Friday, July 02, 2010
Okay, this was much more of a 2010 Mariners-y game where they get behind early, they have barely any offense of which to speak, and Sean White makes an appearance. Those are all ingredients of a sure Mariner loss, and that's what this was. Doug Fister was bitten by the big inning, and the Mariner offense had no answer. Worse yet, the Detroit Tigers put seven runs on the board in this game without Miguel Cabrera in the lineup. That's less than good, to say the least. Still, in Max Scherzer the Mariners were facing a pitcher that's caught a bit of fire, having given up only two earned runs over his last 20 2/3 innings (thanks to the ESPN BottomLine for that stat). The Mariners are 0-for-July. Sure, they're only two games into the month of July, but the sooner you win, the better. The pressure mounts with each consecutive loss. The importance of this really isn't that high since it's pretty much a lost season. Also, Erik Bedard will be getting the start on Tuesday. I say it's hello bullpen for Ryan Rowland-Smith and hello something-other-than-the-active-roster for Sean White.
-- the starting pitching will be covered in the ending bullet points
-- the first arm out of the Mariner bullpen will be discussed in the ending bullet points. Sean White came out for the seventh inning and wasn't able to finish it. Ramon Santiago somehow singled with one out, then Johnny Damon took White yard to make it 7-1 and cap the scoring. White caught Magglio Ordonez looking, then was pulled for Garrett Olson. Olson gave up a single to Brennan Boesch before getting a groundout from Carlos Guillen to end the inning. Brandon League came in and threw a 1-2-3 eighth inning, needing only eight pitches to do so.
-- as for the offense...what offense? One run on five hits isn't much. The top third of the lineup combined to go 4-for-11 in the game. The problem, of course, is that all the other hitters went 1-for-18. Not good. The only extra-base hit was a home run by Franklin Gutierrez which accounted for the only run of the game.
-- so there really weren't that many blown chances, what with the lack of baserunners. In the third, Rob Johnson walked and was erased on an Ichiro fielder's choice for the second out. In the fourth, Russell Branyan led off with a single and was erased on a Milton Bradley fielder's choice. Bradley was then erased on an inning-ending double play, hit into by Jose Lopez. In the seventh, Lopez walked with one out and was the front-end of an inning-ending double play, hit into by Franklin Gutierrez. In the ninth, Ichiro led off with a single and went to second on an infield single by Figgins. Casey Kotchman then hit one of his most well-hit balls of the year, going pretty deep to leftcenter. Boesch covered a lot of ground and made the running catch, but the runners were far from tagging up -- in fact, they had to retreat to their bags. Ichiro got back safely, but Figgins had come all the way around second and had to get back to first base. He couldn't do it in time. Quite the double play, that.
-- Ichiro, who was the designated hitter in this game, went 1-for-4 in the game, pushing him to 107-for-323 (.331) on the season. He is on pace to finish the season with 219 hits. Of his nine previous seasons, Ichiro has had four seasons where he finished with less than 219 hits -- he had 208 in 2002, 212 in 2003, 206 in 2005, and 213 last year. His last set of consecutive hitless games came on June 7th and 8th in Arlington. Despite this, his batting average has gone from .347 to .331 since. He's gone 25-for-87 in that span. That's a very pedestrian and totally not Ichiro-like .287 over a span of about three weeks. That's the odd thing about Ichiro. He could have a crazy-long hitting streak, but manage to lose points on his batting average because he's only getting one hit a game.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Neither player scored a run in this game, but Ichiro had a hit and Figgins had two. The Mariners remain 10-5 when both players score, but are now 15-23 when both players collect hits.
1) Franklin Gutierrez
Let's set the scene here. Top of the second inning. Two out. Gutierrez has a 3-1 count. He gets a hold of it and homers to leftfield. The Mariners have an early 1-0 lead. In other words, yes, the Mariners did have a lead at one point in this game. As has usually happened this season, the Mariners gave away this lead in the very next half-inning. Dating to the beginning of the series against the Cubs, Gutierrez has gone 9-for-27 with a double, three homers, and six RBIs. It's raised him from a .272 average to a .278 average, but he's also turned a .396 slugging percentage into a .426 slugging percentage in just a week and a half. That's not too shabby. He's not flirting with .300 like he did for a large portion of last season, but maybe he can get warm. As long as he can improve on a .247 June, I'll be fine with it.
