May Day and beyond
I took a trip down to Safeco Field today and was rewarded with not only a semi-sunny day and a big crowd but a decisive 6- 1 Mariners win over the visiting Oakland Athletics to win this series. Since it was Mother’s Day there are a lot of moms out with their kids enjoying the popcorn, peanuts, and baseball right here in Seattle. Of course I couldn’t help but think about my own Mom Suzanne seen in the picture above with her mother, my Grandma Leah and her sister Patsy as they too went out to the ballgame and watched their dad my Grandfather Gordon “Dusty” Rhodes play ball. Today’s post is for all you mothers out there who work year-round to raise families, support kids in various sporting activities, and be the rock for players to fall back on when the going gets tough.
But for today our Mariners looked like champs, as Joe Saunders continued his roll at Safeco Field to get the win even though he looked shaky at first against the Athletics. Kendrys Morales hit a three-run homer in the first to set the tone, and as it turns out that was all the support Joe Saunders and the Mariners were going to need today even though they tacked on three more runs including a solo homer by Jason Bay in the seventh which was also his fourth dinger of the year. There isn’t much more of an American event than going to a baseball game on Mother’s Day and though it’s oftentimes awkward being a single guy around all the families and kids I thoroughly enjoyed myself down it Safeco Field today.
The Mariners get a day off tomorrow before heading to New York where the surprising Yankees have managed to put together a winning season despite the fact that a lot of their veterans are dinged up. In many ways New York is where it all started for baseball and my family as the Yankees was the team that brought my grandfather up in 1929, and my mother was born in New York City as well. As usual when the Mariners play the Yankees I root for the Mariners despite all the nostalgia involved.
The Mariners now stand a game and a half behind the Athletics in the AL West with an 18- 20 record, and our boys are playing the kind of ball we were hoping for this year, meaning competitive though perhaps not dominating the league type baseball. There was a good crowd of over 27,000 on hand today which was nice given that the Mariners are going to be on the road for much of the rest of the month and it was good to show our team that we are behind them.
In another interesting development I received an email yesterday from a distant relative that found me on the Internet due to this Mariners blog, here is what he had to say:
My name is Jeff Barker, and I think my grandfather’s sister (Louise) was Dusty’s mother. I am not much for researching family history, so here is what I know.
My father, William Barker was the son of William Barker (my grandfather). He (my grandfather) was the captain of the USS Pennsylvania, and attended a game where Dusty was with the Yankees. Apparently Dusty gave my grandfather a baseball signed by several of the Yankee players, including Babe Ruth. Other players’ signatures visible include Allen, Ruffing and Johnson which leads me to believe it was during the (early) 1932 season.
I did some online research to see about perhaps auctioning off the baseball, and ran across your blog page. If my information is correct, Dusty’s mother’s maiden name was Barker.
I hope you find this interesting and enlightening- I know I have!
Best regards, Jeff Barker..
As you can imagine I was quite excited to receive this message from Mr. Barker andhe just forwarded me his phone number so I will be calling him tonight hope to connect to reminisce about the good old days and perhaps make an offer for that baseball to complete my Dusty Rhodes collection. Baseball once again has proven why it is the Great American pastime today bringing families together to follow current teams, and sometimes even past eras of this beautiful sport. Go Mariners! Htpp://jeffsmariners.com
Tonight while watching the Mariners defeat the Texas Rangers 6-1, I was reminded why I have played and loved the game of baseball since I was eight years old. Most of the time Big Leaguers are cool and collected on the field giving the impression that they are all super serious and somehow have lost the joy associated with our great American pastime.
But tonight after Felix Hernandez came out of the game after throwing eight strong frames Root sports showed us a delightful exchange between Felix Hernandez and ex-Mariner Adrian Beltre that went on for five minutes. I have no idea what they were talking and gesturing about but both of these guys were behaving like kids and having actual fun! It was refreshing and a few of us Mariners fans who tweet had a blast trying to speculate as to what these two characters were talking about. But it doesn’t matter, what matters is in today’s uncertain world the game of baseball is still fun and brings out the best in our character, if we can stop and smell the roses now and then.
