The Comeback Trail
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
Michael Pineda threw 103 pitches tonight to dominate the Toronto Blue Jays and pick-up his first win as the Mariners beat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 in another thriller that offered a little of everything. Pineda imposed his will on the Jays tonight with his 97 mph fastball mixed in with an occasional slider to fan 7 batters in an old-fashioned pitchers duel between himself and Ricky Romero who went the whole way for the Canucks.
Coming off last nights comeback you just had to know our guys were going to be fired-up and they showed it with not only great pitching but timely hitting and a super defensive gem put in by Justin Smoak in a wild 8th inning to save a run. Offensively the Mariners manged to get to Romero in the third thanks to Ryan Langerhans 2-run homer his third on the year coupled with a clutch RBI single by Milton Bradley. I said earlier in the spring that this team was going to get a few surprising performances by players we would least suspect and at this point Ryan Langerhans is certainly one of those guys on a team desperate for power.
Erick Wedge shook-up the lineup tonight by not only giving Jack Cust the night off but batting Jack Wilson in the second spot. I would not be surprised to see Bradley in at DH and Saunders and Langerhans roaming the outfield for awhile at least until Franklin Gutierrez comes back. And yes I am even starting to like Michael Saunders believe it or not, perhaps he needed to be playing in front of a crowd full of fellow Canadians to start to shine, but the kid is for real, and is making a statement with his glove and bat so far.
Another youngster who shined tonight was Justin Smoak who made an over the shoulder catch on a pop-fly in foul territory in the 8th then spun and threw a strike home where the speedy Corey Patterson ran into a brick wall by the name of Miguel Olivo who had a ” Take no Prisoners” attitude in guarding home with this beautiful bang-up play. Justin Smoak is indeed coming into his own and we may see him moving-up to the 3 or 4 hole before long, that is unless Ryan Langerhans continues to be the big-bopper on this club.
Of course the big story tonight was the performance by Michael ” The Horse” Pineda who seems to be realizing his own potential quicker than expected this year as evidenced by his demeanor on the mound. Pineda came out in the 8th with runners on and Chris Ray was able to coax the pop-up doubleplay off the bat of the fearsome Jose Bautista in a critical situation with the game on the line. Brandon League came in to shut down the Jays in the 9th as the Mariners bullpen continues to shutdown the opposition in fine form. The box-score will give you all the details for those of you so inclined:Full Box.
The Mariners got some bad news today as it was learned that Adam Moore will be out for 4-6 months with his knee injury and we wish him well. Also the division rival Texas Rangers lost Josh Hamilton with a broken arm which is a crushing blow for the Rangers who also lost to the Tigers today.
So the Mariners are trying to fight their way back to .500 and now are 4-7 with a chance for the sweep Wednesday afternoon with Jason Vargas on the mound trying to rebound from his last outing. For me this will be my Opening Day for 2011 and I will be down at the Safe rooting for the M’s to use their brooms on the Jays. Feel free to tweet me at : jeffsmariners if you happen to be in the crowd. GoM’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
The Mariners snapped their seven-game losing streak with a dramatic come from behind win over the Toronto Blue Jays 8-7, thanks to a lot of walks and a clutch two-out 2-run game winning double off the bat of Luis Rodriguez in the bottom of the 9th! Rodriguez who came into the game for an injured Chone Figgins delivered the biggest hit of the season for the struggling Mariners, in a game that Toronto led 7-0 until the 7th inning when Milton “Ear Plus” Bradley broke the ice with a solo home run to make it 7-1.
The Mariners scored 5 more runs in the 8th inning, three of which came on consecutive bases-loaded walks which should be some sort of a record, and two more runs thanks to a clutch 2-run single by Justin Smoak. All this lead to the dramatic 9th inning where Michael Saunders lead-off the inning with a double and was moved to third on a bunt by Brenden Ryan. Adam Kennedy came up next but grounded-out weakly, then Ichiro walked and stole second to set the table for the showdown that had what was left of the 13,056 fans at Safeco on their feet screaming and stomping.
Luis Rodriguez the veteran utility man battled for 10 pitches before driving a ball into the gap in right field to set off a celebration on the field that rivaled a World Series win celebration for our valiant Mariners. This is exactly what Erick Wedge and his boys needed to start turning this ship around and getting her on course for 2011.
