I took a break from Mariners Baseball and drove down to Tacoma tonight to try to get a break from the angst that goes with being a Mariners fan. As it turns out it was a win-win situation as the Mariners beat the Rangers 7-0 while I was 40 miles away enjoying a fun 16-9 win by the Tacoma Rainiers over the Colorado Springs Sky Sox.
I’m sure plenty will be written about the outstanding job Felix Hernandez did tonight shutting out the Rangers while fanning 12 and going the whole way, so I’m going to focus on my experience at Cheney Stadium which was delightful and entertaining both on the field and off as you can see above by none other than a dancing Rhubarb the team mascot for the Rainiers who was part of a fun overall warm night.
Things didn’t start out so well for the Rainiers who sent Hector Noesi to the mound as he tries to figure out what went wrong for him in the Bigs. Noesi looked terrible tonight and fell behind 6-1 by the time the Sky Sox had batted through the third inning.
Fortunately for Noesi and the friendly and jovial fans on hand tonight at Cheney, the Sky Sox didn’t seem to want to win this one as they let the Rainiers chip away thanks to a 19-hit onslaught by Darren Brown’s crew. It also helped that the Sky Sox committed 6 errors l but with the strong bats of Carp, Franklin and Triunfel I think the Rainiers would have won this one anyway even if the Sky Sox would have played decent defense.
Mike Carp looked like he was ready to take his place on the Mariners 25-man roster driving in five runs including a bases loaded double. Nick Franklin contributed with the bat and his glove playing second tonight while Carlos Triunfel went 4-5 including a homer while playing short and drove in five runs for his nights work. From my point of view after tonight’s game I would love to see both Carp and Franklin come up and send Ackley and Smoak down to replace them.
The atmosphere at Cheney stadium is so much more relaxed and fan-friendly than Safeco which coupled with the five dollar parking and reasonably priced tickets helped make the trip down there more than worth it and I highly suggest it to any of you Mariners fans who like myself need a break from the Mariners.
I also got to see old Rene Lachemann the former manager of the Mariners in the early 80′s stick his head out of the visitors dugout a few times as he is now the hitting coach for the Sky Sox and is finishing out a long career as a player, manager and now coach in AAA.
Sometimes it may seem that I’m a bit sour about the game of baseball in some of my posts, but the truth is I love the game and tonight I got to step back in time to a simpler era when baseball was a game that was enjoyable for both the fans and players, I feel rejuvenated! http://jeffsmariners.com
Tonight’s game pretty much highlights the difference between the 2010 Mariners and the 2011 crew. Last year it would be a safe bet that if Felix Hernandez was on the mound down 1-0 in the eighth to the Angels we would almost certainly lose. But tonight our young guns came through in a big way rallying for a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth to beat the Angels 2-1 in dramatic fashion.
The Angels are in a tight race with the Rangers and this loss must be a real killer for them especially since the Rangers lost tonight but that makes it even sweeter for our guys as they try to finish out the season on a positive note. It looked like we would never get anywhere tonight off Angels starter Dan Haren who pitched a great game himself before getting pulled for Lefty Scott Downs after giving-up back-to-back singles to Gutierrez and Ackley in the eighth. Most of us were just hoping for a single to tie the game when Carp came up and when I saw that double to the gap in left I knew the King was going to triumph tonight.
Felix Hernandez is an emotional guy and when he got three outs in the ninth he showed how much of a competitor he is by raising his arms as if we had just won the World Series. Hernandez know has 13 wins on the year and with his 9 strikeouts he took over second place from Jamie Moyer on the all-time Mariners strikeout list. While Felix may not get another Cy Young award this year he pitched like a true champion tonight that is hungry for the big stage one of these years.
