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 kick-off Seafair weekend with 7-1 win

   The Seattle Mariners started the Seafair weekend out with a nice well-rounded effort tonight, beating the visiting Kansas City Royals 7-1 in front of 20,411 fans at Safeco Field. Tonight’s game showed a glimmer of hope for the rest of the way against the Royals who have faded out of the race as well. Last year’s Cy-Young winner Zach Greinke, got the start tonight for the Royals and has owned the Mariners for the last couple of years. However tonight the Mariners seemed to have finally figured out that Greinke throws first-pitch strikes and instead of watching them go by they actually took some cuts and were rewarded. Ryan Langerhans who started in left for the injured Saunders went 3-4 including a homer, and each of his hits were a result of anticipating a first-pitch fastball and swinging. I know this sounds like a routine thing and actually at the Major League level good hitters seem to have a knack for anticipating the next pitch and unloading on it when it comes. Unfortunately it seems guys like Gutierrez and Lopez have not only been lacking in recognizing pitches coming out of the pitchers hand, but more importantly not being able to look for patterns and out-smart opposing pitchers. It was nice to see the veteran Langerhans leading by example tonight as far as anticipating pitches and perhaps it will wear-off on some of the regulars.

   Luke French got the start tonight and went 8 innings giving-up only the one run and pitched what I thought was his best game since coming over from Detroit last year in the Jarrod Washburn deal. French did not walk a man, and though the Royals had 9 hits tonight French was composed and once he got the ever elusive run support from his team, settled into a nice groove. Chone Figgins has quietly moved his average up to .251 with a couple of hits tonight and 3 RBI’s. It is also fair to note that Casey Kotchman who has been disappointing at the plate, turned in another great performance defensively tonight and has yet to commit an error this season. Tonight’s game was a relief after watching the Mariners lose 9 of their last 10 games.

   It was interesting to read earlier in the week about Zach Greinke and his statement that the Royals will not be ready to compete till 2012 after his contract is up. Basically Greinke is signaling that he wants to be traded to play with a contender. While I don’t blame him, it is still inappropriate to say it to the press while the season is still alive. I give credit to guys like Felix Hernandez and Ichiro who are both capable of starting anywhere, but keep their mouths shut and play the game. Our team has been through a lot this year and the players and their manager deserve a few more games like tonight, not to mention us fans!

   I’m looking forward to heading down to the Safe this weekend and hopefully we can build on tonight’s game and win a series at home to celebrate Seafair……http://jeffsmariners

Royals edge Mariners 3-2 with help from a lame fan

Fan interfering in play that cost the Cubs a World Series

 The Kansas City Royals squeaked by the Seattle Mariners 3-2, in a game that may have been lost by a Mariners Fan who interfered on a play in the 8th inning, denying the Mariners a possible tie game at the time. This game featured a little of everything including great starting pitching by both clubs. The Royals sent Zach Greinke last years Cy-Young winner to the mound tonight riding a streak of 29 scoreless innings pitched against the Mariners, and he pitched a gem. Greinke mixed his fastball with his great curve all-night, keeping the Mariners guessing and only allowed 1 run on 2 hits through 7 innings of work.

  Ryan Rowland-Smith pitched another solid game though he was charged with all three of the Royals runs. Rowland-Smith was in command of his pitches early on and pitched well enough to win, but instead will go to 1-8 on the year. The Mariners staked their starter with a run in the third on a perfectly executed squeeze-play by Jack Wilson who laid down a bunt to score Michael Saunders. The Mariners have tried the squeeze a few times without success before tonight including the botched effort by Eric Byrnes way back in April which led to the release of Byrnes. The Royals were kept scoreless until Wilson Betemit hit one out in the top of the fifth, Betemit would go on to have a big night driving in all three of the Royals runs. Rowland-Smith has a tendency to lose his composure with runners on base and tonight was no different. The big Aussie gave-up a double with one down in the sixth, then loaded the bases with a walk to Brian Butler followed by a pitch that grazed the foot of Jose Guillen, setting the stage for Betemit to drive-in another run.

    Sean White came in to the game with a runner on first in the top of the 8th and went on to do what Sean White will do, which is give-up runs in the late innings. Sean White has an ERA of over 7 and just when you try to forget about him he seems to show up like a reoccurring nightmare. For the second night in a row the camera showed Brian Sweeney warming up and I thought for sure he would get the call, but once again Wakamatsu went with one of his favorites.

  The bottom of the 8th was interesting to say the least as the Jack Wilson got on with a one out single that should have been an out. Ichiro came up and moved Wilson to second on a single to right setting the stage for Wilson to swipe third for his first stolen base of the year. Chone Figgins who has been clutch all season with runners on third and less than two-outs, drove in Wilson with a fly to left, making it a 3-2 game. Russell Branyan then drilled a ball right over the bag at first and as Ichiro was closing in on third and possibly coming in to score a fan reached down and grabbed the ball stopping play! This game may be the first loss of the year that can be blamed on a lame fan. Wakamatsu went out to try to argue that Ichiro would have scored were it not for faninterference, but the umpires didn’t go for it. The replay actually showed Ichiro was not at third when the fan touched the ball; it also appeared to me that Ichiro was not running full-speed on the crack of the bat which is just as disturbing. Either way Jose Lopez choked again hitting a weak grounder to third with runners on 2nd and 3rd with the game in the balance. For the second night in a row the Mariners did get something going in the 9th as Casey Kotchman singled through the same hole on the left side of the infield that he hit one through last night in the 10th. Unfortunately Michael Saunders followed and went down on strikes as did Ryan Langerhans  to end the game.

