Daren Brown goes from triple-A to triple-play in one day!

1936 A’s Gordon “Dusty” Rhodes photo by L.Van Oyen*

  The Seattle Mariners turned their first tripleplay since 1995 in the fourth inning of their 3-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics to welcome their new skipper Daren Brown tonight. For Daren Brown and the rest of Mariner Nation today has been another emotional rollercoaster in a season that has been anything but boring despite a horrible record. Doug Fister who has been a tough-luck pitcher tonight’s victory pitched well to earn his first win since May 11th.

  The Mariners jumped on A’s starter Vin Mazzaro early picking-up a couple runs in the first on clutch two-out RBI singles by both Lopez and Gutierrez. Mazzaro is another of the young pitchers that have carried the A’s this far despite having an offense that like the Mariners lacks power-hitters, outside of perhaps Jack Cust. Even though my Grandfather Gordon Rhodes pitched for the Philadelphia A’s in 1936 (see above attachment *) I have always enjoyed beating the A’s, and tonight was especially sweet given the upstart A’s are still technically in the race.

  Of course the big news of this game was the magical moment in the top of the 4th when none other than Jose Lopez started a third to second to first (5-4-3) triple play to end an A’s threat and give the loyal fans at the Safe something to remember. As goofy as Jose Lopez is, it was nice to see him smile in the dugout after starting this play. In fact it is nice to see anyone smiling in the dugout including the big tall Texan “Downtown Daren Brown” who has suddenly found himself in the trenches of a season that everyone would like to forget. Daren Brown looks like a guy who isn’t going to take any lip from the players, veterans or rookies and he deserves our support.

  In an odd way I have sort of already let-go of the whole Don Wakamatsu era after tonight’s game and I wish him well. It is not a good thing when as a fan you are starting to feel sorry for a manager like Wakamatsu who was obviously in over his head and had that “Deer in the Headlights” look lately. The debate around his departure has been heated online and on the air today with lots of accusations flying around. One of the most irritating is the continuous blame of all things bad this year on Ken Griffey Jr. I have come to the conclusion that there is a certain segment of the local media and blogosphere who are too young to remember the golden years for the Mariners from say 93 -02, or are transplants and thus are bitter at Griffey as a reminder that they missed the boat so to speak. It is quite irritating for me as someone who sat through the terrible 80’s before having a good stretch, and then to be stuck in this morass of endless rebuilding, to continue to listen to the bashing of the future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey.  

  I think it may be time to let go of the references to 1995, the Griffey bashing, and now the whole Wakamatsu era so that we can rally around Daren Brown and our team the rest of the way. We have been through enough as a fan base this year and somehow we need to move on. Just a note I will be talking about the Mariners on my first live podcast of the year with another member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance at 8pm Tuesday night at: the link to the show page. Feel free to listen in if the game gets boring and call in if you like! http://jeffsmariners.com

Brian Sweeney holds Brew-crew in his debut 5-4

Sausage race in old Milwaukee


   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

Fister proves he is human,Mariners lose 5-4

Doug Fister came into this game tonight with the  best ERA in the AL, but tonight he got tagged for 3 homers by the Minnesota Twins and the Mariners couldn’t quite catch up and lost this one 5-4. The sun came out this afternoon and it was actually pleasant at the Safe when I joined 19,795 other fans on this Memorial day. A color guard from the various branches of the service were on hand to commemorate the veterans from previous conflicts and to honor those still in active duty. The Twins fans were out in full force as well, cheering on their club complete with signs, jerseys and ya-sure ya-betcha midwest accents.

  Justin Morneau picked up 3-hits including a couple doubles to move his average to .377, but it was the long-balls by Cuddyer, Kubel, and Young that killed us tonight. Fister gave up all three dingers with 2-outs including back-to-back homers in the 4th which provided all the runs the Twins would need. This could prove to be a rough series for the Mariners as the Twins are hot and focused on getting back in the play-offs after getting knocked out by the Yankees last year.

