Wednesday, July 28, 2010
What a weird game. Surely anyone who saw that Jason Vargas and Mark Buehrle were the starting pitchers in this game figured it'd all be over in around 2.5 hours, maybe less. As Mariner fans, we all saw the brilliant game where Jarrod Washburn and Buehrle had it all done in under two hours. That was awesome stuff. In this game, however, Vargas wasn't vintage Vargas and Buehrle wasn't vintage Buehrle, that's for sure. Neither pitcher lasted past the fifth inning, and Vargas didn't make it through the fifth. Both pitchers threw too many pitches and got too few outs. I'd like to see this matchup again some other time and hope it all works out better. Would I be saying this if the Mariners managed to win this game? Probably not.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed at the end of the post
-- as for the bullpen, Jamey Wright was the first guy summoned. He entered the fifth inning with the bases empty and a 5-5 tie. He got a lineout from Carlos Quentin and a groundout from AJ Pierzynski. In the sixth, he allowed only a Gordon Beckham walk. In the seventh, he walked Juan Pierre to lead off. Pierre then stole second and went to third on an Alexei Ramirez bunt. Brandon League was brought in from the bullpen and allowed a second-pitch single to Rios, driving in Pierre easily and capping the game's scoring with the White Sox ahead 6-5. League then got lucky and got a two-fer as Rios was caught stealing, and League got a groundout from Paul Konerko to end the inning. In the eighth, League threw a 1-2-3 inning.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Wright and League threw in this game. Going into Thursday's game, Brian Sweeney will have a day of rest (but probably won't get game action), Chris Seddon and David Aardsma will have three days of rest, and Garrett Olson will have four days of rest.
-- now, the scoring. In the first, Ichiro led off with a single, then went to second on a Figgins bunt single. Franklin Gutierrez singled to score Ichiro to make it 1-0 and move Figgins to second. A fielder's choice from Russell Branyan erased Gutierrez and put Figgins on third. On a double steal, Figgins stole home to make it 2-0 and Branyan stole second and went to third on a throwing error. Justin Smoak, watching all this unfold from the batters box, finally hit a deep-enough fly ball to score Branyan and make it 3-0. In the second, Ichiro singled with two out, then came home on a Figgins homer that traveled over the bullpen past the leftfield wall to make it 5-1 and cap the Mariners' scoring.
-- now, the blown chances. In the fourth, Jack Wilson walked with one out, then went to second on an error on an Ichiro grounder. Figgins and Gutierrez then flew out to end the inning. In the fifth, Branyan led off with a single and went to third two outs later on a Josh Wilson single. Michael Saunders flew out to end the inning. In the seventh, Smoak singled off Matt Thornton with two out, went to second on a Josh Bard single, then went to third when Josh Wilson took a fastball off his arm, loading the bases. Saunders again flew out to end the inning.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. The duo had two hits and two runs apiece, just about the most ideal thing for the Mariners, who nonetheless lost. The Mariners are now 12-7 when both players score and 17-30 when both collect hits.
1) Chone Figgins
He's the first gameball if for no other reason than that he homered and stole home plate in the same game. He also got two hits. He got aboard on a bunt in the first to push Ichiro to second, got to second himself on the Franklin Gutierrez RBI single, then stole home on a double steal with Russell Branyan (huh?) to put the Mariners ahead 2-0. In the second, Ichiro was on first and Figgins cranked a ball just over the bullpen beyond the leftfield wall to make it 5-1. Is Figgins' slugging percentage now greater than his on-base percetnage as a result? Well, absolutely not. He's got an on-base percentage of .333 and a slugging percentage of .284. Dude draws walks more often than he gets extra-base hits -- what are ya gonna do? Maybe he should incite more scuffles in the dugout or something. Some more nice team-bonding moments arising from confrontations and tension. If there's no drama in terms of on-field action (since you're going to lose every night), how about at least having some drama off the field?