The Mariners starter Felix Hernandez got roughed-up in his start tonight but due to the miraculous finish he escapes without picking-up the loss. The Blue Jays and their multitude of Canadian fans have to be shaking their heads after this one as it appeared that the hapless Mariners were doomed to extend their losing streak to 8 before the wild 8th inning. I guess 8 is the magic number tonight and this is the sort of game that can turn things around for a team in a funk.
I have to confess I was just getting ready to write another doomsday Blog about this lost season before the walk parade in the 8th, but I guess it just goes to show that the old saying ” Don’t give up 5 minutes before the miracle” holds true even in baseball! So we live to fight another day with this dramatic 8-7 comeback win over Toronto under our belts to build on…My Oh My! http://jeffsmariners.com
The New York Yankees managed to avoid being swept by the Seattle Mariners in an afternoon game today thanks to a 2-run homer from ex-Mariner Alex Rodriguez. After losing the first two games of this series to the Mariners, the Yankees sent their Ace CC Sabathia to the mound today to stop the bleeding. Sabathia faced Ryan Rowland-Smith who managed to keep this one close through his six innings of work. Rowland-Smith gave up 5 hits today including a home run to Robinson Cano in the 4th inning with 2 out and no one on. Besides the homer to Cano who is having a MVP type season, the big Aussie pitched well despite receiving no run support from the players behind him on the field.
Sabathia also allowed only five hits on the day silencing the Mariners bats which had been hot in this series up until this game. The Mariners only managed three hits till the 8th inning as the Yanks cruised to what looked like would be a complete-game shutout of their own. However in the 8th Josh Bard walked and moved to second on a single by Ichiro, setting the stage for Russell Branyon. The Muscle came through with a clutch 2-out single to drive in both runners tying the game 2-2. It appeared that the Mariners were back in it but for some reason Don Wakamatsu decided to pull reliever Brian Sweeney who pitched another run-free 7th, instead bringing in David Aardsma. This decision by Wak proved to be fatal as Aardsma once again choked giving up a 2-run bomb to Alex Rodriguez to seal the fate of the Mariners today. Aardsma gave A-Rod a fastball up that he dropped just over the short right field fence setting the stage for Mariano Rivera.
Rivera came jogging in to do what he has become the best at, namely shutting down opposing teams to preserve leads. Up until the A-Rod bomb and Rivera’s appearance, this series did not seem like the same Yankees team we are used to. But the Bronx Bombers still have their old-guard heroes that seem to have a flair for the dramatic, as well as the killer-instinct. Despite the loss today the Mariners come away with another series win and were in today’s game right up until the end. Hopefully our boys can head over to Detroit and continue playing the sort of competitive ball that they have been playing for the past couple of weeks.http://jeffsmariners.com
Tagged: Alex Rodriguez, Mariners, Robinson Cano, Russell Branyon, Yankees
The Seattle Mariners shutout the New York Yankees 7-0 in front of 46,309 stunned fans in the Bronx. Felix Hernandez used his wicked slider mixed in with his lively fastball to blank the Yankees giving up only 2 hits en route to his third complete-game of the year. Hernandez kept the AL East leading Yankees big bats silent for the second night in a row, following Cliff Lee’s similar performance in the first game of the three game series. Hernandez who had some rough outings earlier in the year is definitely hitting his stride in the month of June delivering perhaps his best showing of the 2010 campaign.
The Mariners offense was back on track for the second night in a row as well giving King Felix a seven run cushion to work with. In a role reversal of sorts the Mariners came up with 4 long-balls tonight, including 2 from young Michael Saunders and one each from Milton Bradley and Russell Branyon. Bradley delivered the first bomb in the top of the second inning to set the tone for the surging Mariners who moved to 33-44 on the year with tonight’s sweet victory. In the next inning Michael Saunders came up with his first homer followed by an RBI single off the bat of Jose Lopez who is quietly finding his stroke, making it 3-0. Hernandez cruised through the middle innings toying with the powerful Bronx Bombers continuing to add to his strikeout total which would eventually reach 11.
In the top of the 7th after Chone Figgins singled and stole second, Russell “The Muscle” Branyon blasted his first home run since returning to the Mariners and suddenly the Mariners were up 5-0. It was nice to see the burly Branyon hit his 11th homer of the year in only his second game back to help silence the critics who second guessed this move. But the night was not yet quite over for the Mariners offense as Michael Saunders went on to add another two-run blast in the eighth inning. Hitting two homers in one night at Yankee stadium will go a long way in boosting the confidence level for youngster from B.C.
