At long last after watching Mariners away games played against the Angels on TV for years I saw a live game tonight here in Anaheim California and it turned out to be a sweet 2-1 winfor the Mariners.I have been away from Seattle for the past five days so I missed all the losses on those days and thus manged to show up just in time for our ace Felix Hernandez to get his 14th win of the year.
The Angels started the game only three back of the Rangers in the AL West and played sloppy defense tonight and never really had the King in trouble except in the sixth when they scored their only run. Of course our guys are mostly playing for spots on next year’s club but they got to Erwin Santana early for a couple of runs which proved to be all they would need on this hot September night. The Halos now drop to four games back in the AL West and you could feel a measure of desperation creeping into the hearts of the red-clad fans as they headed out to their cars bound for various destinations in this vast empire of freeways and strip malls.
I did run into a few Mariners fans tonight, but like myself they were polite and respectful in enemy territory unlike our obnoxious Red Sox bandwagon fans who invaded the Safe last month. The food was ok nothing great and the stadium was clean and well kept after 50 years and a face-lift. It is hard to believe the Angels have been in Anaheim for 50 years and that the fans endured 18 years till they finally made the playoffs in 1979. The stadium did have some nice tributes to old Angels like Jim Fregosi, Rod Carew, Jimmy Reese, Nolan Ryan and of course Gene Autry the cowboy singer who brought the team into existence.
I did get to see a few outbreaks of the stupid rally monkeys that have bugged me over the years but nothing too gaudy in an area where plastic surgery and botox common. I am not sure if I was going to write this post if we would have lost as I have enjoyed being completely away from work as well as the task of trying to write about the Mariners every night for the past couple of gloomy years while on vacation. But tonight was a fun experience for this Mariners fan on the road at the big A and thought I would say hello to all the faithful back in Seattle. Go M’s http://jeffsmariners.com
By Scott Rinear
The Seattle Mariners beat the Oakland A’s in extra innings tonight down at the Oakland Coliseum to take the second game of this 3-game road series against the AL West cellar dwellers. I’ll admit it was difficult to stay inside and watch the Root Sports broadcast of the game with summer having arrived alive and well in the northwest, albeit a little late. Coming off a very fun and relaxing 4th of July weekend down at my family’s beach cabin in Normandy Park, I feel ready for a summertime pennant race in the AL West as the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers both won, again, and yet the Mariners are back to .500 and remain a mere 2.5 games out of first place.
Felix Hernandez brought his typical dominant A game, pitching 8 solid innings of 1-run ball. Felix gave up 4 hits on the night, and I was almost glad Oakland leadoff batter Jemile Weeks lead off the game with a hit, that way Dave Sims wasn’t able to jinx a potential no-hitter by mentioning a potential no-hitter with 2 outs in the 3rd inning. Felix also finished the game with 10 strikeouts, striking out 7 of the 9 A’s batters at least once each. It wasn’t until the 8th inning that Oakland mounted a threat off Felix, with a solo home run by Kurt Suzuki just out of reach of left fielder Carlos Peguero‘s leap.
The majority of the Mariners offense tonight had both a name and a steadily bearding face: Dustin Ackley. I get more and more excited about this kid with every at bat. Ackley singled, stole second, and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Peguero in the 2nd. Then, not to be outdone by himself, Ackley smashed a solo home run to dead center field in the 7th, pushing the Mariners lead to 2-0. Maybe if more than one Mariner could have provided some offense in the first nine innings of this game, Felix would have gotten the victory he deserved rather than the no decision he actually got, because All-Star closer Brandon League blew his 4th save of the season, allowing the game-tying run in the ninth.
The Mariners took the lead for good in the 10th when a potential inning ending double play relay throw missed first base by a good 10 feet, allowing Franklin Gutierrez to score easily after leading off the inning with single. Adam Kennedy followed up with an RBI double, putting the Mariners up 4-2. Jaimie Wright pitched the bottom of the 10th to pick up the save, and, as happens only in baseball, Brandon League’s blown save turned into his first win of the year, as he was the pitcher of record when the Mariners regained the lead.