2) Chad Cordero
He's only appeared in six games as a Mariner. In this one, he gave up a hit and struck out two in 1 1/3 innings when the Mariners were down 5-1. To be honest, if you wrote a book about Chad Cordero's tenure with the Mariners, you'd be finished pretty quickly. If you included some backstory about what he had to overcome to get back to the Majors, you'd have more of a story, that's for sure. Now that I think about it, I hope he's not the odd man out when Erik Bedard gets put back onto the roster and makes that start on Tuesday. That would not be good. I hope it's Sean White designated for assignment before it's Cordero getting designated for assignment. Actually, they'll probably just cut Brian Sweeney loose since they have the least amount of time invested in him. Lame, but that'll be more likely to happen than the just cutting of White.
3) Chone Figgins
Usually I would have put the only multi-hit Mariner at least first or second, but I've got him here because he got doubled off on the fly ball in the ninth inning. Granted, it's not like the Mariners would have scored six runs to tie the game or seven to leap ahead in the ninth inning. At some point, Mariano Rivera would have trotted out of the bullpen once the game got a bit close, and the Mariners wouldn't be able to touch him because Edgar Martinez is long retired. Anyway, Figgins singled twice and is hitting .232. I remember the last time I was at Safeco Field, he was still hitting under .200. In fact, Figgins hit .271 in the month of June, finally not being a complete vat of suck at the plate. His batting average was .194 on May 26th and is now .232, thanks in large part to that .271 June. I also thought Figgins' stolen-base pace was a little more gradual this year, but it has not been so. Figgins stole 13 of his 23 bases in June. Funny what happens when you get on base more often. Figgins has only been caught four times out of 27 attempts.
In short, he was bitten by the big inning. There was sure to be an adjustment period after Fister returned from the disabled list, and it seesm the adjustment period is at least two starts. The Tigers sent eight men to the plate in the second inning, though they didn't score until the sixth hitter came to the plate. In other words, he had trouble getting out number three. He caught Ordonez looking to lead off, but then Boesch singled. Guillen grounded out to move Boesch to second. Boesch went to third on a Brandon Inge infield single. Fister then walked Alex Avila on four pitches to load the bases. Don Kelly then bounced a ball over the wall in left for a double to score Boesch and Inge and make it 2-1. Austin Jackson then singled on the first pitch to score Avila and Kelly to make it 4-1. At that point, the Tigers had more than enough runs to win and could have put the game on autopilot. They could have changed out their entire starting nine at that point and still won the game. I'd like to see someone do that, in fact.
Vargas. Verlander. Saturday night.
[fuller post published ~6:04p]
The Mariners already had the series won, so in a way, anything positive from this game would have been an absolute bonus. The Mariners never led in this game. They did score some late runs, but gave them all (or both of them all) back on a home run by Alex Rodriguez off of David Aardsma. You win some, you lose some. Of course, the Mariners have lost more than won this season, so we'll just take the series win and go from there. Any time you can win a series in the Bronx, it's a good thing. Is there no better baseball fan to shut up than a Yankee fan? That's one great thing about this series -- the Yankee fans didn't have much to celebrate in the first two games.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed in the gameball entries
-- now, the bullpen. Brian Sweeney had four days of rest coming into this game. In his last appearance, he threw four innings and got the win in Doug Fister's first start coming off the disabled list. This time, he wasn't called upon to eat up a bunch of innings. He tried to keep the Mariners within two runs at 2-0, and he ended up throwing a 1-2-3 seventh inning. The eighth inning, however, will be discussed at the far end of this post.
-- as for the offense, all the run scoring came in the eighth inning. It all started with a four-pitch leadoff walk by Josh Bard. One out later, Ichiro singled Bard over to second. Chone Figgins popped out. Russell Branyan took a pitch that went off of and away from catcher Jorge Posada and to the backstop, moving the runners to third and second. On the next pitch, Branyan tagged a single to rightfield, scoring Bard and Ichiro and tying the game at 2-2. The inning ended when Branyan tried stretching the single into a double and was thrown out.
-- as for blown chances, the second inning saw Milton Bradley lead off with a ground-rule double. He went to third on a groundout, but he wound up staying there. In the fifth, Ryan Langerhans signled with one out, but didn't move on the basepaths. In the seventh, Jose Lopez drew a one-out walk and was erased on a fielder's choice to end the inning.
-- Ichiro went 1-for-4, pushing him to 106-for-319 (.332) on the season. He is on pace to finish the season with 220 hits, but I want to see 240 hits out of the guy.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro scored a run and got a hit, and Figgins did neither of those things. The Mariners remain 10-5 when both players score and 15-22 when both players collect hits.