Meanwhile our underdogs have put together a nice little 4-game win streak thanks to another melt-down by Yu Darvish who seems to dominate every other team he faces except the Mariners, perhaps Ichiro intimidates him to much or something odd like that. But sure enough “Yu know who”uncharacteristically allowed six walks and five runs tonight before getting yanked by Ron Washington after pitching only four innings. The Mariners actually only had five hits themselves tonight compared to the Rangers six, but just like in my slow pitch softball league you can’t walk six guys in four innings and expect to win, even if you are the mighty Texas Rangers.
I’m heading over to Tri-cities for a softball tournament Friday so it looks like my best shot at catching a Mariners game is going to be Thursday when the Angels who are just behind us in the AL West come to town. This sudden change in weather back to gloom is sure to have an effect on attendance this week, but if our underdogs keep winning I have a hunch we will start to draw a few more fans, after all baseball is fun…especially when you win! GoM’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
Jason Vargas went seven innings today allowing only 5 hits and a walk to go along with 3 runs scored by the Colorado Rockies in a damp afternoon game in Denver. Fortunately for Vargas the Mariners offense scored a season high 10 runs today led by none other than our prospective All-Star Kyle Seager who drove-in 3 runs today including a 2-run homer in the second inning to set the tone for this one.
Seager continues to draw attention with his great start and now with his 26 RBI’s finds himself knocking on the door of the top ten AL RBI leaders to go along with his .292 average. If he keeps this up he may indeed find himself getting to the All-Star game as an invitee which would be nothing short of a miracle.
By the way the picture above was taken by Liz Otis a loyal Mariners fan who lives in the Denver area now and has a great attitude about this team and has been bringing signs to the games to show her support of her home team. I’m happy for her, and rumor is she is already working on a sweep sign for the closer tomorrow!
This game along with the gem the veteran Kevin Millwood pitched last night go a long way to taking the sting out of what has been a long tough road trip that thankfully will be over soon allowing our boys to head back to Safeco Field Monday night to try their luck with the powerhouse Texas Rangers.
Good to see Brendan Ryan get a couple hits today including a triple as we need him to get going offensively this year. I was also glad to see the skipper give Casper “The Ghost Player” Wells a start in left today where Wells played his usual great defense and picked-up a couple hits today including a two-run single in the big sixth inning. Wells deserves a chance at more playing time and today’s performance could help Eric Wedge have more confidence in him out there.
I’m glad I hung around to watch this game today as I missed most of last night’s performance by Millwood but I think I’m going to try to catch a bit of the U-District Street Fair going on this weekend which signals the beginning of our short but wonderful summers here in Seattle. Go M’S! http://jeffsmariner.com
Two veteran gunslingers Kevin Millwood and Andy Pettitte took the mound today for a Mothers Day duel at Yankee Stadium, and after the smoke cleared Kevin Millwood got the win. For Millwood it was his first win as a Mariner allowing only three hits on the day and you have to feel good for the tobacco chewing veteran who could very well have been pitching for his spot in the rotation today.
On the other side Andy Pettitte was making his first start of the year as he attempts to make a comeback after sitting on the sidelines for a year in retirement. Pettitte is a classy guy with the kind of poise and experience the Yankees love. However today Pettitte gave-up a pair of 2-run homers to Justin Smoak and Casper Wells that gave the Mariners all the offense they would need on this sunny day in the Bronx until they got a pair of runs in the ninth on a dribbler by Wells that was overthrown to first.
The Mariners defense came up with three crucial double plays today to assist Millwood get the win and salvage one game out of this series before heading up to Boston to face the Red Sox Monday. Great to see Justin Smoak have a good series at the plate as the weather starts to warm up. I’m also hoping that the dinger by Wells and his great throw to third in the ninth to get Swisher may be enough to get him in the lineup for a few days to see if he can add some pop to the offense.
I want to take this opportunity to wish all you Mothers out there a happy Mothers Day including my Mom Suzanne who loved this game and was an avid fan her whole life something I inherited.Go M’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
Tonight was one of those games where the stark difference between a rebuilding team and a team built to win now looks like. Yes we had our Ace Felix Hernandez on the mound but outside of Ichiro none of our youngsters besides maybe Montero, Ackley and Seager looked like they belonged on the same field with the New York Yankees.