And the man who is tasked with providing the missing pieces to surround the King Jack Zduriencik, looks like he will be around for a few more years to try and complete the rebuilding project after he was offered a multi-year extension today. I have been lukewarm about Jack Z. all along but with a couple of smart moves this winter he just might be able to get us into contention next year. Time will tell if Carp, Seager, Ackley, Smoak and Pineda will produce as hoped for in the future, but tonight it looked hopeful.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the fact that Jack Wilson was traded today to the Braves for a player to be named later. I have always loved watching Wilson play defense as he has some unique skills and a boyish enthusiasm that is engaging. But just like Mike Sweeney who was picked up last year around this time I”m happy that Jack Wilson will get a chance to play for a contender and maybe reach the playoffs for the first time in his career as well. Good Luck Jack and thanks for all your hustle!
Just a reminder to my readers I will be going on vacation to Southern California starting Thursday and won’ be back till the following Friday, so Blog Posts will be hit and miss. I do know that I will be attending the Mariners-Angels game next Tuesday the 6th and wearing my old school blue Mariners hat surrounded by red rally monkeys and hopefully observing another spoiler type game in enemy territory. Also in case you missed my weekly Podcast ” Steady as She Goes” tonight here it is : http://tobtr.com/s/2157857. It was a fun show with a couple young local Bloggers so check it out.Go M’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
The Mariners only allowed four total runs in the three game series with the Angels this weekend and yet manged to lose the series 2-1 due to a lack of execution and timely hitting by their offense. Today Felix Hernandez pitched a great game fanning 12 Angels and only allowing 4 hits over 8 strong innings but was bested by Ervin Santana who only allowed the one run on a home run to Mike Carp in the top of the ninth. Mike Trumbo hit his 22nd home run off the King in the bottom half of the third on a 1-2 pitch after the Mariners had wasted a scoring chance in the top half of the frame.
The Mariners got a pair of singles by Kyle Seager and Ichiro to give them runners at first and third with one out in the top of the third but could not score due to poor execution on a safety squeeze bunt by Jack Wilson that Santana fielded to throw-out a sliding Seager at the plate. Wilson who has been playing this game a long time knew that he needed to get this bunt passed the pitcher to make this play work but just did not execute. Wilson who has been getting a few Cameo starts at short while Ryan rests up from some aches and pains also had a huge mental error in the 7th inning to set-up the Angels other run.
For some reason Wilson ran over to cover second on a steal attempt despite the fact that the second baseman usually cover when there is a right handed batter at the plate. And sure enough the Angels squirted a grounder through the hole that Wilson’s absence created to negate a sure double-play situation. The veteran Vernon Wells knocked in the winning run on a broken bat single after the Wilson mental error and that was the game in a nutshell.
It was nice however to see Mike Carp get three hits today including the solo homer in the ninth to move his average up to .311. Also Kyle Seager had his first multi-hit game as a Mariner with his two singles today. Overall, though we lost this series the Mariners played pretty well against the tough Angels who now stand only a half game back of the Rangers in the AL West. We got to see Trayvon Robinson shine in this series but also look a little Pegueroish today striking out a couple times where he looked bad. Of course that is the book on him ie: a guy with speed, power, good glove and arm but strikes out a lot. Manager Eric Wedge is fully aware of this and seems to believe he can teach the youngster better plate discipline, lets hope so as the kid is exciting to watch and Gutierrez is getting under my skin a bit.
I am looking forward to visiting Angels stadium on August 30th though we won’t be able to do much but play a spoiler role for the Angels by that point in the season. Actually I am beginning to dislike the Angels more than any other team we play, not only because they have owned us for the past couple years but their whole energy is just weird.
So now we send our boys down to the Death Valley of baseball to face the Texas Rangers for another three game series before coming home to the beautiful and mild NW. Apparently it has reached over 100 degrees for something like 40 days in a row down in the Dallas area and the heat may be a bit challenging for Eric Wedge and his band of youngsters as they try to take the defending AL Champs down a notch this week. Hope you all had a Happy Seafair Weekend! Go M’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
The Seattle Mariners snapped a painful 17-game losing streak by trouncing the New York Yankees 9-2 as all of us in Mariners Nation let out a sigh of relief. Mariners Ace Felix Hernandez went 7 frames allowing only a run and for once he got the backing of his teammates who scored 9 runs thanks to a season high 17 hits. Mike Carp had 4 hits and 4 RBI’s today including a huge bases-clearing triple in the seventh to prove he really can hit in the Majors. Ichiro also had a 4-hit day and Dustin Ackley continued his impressive play with three base knocks and 3 RBI’s of his own.
