As you can see by my little youtube clip above I went to the game tonight down at the chilly Safe. After finally maneuvering through the viaduct mess (seems like it changes every day there) I grabbed a ticket off a scalper for $25 and sat down with a small frozen group of my fellow fans. This one started off as a pitchers duel between Drew Smyly and Jason Vargas until the bottom of the fourth inning when Ichiro broke the ice with a single. Ichiro stole second while Montero went down setting the stages for the Mariners young phenom Kyle Seager.
While I don’t claim to be much when it comes to modern statistics I do know when a guy has a sweet swing and Kyle Seager certainly does. He seems to have added a little hitch in the offseason which if done right allows a hitter to level out their swing and drive the ball on a consistent basis. Seager has found his groove and when he came to the plate I felt myself feeling something I haven’t in a long time when a Mariners comes up….Confidence. And sure enough Seager delivered with a bullet that hit off the right field fence to easily score Ichiro and put us up 1-0.
Meanwhile this was a vintage Jason Vargas outing as the lefty kept the powerful Tigers off-balance all night allowing only one run in the sixth thanks to some nifty glovework by SS Brendan Ryan who had a hell of a night on defense robbing the Tigers of hits on at least three notable plays.
Of course pitching and defense will only get you so far even at frigid Safeco Field so this one was tense until the eighth inning. Michael Saunders came into pinch-hit for Casper Wells the ex-Tiger in the eighth and delivered a leadoff double down the left field line before being pushed to third on a perfect sacrifice bunt by the veteran Chone Figgins. John Jaso was batting leadoff tonight and was the guy you wanted up there with the game on the line as he delivered a 2-strike line shot to left to score Saunders in what would prove to be the winning run. I’m starting to get some confidence when Jaso comes to the plate these days as well which is another nice development in this up and down season.
Brandon League came in to close this one in the ninth and true to his latest form he walked Austin Jackson but Brennon Boesch lined a low drive to Ryan at short who sort of bobbled it then turned it into a double play to end the threat. Score that one Brandon pitch to Brennon lined to Brendan (God I can’t wait til this generation of Brendon, Brandon, Brennan, Justin,Jason grows up!) So we get a day off after a nice 4-2 homestand before heading back to the Bronx where King Felix will take the mound Friday. Rest-up boys things are going to be a little more intense at Yankee Stadium then here at the friendly Safe! Go M’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
The Seattle Mariners played small-ball tonight against the Oakland A’s tonight combined with good starting pitching by Jason Vargas to win their second Season Opener of 2012 by a score of 7-3. Vargas went 5 1/3 innings allowing only a pair of runs coming off the bat of Yoenis Cespedes who slugged a monster 2-run homer in the bottom of the fourth. Though Vargas may not have had his best stuff tonight, he battled long enough for his team to manufacture five runs before he left in top of the sixth with a pair of runners aboard.
Steve Delabar came into relieve Vargas in the sixth and got out of the jam as well as going a scoreless seventh before Eric Wedge brought in Tom Wilhelmsen in the eighth and though he allowed a run he did manage to stop the bleeding allowing Brandon League to come in and shut down the A’s in the ninth.
Dustin Ackley had three hits tonight which is not much of a story compared to the fact that Chone Figgins went 3-4, drove in 2 runs, and scored a run in what looked like the old Chone Figgins from his days with the Halos. Figgins executed a perfect safety squeeze in the sixth to bring in Michael Saunders who had a pair of base knocks himself. As far as I can tell this might have been the first time in memory that Chone Figgins was the offensive star of a game! Yes I know that is blasphemy here in Seattle where being a hater is a well-developed art form but Figgins deserves a break.
It seems like as a Mariners Fan we are always playing the A’s. It has got to the point where when we play at the Oakland Coliseum it feels like a home game. I kind of like the A’s scruffy blue-collar fans as well who have fallen on hard times lately but have also had several World Championships to boast about unlike us here in the soggy NW. If you watched the game tonight you must have seen the big red missile with the words “The Cuban Missile” written on it in honor of the Cuban phenom Yoenis Cespedes who surprised everyone by signing with the A’s this offseason. It’s hard to hate the A’s or their fansas they are about the only team that we play that I am confident we can beat every time we come to the ballpark.
So here we go again as the 2012 season is underway with our boys starting out with a 2-1 record and Felix Hernandez coming to the mound Saturday evening. For the record I am going to predict the Mariners come in third in the AL West with a .470 ish winning percentage. It’s early so shooting for barely under .500 seems optimistic but doable from my vantage point here in Wallingford! Go M’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
I made my final trek of the year from Fremont down to Safeco Field tonight and was rewarded with a pitching gem by Jason Vargas combined with a couple of timely homers by Miguel Olivo and Justin Smoak in the 4-2 win. I usually attend about 15 games a year so I can experience the sensation of watching Major League baseball live even though I invariably spend $75 each time when I could probably just watch all the games on TV. But there is something about the sound of the ball off the bat and the smells and energy of a home game that is comforting to me and tonight it did the trick.
