2012 Early Going
The Mariners win streak ended today losing by the score of 7-0 to the Toronto Blue Jays dropping them back to .500 on the year. After last night’s wild thriller today was going to be a let-down no matter what happened and Jays starter Brandon Morrow pretty much made sure of that with his impressive outing today holding the Mariners scoreless through six innings. The Mariners sent Kevin Millwood to the mound today and the veteran right-hander pitched well through seven innings with the exception of a rough third frame when he gave up all three Jays runs. Eric Wedge needed to get some innings out of Millwood today to rest his battered bullpen and Millwood responded with a decent outing despite receiving no help from the rest of the crew on offense.
Wedge is facing a tough task trying to juggle his lineup and bullpen to not only win games but to see who is going to be on the field the rest of the season. He has shown a lot more patience than the local Mariners blogosphere and Facebook arm-chair managers in this task so far. Of course besides the endless clamoring for John Jaso to get more time there has been an ongoing second guessing on Wedge’s decision to not use Hisashi Iwakuma much so far. Well today Wedge had little choice and he sent Iwakuma out to the mound in the eighth with the score still close and Iwakuma promptly loaded the bases and then allowed a grand slam to Edwin Encarnacion to put this one out of reach.
Perhaps Wedge knew what he was doing all along and it is time for all of us with a keyboard and one tenth the information Eric Wedge has to chill out and let the skipper do his job. I doubt that will happen and I’m sure the Figgins, Olivo, Smoak and Brendan Ryan haters will have a field day in the next 24 hours clamoring endlessly about why they are right and Eric Wedge is wrong. I’m going to go with the skippers judgement especially after seeing the performance Iwakuma put in today and focus on the fact that we are still at .500 and still have a chance to win this series in the morning. Love to hear what all you think…..GoM’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
Not quite sure what happened earlier today but I wrote an article on todays’ game with the Tigers and when I went to post it nothing happened….I guess you could say it was a ghost post…..
At any rate here it is four hours after today’s game which I’m sure you have either read about or maybe you watched the game earlier, if not I suggest you watch it on ROOT Sports later on as it was a great game. I guess the best way to put this whole series which we swept from the Detroit Tigers after today’s 5-4 win, was that this series sweep was a team effort with no particular stars and even better no real goats.
Going into today’s game the Mariners Blogosphere was clamoring for three guys heads in particular: Justin Smoak, Miguel Olivo and Chone Figgins. It will be interesting to see how the big boys spin today,s game after those three basically provided all the offense today in one way or the other.
I know we are all inclined to get negative on the Mariners (myself included) after the last two years of futility, but Eric Wedge is somehow figuring out how to juggle his lineups and relief staff lately in a way that is providing the most “bang for the buck”. I suppose us bloggers armed with a whole array of information and sabermetrics gimmicks have a right to second guess Wedge, but he proved everyone wrong this series and I tip my hat to him.
If at the beginning of the year anyone would have asked us fans if we would be happy with a 10-10 record at this point in the season just about everyone would have answered with a resounding “Yes”. This team is coming together in a way none of us would have guessed and I have a hunch it will continue to evolve until the ALL-Star Break with a few more surprise developments like Alex Liddi still to come.
Most of us are under no illusion that the 2012 Mariners are going to overtake the Texas Rangers for the AL West crown, but this series sweep of the Tigers has given me a little hope that this season with all its ups and downs could be fun after all! Go M’s ! http://jeffsmariners.com
Not quite sure what to say about tonight’s Mariners game as it looked so foreign from what we have gotten used to here in Seattle over the past few years. All I know is every time I looked up there seemed to be guys hitting the ball and running around the bases as a result of the second night in a row where we had 15 hits! In an odd way it seems like scoring nine runs in a game is not nearly enough to pay us back let alone Felix Hernandez for all those stupid one and two run affairs we’ve suffered through recently. But indeed we did clobber the Detroit Tigers tonight 9-1 on a rainy night at Comerica Park in front of 28,527 soggy fans who are probably just as amazed as we are with the way this series is going.