The flight home will certainly be a lot looser thanks to this win today after a losing streak that felt like it would never end. In my last post I wrote I would not be writing again till the Mariners won two games in a row but that was over a week and two mustaches ago (mine and Eric Wedge‘s) so I figured I would try to reconnect with any of my readers out there who are still following our club.
This losing streak dating back to the July 5th win over the A’s certainly tried my patience as a Mariners fan and though we have managed to drop completely out of the AL West race I can’t help but feel giddy today as if we just won a playoff game! It was nice to see our guys smiling as they exchangEd High-fives on the mound after the game and as much as this streak sucked for us die-hard fans you can bet it was way worse for Eric Wedge and his crew who have certainly been up and down this year.
I was feeling kind of lost this past week as the anguish progressed and even went so far as to watching the Pittsburgh Pirates on an ESPN game trying to learn their names so I could jump on their bandwagon for the rest of the season. But after today’s victory I am back in the fold, as like it or not this is our team and after following them for 30 years I really have nowhere else to go.
On a sadder note I just learned that Rick Kaminski the ” Peanut Man” has passed away today at age 67. This is indeed sad as Rick was a fixture here in Seattle over all the years flipping peanuts behind his back and always quick with a joke and a smile. I talked to Rick a couple times in Peoria over the last few years and he was a delightful human being. With Niehaus and now Rick gone there is not much left for and old SeaDog like me to remind me of the old Kingdome days when I head down to the Safe these days, but like a good sailor I will sail on….Go M’s http://jeffsmariners.com
The Seattle Mariners called-up Mike Carp from AAA after today’s miserable 3-1 loss to the Texas Rangers sending free-swinging Carlos Peguero down in another attempt to augment their AWOL offense. Carp who was hitting .341 with 21 hrs. and 64 RBI’s with Tacoma apparently will get more playing time in his latest attempt to find a home with the struggling Mariners who after a day off will resume play in Toronto on Tuesday. As for big Carlos Peguero he obviously needs more work on his plate discipline and will hopefully figure a few things out in Tacoma that will enable him to utilize his tremendous power when and if he makes it back to the Majors. While this move was inevitable and can’t hurt at this point, I hope the great wizard Jack Z. has more magic than this even it means bringing our old friend Ryan Langerhans up now that he is htting .343 with 23 dingers. Something has to give or we will indeed lose a hundred games while setting another round of records for offensive futility this year.
Today’s move comes on the heels of another disappointing game in front of 30,335 quiet fans on a gloomy July day in Seattle. The Mariners ended-up getting swept by the Rangers losing their ninth game in a row despite a decent outing by Blake Beavan. Outside of the three-run homer Beavan surrendered to Mitch Moreland the strapping young rookie looked pretty good today. Of course the Mariners bats remained dormant this afternoon, the only run coming on an RBI single off the bat of Jack Wilson getting a rare start at short today.Other than that it was business as usual as our boys continued to refine their ability to dribble grounders to short and just generally look and act anemic.
Watching this club over the past couple of weeks reminds me of a bunch of suburban husbands at Cosco pushing around the basket as their wives direct them through life. And just as the Cosco drones have that dazed and lost look in their eyes as they try maintain their masculinity, the Mariners players appear to have zero zest for life or the inclination to try anything new. Of course the gloomy weather and silly fans at Safeco more concerned with rally fries and bobbleheads only add to the overall malaise that has taken over Mariners Nation.