This past few weeks have felt like a new season for the Mariners, and for the last two nights the Mariners bats have given the run support to their Aces that hasn’t been there for most of the season. We still have eleven games to go before the All-Star break and it’s entirely feasible that our boys could pass-up the Oakland A’s in the standings before the second-half of the season starts. But for now it is one game at a time, starting with tomorrow mornings final of this series with C.C. Sabathia going against Ryan Rowland-Smith. You can bet the Yankees have had enough of losing to the upstarts from Seattle, Ryan Rowland-Smith will need to continue to pitch as well as he has done lately to give the Mariners a sweep in the Bronx.
Meanwhile the Cliff Lee saga drags on one more day with the contenders posturing in the press with rumors, in an effort to try to see if they can get the Mariners to settle for prospects. The Mariners have let it be known through channels that we are looking for a Major League- ready middle of the order bat. I applaud Jack Zduriencik for playing his cards close to his chest, holding out for what we need. In reality if we can keep playing winning ball a good case can be made for keeping Cliff Lee. More will be revealed as the summer sun grows warmer……..http://jeffsmariners.com
Tagged: Cliff Lee, Felix Hernandez, Mariners, Michael Saunders, Yankees
The Seattle Mariners won the first game of a three game series against the New York Yankees 7-4 tonight. The Mariners who are currently in last place in the AL West came into the Bronx as definite underdogs to the storied Yankees who currently sit on top of the competitive AL East. Cliff Lee got the start tonight against young Phil Hughes in front of 45,780 fans who produced a dull roar in the background tonight as the Mariners managed to have one of their best nights offensively of the season. Lee did not have his best stuff tonight as was evident early in the game where Cliff Lee started out several Yankees batters with a ball instead of his normal 0-1 count. Cliff Lee who is on everyone’s mind with the trade deadline approaching proved he was human tonight giving up a walk for the first time in 38 innings, as well as allowing 3 earned runs including two homers to Nick Swisher. Lee who was interviewed after the game tipped his hand regarding his desire to play for a winning team when he said “It is fun playing in front of a knowledgeable fan base that doesn’t need a tele-prompter to know when to cheer”. Well Cliff try sitting in the stands with them for 25 years! You do deserve to play on a winning team in the limelight and the Mets apparently want you. But hey can you just stick around for a few more starts to make things more interesting for those of us who do love the game and the way you do your job?
Offensively the Mariners looked aggressive most of the night with the exception of a couple of base running gaffes early in the game that didn’t cost us anything but looked a bit bush-league. Russel Branyon was in the lineup tonight and though he didn’t do anything spectacular he did get a hit along with everyone else on the team tonight which is the first time I remember that happening all season. Franklin Gutierrez provided the only home run for the Mariners in the top of the fourth; otherwise it was a team effort in getting runs scored. Rob Johnson had a pair of doubles tonight and narrowly missed a third in his last at-bat, nice to see him produce. Another guy who produced was Jack Wilson who knocked in a couple of runs with a two-out single in the 6th inning. Wilson has come back from his injury playing good defense and has boosted his average up to .273 which is third on the club.
The Mariners managed to keep the crowd subdued for most of this game until the bottom of the ninth when the Yankees put a little rally together. After Posada doubled in Robinson Cano making it 7-4 with one-out the energy in Yankee stadium changed as the fans smelled blood. However after a quick visit to the mound by Rick Adair, Lee settled down and got the final two outs sending the fans home shaking their heads wondering who those guys from Seattle were. Well to be honest it felt like a different team to me tonight as well and I believe the addition of a genuine power-hitter batting third made a difference. We shall see as this season moves along as the pressure is not only off the other hitters to be who they are not, but in all reality the pressure is off the whole team when you are in last place at the moment. Hopefully our team can play looser, have fun and win some more games like they did tonight. http://jeffsmariners.com
Tagged: Cliff Lee, Jack Wilson, New York Yankees, seattle mariners
The Seattle Mariners edged the Milwaukee Brewers in front of a sold-out crowd at Miller stadium today 5-4. The win by the Mariners snapped a five game winning streak for the Brewers and moved the Mariners to 9-8 in interleague play on the year. Doug Fister returned to the lineup today and had a gutsy performance despite the fact he obviously did not have the command of his pitches we saw earlier in the year. Fister threw 92 pitches in his four innings of work giving up 4 runs on 5 hits and walking one. The Mariners were able to stake Fister to an early lead scoring a run in the second off an RBI fielder’s choice off the bat of Rob Johnson with the bases loaded. In the third inning the struggling Milton Bradley hit a monster home run to left field putting the Mariners up 2-0. Of course when you are playing a club like the Brewers who lead the NL in home runs, a 2-0 lead is not enough and the Brewers came out swinging in the third.
