing like losing 29 of 42 games. That's nearly two out of every three games. In other words, since starting the season 11-11, the Mariners have been winning at a sparkling .310 winning percentage. Yeah, I guess I didn't feel like talking about Figgins.
3) Michael Saunders
I had a bit of a choice here for the third gameball. The first two were locks since they accounted for four of the Mariners' six hits on the night and scored two of the Mariners' three runs. Saunders came off the bench to drill a single and score the Mariners' final run of the game in the eighth inning. If nothing else comes of this season, it's that Saunders is going to get a good deal more playing time than he would have had Ken Griffey Jr. decide to prolong his long, slow march to the end of his career. I guess now I only wish one of Saunders and Ryan Langerhans was righthanded. It helps that Bradley's a switch-hitter, I guess. This team could really use Mike Sweeney back on the roster (and Mark Lowe, but that's another story). Cam someone tell me what the hell Matt Tuiasosopo is doing on this roster? It'd be one thing if he could rake or be a late-inning defensive replacement, but he pretty much sucks at everything in limited action. Hell, there's just too much suck on this entire team right now.
Speaking of guys who for some reason are still on the roster, what the hell is Ian Snell still doing on the roster? Has anyone seen any improvement at all out of him? Wakamatsu after the game attributed some of Snell's suck in this game to the play where Lopez earholed Pujols on a throw to the plate that should have been an out, but that doesn't exonerate Snell from walking Pujols on four pitches to lead off the inning (okay, maybe that's forgivable) and allowing a double to Ludwick before the play in question. The Lopez/Pujols play ended with the Cardinals putting two more runs on the board and leading 6-2. Not content with this, Snell buried the game once and for all when Rasmus homered to make it 8-2. The game went from possibly half-entertaining to an absolute walkover in the span of a couple minutes. Congratulations, Ian Snell. Looks like the Mariners will only get a wash at best out of that trade with the Pirates that landed Ian Snell and Jack Wilson in Seattle.
Rowland-Smith. Suppan. Tuesday night.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Cliff Lee was slightly less than superhuman on Saturday night and the Mariners lost their fifth straight. On Sunday afternoon, Felix Hernandez was superhuman and threw long enough for the Mariner bullpen not to be a factor. The Mariners also scored four runs, which was more than enough for Felix to win and end the team's losing streak. The Mariners have had losing streaks of four, two, one, four, eight, two, five, two, three, three, and five. Before I show more of a visually friendly thing regarding the Mariners' losing streaks this season, I'll bring up that the Mariners, for those not in the Pacific Northwest, are totally being shown on ESPN for Monday night's game in Saint Louis. Unfortunately, now the whole nation will be witness to the vat of suck that is the Seattle Mariners. Hopefully Luke French has a decent start, but I don't see the Mariner offense getting to Adam Wainwright. Also in Saint Louis: get ready for the crappy distant dead-center camera on FSN for that series. There are few things on this earth I hate more than watching baseball with the camera aligned and centered through the mound and the plate.
In more of a vertical format, the Mariners' losing streaks this season, accounting for all 39 of their losses...
- one game: once (one loss)
- two games: three times (six losses)
- three games: twice (six losses)
- four games: twice (eight losses)
- five games: twice (ten losses)
- eight games: once (eight losses)
-- the starting pitcher will be discussed below. David Aardsma came into the game with a runner on first and two out. Said runner took off for second base on indifference before Nick Hundley flew out to end the game. Aardsma, having blown the same number of saves this year as he did all of last year, notched his 13th save of the year, which was probably his cheapest and easiest.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Aardsma threw in this game. Going into Monday's game in Saint Louis, Sean White and Brandon League will have a day of rest, Shawn Kelley will have two days of rest, Garrett Olson will have three days of rest, Ian Snell will have four days of rest, and Chad Cordero will have five days of rest.
-- the offense managed nine hits. Three of them belonged to Rob Johnson (whaaa?!) and two belonged to Milton Bradley. That left four hits for the other seven hitters in the lineup. Quick math and a boxscore peek shows that Josh Wilson (he had to cool off sometime), Mike Carp, and Felix Hernandez (lest we forget the pitcher hits in the National League park) went hitless.