And as much as I admire the fighting spirit that Eric Wedge has, I regret to inform my readers that after today’s loss I shaved off my Eric Wedge mustache that I sported so proudly around town for a couple months. It feels good to be free of the stigma of being a die-hard Mariners fan and I fit in much better at Cosco with the other drones as I try to lose my desire to hope or dream for anything more than a team that manages to stay ahead of the Oakland A’s and not lose 100 games again this year .Oh how I miss my rough-n-tumble days as a young Merchant Mariner living a life full of adventure, perhaps this years team will finally domesticate me….Go M’s http://jeffsmariners.com
The Seattle Mariners have a lot to think about on the long flight home from the other Washington after losing 1-0 today to the Nationals who completed the three game sweep with the win today. As usual the Mariners got great starting pitching from starter Michael Pineda who went seven innings of shutout ball fanning nine Nationals and breaking-up the no-hitter with a single off Jason Marquis in the sixth.
Pineda pitched a great game in the heat before handing over the ball to David Pauley in the eighth who rebounded from the melt-down on Tuesday with a scoreless frame himself. Eric Wedge brought Chris Ray into pitch the ninth and he immediately surrendered a lead-off single to ex-Mariner Michael Morse. The Nationals loaded the sacks with a couple of bunts and though Jack Wilson made a great play from his knees at short to get the first out, you knew the National were going to pull this one out just like on “Black Tuesday”. And sure enough they did when veteran Lance Nix hit a sacrifice fly to score Danny Espinosa from third handing the Mariners a 1-0 bitter loss at the hands of the surging Nationals.
The Mariners starters only allowed two earned runs for the whole series and yet the offense looked worse than it has since April this week. It is looking like Mike Carp is once again choking at the Major League level and is now hitting a measly .179 since getting the call from Tacoma. Peguero seems to be mired in a prolonged slump as well leaving only Greg Halman left out of this batch of rookies to earn a spot on the big club. Of course coming into 2011 everyone was clamoring to let the youngsters play and indeed they are getting a shot with Pinero, Smoak and Ackley looking like keepers with the rest of the kids hanging on by the skin of their teeth.
The Mariners head home 2 1/2 games behind the idle Rangers with the Angels and A’s chomping at their heels heading into an odd series against the Florida Marlins where the National League rules will prevail and we will act as the visisting team despite playing at Safeco. Felix Hernandez will try to play the role of stopper when the Ace takes the mound Friday. But unless the offense wakes-up it doesn’t seem to matter how well the starters on this club do which is depressing.
As another odd twist to this series Nationals manager Jim Riggleman quit right after the game despite his team’s recent surge to one game over .500 with this win. Apparently Riggleman was upset that the Nationals Brass would not pick-up his option for next year. Sounds like a selfish motive to me but nothing surprises me these days, I wish Chone Figgins would just up and quit!
The Mariners brass needs to decide pretty soon if they are serious about competing this year and if so how are they going to beef-up this anemic offense. I am not holding my breath for a blockbuster trade to transpire any time soon as the realities of the financial obligations the club owes to our current roster will pretty much assure that we won’t be getting the infamous ” Big Bat” that we have been waiting for several years for.Go M’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
by Scott Rinear
Much like the weather today in Seattle, the Seattle Mariners offense was unseasonably cold with only a few bright spots. Los Angeles Angels ace Jered Weaver made pitching in the Major Leagues look rather easy tonight, breezing through his complete game shutout giving up only 5 hits. I expect the typical reaction regarding the Mariners offensive struggles. But, after a performance like this one, you have to tip your cap to Weaver, as he was flat out filthy on the mound.
Mariners starter Doug Fister was lights out for 6 of the 7 innings he pitched. The first inning proved to be the difference in the game, as Fister gave up 4 runs on 4 hits with an uncharacteristic display of wildness and missed locations. It was an unfortunate time for a bad inning, especially facing a pitcher like Jered Weaver. Fister was able to find his rhythm, and quickly. Over his next 6 innings, Fister shut the Angels down, giving up only 3 more hits and no additional runs.
