Mariners Insider

Game #19: Mariners do that ‘stay close’ thing

Post by Larry Larue / The News Tribune on April 25, 2010 at 11:01 am with 6 Comments »
April 25, 2010 2:02 pm

If you recall, coming out of spring training with Cliff Lee a month away from pitching – and Erik Bedard a good six weeks out – the Seattle Mariners hoped to ‘stay close’ in the American League West throughout April. 

Ken Griffey Jr.: Can he still hit?

Well, as they watch their 19th game of the 2010 season delayed by rain – the new start time is 11:45 a.m. (PDT) - they have done just that, going .500 thus far. 

Good news or bad? 

Would you have thought they’d be 9-9 after starting the year 2-5? What if you’d known Felix Hernandez would win just two games – and Ryan Rowland-Smith and Ian Snell wouldn’t have a win yet? Or that Milton Bradley would miss five games to injury? 

Would you have believed they could go 9-9 despite losing four times on walk-off hits? What if you’d know Chone Figgins would be batting .186? Or that your two catchers wouldn’t hit? Worse, that your two designated hitters – Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Sweeney – would produce a batting average under .200? 

All things considered, it’s amazing this team has won nine games. Will they be better in a week, with Felix and Lee starting twice each turn through the rotation? Yes. 

Will Lee’s return – or his and Bedard’s together – solve all the Mariners problems? Not hardly. 

It’s fair to expect Figgins to hit. He will. But after hitting .213 last season, having Griffey hit about the same this month – without power – raises legitimate questions about whether he can or should be the left-handed DH. 

Jose Lopez isn’t an ideal No. 4 hitter, but this team doesn’t have a better one at the moment. The bullpen hasn’t yet become the automatic out-machine it was for months at a time in 2009. The rotation – specifically Rowland-Smith and Snell – remains a work in progress. 

To be where they are as they work through all that is remarkable. It doesn’t make the problems any easier to solve. 

  • Underway in Chicago, lefty John Danks retired Ichiro (3 pitches), Figgins (4) and Franklin Gutierrez (5) quickly and efficiently. Yikes!
  •  Juan Pierre was hit by the first pich Jason Vargas threw, and Gordon Beckham singled on the third – and Pierre stole third base on his fifth pitch. Adruw Jones struck out. Adam Moore was charged with a passed ball, allowing Pierre to score, on the 13th pitch of the inning. Konerko walked.  A.J. Pierzynski grounded out. Carlos Quentin grounded out. After one: Chicago 1, Seattle 0.
  • Here come those scrappy little Mariners! Lopez dunked a single into center field and Sweeney snapped an 0-for-11 stretch when he singled into left. Casey Kotchman grounded into a double play, Lopez taking third base.  Eric Byrnes struck out.  Scrappy didn’t produce a run.
  • Gutierrez hit his second home run of the series – and the season – on a one-out, 1-1 pitch.   In the fourth: Seattle 1, Chicago 1.
  • Kotchman tripled off the glove of center fielder Alex Rios leading off the fifth. Byrnes looped a slow line drive to short. Moore looped a single into right field for the RBI, his second of the season. In the fifth: Seattle 2, Chicago 1.
  • Despite early command issues, Mr. Vargas has now sailed through five innings on 72 pitches, allowing just the first-inning run. If you were to start a rotation with what’s on hand right now, it would be Felix, Fister and Vargas, 1-2-3. Who knew?
  • Jones singled and Konerko doubled – runners at second and third asae no one out. Pierzynski popped out. Carlos Quentin grounded out, Jones scoring. Rios popped out. After six: Seattle 2, Chicago 2.
  • Leadoff double by Mark Teahen in the seventh inning. Vargas struck out Alexi Ramirez and retired Pierre on a ground ball, holding Teahen at second. Sean White replaced Vargas. Beckham flied out. After seven: Seattle 2, Chicago 2.
  • With two out in the eight, Ichiro singled. Figgins singled him to third base. Gutierrez flied out on Danks’ 107th pitch.
  • Brandon League in to pitch the eighth for Seattle. Mark Lowe is unaailable (lower back spasms). On a  one-out, 2-1 pitch, Konerko homered.  After eight: Chicago 3, Seattle 2.
  • Bobby Jenks in for the ninth, trying to save the Sox third one-run win of the series with Seattle. Ground ball, strike out, Kotchman doubled and Byrnes walked. Ken Griffey Jr. batted for Moore and struck out.   It’s a final: Chicago 3, Seattle 2.
Leave a comment Comments → 6
  1. Its very refreshing to finally see someone in the Seattle press question whether Griffey should be the LH DH, and by extension whether Sweeney should be the RH DH. Keep up the good work Larry.

  2. VisitingFan says:

    Mr. LaRue, can you give an update on Erik? Last was the bullpen on Wednesday; did that go well? Have they announced what is next? Thanks!

  3. Larry Larue says:

    fan – mr. bedard felt great after his last bullpen session and will have another in kansas city either monday or tuesday. the mariners are being more cautious with him than with, say, clif lee, because erik’s injury involved his arm. lee’s did not. as it stands, the team expects bedard back the end of may.

  4. VisitingFan says:

    Thank you, Mr. LaRue, and yes, I am aware that Erik’s injury requires more care than rehabbing an abdominal muscle strain. Still, I am skeptical of the “being more cautious” part. If the Mariners are truly serious about this, they should allow him to come back by the original ETR. The further removed from the surgery, the better the chances of healing and regaining effectiveness.

    (I know that you are just passing along the information that some Mariners staff provided. I’m appreciative of that.)

  5. This team is so schizophrenic…………….. Just when I start thinking that they’re either good or bad they prove me wrong!

  6. westside_guy says:

    I really don’t understand this team, especially given how sharp Z and Wak have proven themselves to be overall. Our DH combo was not good last year, and can’t be expected to improve this year. Bradley will almost certainly produce, but given his health history it doesn’t make sense to keep running him out into left field – he’s already having knee problems! Bradley should probably be our fulltime DH, as he was with Texas in 2008 when he had a monster year (BTW his Chicago numbers may have disappointed that team, but we’d certainly take the same production this year!).

    Other than those glaring holes, we aren’t too bad off in my opinion. Lopez is hitting at the same maddening level this year as last year, but defensively the move to third seems to have actually worked pretty well so far. Figgins is coming around. Ichiro is doing what he always does. Moore will probably not continue to suck, and Johnson has actually improved significantly at the plate (so far) with a .333 on-base percentage.

    I think if we could fix the DH/left field problem, the rest would fall into place. Not carrying two pathetic DHs would free up a roster spot for at least one better backup, and so on.

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