One of the quirks of interleague play is the fact that NL pitchers actually have some experience swinging the bat versus AL pitchers who usually come to the plate without a clue. In today’s match-up Brewers starting pitcher the veteran Randy Wolf started a rally in the third with a double to right. Rickie Weeks then reached base on a walk and came around along with Wolf on a double by slugger Corey Hart. Hart then scored on an error by Fister making it 3-2. Big Prince Fielder sporting his sunglasses at the plate then connected for a solo shot to give the Brewers a 4-2 edge and send the goofy Brewer down the slide into the awaiting vat of beer.
At this point in most Mariners games this year it would probably be time to go mow the lawn or take a walk around Greenlake. But our boys proved last week’s win streak was no fluke and came roaring back in the top of the fourth to take back the lead. With one down pesky Chone Figgins reached first on a walk and came around to score on a double by Franklin Gutierrez. Jose Lopez who is steadily heating up, then blasted another home run for the Mariners and we went up 5-4 to stay. Of course the big story of the day was the return to the mound of 36 year- old Brian Sweeney who got handed the ball in fifth inning after Fister gutted-out the fourth. Brian Sweeney last pitched for the Mariners in 2003 and came up from Tacoma where he was a dependable hand on the farm club. Sweeney moved the ball around the plate changing speeds to keep the Brewers bats silent for 4 innings giving up only 1 hit and most importantly not allowing a run. The Mariners may have found the missing link in an otherwise shaky bullpen.
Though we were not able to score any more runs today it was entertaining to watch the famous sausage race which is way more entertaining than anything our Moose ever does! By the way what does a Moose have to do with a Mariner or anything nautical for that matter? Also entertaining was watching Brewers reliever Todd Coffey sprint in from the bullpen in the top of the 7th apparently he got the call late or was snacking on a brat himself, either way it was quite a sight. Unfortunately for the big fellow he lost a foot race to first base when Rob Johnson beat out an infield single off him-maybe a case of too many sausages or brews for the lumbering giant. I am hoping you get a chance to watch the game tomorrow as we finish out Interleague play. The whole set-up at Miller field is like a theme park for beer and sausages and the fans and some of the players seem like they fit right in. After this series we move on to Yankee stadium where things will be a little more intense but if the Mariners can play well-rounded games like today it could be interesting. Http://jeffsmariners.com
Tagged: Brian Sweeney, Doug Fister, Mariners, Milwaukee Brewers
The Seattle Mariners completed a three game sweep of the visiting Cincinnati Reds 1-0 on a rainy Fathers day under the roof at Safeco field. The Mariners pitching once again steered the ship to victory with Ryan Rowland-Smith navigating the first 6 1/3 innings of shutout ball. The Mariners swept a three game series for the first time since the Baltimore series on April 19-21st. Coming into the game today the Reds were batting .276 to lead the National League compared to .234 for the Mariners. But just like the previous two games the Reds were kept in-check by the Mariners pitching staff who managed to get just enough offense behind them to push the Reds down to 2 ½ games out of first in the NL Central. Unfortunately for the Mariners despite winning their fourth game in a row, they stay 13 games back in the AL West as the Texas Rangers won their eighth game in a row.
The Mariners scored their only run of the game when pesky Chone Figgins smoked an infield single, and then was moved to third on a single by Lopez through the whole on the right side of the infield, created by the speedy Figgins stealing second on the play. Milton Bradley was unable to bring Figgins home leaving the task to Franklin Gutierrez who had the only RBI of the game with his sacrifice fly to center. Josh Wilson did pick-up another single in the inning but the Mariners rally was thwarted by the struggling Mike Carp who may be the next Mariner to go back to Tacoma. Carp gave-way to Casey Kotchman later in the game allowing Kotchman to set the record for most consecutive games by a first-baseman without an error at 239. Congratulations are in order for Casey Kotchman who has struggled at the plate this year but continues to dazzle with the leather.