  On a positive note for the second night in a row Dave Sims was not on TV calling the game. I am not sure if he is on vacation or perhaps FSN has received enough complaints that Sims was sent down to AAA or wherever. Dave Sims is hard to listen to especially with his East Coast bias and his rambling irrelevant monologues. Maybe Dave Sims should just get a blog like me where he can ramble on without irritating so many people…..http://jeffsmariners.com

Mariners bullpen blows-up again, Royals wins 6-4

  The Seattle Mariners lost the first game of a three-game series to the visiting Kansas City Royals by a score of 6-4 in 10 innings. Felix Hernandez got the start tonight and pitched well enough to hold the Royals to just 2 runs on 6 hits before handing the ball over to the shaky Mariners bullpen. Brian Bannister son of former Mariners pitcher Floyd Bannister went 7 innings, giving up 4 runs on 6 hits including a 2-run home run to Russell Branyan in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Royals came into the game leading the Major Leagues in hitting with a respectable .282 team batting average. Not a team known for their power the Royals will however put the ball in play and tonight they collected 14 hits. The Mariners managed to get 8 hits tonight but could not get one when in counted late in the game, and are now 1-8 in extra-innings this year.

     Today was the official beginning of the second-half of the season giving one hope that things were going to be different. However the Mariners put together another classic 2010 choke in their usual style. It started off in the 8th inning when Brandon League came into protect a 2-run lead, but instead surrendered a couple of runs on 4 hits before getting yanked for Garrett Olson. Olson could not close the deal either and finally it was Brian Sweeney who was brought in to close-out the frame with the game tied at four. As if that wasn’t bad enough the Mariners managed to once again strand a runner at third with no outs in a tight game. In this case it was Russell Branyon who walked to start the inning and then was moved around to third on a double by Jose Lopez. Franklin Gutierrez then went down on strikes followed by an intentional walk to Casey Kotchman to load the bases with only one down. Milton Bradley was brought in to pinch-hit for Rob Johnson and he also was fanned leaving it up to Jack Wilson who hit a weak pop-up too short to end the inning. We have seen this routine many times this year the last time was against the Cubs, where once again Felix was denied a victory by this sort of choke late in the game and probably is the reason he did not make the All-Star team.

    David Aardsma pitched in the ninth with the game tied at 4. I am not sure what was going through Don Wakamatsu’s mind when he decided to go with League in the 8th even though he had Sweeney warmed up and pitching well lately. Also generally teams save their closer till they have a lead to protect, but just like in the Cubs game he brought in Aardsma to pitch in a tie-game rather than saving him. In tonight’s game Don Wakamatsu was forced to use Chad Cordero in the 10th inning and that move proved to be another disaster as the  two ex-Mariners Scott Podsednik and Betancourt each drove-in runs to put the Royals up 6-4. The Mariners did get a couple of runners aboard but once again could not get the big hit to win the game

   I really have to question the way Wakamatsu handled his relievers tonight. The roles seem interchangeable with no real set-up man or closer, but rather a sort of committee that is picked at random. If David Aardsma has lost his job as closer, then Wak needs to say that. This business of juggling guys around is not good for the moral in the pen or the win-loss column. Granted there is no excuses for leaving runners stranded at third with less than two-outs in close games like this team has done so many times this year. If the saber metrics crowd is looking for a new statistic to measure futility this would certainly be one where the Mariners led the league. The Royals are still playing like a team that is in contention coming in to tonight’s game only 8 back in the AL Central. The Mariners on the other-hand had a chance to pick-up some ground tonight as Texas lost, but instead will stay at 14 back in the AL West with this dismal performance. I was planning on heading down to the Safe tomorrow to watch Eric Bedard make his long-awaited first start but he is apparently suffering from another mystery sore shoulder issue. Bedard seems to be another Mariner who has the fine art of disappointing Mariners fans down to a science. Http://jeffsmariners.com

King Felix not so Royal, Mariners lose 3-1

The Kansas city Royals have been playing in front of small crowds for many years since their heyday in the 80’s. tonight’s crowd was no different on this cold and wet night. But unlike the Mariners they have some hot bats in their lineup, and tonight good starting pitching to go with it. Felix Hernandez was no match for Royals starter Kyle Davies who pitched a gem against a soggy crew of Mariners.

Dave jinx” Sims could barely get thru the third inning before talking about the potential for a no-hitter, and even after the sixth he kept talking about the no-hitter despite the fact Ichiro had broken it up with an infield hit. One thing about Dave jinx Sims is he is an equal opportunity guy and he loves to talk about potential home runs, potential no-hitters etc.  for the Mariners as well. Mike Blowers on the other hand being a former player understands baseball etiquette and sticks to reporting what is actually happening on the field.

And if you are a Mariners fan, which I assume you are there wasn’t much happening tonight. This one was not as much of a gut-wrencher as the White Sox games, more like the Texas series where our guys watched strikes going into the catcher’s mitt then swinging at bad pitches.

We had our chances in the 6th with the bases loaded and it looked for a second like Jose Lopez was going to hit his second Grand Slam in a week, but came up just short. In the 9th Milton Bradley legged out a double and eventually scored on a clutch pinch-hit single by former Royals star Mike Sweeney. But unfortunately Ichiro who had two hits on the night popped up with 2 runners on to finish the game.

I look to see the skipper Don Wakamatsu juggle the lineup again tomorrow to avoid a 5 game losing streak. I have to tip my hat to the Royals who were batting 296 as a team before this game to lead the AL, and have been playing in front of sparse crowds for years, but they have won a World Series we havent even been to one and this old sailor isn’t getting any younger. http://jeffsmariners.com

Kyle Davies,Ichiro,Kansas City Royals,Dave Sims,Mike Sweeney,World series

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