I grabbed a $3o seat outside the park as usual then began my migration around the stadium resting in six different spots including the Hit it Here Cafe for dinner as well as a couple innings in the bullpen area. I usually don’t interact much with the other fans and prefer to roam around checking things out as if I owned the Safe. And why not after all these years of following this club through thick and thin not to mention all the money I have spent I kind of feel entitled.
I showed up earlier than usual and watched the A’s take BP down with a swarm of Japanese tourists who still fly over here year after year to catch a glimpse of their hero Ichiro. I was kind of in awe as I noticed how big and graceful the players looked from the ground level and maybe for the first time in my life watched a game as if I wasn’t in it and was just observing a game played by a group of men who I will never speak to. It was kind of sad watching this game with the cool damp air and empty seats reminding me that again it is time to settle in for another long wet winter in Seattle after another long losing season.
Jason Vargas used his new delivery with the added twist to his advantage tonight and fanned 10 A’s only allowing 5 hits and 1 run in the first inning to finish strong in 2011. Miguel Olivo also had a nice night belting a solo shot to tie the game in the fifth off A’s starter Brandon McCarthy and adding a double in the sixth. With his 19th homer Olivo passes Dan Wilson and Kenji Johjima to set the record for home runs by a catcher since the Mariners came to Seattle in 1977. Oliva has played with heart all season and barring an offseason trade deserves to come into camp next year as the starting catcher for this club.
The big blow in the game came in the sixth when Justin Smoak smashed a 2-out 3-run bomb to right for his 15th homer of his injury plagued season. Smoak should be able to hit 25 home runs next year if he can stay healthy and is another guy who comes into camp as a starter in 2012. The real question marks in my mind are left and third where things are up in the air and possibly the spots where we could add a more seasoned player with a proven history of producing at the plate this winter. We shall see what Jack Z. comes up this winter but for now I am emotionally detaching from this season and preparing for what looks to be an exciting postseason in baseball.
With the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays now tied for the AL wild card there is still some suspense left and I was watching the scoreboard all night at the Safe including the Cardinals Astros game which ended up going to Houston denying the Cards the chance to catch the Braves who lost tonight. Also of note our old friend Doug Fister won his 7th straight game since being traded to Detroit and is billed as their #2 starter going forward which is hard to believe after watching him pitch here the past couple of seasons. Fister is a nice enough guy and never complained while pitching here about his lack of run support so I am happy for him.
I will be writing my final Mariners Blog post of 2011 Tuesday night as I am flying to Italy Wednesday for a business/pleasure trip and won’t be around for the final game of the season. I hope to put together a more comprehensive season overview with thoughts on 2012 when I get back on Oct. 11th along with some postseason Sea-stories once I finally pick my bandwagon team for 2011. See you next year Safeco Field. Go M’s http://jeffsmariners.com
The Seattle Mariners wore their old 1984 vintage uniforms tonight against the visiting San Diego Padres including the old-school stirrups taking me and 23,616 back on a little trip in time to the old Kingdome era. Jason Vargas however kept the fans in the present moment with his dazzling performance going the whole way without allowing a Padre past first base in a vintage performance by the southpaw. Vargas got the support of his fellow time travelers tonight who gave Vargas an early lead then played add-on before settling for six runs on nine hits tonight.
The atmosphere was fun and festive at the Safe tonight for me and my buddies who decided to run down and catch this game at the last minute on a beautiful night here in Seattle. This win allows the Mariners to keep pace with the Rangers who won today, as well as pick-up a game on the Angels who lost. It was nice to see Carlos Peguero pick-up a couple RBI’s tonight on a line shot up the middle in the third, I love to watch him swing the bat and am rooting for him to stay with the club.
Jack Cust also had a couple RBI’s tonight one on a walk the other on a double to add to his case for hanging around as well. Even Chone Figgins manged to get a hit and steal a base tonight along with making a couple nice grabs at third. I’m glad to see Eric Wedge finally putting Figgins in the #9 hole where he can act as sort of a sparkplug at the bottom of the order and help roll things over into the top of the lineup.
This was the first game of the second half of the 2011 season and it felt good to be out at the ballpark tonight talking baseball with a couple other fans including Scott the other writer for this Mariners Blog. Hopefully we can take this series from the Padres before heading down to California to play the A’s and Angels in a road trip that may very well tell whether we will be buyers or sellers at the trading deadline.