1) Russell Branyan
So far, so good in Branyan's second tenure with the Mariners. This time, he drove in the only Mariner runs of the game, tying it and giving the Mariners a little hope until carnage unfolded in the bottof halm of the inning. Not exactly powerful, sure, but it was at least productive.
2) Milton Bradley
The Mariners' resident enigma was the only Mariner with multiple hits on the day. He doubled and singled. This makes it a five-game hitting streak for Bradley in which he's gone 7-for-20 (.350) with two doubles, two home runs, and two RBIs. Bradley is now hitting .218 with an on-base percentage of .301 and a slugging mark of .381.
3) Ryan Rowland-Smith
The Aussie still wasn't that efficient, but this time he got through six innings and only gave up two runs. It was a not-awful start for Rowland-Smith. Maybe in a few weeks he can start going a consistent seven innings every time out like he did about a year ago at this time. One of the runs he gave up came on a Robinson Cano home run, coming on a hanging breaking ball. The other run scored in the first inning. Derek Jeter led off with an infield single, went to third on a double by Nick Swisher, then Jeter scored on a Mark Teixeira groundout. Since being re-inserted into the rotation, Rowland-Smith has had four not-awful starts out of five starts. Baby steps.
Well, it's not a blown save, so I guess that's a positive that can be taken out of this game for Aardsma. I have to say, though...if Aardsma has games turning badly on him three times or more in the next month, it's time to put Brandon League into that spot and see what happens.
Fister. Scherzer. Tonight.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
In case anyone forgot, Felix Hernandez is still pretty good. I think we're going to lookback at the 2010 season and point to Cliff Lee's spring training injury as one of the big things that helped deflate the season. Lee probably missed four starts in April, and in the grand scheme of things, even with four wins, the Mariners would still only be 37-40. Actually, now that I look at that, three games under .500 looks a hell of a lot better than 11 games under .500 like they are now. The reason I bring up Lee on a night where Felix pitches is because Felix followed up Lee with an even more stellar outing of his own. Thinking back over what I just wrote, if the Mariners had four more April wins, they could have finished the month at 15-8, and goodness knows how the season may have transpired then. Still, that's crying over spilled milk, and what's done is done. This game marked another dominant pitching performance in the Bronx as well as another seven runs posted by the Mariner bats, as they lit up Philip Hughes on Tuesday and Javier Vazquez in this game. Luckily for the Yankees, they get the favorable matchup in the final game of the series. Here's a hint -- the Mariners will be throwing an Australian guy against CC Sabathia. At least most Mariner fans will be at work and won't have to witness that carnage.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed in the gameballs
-- yet again, the bullpen was completely rested and had a night off. Going into Thursday's game, David Pauley and Sean White will have three days of rest. Brian Sweeney and Brandon League will have four days of rest, and Chad cordero, Garrett Olson, and David Aardsma will have five days of rest.
-- the Mariners got the go-ahead run when Milton Bradley walloped an 0-2 pitch over the wall to deep centerfield (not quite dead center, but a little to the right). That gave the Mariners a 1-0 lead and they never looked back. Ryan Langerhans singled with one out in an otherwise nothing inning. Langerhans actually came in to hit for Franklin Gutierrez, who left the game with an upset stomach. Langerhans then played leftfield while Michael Saunders scooted to center. In the third, Saunders homered to rightcenter, making it 2-0. Two outs later, Russell Branyan was hit with a pitch, Bradley did the infield single thing, and Jose Lopez singled Branyan across to make it 3-0. In the seventh, Chone Figgins singled with one out and bore witness to Branyan's first homer as a 2010 Mariner, a shot over the wall in rightcenter that made it 5-0. In the eighth, everything occurred with two out. Rob Johnson walked, then watched as Saunders put a ball into the second deck in rightfield to make it 7-0. I'm not sure if I prefer the Seahawks-over-Giants parallel or the Seahawks-over-Jets parallel.
-- Ichiro went 1-for-5, pushing him to 105-for-315 (.333) on the season, putting him on pace to finish the season with 221 hits. Other than this latest good stretch the Mariners have experienced, I think the next thing that could be big fun is if Ichiro goes on a crazy-long hitting streak. I could sure use a crazy hitting streak out of him right now.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro and Figgins had a single apiece in the game, and while Ichiro never scored a run, Figgins scored one. The Mariners remain 10-5 when both players score, but are now 15-22 when both players get collect hits.