2) Josh Bard
How often is a Mariner catcher going to rack up three hits in a ballgame? Not often. Thus, here lands Bard in the number-two gameball spot. He doubled with two out in the first after the bases had already emptied and the Mariners had scored three times for an early 3-0 lead. In the third, Bard singled once again with the bases empty and two out. In the seventh, Bard singled with two out to push Justin Smoak to second. I bet you it'll take five or six more games for the Mariner catchers to rack up another three hits at the plate. I was the guy bitching about having a light-hitting catcher when Dan Wilson was in town, so you can imagine how much this current catching tandem is just killing me. At least Dan Wilson could block the ball like nobody's business. Johnson can't block to save his own life, though part of that may be because of his hip surgeries, but if he needs to work himself back into form after these surgeries, isn't there a better place to get that done in a starting role with the Major League club?
The Mariners' leadoff hitter, rightfielder, and money man went 2-for-5 in the game, scoring twice. This pushes him to 129-for-419 (.308) on the season and puts him on pace to finish the season with 205 hits, which isn't bad unless you were expecting way more, like I was. Maybe this will end the slump. I have the feeling it won't end the slump immediately, but any time Ichiro gets multiple hits in a game, it's a good thing. It also means whoever's hitting behind him has some opportunities to move or score runners, and tonight that was Figgins, and Figgins did well. It's almost more of a prototypical example of how this team thought it was going to win this season. Ichiro singled to lead off the game, then singled with two out and the bases empty in the second. He ended up scoring on the Figgins home run that made it 5-1 and unfortunately capped the Mariners' scoring in the second inning. How do you like that -- the one time the Mariners are able to score early and often, they end up blowing a four-run lead. Awesome.
Well, Mister Vargas just wasn't himself in this game, and it's pretty bad he had a 5-1 lead and let it slip away. He's due for a bad start every now and again, especially since we didn't expect him to be this solid of a starting pitcher this quickly (I knocked on wood while typing this, hoping he doesn't pull a Ryan Rowland-Smith next year). Normally I'd say I wanted more innings out of Vargas in this game because the bullpen needed some rest after Rowland-Smith threw last night. However, Rowland-Smith was left out there to rot (and eat innings) and Brian Sweeney ate the remainder of the innings, preserving the rest of the bullpen. Jamey Wright and Brandon League threw in this game and probably won't appear on Thursday. Thus, unless Doug Fister throws a complete game, it's almost a sure thing that we'll see some combination of Garrett Olson and David Aardsma. Out of his 20 starts this season, Vargas has had three starts in which he averaged more than 20 pitches per inning, this start being one of them. He lost one of those starts, and the team split his no-decisions in the other two starts.
Pauley. Garcia. Thursday night.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
What I should really do is just say that Ryan Rowland-Smith pitched, so the Mariners lost. That'd be the shortest way possible in which I could write this game post and completely encompass everything that happened in the game. Really, it's all you need to know. Everything was stacked against the Mariners before this game even started. First off, they don't score runs. The White Sox score runs. Secondly, Gavin Floyd matched zeroes with Felix Hernandez not long ago. For this game, Gavin Floyd wouldn't want to match any of the numbers Ryan Rowland-Smith would put on the board. I'd have to say that every time I think this team has hit rock bottom, they manage to get even lower. Amazing. I think the best way to help remedy the situation would be to listen to the song "Low" by Cracker. That's despite me having hated that song as a early teenager. There's endless jokes to come out of those words -- low and cracker. Even the bad jokes would be better jokes than this team is right now. To add insult to injury, or maybe injury to insult, is the fact that Jose Lopez left the game in the third inning with a balky hamstring.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed at the end of the post. The relief pitching will be discussed in the gameballs
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Brian Sweeney threw in this game. Going into Wednesday's game, Chris Seddon, Brandon League, and David Aardsma will have two days of rest. Jamey Wright and Garrett Olson will have three days of rest.
-- the offense is making it pretty easy to write about them. The Mariners had seven hits, which is one better than they had the previous night, so that's progress. However, they didn't score a run this time, and that's worse than the one run they had the previous night. Can you guess how many extra-base hits the Mariners had? How about zero. The Mariners had one double in each of the last two games. Three games ago, the Mariners had four hits, hitting for the cycle. In this game, Ichiro led off the first with an infield single. One out later, Russell Branyan singled him over to third. Jose Lopez hit a double-play ball to end the inning and the only real Mariner threat. By the time the Mariners sent hitters to the plate in the second inning, the game was out of reach. In the third, Josh Bard led off with a single, and two outs later, Chone Figgins singled Ichiro to second (he'd gotten aboard on a fielder's choice), but that inning went nowhere. Jack Wilson led off the fourth with a single before Justin Smoak hit into a double play. Michael Saunders singled with two out in the seventh. Bard led off the eighth with a single, and Figgins singled two outs later. That's the entire Mariner offense for the night.
