Mariners lose 9-5 as we sink further into the abyss

The Mariners lost tonight 9-5 to the Chicago White Sox who completed the four game sweep using the long-ball once again to trounce our hapless sailors. I have been following this team since the early 80’s yet I never volunteered to write about them every day before 2010, and things are starting to get a bit gloomy between me and my keyboard. This season is grueling, with no end in sight as we head to Minnesota to face the Twins in their new stadium full of perky and invigorated Twins fans.

   We seem to be falling into an endless abyss of bad games, sad games, terrible games and an occasional win. This team is now officially a candidate for a 100 loss season in a year that we all thought we would at least be as good as last year. There really is no sense in reviewing the list of who sucks, who is at fault, and who needs to go anymore. The only thing we can do is attempt to keep our heads up and move-on until October. Any hope of some sort of trade in the next few days to save this club is a bit ridiculous as well.

   Of course we have the Michael Pineda and Dustin Ackley watch to speculate on to keep our interests, but outside of that it appears barring a miracle we will have to trudge on….Of course for the more sane of my readers there is always Seafair, camping, soccer and even other teams to follow. I have tried to trick myself into thinking I’m going to root for the Atlanta Braves or maybe the Padres as we head down the stretch. But of course I know come tomorrow I will be glued to the TV like you hoping that our boys will awaken from this trance and go on a little run. If nothing else I am feeling obligated to stick it out for Dave Neihaus who deserves better than this as his career winds down.

    I looked at the Tacoma Rainiers schedule today and saw that they are home Saturday night, I am thinking of heading down to watch them just to switch things up a bit. If nothing else I am curious as to what Mike Sweeney is still doing there. My only guess is that Sweeney will stay in Tacoma till the trade deadline passes just in case the Mariners manage to unload Jose Lopez or someone else,then bring him back up to Seattle. I cannot imagine that Sweeney would want to finish his career in the obscurity of AAA ball after all he has accomplished in the Bigs. These are the sort of intrigues that we have grown accustomed to this year where everything  just seems to go from unclear to murky on a regular basis….

White Sox beat Mariners again 6-5

Ozzie Guillen happy with his 1st place White Sox

The Chicago White Sox managed to come back from a 5-1 deficit to defeat the Seattle Mariners 6-5, and win the third game of the series between the two clubs. For a Mariner fan this game rates as disappointing rather than painful or just plain dumb like last night’s wipeout. Disappointing in the sense that for once the Mariners scored early jumping out to a 5-1 lead in the second inning after Chone Figgins hit his first homer of the year. Usually that would be enough for Jason Vargas to cruise to a victory, but tonight Vargas did not have his good stuff and he gave-up three homers to the first-place White Sox.

  Mark Buehrle got the start tonight for the White Sox and he too was not on his A-game though his defense did allow a couple runs to score in the first that should not have been allowed. The difference in this game was the bullpen’s of the two clubs. In the case of the Mariners Jamie Wright was brought in to relieve Vargas in the bottom half of the fifth after homers by Alexi Ramirez and Paul Konerko. Jamie Wright pitched fine until he walked the lead-off batter Juan Pierre in the 7th, the speedy then stole second and moved over to third on a sacrifice bunt by Alexi Ramirez who looks like a “Praying Mantis”. Don Wakamatsu then went to his bullpen to get Brandon League who promptly gave-up a single to Rios putting the Chisox up 6-5. In my opinion Wakamatsu left Wright in too long and should have used someone else to pitch the 7th.

   However after mulling it over I can hardly blame Wak for trying to push the envelope and allow Wright to stay in the game. For as you know the pitchers in the Mariners bullpen have been juggled around so much this year that unlike the White Sox our relievers have no clear roles. For Ozzie Guillen things are different, as he knows he can count on guys like Santos, Thornton, Putz and then Jenks in that order night after night to finish out games if his starter can get through 5 or 6 innings. This is not the case for Wakamatsu who seems to have to awkwardly configure a sequence of relievers every night. This is not likely to change soon as now Luke French has been thrown into the mix coming back up to replace Ryan Rowland-Smith who has been placed on another one of our “Mystery DL” assignments.

