Saturday, July 24, 2010



[partial post for now]

I thought it was going to happen in Thursday's game, but ultimately the karmic balance within the game prevented it from happening. In this game, however, it happened -- the Mariners were undone by Bill Hall. That just hurts, considering the guy couldn't hit in his short tenure in Seattle, and all he did was strike out. Mariner hitters were completely oblivious to the fact that this was Josh Beckett's first start in months, and instead hit like Josh Beckett was in the middle of a Cy Young season. They didn't get no-hit into the eighth inning like in Friday's game, but they still were futile at the plate. Oh, and there was some sort of physical altercation in the dugout that resulted in Chone Figgins being pulled from the game in the fifth inning. At least he's only on a long-term contract.

-- all the pitching will be discussed in the gameballs

-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Brandon League threw in this game. Going into Saturday's game, Brian Sweeney, Jamey Wright, David Aardsma, and Garrett Olson will have a day of rest, while Chris Seddon will have three days of rest.

-- let's go over the Mariners' offensive output. In the first, Ichiro led off with an infield single. Chone Figgins struck out, but Ichiro stole second on the pitch. Jose Lopez lined a ball past the bag at third, and the umpire appeared to throw up his hands like it was foul, but then he signaled fair. A fan in the seats down the leftfield line picked the ball right up and handed it to the kid sitting next to him. Lopez waited for the call and stayed very close to home plate and it might have been a single if the fan didn't reach for it. Ichiro scored on the play, capping the Mariners' scoring. I think the fan got tossed, but I think I can cut the guy some slack because there probably wasn't a lot of time between the umpire giving what seemed to be a time/foul signal and the ball getting there. Lopez, however...he should have been running the whole time. Ultimately, it's inconsequential.

-- in the third, Ichiro led off with another infield single and Figgins walked. Franklin Gutierrez did the fielder's choice thing, and runners were on first and third with one out. Jose Lopez popped to short and Justin Smoak grounded to second to end that threat. In the fourth, Michael Saunders doubled with one out and was the third out of the inning when the ball was hit to Adrian Beltre, who waited for Saunders to come to him. In the fifth, Josh Wilson doubled with one out and went to third on a Gutierrez grounder, but nobody scored. In the seventh, Jack Wilson led off with a walk, but the next two plays were fielder's choices that erased the lead runner. In the ninth, though everything occurred with two out, Jack doubled, Ichiro was given first base intentionally, then Josh whiffed. The way it's gone for the Mariners this season, they couldn't win even when the other team put the winning run on first base, though there were two out.

-- in the fifth, Mike Cameron led off with a double to deep leftfield. Saunders threw toward the infield, and it appeared he threw to nobody. In the middle of the fifth inning, there was some sort of physical scuffling going on, and all I saw on the video afterward was Don Wakamatsu walking away from the throng of players as they all moved in the other direction. Anyway, that throw enabled Cameron to scoot to third with nobody out.

-- Rob Johnson actually made a good play, picking David Ortiz off of third with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth inning.

-- Ichiro went 2-for-4 in the game, pushing him to 125-for-398 (.314) on the season. He is now on pace to finish the season with 209 hits.

-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro had two hits and scored once. Figgins walked and struck out, but was hitless and didn't score, then was removed from the game. The Mariners remain 12-6 when both players score and 17-29 when both collect hits.

1) Jason Vargas

2) Brandon League

3) Michael Saunders

Milton Bradley

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Friday, July 23, 2010



This was a night where you'd wonder as a Mariner fan why the Red Sox can hit homers at Safeco Field (two of them by righthanders, one by Bill freakin' Hall) while the Mariners have a complete aversion to it. Well, I guess it's only relative since the Mariners never get to face Ryan Rowland-Smith at Safeco Field. Who would the Mariners have to face at Safeco Field to hit homers? There used to be a guy named Bob Kipper, whose nickname was Round-Tripper Kipper. Maybe some of those guys in the Texas rotation when Alex Rodriguez signed the big deal -- Doug Davis, Ryan Glynn, Rob Bell -- would be great candidates to give up a bunch of homers to the Mariners in Seattle. Anyway, it was a longball war, and the Mariners lost. Hell, the Mariners didn't even get a hit until the eighth inning. Ichiro made a great catch off David Ortiz in the first, sure, but when your only other highlight is Milton Bradley scoring from third on a passed ball, then you know it's been a bad night. Then the ninth inning happened. These last two nights have been weird nights, to say the least. Also, it was a pretty weird night for Bill Hall, with the homer being sandwiched by two kinda bad defensive plays. Anyway, Eric Patterson mercifully had the game-breaking hit in the 13th to virtually end the game.