The last and only time I was in Detroit was for Super Bowl XL in 2006 when I paid $3000 for the ticket above to see the Seahawks get robbed of the title. Needless to say I don’t have a lot of love in my heart for that city, but after looking at the faces of the dejected Tigers Fans tonight I think it’s time to move on and maybe have some empathy for a town that was in a recession long before the one we are in now. I mean at least here in Seattle if the Mariners suck we still have Boeing, Microsoft and a vibrant Port to employ us all so we can but tickets to go see our team. Detroit is another story all together, so it almost feels mean to roll into town and knock the Tigers around like we have in the past couple nights, but that’s baseball.
Great to see Ichiro, Ackley and Montero all collect three hits tonight along with another big day at the plate for Alex Liddi who connected for another homer . Eric Wedge must be quite pleased with himself for not only giving Liddi another much deserved start tonight but also for leaving lefty Michael Saunders in the lineup to face Tigers starter Adam Wilk who also is a lefty. Good to see Casper Wells get the start in left tonight as well and even though he only went 1-4 he is quietly batting .278 thus far in 2012 and also deserves a chance to prove himself this season as the Chone Figgins audition has been less than overwhelming to date.
Kind of funny but I’m beginning to forget about Mike Carp and Franklin Gutierrez, and since Carp has been struggling in Tacoma things could get real interesting in a couple of weeks as far as the starting lineup goes, especially if the Italian Stallion Alex Liddi keeps hitting the ball with authority.
The Mariners could return to .500 if they sweep the Tigers in the morning but that all depends on which version of Hector Noesi takes the mound tomorrow. Hopefully it won’t be the Noesi who didn’t make it out of the second inning in his last start, but only time will tell. Either way the Mariners have already won this series and are showing a glimpse of hope for those of us still following them back here in Mayberry with Skyscrapers. Go Chuck and Howard! http://jeffsmariners.com
The Mariners played what I thought was there most solid game of the year tonight beating the powerful Detroit Tigers 7-4 to snap a four games losing streak. This game was just what we needed after the last several days, or perhaps it was just a tease to keep those of us who are still paying attention a reason to hang in there. Either way tonight we got a gutsy outing from Jason Vargas who got the start and the win against a powerful Tigers lineup which added Prince Fielder in the offseason to give Tigers skipper Jim Leyland even more ammo in his quest to get back into the playoffs and go a little deeper this year.
I sort of played a little game with myself tonight by handling other chores and fiddling around online while the game was playing in the background tonight just in case it was another blowout which would allow me to transition into civilian life easier without going through more grief. But our guys just kept pounding away tonight collecting a season-high 15 hits thanks to guys like Alex Liddi who had a big night with three base knocks including a huge solo homer in the seventh to give the Mariners a 6-4 lead at the time. Michael Saunders also had a nice game knocking in three runs with a couple of clutch 2-out doubles in front of 30,073 Tigers fans at Comerica Park in the Motor City.
The Mariners relief corps of Tom Wilhelmsen and Brandon League also were impressive tonight, especially Wilhelmsen who managed to get out of a jam in the eighth after both Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder singled to start the frame. But Wilhelmsen took control after that fanning the last two batters in the eighth showing some grit in a crucial situation before handing the ball off to Brandon League who hasn’t pitched since blowing that save the other night. It became apparent right away that League still doesn’t have a handle on his deadly splitter, but like a true pro he adjusted after walking the first batter and threw fastballs the rest of the inning to shut down the Tigers. League will have to find that elusive splitter soon if he is going to be the effective closer we have all gotten used to.