It was nice to see at least two members of King’s Court at the Oakland Coliseum, although Oakland isn’t the most opportune stadium to wear yellow shirts, but A for effort guys. And although I really wish the King’s Court was an organic grass roots phenomenon, it is a much more productive promotional strategy than bobbleheads and rally fries, because at least it has more people paying attention to the game once every 5 games.
Following this series in Oakland the Mariners will enter a brutal 47 game stretch between now and the end of August against some top tier competition, including 10 games versus the Angels and 7 against the Rangers. Also included in that stretch are the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, and Cleveland Indians. In fact, during July and August, Mariner opponents are a combined 42 games above .500. Needless to say the next month will be a big test for this 2011 Mariners team and will go a long way in determining whether they stay in the race as summer roles on.
Will the Mariners be buyers or sellers this year as the trade deadline approaches? Your guess is as good as mine. I still say they should make a move to improve the offense if possible, but I don’t have an answer for what move they should make. That’s what Eric Wedge and Jack Zduriencik and the Mariner scouts get paid to figure out. Let’s see what kind of deal they can get done. In the short term this team is at a tipping point, and the next couple of months hopefully will see this team keep pace in the West and challenge for a playoff spot, albeit a little earlier than planned. Go Mariners! http://jeffsmariners.com
By Scott Rinear
Happy 4th of July weekend! Hopefully most of you in the region were able to get out and enjoy a picture perfect summer day in the northwest, finally.
So in case you missed it, Seattle Mariners pitcher Doug Fister, who has developed the unfortunate and unbelievably frustrating reputation of being the tough luck kid because he pitches so well but never wins, lost another heart breaker by one run, a run that should not have scored. San Diego Padres center fielder Cameron Maybin walked in the 5th inning and scored the game’s only run. However, upon further review, it was discovered that the count was 3 balls and 2 strikes when Maybin jogged down to first base. A walk with only 3 balls. The fact that a run scored in this manner was the only run surrendered by Fister in 9 innings of work makes “tough luck” an understatement. There’s not much more to say…keep doing what you’re doing Doug! Your fortunes will improve. And for those of you wondering about protesting the game:
Rule 4.19 Comment: Whenever a manager protests a game because of alleged misapplication of the rules the protest will not be recognized unless the umpires are notified at the time the play under protest occurs and before the next pitch, play or attempted play.
Let’s take the positive out of this. Doug Fister is pitching out of his mind, and that is very promising for the future of this team.
As we pass the technical half-way point of the 2011 season and approach the All-Star Break, I wanted to weigh in and perhaps start a discussion about Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge. Sprinkled throughout the posts on this blog in 2011 have been some brief opinions, praise, and criticisms of the Mariners’ second go-around with a former Cleveland Indians manager, but I feel the man (Wedge, aka Mt. Mustache) deserves a little more attention and discussion.
The founding father of this blog, Jeff, and I, in our back and forth Mariner banter this season have long since come to the conclusion that Eric Wedge is The Man, plain and simple. “Fear the Mustache” is Jeff’s brainchild. It’s not about Wedge being a particularly scary individual. It’s about Wedge’s style as a manager and the respect he commands from his players and their opponents, and of course, very literally, his utterly fantastic mustache!
“Fear the Mustache” is also a warning. Wedge became the faltering Indians manager in 2003. The Indians moved up a spot in the final AL Central standings each of his first 3 seasons, and by 2005 they were within 2 games of the playoffs. Then, after a down year in 2006, Wedge lead the 2007 Indians to a 96 win season, a 4-game sweep of the New York Yankees in the American League Division Series, and were one game away from reaching the World Series, losing the ALCS game 7 to the Boston Red Sox.
Wedge was awarded Manger of the Year honors for that 2007 season and I believe he’ll receive that award again, soon, as the manager of the Seattle Mariners. Think about it. The 2011 Mariners were “supposed” to be well out of the race by now. And on paper they probably should be. Through his managerial decisions Wedge has gotten the most out of a team offense ranked last in hits, runs, batting average, on-base %, slugging % and OPS. A team with numbers like that has no business anywhere but the cellar. Of course the Mariners’ brilliant pitching staff has a lot to do with their current “striking distance” position in the AL West, but I think a lot of the credit should also be given to Wedge.