-- Ichiro went back into the slump, going 0-for-4. This leaves him at 127-for-414 (.307) on the season. He is on pace to finish the season with 204 hits. Maybe there's a chance even he doesn't give a crap any more about this team and therefore has no drive of going for a tenth straight 200-hit season. The guy's gotta pick it up.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro went hitless while Figgins went 2-for-4. The Mariners remain 12-6 when both players score and 17-29 when both collect hits.
1) Brian Sweeney
Predictably, the bar isn't very high for gameballs for a game like this. Sweeney came into the game to start the sixth, with all the scoring having already occurred. So, it's to his credit that the score stayed 11-0 and that the White Sox failed to get to 20 runs on the night. Sweeney also threw an inning the previous night, so he'll probably be resting for the next two or three days. The only baserunner he gave up was a one-out single by Alexei Ramirez in the sixth. He retired all the other hitters he faced. Yeah, I'll admit I typed up the Ryan Rowland-Smith paragraph first and had a lot more material to work with. There's no way I can spit out that much tonight on Brian Sweeney. He just isn't awesome or awful enough.
2) Chone Figgins
Amazingly, the Mariners had two hitters that recorded multiple hits in the game. Figgins was one of them. As mentioned before, the Mariners had zero extra-base hits, so Figgins had two singles. He hit a two-out single in the third with the Mariners already down 7-0. He also singled with two out in the eighth and the score 11-0. Figgins is now hitting a scorching .233 on the season. Wonderful, really. Do I really think I can spit out a paragraph like Rowland-Smith's paragraph at the end of this post? I'd be kidding myself. Sure, Figgins hasn't been in the good graces of Don Wakamatsu during the season, but at least Figgins and the Mariners only have to deal with the tension for another three years.
3) Josh Bard
The Mariners' backup catcher who should really be the everyday catcher because Rob Johnson can't catch or hit managed to get two hits. Again, they were both singles. Bard led off the third and eighth innings with singles. Needless to say, he scored neither time. He got to second base in the eighth inning on a Figgins single, but in the third he was fielder's choiced from getting to second. Once again, there's no way I'm going to get as much material out of Bard as I would out of, say, Ryan Rowland-Smith.
The Mariners have a record of 3-16 when the Aussie is the starting pitcher. Since at one point he and Ian Snell were rotating in the same rotation spot...the Mariners were 1-7 in Snell's starts. Combine the two, and it's a grand total of 4-23 when either of those two started. Just awful. This is Mike Maroth/Anthony Young bad. Only on this team would Ryan Rowland-Smith be keeping a rotation spot, though probably not for much longer. On a good team, he surely wouldn't have stayed in the rotation this long. In a way, this reminded me of an outing Jamie Moyer had in Chicago in 2000 where Lou Piniella left him out there to rot. This pretty much happened with the Aussie tonight, as he had the number 11 show in his boxscore three times. That's right -- 11 runs (all earned) on 11 hits. The average per-start line for the Aussie this season: 5 innings, 4.5 runs (4 earned), 6.6 hits, 2.11 walks, 2 strikeouts, 85 pitches (53 strikes), 5.8 groundouts, 7.2 flyouts. He averages 16.8 pitches per inning.
Vargas. Buehrle. Tomorrow.
Monday, July 26, 2010
In short, the Mariners were Danktified again and Felix Hernandez couldn't get the low strike. All in all, that's far from a recipe that would result in a Mariner win. It got bad enough to where in the sixth inning, Felix basically put a pitch right down the pipe (and the EQC Tracer loved that pitch) and plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt called it a ball. Rob Johnson started jawing with Wendelstedt, and eventually Don Wakamatsu came in to shoulder some of the argumentative burden. Still, the White Sox are a good team, and luckily not all teams in the Majors are as good as the White Sox, because if Felix was trotted out to the mound every five days and I knew the Mariners had no chance of scoring runs, it'd be a pretty dismal remainder of the season, to say the least.
