Mariners win 1-0 with pitching, defense and French!

  Luke French pitched another gem tonight against the visiting Cleveland Indians who did not get a hit until the  seventh inning off of French who got lots of help from his defense, and just enough from the offense who scored one run in the first inning.

  The Mariners got their lone runner in the first inning off of a single by Franklin Gutierrez to score Ichiro from second. Other than that the Mariners bats were kept quiet by Indians starter Fausto Carmona who pitched eighth innings and only allowed four hits.

  Luke French kept the Indians at bay with his 87 mph fastball and an occasional change-up that he managed to move around the strike zone at will tonight. French apparently has stopped throwing his slider for now and against the young Indians he got away with only having two pitches in his arsenal tonight.

 The Mariners defense played a key role in preserving this victory tonight, Michael Saunders may not be much with the bat but he ran down a ball in the 7th that he alertly threw to second to double-off Shin-Soo Choo which helped end a threat by the Tribe. Later in the ninth Saunders made a great sliding catch on a foul ball to help payback  Mr. Choo who terrorized the Mariners last night.

  The ninth inning was a real nail-biter as David Aardsma who also really only has one pitch he can throw for strikes a fastball, used  his slider, split-finger along with his fastball  tonight in an effort that wasn’t pretty but got the job done. Aardsma has been effective as of late and he got some help in the ninth from not only Saunders with his great catch, but also from the combination of Moore to Josh Wilson in a stolen base attempt that highlighted the athletic abilities of these two guys and was a joy to watch as they got a big out.

 But that was not the end as  Aardsma threw a wild pitch that resulted in  runners on second and third with two down as Shelley Duncan was at  the plate.  Duncan who had earlier broken-up French’s no-hitter in the seventh, battled with Aardsma in a dramatic 9 pitch duel that finally ended with Duncan going down on strikes on a high fastball  to end the game before 17,271 fans down at the Safe who cheered as if we were in the World Series!

  I will be attending tomorrow’s game after attending the pre-game activities that Lookout Landing and the USS Mariners Blogs have organized. Am looking forward to hearing what kind of spin that Jack Zduriencik puts on this year, and more importantly his vision for moving forward.

  One thing positive that we all learned tonight was that Luke French may indeed be a legitimate Major League pitcher who can perhaps be counted on in 2011 to fill a spot in the rotation. This would allow us to focus on filling some of the other gaps, especially with   an offense that has averaged only 3.24 runs a game which is on pace to being one of the worst in baseball in the past 30 years.

   Oh and be for I forget I want to remind everyone that next friday at Safeco the AAA Rainiers will be playing a playoff game if they make it as Cheney Stadium is finally undergoing a remodel job after 50 years! http://jeffsmariners.com

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! http://jeffsmariners.com

Tuiasosopo delivers ” The shot heard around Ballard”

  Last night Adam Moore proved he can hit in the big leagues, and tonight Matt Tuiasosopo made a statement of his own driving in 4 runs in the Mariners 4-0 win, including a huge 3-run blast in the top of the 9th . It has been a long time coming for these two guys that up until the last few nights looked like they were not destined for careers in the Bigs. In a season where much of what happens on a daily basis is judged by how the future will unfold, these past two days have given us some hope.

  Luke French also pitched a great game tonight giving up only 3 hits and no runs before being pulled in the bottom of the 8th with runners on the corners. Fortunately for the Mariners, Brandon League was able to get the final out of the inning setting the stage for Tuiasosopo to crush a slider out to the left field bleachers. Ironically a Mariners Fan in an Ichiro jersey retrieved the home run ball! League was able to handle the Orioles in order in the 9th including fanning last night’s hero Adam Jones for the last out to preserve  the win for French.

  Matt Tuiasosopo did not even know he was going to start tonight until Ryan Langerhans was scratched 20 minutes before the game and sounded humble in his post-game interview saying he “Just wanted to have some fun and help the team out”. As far as French’s outing my observation is that he looked more confident as the game went on as he dueled with the Orioles starter Kevin Millwood. French had a no-hitter going into the 6th and had 16 first pitch strikes tonight to get ahead of the Orioles who besides their threat in the 8th were never really in this one.

  So now the Mariners need a win tomorrow to try to win another series for their new skipper Daren Brown, before heading on to play the Yankees and Red Sox as our sailors try to navigate this long hot East Coast road trip. So far in August the Mariners are playing the kind of ball they were playing in June before the July nightmare.