-- the starting pitching will be discussed at the end of the post

-- now, the bullpen. Brian Sweeney was the first man out of the bullpen, throwing the seventh inning and facing two hitters to start the eighth inning. It wasn't his best outing by any means. He gave up a walk and three hits, including one home run. Jamey Wright will be covered later in the post. David Aardsma threw a 1-2-3 inning in the 11th, striking out two. Garrett Olson threw the 12th inning, striking out two in a 1-2-3 inning. In the 13th, Olson's first bounce didn't go his way as Kevin Youkilis got aboard on an infield single to Jack Wilson. It looked like Olson might wriggle out of it as he got the next hitters out, but then he walked Mike Cameron and then Eric Patterson doubled to make it 8-6, capping the scoring.

-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Sweeney, Wright, Aardsma, and Olson threw in this game. Going into Friday's game, Brandon League will have a day of rest and Chris Seddon will have two days of rest.

-- the offense? They scored a run without the benefit of a hit early on, and they didn't break up the no-hitter until the eighth inning when Josh Bard singled with two out. He got to second on a Jack Wilson single, but that was the end of any half-threat. Then came the ninth. Chone Figgins led off with a single and scored on the Franklin Gutierrez homer over the manual scoreboard that made it 6-3. Jose Lopez then walked, and Milton Bradley got aboard on an error by Marco Scutaro, pushing Lopez to second. Jonathan Papelbon then came in, which probably should have been the end of the line. Justin Smoak foul-tipped a fastball in his at-bat, but ended up striking out. Casey Kotchman then ripped a double to score Lopez and push Bradley to third, making it 6-4. Bard then walked to load the bases. Jack then grounded to short, where the force was easily made, but the throw to first by Bill Hall was a bit wide, so the third out was not recorded and two runs scored to tie the game at 6-6. Incredibly, it was the biggest ninth-inning comeback in Mariner history.

-- the only whimper the Mariners had in extra innings was in the 12th, and my, what a blown chance it was. A single by Jack, an infield single by Ichiro, and a Figgins bunt put runners on second and third with one out. Gutierrez was intentionally walked to load the bases and set up the double-play possibility. Two pitches later, Lopez popped out in foul ground on the first-base side. One pitch after that, Bradley popped to third. Awful.

-- Ichiro went 1-for-5, just barely beating out Adrian Beltre's throw (after a bobble) in the 12th inning. This pushed him to 123-for-394 (.312), and it occurred to me that I've been one hit ahead on Ichiro's pace for at least the last couple games. Anyway, he is on pace to finish with 208 hits.

-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. They had a hit apiece, but only Figgins crossed the plate. The Mariners remain 12-6 when both players score and 17-29 when both collect hits.

1) Franklin Gutierrez
The Mariners' centerfielder hit a two-run homer in the ninth to give the Mariners a foundation of runs. He's cooled off a ton since the first month and a half of the season, sure, but I looked at the boxscore. His homer was his ninth of the season after having an outside shot at 20 last year. The two RBIs tonight give him 40 on the season. At this pace, he could get 75 or so, and since the Mariners will probably go on some kind of completely meaningless and inexplicable run of wins somewhere in the final two months of the season, his numbers might be buoyed by such things as AAA pitching coming to the Majors in September as the rosters expand.

2) Jamey Wright
The journeyman and former Mariner spring-training invite (who nearly made the starting rotation out of Peoria that year) came on to start the seventh inning of what seemed to be a nothing game, what with the Mariners being down 6-1. Wright did his job and threw three perfect innings, and the Mariners finally strung together some baserunners and hits in the ninth and tied the game. Without Jamey Wright's three innings, there's no way the Mariners get this game into extra innings. I'm not sure who else in the bullpen would have been able to pull off what Wright did on this night. Well, maybe Brian Sweeney would have been able to do it, and maybe Don Wakamatsu was looking for that out of him until he saw Sweeney give up that homer and three hits in the one inning.

3) Casey Kotchman
What business does Kotchman have doubling off Jonathan freakin' Papelbon in the ninth inning of a three-run game? Probably none. Still, with Gutierrez, Kotchman was part of a huge Mariner comeback in the ninth inning. It's hard to find playing time for Kotchman, seeing as to how Justin Smoak is the future at first base and how Kotchman has sucked hard most of the season. It'd be awesome if Kotchman were a tradeable asset right now, but it'd have to come down to some other team seeing something in Kotchman that the Mariners do not. Maybe in another sport the Mariners would be able to package him with a good player, with the ultimatum of "you can have this guy you want, but you have to take this guy we're trying to get off our hands." Of course, it's more likely the deal is along the lines of Carlos Silva for Milton Bradley.

Ryan Rowland-Smith
It's weird. He got through six innings. With his luck and the Mariners' luck, though, it's just fitting that his flyball tendency came back to bite him hard in this game. The Aussie gave up eight hits, one of which was a double, and three others that were home runs. Of the home runs, one was a solo shot and the other two were two-run homers. If you did the math, then yes, all of Rowland-Smith's runs scored via the home run. In a way, that makes this a little more frustrating. Sure, you can't take away three pitches that went yard, but other than that, he wasn't completely awful. Still, Rowland-Smith will beat himself up for it and therefore probably won't get too many redeeming things out of this outing. The way it's been going lately, having Rowland-Smith throw 84 pitches in six innings is really good. Still, he's in the goat slot because we can't ignore the penchant for all the home runs. If nothing else, the Aussie went easy on the bullpen, so there will be well-rested guys in case Jason Vargas or Doug Fister falter or if David Pauley is who we think he is.