-- the starting pitching will be covered toward the end of the post
-- Brian Sweeney came out of the bullpen for the Mariners and threw the eighth inning. He came in with the Mariners down 4-1 and threw some dirt on the grave. He gave up singles to the first two hitters, then AJ Pierzynski hit a sacrifice fly to make it 5-1. Alexei Ramirez singled, then one out later, Juan Pierre singled to make it 6-1 and cap the scoring.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Sweeney threw in this game. Going into Tuesday's game, Chris Seddon, Brandon League, and David Aardsma will have a day of rest. Jamey Wright and Garrett Olson will have two days of rest.
-- once again, the offense doesn't give me a lot of material. Not any material in the vein of the positive, anyway. The Mariners racked up six hits in all, with the only extra-base hit being a Michael Saunders double. The only Mariner run of the game scored on a Jack Wilson single that scored Saunders after the double in the third inning.
-- as for blown offensive opportunities, the Mariners would have had to put some real baserunners aboard to have a bunch of those. As a quick aside, both Rob Johnson and Chone Figgins flew out with bunts in the third inning. In the fourth, Jose Lopez singled with one out, but then found himself on the front end of an inning-ending double-play ball (Casey Kotchman). With the Mariners down 2-1 in the sixth, Ichiro singled with one out and stayed there. With the Mariners down 4-1 in the eighth, Rob Johnson statred the inning with an infield single and was erased on a fielder's choice. Ichiro did the infield single thing to move Jack to second, but the inning ended with another double play (Figgins).
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro had two hits while Figgins went hitless. Neither player scored. The Mariners remain 12-6 when both players score and 17-29 when both collect hits.
The Mariners' money man, leadoff hitter, and rightfielder snapped an 0-for-12 slump with a one-out single in the sixth inning. He added an infield single in the eighth in what looked to be a situation where the Mariners might score a run, though they were already down four runs at that point. Nonetheless, the 2-for-4 night pushes Ichiro to 127-for-410 (.310) on the season. He's on pace to finish the season with 206 hits. If you're a dreamer like me, you wanted Ichiro to finish the season with 240 hits. The realistic side of my mind expected Ichiro to get about 220 to 225 hits. For that to happen, though, he'd have to rack up around 95 hits in the remaining 62 games. Sure, if anyone can do it, it's Ichiro, but that's a pretty tall order. Quick math -- 62 games times four at-bats per game makes it 248 at-bats...95 hits over 248 at-bats means...a rough estimate says Ichiro will have to hit .383 over the final 62 games of the season to get to 222 hits. Again, I'm not saying he can't do it, but that'd be quite a prolonged tear. I do think he has one good tear left in him this season, but I'm not sure it'll equate to .383 over the final 62 games.
2) Jack Wilson
The Mariners' not-quite-as-crappy-hitting (nowadays) shortstop named Wilson didn't have to display any bunting skills in this game, but he did have the only Mariner RBI of the game. One really fun pipe dream right now is to try to convince yourself that some other team sees something in Jack Wilson and they try to get him in a trade. Maybe some National League team sees his bunting wizardry and wants some of it. Of course, Jack Zduriencik traded for Jack Wilson expecting to have the starting shortstop for the next few years, but it's apparent the dude gets banged up too often. He's not dependable enough, but no one in the minors is exactly knocking on the door to take the spot at short. Still, it'd be awesome to have some kind of salary dump, though you'd certainly have to send some cash away in the deal. I like sound defense as much as the next guy and everything, but this team needs some more offense. They don't need an all-hit, no-glove shortstop necessarily, but there has to be some balance in this team.
