Mariners navigate Confused Seas to win 5-1

There is a nautical term called “Confused Seas” wherein the swell of the waves from a previous storm and new waves from current wind conditions are in conflict with each other and actually going in different directions. Tonight’s game started with the left over swell from last nights storm in the dugout with its lingering effects on the the team and the fans, and then the actual game that turned into an eventual 5-1 win for the Mariners.

  It is an odd combination of emotions as the strong undercurrent of bad energy from friday night was countered by the victory tonight against the Boston Red Sox. John Lester pitched a great game striking out 13, yet the Mariners managed to get 5 runs on only 4 hits and get a win against a Red Sox team battling with their own demons. Michael Saunders had a big two-run homer in the sixth and with his two hits on the night moves his average up to .238. The Mariners starter David Pauley pitched 5 and 2/3 innings giving up 1 run on a long-ball to David Ortiz.

   Once again the starter for the Mariners did his job and for once we got a few timely hits including a well executed squeeze bunt by Jack Wilson to bring in Milton Bradley after he tripled in the 8th. It would be nice to get a victory tomorrow and come-away with a split in this wild series. Like many of you I am having a little trouble processing all that has happened in this wacky season and look forward to some fair weather and calm Seas for the rest of the voyage…….

Mariners crush Yankees again 7-0!

Lee and Hernandez a pair of Aces

    The Seattle Mariners shutout the New York Yankees 7-0 in front of 46,309 stunned fans in the Bronx. Felix Hernandez used his wicked slider mixed in with his lively fastball to blank the Yankees giving up only 2 hits en route to his third complete-game of the year. Hernandez kept the AL East leading Yankees big bats silent for the second night in a row, following Cliff Lee’s similar performance in the first game of the three game series. Hernandez who had some rough outings earlier in the year is definitely hitting his stride in the month of June delivering perhaps his best showing of the 2010 campaign.

  The Mariners offense was back on track for the second night in a row as well giving King Felix a seven run cushion to work with. In a role reversal of sorts the Mariners came up with 4 long-balls tonight, including 2 from young Michael Saunders and one each from Milton Bradley and Russell Branyon. Bradley delivered the first bomb in the top of the second inning to set the tone for the surging Mariners who moved to 33-44 on the year with tonight’s sweet victory. In the next inning Michael Saunders came up with his first homer followed by an RBI single off the bat of Jose Lopez who is quietly finding his stroke, making it 3-0. Hernandez cruised through the middle innings toying with the powerful Bronx Bombers continuing to add to his strikeout total which would eventually reach 11.

  In the top of the 7th after Chone Figgins singled and stole second, Russell “The Muscle” Branyon blasted his first home run since returning to the Mariners and suddenly the Mariners were up 5-0. It was nice to see the burly Branyon hit his 11th homer of the year in only his second game back to help silence the critics who second guessed this move. But the night was not yet quite over for the Mariners offense as Michael Saunders went on to add another two-run blast in the eighth inning. Hitting two homers in one night at Yankee stadium will go a long way in boosting the confidence level for youngster from B.C.

   This past few weeks have felt like a new season for the Mariners, and for the last two nights the Mariners bats have given the run support to their Aces that hasn’t been there for most of the season. We still have eleven games to go before the All-Star break and it’s entirely feasible that our boys could pass-up the Oakland A’s in the standings before the second-half of the season starts. But for now it is one game at a time, starting with tomorrow mornings final of this series with C.C. Sabathia going against Ryan Rowland-Smith. You can bet the Yankees have had enough of losing to the upstarts from Seattle, Ryan Rowland-Smith will need to continue to pitch as well as he has done lately to give the Mariners a sweep in the Bronx.

    Meanwhile the Cliff Lee saga drags on one more day with the contenders posturing in the press with rumors, in an effort to try to see if they can get the Mariners to settle for prospects. The Mariners have let it be known through channels that we are looking for a Major League- ready middle of the order bat. I applaud Jack Zduriencik for playing his cards close to his chest, holding out for what we need. In reality if we can keep playing winning ball a good case can be made for keeping Cliff Lee. More will be revealed as the summer sun grows warmer……..

Mariners crush Cubs 8-1

Oh Canada! Saunders smashes 2-run bomb

 The Seattle Mariners offense exploded for 8 runs tonight giving starting pitcher Cliff Lee more than enough run support to beat the Chicago Cubs 8-1. The win gave the surging Mariners their sixth victory in a row against the dejected Cubs who despite spending 140 million dollars on payroll are quickly falling out of contention. Cliff Lee allowed the Cubs 9 hits including a solo home run in the second inning to Tyler Colvin on a night where Lee pitched his way out of several jams. Lee failed once again to allow a walk and fanned 9 Cubs on his way to his fourth complete game of the season. The crafty veteran Lee was a pitch ahead of the hapless Cubs all night mixing in his wicked breaking ball with his fastball in an unpredictable fashion. On a night when you could say he didn’t have his best stuff, Lee used his cunning and experience to keep the Cubs guessing.