Beckett. Vargas. [now].

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Thursday, July 22, 2010



It was another banner night for the Mariner offense. Felix Hernandez pitched his heart out, yet the Mariner bats couldn't score a single run for him. At least the offsetting factor was that the White Sox didn't score any runs for a very stellar Gavin Floyd, who threw seven scoreless innings. Where did this game end? It ended in extra innings, where the Mariners have had their struggles all season long. The Mariners were looked to be undone by former Mariner Omar Vizquel and Brandon League happened to be on the mound again for what seemed to be the latest installment of Mariner misfortune. Luckily, the Mariners were able to answer back in the bottom of the 11th and end a 28-inning scoreless streak. It took long enough.

-- the starting pitching will be discussed in the gameballs

-- as for the bullpen, David Aardsma had an eventful ninth inning and Brandon League gave up the first run of the game in the 11th. Aardsma got a whiff from Gordon Beckham before hitting Juan Pierre square on the right tricep. He ambled off to first and ended up breaking for second base on the third pitch to Omar Vizquel. As he slid, he nicely pulled his arm away from the tag, but it appeared Figgins tagged Pierre on the upper arm or shoulder right before he got to the bag. He was called safe, making the inning very dicey.
Don Wakamatsu was ejected arguing the call. Aardsma walked Vizquel, but got a first-pitch flyout from Alex Rios and a whiff from Paul Konerko. League faced three hitters in the tenth. He walked Mark Kotsay to lead off, but got a double-play ball from Andruw Jones and a groundout from AJ Pierzynski to end the inning. In the 11th, League gave up a laced double to Beckham, then got Pierre to fly out, sending Beckham to third. The ancient Vizquel then singled to score Beckham for the 1-0 lead before Rios whiffed to end the inning. Little did League know he would get the winning decision out of this

-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Aardsma and League threw in this game. Going into Thursday's game, Chris Seddon will have a day of rest, Jamey Wright and Garrett Olson will have two days of rest, and Brian Sweeney will have four days of rest.

-- was there some Mariner offense? There definitely was some in the 11th, but how about before that? Their first baserunner with less than two out was Chone Figgins, who walked to lead off the fourth inning. He was caught stealing three pitches later. In the fifth, Ryan Langerhans singled with one out and made a big turn at first, then realized he couldn't make it to second and was hung up and tagged out. In the seventh, Franklin Gutierrez led off with an infield single, only to be doubled off on a Lopez grounder. In the eighth, Langerhans got aboard on an infield single, but was thrown out at second on a too-hard bunt by Josh Bard. Figgins led off the ninth with an infield single and got to second an a Gutierrez bunt. With the winning run on second and one out, Jose Lopez was intentionally walked, leaving it up to Milton Bradley to face new pitcher Erick Threets. Bradley looped a ball to shallow right, near the foul line, but Andruw Jones channeled himself from 10 years ago and made the catch, then tumbled on the ground and threw to first in one motion, doubling off Lopez (some would argue he dogged it, but he definitely had no business being that far off of first base)

-- the big inning? Jack Wilson laid down a perfect push bunt along the first-base line. Ichiro bunted him over to second. Figgins then singled nicely into center to move Jack to third. Figgins then stole second to take away the double-play possibility and put the winning run in scoring position. Gutierrez then drilled a single into center, scoring both runners and ending the game.

-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Figgins scored the winning run of the game and had two hits. Ichiro didn't get a hit or score. The Mariners remain 12-6 when both players score and 17-28 when both collect hits.

1) Felix Hernandez
If this were someone else, I'd probably say that the guy can't do much more than this. We're dealing with Felix Hernandez, though, and we know he's capable of being even better. Dwelling on this fact too much, however, diverts from the attention this outing should get. Eight innings of two-hit shutout ball is insanely good, and doubly so against a great hitting offense like that of the Chicago White Sox. I was a bit upset with Don Wakamatsu for pulling Felix after the eighth inning since he only had thrown 93 pitches. Maybe Wakamatsu wants to do this every once in a while to cut back on the Felix workload for an inning here or an inning there. Is there much to gain by pushing the pedal to the metal with Felix when the team has no chance of a playoff berth? Probably not. I don't think I can consider quite close to a Cy Young drive either, which I think would be the only reason to work Felix pretty hard, but he's got multiple years left on his deal, and this year is only so important. To give you an idea of just how good he was in this game, this was his most efficient start in terms of pitches per inning, and his only other two-hit start was a nine-inning complete game on June 30th where he racked up 10 strikeouts.