3) Michael Saunders
The lanky Victorian Mariner (sounds like a boat name) hit a double for the Mariners' only extra-base hit, and he also scored the only Mariner run of the game. With all the assumptions I made about him after last season, now he's turning all of those assumptions around. I think the last guy that proved me wrong this badly was Raul Ibanez. Of course, Ibanez did it in the home run and RBI variety. Saunders has the capability to rip line drives, but the Mariners just need him to do it more consistently and more often. It'd be nice for the Mariners to get some powerful offensive in a corner outfield position, and if they did, Saunders would be gone instantaneously. They're sure as hell not getting any power hitting in the other corner outfield position, that's for sure. It would take the team getting sold for Ichiro to no longer be on this team. Then again, what would another team trade in terms of assets for someone with Ichiro's skillset and with Ichiro's age? The guy's pretty up there in age, though he is better conditioned than most athletes his age.
Don't get me wrong, Felix has to get some credit for getting through seven innings despite not getting the low strike called all night. What irks me, though, is that it visibly upset him to not get those strikes called. Granted, not every player can be completely emotionless, and most of the time I like that Felix shows a little but of give-a-damn while he's on the mound. Maybe I'm being a little fickle, but it seemed to me like Felix couldn't adapt to not having the low strike getting called, and I guess I want him to cross over that threshold of mental toughness. I hate to bring up his name now that he's gone, but I think a Cliff Lee manages to get through that situation unscathed. Maybe Felix can't exactly be a crafty righthander, but he's gotta use all the tools in the bag and he has to be the workhorse even when he doesn't have his best stuff or he isn't getting all the calls. Look at me -- I'm complaining about a start where Felix went seven innings and gave up four runs, which on a normal team should mean about a 50/50 shot for a win every night. On this team, it's more like a 90% chance of a loss, but them's the breaks when it comes to the 2010 Mariners.
Rowland-Smith. Floyd. Tuesday night.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
For the third straight day, the Mariner offense appeared to like not doing much, and after 7 1/2 innings of play, they found themselves behind 2-1 and having pounded out all of five hits. Doug Fister was decent, though definitely not the most efficient we've seen him this season, and the bullpen up to that point had held it close. Then the bottom of the eighth inning came, craziness ensued, and the only Mariner hitters that managed to torpedo the inning were Ichiro and Chone Figgins. Go figure. Anyway, the Mariners somehow came out of this four-game series with a split against the Red Sox. Granted, the Red Sox are far from healthy, but the Mariners will take it. These series were a lot more meaningful when, say, Rafael Soriano was mowing down Nomar Garciaparra in the ninth inning, but that was then, and this unfortunately is now.
-- Doug Fister started the game and while he wasn't awful, he's definitely not the Doug Fister of earlier this year who was efficient went deep into games, and was a groundball machine. In this game, he gave up seven hits and two runs in five innings, walking one and striking out three. A start of four groundouts and eight flyouts isn't very Fisterian. In the second, he got a double-play ball from Adrian Beltre even though Kevin Youkilis had taken off from first with the pitch. In the fourth, Fister surrendered the Mariners' 1-0 lead. JD Drew led off with a single, then went to second when David Ortiz walked. Youkilis then rang a double to score Drew and move Ortiz to third, tying the game at 1-1. Beltre then singled on the first pitch, scoring Ortiz and moving Youkilis to third as the Red Sox led 2-1. Fister, in deep trouble, managed to get the next three hitters out to avert further damage (including a leaping snare of a line drive by Jack Wilson to end the inning). In the fifth, he got out of a mini-jam caused by two infield singles (one a broken-bat dribbler away from the Ortiz shift), both with two out. Before Fister went on the disabled list, his average start was 7 innings, 2 runs (1.9 earned), 5.7 hits, 1 walk, 3.2 strikeouts, 100 pitches (65 strikes), 10.5 groundouts, 7 flyouts, and 14.4 pitches per inning. After injury, he averages 5 1/3 innings, 3.5 runs (all earned), 7.2 hits, 1.5 walks, 3 strikeouts, 94 pitches (61 strikes), 6.2 groundouts, 6 flyouts, and 17.9 pitches per inning.
-- the first guy out of the bullpen was Chris Seddon, who is in the gameballs. Brandon League came into the game with two out in the eighth inning of a game with the Mariners down 2-1. It took him 12 pitches, but Youkilis finally whiffed, ending the inning as well as League's outing since crazy stuff happened in the eighth. David Aardsma came on to protect a newfound 4-2 lead in the ninth. He got a popout, groundout, and strikeout from Beltre, Jeremy Hermida, and Mike Cameron to end the game. It was a rare 1-2-3 inning for Aardsma, and one without adventure, no less.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Seddon, League, and Aardsma threw in this game. Going into Monday night's game, Jamey Wright and Garrett Olson will have a day of rest, and Brian Sweeney will have three days of rest.
