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.

Happy 4th of July!

Detroit motors over Mariners 6-1

   The Detroit Tigers led by pitching Ace Justin Verlander beat the visiting Seattle Mariners at Comerica Park by a score of 6-1 tonight. Verlander who had struggled in his two previous outings against the Mariners had his good stuff tonight striking out 10 and walking only 1 batter. The Tigers are in the thick of the AL central race along with the Twins and the resurgent White Sox. The Mariners had another poor outing by their starting pitcher, this time it was Jason Vargas who followed a weak performance by Doug Fister the night before. Vargas was no match for the powerful Tigers lineup and was charged with 6 earned runs tonight before handing the ball to Brian Sweeney.

  As you may remember coming into spring training both Vargas and Fister were considered  question marks as far as making the starting rotation. Both pitchers had great starts in the early part of the season with several great outings apiece. The big question now is whether the burst of brilliance by these two was just a fluke and that they are indeed just average vs. good pitchers? In baseball a game of statistics it is hard to escape reality over a significant period of time as the numbers don’t lie, especially in today’s world of advanced analytics.

   Are Vargas and Fister indeed just reverting to the sort of pitchers that they actually are? Only time will tell but if indeed these two were pitching over their heads early on, then the second half of this season could be really ugly indeed. As we all know this year’s offense is not much to brag about and tonight was no exception as the Mariners only managed the 1 run and went down on strikes a total of 12 times tonight. There were a few innings where we had a chance to rally such as the 4th and the 7th , but once again no one stepped up to deliver a clutch-hit. After a nice two-week period where we went 9-5 the lads seem to be lost at sea again.

    I was thinking about all the players I have watched and read about over the years and I have come up with a little rating system that I thought I would share with the readers. Now this is by no means a quantifiable saber metrics system, but it works for me in general to classify players.

  1: Poor players: Major League talent, inconsistent, low desire level. Ex: Rob Johnson

  2: Average players: Major League talent, desire to win but inconsistent: Ex: Jose Lopez

  3: Good players: Major league talent, desire to win, consistent: Ex: Franklin Gutierrez

  4: Great players: Major league talent, strong desire to win, consistent in the clutch: Ex: Cliff Lee

Of course there are variations of this but in my mind there are these 4 distinct categories of players, with the majority over the years leaning towards average or good. The poor players usually don’t stick around to long with the Mariners and coincidently the great ones seem to move on from the Mariners after awhile……hmmm

  So it does look like we will get to see Cliff Lee pitch at least one more game in a Mariner uniform as we try to salvage a game out of this series before returning home to play the Royals. I have heard conflicting reports of whether or not Eric Bedard is going to make his first start of the year on Tuesday or not. At this point it is almost anti-climatic considering he is coming back to a last place team rather than returning to help the Mariners down the stretch and into the play-offs like we all were anticipating a few months ago. Anyway happy Fourth of July everyone!

Sweeney sparks Mariners comeback over Tigers 5-4

Today I joined 22,422 of my closest friends down at the Safe to enjoy an indoor matinée played out on a grass field between white lines on another gloomy Seattle late May afternoon. In the first 8 innings it looked like the visiting gladiators from Motown were toying with our Mariners from the soggy Northwest before finally unloading their lethal bats on us. But for some reason the Detroit Tigers were unable to put the hurt on our boys despite hitting line drives all over the park that were just playable by our crafty sailors.

  Jason Vargas managed to keep this game close by going 5 full innings and giving up only 2 runs despite not having his best stuff. On the other hand Jason Bonderman pitching for the Tigers only got touched for a single run in the second and it looked like he would coast to an easy victory. The Tigers have a tough line-up and got a long ball from Ordonez and added two more in the sixth off of Ryan Rowland-Smith, who should have gotten out of the inning were it not for the error by Jose Lopez.

 But then came the bottom of the 8th…. Franklin Gutierrez lashed a lead-off single to right, followed by a strikeout from Milton Bradley. This brought up Mike Sweeney who has been on a tear lately and played an awkward first base today. Mike Sweeney has a knack for the dramatic and today was no different as he unloaded for a 2-run bomb that suddenly made it 4-3. Jose Lopez managed to get on with a single to bring up Rob Johnson who replaced Josh Bard who came out with an injury earlier in the game. Johnson is sometimes difficult to watch at the plate and he knows he is on the bubble with the Mariners. However today Johnson managed to drive a double off the wall in left and we had runners at second and third with the “Paper Boy” Josh Wilson coming to bat. Josh Wilson continued to make us forget about ailing Jack Wilson with a clutch 2-run RBI single that put the Mariners up for good at 5-4.

  With the 2-game sweep the Mariners pulled to 7 1/2  games back of the Texas Rangers who lost today. But more importantly the last 2 games have shown everyone that the Mariners, though still ten games under .500 have not given up on the season and in fact are starting to gel. We now have a day off  before heading to Anaheim for a 3-game series with the Angels. This was a decent home stand where we went 4-3 and could well be the turning point of the season. Between now and the All-Star break the Mariners have a chance to get back in the race slowly but surely with the formula of good pitching and timely hitting. Jose Lopez and Chone Figgins will be a key component of any comeback and they both are overdue to break-out and start producing like they are capable of.  It looks like our ship hasn’t sunk yet so remember: Hope Floats!

Milton Bradley leads Mariners over Tigers 5-3

 Milton Bradley the ugly duckling of baseball may have finally found a home here in Mayberry with Skyscrapers-Seattle. Bradley drove in 3 runs tonight including a 2-run homer and looks like he is having fun as well! The Detroit Tigers even with the imposing  Jason Verlander on the mound, couldn’t contain the live bat of Bradley who lined the first pitch he saw in the first over the right field fence to set the tone for this one. The Mariners sent the dependable Doug Fister up against a Tigers line-up that was missing slugger Miguel Cabrera, and as usual Fister kept his end of the bargain going seven strong innings before handing the ball off to the bullpen.

 Though Fister may not have had his best stuff he seems to have the confidence to pitch effectively like a seasoned veteran. Fister gave up a homer to Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge in the sixth, but we answered back in the bottom of the inning with a little lightning of our own, this time off the bat of Franklin Gutierrez who hit a solo blast to right to keep the game tied 3-3. But Verlander stayed in the game and was still throwing his fastball at 98 mph in the 8th inning. Chone Figgins hustled for a 1-out double off the wall in left in the 8th, followed  Gutierrez who managed to get a walk to set the stage for Milton Bradley who then delivered a clutch single that the speedy Figgins scored on with a perfect slide at the plate. Jose Lopez added an insurance run on a sacrifice fly, and David Aardsma came in to pick-up the save in the 9th.

 Milton Bradley was so excited after chasing Verlander out of the game with his RBI single, that he ran over to the home dugout while the pitching change occurred and high-fived his shipmates! Something has gotten into our Choir Boy Bradley and whatever it is I hope it is contagious. Between Bradley and the Mike Sweeney we may have enough spark to fire-up the boilers on this ship and start steaming on the long voyage back to .500. Hope to see some of you down at the Safe tomorrow, I’ll be down in section 124 row 14 looking for a mini-sweep in this 2-game series.

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