Ichiro reaches 200 hits for 10th season in a row

  Ichiro Suzuki became the first player in Major League history to have 200 or more hits per season for 10 years in a row. Ichiro has accomplished this great achievement while playing for a Seattle Mariners team that has not reached the play-offs since Ichiro’s first year in 2001. However day after day, year after year Ichiro has gone out and contributed in a way that may never be repeated. This day belongs to Ichiro who picked-up hit #200 in the fifth inning of a game that meant little outside of the individual accomplishments by Ichiro, Jose Bautista and Felix Hernandez in the 1-0 victory by the Blue Jays.

  Jose Bautista is another nice story as he suddenly emerged on the scene after several years of mediocrity to becoming the Major league home run leader, and today in the first inning he connected for home run #50 in front of another small but lively crowd in Toronto. Great job Jose!

  Oh yes there was another great player on the field today…..Felix Hernandez who happens to be in a race of his own, ie the race for the CyYoung award. Felix once again pitched well enough to win, going 8 innings and only giving-up 1 run on a couple of hits including the homer by Bautista. Unfortunately for Felix the rest of the Mariners don’t hit like Ichiro and one more time they let the King down as his record now falls to 12-12.

  On the positive side a game like this one should make it even clearer that Felix is the best pitcher in the AL, he just does not have a supporting cast outside of Ichiro. Sure we have a whole bunch of guys that did great in Tacoma, and yes I know they will all get a chance to prove they have what it takes to earn a spot after playing well in AAA. But if today was any indication of what next year is going to look like, count me out for spring training.

   Somehow I seem to remember that guys only came up from AAA after it was clear they were ready for Major League pitching. Outside of maybe Mangini who had a nice line drive single in the 9th, our youngsters looked lost at the plate today. But hey, they are cheap and the experiment this year of bringing in several semi-good veterans didn’t seem to work either. Still would love to find a guy like Bautista out there who has a few seasons under his belt and has figured out what works at this level. But that’s what they pay the GM for.

   One more time congratulations to Ichiro on his big day as well as Jose Bautista and Felix Hernandez for their great seasons thus far as well.http://jeffsmariners.com

Jose Lopez hits 3 homers to carry M’s over Jays 6-3!

Jose Lopez connects for 3 Homers!

  Yes you read it right; Jose Lopez the Mariners much maligned third basemen clobbered three home runs tonight against the Toronto Blue Jays to lead his club to a 6-3 victory! Lopez homered off three different pitchers, hitting solo shots in the third and the sixth, then connecting for a 2-run bomb in the eighth. In an interview after the game Lopez said this was the first time in his entire baseball career where he has accomplished this rare feat.

  I am not even sure how to write this post as it has been so long since a Mariner; especially Lopez has been hot for a whole game like this. The last Mariner to connect for three homers in a single game was Alex Rodriguez in 2000, and of course Mike Cameron had 4 bombs on May 2 2002 against the White Sox, so this has to go down as one of the highlights of the season…. Yikes!

Of course Lopez did not do it all tonight as he only drove-in 4 runs, the other two came off the bat of Michael Saunders who smacked a 2-run poke of his own in the second inning. David Pauley also pitched a nice game and came-away with his third win of the year as he finally received some run-support thanks to the mighty Jose Lopez and his sidekick Michael Saunders the Canadian Condor!

  The 12,302 fans in Toronto are used to seeing power displays as their club leads the majors with 233 homers including one tonight by Vernon Wells. However the Mariners who are last with 95 homers silenced the small crowd with a rare power display of their own. The Blue Jays fans however did perk-up every time Jose Bautista came to the plate, hoping to see their slugger connect for # 50 on the year. But alas they will have to wait another day along with the Japanese media and fans hoping to see Ichiro pick-up hit # 200 for the tenth year in a row. Ichiro did manage to move his total to 198 tonight with a single to center in the top of the eighth. Of course the polite Canadian fans even clapped for Ichiro tonight in keeping with their reputation as all-around decent folks (even Geoff Baker at times can be civil!)

  This game was so different from most of the Mariners games this year, as you could for once sense that our pitchers were confident on the mound secure with the knowledge they had a lead. Believe it or not up until tonight’s game the Mariners offense had only scored 14 runs for David Pauley in his 12 starts. That is worse run-support than even Felix Hernandez has had. Speaking of the King, Hernandez will be getting the start in the day game tomorrow in a game that actually has the makings of some real drama and potential excitement. First of all we have Felix Hernandez making his final push for the CyYoung award needing a win to push his total to 13, then you have the home run chase by Bautista, and finally it is possible that Ichiro could reach hit #200 tomorrow. Love to see at least two of those events happening, and plan on watching this series finale in the morning just in case the Mariners can produce one final day of greatness, just like Jose Lopez had tonight! http://jeffsmariners.com

Same game, different night, same results….

  Cliff Lee was back on the mound at Safeco Field tonight, doing what Cliff Lee does no matter what uniform he wears. Lee seems to be back to his early season form as the Rangers head down the stretch towards the playoffs, picking-up another win tonight 6-1 over the Mariners.