For the record as much as I want to improve this club in order to stay in contention this year, the concept of trading Michael Pineda or any of our starters for that matter seems absurd to me no matter what Geoff Baker and the USS Mariners say. Pitching is our strong point and any upgrade on offense for us should come from packaging some of our prospects to another club for a solid bat. I hope everyone has a safe and sane July 4th weekend and makes it down to the Safe to enjoy what feels like the beginning of that most magical time of they year “Summer in Seattle” Go M’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
by Scott Rinear
The Angels took the first game of the 3-game home series tonight, winning 6-3 down at the Safe. The Mariners went up against one of the American League’s best pitchers in Dan Haren, who entered the game with a 2.51 ERA, 4th best in the AL. The Mariners sent their crafty southpaw Jason Vargas to the mound tonight, who was coming off two solid June starts and who shut this Angels team down last time he faced them on May 18.
The scoring in this one started early with a 2-out RBI single in the 1st by Angels second basemen Howie Kendrick, who added a double in the 3rd and continued his hot hitting against the Mariners this season.
Ichiro lead off the bottom of the 1st with a line shot up the middle and stole second 3 pitches later. Former Angel and every-now-and-then cleanup batter Adam Kennedy laced a double down the right field line scoring Ichiro to tie the game at 1 after one inning of play.
Young slugger/speedster Carlos Peguero muscled a ball past Angels first basemen Mark Trumbo in the 2nd, showing off his wheels by stretching it into a double. One wild pitch and one Franklin Gutierrez infield single later, and the Mariners were on top 2-1.
The short-lived one-run lead disappeared when Vargas hung a breaking ball in the 3rd that even Vernon Wells and his sub-.200 batting average was able to deposit in the left field bullpen for a game-tying home run. Wells would not go quietly into this night.
Chone Figgins turned on a pitch in the 5th, doubling off the right field wall. Ichiro followed with a bunt base hit, and Brendan Ryan gave the Mariners the lead with a sac fly scoring Figgins.
The Angels scored 3 in the 7th including Vernon Wells’ second home run of the game. The Mariner bats were not able to plate any more runs, and Angels went on to win 6-3.
Mariners skipper Eric Wedge continues to show his moxy when choosing who to play on a given night. On paper, tonight’s lineup should have been shut out. Coming into tonight’s game, the starting nine were a combined 7-42 (.167) against the Angels this season, with a career .243 batting average against Haren. I don’t think Wedge really cares much about numbers like these. The .243 career batting average against Haren could be seen as a good thing, considering the Mariners 2011 team batting average was sitting at .228 and Haren’s batting average against was at .219. Although it didn’t lead to victory tonight, I trust Eric Wedge as the leader of this team, at a level unmatched since the days of LOOOUUUU!
Say what you will about the Mariners, their offense, and the normal cast of characters everyone jumps on. We can all speculate and attempt to predict the future to our hearts’ content (and we all do all of the time). But here we are, less than a month from the All-Star break, 2 games out of first. Attributing the Mariners’ current position to an early season fluke of overachievement is no longer a viable explanation, no matter how relentlessly and obsessively a lot of people seem to cling to that idea. We have moved beyond the early season and if anything this team is underachieving, as shown by the some of the veteran players’ numbers compared to their career stats.
And my apologies to those of you who apparently thrive on the assumption that following each loss or bad inning is the start of the inevitable collapse. The Mariners had a terrible April, and by May 13 were 16-23, 5.5 games back, with all of the familiar negativity and criticism firmly intact. One month later, the Mariners have gone 18-10 and sit only a couple games out. They gained ground on the Rangers even when Texas was red hot, and they have maintained their position as both teams have cooled somewhat in June.
How has this happened? We have a gutsy manager who isn’t afraid to go with that gut, a manager who has done more with this group than I thought possible. Also, in the last month, the Mariners have not suffered more than a 2-game losing streak. Since 2004, there have only been 4 separate month-long spans in which the Mariners held their losing streaks to 2 games or less, and none at all in 2004, 2005, or 2008. The pitching staff and just enough offense have been keeping the “inevitable collapse” at bay.