1) Felix Hernandez
This start marks the third straight nine-inning start for Felix. He's gotten at least 26 outs in each of his last four starts. He's gone at least eight innings in six of his last seven starts. Over that span, he's given up 13 runs over 49 2/3 innings, which is good for an ERA of 2.36. Keep in mind, that 2.36 ERA is despite one outlier of a start where he went six innings and gave up seven runs. If you just take his last four starts, he's gone 35 2/3 innings and given up a mere five runs, good for a crazy ERA of 1.26. Felix struck out 11 hitters in this game for his first double-digit strikeout game of the season. I guess the whole thing about Felix being awful in May must really be true. The Mariners didn't win at all in six games in May when Felix made the start, though he pitched well enough to win in three of those starts. Anyway, here's the average per-start line for Felix this season: 7 innings, 2.7 runs (2.4 earned), 5.9 hits, 2.2 walks, 6.8 strikeouts, 110 pitches (71 strikes), 9.1 groundouts, 4.9 flyouts. He's good. He won't match his win total from last year, but I'd like to see him try.
2) Michael Saunders
The only thing that kept him from the number-one gameball was Felix throwing a two-hit complete-game shutout. If Felix would have given up just one run, Saunders would have been the number-one gameball. Though Saunders has shown us stretches this season where he struggles a bit at the plate, he's shown he can pop a home run every once in a while, and this game was one of Saunders' best as a Major Leaguer. Saunders homered twice and drove in three of the Mariners' seven runs in the game. He now has seven homers on the season despite not being up with the big club for the full season. This puts him only one behind Bradley for what would be the team lead had Branyan not been reacquired. Branyan hit his 11th homer of the season in the game. Still, Saunders is helped by his tall frame and pretty short swing. Physically, he reminds me of a lefthanded Richie Sexson, but lefthanded, Canadian, and with less strikeouts and no shoulder surgery. Actually, Saunders' swing is a bit more fluid than that of Sexson.
3) Milton Bradley
The Mariners' resident enigma sank all the way down to a .203 batting average after the first game of the series in Milwaukee (June 25th). After the middle game of that series, he was still hitting .203, but at least had hit a home run. With the month of June having come to a close, Bradley is currently on a four-game hitting streak. During said streak, he has gone 5-for-16 with a double, two home runs, and two RBIs (the homers were solo shots, unfortunately). In four games, he's taken the batting average from .203 to .212, the on-base percentage from .293 to .298, and the slugging percentage from .341 to .374.
He hit .212 for the month of June, and this four-game hitting streak is his rebound from a disastrous stretch where he went 0-for-19 over the span of six games where he started. As sad as this sounds, Bradley's been consistent from month to month -- he hit .211 in April, .214 in May, and .212 in June. What's drastically inconsistent, however, is his power (slugging) output from month to month, though that has a lot to do with his sitting out two weeks in May. He hit one homer for his only extra-base hit in May. In April, he doubled five times and homered twice. In June, he doubled three times and homered five times. Hey, if he homers five times in each of the remaining months, he'll finish with 23 homers. If we assume he'll get even better and find a groove, if he somehow gets to 30 homers, it'll be awesome. I wonder how the Cubs survived last year with Bradley and Carlos Zambrano in the same clubhouse.
He spent all the bat mojo on the first game of the series. It was much easier picking a goat tonight as opposed to 24 hours earlier. Jack Wilson and Johnson both went hitless. Jack went 0-for-4 with a strikeout, whereas Johnson went 0-for-3 and whiffed three times (hat trick), but walked once and scored. To me, that's almost a wash or a nod toward Jack as the goat, except Johnson ended up with his eighth passed ball of the season in the boxscore. This won't be the first time I've said this, but I'd be willing to put up with Johnson's defensive shortcomings if he just hit about .240 or .245. I remember when Dan Wilson was a Mariner and I'd get angry and argue he was an offensive black hole when he was hitting .240 and was a sure out on a grounder on the infield, and he seemed to ground into his share of double plays. Still, Dan Wilson was a defensive stalwart and blocked tons of balls in the dirt. Granted, Johnson has a better arm than Dan Wilson did. Anyway, the passed balls make me angry, and the wild pitches that don't have Johnson's name on them end up being the result of Johnson's blocking inability most of the time, in my opinion.