  Many of you like myself were not alive in 1951 when Bobby Thomson hit “The shot heard around the world” which resulted in a dramatic victory by the NY Giants in a 3-game playoff with the Dodgers. Sadly Bobby Thompson passed-away today at the age of 86 as one more link to Baseball’s colorful past moves on. The following article has more on Thompson: Bobby Thomson, ‘shot heardround the world‘ hero, dies‎  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

Cardinals fry French then shell Snell 9-3

The St. Louis Cardinals under the helm of  Tony LaRussa unloaded on the struggling Seattle Mariners tonight 9-3. The Cardinals franchise has a storied past with several World Series victories as well as a long list of great players such as Dizzy Dean, Bob Gipson, Lou Brock, and Stan Musial. However the current line-up featuring Albert Pujols hitting third is as ominous as any in the past and proved it tonight against Luke French who got his first start tonight after coming up from Tacoma where he was 6-2. French was spotted a couple of runs right off the bat when Ichiro started the game off with a homer and Chone Figgins used his bat and speed to manufacture a run in the first. But that was before the Cardinals came to hit, and oh can they hit. The Birds answered right away in the first with three runs of their own off the long-ball delivered by Ryan Ludwick and right away the momentum shifted.

  French looked shaky from the start and couldn’t find the strike-zone and when he did he threw meatballs, sort of like Ian Snell….So I guess Wakamatsu decided to give the carnivorous Cardinals more carcass to feed on by sending none other than Snell himself out to feed the beast. Like a lot of you I figured Ian Snell would be sent off to a corner somewhere till they figured out what to do with him. But there he was again tonight, and he proceeded to get slammed for four runs in two innings just to remind us  in case anyone forgot how bad he is.

   For what it is worth it was nice to look at the classic Cardinals uniforms and see the ageless sage Tony LaRussa again battling away in front of a loyal and educated fan-base. To be honest,  just watching the way Albert Pujols and the rest of tonight’s line-up including  Adam Wainwright, go about their business was a pleasure. Yes I have more than a twinge of envy for the Cardinals fans who get to follow this club, but I have no desire to move to that hot, humid town. So like the rest of you- we are stuck with our sad-sack Mariners for another 100 games.

   Of course we have the Cliff Lee sweepstakes to look forward too and all the drama around that. And I am sure we will win another 35 games or so as we slog through the summer. Maybe Jack Z. will pull off a blockbuster trade packaging Lee with Ichiro for five or six quality players that will give us enough hope to stay glued to our respective TV’s and radios till October, before we get to pick a team from another city to follow through the play-offs. For me I am taking it one game at a time for the rest of the year as I try to grind out my first season with this Expansion Blog. Meanwhile I am wondering about the other Mariners Bloggers who have  jumped ship already this season, where do they go?  Green lake or Seward Park or maybe Fenway Park…….. http://jeffsmariners.com

Matsui leads Angels over Mariners 7-1

 Hideki Matsui connected for three hits tonight including a 2-run homer in the second inning against Mariners starter Ian Snell as the Angels took the first game of this weekend series. Matsui who came over from the Yankees was matched hit for hit by Ichiro, unfortunately Ichiro had two of his hits negated by Chone Figgins who doubled up  Ichiro in both the first and third innings. Joe Saunders who started for the Angels was able to pitch out of several jams early on in this one and now goes to 4-6 on the year.The Angels went on to score 7 runs on the night, and the Mariners  only managed to  put up 1 run in the fifth inning on an otherwise quiet night for the offense.

  The Mariners starting rotation has been strong this year with the exception of the fifth starter. Ian Snell is now 0-4 on the year and appears to get rattled easily with runners on base in addition to other issues that do not seem to be working themselves out. However the skipper Don Wakamatsu on the radio tonight in the post-game interview sounds like he has had enough. It was a bit disturbing to hear the manager talking about Snell’s problem with throwing strikes and the slow tempo of the games he pitches, then Snell coming on the air and basically dismissing his own manager. Snell is obviously on his way to being dismissed and will hopefully be replaced by Luke French who is 6-2 with a 1.93 ERA  for AAA Tacoma.

   Wakamatsu on the other hand seems to have some issues of his own as far as being able to be direct with his players as far as what is expected of them. The reports coming in that he and Griffey did not speak for the last week of Griffey’s stay with the team is another example of poor communication, though Griffey I’m sure had a part in some of that situation. It appears that Wak is always thinking which is good, but not good if the players are not sure of their role with the team and what is expected of them at any given time. The catcher situation is another example of the guessing game that is going on as far as who will end up as the starting catcher. This is not good for team morale and at some point a decision has to be made even if it ends up to be Rob Johnson the clear favorite of Wakamatsu despite the fact that all three of the other catchers have performed better this year.

  This is a big series and unfortunately Doug Fister will be out tomorrow due to a sore shoulder, instead Ryan Rowland-Smith will get the call. It would be a perfect time to bring up Luke French, but Smith seems to be another project that somehow keeps hanging around for no apparent reason. In addition to sending  my daily posts to the Seattle PI, I have been picked up by the folks over at Mariners Mayhem part of the Bloguin network, and wanted to thank them and remind my readers to go over  and check out all the great things going on at that Blog at www.marinersmayhem.com  .http://jeffsmariners.com

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