The lone bright spots were the 5 hits and some defense the Mariners were able to muster. Ichiro Suzuki checked in with a single and a double in the game and made two stellar running catches near the right field corner. If Ichiro’s slump warranted so many questions about his so-called deteriorating abilities, then I ask a similar question after tonight. Since his rare day off on June 10, Ichiro is 8-17 with four straight 2-hit games, and has flashed some of his vintage leather in right field. Do four games make a big enough sample size to welcome back the Ichiro who has spoiled fans with unbelievable offense and defense for 10 years? Anyone who reads my posts can guess my answer. Yes. I think Ichiro is back and will once again have at least 200 hits and hit over .300. I want to know what everyone else thinks.
Another positive tonight was the play of newcomer Mike Carp, both at the plate and in left field. I’m not sure if Carp has played left for this team yet, but I liked what I saw. Carp’s solid throw to home in the first may have cut down Erick Aybar trying to score had Figgins not cut the ball off. Then he made a sliding catch in foul territory to end the nightmarish first inning. Carp was also 2-3 at the plate, putting some good swings together against one of the better pitchers in the game.
With Carp, Carlos Peguero, and Greg Halman all having spent some time in left field, which one of the three has the best chance of being the everyday left fielder? For that question, your guess is as good as mine. Honestly, I like all three players, and I hope the organization can figure out the best way to take advantage of their young talent.
Speaking of young talent, Dustin Ackley will hopefully be making his Major League debut next week. It’s looking like Monday against the Washington Nationals could be the start of the Ackley era, according to Geoff Baker’s blog for the Seattle Times. There has been a lot of speculation in the media and blogosphere about why Ackley has not been called up yet. Whatever the reason, it’s only a matter of time, a matter of days most likely, and I can’t help be excited.
I remember when the Mariners picked Ackley 2nd overall in the 2009 draft, and a few days later I was able to catch a North Carolina baseball game on TV. I was excited to see Ackley play live so soon after he was drafted. I only watched a few innings, and only watched one of Ackley’s at bats. Home run to left center.
It’s obvious everyone in Mariners land wants Ackley on the team yesterday. What isn’t obvious is what people are expecting from this kid. I made the mistake last season of expecting Justin Smoak to hit 5 home runs in his first game as a Mariner and set myself up for disappointment. The questions become: What are people’s expectations of Ackley this season and beyond? Will the second base experiment pan out, or will the scouts who say he should move back to the outfield be correct? Personally, I have a really good feeling about this team’s future. Go M’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
If that story holds true, then I have a suggestion for the newly-recalled Mike Carp: walk into the Mariners’ clubhouse, shove Chone Figgins to the ground, grab a handful of meat and cheese from the pregame spread and eat it, shove Figgins back down to the ground because he just got up, then announce to your teammates, “Remember me? I’m Mike Motherf**king Carp.”
Mike Carp is a freakin’ superhero. The man has put up numbers that boggle the mind at Triple-A Tacoma this year, all while his big league brethren have flailed around at the dish.
Just look at a brief sampling of Carp’s offensive statistics:
-On the season, Carp is batting .350 with 19 home runs, 58 RBI, and a 1.069 OPS.
-Over his past ten games, he’s hitting .500 with six home runs, 18 RBI, and an absurd 1.453 OPS. Oh yeah, and that includes his most recent game, which was cut short by the fact that he was promoted to the big league club. In that game, he went 0-1. So really, save for one at-bat, he’s actually amassed those numbers in nine games.
-On Monday, Carp went 4-6, hit two home runs, drove in seven runs, scored four times, and drew a walk for good measure. The night before that, he went 3-5, hit a solo home run, scored four runs, drew a walk, and stole a base. Two nights prior to that? How ’bout 4-6, a home run, three RBI, and three runs scored.
The numbers speak for themselves, but numbers are boring so I’ll speak on Carp’s behalf. The dude has been an absolute pimp this year. He’s been deserving of a call-up for weeks and finally — FINALLY — the M’s did what they had to do on Tuesday night by promoting their outfielder-first baseman and demoting the equally-pimpish Mike Wilson (goodbye, Mike, you will be missed).