The Mariners got a little unlucky tonight. If Miguel Olivo hangs on to the ball thrown to him by Figgins with Jeff Mathis trying to score the game-tying run, and the Mariners bullpen takes over in the 8th with a 1-run lead, I believe we win this game. Olivo hangs on to that ball 99 times out of 100, and Vernon Wells’ second home run never happens. But that’s baseball. Wedge will have these guys ready to even the series tomorrow. Go M’s!http://jeffsmariners.com
The Mariners won their first series since the end of June today beating the Kansas City Royals 3-2 on an otherwise gloomy Sunday in August. On a day when traditionally the biggest sports event in the region is the Seafair Unlimited Hydro Races, the Mariners managed to get by the Royals behind the pitching of Jason Vargas who went six solid innings to get his 8th win. Vargas has been one of the few bright spots this season and he has proved that he belongs in the rotation next year leaving one less question mark for 2011. Kyle Davies pitched a nice game himself holding the Mariners scoreless till the bottom of the sixth when the Mariners scored two-runs on a clutch-hit by the much maligned Casey Kotchman.
A mostly subdued crowd of 24,078 sat through the first 5 innings of a dull game outside of the roar of the Blue Angels flying overhead on a day when Seattle fans could cheer for real Hydro Races on Lake Washington rather than just the big screen at Safeco. It is a testament to our loyalty as a fan base to still see a crowd this size coming out to the park to support our team. The top of the order once again provided the spark as Ichiro and Figgins scored all three runs and had a couple of hits each this afternoon. Figgins has gone 12-23 on this home stand and knocked in Ichiro in the eighth inning with a sharp single to left in what would prove to be the winning run in this contest. Figgins has moved his average up to .254 and with 50 games left could possibly finish-up with a respectable average of say .270 if he stays hot. This comes as rumors are swirling of a possible trade for the pesky switch-hitter. If you would have asked me a few weeks ago I would have agreed in trading him but after the past few days I believe he is another of the pieces of the future worth keeping around.
It looks like we have suffered another “Hotel Injury” as Jack Wilson apparently slipped in the shower and has a fracture in his right hand. This of course coupled with the Russell Branyan mishap a few weeks back where the big man smashed his toe in a hotel are just more “Footnotes” for a season where if anything could go wrong it has. In addition Shawn Kelley is out for the rest of the season with elbow issues and will require surgery. I’m hoping to see Mike Wilson get the call from AAA to fill Jack Wilson’s spot on the roster as Mike Wilson has 24 homers with Tacoma and deserves a shot before the September call-ups.
Brandon League was able to hold the Royals scoreless in the 8th inning by inducing the Royals into double-play to end a threat at a crucial moment in this game. League like Vargas has 8 wins and has proven to be mostly effective this year though the guy he was traded for Brandon Morrow pitched a great game today as well. Morrow was one out away from a no-hitter today but still went on to win 1-0 over the Rays in a game where Morrow struck-out 17!
The Mariners are actually in a stretch where they should be able to win some games to try to salvage some dignity this year as they have the A’s, Indians and Orioles up next before playing the Yankees one more time. The A’s are the closest thing we have to a rival and they are surprisingly still in the race after beating the Rangers today and now stand 7 ½ back of Texas. It would certainly be nice to play the spoiler role and take this next series from Oakland here at the Safe. One more note from the pits on Lake Washington; the “Oh Boy Oberto” has won the unlimited hydro races this year. Nice to hear the distinctive voice of Pat O’Day calling the race today as Seafair comes to a close.http://jeffsmariners.com
Tagged: Brandon Morrow, Hotel injuries, Jason Vargas, Kansas City Royals, Mariners, Oh Boy Oberto, Seafair Unlimited Hydro Races
The Mariners managed to salvage the final game of the four game series with the Angels today, winning 2-1 in extra-innings behind an outstanding performance by Jason Vargas. Vargas has proved himself to be one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dull year. Unfortunately for Vargas he walked away with his eighth no-decision on the year as he left the game with the score still tied with two-outs in the bottom of the 8th. Vargas allowed a single run off a homer by Mike Napoli in the 2nd but otherwise kept the Angels in-check fanning 9 and only allowing a single walk. Vargas was sporting a fresh haircut on this sunny day in Anaheim as he went up against Ervin Santana who pitched well himself.
The Mariners managed to scratch-out a run in the top half of the 5th inning, scoring on a wild-pitch. Ryan Langerhans who drew a walk and stole second with one down, was then moved to third on a single by Rob Johnson setting the table for the wild-pitch that brought Langerhans in to score making it 1-1. Langerhans like a lot of our boys has a batting average that is awful but at least he does manage to get a lot of walks. The veteran journeyman got the start today in left as Michael Saunders injured his fingers the other day diving back to first.
The only other run of the game came in the top of the 10th when the Mariners overcame another goofy base-running mistake this time by Ichiro to score only their 2nd run in extra-innings this year. Ichiro got on with a lead-off walk and manager Don Wakamatsu called for the bunt today unlike yesterday’s similar situation. After reaching second on the sacrifice bunt by Figgins, Ichiro temporarily lost his senses and attempted to advance to third on a ground ball by Gutierrez to short. Ichiro got thrown-out in a run-down leaving Gutierrez at first with two men down. At this point I began to prepare emotionally for another loss but was pleasantly surprised to see Gutierrez steal second and then come home on a clutch two-out single by Lopez.