You see the Yankees find the best players for a position then stick with them and maybe bring up afew guys per year to try and make the big club. and yes they have a lot of older veterans like Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones and Eric Chavez in their lineup that folks around the Mariners Blogoshere would say don’t figure into our future. But the thing is for the New York Yankees there is no building for some amorphous date when they will contend. Every year going into Spring Training the Yankees have a roster built to contend that year.
You knew when the Mariners failed to score in the fifth with the sacks full and one out that this one was over. The Yankees knew it too and they just patiently wait till you make a mistake like King Felix did with Ibanez on the pitch over the plate that he hit out for a three run homer. It’s a different mindset all together from the hoping and guessing agme we have been doing around here with teams that are not built to win but rather to sort of play extended spring ball during the regular season while the front office comes up with a new bobblehead to lure casual fans down to the Safe.
Yes this is a far cry from the teams we had here from 1995-2002 that actually could go toe-to-toe with the Yankees. I’m not even mad at the players or the manager but hate the fact that Chuch Armstrong and Howard Lincoln and the rest of the ownership group think we are so dumb out here that we don’t know the difference and don’t care as long as the groundskeepers dance on the field once a week.
Reality has just shown it’s ugly head in the Bronx tonight and it don’t look pretty. Go M’s!http://jeffsmariners.com
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 Detroit Tigers had lost four straight to the Mariners prior to tonight’s contest but with the 2011 Cy Young winner Justin Verlander set to get the start against Kevin Millwood I decided to stay home and watch this one on the tube. As it turns out Verlander was not as sharp as usual allowing three runs in the third but Millwood looked positively ugly for the first two innings where he got tagged for five runs and is starting to look like he is running out of gas after a long succesful career.
Though the final score was 6-4 tonight this one never really felt close but at the same time considering how we have owned the Tigers so far in 2012 and with the memory of the previous night’s heroics still fresh in my mind this was a fun game to watch. It was particularly entertaining in the bottom of the third watching the veteran Tigers skipper Jim Leyland jawing with the umpire over a questionable call before getting tossed. Even the usually smooth Verlander started in with the heated discussion before big Prince Fielder got in between Verlander and the ump. But in all fairness it should be noted that Verlander came up to the plate and made things right before calling it a night after going six innings for the 49th straight game.
The Mariners attempted to repeat their late inning heroics tonight drawing a couple leadoff walks off the Tigers closer Jose Valverde but Dustin Ackley failed to get down a sac bunt and ended-up going down on strikes. Brendan Ryan then grounded into what looked like a routine double play ball that was dropped by Fielder leaving it all up to Ichiro with runners at the corners and two down. Ryan stole second to add to the drama before Ichiro was intentionally walked in order to face Jesus Montero the Mariners clean-up hitter. At this point the 13,455 fans at Safeco were on their feat hoping for another miracle but Valverde managed to get the young catcher to fly out and end the game with the bases juiced.
Even though we lost tonight it was a fun game to watch and it is nice to see our guys come back from being down 5-0 to make a game of this one. Speaking of fun Josh Hamilton had a huge night against the Orioles slamming four home runs and a double to go 5-5 and lead his team to victory along with setting a new AL record with 18 total bases. If Hamilton continues ripping the ball at this pace and can stay healthy and sober it’s going to be hard to stop the Rangers from making it to the World Series again.Hope to make it down to the Safe for the rubber-match tomorrow with Jason Vargas on the mound, see you there….Go M’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
Last July Jack Zduriencik traded Doug Fister and David Pauley to the Detroit Tigers for Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush and Francisco Martinez. At the time Fister was 3-12 here but as we all know now he went on to go 8-1 down the stretch for the Tigers and became somewhat of a fan favorite in Detroit. Meanwhile back at the ranch Charlie Furbush has been converted to an adequate left-handed reliever and Casper Wells languishes on the bench. So tonight turned out to be sort of a groundhog experience for Fister as he made his first start coming off the DL against his old team.