I realize one half season might not be enough for some to reach this sort of conclusion, but for me it’s an intangible gut feeling that Wedge is finally our guy, and that he’s made it far enough into the building that he’ll avoid falling victim to the Mariner manager revolving door that was installed when Lou Piniella exited said building.
Eric Wedge was a catcher in his playing days, which included a College World Series title with Wichita State in 1989 and some time in the minors and a few stints in the majors. He and his wife Kate Wedge are very active in the community, both in Cleveland and in Seattle, giving a lot back and offering their help during a time when there a lot of people that need it.
So that’s my opinion and feelings about our new manager, but I want to know what other Mariner fans think of Eric Wedge at the mid-way point of his first season as our manager. Is he our guy? Go Mariners! http://jeffsmariners.com
By Scott Rinear
The first ever Seattle Mariners road series at Safeco Field came to an end in tonight’s first ever 7:10pm Sunday night game, as the Mariners beat the Florida Marlins 2-1 in 10 innings.
Once again Doug Fister pitched very well, throwing 8 solid innings, walking none, and surrendering only 1 earned run. Fister decided to address his own tough luck run support problem when he laced a double into the right-center gap past the drawn-in Marlins outfielders in the 5th. He then personally scored the game’s first run on an RBI single by Brendan Ryan. In fact, in their Safeco Field offensive debut, Mariner pitchers batted .250 with a double and a run scored in 8 at bats.
It would have been a great story if the single run Fister scored ended up getting him the win, but it was not to be. After an 8th inning single by our old pal Jose Lopez and a sacrifice bunt, Marlins second basemen Omar Infante fouled off pitch after pitch in a great 12-pitch battle with Fister. Infante ended up with the bigger half of the wishbone, lining a 2-out RBI double down the left field line to tie the game. So it would be another no decision for Doug Fister, and extra innings for the Mariners.
Dustin Ackley lead off the 10th with a double, finishing the game a home run shy of the cycle. Ackley then tagged up and moved to third on a fly ball to left by Miguel Olivo. You wanted a bizarre ending to a weird series? The Marlins “attempted” to intentionally walk Carlos Peguero, and relief pitcher Steve Cishek missed the catcher completely, allowing Ackley to score the go-ahead run on the wild pitch.
It was a crucial win for the Mariners as the Athletics, Angels, and Rangers all lost on Sunday, pushing the M’s back into 2nd place in the AL West, and only 1.5 games out of first.
In the spirit of this goofy road series at Safeco, I wanted to deviate somewhat from the normal subject matter and talk about a few pet peeves of mine. Let’s call it the first installation of what I like to so cleverly call “Scott’s Pet Peeves.” Mainly I want to know if I’m the only one.
Pet peeve #1: The behind-home-plate camera angle Root Sports seems to grow fonder of with every pitch. Bottom line: we can’t see anything! Sure we can see the ball on its way to the plate, which is kind of neat. But once the ball gets to the hitting zone, the place where a lot of the action of baseball occurs, everything becomes a jumbled mess of umpire/catcher/batter with a flash of the ball heading somewhere that we won’t really know until they switch camera angles. Enough Root Sports! Stick to the center field camera please. Am I the only one?
Pet peeve #2: Booing the opposing pitcher for trying to hold a baserunner close. This Major League-wide phenomenon is more of a curiosity than a pet peeve. Holding a runner close by throwing over to first a couple of times is as much a strategic part of the game as a pitcher working the corners. I’ve never understood why keeping runners close ALWAYS warrants an appearance by a flock of boo birds. Am I the only one? If anyone out there reading this goes to games and boos in this situation, I just want to know why.
Pet peeve #3: Dave Sims. I can’t be the only one?