After Brandon League managed to hold the Angels in the 8th and 9th, Wakamatsu again went with the orthodox move and brought in his closer when his team had a lead. Several times this season Wak has brought in David Aardsma with the game tied in the 9th rather than using him for the save situation like every other manager in Baseball. And guess what….it worked! Aardsma who has been shaky for much of the year actually mixed his pitches up today instead of throwing all fastballs and managed to pick-up his 17th save. I am not sure if Jack Z. has had a talk with Wakamatsu about getting back to basics, or if our beleaguered manager has finally learned from his mistakes, but I guess it is a case of better late than never.
The Mariners now head back to sunny Seattle to face the red-hot Chicago White Sox who find themselves in first-place in the AL Central. We certainly can play the role of spoiler the rest of the way and we owe these guys a few losses after the heart-wrenching losses we suffered to them earlier in the year. As a side note I will be attempting to get down to Cheney Stadium sometime this month to take a look at Ackley and Pineda who are still in AAA playing for the first-place Rainiers in Tacoma. Also please mark your calendars for August 10th as yours truly will be doing my first live podcast on the internet along with a fellow member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, stay tuned for more details on that event. Ciao….http://jeffsmariners.com
Tagged: Angels, Chicago White Sox, David Aardsma, Don Wakamatsu, extra-innings, Jason Vargas, Mariners
The Detroit Tigers led by pitching Ace Justin Verlander beat the visiting Seattle Mariners at Comerica Park by a score of 6-1 tonight. Verlander who had struggled in his two previous outings against the Mariners had his good stuff tonight striking out 10 and walking only 1 batter. The Tigers are in the thick of the AL central race along with the Twins and the resurgent White Sox. The Mariners had another poor outing by their starting pitcher, this time it was Jason Vargas who followed a weak performance by Doug Fister the night before. Vargas was no match for the powerful Tigers lineup and was charged with 6 earned runs tonight before handing the ball to Brian Sweeney.
As you may remember coming into spring training both Vargas and Fister were considered question marks as far as making the starting rotation. Both pitchers had great starts in the early part of the season with several great outings apiece. The big question now is whether the burst of brilliance by these two was just a fluke and that they are indeed just average vs. good pitchers? In baseball a game of statistics it is hard to escape reality over a significant period of time as the numbers don’t lie, especially in today’s world of advanced analytics.
Are Vargas and Fister indeed just reverting to the sort of pitchers that they actually are? Only time will tell but if indeed these two were pitching over their heads early on, then the second half of this season could be really ugly indeed. As we all know this year’s offense is not much to brag about and tonight was no exception as the Mariners only managed the 1 run and went down on strikes a total of 12 times tonight. There were a few innings where we had a chance to rally such as the 4th and the 7th , but once again no one stepped up to deliver a clutch-hit. After a nice two-week period where we went 9-5 the lads seem to be lost at sea again.
I was thinking about all the players I have watched and read about over the years and I have come up with a little rating system that I thought I would share with the readers. Now this is by no means a quantifiable saber metrics system, but it works for me in general to classify players.
1: Poor players: Major League talent, inconsistent, low desire level. Ex: Rob Johnson
2: Average players: Major League talent, desire to win but inconsistent: Ex: Jose Lopez
3: Good players: Major league talent, desire to win, consistent: Ex: Franklin Gutierrez
4: Great players: Major league talent, strong desire to win, consistent in the clutch: Ex: Cliff Lee
Of course there are variations of this but in my mind there are these 4 distinct categories of players, with the majority over the years leaning towards average or good. The poor players usually don’t stick around to long with the Mariners and coincidently the great ones seem to move on from the Mariners after awhile……hmmm
So it does look like we will get to see Cliff Lee pitch at least one more game in a Mariner uniform as we try to salvage a game out of this series before returning home to play the Royals. I have heard conflicting reports of whether or not Eric Bedard is going to make his first start of the year on Tuesday or not. At this point it is almost anti-climatic considering he is coming back to a last place team rather than returning to help the Mariners down the stretch and into the play-offs like we all were anticipating a few months ago. Anyway happy Fourth of July everyone! http://jeffsmariners.com
Tagged: Cliff Lee, Detroit Tigers, Jason Vargas, Justin Verlander, seattle mariners
The Seattle Mariners won the first game of a three game series at home against the visiting Chicago Cubs 2-0.The Mariners won for their fifth win in a row against former Mariners manager Lou Piniella and the crew from the windy city. Jason Vargas improved his record to 6-2 with his third consecutive win using his change-up to keep the Cubs off-balance in their first trip to Safeco in eight years. As usual the Cubs had a sizeable group of fans at the game tonight and they lived-up to their reputation with cat-calls and boos for Milton Bradley who was a bust with the Cubs. Unfortunately Carlos Silva will not be pitching Thursday as planned so the Mariners fans won’t be able to give him a little welcome back reception of his own. It always amazes how tolerant Seattle fans are when the transplants come out in force for the big East Coast Teams visits to Seattle. As you can see by the picture above I made a trip to Wrigley field three years ago, where I was treated rather poorly by the grumpy Cubs fans. Of course it has been 102 years since the Cubs have won a World Series so I guess they have a right to be a little edgy.