Alex Liddi’s big night at the plate raising his average to .368 in limited appearances may add another wild-card into the mix as far as who will eventually be sent down once Carp and Gutierrez come back. I don’t know about you guys but I’m getting a little tired of waiting around for Justin Smoak to produce at the plate and I think Eric Wedge may need to give Liddi another day at first to see if the big Italian kid can keep driving the ball. It would be nice to win this series to get things back on track and tonight’s solid game was a great start! Go Chuck and Howard! http://jeffsmariners.com
The Mariners are on their way back East to face the Detroit Tigers still reeling from a homestand that started out ok and ended-up being a blur of disappointment that has left may of us fans at a familiar place emotionally with this club. I did somehow manage to make it to the infamous game where the Mariners won 4-1 over the Indians yet drew the fewest fans in Safeco history last week which as it turns out was sort of a perverse high point of the homestand! From there of course it got worse with blown save by League in the ninth last Thursday after a valiant effort by King Felix, a couple of usual dull losses including yesterday”s game, and another stupid bobblehead night that didn’t even draw enough fans to give away the toys to the casual fans. And of course how can we forget the infamous “Perfect Game” that was thrown against us Saturday to mix into the smoldering stew of ineptitude.
I suppose you can see why I have not been posting on this Mariners Blog for a few days as just when I think I have gotten over one nightmare another one seems to surface even harder on the collective psyche of those of us who are true fans, or maybe true masochist’s.
Not much sense in reviewing who is doing bad vs. who is doing terrible this year as outside Felix and Ichiro none of our guys have been to impressive thus far. So what now? Is it going to be another long painful 100-loss season, or will Eric Wedge and his crew be able to manage some sort of miracle resurgence like they did last year to keep the natives interested until October? I have some hope, but judging from the people I talk to here in Seattle most folks simply don’t even care anymore. We are perhaps in the final stages of the grieving process so to speak where we all move to acceptance and stop fighting it anymore. But how do you listen or watch games every day during the only days of the year when the weather is nice knowing you are wasting your time and you should be out kayaking or swimming or whatever normal non-Mariners fans do in the NW summer? This next road trip could be the answer for many of us, stay tuned. Go Away Chuck and Howard! http;//jeffsmariners.com
Tonight was the first of the Bobblehead nights of the 2012 season but the Mariners PR hacks couldn’t even give away the full 20,000 trinkets as the attendance was 19,947 on this chilly night. After that it got worse as Hector Noesi coming off a nice game against the A’s didn’t even make it through the second inning before allowing six earned runs. Four of those early runs came off the bat of big Adam Dunn who had an RBI double in the first and a thrre-run homer in the second to send Noesi to the showers.
Adam Dunn had a terrible year last season for the White Sox after being such a home run machine in the NL for so many years, but tonight he looked like he is back big time adding a solo shot in the eighth off Hisashi Iwakuma who finally got a chance to pitch tonight and looked good besides the bomb to Dunn going four innings and allowing only the one hit.
But once again it was the Mariners inablity to string together hits against White Sox starter Chris Sale that made the difference in this one. Ichiro Suzuki drove-in a couple of runs tonight to push his team-leading RBI total to nine, and Jesus Montero hit a long bomb to dead center in the sixth but the Mariners couldn’t make-up for the 15 times they struck out tonight and thus find themselves now at 7-8 on the year.
It was also nice to see Casper Wells get a start tonight in left and he responded with a pair of hard hit doubles to help him make his case for more playing time. Not sure what makes a guy spend his Friday nights on the coach watching this club but at least I wasn’t standing in line for a silly Ichiro Bobblehead on this chilly spring evening. Go M’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
Well I finally made my way all the way from Wallingford down to Safeco Field tonight to watch my first Mariners game of the season, and as it turned out it was a great game that we won 4-1 over the Cleveland Indians. I posted a little Youtube clip above so you could get a feel for what it was like to be down at the Safe along with 11,343 fans the smallest crowd or should I say a group of fans in Safeco history.It felt Kind of weird being at the game tonight, it reminded me of my old Kingdome days in the 8o’s when we often had little gatherings of this sort. In fact the record at the Kingdome was 3,630 on Sept. 28 1983 when the Mariners lost to the Royals, so we still have a long way to go for the all-time record here in Seattle.