The Mariners will be right back on the field tomorrow night as they welcome the Atlanta Braves to the Safe, although this series will see the DH position again. I wonder if the Mariners should just pretend it’s National League rules again, because .250 with a double and a run scored actually looks pretty good. Go M’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
Today is June 17th and the Seattle Mariners are a half game out of first in the AL West with the powerful Philadelphia Phillies coming to town for a weekend series that could be the turning point for this season. Somewhere back in April I remember thinking about this series wondering if we would get to see Cliff Lee pitch and maybe catch a glimpse of Ryan Howard taking a few big hacks.But mostly I was dreading the thought of this media darling coming to town as we were floundering in the cellar of our little four team division and being forced to sit next to a bunch of loud Phillies fans with their bright red caps and East Coast accents right here in Mayberry with skyscrapers.
But somehow we find ourselves in an entirely different situation as Eric Wedge and his crew prepare themselves for a crucial series. If by chance we get swept by the new “Big Red Machine” most of the pundits both locally and on the National scene will be quick to dismiss our clubs surprising start as a fluke and deserving of the second tier status that us odd Northwest types almost seem to relish.
But then again maybe King Neptune along with the spirit of Dave Niehaus will continue to be on our side like they were Wednesday night when Carlos Peguero drove-in a pair of runs on a routine grounder that managed to bounce off second base enabling our boys to salvage the final game of the Angels series. This has been a fun season thus far and somehow I have a hunch that we may not have seen the best part yet.
It is funny to listen to folks around Seattle talk about the the Mariners these days as most are not really paying much attention or waiting for the other shoe to drop so they can resume the trademark passive-aggressive Seattle whining. But ready or not the Phillies are coming, and with the addition of Dustin Ackley to go along with our scrappy bunch of forgotten veterans and hungry youngsters I dare say that the Phillies may be in for a bit of a surprise this weekend. As a matter of fact I predict we will win this series and find ourselves in the limelight when we take over the lead in the AL West from the struggling Texas Rangers. The barometer is going to start rising this weekend with the summer solstice right around the corner and there is nothing like a pennant race to bring a city together, especially one as sleepy and hungry for a a winner as ours. Go M’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
Cliff Lee struck out 10 Los Angeles Angels tonight and pitched 8 strong innings as the Mariners won for the third straight game and now are 6 1/2 games out of first. Lee faced off against Scott Kazmir tonight, and outside of a shaky first where Lee committed an error there was no doubt who was in charge of this match between AL West rivals. Coming off two come from behind victories against the Tigers, the Mariners appear to be playing their best ball of the year recently. Tonight the Mariners were able to combine for 11 hits spread throughout the lineup, with everyone getting a hit except Mike Sweeney who has hit plenty in the current comeback for this club.
In the third inning Ichiro got on with a 2-out single followed by a walk to Figgins setting the table for Franklin Gutierrez who proceeded to drive in a run with a base-knock making it 2-1. Bradley came up with runners on 1st and 2nd and ripped a drive into left that Figgins and Gutierrez were running on, amazingly Guti scored all the way from first as Bradley was held to a single but got the runs in. Yesterday I mentioned the key to this resurgence was going to be Figgins and Jose Lopez and sure enough Lopez unloaded for a solo shot in the 4th to put the club up 4-2.
In the 5th inning the Mariners once again tore-up the bases on a line drive by Figgins to right that scored Ichiro all the way from first landing Figgins on third. Milton Bradley drove in Figgins with a sac-fly giving him a 3 RBI night down in Disneyland. The Angels managed to pick-up a run in the 5th off Lee but after that it was lights-out by the Lee as he dominated the Angels with pinpoint accuracy all night long.
The “Paper boy” Josh Wilson delivered again in the 9th with an RBI double to keep his hitting streak alive at 9 games. Having Josh Wilson producing at the bottom of the order has made a big difference lately as the Mariners try to claw their way back up to .500 by the All-Star Break. The AL West is wide-open this year and with a sweep in Anaheim the Mariners could find themselves back in business. Felix Hernandez will take the mound in the day game tomorrow, he is due for a dominant performance of his own. Lets keep our fingers crossed as this series is crucial if we are going get back in this thing. http://jeffsmariners.com