Rowland-Smith. Sabathia. Today.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Umm...Cliff Lee is really good. Not sure if that's a mystery or a revelation to anyone, but he's really good. Other than in the ninth inning, he was really only tripped up on two pitches to Nick Swisher. On most other nights, however, Lee would have been pulled after the eighth or definitely a couple batters into the ninth. Why? On most other nights, the Mariner offense isn't putting seven runs on the board. Thus, on what might be (I'm hoping it is) his final start as a Mariner, Cliff Lee had a little bit of wiggle room and was able to hang onto and finish his third straight complete game. Prospects ahoy! Also, with Russell Branyan back in the lineup, the Mariner offense seemed to function like an honest-to-goodness Major League lineup. Oh yeah, roster moves...Josh Bard is back off the DL, so Eliezer Alfonzo was designated for assignment. Of course, Lee is so good that it didn't matter who was behind the plate. I wish it was that way with Felix Hernandez, though I'm not necessarily putting that on Felix.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed in the gameballs below
-- since Lee threw a complete game, the bullpen was rested. Again. Going into Wednesday's game, David Pauley and Sean White will have two days of rest, Brian Sweeney and Brandon League will have three days of rest, and Chad Cordero, Garrett Olson, and David Aardsma will have four days of rest.
-- I don't really have the time to go through the previous 75 boxscores for this season, but it's not a stretch to say this was probably the first Mariner game where all nine starters recorded at least a hit. Ichiro, Franklin Gutierrez, and Rob Johnson had two hits apiece, and the others had one apiece. Additionally, five of the Mariners' 12 hits went for extra bases, definitely another rarity. Even more rare, the Mariners scored in five consecutive innings (second through sixth) in this game.
-- the first Mariner run got on the board thanks to a second-inning Jose Lopez leadoff double followed by a Gutierrez single to center that was bobbled multiple times by Curtis Granderson in centerfield. Unfortunately, Gutierrez was caught stealing second to empty the basepaths and end the threat. In the third, Michael Saunders hit a leadoff double and scored two pitches later on an Ichiro single to break the tie and make it 2-1. Gutierrez unloaded and homered to leftcenter to make it 3-1 and make up for the lineout double play (Lopez) two pitches earlier. In the fifth, Johnson bounced a ball over the rightfield wall, moved to third on a Saunders bunt, then scored on a deep-enough Ichiro flyout to make it 4-1. In the sixth, the Mariners had their biggish inning. Milton Bradley walked with one out and went to second on a Lopez groundout, meaning the craziness occurred with two out. Gutierrez was intentionally walked. Jack Wilson then lined a ball past Alex Rodriguez at third and into leftfield, and Bradley came around to score, beating the throw home, which was dropped by Francisco Cervelli (Gutierrez took third on the play, and Jack alertly took second). Johnson then doubled to the wall in leftcenter to score Gutierrez and Jack to make it 7-1, chasing Philip Hughes.
-- Ichiro went 2-for-4, pushing him to 104-for-310 (.335) on the season, putting him on pace to finish the season with 221 hits. Also important was the fact that he drove in two of the Mariners' seven runs.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Neither player scored a run in the game, but Ichiro had two hits while Figgins had one. The Mariners remain 10-5 when both players score, but are now 14-22 when both players collect hits.
1) Rob Johnson
If Lee would have given up two runs or less in his complete game, I probably have him in this number-one gameball spot. For this game, however, I decided that having Rob Johnson hitting two doubles in a game and driving in two runs is really rare, and if I didn't give him a gameball here, he'd have to hit a grand slam in some other game or something to warrant another gameball. I guess the best thing for me about Johnson lately, however, is the fact that I haven't been able to complain much about him failing to block balls behind the plate. I won't say I'm beginning to miss that or anything, because wishing for Johnson to be awful behind the plate is kind of a bad thing. Anyway, I guess what's maddening about Johnson is that he has a short swing that doesn't try to do too much, but he just doesn't make enough decent contact. If he did, it seems a swing that doesn't try to do too much would be a decent singles-hitting swing or something. Singles out of a catcher are better than nothing offensively out of a catcher, after all.
2) Cliff Lee
Part of me is almost hoping this was Lee's final start, because I'm almost tired of the hoopla surrounding whether he'll still be a Mariner or not. Well, I think it's a foregone conclusion that he's going to go, it's just a matter of when and where he goes. So what are we fans left with at the possible end of Lee's tenure? Lee went 7-3 and threw 95 2/3 innings in 12 starts over the span of two months. It's been a hell of a two months, though. Lee's average per-start line: 8 innings, 2.5 runs (2.2 earned), 6.9 hits, 0.4 walks, 6.5 strikeouts, 109 pitches (79 strikes), 7.5 groundouts, and 8.5 groundouts. He averaged 13.7 pitches per inning, the most efficient Mariner pitcher in those terms (Doug Fister is next best with 14.9 pitches per inning, Hernandez is at 15.6). As I'm typing this, I keep clicking refresh on a few sports pages just to see if Lee's been traded yet, and apparently he's still a Mariner. It's going to suck not getting to watch him throw every five days, but it's for the good of the Mariners' future. I've said it multiple times, but this is like what Billy Beane did when he got Matt Holliday, except Lee was stellar, whereas Holliday was mediocre.