One of the good things about small crowds is it allowed me to find street parking for free in my new secret spot. I also got a ticket for $26 bucks in section 130 row 30 to make the night easy on my pocketbook. Of course that will all change on Friday when the Mariners PR folks try to lure in more fans with the first of many obnoxious bobblehead nights where some times folks just show-up for the stupid bobbleheads and then leave!
Tonight’s game started off with a bang as Chone Figgins hit a leadoff homer to right center and one out later Ichiro also hit his first dinger of the year to pretty much the same spot off former Mariner Derek Lowe. As it turned out those two runs were all that Jason Vargas would need tonight as he pitched a classic Vargas game going seven innings allowing only one run and fanning seven Indians. The Mariners could have blown this thing open a couple of times but had to settle for another run in the second when Montero walked with the bases loaded and one more in the fourth off a RBI single up the middle from Dustin Ackley.
Vargas had a little trouble in the third when Aaron Cunningham just missed a leadoff home run and had to settle for a ground rule double after a review of the tape by the umpires. However Cunningham did manage to score after a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly to Saunders.The only other time this game got tense was when Vargas loaded the sacks in the sixth inning with a couple of walks and a single before he pitched his way out of that jam, and the rest was history as they say.
Besides the novelty of being on-hand for the smallest crowd in Safeco history it was odd to see both Jose Lopez and Casey Kotchman in an Indians uniform tonight though I’m glad that both of them are still getting a chance to play in the Bigs as long as it is with someone else! I have no idea what the future holds for this franchise and it’s struggle to attract a new generation of fans back to the ballpark, but for tonight I had a good time watching the Mariners win and doing it all on the cheap, you have taught us well Howard and Chuck…..Go M’s http://jeffsmariners.com
I have not written a post in a couple of days mostly due to the fact that I have simply been uninspired. It seems to be a common theme amongst people around town who like myself have followed the Mariners for so long and see no real hope for a return the playoffs in sight and can no longer ignore the fact that the current ownership doesn’t really care about us or winning.
I read a few articles today about the speculation that the Mariners are prime to be sold with a value at around $750 million. The books are balanced with not to many long-term contracts to hamstring a new owner and little to no debt. From a business perspective I suppose Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong along with the board of directors are doing their jobs and thus are setting themselves up for a nice “Golden Parachute” should a sale happen.
That is all well and good if I had money invested in this team but instead like a lot of fans I have invested time, emotion and yes lots of money hoping to some day be World Champions.But after 35 years this team still looks like a semi-expansion team despite a promising group of young players that may gel in a couple of years.
It is absolutely crazy to be feeling this way in April even though we are 6-5 so far but it is a reality that has to be admitted. I was going to head down to the Safe tonight and cheer for our boys but just can’t rationalize dropping a hundred-dollar bill on parking, tickets and food though I may change my mind and go or perhaps head down there Wednesday.
I don’t seem even to be able to muster the same anger towards the Top Brass and their marketing hacks for the various gimmicks they use to attract the casual fans like I used to.Chuck and Howie know these casual fans really don’t seem to care whether we win or lose and just seem to enjoy watching hydros and looking at their smartphones while guzzling over-priced drinks out in center field.
It is refreshing to see Geoff Baker at the Times staying on point and calling out the ownership group for the hustle they are pulling on the NW population. But it seems like even a lot of the local Mariners Bloggers and facebook crowd have bought into the thrifty develop your own players philosophy that Jack Z. keeps hammering home when he does his little sound bites. You know the line about were doing it the right way (on the cheap) and it will get better soon just you wait.
The trouble is the local fan base is shrinking as evidenced in the drop-off in attendance on days two and three of the Oakland Series over last year. I would be surprised if we break 15,00 tonight and if the Mariners go into a tailspin there could be some sub-10,000 nights sooner than later at the Safe this year.