-- as for the offense...how about the bad stuff first. In the first inning, Figgins walked with one out. He then moved to second on a wild pitch and stole third during the course of the Franklin Gutierrez at-bat. Yes, the Mariners had a runner on third with one out. Gutierrez then whiffed and Lopez predictably swung at the first pitch and popped out to Youkilis in foul ground, mere minutes after he muffed a foul pop earlier in the inning. In the second, Casey Kotchman singled with one out and went to second on a Michael Saunders walk. Rob Johnson then grounded to Beltre, who stepped on the bag at third. Jack Wilson then whiffed to end the inning. In the fifth, Figgins led off with a walk before being erased on a fielder's choice. In the sixth, Kotchman led off with a single down the leftfield line that wasn't touched by a fan this time. Karma went the other way this time as Hermida gunned a throw to second base and Kotchman was out by about eight feet.
-- now the good stuff. In the third, Figgins doubled with one out. Gutierrez walked. Jose Lopez then hit a rare clutch single, giving the Mariners an early 1-0 lead. With runners on first and third and one out, Justin Smoak was green-lit 3-0 and popped out. Kotchman walked to load the bases, but then Saunders flew out to end the inning. Maybe that actually belongs with the last bullet point. Then the crazy stuff happened in the eighth. Lopez led off with a single, chasing Danny Bard for Hideki Okajima. Smoak then singled. Kotchman bunted along the left side, where Okajima picked it up, looked to make sure he had no pay at second and third, then hesitated before throwing late to first. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Saunders had the game-breaking hit, scoring Lopez and Smoak to give the Mariners the 3-2 lead. Milton Bradley came in to hit for Johnson, usually a wise decision. Bradley then pulled some sort of safety squeeze, and Kotchman scored to make it 4-2. Jack then pulled the bunt back and swung (Dave Sims and Mike Blowers prefer the phrase "butcher boy"), re-loading the bases with nobody out. Then the inning was killed by the two players intended to be the best on-base guys on the team. Ichiro grounded hard to Youkilis at first, who stepped on the bag and threw home, where Saunders was tagged out. Figgins was then caught looking to end the inning.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro went hitless and scoreless, whereas Figgins scored once and had two hits. The Mariners remain 12-6 when both players score and 17-29 when both collect hits.
1) Chris Seddon
His call-up to the Majors seemed unremarkable enough, but four appearances later, it's been so far, so good for Seddon. On Saturday night, he threw a single inning against the Red Sox. His three other outings were all longer. He threw 1 2/3 innings in Anaheim on the 17th and threw three innings on the 20th, giving up one run against the White Sox in Seattle. The one run in that appearance is the only run he's given up as a Mariner. His ERA is therefore a small sample size-friendly 1.08 in 8 1/3 innings. It's a bit weird not having a semi-situational lefthander in the bullpen. They have Seddon and Olson right now, but it seems both of the guys throw an inning or so at a time. This reminds me of how the Mariner bullpen evolved last year, with all righthanders and guys just trying to get hitters out. Guys just getting hitters out has ha[[ened a lot less this season, but it is what it is. I'm liking what I've seen from Seddon so far, and I wonder if he'll be on this team next season.
2) Chone Figgins
Okay, so he didn't maximize his clutch potential in the eighth inning, when he could have put the game comfortably away. However, this was one of Figgins' better games of the year as he went 2-for-3 and walked twice, scoring a run along the way. He walked with one out in the first, took second on the wild pitch and stole third in the first inning before staying there. He doubled with one out in the third and scored the Mariners' first run of the game. He walked to lead off the fifth inning, then singled with two out in the seventh inning. Finally, he was caught looking with the bases loaded in the eighth to end the inning. Figgins is still only hitting .235 in July after a .271 June, .220 May, and .200 April. If nothing else, maybe it's fortunate that Figgins hasn't yet choked Don Wakamatsu. Talk about something that would liven up the season. Actually, I'm surprised Milton Bradley hasn't done something to liven up the season. Is a boring Bradley good for his statistics?