  At any rate the White Sox have a one game lead over the Twins who we face next and certainly have a great club worth keeping an eye on as we head into the stretch. Another team that I’m watching with amazement is the Oakland Athletics who beat the Rangers tonight. The A’s team make-up is similar to the Mariners in that it is built on pitching, defense, speed and timely hitting. Of course the big difference is that the A’s unlike our club are making it work. So we will get away from Chicago tomorrow and head on to face the Twins next as the Mariners continue to disappoint us in this long voyage…..

Mariners lose a Yawner to the White Sox 6-1

  The Chicago White Sox beat the Mariners 6-1 behind the great starting pitching of John Danks who moves to 11-7 on the year. Felix Hernandez picked up the loss and his record now stands at 7-7 on the year which pretty much removes the Mariners Ace from any more discussion of him being in the running for the Cy-Young award. This game was lop-sided from the beginning as the Mariners offense never really got rolling and we were even spared the agony of watching base-runners stranded at third as has become customary this season. No this was just a flat-out beating by a superior team in late July of a season we all wish would just go-away.

  Casey Kotchman was show-cased tonight at first and proved he has a golden glove with a beautiful leaping catch that he turned into an unassisted double-play in the bottom of the second. And my new hero Jack Wilson did manage to bring Michael Saunders in to score in the top half of the third giving the Mariners a short-lived lead. Saunders has moved his average up to .242 after tonight, and is indeed looking like he has earned his spot in the outfield as of late.

   But mostly this was just a dumb, boring game that was difficult to focus on unless of course you are Dave Sims who has a way of rooting for the other team in a not so subtle way these days which is dumb but surprisingly not as irritating as it was earlier in the year. Speaking of irritating has anyone else heard the radio commercial with Cliff Lee in it where he starts out saying “I know I have moved but”…. Now this is irritating. Can we just move on and let it go already, I mean it is one thing to read about Jamie Moyer in the local papers 5 years after he is gone, but Cliff Lee was here for only half a season and we don’t need anymore painful reminders that we suck.

   Ok so I am a little grumpy tonight, maybe I have just used a hyphen too many times in my post and it’s starting to drive me crazy along with my loyal viewers, many of which are probably placing bets to see if Jeff will make it through his Rookie Year as a Mariners Blogger without giving up or completely losing it….

  Well I have written every day since the end of March on our Mariners and have actually enjoyed writing most of my posts. This is perhaps the first one after tonight’s Yawner, where it actually felt like work so I think I’m going to call it a night and hope for a better game tomorrow in the Windy City……

Mariners finally get a clutch-hit to win 2-1 in 11!

  The Mariners avoided a sweep by the visiting Chicago White Sox winning this one 2-1 thanks to a clutch two-run single in the bottom of the 11th by Franklin Gutierrez. Felix Hernandez pitched 8 strong innings of 2-hit shutout ball before reluctantly handing the ball off to David Aardsma in the 9th. The Mariners needed this one bad and it was nice to see the smiles on the faces of the hometown boys as they celebrated their third victory in extra-inning affairs in this dreary campaign.

  The Mariners who had not scored a single run since the first inning of the Monday opener executed brilliantly in the 11th inning rally. Of course keeping with their running theme of making dumb base running mistakes, Jose Lopez got doubled-up off first in the bottom of the 9th in a play that looked like Little League. In this case Milton Bradley in to pinch-hit for Kotchman dropped a little liner into right that Andruw Jones made a diving play on. The winning run was on second and instead of going halfway with his eye on the ball, Lopez turned his back on the ball and ran to second only to allow Jones to lob the ball after he caught it to get the absent-minded Lopez. Dave Niehaus went ballistic on the radio over this one, as once again this was clearly a mental error attributed to a lack of focus.

