Felix fans 13, M’s win third in a row 2-0!

   The Mariners won their third game in a row tonight 2-0 as Felix Hernandez struckout 13 Athletics in front of 21,377 fans at Safeco Field. Hernandez looked like he might have a rough outing from the onset of this one when he loaded the sacks with A’s in the first with nobody out. But King Felix got the first of his 13 strike-outs against A’s clean-up hitter Jack Cust, then coaxed a groundball out of Kevin Kouzmanoff that turned into an inning ending double-play to get out of the jam. In the post-game interview Mariners new skipper Daren Brown stated that when Felix got out of the first without allowing a run: “That was probably the game” . Indeed it was the defining moment of this contest, as after the first inning Felix had command of all of his pitches especially his change-up which he used to get 10 of his 13 strike-outs.

   The Oakland A’s starter 22 year-old Brett Anderson pitched a nice game as well holding the Mariners scoreless till the sixth inning. Ichiro started the 6th off with an infield single to short and then moved to second on a nice bunt by Figgins. Lopez who was hitting in the DH spot then grounded out to third leaving it up to Franklin Gutierrez who managed to coax a walk off of Anderson. Daren Brown had wisely dropped Casey Kotchman in the order to fifth tonight, and Casey delivered from this spot with a clutch single to right, which scored Ichiro to give Felix all he would need tonight with the one run. For the rest of the game it was all about Hernandez who picked-up his 8th win tonight and showed the confidence of a mature Big-League Ace. On most teams Felix would have 15 wins by now to compliment his 2.71 ERA. But Felix is a champion with a long bright future ahead of him and he showed a lot of composure tonight to go along with his emotional displays after getting big outs this evening.

   After leaving his Ace on the mound for 8 innings and 110 pitchers “Downtown Daren Brown” made the decision to go with his closer David Aardsma in the 9th and he was warming up as the Mariners came to bat in the bottom of the 8th. Felix was able to relax a bit when his team put together a little rally in the 8th which resulted in another insurance run thanks to an RBI by Gutierrez to bring Chone Figgins home making it 2-0. In the top of the 9th David Aardsma picked-up his 6th save in a row by mixing-up his pitches as he has done recently to put down the A’s in order.

   I cannot remember the last time the Mariners won three games in a row but it could not come at a better time for this team and its fans considering all that has gone on recently. New manager Daren Brown seems to be willing to make changes like moving Casey Kotchman down to fifth in the batting order like he did tonight. He also did not hesitate to bring his closer in to finish this game like any other manager would do in a similar situation. Though it is certainly too early to tell, my gut feeling is the players are showing respect for their new manager already, and hopefully we could see a change in the way things have been transpiring on the field for the rest of the campaign.

  Believe it or not we actually have a chance to sweep a series tomorrow before heading out on the road. I plan on being down there with my whisk broom which has been gathering dust this year to watch our boys attempt to win for the 4th time in a row at 1240 pm, see ya there! Http://jeffsmariners.com

Who’s on first?

 

Well we have a few days off for the All-Star break giving everyone a chance to relax, reflect and maybe clear up a few things before heading into the second-half of the season. I am sure the players and coaches will be glad to have a few days to rest and see their loved ones. As for me and most of the other Mariners fans I have been talking to we need to try and unwind and try to decipher all that has happened in this bizarre and mostly difficult to watch first half.

   I thought it might be a good time for some comedy relief and as I saw our new first baseman Justin Smoak’s name penciled into the DH slot today, I thought of the old Abbot and Costello routine  Who’s on First?  which is a funny, famous old baseball skit that I found on Utube that is worth watching if you have never seen it before:

 

Who’s On First?

   As we look at the situation in regards to the Mariners in 2010 it gets almost as comical and confusing. First off last year we had Russell Branyan a fan favorite who hit 31 dingers before going down with a bad back. Branyan tells everyone he wants to come back to Seattle, but Jack Z. signs Casey Kotchman and Branyan languishes unsigned while all the fans wonder if he will be back but he eventually goes to the Indians. Casey Kotchman comes in and has a nice April with the bat combined with his great glove but then tanks in May and June.

   Don Wakamatsu who is busy putting out fires everywhere with Milton Bradley, Eric Byrnes and the Griffey fiasco feels the heat and gives Mike Sweeney a couple shots at first. Sweeney did ok defensively and was swinging a hot bat at the time so it looks he may get the job. But that didn’t last long as Sweeney disappears from the scene and we get to see old Casey back at first for awhile, and he still can’t hit.

   The next solution is to try Josh Wilson at first after he sort of lost his “Paperboy” job when the senior Wilson comes back from his odd rehab assignment complete with stories of him retiring. Josh Wilson now a vagabond with a hot bat didn’t last long at first but played ok there. But Casey Kotchman does get to come back long enough to set the all-time record for games played at first without an error. Of course who can forget the AAA call-up of Mike Carp another solution at first who looked…..well AAA….and the show goes on and on and on…..

   Meanwhile Jack Z. is cooking up another surprise and lands Russell Branyan again to come back and play…….Where else…First Base.