Don’t mean to be such a Debbie Downer today but I think I speak for a lot of fans or former fans out there who have reached sort of a critical breaking point in their enthusiasm at this point in time. I could be wrong and maybe Eric Wedge will somehow motivate his crew to play over their heads this year and we will play respectable ball once again here in Seattle, time will tell. What do you think? Go M’s http://jeffsmariners.com
Hector Noesi and Jesus Montero who came over from the Yankees in the controversial Michael Pineda trade.Noesi who was coming off a disappointing outing against the Rangers last week threw mostly fastballs and change-ups tonight, but he hit his spots and looked a lot more relaxed in his eight innings of work.Noesi gave up five hits tonight and really was in control the entire game with the exception of the eighth but manged to escape a jam there as well in this promising performance tonight.
Jesus Montero showed why he was the Yankees top prospect tonight looking like a legitimate clean-up hitter for an offense that has been anything but electric so far. Montero had the Mariners only hit for much of the game with his solo homer in the second off Tomaso Milone, but then provided the knockout punch with his 2-out 2-run double down the right field line in the Mariners big sixth inning rally.
Sadly only 21,071 were on hand to see tonight’s game after last nights disappointing Opener. By comparison last year’s second game drew 30,307. The win puts the Mariners back at .500 on the season with another game left in the series with the A’s in an afternoon affair tomorrow before the Indians come to town Tuesday.
Honestly I am having enough trouble convincing myself it’s worth it to write this Mariners Blog this season let alone worry about the fickle Seattle fans and whether or not they are going to continue to support this club in 2012. On another good note Chone Figgins had a big hit in the sixth and drove a ball hard in the ninth giving an indication he may be ready for another big game Sunday at the Safe.Go M’s!http://jeffsmariners.com
Lots of warm and fuzzy moments at Safeco Field tonight before the Home Opener including Mike Cameron former M’s center fielder throwing out the first pitch. It was nice to see “Cammy” with that big smile of his back in town where earlier he signed a one day contract with the team in order to retire as a Mariner.
The place was buzzing as usual on Opening Night as 46,026 fans paid to get in tonight hoping to see a win by the team that represents us here in the Great Northwest. Unfortunately things didn’t work out as planned for the marketing folks with the organization who are great at making it feel like a Big league experience. The Kings Court was there, Hydro Races, Overpriced Food and plenty of booze for the Frat Boys and girls out behind centerfield. Yes they thought of everything except the most important thing….A team that can score runs….
Felix Hernandez looked great in the first inning fanning a pair of A’s and even hit 93 on the radar gun to quiet the ninnies in the Mariners Blogosphere who tried their best to create a crisis around the King’s velocity issue here in the early going.
Bartolo Colon also hit the 93 mph mark and looked better than Hernandez tonight going seven full innings and only allowing three hits on this chilly night at the Safe.The Mariners did get a couple leadoff walks in the bottom of the eighth but Chone Figgins quickly hit into a double play followed by a week groundout by Dustin Ackley to end the threat and start the exodus home for hundreds of fans.
Sometimes I get a little jealous of the casual fans who come out for Opening Night and drink their beers, check their smartphones and talk about everything but baseball to their friends for the whole game. Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln learned a long time ago that these are the type of fans to cater to not us pesky bloggers and people like you who read our diatribes day after day.
So now that we have deposed of our third and final Opening Night it is time to settle in for another campaign here in “Mayberry with Skyscrapers”. I am trying hard to look at the 2012 season as a fresh start and not let the last two dismal seasons color my outlook, but tonight looked eerily similar to the sort of games we have been seeing in the Jack Z. era. It doesn’t take much imagination to conjure up images of Jose Lopez, Casey Kotchman or Rob Johnson out on the field instead of the current crop of Mariners. Of course that’s exactly what the PR and Marketing folks love, anything to distract us from who and what’s happening on the field so we spend money to line the pockets of the 1% who turn a profit on our dreams year after year. Go M’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
The Mariners dropped the final game of the Texas series today by the score of 5-3 leaving them at 4-4 on the year and homeward bound for the third Season Opener of the year in front of their hometown fans. Eric Wedge and his crew battled today but ended-up a little short unable to pull-off another comeback like last night. Jason Vargas got the loss and pitched well through six and 2/3 innings before handing the ball to young Erasmo Ramirez who yielded a couple more runs including an RBI single to Michael Young who had 4 RBI’s today. It is becoming apparent that the Mariners are in need of some shoring-up in the bullpen as evidenced in their interest pitcher Michael Wuertz earlier today though as it turns out they didn’t sign a deal with him.