But let’s not kid ourselves, here. Carp has been fantastic, yes, but finding a place for him to play at the big league level will be a challenge for Mariners’ manager Eric Wedge.
The 24-year-old Carp is capable of playing left field and first base, and of course he could very well see time in the DH role. Still, though, he’ll be firmly entrenched in a time share situation with the myriad of players who already inhabit those three positions.
And make no mistake about it. Carp needs to play every day. Not should play every day. Needs to. The Mariners can’t afford to sit around and waste this torrential hot streak their new addition is currently on. It’s up to Wedge to get Carp into the lineup any way he possibly can.
At the end of the day, however, Carp will need to prove he’s capable of capitalizing on the opportunities he has, however limited or generous they may be. Fact is, there isn’t much use for a guy with a minimal defensive skill set, who lacks foot speed, and isn’t hitting. Unless Carp can showcase his bat — which is really the only standout asset he possesses — he’ll quickly find himself back in Tacoma and likely branded with the dreaded Quad-A label.
Frankly, I’m not worried. In 91 career big league at-bats, Carp has a .264 batting average and a .762 OPS. Those are Herculean digits when compared to most guys wearing the Northwest Green. Chone Figgins, for one, would kill for those numbers.
And on top of that, he’s the ginger Babe Ruth, making him quite possibly the greatest red-haired player of all-time. You can’t really mess with status like that.
Ruth and the aforementioned Williams aside, though, it’s important that we keep things in perspective. This is a young guy who has spent…ah, f**k it. This is Mike Motherf**king Carp. Rip sh*t up, dude. Welcome back to the bigs.
Filed under: Mariners
Tags: Mike Carp
by Scott Rinear
The Seattle Mariners’ struggles on the South Side of Chicago continued today as the White Sox jumped all over Felix Hernandez early on, winning the game 5-1 amidst sweltering 90+ degree temperatures. The loss officially ends the Mariners consecutive series wins streak at 6 straight, and tomorrow the Mariners will try and avoid the sweep.
April, 2009 was the last time the Seattle Mariners beat the White Sox in Chicago. Felix Hernandez was on the mound in that game, the night half of a day-night double header. Seeing “@ CHW” has not been a welcome site on the schedule for almost a decade. Since 2002, the Mariners are 11-29 at U.S. Cellular Field including 6 sweeps. I’d be surprised if another stadium has been as bad for the Mariners in that span, and it doesn’t seem to be a White Sox thing, as the Mariners are 23-15 at home versus the ChiSox in that same span. Sometimes another team, or in this case another stadium, just has your number for a while.
Even Felix Hernandez, the best month of June pitcher in terms of winning percentage (.800) the game has ever seen, was not enough to change that luck. South side slugger and Mariner-killer Paul Konerko put the White Sox up 1-0 with a solo home run in the second. The White Sox exploded for 4 runs in the 3rd with a 2-run triple by 44-year-old Omar Vizquel and a 2-run long ball by Carlos Quentin.
The Mariners lone run came on a sacrifice fly by Miguel Olivo in the 4th inning, as White Sox starter Phil Humber had the Mariner hitters off-balance all night.
The Mariners have dropped the first two games of this tough road trip, and I imagine the radio waves and internet will be swimming with the usual negativity about this Mariners team and the lack of offense. The reason I am confident in this is that before this current road trip the Mariners were 15-5 in their last 20 games since May 16. Only two other teams could say the same, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the surging Milwaukee Brewers. Before today’s first pitch, the Mariners were averaging 4.7 runs per game in June and five different players had combined to hit 9 home runs in 6 games. But, one 3-1 road loss later, and earlier today we were immediately back to panic button mode.