2) Franklin Gutierrez
I actually was typing up this piece before the game ended, and I had Gutierrez in the second slot of gameballs before he got the game-winning hit. Now it's impossible to put him any lower, and you could make an argument of him as the number-one gameball, but Felix was just electric through eight innings. This was the first three-hit game for Gutierrez since May 4th. He was a .337 hitter at the end of that game. Now he's a .257 hitter. Gutierrez warming back up could go a long way toward making the rest of the Mariners' season watchable. The Mariners won six straight and eight of 12 in late June, and they haven't been watchable since. Sure, I watch them anyway, but to give it my undivided attention wouldn't be a good use of time. So, I pull it up in the MLB.tv browser and do some other stuff, and I check back every once in a while or every time Dave Niehaus or Dave Sims raises their tone of voice in some sort of excitement. It works pretty well. Anyway, Gutierrez had a great night and drove in the Mariners' only two runs of the game on the final play of the game.

3) Chone Figgins
His steal in the 11th inning was huge, and the game probably would have gone another 20 minutes had he not stolen second base and the inning ended in a tie. He was also caught stealing earlier in the game, but he has now stolen 25 bases in 31 chances. He had two hits in the game and walked. He's only a .230 hitter, but maybe there's some more potential for him to look more like himself before the end of the season. Maybe Ichiro will see better pitches in front of Figgins if Figgins is hitting well? Well, it wouldn't really matter because Ichiro will swing and make contact with a lot of locations. Anyway, Figgins is running when he gets aboard. Could you imagine if he was a .250 or .260 hitter right now? He might have a handful or so more stolen bases on the season. Anyway, for as good as he's been on the basepaths this year, I wish he was a bit more defensively sound, but I'm not sure how much anyone can ask for on a team this bad. I'd have to think that all of the suck is pretty contagious.

The Mariners' money man, All-Star, leadoff hitter, and rightfielder went 0-for-4 on the game. This leaves him at 123-for-391 (.314) on the season. He is on pace to finish the season with 210 hits. This was his second hitless game in his last four games. He opened the Yankee series with dual two-hit games, but since then has gone 6-for-35 (.171) over a span of nine games, bookending the All-Star break. His only extra-base hit was the three-run double in Anaheim in the first game after the break. Those nine games have sunk Ichiro's batting average from .328 to .314. I keep on hoping he'll warm up, but it just doesn't seem to be happening. I don't know what it's going to take to get Ichiro's bat going again. I just know when it does, it'll be fun for at least one hitter out of every nine hitters the Mariners send to the plate. Hopefully we don't have to wait until 2011 to see something like this. Maybe that free Ichiro shirt I got at the KOMO News 4 booth at FanFest is actually bad luck. Mary Nam, however, can bring nothing but good luck.

Lackey. Rowland-Smith. [going on as I type this].

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010



At least the Mariner pitchers didn't give up a bunch of runs in this game. However, they hit even less. Make it a goose egg for the Mariners one night after scoring only one run. The Mariners were Dankified, and the only thing keeping it from being a complete game for Danks was the fact that he'd crossed the century mark in his pitch count.

-- all the pitching will be covered in the gameballs

-- Chris Seddon came out of the bullpen in this game. Going into Wednesday's game, Jamey Wright and Garrett Olson will have a day of rest, Brandon League and David Aardsma will have two days of rest, and Brian Sweeney will have three days of rest.

-- as for offense, what offense? The Mariners managed all of two hits off John Danks, who went 7 2/3 innings on 107 pitches. One hit was an infield single by Casey Kotchman in the second inning with the game still tied. The other hit was a two-out rolling ball past the mound and up the middle off Ichiro's bat in the eighth inning of a 3-0 game. Danks did issue four walks in the game, however, and he hit a batter as well. Jack Wilson drew a one-out walk on four pitches in the third, and Ichiro was hit on the armguard two pitches later, so the Mariners did manage to get a runner to second base in the game after all. A double play ended that inning two pitches later. Franklin Gutierrez drew a two-out walk in the sixth. Afer walking with two out in the fourth, Milton Bradley drew a four-pitch leadoff walk in the seventh before he was doubled off when he ran full bore toward second base on a weak pop to short. The only way I can kinda rationalize this would be if he thought it was a high chopper instead. If he didn't, he needs therapy again.

-- Ichiro went 1-for-3 in the game, pushing him to 123-for-386 (.317) on the season. He is on pace to finish the season with 212 hits.

-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro had the only hit between the two, and neither scored. The Mariners remain 12-6 when both players score and 17-28 when both collect hits.