3) Casey Kotchman
Maybe he shouldn't have tried stretching that single into a double, but he otherwise had a good day. I hadn't looked at his game log in a while, but he's hitting .360 in July, having gone 18-for-50 with three doubles, four homers, and eight RBIs. He entered the month with a .188 batting average and has taken it all the way up to .225. It's just a reminder of how awful he was for the first three months of the season. I don't think he'll ultimately get enough at-bats to manage to push his batting average above .250. I wonder the season would have transpired if Kotchman hit .220 in July and instead had a .220 month of May instead of the .135 May he ended up having. One hit here, one hit there, and how much better would the Mariners' season have shaped itself? If he did it in that order, though, I don't think there's any way the Mariners would have traded for Russell Branyan. Then who would have gotten injured to open up this playing time for Kotchman?
The Mariners' money man, rightfielder, and leadoff hitter went 0-for-5, leaving him at 125-for-406 (.308) on the season. He is on pace to finish the season with 205 hits. He's in a pretty big drought right now. He has gone 7-for-44 (.159) since the All-Star break, dropping his batting average from .326 all the way down to .308. Like I said, he's at a 205-hit pace, and he's got to get it in gear pretty soon if he wants to keep that 200-hit pace. I don't have past seasons' game logs immediately at my disposal, but I wonder if this is an unprecedented drought for Ichiro. I mean, .240 for two weeks is a reasonable drought for Ichiro, but .159 over two weeks? That's dry as a bone. It was one thing to watch the Mariners fritter their season away despite Ichiro doing what he normally does, but when the team is bad and Ichiro's awful, well, that takes away a lot of the everyday reason to watch the Mariners. Felix Hernandez unfortunately can only throw every five days.
Hernandez. Danks. Monday night.
[posted in full Sun ~2:41p]
After nearly being held hitless on Friday night, the Mariners looked for half the game like they were going to do one better as Jon Lester took a perfect game into the sixth inning. Fortunately for the Mariners, David Pauley didn't pick that day to implode, and a bit of a break and an isolated slugging incident helped the Mariners get a win. I saw highlights on SportsCenter where they mentioned the Mariners' four hits were a single, double, triple, and home run. The Mariners hit for the cycle. I tell ya, that'd only happen with this team. It seems some crazy crap has to happen for this team to win. Lester flirted with a perfect game, struck out 13 hitters over 7 2/3 innings, and lost.
-- the starting pitching will be discussed in the gameballs
-- Chris Seddon was the first guy out of the bullpen. He entered the game with two out in the sixth inning in a game the Mariners trailed 1-0. He got a ground ball to end the sixth. Protecting a newfound 2-1 lead, he struck out Jeremy Hermida to lead off the seventh, then got a fly ball for the second out of the inning before being lifted. Jamey Wright then took over, getting a ground ball to end the seventh. He caught Marco Scutaro looking before walking Eric Patterson, ending his outing. Garrett Olson took over, and he's one of the gameballs.
-- the bullpen rest bulletin: Seddon, Wright, and Olson threw in this game. Going into Sunday's game, Brandon League will have a day of rest, and Brian Sweeney and David Aardsma will have two days of rest.
-- the Mariner offense again doesn't give me a lot to write about. Jon Lester retired the first 16 Mariner hitters of the game. With one out in the sixth, Jack Wilson hit a fly ball to centerfield, where Eric Patterson ran over and camped under the ball to make the catch. The ball appeared to go off the top of the pocket of his glove, landing on the ground to put Jack on second and nullifying the perfect game, though keeping the no-hitter alive. Michael Saunders, the next hitter, got a 2-2 pitch and drove it well over the wall in rightfield for the Mariners' first hit, sending the Mariners from being on the bad end of a perfect game to leading 2-1 in the span of a couple minutes. Lester then became unraveled a bit in the eighth. Milton Bradley tripled to lead off. One out later, the squeeze play was put on, and Jack bunted a very high pitch but got it on the ground, enabling Bradley to score the important insurance run and make it 3-1. Saunders got aboard on an infield single, then went to second on an Ichiro walk. Chone Figgins doubled, scoring Saunders to make it 4-1, and pushing Ichiro to third. Lester was lifted for Manny Delcarmen, who walked Franklin Gutierrez to load the bases and hit Jose Lopez with a pitch to force Ichiro across the plate, making it 5-1.