  Unfortunately I missed Felix’s no-hit bid  last night along with the Tacoma Rainiers victory as I was still down in sunny So. Calif. on business. Felix Hernandez definitely is showing that he is deserving of  seriuos consideration for the CyYoung award this year, and it will be fun him compete in his last few outings. even if the team looks like they are going to lose 100 games this year.

  I was looking forward to tonight’s game perhaps to catch a glimpse of Danny Cortes who was just called-up along with Justin Smoak. I ran into Dan Cortes this year a couple of times at spring training and he came-across as a real decent guy who is hungry to compete in the Majors and get a chance to use his 100 mph+ fastball. But perhaps Darren Brown is going to try to give the kid a shot when the game is on the line to see how he does under pressure. Cortes is something special, and we could sure use him in 2011 in the bullpen.

   As it turns out we have seen this sort of game many times this year so it was nothing spectacular. Pretty much the same routine of a strong well-balanced team facing the Mariners who are anything but strong when it comes to finding a way to win. As usual the Mariners starter in this case Jason Vargas, pitched a decent game but got no support from his offense. The Mariners had runners on second and third with nobody down in the fifth, but failed to score anything for Vargas….. and well you know how the rest of the routine unfolds.

  Ichiro did manage to add to his hit total tonight with two more singles and now stands at 193 on the year, closing in on the magic 200 hit mark for the 10th year in a row, which is quite an accomplishment though it feels kind of empty in comparison to the overall sad state of affairs for the good-ship Mariners.

  Franklin Gutierrez also hit his 12th home run in the 7th in an otherwise routine Mariner loss. Nice to see Smoak get a hit in his first night back and I am hoping to see Greg Hallman and Mike Wilson get a chance to swing the bat with the big club after the Rainiers finish up Tuesday. It seems that we have gotten a pretty good look at Michael Saunders out in left and if you ask me he doesn’t seem to have clearly won that spot in 2011. Saunders looks good in the field,has great speed, but seems to be lost at the plate most of the time. Hopefully either Mike Wilson or Greg Hallman can get a chance to prove they can hit for power against Major League pitching during the final road trip.

  It looks like the AL West title will go to the Rangers who will then play either the Yankees or Rays depending on who wins the AL East. The Twins barring a complete melt-down, look like they have the AL Central title in-hand even without Justin Morneau. The NL Central looks like a lock for the Reds, but the AL East is still up for grabs with the Phillies on top of the Braves for now. And then you have the NL West where there is a three-way battle going on between the Giants, Padres and the surging Rockies. This race in the NL West seems to have the most potential for a photo-finish and is worth keeping an eye between Seahawks games…..

Felix Hernandez steers Mariners through Indian waters 3-0

GM Jack Zduriencik at USS Mariner event Sept. 4th

    Felix Hernandez continued to force the question of who is the best pitcher in the American League in 2010 with another dominant performance today, as the Mariners beat the Cleveland Indians 3-0 on a perfect September day in Seattle.

  The King actually received some run support today as well, thanks primarily to Russell “The Muscle” Branyan who is on a roll himself driving in a pair of runs including a homer in the sixth. Branyan knows his return next year as the Mariners DH depends on how he finishes out the season and has homered in three of the last four games, making his bat hard to ignore as well.

  Hernandez had command of all three of his pitches today and was able to fan 9 Indians giving him the AL lead with 209 on the year. It seems as if Hernandez is in the zone so to speak, showing more confidence and savvy as the season moves on. Of course for Felix to win the Cy Young award he will need to continue to pitch this way and receive run support if he has any hopes of getting the votes needed to win this coveted award, due to the East Coast bias in the press and the fact that Hernandez is only 11-10.

   It is nice for the fans to have something to follow as the fall air creeps into the Puget Sound. Both Felix and Ichiro are in the hunt for something special as Ichiro shoots for his tenth year in a row with 200 hits (got 2 today) and Hernandez chases the prestigious Cy Young award.

   Wanted to note that I attended the event put on by the blogs: USS Mariner and Lookout Landing on Saturday night and though the game kind of sucked, it was great to talk to fellow bloggers as well as get to hear Jack Zduriencik address the group of a hundred or so before the game.

  Jack Z. was fairly candid and did admit that this year has been a big disappointment but he emphasized that we have a lot of talent developing in the minors that could help the big club in years to come. He chose to avoid answering a question about the whole Griffey fiasco, and gave the same stock responses that a media savvy guy like him would give around the whole Josh Lueke situation. The event was certainly no love-fest but the questions were civil and it is a testament to the power of the internet that a GM would even take the time to talk to a group of bloggers and their readers.

     So after salvaging a split with the Indians our boys head down the Coast for a visit to the Oakland Coliseum for a series with our division rivals the Athletics to see if we can play the role of spoiler and dash any lingering hopes the feisty A’s have of catching the Rangers. The pennant races around the majors are still very interesting to follow and I look forward to reporting on an exciting postseason. Alas it would be much sweeter for us all if our sailors were in the race, but I guess we will have to focus on the consolation prizes of the Ichiro and Hernandez runs for glory. Http://jeffsmariners.com 

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