1) Doug Fister
He's had five starts since returning from the disabled list, and this start was either the best start or the second-best start out of the five. Three of the starts were bad to pretty bad. On July 7th, he gave up a run on six hits in six innings, a start which may have been better than this one. However, he averaged 15 pitches per inning this time around as opposed to 16.2 in his other good post-DL start. He got seven groundouts to four flyouts. Two of the seven hits he gave up went for doubles. He didn't give up any home runs. I find this at least a bit encouraging for Fister and therefore the Mariners going forward. If the team can send a decent picher out there three out of every five days (Felix Hernandez, Jason Vargas, Fister), the Mariners will have a much more palatable end to the season for themselves and their fans. I think I'd be happy with the Mariners just going .500 the rest of the way so I at least got to watch them win half the time. If they followed through with that, their record would be 70-92. You know it's a bad season when 70 wins looks good when you're 94 games into the season.

2) Chris Seddon
The bar's not very high for gameballs on this night, but one of the two newest Mariners didn't do too badly at all. The way the bullpen's been this season, I'd have to say for Seddon to give up one run in three innings is a monumental accomplishment. I guess the main assessment I can make about him so far is that he's lefthanded and I don't hate his delivery. I hate when I find a pitcher's delivery so unwatchable that I end up hating the pitcher. As for examples, I never liked Akinori Otsuka's delivery, I hate Ryan Dempster's delivery, I hate Ted Lilly's delivery, and I hate Francisco Rodriguez's (the one that's a Met now, not the one currently with the Angels) attempt at a delivery. Seddon's only touch-up on the night was a homer off the bat of Chicago resident beanpole Alexei Ramirez into the bullpen. Now that Seddon's done giving up runs, it looks like he'll have a 0.00 ERA for the rest of the season. Yes, Seddon will be one billion kinds of awesome for the rest of the season.

3) Casey Kotchman
As the designated hitter on the night (Justin Smoak played first and Milton Bradley played left), Kotchman hit the infield single that broke up John Danks' perfect game. Okay, that was in the second inning, so no one really got the rush of a perfect game possibly happening at that point. The one-hitter, however, lasted into the eighth inning. Anyway, I'm thinking with the addition of Smoak that Kotchman isn't going to get too many chances to expand on his defensive errorless streak. Sure, everyone loves his defense, but the dude can't hit. If the Mariners threw a 27-out perfect game in 100 straight games, I bet the game goes to extra innings at least 10 percent of the time due to the Mariners' inability to hit and score runs. I have nothing statistically to justify the 10 percent figure, I'm just stating what it kinda feels like. Despite the good stretch he had after pleading for more playing time, Kotchman is still a .213 hitter. My, what a team this is.

Chone Figgins
I suppose I could have gone straight to Milton Bradley for this, given the botched baserunning that led to the double play that basically ended the game. This time, it's Figgins. He was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts one night after he was 1-for-2 with three walks. The Mariners went 0-for-1 with runners in scoring position in the game, and Figgins had that lone at-bat. He was up in the third inning with one out and Jack Wilson on second base and Ichiro on first. He grounded into a double play to end the inning. Needless to say, that was highly inopportune, but after three innings, I'm not sure even the most pessimistic Mariner fan thought the Figgins at-bat would be the only real scoring chance for the rest of the night. After Danks left the game, all JJ Putz and Bobby Jenks had to do was throw BBs, then sit back and watch. Jenks also sat and watched Omar Vizquel and Alexei Ramirez make one great play apiece in the ninth inning. That doesn't contrast well with the errors Figgins has made recently, but baseball is baseball.

Floyd. Hernandez. On a Wednesday night.

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The Mariners seem to have a handful or so of templates that could be used to describe nearly every one of their losses. Tonight, the hypothetical template had the Mariners staying close in the beginning, only to have the game slip away to the point where the last few innings of the game were completely irrelevant and the Mariners had no real chance of coming back to win. The Mariners this season seem to be either balancing on the ledge of unwatchability or just being unwatchable. I almost wish they would at least lose spectacularly if they're going to lose anyway. While I like following my teams day to day, I know at the root of it that fans like to be entertained and they like to go into the experience not knowing what's going to happen. If you know the Mariners aren't going to score a lot of runs and will most likely lose, where's the drama?

-- the starting pitching will be covered in the gameballs

-- out of the bullpen, Jamey Wright threw the seventh and eighth innings. He had some help in the realm of suck. He allowed a leadoff single to Gordon Beckham before Juan Pierre reached on an error by Chone Figgins and Beckham went to third on the play. Omar Vizquel then grounded out to score Beckham and make it 4-1. Wright got the next two hitters out to end the inning. With one out in the eighth, Wright gave up a cannon blast to Andruw Jones that made it 5-1. One out later, Alexei Ramirez singled and stole second and went to third on the throw to the runner's side of the second-base bag. He scored on the next pitch when Beckham doubled to make it 6-1. Garrett Olson then threw a completely meaningless 1-2-3 ninth inning.

-- in the first inning, Figgins walked with one out and scored on a Russell Branyan double to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead. Branyan left the game not long after due to back spasms, and the offense went with him.

-- Ichiro went 1-for-5 in the game, pushing him to 122-for-383 (.317) on the season. He is on pace to finish the season with 213 hits.