-- Ichiro went 0-for-3 in the game, leaving him at 125-for-401 (.312) on the season. He is now on pace to finish the season with 207 hits.
-- now, the Ichiro/Figgins stat. Ichiro was hitless while Figgins got a hit. Neither player scored. The Mariners remain 12-6 when both players score and 17-29 when both collect hits.
1) Michael Saunders
At the end of last season, I was worried the Mariners just wanted to give a bunch of playing time to a leftfielder that hit with absolutely no power. He didn't hit a home run after his extensive audition with the big club last season. This season, he's looked pretty good every time he's managed to hit the ball hard, and he's done that a lot more often this season than last. Though he's hitting .238, that's still better than Chone Figgins and Jose Lopez, though in less at-bats. I'm curious as to what the ceiling for this guy is. I know for me that it's a lot higher than it was last year. Could he hit 15-20 homers in a season and hit .250? As long as he was cheap, I wouldn't mind that at all. Of course, it'd depend on whether the Mariners had a legitimate chance to add a power bat that happened to play leftfield but in the meantime, I'd settle for that line I just spat. It occurred to me the .250 is what I expected out of Gutierrez going into last season. I didn't expect Gutierrez to make a run at a 20-homer season, though.
2) David Pauley
Pushed into the rotation after the trade of Cliff Lee, Pauley has come out of nowhere to throw at least five innings in all three of his starts. Don Wakamatsu let the pitch count top out at 97 this time, and though this was the least efficient start in terms of pitches per inning for Pauley, he only gave up the one run this time, which was a best for him. I floated the hypothesis recently that if Ryan Rowland-Smith kept sucking, it might be possible that Jamey Wright could take his spot in the rotation, and I still think that's possible, if only based on Wright throwing the three innings in the big comeback game. The Aussie has given up 13 earned runs in 13 1/3 innings over his last three starts. Those with only a passing knowledge of the game of baseball probably know that giving up nearly a run per inning as a starting pitcher is a bad thing. I just wonder how much longer the Mariners are going to go before they send Rowland-Smith back to the drawing board, either by banishing him to the bullpen for a while or maybe pushing back a start or something.
3) Garrett Olson
He hasn't had the best season since being called up in the Kanekoa Texeira/Jesus Colome panic, but he ended up nailing down the save in this one. I thought it to be a bit odd that David Aardsma had thrown two nights earlier and therefore had a night of rest beforehand, but Wakamatsu left Olson out there for the ninth. The save was really earned in the eighth, however, as he had a man on first and one out with a 2-1 lead and had to face David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis, and Adrian Beltre. Only Youkilis got aboard, and he did so thanks to a Jose Lopez error. In the ninth, the competition was less stiff as Olson had to face JD Drew, Bill Hall, and Jed Lowrie. He threw a 1-2-3 inning. Don Wakamatsu usually doesn't give Olson any high-leverage situations, but maybe this outing will make him sprinkle a little more Olson in situations where he might go to Brandon League. Does this team miss Mark Lowe or what? Of course, he's been traded away, so they'll never get him back, but...maybe this is what Josh Fields is for?
He was just the most goaty guy in the lineup. Granted, not a lot of Mariners had busted out the hitting sticks in this game, but Bard accounted for three of Lester's 13 strikeouts. If Rob Johnson's name was penciled into the lineup to start this game, he probably strikes out three times as well. Maybe four times. It doesn't seem like Bard is hitting .179, but apparently that's what's in the boxscore. Maybe I just remember all the good stuff. I just know I feel better with him behind the plate instead of Rob Johnson. Best of all, Bard caught the last start for Felix Hernandez, and the earth didn't implode upon itself. In fact, that was one of Felix's best starts. Will Wakamatsu go to the well again and put Bard behind the plate when Felix is on the mound? What I liked about Cliff Lee was that he was awesome this year no matter who was behind the plate.
Matsuzaka. Fister. Today.