-- the Mariners' first baserunner of the game was Ichiro, who walked to lead off the game. He was immediately the front end of a double play. Clayton Richard faced the minimum of seven Mariner hitters before Rob Johnson singled with one out in the third. He was bunted over to second by Hernandez, but stayed there as an Ichiro groundout ended the inning. In the fifth, Johnson singled (again) with one out, but was erased when Hernandez hit into a fielder's choice. Ichiro whiffed to end that inning. In the sixth, the Mariners sent six hitters to the plate and didn't score. Figgins drew a leadoff walk and was moved to second on a Gutierrez single. Lopez hit into a double play, moving Figgins to third. Bradley was intentionally walked, then Wilson was unintentionally walked, loading the bases. Mike Carp then grounded out to short, ending the inning.
-- the Mariners had two offensive innings that aren't too centered around who I picked for gameballs, and they broke a tie and added insurance in the eighth and ninth. In the eighth, Chone Figgins did the infield single thing, and one out later, Lopez atoned for some moments of suck earlier in the game by doubling to break the tie and put the Mariners into a 3-2 lead. Bradley was hit by a pitch right after that, but Wilson flew out and Carp whiffed to derail the inning. In the ninth, well...I guess I address that in the Ichiro paragraph right after this.
-- Ichiro went 1-for-4 in the game with his only hit being a double. He also drew a walk. His walk led off the first inning, but he was erased two pitches later on Figgins' 3858205th double-play ball of the season. In the ninth, Rob Johnson was on second base when Ichiro doubled. Johnson scored, and the Mariners had an important insurance run to make it 4-2 going into the bottom of the ninth. As for the outs, Ichiro had a runner on second and two out in the third, but grounded out. In the fifth, he had a runner on first and two out, but whiffed. In the seventh, he grounded out with the bases empty to end the inning. He is now 88-for-258 (.341) on the season, putting him on pace to finish the season with 226 hits.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Only Figgins scored out of the two players, but they collected one hit apiece. The Mariners remain 10-3 when both players score, but are now 11-19 when they both collect hits.
1) Felix Hernandez
You gotta love the starts where Felix exhibits pure brilliance. It wasn't his best start ever, but it was still awesome. This wouldn't be a game where he was chasing perfection or a no-hitter. In fact, Jerry Hairston Jr. doubled to lead off the third for the Padres' first hit (and baserunner). Very unfortunately, Tony Gwynn Jr. then hit a long fly ball to center that Franklin Gutierrez misplayed, having it get past him and all the way to the wall. Hairston scored, and Gwynn, many orders of magnitude lighter than his dad, came all the way around to score, putting the Padres into a 2-0 lead. From there, Felix put the game on lockdown. After the inside-the-park homer, he struck out the next three hitters, striking out the side for the second straight inning. He allowed a leadoff walk in the fourth, but it was to Adrian Gonzalez, and the next three hitters went down in order. After the Gonzalez walk, Felix retired nine straight Padres. Scott Hairston snapped that streak with a leadoff single in the seventh. Hairston went to second on a balk, but Felix put away the next seven hitters before Gonzalez singled with one out in the ninth. He got a final fielder's choice groundout before yielding to Aardsma. The average per-start line for Felix: 6 2/3 innings, 3.1 runs (2.7 earned), 6.4 hits, 2.4 walks, 6.3 strikeouts, 109 pitches (69 strikes), 9 groundouts, 4 flyouts. He averaged 14.8 pitches per inning, his fourth-best outing this season in those terms. The 128 pitches he threw in this game was a career high, and keep in mind the Mariners have a day off Thursday, so he could get an extra day of rest if needed.
2) Milton Bradley
There always exists the possibility that Felix Hernandez could pitch an incredible game, yet it might not mean crap if the Mariners fail to score runs or they score an insufficient number of runs. Since the minimum amount of runs you can score in a game and still win is one, the Mariners had to score runs. Bradley was a big part of that on Sunday. In the fourth, Franklin Gutierrez singled with one out, but was erased on a fielder's choice groundout off the bat of Jose Lopez. Usually this is where an inning would fizzle out, but that's when Milton Bradley homered to give the Mariners legitimate life in this game, tying it at 2-2. It was his only hit of the game, but the big knock tied it, and the tie help from the top of the fourth through to the top of the eighth, when the Mariners broke the tie. Bradley was also intentionally walked with one out in the sixth to put a double play in order. Bradley is now a .224 hitter, a .308 on-baseman, and a .362 slugger.