3) Franklin Gutierrez
With Russell Branyan returning, Gutierrez was pushed down to the sixth spot in the lineup, which for now is probably good for him. Unless they move Branyan around, Gutierrez probably won't hit higher than fifth for the rest of the season. Actually, what I wish they could do is put Gutierrez back to the second spot in the lineup like they had him for a good portion of last year, but the Mariners are throwing a bunch of money at Chone Figgins, and Figgins really isn't a big fan of hitting ninth. Maybe someone should ask Figgins whether he wants to hit sixth, seventh, or eighth. Anyway, Gutierrez hit .283 in 2009 and is currently at .278 despite hitting .247 in June. While I don't see him going on a two-month tear like he did last season, it'd be great to see him turn in a month of .300 hitting with a bit more power. It's too easy to see his homer in this game as a byproduct of merely having Branyan (i.e., a power bat) somewhere else in the lineup, but surely it can't hurt. Don't get me wrong, there's no way Gutierrez will flirt with 20 homers like he did last year, but it'd be nice to see the power production a little more often.
This is one of the few nights this year where it's actually really difficult to pick a goat. If it's been trouble before, it's because multiple Mariners have sucked in the same game. This time, the pitching was incredible and all the Mariner hitters got at least a hit. So who to pick? Well, Figgins went 1-for-5 (no one else was worse than 1-for-5 on the night for the Mariners) and grounded into a double play. Figgins is a .232 hitter on the season with a .334 on-base percentage. The .232 is worse than Lopez. The .334 is better than all regulars except Gutierrez (.352) and Ichiro (.391). If there's one good thing Figgins did other than the hit in this game was steal a base. Figgins now has 22 stolen bases on the season, and the Mariners are five games away from the halfway point of the season. There hasn't been much to cheer for this season when you consider anything Figgins-related, but he could finish with 45 stolen bases and has an outside shot at 50 stolen bases. If you can't root for Figgins for any other reason, try that one.
Hernandez. Vazquez. Tonight.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Russell Branyan had a whirlwind day, apparently getting to Miller Park just in time for the game, and he was in uniform and on deck as the final out was made. Realistically, the only chance Branyan would have had to help the Mariners win this game would have been to hit solo homers all four times he came to the plate. The Mariners scratched out all of five hits and one walk. It wasn't exactly a recipe for winning. It definitely was the recipe for a 3-0 loss to a no-name pitcher, however (turns out he does have a name, and it's Chris Narveson). I was out most of Sunday, so you'll find the amount of text here directly correlates with the amount of Mariner hits in the game.
-- Jason Vargas had the kind of start you'd expect from a back-end starter, which wouldn't be such a big deal if the Mariners weren't so used to depending on him to put a good line out thehre every five days. He's usually a lot more efficient than 88 pitches in five innings.
That said, much like Doug Fister the night before, he didn't bury the team. He may not have been efficient with his pitches, but he still only gave up three runs. He was tagged on his second pitch of the game, which went for a Rickie Weeks home run that gave the Brewers a 1-0 lead they never lost. He gave up a leadoff single to Casey McGehee in the second, but stranded him there. In the third, he gave up a one-out double to Weeks, but stranded him there. It wasn't so well in the fifth, though, as Vargas walked Alcides Escobar to lead off. One out later, Weeks singled to move Escobar to third, but Weeks was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. Corey Hart then bounced a ball over the wall in left to score Escobar and make it 2-0. Prince Fielder then singled hard through the right side that scored Hart and capped the scoring at 3-0.
the first man out of the bullpen will be discussed in the entries. Sean White threw a scoreless eighth inning. He gave up a leadoff single to Carlos Gomez, but got a double-play ball with the next hitter. He then gave up a triple to Joe Inglett, but got Weeks to somehow ground out. I say somehow because Weeks had a four-hit day.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Pauley and White threw in this game and will have a day of rest going into Tuesday's game. Brian Sweeney and Brandon League will have two days of rest, and Chad Cordero, Garrett Olson, and David Aardsma will have three days of rest.
-- as for hitting, the Mariners had five total hits. This was one of those games where the Mariners went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, which is almost more damning for the number five than the number zero in the stat. Other than the pitchers, four of eight Mariners went hitless.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Figgins got the only hit of the two, and neither scored. The Mariners remain 10-5 when both players score and 13-22 when both collect hits.