Offensively Eric Wedge let Alex Liddi get his first start today along with Casper Wells in order to get more right-handed bats in the lineup against lefty Derek Holland. Unfortunately the experiment didn’t work as the pair combined for a 1-7 day including four strikeouts. On the bright side Kyle Seager playing second today for Dustin Ackley connected for a solo home run in the seventh off Holland to come home with a respectable .321 average.
Lots of speculation swirling around the Mariners blogosphere on who should be sitting and who should be sent down etc once Mike Carp and Franklin Gutierrez are ready to go. It is still really to early to tell who will do what and when, but I’m hoping that after this homestand things will be a little clearer for Eric Wedge and I’m going to leave it at that for now.
I have decided not to brave the crowds this weekend as the Mariners play their third and final Season Opener this one technically called the Home Opener, opting instead to head down to the Safe next Tuesday when the Indians come to town. The weather is supposed to be ok for the Oakland series so I hope folks head downtown to support our guys as the 2012 campaign gets into full-swing. GoM’s!http://jeffsmariners.com
The first eight innings of tonight’s game were as dreary as today’s weather here in Seattle, but the last two innings more than made-up for it as the Mariners mounted a stunning comeback win over the mighty Texas Rangers. The Rangers managed to get a run early off the veteran Kevin Millwood in the first inning, but after that the cagey veteran pitched a great game holding the Texans to the lone run down in the Lone Star state through six innings. Millwood threw 103 pitches tonight fanning seven Rangers using a variety of pitches to keep this one close.
Meanwhile the Mariners offense remained stuck on stupid extending their scoreless streak to 23 innings with a lot of pop-ups and weak swings that made Rangers starter Colby Lewis look better tha he actually was tonight. Things got really depressing in the seventh when Steve Delabar came into the game and surrendered back-to-back homers to Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus before Eric Wedge yanked him for lefty Lucas Luetge who struck-out Josh Hamilton to end the bleeding.
John Jaso got his Mariners debut tonight in the DH role and responded with a huge leadoff triple in the top of the eighth and came home on a single by Dustin Ackley to break the scoreless streak at 23 innings and make it a 3-1 game. Luetge handled the Rangers in the bottom of the frame and actually ended-up getting his first win in the Majors after a magical ninth inning rally that was the highlight of the young season as far as I’m concerned.
The Rangers had veteran closer Joe Nathan out on the hill to start the ninth and he just didn’t look like his old self tonight as was evidenced by a leadoff single to Justin Smoak followed by a double to scrappy Kyle Seager. Jesus Montero who got his first start behind the dish tonight then battled Nathan before hitting a deep sacrifice fly to right to make it 3-2. With one out Michael Saunders delivered the biggest hit of his Mariners career a screaming double to right and suddenly we were all tied at 3-3. Saunders then made a gutsy move by swiping third on his own using his tremendous speed and instincts, giving hints of a player who may just blossom into something special this year. Brendan Ryan then went down swinging leaving everything up to John Jaso who then delivered a clutch single to put the Mariners up 4-3 in front of a stunned group of Texas fans who have gotten a little to cocky when our sailors come to town lately.
Of course Brandon League got the ball in the ninth and outside of allowing a single to Mitch Moreland our All-Star closer had his good stuff and got his third save of the year. This game keeps the Mariners over .500 at 4-3 with a chance to get a split in this 4-game series tomorrow before flying home to the friendly crowds at Safeo when Jason Vargas takes the mound at 1105 local time. This game changes the momentum of this young season and has to be a confidence builder for Eric Wedge and his club. As for us fans it gives us a reason to believe that this season may not be a nightmare like the last two..GoM’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
You have to be a true Mariners fan to be to understand the feeling of getting a 4-0 lead in the first inning against a team like the Texas Rangers and still know you are behind. Tonight was one of those classic Mariners games where once I saw first Brendan Ryan then Chone Figgins strikeout with the bases loaded in the first after scoring 4 runs off Yu Darvish, I knew we were in for a long night.