The Reds starter Aaron Harang went 6 innings and only gave up the one run in the bottom of the fourth. His opponent today Ryan Rowland-Smith managed to keep the Reds scoreless despite giving up 5 walks. It was nice to see Smith pitch effectively for the second outing in a row, and he may very well have won back his spot in the rotation with this gutsy performance. Smith showed some raw emotion after getting a strike-out in the sixth inning to pitch out of a jam. Brandon League came in to relieve Smith in the 7th after the big Aussie had walked the first two Reds. The Reds executed a perfect sacrifice bunt and suddenly the game was on the line with runners on second and third with only one out. Brandon League had other ideas today and came right after the next two batters with his A-game. Throwing 97 mph pitches with movement, League struck-out Cabrera and Phillips to end the threat.
Brandon League after four days rest was virtually untouchable today and he mowed down the dejected Reds in the 8th before handing the ball over to David “Dutch” Aardsma. Fortunately Aardsma has also been able to rest due to the dazzling performances by Lee and Hernandez in the first two games of the series. It was nice to see Aardsma put the Reds away 1, 2, 3 in the ninth to close this game and series out for the Mariners who are quietly gathering up a little momentum before the Chicago Cubs come to town Tuesday. It is interesting to note that Jack Wilson is back in the clubhouse after his rehabilitation stint, sending Matt Tuiasosopo back to Tacoma. The Mariners will have to figure out how to keep both of the Wilson’s on the field as the Paperboy has earned a spot in the lineup. Also Mike Sweeney is back itching to contribute and I expect to see him in some capacity when Sweet Lou and the Cubs make their first appearance in 8 years at Safeco field. This has been a tough year and with Texas and the Angels playing for keeps now it will be hard for the Mariners to get back in the race. But for the next couple of days it is just kind of nice to think about sweeping the Reds and only allowing them 1 run in three games. http://jeffsmariners.com
Tagged: Brandon League, Casey Kotchman, Cincinnati Reds, Mariners, Ryan Rowland-Smith
Hideki Matsui connected for three hits tonight including a 2-run homer in the second inning against Mariners starter Ian Snell as the Angels took the first game of this weekend series. Matsui who came over from the Yankees was matched hit for hit by Ichiro, unfortunately Ichiro had two of his hits negated by Chone Figgins who doubled up Ichiro in both the first and third innings. Joe Saunders who started for the Angels was able to pitch out of several jams early on in this one and now goes to 4-6 on the year.The Angels went on to score 7 runs on the night, and the Mariners only managed to put up 1 run in the fifth inning on an otherwise quiet night for the offense.
The Mariners starting rotation has been strong this year with the exception of the fifth starter. Ian Snell is now 0-4 on the year and appears to get rattled easily with runners on base in addition to other issues that do not seem to be working themselves out. However the skipper Don Wakamatsu on the radio tonight in the post-game interview sounds like he has had enough. It was a bit disturbing to hear the manager talking about Snell’s problem with throwing strikes and the slow tempo of the games he pitches, then Snell coming on the air and basically dismissing his own manager. Snell is obviously on his way to being dismissed and will hopefully be replaced by Luke French who is 6-2 with a 1.93 ERA for AAA Tacoma.
Wakamatsu on the other hand seems to have some issues of his own as far as being able to be direct with his players as far as what is expected of them. The reports coming in that he and Griffey did not speak for the last week of Griffey’s stay with the team is another example of poor communication, though Griffey I’m sure had a part in some of that situation. It appears that Wak is always thinking which is good, but not good if the players are not sure of their role with the team and what is expected of them at any given time. The catcher situation is another example of the guessing game that is going on as far as who will end up as the starting catcher. This is not good for team morale and at some point a decision has to be made even if it ends up to be Rob Johnson the clear favorite of Wakamatsu despite the fact that all three of the other catchers have performed better this year.
This is a big series and unfortunately Doug Fister will be out tomorrow due to a sore shoulder, instead Ryan Rowland-Smith will get the call. It would be a perfect time to bring up Luke French, but Smith seems to be another project that somehow keeps hanging around for no apparent reason. In addition to sending my daily posts to the Seattle PI, I have been picked up by the folks over at Mariners Mayhem part of the Bloguin network, and wanted to thank them and remind my readers to go over and check out all the great things going on at that Blog at www.marinersmayhem.com .http://jeffsmariners.com