-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro went 1-for-5 in the game and didn't score, while Figgins went 1-for-2 and scored a run. The Mariners remain 12-6 when both players score and are now 17-28 when both players collect hits.

1) David Pauley
He's technically the fifth starter since he's the newest guy, but since Ryan Rowland-Smith hasn't been throwing well, Pauley might as well be the fourth starter. If you count Doug Fister's struggles of late, Pauley could be the third-best pitcher in the rotation. That's actually kinda scary. Anyway, we're two starts into Pauley's Mariner tenure, and so far it's so good. The Mariners can't ask for much more than what Pauley's giving the Mariners right now. Since Rowland-Smith has been so awful, maybe Pauley just looks that much better by comparison. Pauley could just be going five innings every time out and giving up four runs, and that'd be more than enough. The Mariners need Rowland-Smith to be good more than they need Pauley to be good, but they'll have to make do with the current situation.

2) Justin Smoak
Two more strikeouts, sure, but two more hits. They were both singles this time, but I really like the way this guy hits. I don't like the multitudes of strikeouts, but if he's getting enough hits and extra-base hits, I'll be able to look the other way a bit when it comes to the strikeouts. Depending on how long Branyan is out, Smoak is even more guaranteed to get at-bats and time playing first base. What's pleasing to me about Smoak is that he's been hitting balls hard from both sides of the plate. He doesn't seem stronger from one side of the plate or weaker from one side of the plate. His swing looks fully clobber-capable from either side of the plate. When's the last time Seattle had a switch hitter that was this good? For some reason, all I can think about after I said that was Jason Varitek. Oh well.

3) Chone Figgins
He made another error, but he had a hit and walked three times, so he certainly did has part to get on base. He walked int he first inning and ended up scoring the Mariners' only run minutes later. He drew a two-out walk in the third inning, moving Ichiro to second. He singled with one out and the bases empty in the fifth. He drew a two-out walk in the seventh to load the bases. Unfortunately, he grounded out to end the game. Naturally, Figgins got on base all those times and though Branyan drove him in with the double, no one else did as the next three non-Branyan hitters in the lineup combined to go 0-for-10. Such is life in the 2010 season for these Seattle Mariners. It's like Murphy's Law, for sure. I wonder if they'll lose 100 games? It doesn't matter this time since there's no Stephen Strasburg to be drafted. They should have just lost a couple more games in 2008.

Jose Lopez
This is one of the hitters behind Figgins that could move any of the runners or push them across the plate. Lopez was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and is hitting .240. Brandon Inge broke bones in Detroit, so I know there is some demand for Lopez out there, but how tradeable of an asset is he? You'd be trading for a guy who's hopelessly lost his power stroke, at least for this season. The guy looks lost up there, save for that grand slam off Joba Chamberlain. We're long past the point where I thought it'd be okay to consider swapping Figgins and Lopez on the field because both of them were sucking at the plate. In theory it shouldn't affect them, but in practice it probably does. Something had to change back then, and something has to change right now. Sure, there's no hope of the Mariners even coming close to a chase for a playoff berth, but throw us a frickin' bone here. Can we get at least something new every day?

Danks. Fister. [going on as I type this].

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Monday, July 19, 2010



There may be a lot more questions in the starting rotation with Cliff Lee no longer in the mix, Doug Fister not back into pre-injury form, and Ryan Rowland-Smith getting the hyphen kicked out of him. Jason Vargas, however, has been providing all the answers he can every five days. He went deep into this ballgame, which the Mariners needed since their Australian contingent was being roasted on the barbie on the night before by the Angel offense. While Vargas did well, the Mariner offense was being shut down by Ervin Santana, though their eyes weren't as they drew four walks off him. Anyway, the Mariners got just lucky enough to win. There were also more weird calls in the game than usual.

-- the starting pitching will be addressed in the gameballs

-- Brandon League was the first man out of the bullpen. He entered the game with a runner on first and two out in the eighth inning of a 1-1 tie game. He promptly allowed an opposite-field Howie Kendrick single on the first pitch, moving Kevin Frandsen to third. The next pitch was hit to short by Bobby Abreu, and the groundout ended the inning. League also threw a 1-2-3 ninth inning. David Aardsma came out to nail down the save in the 10th inning, protecting a 2-1 lead. He made it interesting and therefore true to form. He gave up a hard-hit infield single to Mike Napoli (Figgins made the dive in the hole, but couldn't get off a throw), who was then bunted over to second. Aardsma walked pinch-hitting Paul McAnulty before getting Erick Aybar and Kendrick to go down swinging to end the game.

-- the bullpen rest bulletin: League and Aardsma threw in this game. Going into Monday's game, Chris Seddon and Brian Sweeney will have a day of rest, and Jamey Wright and Garrett Olson will have three days of rest.