Tonight the Mariners were able to sneak by the Cubs with great starting pitching by Vargas, good support from the pen, and a 2-run homer off the bat of Franklin Gutierrez in the bottom of the second for the games only runs. It appears that the Mariners would fit right into the National League with their strong starting pitching and good defense. Of course at some point the offense will need to produce more than they have in this 5-game streak, but for now it is just nice to watch our starters baffle the hitters on these NL Clubs. Unfortunately the Texas Rangers won again tonight behind the bat of red-hot Josh Hamilton and so the Mariners remain 13 games back in the AL West. We are closing in on the Oakland A’s however who are 9 games out of first. The way we are playing now it is possible that the M’s could overtake the A’s before the All-Star break which would be a huge moral victory for this club and its loyal fans.
I heard Jack Zduriencik on the radio before the game and he sounded a lot less evasive and was actually quite honest about the fact that things have not gone as expected this year. I think Jack Z. like a lot of us, sort of hit an emotional bottom a few weeks ago and is now just taking it day by day. Cliff Lee is pitching tomorrow and as we all know Jack Z. is the man who will ultimately be responsible for the decision on whether to trade him or let him go. I have made my opinions known how I feel on this situation and after hearing our GM’s calm and frank demeanor today I am feeling much better on how the situation will be handled.
If the Cubs felt bad about losing tonight to Jason Vargas, wait till they try to score some runs off our back to back Aces coming their way. Yes indeed tomorrow its Cliff Lee, followed by Felix on Thursday for a day game. Summer comes late in Seattle but when it gets here there is no place in the world this old sailor would rather be, especially with two Aces up your sleeve….http://jeffsmariners.com
*note I have made some modifications to my Blog after hearing from some of the readers. I hope this new format is easier to read and more user-friendly. Let me know what you think.
Tagged: Chicago Cubs, Cliff Lee, Franklin Gutierrez, Jack Zduriencik, Jason Vargas, Lou Piniella, Mariners
The Seattle Mariners finished up a rough road trip by containing the St. Louis Cardinals to one run and going on to win the final game of the series 2-1. Jason Vargas was outstanding tonight going 7 2/3 innings and only giving up 5 hits and allowing no walks against a potent Cardinals offense, he now moves to 5-2 on the year. Jaime Garcia pitched a nice game but will pick-up his third loss of the year despite only giving up 5 hits and walking one tonight. Jason Vargas has been a shining star in an otherwise dismal year for the Mariners as he continues to get the job done on a regular basis.
This was a fun game to watch, featuring a David and Goliath type match-up in front of 40,020 Cardinals fans mostly dressed in red and anticipating another slaughter by their sluggers against the hapless Mariners. Baseball is a major part of the culture in this part of the country and the fences are adorned with the faces of past heroes like Stan Musial, Bob Gipson and 87 year-old Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst who was interviewed before the game. I remember Schoendienst from when I was a kid rooting for the SF Giants and he managed the Cardinals winning the World Series in 1967. Red still hits fungos every day and sounded sharp as a tack in his interview.
Sometimes in a season like this it is nice to reflect and enjoy the rich history of this game rather than fret over the win-loss column. It also makes it easier to watch a game like tonight’s and just enjoy the quality plays. One of the most exciting plays of the night was watching Milton Bradley climb the fence in the 4th inning to rob Albert Pujols of a homer. Bradley jumped up and swatted a ball that had barely cleared the fence back in to play as if he was playing badminton, holding Pujols to a double. Pujols would eventually score that inning for the Cards only run on the night, but Bradley’s play was spectacular and fun to watch.
Offensively the Mariners picked up a run in the 4th when Josh Wilson hustled to break-up a double play allowing Milton Bradley to score on a grounder by Langerhans who got the start at first. The only other run for the Mariners came in 5th inning when Chone Figgins delivered a clutch 2-out double to score Michael Saunders from second and break the ugly 0-16 with RISP streak of the Mariners. But tonight really was all about Jason Vargas who knows how to execute the most basic of pitching fundamentals ie: getting the first pitch in for a strike, which at one point in the game he had done in 14 out of 18 batters he faced.