It’s not that I’m naive and not aware that this team is last in the American League in runs, hits, total bases, batting average, on-base%, slugging % and close to the bottom in most other offensive categories. How could I not be aware of this? It’s all anyone EVER talks about in one way or another. Today on the radio it was back to how terrible Jack Cust is and why hasn’t Mike Carp been brought up yet to DH. I actually agree with this move. I’m just tired of the constant seeking out of what’s negative about the Mariners. In the last 22 games, the Mariners have a better record than most MLB teams, including the Yankees and Rangers. My question is, if the Mariners can go 15-7 in their last 22 and be above .500 for the season and in striking distance of first place, and do all of this with the weakest offense in the league, how good could they be if their offense can find a way to improve?
Chone Figgins was able to get a hit today, but also struck out, committed his team-leading 7th error, and ended the game by hitting into a double play. I heard a great statement on the radio today, that the only thing Figgins has done consistently in the last 5 years is frustrate the Seattle Mariners and their fans. I have to bring up something I heard on the Root Sports broadcast tonight. In the 4th inning Mike Blowers and Dave Sims were talking about Figgins during his second at bat. Blowers mentioned how frustrating it is to the player when slumping, and Dave Sims chimed in that it was “more than for the fans at home, that’s for sure.” I just wanted to go on record in saying how tired I am of Dave Sims and his cocky and condescending statements. We as fans have the right to be frustrated about how players on our team are performing, and we have the right to voice that opinion. Sims’ comment, to me, took a shot at Mariners fans. I don’t want to listen to a broadcaster who is going to take shots at a frustrated fan base for being frustrated.
With that out of the way, at the time of this post the rest of the AL West was losing or had already lost, so hopefully we won’t lose any ground after tonight’s loss. I’ll be back out tomorrow rooting for our Mariners to break their unlucky streak in Chicago and get back to the offense they showed at Safeco. Go M’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
Cliff Lee pitched another gem tonight against the Texas Rangers going all nine innings to give the Mariners a 4-2 victory down in Arlington to start a four game series. Don Wakamatsu put a new fresh lineup on the field tonight batting Chone Figgins at the bottom of the order as well as starting Mike Carp at first. Figgins responded by going 3-4 and making a great diving catch in the second inning. Carp who had 10 homers for Tacoma replaced Mike Sweeney on the roster while Sweeney tries to recover from his back problems. Wak shook up his own coaching staff by switching Lee Tinsley from first base over to third base with Mike Brumley. Milton Bradley batted second and picked up a hit, but it seems Josh Wilson would be a more natural guy to bat second. I applaud Wakamatsu for trying some new moves and just hope they work.
Offensively the Mariners had a big inning in the second when Carp lead off with a single and got forced out at second. Following that, none other than Rob Johnson picked up his first of two hits on the night setting the stage for Michael Saunders. Saunders turned on a pitch and lined a ball just over the right field fence for a 3-run homer. Figgins got on with a single and stole second but got caught trying to steal third following the blast by the tall lanky Canadian Saunders.
The Mariners picked up another run in the third with a single by Rob Johnson scoring Mike Carp who had reached base on an error and was moved up by Josh Wilson who had another 2-hit night. The rest of the night was all about Cliff Lee who just kept pounding the strike zone all night keeping the Rangers at bay. Lee pitched out of jams in both the fourth and fifth innings leaving a couple of Rangers on base both times. Cliff Lee exudes confidence on every pitch and tonight there was no doubt who was in charge.
Lee pitched 8 innings without giving up a run or a walk and thus was given the ball to finish this one out in the 9th where things got a bit dicey for the southpaw. The Rangers were able to get lucky and pick-up two runs in the ninth on sharp ground balls that made it through the infield. Jose Lopez however made a great play on a ball in the hole to get a force at second and save a run. It looked like the Rangers may have had a chance for a comeback victory after Lee dropped a ball shoveled to him by Casey Kotchman , but true to form Cliff Lee got the last out before we had to call on the recently shaky bullpen.
The AL West is bunched up at the top with the other three clubs in the division hovering just above .500. The Mariners need to win this series to stay alive. It seems we have been around 7 or 8 games back for over a month despite going through injuries, retirements and various melt-downs. For tonight we are still breathing in this race despite the endless trials this club has put itself and the die-hard fans through. http://jeffsmariners.com