-- as for the offense, there's not really a lot to talk about since there were only five hits. Jose Lopez has two of those hits and is a gameball as a result. Thus, the rest of the lineup went a combined 3-for-29 on the day. As mentioned in the opening, however, they did manage to draw four walks off Ervin Santana, so there were some baserunners after all. In the fifth, Ryan Langerhans walked with one out, stole second, and went to third on a Rob Johnson single (whaaa?!). Santana then uncorked a wild pitch to plate Langerhans (close play) and move Johnson to second, tying the score at 1-1. Josh Wilson then flew out, enabling the Angels to hand Ichiro the open bag at first, and it worked as Figgins grounded out to second. In the tenth, with two out and Lopez at the plate, Gutierrez stole second. Lopez then singled to push Gutierrez across and give the Mariners a 2-1 lead, capping all scoring.

-- as for blown chances, Milton Bradley walked to lead off the second inning, but then leaned too far off first base two pitches later, getting picked off. In the eighth, Figgins drew a leadoff walk, but Gutierrez whiffed and Lopez flew out. Bradley walloped an infield single off the glove off the third baseman, moving Figgins to second, but Smoak was caught looking to end the inning.

-- Ichiro went 1-for-4 in the game, pushing him to 121-for-378 (.318) on the season. This puts him on pace to finish the season with 213 hits.

-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Neither scored or even got a hit. The Mariners remain 12-6 when both score a run and 17-27 when both players collect hits.

1) Jason Vargas
This game tied for his deepest start of the season. The last time he went 7 2/3 innings, the game was in Saint Louis. He got the win in that game, however. This time he wasn't given the gift of meaningful offense. His pitching was the reason he got a no-decision instead of a loss, I guess you could say. The run he gave up came on the obligatory home run by Napoli in the second inning that made it 1-0 for the Angels. His trouble inning was the sixth. In a 1-1 tie game, Kendrick tripled over Franklin Gutierrez and to the wall to lead off the inning. With the infield drawn in, Vargas got Bobby Abreu to ground out to Smoak at first. With the infield still drawn in, Torii Hunter lined out to Josh Wilson at short, and Kendrick was too far off the third-base bag and was the back end of the double play. That was a huge stop for Vargas and for the defense. The average per-start line for Vargas: 6 1/3 innings, 2.2 runs (2.1 earned), 5.8 hits, 1.6 walks, 4.3 strikeouts, 99 pitches (64 strikes), 5.5 flyouts, 9.1 flyouts. He averages 15.4 pitches per inning.

2) Jose Lopez
The Mariners' third baseman had two of the Mariners' three hits, including the game-winning double in the 10th inning. Though the Mariners have already made their big move of the month, maybe Lopez and his four hits in the last two games can spark some interest on the trade market. Okay, probably not, but it's nice to dream. Say what you will about Lopez, at least he just merely sucks when you might be looking to trade him around the deadline, which is better than Erik Bedard coming up with his usual injury around the time you're wanting to put him on the market. Lopez hit .272 last year with an on-base percentage of .303 and a slugging mark of .463. This year he's hitting .243, on base at a .271 clip, and he's slugging .346. If only we knew what happened with the old Lopez. Funny thing is that the old Lopez was younger than the current Lopez, but that's beside the point. Don't try to think about that last sentence for too long. It's like the Mitch Hedberg joke where one of his friends pulls out the picture of when they were younger, then Hedberg points out that every picture is of you when you were younger.

3) Franklin Gutierrez
He was hitless in the game, but he stole two bases. Those two bases on a day when the Mariners weren't really hitting -- they carry a little more weight. In the first, he walked with the bases empty and two out, then stole second on the first pitch to Lopez. Nothing else came of the situation, unfortunately, but the effort was there. In the tenth, he erased Ichiro on a fielder's choice, landing himself on first with two out. He again stole secnod base with Lopez at the plate, but ended up scoring on the Lopez single for the game-winning run. That means a lot. What's unfortunate is that Gutierrez has declined precipitously from month to month. A .326 April has been followed by a .264 May, a .247 June, and a .145 July. I miss the April version of Gutierrez, as would anybody. I guess his season is kinda like the catalog for the band Boston. Maybe Gutierrez doesn't have anything analogous to the best-selling debut album of all time, but he was very good in the first month of the season. Then his May was closer to Don't Look Back and Third Stage was bad, and who knows after that.

Chone Figgins
The Mariner second baseman went 0-for-3 (0-for-1 with runners in scoring position), so that gets stored away in the memory bank. On defense, he made the error that led off the eighth inning in a 1-1 tie game. It really diced things up for Jason Vargas. Figgins was helped greatly by the fact that Jeff Mathis couldn't lay down a bunt. If that bunt gets laid down, perhaps Frandsen is standing on second base when Kendrick singles, and in that case he probably scores and the Angels complete the four-game sweep. Figgins went 1-for-15 in this series with one walk and two strikeouts. He was caught stealing on his only attempt. Combine his total with that of Ichiro, and you get a top two in the Mariner lineup that went 3-for-30 with a double as the only extra-base hit. That was Ichiro's bases-clearing double in the first game of the series. Anyway, 3-for-30 out of Ichiro and Figgins isn't exactly the Mariners' method to winning, that's for sure. They won't be getting very far with those two doing that.