Jose Lopez came out of the game in the sixth with an injury to his knee which is not good for the club as we seem to have half a dozen guys on the DL now. Speaking of which, where are these guys? Josh Bard went down a month ago and seems to have disappeared off the map. Bedard seems to be in perpetual limbo, and Jack Wilson apparently left a game in the 6th inning because he was tired, also Mike Sweeney has been out on the longest 15 day DL I can remember. It all seems quite surreal as the AAA guys slowly have taken spots in the line-up over the last month or so leaving us with an ever-changing cast of characters with a new surprise line-up everyday.
Well at last our battered sailors are making way for their home port after this 3-7 road trip,now floating in the wake of their AL West rivals the Rangers and Angels who are starting to turn it on. Hope to make it down to the Safe to see the Reds this weekend or for sure when the Cubs and Lou Pinella come rolling in. http://jeffsmariners.com
Tagged: Jason Vargas, Mariners, Milton Bradley, Red Schoendienst, St. Louis Cardinals
Since 1977 there has only been one month that the Seattle Mariners have played above .500, that month is JUNE! And tonight behind the strong pitching of Jason Vargas the Mariners started off the month of June with a 7-1 win over the Twins. And since it is June the Mariners bats right woke-up right on que and delivered 13 hits, including 3 by Ichiro who leads the AL All-Star balloting for outfielders. But unlike so many other games this year, Chone Figgins was right behind him with two hits of his own. Figgins is slowly bringing up his average and no longer looks like he is just trying to draw a walk.
Jose Lopez has been coming around as well lately and tonight had a couple of hits including a 2-run homer off a 3-2 fastball in the 4th inning. The Mariners were to explode for 4 runs in the 4th and gave Vargas the support he has been lacking most of the year. Vargas only gave up the one run on a solo blast to Justin Morneau, who is having a career year thus far and may find his way to the All-Star game if he keeps up his torrid pace, batting .374 after tonight.
Eliezer Alfonso got the start tonight behind the plate and picked-up a couple hits, and seemed to work well with Vargas. At the risk of repeating myself from earlier posts I have to say the Rob Johnson experiment has run its course. The only Mariner to not get on base tonight was Michael Saunders and I look to see Milton Bradley back in left tomorrow. tonight’s victory over the AL Central leading Twins was one of the better games on the year for the Mariners. We got to see great pitching, good defense, and a well-balanced offense.
Shawn Kelley continues to be the most consistent pitcher in the pen, and tonight was no different as he came into the game in the 8th and retired the dangerous middle of the order of the Twins. Garrett Olson got the ball in the 9th and put the Twins down in order to close the gate. Time will tell if Olson has improved enough to stick around the big club, but tonight he looked sharp in relief.
So June is here and the gloomy, painful month of May is behind us. We are 7 games back in the AL West with Cliff Lee then Felix Hernandez in line to take the ball and hopefully help get another little roll going. They say summer doesn’t start in Seattle till July 5th and this may be true, however June is the month that the Mariners traditionally warm-up and I don’t see any reason this year won’t be the same. http://jeffsmariners.com
Today I joined 22,422 of my closest friends down at the Safe to enjoy an indoor matinée played out on a grass field between white lines on another gloomy Seattle late May afternoon. In the first 8 innings it looked like the visiting gladiators from Motown were toying with our Mariners from the soggy Northwest before finally unloading their lethal bats on us. But for some reason the Detroit Tigers were unable to put the hurt on our boys despite hitting line drives all over the park that were just playable by our crafty sailors.
Jason Vargas managed to keep this game close by going 5 full innings and giving up only 2 runs despite not having his best stuff. On the other hand Jason Bonderman pitching for the Tigers only got touched for a single run in the second and it looked like he would coast to an easy victory. The Tigers have a tough line-up and got a long ball from Ordonez and added two more in the sixth off of Ryan Rowland-Smith, who should have gotten out of the inning were it not for the error by Jose Lopez.
But then came the bottom of the 8th…. Franklin Gutierrez lashed a lead-off single to right, followed by a strikeout from Milton Bradley. This brought up Mike Sweeney who has been on a tear lately and played an awkward first base today. Mike Sweeney has a knack for the dramatic and today was no different as he unloaded for a 2-run bomb that suddenly made it 4-3. Jose Lopez managed to get on with a single to bring up Rob Johnson who replaced Josh Bard who came out with an injury earlier in the game. Johnson is sometimes difficult to watch at the plate and he knows he is on the bubble with the Mariners. However today Johnson managed to drive a double off the wall in left and we had runners at second and third with the “Paper Boy” Josh Wilson coming to bat. Josh Wilson continued to make us forget about ailing Jack Wilson with a clutch 2-run RBI single that put the Mariners up for good at 5-4.