1) Jose Lopez
He had two of the Mariners' five hits. He is now hitting .244. Let's hope the presence of Russell Branyan in the lineup ends up helping him, and hopefully that helps the power hitting as well.
2) Chone Figgins
He went 1-for-4 and stole his 21st base of the season. For as bad as he's been on offense this season, the steals appear to still be there as he's on pace to match or break his mark of 42 stolen bases last season.
3) David Pauley
He made his Mariner debut, throwing two shutout innings. He walked three guys, sure, but since the offense was so awful, the bar isn't set very high for the gameballs.
When a lot of the team sucks equally and it's hard to pick a goat, that's when you go for the leaders, and Ichiro went 0-for-4, ergo he's the goat. He is now 102-for-306 (.333) on the season, putting him on pace for 220 hits.
Lee. Hughes. Tomorrow.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
I might be starting to come around a bit on the Mariners not being completely suck and instead just being average suck. Why? I thought the Friday night game showed a breaking of their will, at least within the game. On Saturday afternoon, they showed a bit of fight, and it was enough to get them the win. It wasn't just normal adversity the Mariners faced in the game, either. The Mariners folded on Friday after Ryan Rowland-Smith had the game unravel over the course of three pitches. On Saturday, the Mariners on defense went through a Keystone Kops play where three runs scored, erasing their 2-0 lead and putting them behind. Four pitches later, Prince Fielder homered. Somehow, this didn't bury the Mariners on Saturday, and they jumped back into the lead in the very next frame. Incredible, really. As for roster moves, Saturday night the Mariners for some reason traded for Russell Branyan. It doesn't bode well for Mike Carp, I guess, but welcome back to Branyan if he can stay healthy.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed in the goat entry, but only because none of the hitters were completely hitless and awful to warrant the goat. Even the hitless Chone Figgins walked twice and scored once.
-- the first man out of the bullpen will be discussed in the gameball entries. Brandon League came into the ninth inning trying to take a 5-4 Mariner lead to the bank. It helped that Jim Edmonds, Alcides Escobar, and George Kottaras were due to hit, they being the 6-7-8 hitters in the Brewer lineup. Edmonds whiffed, and the other two lined out to Franklin Gutierrez. David Aardsma had thrown in back-to-back games heading into this game, so Don Wakamatsu gave him a rest despite this being a save situation.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Brian Sweeney and League threw in this game. Going into Sunday afternoon's game, Chad Cordero, Garrett Olson, and Aardsma will have a day of rest. Sean White will have two days of rest.
-- all the Mariners' scoring was compressed into the second, third, and fourth innings. In the second, the Mariners sent seven hitters to the plate and scored only one run. Milton Bradley got aboard on a fielding error, Josh Wilson walked, then Jack Wilson hit a single to left that was too shallow. The Mariners had loaded the bases with nobody out, and Rob Johnson grounded softly to short, driving in the run to make it 1-0. In the third, the first two hitters went nowhere, but Bradley put a huge jolt into a grooved pitch, landing it into the Goodwill-sponsored section, well over the leftcenter wall at Miller Park. In the fourth, Figgins walked with one out, then Gutierrez rocked a double into the gap in rightcenter to score Figgins and cut the Brewers' lead to 4-3. Jose Lopez then put a jolt into the ball, homering to left to vault the Mariners back into the lead at 5-4, capping the scoring.
-- as for blown chances, the Mariners' first two scoring innings qualified. In the second, the Mariners had loaded the bases with nobody out and pushed one run across with a groundout. From there, Fister was caught looking, Ichiro was hit square in the buttocks with a pitch, and Figgins did the fielder's choice thing to end the inning. In the third, Josh singled and Jack doubled, then Johnson walked to load the bases. Fister whiffed to end that inning.
-- Ichiro went 1-for-4 in the game, pushing him to 102-for-302 (.338) on the season, leaving him on pace for a 223-hit season. I hope he goes on another tear pretty soon, though the Mariners don't seem to do a good job of correlating their winning with when Ichiro is on fire.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro got the only hit out of the two, and Figgins scored the only run of the two. The Mariners remain 10-5 when both players score and 13-22 when both collect hits.