Hudson. Pauley. Tonight.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010



[actual post Sun ~9:23p]

If nothing else, a Mariner fan can take a little bit of solace in that the team came back to tie the game after being down 6-1.

-- the starting pitching will be covered at the end of the post

-- Chris Seddon made his Mariner debut, taking over for Ryan Rowland-Smith with one out and runners on first and third in the fourth. He got a fielder's choice and a flyout to end the inning, then threw a 1-2-3 fifth to hold the Angels' lead at two runs. Brian Sweeney came out for the sixth and allowed only a leadoff single and a sacrifice bunt before getting the final two hitters out. He had two outs in the seventh before Juan Rivera unloaded on a pitch, homering to cap the scoring and give the Angels a 7-6 lead they would never relinquish. In the eighth, Brandon League fanned the first two hitters before hitting Erick Aybar with a pitch. He then got a groundout from Howie Kendrick to end the inning.

-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Seddon, Sweeney, and League threw in the game. Going into Sunday's game, Jamey Wright and Garrett Olson will have two days of rest and David Aardsma will still be waiting for his first post-break action.

-- how sad. If this team scores six runs, they have to win. The starting pitching unfortunately precluded that. It's always something with this team. The second-inning rally came with two outs and in some weird circumstances. Justin Smoak doubled and moved over on a Ryan Langerhans single, but it was a botched pickoff play and rundown attempt that enabled Smoak to score and give the Mariners a short-lived 1-0 lead. In the fourth, the first four Mariner hitters recorded hits -- Franklin Gutierrez doubled, Jose Lopez doubled, even Milton Bradley got a single, and Smoak also singled. Lopez plated Gutierrez to make it 6-2, and Smoak's single scored Lopez to make it 6-3. One out later, Josh Bard singled to score Bradley and make it 6-4. In the sixth, Smoak homered solo to make it 6-5, and Bard did likewise in the seventh to tie the game at 6-6 and cap Seattle's scoring.

-- as for a couple final blown chances, Lopez doubled with one out in the eighth and never got further than third. In the ninth, Langerhans led off with a walk, but was doubled off on a Bard ground ball.

-- Ichiro went 1-for-4 in the game, making him 120-for-374 (.321) on the season. This puts him on pace to finish the season with 214 hits.

-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro had the only run or hit between the two players by virtue of his one hit. The Mariners remain 12-6 when both players score and 17-27 when both collect hirs.

1) Justin Smoak
His error turned out to be an inconsequential muffing of a grounder from Bobby Abreu. Aside from that, his night at the plate more than made up for the error. He line-drove a double over Juan Rivera's head in the second inning, then went to third on Langerhans' single, then came home alertly when the Angel infielders botched the pickoff play of Langerhans. He also ripped a single past the third baseman in the fourth that scored Jose Lopez to cut the Angels' lead to 6-3. He wasn't done, however. In the sixth, he crushed a 1-2 pitch into the bench of the Angels' bullpen over the wall in leftcenter to cut the Angels' lead to 6-5.

2) Josh Bard
He may have got a bit lucky when he singled in the fourth inning on a ball that barely got through the shortstop. His game-tying home run, however, was better than lucky. He blasted a Kevin Jepsen -2 pitch five rows over the scoreboard in rightcenter to tie the game at 6-6 in the seventh, capping the Mariners' five-run comeback. Unfortunately, the Mariners failed to score any more runs and went on to lose the game, but you have to take the little game-within-a-game victories where you can get them since the Mariners can't appear to get victories on the scoreboard and in the standings.

3) Jose Lopez
He doubled to the wall in rightcenter in the fourth to drive home Franklin Gutierrez, helping push along what ended up being a three-run inning for the Mariners and bringing the score to 6-2.

Ryan Rowland-Smith
I nearly goated Brian Sweeney for this game since he gave up what held as the game-winning home run. That was before I saw the column in the boxscore for innings pitched. The Mariners designated Ian Snell long ago, but it appears his spirit is still in the rotation in the form of Ryan Rowland-Smith. The inning that unraveled Ryan Rowland-Smith was the second inning, and it began with a total bloop single by Mike Napoli. Kevin Frandsen's RBI single just barely got through the left side of the infield, then the Aussie fielded a bunt and threw it so high that Chone Figgins had to jump off the first-base bag. Then Reggie Willits poked the ball through the middle of a drawn-in infield. Smoak then didn't hold onto scoop the ball on what wouldn't have been a double play anyway, and the fourth and final run of the inning scored. Still, it's much like Rowland-Smith to just have the one bad inning and do not so bad in all or most of the others. He did give up a monster solo shot by Napoli to deep center in the third, however. In the same inning, Frandsen burned him again, this time with a hard double down the leftfield line that made it 6-1.

Vargas. Santana. [already happened].

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