With the 2-game sweep the Mariners pulled to 7 1/2 games back of the Texas Rangers who lost today. But more importantly the last 2 games have shown everyone that the Mariners, though still ten games under .500 have not given up on the season and in fact are starting to gel. We now have a day off before heading to Anaheim for a 3-game series with the Angels. This was a decent home stand where we went 4-3 and could well be the turning point of the season. Between now and the All-Star break the Mariners have a chance to get back in the race slowly but surely with the formula of good pitching and timely hitting. Jose Lopez and Chone Figgins will be a key component of any comeback and they both are overdue to break-out and start producing like they are capable of. It looks like our ship hasn’t sunk yet so remember: Hope Floats! http://jeffsmariners.com
There is an old saying “Don’t give up 5 minutes before the Miracle” today it came true as the Mariners ended a 5 game losing streak in the bottom of the 9th with a pinch-hit single by Ken Griffey Jr. to win it 4-3. Once again Jason Vargas pitched well, and besides a 2-run homer to Jose Batista in the 5th, managed to keep the powerful Toronto Blue Jays in check this afternoon in front of 20,452 at the Safe. Kanekoa Texeira and Shawn Kelley pitched well in relief giving the Mariners a chance to stay in this one.
Even our skipper Don Wakamatsu played a role today when he finally showed some emotion and got thrown out of the game arguing a close call in the 8th on a stolen base attempt by Ichiro. Good to see Wak stop acting like Spock and taking one for the team. It looks like catcher Josh Bard is making a bid for the every day catchers job with another fine performance including 2 hits and an RBI in the 9th.
The Jays brought in their closer Kevin Gregg to pitch the 9th and he served up back-to-back singles to Mike Sweeney and Jose Lopez to open the frame. Gregg then gave up a walk to Milton Bradley loading the bases, and Casey Kotchman battled for another walk to drive in his 17th run making it 3-2. Josh Bard delivered a sacrifice fly to tie the game with Bradley on at second. This set the stage for Griffey to come in and pinch-hit for Josh Wilson who botched a chance to lay down a bunt in the 7th by missing 3 bunt attempts.
Griffey has been much maligned lately in the press and by certain blogs around town, so the fact that he delivered a line drive single to drive in Bradley and break the losing streak was indeed sweet. We are now a quarter of the way through the campaign and I have a hunch King Neptune is done trying our Mariners and the fair city of Seattle. As a matter of fact I think I will head down to the Safe tomorrow and see for myself if the winds have changed. http://jeffsmariners.com
Well it looks like we can relax a bit as the Mariners ended their 8 game losing streak today at Safeco field with an 8-1 victory behind the stellar pitching of Jason Vargas. In a nice present for all the Mothers down at the Safe today, our sailors stopped drifting and begin the upcoming road trip on a positive note. I mentioned hitting coach Alan Cockerell in my post a few days ago as someone to watch, well sure enough he was given his walking-papers before today’s game and Alonzo Powell from AAA Tacoma took over.
Speaking of AAA Tacoma, our recently called up players from the minors all proved they were hungry today and hopefully will push the regulars into taking another look at themselves. Josh Wilson led the group with a 3-run homer in the 4th and also had a single, walk, and triple. Michael “Condor” Saunders let everyone know he was legit as well with a solo HR and RBI single later in the game. Ryan Langerhans got on base with a couple of walks and picked up a steal as he gave Casey Kotchman the day off to regroup. Even Adam Moore who is on the bubble picked up an RBI single in the 8th.
I hope the Cockrell move today is not the last in Jack Z’s effort to shake things up. I’d like to see Josh Wilson in the lineup when Jack Wilson comes back Tuesday against Baltimore. Josh Wilson is hungry and I bet he could manage at second base while Chone Figgins gets a chance to work with the new Hitting Coach. This home stand has been trying on the nerves and for once I will be happy to see our guys get on a plane.
In other news around Baseball Oakland Pitcher Dallas Braden pitched a Perfect Game, only the 19th in Major League History. I saw a great video clip of him hugging his Grandma after the game on Mothers day, I thought of my Mom, Suzanne Marjorie Engels who always loved Baseball and was born in NYC when my Grandfather Gordon Rhodes pitched for the Yankees. Happy Mothers day Mom , Mrs Braden and all you Mothers out there. Baseball is a timeless game that connects families and generations like no other and thus is America’s Pastime.http://jeffsmariners.com