   Ok so now it’s solved Branyan will play first, hit for power and we will forget all about our platinum gloved but  no-stick 1st baseman Casey Kotchman……or so we thought till suddenly in the last couple of weeks Casey Kotchman has found his stroke and is starting to hit for power and average. Great! We can DH Branyan and mighty Casey can take over first again and this thing will be settled once and for all……

    But alas this riddle has a life of its own so it seems, and Jack Z. being the crafty fellow he is makes a huge trade last week sending Cliff Lee and Mark Lowe with 2 million dollars to Texas for 3 prospects and…..you guessed it a young 1st baseman by the name of Justin Smoak who Jack Z. says he has had his eyes on all along……hmmm

    So Justin Smoak arrives in Seattle with much buzz and anticipation by the local fans wondering what gives with this move and Don Wakamatsu the friendly guy he is announces to the press a few days ago that “Justin Smoak” will be the new first baseman of the future. Don is funny that way and likes a fella to know he has faith in him and that once a “belief system” is declared that something magic happens. So ok the fans are exhausted by now with trying to figure out “Who’s on First?” and we hated losing Lee for this kid, but what the heck Don said he is his everyday first baseman so that is that……….

    Then just today I almost fell out of my game-watching chair when I see that Dustin Smoak is DHing today and Casey Kotchman is back at first! Smoak goes 1-4 and Kotchman goes 3-4 with a homer……..So you tell me “Who’s on first” in the second half of the season? http://jeffsmariners.com

Mariners take an All-Star break after losing 8-2

  The Seattle Mariners lost an afternoon game to the New York Yankees 8-2 today before heading into the All-Star break. Today’s game was all Yankees as C.C. Sabathia had his good stuff today topping out at 98mph. Ryan Rowland-Smith got the start for the Mariners and the defense behind him was shoddy aided by the elusive Seattle summer sun which added a few more base runners for the first place NY Yankees. On a day when the rest of the world watched Spain win the World Cup, over 40,000 fans got to see the clear difference between a contending team and one that is going to have a long year.

  Interestingly enough Casey Kotchman went 3-4 including a solo home run, getting the start at first pushing Russell Branyan to the bench. Newcomer Justin Smoak picked-up his first hit as a Mariner and is now 1-8 since coming over. While it is too early to tell on Smoak, It is a bit perplexing to wonder why we traded for another guy to play 1st after picking-up Russell Branyan and Casey Kotchman seems to have found his stroke.

  There are a lot of questions to ask besides who will play first base, such as who will be the catcher, left fielder, the bullpen mess and a rotation that seems up in the air. Also we seem to have an extra Wilson and a new Sweeney coupled with Mike Sweeney due to come-off the DL to play where? The Mariners did have a great game Saturday night and there is some talent on this club. But will it be enough to avoid a 100 loss season? I hope so as I am committed to finishing out my rookie year as a Mariners Blogger.

   I am hoping to make a few improvements over the break to make this site more user-friendly and I welcome any imput from my readers. Would you like a bigger font? Perhaps Podcasts or video blogging? Do you want more stories from the past or from around the rest of baseball? This site is evolving along with my journalistic and creative style. I will be making it easier to follow this site on Twitter, Facebook and to receive daily feeds via RSS or e-mail.

  So now it is time to try to clear our heads of all the negativity surrounding this tough first-half and try to stay positive on this season. Now that the weather is beautiful we will all have other things to enjoy here in the Great Northwest, but I know some of you will be following this team right up till the last-pitch and I plan on continuing the voyage with you. http://jeffsmariners.com

Mariners bats provide fireworks in 8-1 win

  The Seattle Mariners offense exploded for 8 runs against the Detroit Tigers today allowing the Mariners to salvage one game of this series with the 8-1 win. Cliff Lee pitched another great game, going 8 innings and fanning 11 Tigers to tie his personal career high. Lee, who along with Ichiro were named to the AL All-star team today, had this one in control all day allowing just one run in the first. At this point it is getting hard to watch Cliff Lee pitch knowing each outing may be his last, sort of like the uneasy feeling I had as a young sailor prior to heading off to sea and trying to shut down my affection for my woman in order to carry-on without her once I left my home port. Lee is scheduled to make a start next Friday against the Yankees prior to the All-star break where he hopefully will still be wearing a Mariners uniform.

  It was nice to see the Mariners give their starter some backing today led by Russell Branyon and Casey Kotchman who each launched 3-run cherry bombs into the stands at Comerica Park. Branyon got the start as DH today and came up with Ichiro and Chone Figgins on base in the third, connecting for his second home run as a Mariner off of Tigers starter Jeremy Bonderman. Casey Kotchman who apparently had a talk with Don Wakamatsu a few days ago pleading his case for playing time, launched his first home run since April 18th with two aboard in the fifth inning. Kotchman along with Figgins each collected three hits apiece today as part of a 15-hit barrage by the light hitting Mariners. Today’s game coupled with the 7-run outbursts against the Yankees earlier in the week feel almost like teases for a fan base that has been fed a steady diet of low-scoring affairs by the Mariners for most of the year. Today’s win sends the club home with a respectable 4-5 record from this road trip against three tough teams following a great home stand.

    Today marked the 81st game of the season and the official midway point of a year that as many of you fans know has been difficult to watch despite the relatively good ball we have been playing for the last three weeks. The Kansas City Royals are in town this week followed by another series with the Yankees where all the ex-pats from New York will be out in full force. Somehow I thought we would be in the thick of a pennant race at this point in the year rather than the usual routine of fading away into oblivion just as the sun comes out in Seattle.

   Either way I am going to hang in there and continue to write these posts till October as I grind my way through my rookie year as a Mariners blogger. I want to thank all of you who have hung with me through this voyage thus far despite all the spelling errors and sometimes odd threads of thought. If all goes according to plans I will continue to improve and upgrade this site including adding podcasts so you can hear the voice behind the curtain after the All-star break. We still have a lot of baseball left to play as the barometer starts to rise in the Seattle area with calm weather and sunshine ahead. http://jeffsmariners.com

Happy 4th of July!

Mariners complete sweep of Reds 1-0

Mariners sweep Reds in Seattle!

    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 RowlandSmith 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

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