1) Brian Sweeney
Everyone knew going in that Fister was on a pitch count, so the bullpen would get some work. What we didn't know was that Brian Sweeney would throw four shutout innings while finally making his first appearance in four years. Sweeney needed to face only 13 hitters to get his 12 outs, giving up only a two-out single to Ryan Braun in the fifth (the third hitter Sweeney faced). Though Brandon League ended up notching the save, it was Sweeney who faced Fielder, Braun, and Casey McGehee (the Brewers' 3-4-5) hitters and retired them in order. That was quite the way to finish an outing. While Fister threw 92 pitches in his four innings, Sweeney threw a mere 44. I'd need to see way more of this out of Sweeney, but if he had one or two more good long relief outings and Ryan Rowland-Smith doesn't bounce back from his last outing, I would seriously think about giving Sweeney that fifth spot in the rotation. Still, the Aussie has the chance to bounce back, but he'd better be doing it soon or else Erik Bedard or maybe even Sweeney could take his rotation spot.
2) Franklin Gutierrez
The Mariners' centerfielder was a .326 hitter for the month of April. I knew that wouldn't last. He was also hitting in the third spot in the lineup for much of the season. I knew that wouldn't last for a variety of reasons. Gutierrez hit .264 in May, which is a perceivable yet still acceptable dropoff, but he's hit .233 so far for June. One look at the game log shows the frequency of his hitting. There were many more multi-hit games for Gutierrez in April, with a bunch of two- and three-hit games. In June, he hasn't been held hitless that many times, but there are a lot more one-hit games, less two-hit games (this game was one), and no three-hit games. This could be Gutierrez failing to make proper adjustments to the pitching, but it could just as likely be the result of the team-wide fail, possibly something that might be helped by the Branyan re-acquisition. Gutierrez nearly hit 20 homers last season and has six so far, and we're a week away from the halfway point of the season. The sad thing is, he's only one off the team lead...until Branyan brings his double-digit homer power to town.
3) Jose Lopez
Normally I don't usually put hitters that go 1-for-4 or 1-for-5 into the gameballs, but I'll make the exception for the Lopez 1-for-5 because his home run put the Mariners into the lead. The Lopez homer capped a three-run Mariner rally in the top of the fourth, answering the disastrous bottom of the third that led to all four runs Milwaukee scored. The Mariners could have folded like a cheap tent after the Brewers' big inning, but with the help of Lopez, and thanks to a lot of help from Brian Sweeney, they didn't. Much like with Gutierrez, Lopez has also been on a poewr drought this season, with this home run only being his fifth of the season. Before anyone forgets, this guy has hit double-digit homers for four straight seasons and hit 25 homers last year. He also nearly drove in 100 runs last year, falling short at 96. He's driven in 29 runs so far this year, and we're almost to the halfway point of the season. His stat line this year most resembles that of his second full season in the Majors, which was 2007. He hit .252 and slugged .355 that year with 17 doubles, two triples, and 11 homers, driving in 62 runs. So far, he's doubled 12 times and homered five times. That's compared to 42 doubles and 25 homers last season.
Fresh off the disabled list, this was Doug Fister's first start since May 31st. As such, he was on a bit of a soft pitch count for this start. However, he needed to stretch that count just to get through four innings. He faced 19 hitters to get 12 outs. Fister gave up only a two-out Prince Fielder double in the first, then he threw a 1-2-3 second inning. In fact, Fister set down seven of the first eight hitters he faced. So who got the second Milwaukee hit? Randy Wolf. The pitcher. Wolf doubled with one out to start the inning from hell. Fister then walked Rickie Weeks on four pitches, but at least that set up a possible double play with a ground ball. Unfortunately, that's when Corey Hart lined a ball into the gap in leftcenter. Wolf scored easily to make it 2-1 at that moment in the play. The relay came to the plate, and the throw was into the runner a bit and Rob Johnson couldn't come up with it, allowing Weeks to score, tying the game at 2-2...again, at that moment. Fister was backing up the play (so at least you can't blame him for not doing it) and got the loose ball, then bounced a throw to third that Lopez couldn't come up with, so Hart broke for the plate. Lopez threw wide of the plate, and Johnson had no chance to get a tag on Hart. The Brewers led 3-2, scoring three runs, including the batter, on a play that didn't involve a home run. HART SCORES!!! EVERYBODY SCORES!!! It didn't end after the Keystone Kops play, though. Fielder golfed a home run four pitches later to make it 4-2 before Fister set down the next two hitters to end the inning. Fister came out for the fourth and was victimized by a Jack Wilson throwing error, and if I remember right, the umpire thought Josh Wilson had his foot pulled off the bag by the high throw. Wolf then singled again (I thought this was an error on Jack as he tried to sidesaddle the hop) to move Escobar to third, but Fister battled through a nine-pitch at-bat to get a grounder from Weeks for a force at second to end the inning. Rough day for Fister, yes, but not one that buried the Mariners.
Vargas. Narveson. Today.