 It looked like this game was over in the top half of the 11th when 43 year-old Omar Vizquel lined a single to right off Brandon League scoring the go-ahead run from third. But alas after going 27 innings without scoring, the Mariners pulled-off a sweet victory in the bottom of the frame. The inning started-off with Jack Wilson beating out a perfect bunt down the line and moved to second on another bunt by Ichiro. Figgins moved Wilson to third with a sharply hit single to center which Wilson watched closely before advancing to third when the ball landed. Figgins then stole second and showed us a flash of the Chone Figgins we have been waiting for all season long. With two strikes on him Franklin Gutierrez then delivered in the clutch hitting a laser shot into the gap in left center scoring the speedy Figgins to end the game and the scoring famine.

  This was a fun and interesting game outside of the Lopez goof and the 21,529 fans that were at the game celebrated along with the players as if we had just won the pennant! Now the Red Sox come in for a four-game series. The Red Sox suddenly find themselves in a bit of a jam as they are 7 games  back in the AL East due to injuries and some tough losses like today’s against the A’s. The good news is the Mariners have a chance to play spoiler with clubs like the Red Sox, and the bad news is there will be 10,000 rabid Red Sox fans attempting to drown out the mellow Seattle fans for the next four games. East Coast transplants complain all the time about our weather, passive-aggressive behavior and lack of culture here in Seattle. Of course when I hear one complain I usually offer to buy them a one-way ticket home on the spot and that usually shuts them up. If the Mariners could come-away with a split of this series I would be elated, so how about joining me down at the Safe this weekend as we show some pride in our city and club.

White Sox win 6-1 over Mariners

   The Chicago White Sox took the first game of a three game series against the Mariners tonight by a score of 6-1. The Chisox are the hottest team in baseball and have gone from being 10 out in the AL Central to first place where they are a game and a half up on Detroit. The White Sox feature a veteran squad that can go yard on you up and down the line-up. Tonight’s Mariners starter David Pauley gave-up a bomb to Alex Rios in the fifth with one aboard, and veteran reliever Jamie Wright got tagged by Andruw Jones for a solo-shot in the eighth. For Jones it was home run #401 in his long and successful career.

   The Mariners only run came in the first off the bat of Russell Branyan who drove in Chone Figgins with a double to left giving the Mariners a brief lead. The rest of the night our guys just could not pull the trigger when it counted, twice they had the sacks full and came-away with nothing late in the game. Nothing too shocking or surprising about this one or the results when you consider the two teams involved. It was nice to see the ex-Mariner Omar Vizquel over at third tonight though he did some damage against his old club with a couple of hits and a RBI.

  It is getting kind of odd as this season moves along to watch all of the players on the other teams and realize you are more familiar with many of the players on the opposing squads than our own team. While I still am loyal to whoever is wearing a Mariners jersey it all feels quite odd as guys come up and down, quit, get traded or sort of fade away. Most of the contending teams have a solid core of veteran players who have been together awhile and look and play like a team. With our squad the veterans outside of Ichiro don’t quite look like they belong here and the younger players seem to not quite know what their role is without a core group of veterans to set the tone.

   Last year Griffey and Sweeney were able to add that veteran feel to the club, and for the first half Cliff Lee was able to set the tone, but now there just seems like a big void. I have talked to a few other fans recently who agree however that this idea of dumping all the established players and playing only the young bucks is not fair to the fans. We still deserve to see a Big League club facing off with teams like the White Sox and Red Sox. If we want to see AAA ball we can drive to Tacoma. Yes we are out of the pennant race but we have some talented guys like Jack Wilson, Chone Figgins, Russell Branyan and even Milton Bradley who the Mariners have a lot of money invested in and are all Big Leaguers.