3) Rob Johnson
Inexplicably, the Mariners' too-often catcher hit three singles, going 3-for-4 and raising his batting average from .194 to .216 in one game. Amazingly, I don't even see any passed balls or wild pitches in the boxscore for the Mariners' battery. The only odd happening was a balk by Felix. Johnson hitting three singles is pretty Ichiroian. Johnson has an on-base percentage of .322 and a slugging percentage of .333. With how bad he started the season, if he ends up anywhere near .240, I'll be overjoyed, and the Mariners will probably be winning or something. Just think of all that hitting from the bottom third of the lineup. Maybe by then the middle of the lineup would have been doing better, so you could have a decent-hitting Josh Wilson and an okay-hitting Johnson anchoring down the bottom of the lineup. Well, I'm not really holding out hope of any good stuff happening.
The recent call-up went 0-for-4 in the game, leaving five runners aboard. He's now hitting .263 in limited action since being recalled. The problem is that Carp is unimpressive and unremarkable, but Casey Kotchman is remarkably crapnormous. How much longer do the Mariners have Kotchman? Anyway, Carp led off the third with an infield popout and he led off the fifth with a groundout. In the sixth, two hitters were walked ahead of him to load the bases with two out. He had a 2-0 count, but ended up grounding out to end the inning. In the eighth, the Mariners had just taken a 3-2 lead and had runners on first and second with two out, but Carp whiffed to end the inning.
French. Wainwright. Monday night.
Well, this one was a game for seven and a half innings, but the end result is simple. The difference between the Mariners winning and losing was the difference between Cliff Lee being unstoppable and Cliff Lee being really good. On a team actually worth something, Lee should win in either scenario. In this game, he gave up three runs over seven innings, and that's just not good enough for a Mariner team with a dreadful offense. Like I said, it actually was a game into the eighth inning, but then Lee was pulled and the bullpen appeared. Not good.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed below
-- the first man out of the bullpen will be discussed below. Brandon League entered the game in the eighth inning with one out and runners on first and second with the Mariners down 4-1. League must nto have thrown the most swung-at-and-missed pitch of 2009, because Oscar Salazar then took him yard to make it 7-1, capping the scoring. League got the final two hitters out, but the game was effectively finished.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: White and League threw in this game. Going into Sunday's game, Shawn Kelley and David Aardsma will have a day of rest, Garrett Olson will have two days of rest, Ian Snell will have three days of rest, and Chad Cordero will have four days of rest.
-- the Mariners managed to put a run on the board. In the second inning, Rob Johnson doubled with one out and Ichiro singled on an 0-2 pitch to drive Johnson home. That cut the Padres' lead to 2-1.
-- were there blown chances for the Mariner offense? Well, Ichiro singled, Chone Figgins walked, and Franklin Gutierrez walked to load the bases with nobody fricking out in the first inning. Jose Lopez grounded into a 5-2-3 double play, with Ichiro getting forced out at home and Lopez being out at first. Wade LeBlanc was told to give Milton Bradley the open base, and after Bradley was intentionally walked to re-load the bases, Josh Wilson flew out on the first pitch to end the inning. That's the kind of season it's been, folks. In the third, Lopez singled with one out (could have used that in the first) and was erased on a Bradley fielder's choice. Wilson singled to move Bradley to second, but Mike Carp flew out to end the inning. Nine straight Mariner hitters were retired before Carp doubled with two out in the sixth. Johnson was put aboard, but that was pure strategy since Lee was due to bat, and he whiffed to end the inning. In the eighth, Bradley walked with one out and he went to second on a Wilson single. Carp singled to load the bases, but then Michael Saunders whiffed. The bench sucks so bad that Casey Kotchman came in to hit for Lee, and he grounded to short to end the inning. In the ninth, Ichiro doubled to lead off, but the next three hitters made outs, though the team had just been put behind by six runs anyway.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Neither scored a run, but Ichiro had three hits and Figgins had one. The Mariners remain 10-3 when both players score, but are now 10-19 when they both collect hits.
