Oh Boy Oberto wins, Mariners too!

Oh Boy Oberto wins Hydro Racing in Seattle

  The Mariners won their first series since the end of June today beating the Kansas City Royals 3-2 on an otherwise gloomy Sunday in August. On a day when traditionally the biggest sports event in the region is the Seafair Unlimited Hydro Races, the Mariners managed to get by the Royals behind the pitching of Jason Vargas who went six solid innings to get his 8th win. Vargas has been one of the few bright spots this season and he has proved that he belongs in the rotation next year leaving one less question mark for 2011. Kyle Davies pitched a nice game himself holding the Mariners scoreless till the bottom of the sixth when the Mariners scored two-runs on a clutch-hit by the much maligned Casey Kotchman.

  A mostly subdued crowd of 24,078 sat through the first 5 innings of a dull game outside of the roar of the Blue Angels flying overhead on a day when Seattle fans could cheer for real Hydro Races on Lake Washington rather than just the big screen at Safeco. It is a testament to our loyalty as a fan base to still see a crowd this size coming out to the park to support our team. The top of the order once again provided the spark as Ichiro and Figgins scored all three runs and had a couple of hits each this afternoon. Figgins has gone 12-23 on this home stand and knocked in Ichiro in the eighth inning with a sharp single to left in what would prove to be the winning run in this contest. Figgins has moved his average up to .254 and with 50 games left could possibly finish-up with a respectable average of say .270 if he stays hot. This comes as rumors are swirling of a possible trade for the pesky switch-hitter. If you would have asked me a few weeks ago I would have agreed in trading him but after the past few days I believe he is another of the pieces of the future worth keeping around.

  It looks like we have suffered another “Hotel Injury” as Jack Wilson apparently slipped in the shower and has a fracture in his right hand. This of course coupled with the Russell Branyan mishap a few weeks back where the big man smashed his toe in a hotel are just more “Footnotes” for a season where if anything could go wrong it has. In addition Shawn Kelley is out for the rest of the season with elbow issues and will require surgery. I’m hoping to see Mike Wilson get the call from AAA to fill Jack Wilson’s spot on the roster as Mike Wilson has 24 homers with Tacoma and deserves a shot before the September call-ups.

  Brandon League was able to hold the Royals scoreless in the 8th inning by inducing the Royals into double-play to end a threat at a crucial moment in this game. League like Vargas has 8 wins and has proven to be mostly effective this year though the guy he was traded for Brandon Morrow pitched a great game today as well. Morrow was one out away from a no-hitter today but still went on to win 1-0 over the Rays in a game where Morrow struck-out 17!

  The Mariners are actually in a stretch where they should be able to win some games to try to salvage some dignity this year as they have the A’s, Indians and Orioles up next before playing the Yankees one more time. The A’s are the closest thing we have to a rival and they are surprisingly still in the race after beating the Rangers today and now stand 7 ½ back of Texas. It would certainly be nice to play the spoiler role and take this next series from Oakland here at the Safe. One more note from the pits on Lake Washington; the “Oh Boy Oberto” has won the unlimited hydro races this year. Nice to hear the distinctive voice of Pat O’Day calling the race today as Seafair comes to a close.http://jeffsmariners.com

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….http://jeffsmariners.com

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! http://jeffsmariners.com

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….http://jeffsmariners.com

 *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.

Mariners clip Birds 2-1, fly home after rough road trip

  The Seattle Mariners finished up a rough road trip by containing the St. Louis Cardinals to one run and going on to win the final game of the series 2-1. Jason Vargas was outstanding tonight going 7 2/3 innings and only giving up 5 hits and allowing no walks against a potent Cardinals offense, he now moves to 5-2 on the year. Jaime Garcia pitched a nice game but will pick-up his third loss of the year despite only giving up 5 hits and walking one tonight. Jason Vargas has been a shining star in an otherwise dismal year for the Mariners as he continues to get the job done on a regular basis.

   This was a fun game to watch, featuring a David and Goliath type match-up in front of 40,020 Cardinals fans mostly dressed in red and anticipating another slaughter by their sluggers against the hapless Mariners. Baseball is a major part of the culture in this part of the country and the fences are adorned with the faces of past heroes like Stan Musial, Bob Gipson and 87  year-old Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst who was interviewed before the game. I remember Schoendienst from when I was a kid rooting for the SF Giants and he managed the Cardinals winning the World Series in 1967. Red still hits fungos every day and sounded sharp as a tack in his interview. 