  Of course Michael Saunders should get playing time along with Justin Smoak but unless another team is ready to give us some Major League ready players in trade, any talk of just dumping guys because they are not part of the future is folly. We have already given some of our best AAA guys a chance and they proved they were not ready. When and if Dustin Ackley or Michael Pineda are ready then of course bring them up, otherwise let them continue to develop so when they are called up they are ready to compete at the higher level.

I want to give a special thanks to Helen up in Alaska who is a regular reader and sent me a message because my font was too small for her to read. As you can see I changed it and I am open to any suggestions to help make this Blog user-friendly in keeping with my motto of “Where the fans call the plays”. This site is not affiliated with any blog network, has no advertising and is an open and free forum for frank discussion about the Mariners. I am not planning on selling out so that I have to watch what I say, as I love this game too much.

  In closing tonight I want to remind you that I will be doing a live Podcast with another member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance on August 10 at 7pm PST. The BBA is a group of bloggers from around the country like me who are passionate about baseball and do this for free; I will be doing the show with a blogger for the Dodgers. There will be a call-in number and I’d love to hear from some of you loyal readers. The web address is:  till we meet again…..

Mariners avoid sweep by edging Angels 2-1 in 10

    The Mariners managed to salvage the final game of the four game series with the Angels today, winning 2-1 in extra-innings behind an outstanding performance by Jason Vargas. Vargas has proved himself to be one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dull year. Unfortunately for Vargas he walked away with his eighth no-decision on the year as he left the game with the score still tied with two-outs in the bottom of the 8th. Vargas allowed a single run off a homer by Mike Napoli in the 2nd but otherwise kept the Angels in-check fanning 9 and only allowing a single walk. Vargas was sporting a fresh haircut on this sunny day in Anaheim as he went up against Ervin Santana who pitched well himself.

  The Mariners managed to scratch-out a run in the top half of the 5th inning, scoring on a wild-pitch. Ryan Langerhans who drew a walk and stole second with one down, was then moved to third on a single by Rob Johnson setting the table for the wild-pitch that brought Langerhans in to score making it 1-1. Langerhans like a lot of our boys has a batting average that is awful but at least he does manage to get a lot of walks. The veteran journeyman got the start today in left as Michael Saunders injured his fingers the other day diving back to first.

   The only other run of the game came in the top of the 10th when the Mariners overcame another goofy base-running mistake this time by Ichiro to score only their 2nd run in extrainnings this year. Ichiro got on with a lead-off walk and manager Don Wakamatsu called for the bunt today unlike yesterday’s similar situation. After reaching second on the sacrifice bunt by Figgins, Ichiro temporarily lost his senses and attempted to advance to third on a ground ball by Gutierrez to short. Ichiro got thrown-out in a run-down leaving Gutierrez at first with two men down. At this point I began to prepare emotionally for another loss but was pleasantly surprised to see Gutierrez steal second and then come home on a clutch two-out single by Lopez.

  After Brandon League managed to hold the Angels in the 8th and 9th, Wakamatsu again went with the orthodox move and brought in his closer when his team had a lead. Several times this season Wak has brought in David Aardsma with the game tied in the 9th rather than using him for the save situation like every other manager in Baseball. And guess what….it worked! Aardsma who has been shaky for much of the year actually mixed his pitches up today instead of throwing all fastballs and managed to pick-up his 17th save. I am not sure if Jack Z. has had a talk with Wakamatsu about getting back to basics, or if our beleaguered manager has finally learned from his mistakes, but I guess it is a case of better late than never.

  The Mariners now head back to sunny Seattle to face the red-hot Chicago White Sox who find themselves in first-place in the AL Central. We certainly can play the role of spoiler the rest of the way and we owe these guys a few losses after the heart-wrenching losses we suffered to them earlier in the year. As a side note I will be attempting to get down to Cheney Stadium sometime this month to take a look at Ackley and Pineda who are still in AAA playing for the first-place Rainiers in Tacoma. Also please mark your calendars for August 10th as yours truly will be doing my first live podcast on the internet along with a fellow member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, stay tuned for more details on that event. Ciao….

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