The Mariners' leadoff hitter and rightfielder snapped out of a 2-for-20 slump with a single to lead off the game, and that keyed what should have been a first-inning rally for the Mariners, but it was not meant to be. Anyway, Ichiro went 3-for-5 in the game with a double and the Mariners' only RBI. He is now 87-for-254 (.343) on the season, putting him on pace for a 227-hit season. Ichiro singled on the game's first pitch, hit the RBI single with two out and a man on second in the second inning, grounded out with the bases empty to end the fourth inning, grounded out to lead off the seventh, and doubled to lead off the ninth inning. It's always a great day when Ichiro gets aboard three times and scores zero times. Just a wonderful team, this one is. If you're wondering, a 227-hit season would push Ichiro to a total of 2267 hits in ten seasons in the Major Leagues. Obviously, that would mean he'd be averaging 226.7 hits per season. If his pace gets a little better, he could be chasing down his 2500th hit in late 2011. The same pace would put him at 3000 hits in 2014, in which case he would be a lead-pipe cinch as a first-ballot Hall of Famer. If his health holds up, even with a slight adjustment for aging, I'm thinking he could get his 3000th hit before the end of the 2015 season. Of course, he'd turn 42 years of age a couple weeks after the end of the 2015 season.
2) Cliff Lee
It'd be ridiculous to think Lee should be throwing eight innings and giving up two runs or less every time he takes the mound. Unfortunately, that appears to be the level at which Lee needs to be in order to consistently win games for this team since they're so pathetic. As mentioned earlier, Lee went seven innings and gave up three runs on seven hits, walking a grand total of zero and striking out three. His average per-start line this season: 7 2/3 innings, 2.8 runs (2.4 earned), 6.7 hits, 0.4 walks, 6.7 strikeouts, 108 pitches (78 strikes), 7.2 groundouts, 7.2 flyouts. He averages 14.2 pitches per inning. His least efficient start of the year came in the 15-8 home win against the Padres, where he averaged 18.2 pitches per inning. His most efficient start came in the complete-game start in his previous start, where he averaged 11.9 pitches per inning. As we know, the Lee trade countdown is on. June 15th is within mere days, but I don't think he'll be traded by then. If you ask me, though, he can't be a Mariner by July 4th unless you're really convinced you can get a bidding war to ramp up the price. I don't really need or want talent that's already on the big-league level because I don't give a crap about this year.
3) Mike Carp
I have my doubts as to whether this guy will ever hack it as a starter at the Major League level, but he managed to go 2-for-4 with a double in the game. In limited action this season at the big-league level, he's hit .267, which is better than quite a lot of other Mariners this season. He's yet to do very much with any of his cups of coffee in the Majors. I guess I've just considered him completely unimpressive. The last time I used or thought that phrase, I was talking about Cha Seung Baek. Of course, Carp is not a pitcher. Jeremy Reed impressed me more as a player than Carp has to this point. Honestly, I kind of miss Reed even though he wouldn't have a spot on this team unless it was coming off the bench. How much worse would he be coming off the bench than Casey Kotchman? I wonder if the Mariners could trade Carp to the Hiroshima Carp for whoever Hiroshima's best player is?
I guess the one thing that irks me about the roster move -- Jesus Colome and Kanekoa Texeira were designated for assignment not long ago while Garrett Olson and White were recalled -- was that it seemed like too safe a move or too much of a move to familiarity. So Texeira was let go, and now we see Sean White having outings like this one. The Mariners trailed 3-1 in the eighth with the game still seemingly within reach to where maybe they could luck themselves into two runs to tie the game. White came into the eighth inning and didn't finish it. He gave up a leadoff double, and that runner (Will Venable) went to third on a bunt. Chase Headley then doubled Venable home to make it 4-3. After Adrian Gonzalez was walked to put the double play in order. He was then pulled from the game before Brandon League rightfully lit his ERA ablaze by giving up a homer to Oscar Salazar. That made it 7-1 to cap the scoring for the game.
Hernandez. Richard. Today.