Luke French pitches gem as Mariners win 2-1

    Luke French pitched a great game today for the Mariners, holding the visiting Minnesota Twins to one run on three hits as he picked-up his third win on the season in the 2-1 affair. French, who came over last year from Detroit in the Jarrod Washburn deal, is making a case to be included in the 2011 rotation and today’s performance by the young southpaw helped make his case a little stronger.

   French was matched up against veteran Carl Pavano who also went seven innings today but like French could not keep putting up goose-eggs on the scoreboard all day and eventually surrendered a pair of runs in the 7th inning.

 The Twins only run came on a mammoth home run by Michael Cuddyer in the top of the 7th. Cuddyer is filling in at first for the injured Twins star Justin Morneau, and his blast initially looked like it would be all the first place Twins would need in this one.

  Fortunately for the hometown boys they managed to respond immediately in the bottom of the 7th with a 2-run rally of their own. Jose Lopez got on base with a 1-out single followed by another base hit by Casey Kotchman. The Mariners runners were able to move-up 90 feet on a wild-pitch by Pavano setting the stage for Franklin Gutierrez to line a shot to left that scored Lopez to tie the game. Adam Moore then tapped a weak grounder to short which would have turned into an inning ending double-play were it not for the great slide at second by Gutierrez to keep the inning alive and allow Kotchman to score the go-ahead run.

  The Mariners suddenly reliable bullpen combo of Brandon League and David Aardsma came on to pitch the final two frames without relinquishing a run to the first-place Twins and thus helped the Mariners avoid the sweep.

  I was amazed to hear that even this late in the season 28,923 fans paid to see this game. This franchise has been kept afloat by the polite, family friendly sort of fans who were at the park today. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but just have to wonder how many of those fans besides the Twins faithful really cared about the outcome. Oh well perhaps our absentee-owner will be willing to spend another 10-15 million next year to bolster our worst in the AL offense so that the rest of us grumpy hardcore fans will buy the extra 20,000 seats in order to fill the stadium on a day like today.

   August is shaping up as a decent month for our club as we hover around .500 with the Angels coming to town to finish out August, followed by a 4-game series with the Indians.  

   Interesting to note that Michael Pineda will not pitch any more this year as the Mariners are doing the right thing by saving the young flame-thrower’s arm for next year. Still hoping to see Dustin Ackley up with the big club perhaps against the Indians over the weekend. Feels good to be back reporting on our sailors as we head to the final leg of the 2010 voyage!

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.

Mariners give Chicago the blues 2-0

Jeff and date at Wrigley Field for Mariners game 2007

  The Seattle Mariners won the first game of a three game series at home against the visiting Chicago Cubs 2-0.The Mariners won for their fifth win in a row against former Mariners manager Lou Piniella and the crew from the windy city. Jason Vargas improved his record to 6-2 with his third consecutive win using his change-up to keep the Cubs off-balance in their first trip to Safeco in eight years. As usual the Cubs had a sizeable group of fans at the game tonight and they lived-up to their reputation with cat-calls and boos for Milton Bradley who was a bust with the Cubs. Unfortunately Carlos Silva will not be pitching Thursday as planned so the Mariners fans won’t be able to give him a little welcome back reception of his own. It always amazes how tolerant Seattle fans are when the transplants come out in force for the big East Coast Teams visits to Seattle. As you can see by the picture above I made a trip to Wrigley field three years ago, where I was treated rather poorly by the grumpy Cubs fans. Of course it has been 102 years since the Cubs have won a World Series so I guess they have a right to be a little edgy.

   Tonight the Mariners were able to sneak by the Cubs with great starting pitching by Vargas, good support from the pen, and a 2-run homer off the bat of Franklin Gutierrez in the bottom of the second for the games only runs. It appears that the Mariners would fit right into the National League with their strong starting pitching and good defense. Of course at some point the offense will need to produce more than they have in this 5-game streak, but for now it is just nice to watch our starters baffle the hitters on these NL Clubs. Unfortunately the Texas Rangers won again tonight behind the bat of red-hot Josh Hamilton and so the Mariners remain 13 games back in the AL West. We are closing in on the Oakland A’s however who are 9 games out of first. The way we are playing now it is possible that the M’s could overtake the A’s before the All-Star break which would be a huge moral victory for this club and its loyal fans.

   I heard Jack Zduriencik on the radio before the game and he sounded a lot less evasive and was actually quite honest about the fact that things have not gone as expected this year. I think Jack Z. like a lot of us, sort of hit an emotional bottom a few weeks ago and is now just taking it day by day. Cliff Lee is pitching tomorrow and as we all know Jack Z. is the man who will ultimately be responsible for the decision on whether to trade him or let him go. I have made my opinions known how I feel on this situation and after hearing our GM’s calm and frank demeanor today I am feeling much better on how the situation will be handled.

   If the Cubs felt bad about losing tonight to Jason Vargas, wait till they try to score some runs off our back to back Aces coming their way. Yes indeed tomorrow its Cliff Lee, followed by Felix on Thursday for a day game. Summer comes late in Seattle but when it gets here there is no place in the world this old sailor would rather be, especially with two Aces up your sleeve….

 *note I have made some modifications to my Blog after hearing from some of the readers. I hope this new format is easier to read and more user-friendly. Let me know what you think.

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