And sure enough come the bottom of the first with a shaky Hector Noesi on the mound, Brendan Ryan botched an easy doubleplay ball that should have ended the inning, but instead the Rangers closed the gap to 4-2 after a long 41 minute first inning that had some of the worst pitching I have seen in awhile by both clubs. I am not going to talk to much about Yu Darvish except to say he is tall 6’5” and his father was an Iranian soccer player.And yes Yu Darvish had a shaky debut in the early going but he pitched through it and got the win, so the Texas folks and his fans in Japan still love him. But our boy Hector Noesi is another story all together, he looked tentative, scared and rattled before he even threw three pitches tonight and it got worse from there. His delivery was painfully slow and his execution left a lot to be desired from observing how many times he completely missed his targets that Miguel Olivo was giving him, and how many times the Rangers made him pay for his wild offerings.
And though the Mariners did get another run in the top of the second thanks to Ichiro and Kyle Seager who both cracked doubles off Yarvish, it was Noesi who got the worst of it tonight giving-up a three run bomb to Nelson Cruz in the third inning and a two-run homer to Mitch Moreland in the top of the fourth before manager Eric Wedge had seen enough for the night. The Rangers ended-up with four homers tonight which seems to happen about every time we play them down in that wretched Arlington Stadium, and so the Mariners are back to scratching their heads to see if they still have their scalps after this one.
You see tonight a few things became apparent to me and I’m sure all of you as well: #1 Texas is not Oakland #2 We have some nice singles and doubles hitters this year but we need guys like Justin Smaok, Jesus Montero and Mike Carp to provide some long balls our it’s going to be another long season #3 We need those darn youngsters down in AA to hurry-up and get ready to pitch in the Majors as our F-Troop starting rotation is not going to keep us in games like it has the last two years even at Safeco Field let alone deep in the heart of the Lone Star State.
But alas we are still 3-2 on the year and I would consider salvaging a split out of this series a huge success before returning home Friday for Opening Day #3 this year. I hope Eric Wedge learned from his little experiment of using Dustin Ackley as a DH tonight for the ailing Montero when he had guys like Casper Wells and Alex Liddi on the bench. The prudent thing in hindsight would have been to sit Ryan one more day to let him finish healing and thus possibly avoiding the costly error of his, and put Kawasaki at short with either Wells or Liddi as DH. Put that’s why Eric Wedge gets paid the big bucks and I have to keep my day job! Go M’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
In what can only be described as a miracle Chone ”Bilbo” Figgins appears to have found the magic ring that has been lost somewhere deep under the old viaduct, and suddenly for the last two games he has played like the pesky Chone Figgins we all remember from his days with the Angels. It is fitting to talk about this event today on Easter Sunday though it may have been a little easier on our collective psyche here in the NW if Figgy would have risen from the dead after three days, or even three months rather than two years…but a miracle is a miracle and I think were seeing the real Chone Figgins now.
Of course most of th soggy and discouraged Mariners fans around town are going to need a lot more than this last Oakland series before letting-go of their resentment of Figgins, and some will actually never believe it no matter what he does so they can stay in their comfort zone of hating the frisky little chap. As for me I need to move on and embrace the new reality of a Chone Figgins who makes things happen in Hobbit like fashion that are endearing in an odd way.
Of course the big question for the Mariners organization is what do they do now? Coming into 2012 there were basically three scenarios for Figgins 1: Let him lead-off and if he continued to suck after 6-8 weeks just cut him and swallow his salary. 2: If he produces in the early going attempt to trade him by the deadline and get out from underneath his huge salary. 3: If he produces keep him around for the next couple years at third and in the outfield and see if he can help the club compete.