   Sometimes in a season like this it is nice to reflect and enjoy the rich history of this game rather than fret over the win-loss column. It also makes it easier to watch a game like tonight’s and just enjoy the quality plays. One of the most exciting plays of the night was watching Milton Bradley climb the fence in the 4th inning to rob Albert Pujols of a homer. Bradley jumped up and swatted a ball that had barely cleared the fence back in to play as if he was playing badminton,  holding Pujols to a double. Pujols would eventually score that inning for the Cards only run on the night, but Bradley’s play was spectacular and fun to watch.

  Offensively the Mariners picked up a run in the 4th when Josh Wilson hustled to break-up a double play allowing Milton Bradley to score on a grounder by Langerhans who got the start at first. The only other run for the Mariners came in 5th inning when Chone Figgins delivered a clutch 2-out double to score Michael Saunders from second and break the ugly 0-16 with RISP streak of the Mariners. But tonight really was all about Jason Vargas who knows how to execute the most basic of  pitching fundamentals ie: getting the first pitch in for a strike, which at one point in the game he had done in 14 out of 18 batters he faced. 

    Jose Lopez came out of the game in the sixth with an injury to his knee which is not good for the club as we seem to have half a dozen guys on the DL now.  Speaking of which, where are these guys? Josh Bard went down a month ago and seems to have disappeared off the map. Bedard seems to be in perpetual limbo, and Jack Wilson apparently left a game in the 6th inning because he was tired, also Mike Sweeney has been out on the longest 15 day DL I can remember. It all seems quite surreal as the AAA guys slowly have taken spots in the line-up over the last month or so leaving us with an ever-changing cast of characters with a new surprise line-up everyday.

   Well at last our battered sailors are making way for their home port after this 3-7 road trip,now  floating in the wake of their AL West rivals the Rangers and Angels who are starting to turn it on. Hope to make it down to the Safe to see the Reds this weekend or for sure when the Cubs and Lou Pinella come rolling in. http://jeffsmariners.com

Thank God for June! Mariners win 7-1

 Since 1977  there has only been one month that the Seattle Mariners have played above .500, that month is JUNE!  And tonight behind the strong pitching of Jason Vargas the Mariners started off the month of June with a 7-1 win over the Twins. And since it is June the Mariners bats right woke-up right on que and delivered 13 hits, including 3 by Ichiro who leads the AL All-Star balloting for outfielders. But unlike so many other games this year, Chone Figgins was right behind him with two hits of his own. Figgins is slowly bringing up his average and no longer looks like he is just trying to draw a walk. 

  Jose Lopez  has been coming around as well lately and tonight had a couple of hits including a 2-run homer off a 3-2 fastball in the 4th inning. The Mariners were to explode for 4 runs in the 4th and gave Vargas the support he has been lacking most of the year. Vargas only gave up the one run on a solo blast to Justin Morneau, who is having a career year thus far and may find his way to the All-Star game if he keeps up his torrid pace, batting .374 after tonight. 

  Eliezer Alfonso got the start tonight behind the plate and picked-up a couple hits, and seemed to work well with Vargas. At the risk of repeating myself from earlier posts I have to say the Rob Johnson experiment has run its course. The only Mariner to not get on base tonight was Michael Saunders and I look to see Milton Bradley back in left tomorrow. tonight’s victory over the AL Central leading Twins was one of the better games on the year for the Mariners. We got to see great pitching, good defense, and a well-balanced offense.

  Shawn Kelley continues to be the most consistent pitcher in the pen, and tonight was no different as he came into the game in the 8th and retired the dangerous middle of the order of the Twins. Garrett Olson got the ball in the 9th and put the Twins down in order to close the gate. Time will tell if Olson has improved enough to stick around the big club, but tonight he looked sharp in relief.

  So June is here and the gloomy, painful month of May is behind us. We are 7 games back in the AL West with Cliff Lee then Felix Hernandez in line to take the ball and hopefully help  get  another little roll going. They say summer doesn’t start in Seattle till July 5th and this may be true, however June is the month that the  Mariners traditionally warm-up and I don’t see any reason this year won’t be the same. http://jeffsmariners.com 

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! http://jeffsmariners.com

%d bloggers like this: