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

Lopez hits salami as Felix pitches a 4-1 gem

  The Mariners snapped a 5-game losing streak tonight in a great game that featured great pitching by both starting pitchers in front of 42,558 fans at Safeco field. Felix Hernandez went the whole way tonight to get the win and Joba Chamberlain who came in to relieve Yankees starter Javiar Vazquez got the loss. Hernandez made it clear to everyone that he is the Ace of the staff after sharing that role with Cliff Lee who is gone. And to be honest as much as I liked Cliff Lee, The Felix Hernandez who I saw tonight pitched with more emotion and attitude than the departed Lee. Besides the 1-run shot he surrendered to Nick Swisher in the third, Felix was as tough and gutsy as they come.

   It looked as if this one was going to be another outing where the Mariners would not back-up their warrior after being held in-check by Vazquez for most of the night including another bases-loaded situation in the 7th where we came away with no runs. However in the bottom of the 8th Jack Wilson lead-off with a single off of Chamberlain, followed by fielder’s choice by Ichiro. Chone Figgins slapped a single to left and Russell Branyan loaded the bases with a free-pass. This brought up Jose Lopez who on a 2-0 count tomahawked a line drive that left the park and cleared the bases for the Mariners. The rest was history as Hernandez came out and finished off the Yankees in the ninth still reaching 97 mph with his fast ball, striking out Curtis, Posada and Gardner. King Felix blew a kiss to the Yankees dugout after retiring the side as a way of saying “Ya you are going to the play-offs, but I still own you”. It was just what this team needed along with us fans that have been through the ringer lately with all the drama around Cliff Lee’s departure.

  Justin Smoak arrived on the scene today donning the uniform of his new team and going 0-4 with three k’s. But tonight belonged to King Felix and his countryman Jose Lopez from Venezuela who delivered the fans in Seattle a great game. At this point in the season batting averages, standings and DL stints are not as important. We have reached a surreal sort of place where it is easy to just focus on the game at-hand and tonight we got a wonderful show. http://jeffsmariners

Felix fans 9 Twins as Mariners win 4-1

The Seattle Mariners have begun the post Griffey era by taking three out of four from the Minnesota Twins, winning the final game tonight 4-1. Felix Hernandez pitched a gem, mixing a wicked curve-ball in with his 96 mph fastball to keep the AL Central leading Twins off-balance and allowing Felix to pick-up his first win since April 21st. Hernandez had his swagger back tonight and struck-out 9 Twins including a rare 4 strikeout inning in the 8th after Twins slugger Joe Mauer struck-out  but reached first on a wild pitch. Felix came right back and struck-out Justin Morneau who was on fire this series and had a RBI single in the first to drive-in the Twins lone run.

 The Mariners offense collected 9 hits and 4 runs on the night to go along with 5 stolen bases against Twins starter Carl Pavano. The red-hot Jose Lopez batting clean-up, and  had the big hit of the night connecting for a 3-run homer in the 3rd putting the resurgent Mariners up for good at 4-1. Michael Saunders got the start in Left and looks like he may be up with the big club for good with a nice night at the plate going 2-3 as well as picking up a stolen base. Ichiro has been particularly pesky for opposing pitchers lately, and when he is not slapping base hits he is fouling off 10-12 pitches and running wild on the basepaths,  picking up 3 stolen bases tonight.

  The Paper Boy Josh Wilson continues to tear the cover off the ball and raised his average to .308 tonight with 2 more hits. I am not sure when and if Jack Wilson is coming back, but Josh Wilson has earned a spot in the line-up somewhere even if it means moving him  to first for the struggling Kotchman. The catchers situation may be coming to a head soon with both Bard and Moore getting closer to being healthy.

  The Mariners brought up Chad Cordero to fill the roster spot for Griffey. This move gives us 7 guys in the bullpen and some insurance in case Aardsma doesn’t come back to his 2009 form as the closer. Other than that we will pretty much have to work with what we have and actually this series showed a club on the upswing. For what it is worth after winning this series  the Mariners picked up a game in the standings, and we are now 6 games back with the Angels coming to town for the weekend.

  I want to thank everyone who has stopped by in the past 24 hours to read my post on Ken Griffey Jr. I hope you stick around, for though this past day has been an emotional one for us here in Seattle with the Ancient Mariner sailing away, it looks  like the rest of the crew are sticking their oars in the water and giving it their best. I am hoping to put together a more in-depth article on Griffey and the team he lead in the 90’s. Love to hear any thoughts you may have on that golden era of Mariners baseball.  And as much as I love  good sea stories, lets not forget our new crew who deserve our support just like we gave the old salts. 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 

Lee Fans 10, Mariners win again 8-3

Cliff Lee struck out 10 Los Angeles Angels tonight and pitched 8 strong innings as the Mariners won for the third straight game and now are 6 1/2 games out of first. Lee faced off against Scott Kazmir tonight, and outside of a shaky first where Lee committed an error there was no doubt who was in charge of this match between AL West rivals. Coming off two come from behind victories against the Tigers, the Mariners appear to be playing their best ball of the year recently. Tonight the Mariners were able to combine for 11 hits spread throughout the lineup, with everyone getting a hit except Mike Sweeney who has hit plenty in the current comeback for this club.

  In the third inning Ichiro got on with a 2-out single followed by a walk to Figgins setting the table for Franklin Gutierrez who proceeded to drive in a run with a base-knock making it 2-1. Bradley came up with runners on 1st and 2nd and ripped a drive into left that Figgins and Gutierrez were running on, amazingly Guti scored all the way from first as Bradley was held to a single but got the runs in. Yesterday I mentioned the key to this resurgence was going to be Figgins and Jose Lopez and sure enough Lopez unloaded for a solo shot in the 4th to put the club up 4-2.

  In the 5th inning the Mariners once again tore-up the bases on a line drive by Figgins to right that scored Ichiro all the way from first landing Figgins on third. Milton Bradley drove in Figgins with a sac-fly giving him a 3 RBI night down in Disneyland. The Angels managed to pick-up a run in the 5th off Lee but after that it was lights-out by the Lee as he dominated the Angels with pinpoint accuracy all night long.

  The “Paper boy” Josh Wilson delivered again in the 9th with an RBI double to keep his hitting streak alive at 9 games. Having Josh Wilson producing at the bottom of the order has made a big difference lately as the Mariners try to claw their way back up to .500 by the All-Star Break. The AL West is wide-open this year and with a sweep in Anaheim the Mariners could find themselves back in business. Felix Hernandez will take the mound in the day game tomorrow,  he is due for a dominant performance of his own. Lets keep our fingers crossed as this series is crucial if we are going get back in this thing. http://jeffsmariners.com

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