Now most folks around town figured he was going to suck this year and just wanted to get rid of him to make room for Kyle Seager and now perhaps Michael Saunders. But it is looking like the picture will be getting even more muddled when Mike Carp and Gutierrez come back off the DL soon. So do you try to find a taker right now for Figgins, or move someone else like Miguel Olivo and have Jesus Montero catch leaving room for Carp to DH and play some left and first base allowing Figgins to stay in the lineup as much as possible along with Seager?
And of course none of these equations answer the question of where does Michael Saunders play if he continues to hit, let alone Casper Wells or Carlos Peguero if he continues to hammer 500 foot bombs down in Tacoma like he did the other night. Alas our crafty little Figgins has created quite a quandary here with his resurrection and one that is not easy to answer, but should become clearer in the next week or so. For now I’m happy to have these sorts of problems facing our skipper Eric Wedge who wants to win and will undoubtably find a way to get the best players on the field in order to do just that.Let me know what all you readers think about this developing dilemma. Bring on the Rangers! http://jeffsmariners.com
The Mariners completed a sweep of the Oakland Athletics in a two game mini-series tonight by holding on to a 8-7 lead in a game that looked like it was going to be a blow-out, but developed in to a nail-biter thanks to another long ”Cuban Missile” homer by Yoenis Cespedes. Felix Hernandez managed to get through six and a third innings before leaving in the seventh with a couple of runners on did not look his usual over-powering self on the eve of his 26th birthday. King Felix appears to be pacing himself this year relying more on finesse and the movement on his pitches much like the aging veteran Bortolo Colon who got the start for the A’s tonight.
However unlike Colon who is also a Cy Young winner, Hernandez received a ton of run support early from his shipmates who collected 13 hits again tonight. None other than Chone Figgins lead things off with a triple in the first and scored on a grounder to second by Ackley to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead which held up until they exploded for six runs in the fourth inning. Ichiro had a pair of hits tonight as well, including a triple in the fourth inning on a ball that Yoenis Cespedes misplayed badly though he seems to make up for his iffy defense at the plate. It was also nice to see Munenori Kawasaki get his MLB debut tonight at short due to Brendan Ryan‘s sore neck. Kawasaki looked good in the field and also had a RBI single himself in the fourth. Apparently Kawasaki bowed to the third base umpire when he took the field out of respect! He is definitely a refreshing and fun addition to this club of no-names that is playing the game like it is intended to be played so far and having fun doing it!
Before the night was over Chone Figgins had three hits and now is batting .412 to lead the club. While I realize it is super early in the year I am just happy for Figgins after the last two dismal seasons he has had, forcing almost everyone in town including myself to turn on him. I suppose in honor of Easter you could say Chone Figgins is being resurrected from the dead right in front of our eyes and it is a real Miracle!
Speaking of miracles it is also nice to see another guy Michael Saunders who I have been down on at this Mariners Blog over the past couple seasons come back to life as well. Saunders looks much more aggressive at the plate and confident as well. Tonight Saunders delivered a solo homer in the top of the sixth that at the time didn’t seem that important but ended up being the difference in the game. Hats off to you Michael Saunders! I was wrong and I’m sorry for disrespecting you…..
Of Course the pesky Athletics playing in front of 16,612 of their loyal fans had no intention of going down without a fight tonight and once Yoenis Cespedes slammed his third homer in four games against us in the seventh to cut our lead to 1-run things didn’t look so great. But thanks to great relief work from our set-up man Tom Wilhelmsen, and a big out by Lucas Luetge who came into get one batter the Mariners were able to get to their closer League in the ninth who shut down the A’s to preserve the win.
So the Mariners are now 3-1 and will enjoy Easter Sunday off tomorrow before opening up a 4 four game series against a much tougher opponent in the Texas Rangers. This next series will be the real test to see if we can keep scoring runs and not revert to the anemic offense that has been on display for the past couple years. I’m still not sure whether I’m going to battle the crowds and head down to Safeco next Friday for our third ” Opening Day” of 2012, but I plan on hitting a couple of games of the home stand, hope to see you there! GoM’s! http://jeffsmariners.com