  On the positive side of things Figgins and Lopez each picked up a couple of hits and scored three of the four Mariners runs. Josh Wilson continued to deliver and boosted his average to .300, going 3-4 with a RBI. It looked as if our boys might pull it off in the ninth when Lopez opened the frame with a double and the Paper Boy delivered a single up the middle to pull us within one run. Wakamatsu brought in Griffey to pinch-hit which got the crowd on its feet, only to be let-down when he grounded out. Casey Kotchman also got into the game and hit a hard grounder to first which turned into a  double-play that killed the rally and sent us all home.

For some reason Rob Johnson got the start tonight behind the plate and went 0-3, which was disturbing in light of Eliezer Alfonso’s 3-4 debut yesterday. It appears that the Mariners want Rob Johnson to be the everyday catcher no matter how bad he plays or how well the other catchers perform. Ryan Rowland-Smith came in to relieve Fister and looked out-of-place and shaky before being pulled for Brandon League, League got the Mariners out of a first and third no outs jam in the 8th to keep this one close.

  Both Oakland and LA won today so we lost ground in the AL West.  Fister and Vargas have pitched way over their heads thus far and reality began to set-in tonight. It does appear that Figgins and Lopez are waking-up, but Bradley and Sweeney were both cold as May in Seattle tonight. Anyway we will be playing the Twins three more games this week so we will have plenty of chances to make-up for this loss.

  I was just informed that the Mariners have called up Garrett Olson and Sean White to replace Jesus Colome and Kanekoa Texeira in the pen. Not sure if this move will solve all the problems but at least it will be a start. I look for more moves this week.http://jeffsmariners.com

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. http://jeffsmariners.com

Toronto edges Seattle 3-2

Doug Fister pitched his heart out again tonight, going 8 full innings only to lose this one to the powerful Toronto Blue Jays. On hand at the Safe tonight were 19,208 hardy fans including several thousand loud and proud Canadians complete with their Maple leaf flag. Though the Mariners showed signs of life tonight and even out hit the Jays 10-6, this won will go down as another 1-run loss.

  Brett Cecil got the start for the Blue Jays and pitched well until the 7th when the Mariners put together a rally and scored 2 runs but left 2 stranded as well. The Mariners took this one down to the wire and had 2 runners on in the bottom of the 9th when Mike Sweeney made the last out with a deep fly to left.

Milton Bradley was back in the line-up tonight after being away for a couple of weeks and managed to pick up 2  hits. Josh Bard started behind the plate and though he is no Johnny Bench, seems to look more in control back there than Johnson or Moore. 

  People in Seattle want a winner bad, and we all had our hopes up this year after all the off-season chatter. Sadly this season is proving to be another emotional roller coaster. I think it is starting to sink in for me that we may have to accept things the way they are barring any unforseen miraculous turn-around. I even thought about trying to root for another winning team just to get some relief, but that never works and thus the eventual return to hoping for a turn-around. So unlike another unnamed Blog that threatened to shut-down if the Mariners didn’t listen to their suggestions, I’m going to keep posting as long as you are still reading, one game at a time…http://jeffsmariners.com

Mariners Floundering at Sea lose 3-1

I played two softball games today, we lost them both. I couldn’t throw strikes and kept grounding out all day. I have an excuse I’m 51 and I pay to play. The Mariners are out of excuses. Doug Fister threw 8 innings of shut-out ball only to have David Aardsma and Mark Lowell give this one to the Texas Rangers today in extra innings. Our offense is basically non-existent and we havent had a home-run in over 60 innings.

At some point Don Wakamatsu has to take some responsibility as well. For instance why not let Fister stay in and finish this game? Is it the holy grail of the pitch count? Fister only had thrown 100 pitches and he wanted this one more than anyone today. Perhaps Aardsma was a fluke last year as his control since spring training has not been sharp when we needed him to be.

  This Division is up for grabs, but with the Tampa Bay Rays then the Angels coming in next something has to give. If it is too early to make a trade, lets call up one of the hungry players down in Tacoma and give them a shot. I have resisted getting on the dump Griffey bandwagon so far as I don’t think you can put all the blame on him and think he has  enough class to know when it is time to hang them up. However we may have to get rid of a starter or two to get a power bat or maybe even pick up Jermaine Dye.  Well Happy Mothers day and one to my Mom Suzanne who loved Baseball.http://jeffsmariners.com

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