After watching the lanky Fister hold the Mariners scoreless for eight innings tonight there is no doubt in my mind that this deal was not one that Jack Z. can brag about. Not that many fans I know have any ill feelings towards Fister, nor do I think he has any animosity towards the Seattle Mariners or the fans but after tonight’s meltdown in the ninth by Octavio Dotel to allow the Mariners to come back and win 3-2, I’m sure Doug Fister doesn’t miss Seattle a bit.
Just like in his days here Doug Fister pitched a masterpiece and got only minimal run-support that just didn’t hold-up thanks to a clutch double by Montero in the ninth along with some wild pitching by the veteran Dotel and a game-winning RBI sacrifice fly by John Jaso to drive the stake into Fister and the Tigers collective hearts.
This was the sort of Mariners game that sucked for eight innings then became a blast for about 15 minutes as I was writing this post! The win is the fourth straight over the Tigers this year and may be enough to get me down to Safeco Field tomorrow night to see if we can keep it up.
The Mariners need this sort of game now and then to make this whole fan thing bearable for as you can see in Geoff Baker’s article today :The perils of rebuilding: how “the right way” in theory can be absolutely the wrong way in real life the fan support for the Mariners is dwindling and reaching a crucial tipping point these days after so many disappointing seasons.Tonight’s thrilling game was a good start! Go M’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
King Felix Hernandez and Kyle “The Kid”Seager came to Safeco tonight with their A-Games and the two Mariners along with support from the rest of the crew snapped a seven game losing streak with a sweet 7-0 win. King Felix was on top of his game tonight allowing only a single base knock by the reeling Twins through eighth frames as well as mowing down nine batters on strikes tonight. Of course we have seen so many of these sort of affairs before where the King does his job and his loyal subjects on offense can’t seem to find their swords at the plate so until the sixth inning this was a tense game.
But fortunately tonight Kyle Seager came to the park ready to joust and he provided his first death-blow in the top of the sixth with a stinging single up the middle to score Ackley and Ichiro to make it 2-0. But Kid Kyle wasn’t through for the night as he added a huge 2-run homer in the seventh giving him 16 RBI’s on the year to lead the team. The Mariners are quietly hitting a lot more long balls this year with Seager’s blast pushing the total up to 26 so far which is a huge improvement over this time last year.
It should be noted that Ichiro had a clutch 2-run triple in the seventh as well to ease his team leading average up to .303 just slightly ahead of Kid Seager, followed by the other soon to be knighted warrior Jesus Montero who had a base knock and is batting a respectable .289 thus far in 2012. Yes I know John Jaso has a .320 average but he needs to get at least 40-50 AB’s before his average counts.
Today Mike Carp got the start in left and like Smoak at first went hitless so I’m thinking we may see a little more of Casper Wells soon out in left and maybe Carp or Liddi will take over at first for a spell to continue the shake-up that Eric Wedge started by announcing Chone Figgins is now a utility guy a few days ago.
Anyway the losing streak is over and we need to win Sunday’s game to take this series before the Tigers roll into town Monday growling for revenge after being swept at home by our guys during the last road trip. Word on the street is that none other than Doug Fister will be on the mound for the Bengals Monday which should make for an interesting match-up as he tries to get back into the swing of things against the club that dealt him away lasy year. I think I”m heading down to the Safe either Tuesday or Wednesday, see you there! Go M’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
The Tampa Bay Rays are in the running for the lead in the tough AL East once again but you would never guess it by the paltry attendance figures they are drawing at Tropicana Field this year. Tonight only 9,837 loyal fans were at the game to watch the crafty Rays win their third game in a row over our struggling Mariners who have now dropped five games in a row. A lot of credit needs to go to James Shields though as he baffled our guys all night fanning 11 through six innings work.
The only Mariner outside of Ichiro who looked like he was on his game tonight was Kyle Seager who got the start at third and went 3-4 including two home runs to drive-in all four of the Mariners runs. Ichiro and Seager teamed-up with a pair of singles in the top of the eighth as well to give the Mariners a first and third situation with one down but unfortunately Alex Liddi popped-up to the catcher and Justin Smoak hit a deep fly to right that was caught to end the threat.
Brendan Ryan fanned three times tonight and is now in a 0-26 slump that is getting harder to watch every day. Chone Figgins looks like he could be in his last days as well going 0-5 with that usual semi-slacker approach at the plate which drives people crazy. And even though Justin Smoak was moved down in the order to the #7 spot he failed to produce as well and seems to look rather clumsy at the plate. I imagine Mike Carp will get a start tomorrow morning somewhere as the Mariners try to salvage a game out of this series in order to return home after completing a .500 road trip.
Brendan Ryan is another story all together, he has an odd batting stance to begin with and now that he is pressing it looks even worse. I know Munenori Kawasaki hasn’t been exactly tearing it up at the plate when given a chance to play but watching Ryan this past few days has been painful and I think Eric Wedge needs to give Kawasaki a couple of days in a row at short to see what he can do. If not maybe it’s time to try Seager at short or go get Nick Franklin in the minors and give him a shot. As most of you know I have been supportive of Eric Wedge and his judgement in personnel matters since he has taken the helm, but I’m starting to get a hunch that Jack Z. is in the background preventing Wedge from doing his job by forcing him to stick with guys that should be on the bench for some financial or political reasons. Anyway Kyle Seager had a great game and Charlie Furbush pitched well in relief tonight, the rest just kinda sucked….Go M’s!http://jeffsmariners.com
After 35 years as a Mariners fan I have implemented a new strategy in order to keep my sanity. I decided this year I would only write my Mariners Blog when I felt like it, and instead of setting my schedule around the games I would go ahead and watch or listen to games as long as I didn’t have anything else better to do. So tonight I clicked off the game in the top of the ninth with runners on first and third and one out in a 1-1 tie in order to go to a meeting followed by a dinner.
As it turns out I did the right thing as I had a productive meeting followed by some great Chinese food at Louie’s in Ballard and the Mariners went on to lose not only the game 3-2 in 12 innings but also Miguel Olivo who came out with a groin injury right when his bat was coming to life. You can say what you want about Miguel Olivo but he is one tough fortune cookie and I doubt any of his vicious detractors in the Blogosphere or on Facebook would dare to say half the stuff they write about him to his face.
No tonight the haters will probably have to settle for new targets such as Michael Saunders who made the decision on his own to try and bunt Kawasaki home in the ninth rather than swing away, or Brandon League who wasted a homer from Jesus Montero in the 11th and blew another save tonight. While just like Eric Wedge I don’t agree with Saunders decision to bunt in that situation I am not going to turn on Saunders so close to his big night in Toronto recently, and though I’m worried about Brandon League I have faith he will find his killer splitter soon and get back on track.
The first eighth innings tonight was a re-run of the all to familiar movie where Felix Hernandez pitches his heart out and his team only gives him one or two runs to work with.Tonight it was only one run a solo shot by Olivo in the second off Tampa’s Jeremy Hellickson who is no slacker himself picking-up right where he left off last year when he was the AL Rookie of the year . Hellickson had the Mariners under control all night and it is no wonder that with his stuff that he has allowed only two runs over the last 23 innings. Brendan Ryan had another bad night fanning three times and now finds himself hitting only .136 and looking worse every night. But Ryan isn’t the only Mariner struggling on offense as the club is now 0-25 with runners in scoring position after going 4-0 to start this road trip.
At long last the untimely groin injury to Olivo is going to bring about a couple of things, 1: John Jaso will get some starts at catchers and 2: Mike Carp will be joining the club to fill Olivo’s spot on the roster while he is on the DL. As for the shortstop situation we may see Kawasaki get a few starts in a row there to see if he can produce or possibly even Kyle Seager there if Wedge decides to start Carp in left and move Figgins to third. We still are 4-3 on this road trip and it would be nice to win one or two of the remaining games so as to not negate all the positives from the first four games.
Either way since tomorrow is May 1st otherwise known as May-day or International Workers Day I may join my fellow workers in a rally or march downtown tomorrow and thus get on with my life no matter what happens with the Mariners, it takes a while for things to sink in for this old Merchant Mariner but once I get something it usually sticks.Go M’s!http://jeffsmariners.com