Paper boy delivers, Lee dominates Reds 1-0!

    Cliff Lee pitched a complete game shutout over the visiting Cincinnati Reds by a score of 1-0 in front of 43,362 Mariners Fans. Lee squared off against Johnny Quento in a classic pitcher’s duel that the crafty veteran Lee prevailed in. The Reds came into tonight’s game a half game up in the NL Central thanks to a potent offense featuring four hitters batting over .300. However Cliff Lee failed to walk a single batter and struck-out 7 Reds using his aggressive style and pin-point accuracy. After tonight’s performance the Mariners may have to figure out a way to come-up with whatever it takes to entice Lee into signing an extension. If not it may be worthwhile to hang on to him for the rest of the season just to give the fans a reason to come-out to the Ballpark.

  The Reds did threaten in the first with runners on second and third after a 2-out double by the veteran Scott Rolen before Lee got out of the inning with a ground-ball to third. The Mariners managed to load the bases in the second following the first of two doubles by Jose Lopez and a couple of walks. Unfortunately Michael Saunders was not able to produce, leaving the bases loaded after a pop-up. The Mariners were stifled at the plate along with the Reds up until the sixth inning when Jose Lopez got hit by a pitch with 2-outs. Franklin Gutierrez who was moved down in the order tonight into the fifth spot, then blooped a single to center setting the stage for Josh Wilson. The Paper boy delivered with a single up the middle which drove home a hustling Lopez who narrowly avoided the tag with a great slide.

    The Reds manager Dusty Baker pulled Queto after Wilson’s single and the M’s skipper Don Wakamatsu countered by bringing in Mike Sweeney off the bench to pinch-hit for the struggling Mike Carp. It was nice to Sweeney back with the club even though he was not able to drive-in the runners on base and instead struck-out against Reds reliever Daniel Herrera on a wicked curve that broke 18 inches. The Mariners got a break in the eighth when Reds left fielder Johnny Gomes lost a ball in the  twilight allowing Jose Lopez to land at second with two outs. Unfortunately Gutierrez went down swinging and was unable to provide the Mariners with an insurance run off of ex-Mariner Arthur Rhodes who at age 40 can still get it done.

  This was a nice game to watch for the fans many of which may have come to the game for an Ichiro-Griffey bobble-head doll but instead were treated to a pitching gem starring Cliff Lee. Perhaps the thing that sticks in my mind most from Lee’s pitching performance was watching him sprint to the mound in the 8th and 9th innings. Cliff Lee just keeps getting better this year and tonight he surely turned up the dial on any trade rumors floating around baseball. Tomorrow our other newly rebounding Ace Felix Hernandez will be on the mound trying to keep the flickering flame of hope alive for the Mariners in 2010.

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.

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.

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!

Mariners Grab Life Ring Win 8-1!

Well it looks like we can relax a bit as the Mariners ended their 8 game losing streak today at Safeco field with an 8-1 victory behind the stellar pitching of Jason Vargas. In a nice present for all the Mothers down at the Safe today, our sailors stopped drifting and begin the upcoming road trip on a positive note. I mentioned hitting coach Alan Cockerell in my post a few days ago as someone to watch, well sure enough he was given his walking-papers before today’s game and Alonzo Powell from AAA Tacoma took over.

Speaking of AAA Tacoma, our recently called up players from the minors all proved they were hungry today and hopefully will push the regulars into taking another look at themselves. Josh Wilson led the group with a 3-run homer in the 4th and also had a single, walk, and triple. Michael “Condor” Saunders let everyone know he was legit as well with a solo HR and RBI single later in the game. Ryan Langerhans got on base with a couple of walks and picked up a steal as he gave Casey Kotchman the day off to regroup. Even Adam Moore who is on the bubble picked up an RBI single in the 8th.

I hope the Cockrell move today is not the last in Jack Z’s effort to shake things up. I’d like to see Josh Wilson in the lineup when Jack Wilson comes back Tuesday against Baltimore. Josh Wilson is hungry and I bet he could manage at second base while Chone Figgins gets a chance to work with the new Hitting Coach. This home stand has been trying on the nerves and for once I will be happy to see our guys get on a plane.

In other news around Baseball Oakland Pitcher Dallas Braden pitched a Perfect Game, only the 19th in Major League History. I saw a great video clip of him hugging his Grandma after the game on Mothers day, I thought of my Mom, Suzanne Marjorie Engels who always loved Baseball and was born in NYC when my Grandfather Gordon Rhodes pitched for the Yankees. Happy Mothers day Mom , Mrs Braden and all you Mothers out there. Baseball is a timeless game that connects families and generations like no other and thus is America’s Pastime.

Mariners release Byrnes send Tuiasosopo down

Well its a start. I just learned the Mariners have released Eric Byrnes, I wish him well. Also Matt Tuiasosopo has been sent down to AAA Tacoma. The Mariners are bringing up infielder Josh Wilson and Outfielder Ryan Langerhans. While neither of these two players bring with them the Long Ball threat, this is a move in the right direction.

  However more needs to be done to shake-up this team. I would like to see Figgins and Lopez go back to their natural positions, and while were switching lets switch Figgins to lead-off and bat Ichiro second. Sweeney is on a short-leash as well and if we can get Jermaine Dye for 2-3 million let’s do it, at least until Bedard comes back then trade one or two of our starters for a genuine home-run hitter.

  Hopefully the weather here in Seattle will warm up at the end of the week and with it our bats! I look for something else big to happen this week as the honeymoon for Jack Z. is over too.

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