   The big story tonight was the Mariners bats which came alive allowing the Mariners to score more than 5 runs for the first time since beating the Twins 7-1 nineteen games ago. Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the fourth the M’s loaded the bases for Casey Kotchman who delivered a single to left tying the game up 1-1.Rob Johnson went down on strikes and with 2-outs the young Canadian Michael Saunders picked up the 1st of his 4 RBI’s  with a walk. Ichiro then finished of the scoring with a single to score Josh Wilson and the lumbering Kotchman from second, to hand Cliff Lee a 4-1 lead. Lee quickly mowed down the Cubs in the top of the fifth striking out Soriano and Castro. In the top of the sixth the Cubs got the first two batters on and threatened to get back into it, but again Lee closed out the inning with a couple of his 9 k’s and some good defense by Jose Lopez at third. The M’s added a couple more insurance runs in the sixth when Saunders drove in Rob Johnson with a line drive double to right. Ichiro then laid-down a beautiful bunt to advance Saunders to third allowing, Chone Figgins to bring him home on a weak groundball. It was refreshing to see the club move runners around tonight and they were 5-10 with RISP.

  The infield had three double plays on the night to help out Lee in key situations. Interesting to note that Josh Wilson got the start at short and played well there as well as picking up a couple of hits. Something special is going on here and I think Wakamatsu doesn’t want to mess with the chemistry too much. Wak even let the struggling Milton Bradley stay in the line-up despite having Mike Sweeney available. True to form the Cubs fans rode Bradley all night so perhaps Wakamatsu is letting Bradley face his demons so to speak.

   In the eighth inning Michael Saunders connected for a 2-run blast his 5th of the year and though I have taken a wait and see attitude with the lanky youngster, I think he may just be a good fit for this club. It was once again inspiring to watch Cliff Lee run out to the mound in the late innings just like a kid who loves to play the game and doesn’t want to give his manager a chance to tell him he can’t go back on the field. Lee is definitely a throw-back to a different era and I think his hustle and focus are setting a great example for the young guys like Vargas and Saunders. At this point it seems like it would be a shame to lose Cliff Lee for in addition to his stellar performances on the mound he is setting the tone for the next era of Mariners baseball-Thanks Cliff!

   So the bad news on the night is that Texas won again and are now 17-4 in June leaving the Mariners in their familiar spot of 13 back. On a positive note the Oakland A’s lost and are 10 ½ back so we need to keep our nose to the grindstone and make sure we catch them by the All-Star break. Tomorrow we go for back-to-back sweeps with Felix Hernandez on the mound for a 1240 start on what will hopefully be another beautiful NW day. I don’t know about you but I’m heading down to the Safe with a Wisk- broom to help cheer for a sweep!

Mariners keep hope alive with 5-1 win

Ichiro Fans going crazy after homer June 19,Safeco Field

    The Seattle Mariners beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-1 tonight behind the pitching of Felix Hernandez who went all the way, and home runs from Ichiro and Michael Saunders. The surprising Reds who have been at or near the top of the NL central all year were held to 5 hits and struck-out 9 times tonight as they slipped to 1 ½ games out of first. For the Mariners it was their third win in a row and the first time all month they have scored more than four runs in a game. Tonight was singles night at Safeco and the crowd became more festive as the night wore on. It has been awhile since the Mariners faithful have given themselves permission to let go and have some fun, like the young fans in the photo that went wild when Ichiro hit a solo-shot in the bottom of third.

   Meanwhile Felix Hernandez for the second outing in a row showed the swagger that he displayed last year allowing the Mariners offense time to come to life. The Reds starter Sam LeCure dropped to 1-4 though he pitched well outside of the long-ball that Ichiro hit in the third, until the Mariners came to life in the sixth inning. Jose Lopez opened up the bottom of the 6th with a single to center followed by a double off the bat of Franklin Gutierrez to give the Mariner runners at second and third with no outs, and the game knotted at 1-1. For a minute it looked like once again the M’s were going to come up empty-handed as Josh “Paper boy” Wilson failed to deliver and instead lined out to first. Casey Kotchman was then intentionally walked as the Reds tried to get out of the inning with a double play. Rob Johnson was able to put the Mariners up by a run with a sacrifice fly to center, and you could sense the relief in the crowd after so many disappointing bases loaded situations this year.

   With two runners aboard the tall lanky kid from Canada with two down and two men aboard, proceeded to slam a three-run homer to right which sent the fans into a frenzy as finally someone had delivered a clutch home run. Felix Hernandez went into overdrive after being given a 4-run lead and for the second night in a row the Mariners starter went the distance. Chone Figgins also had a big night and went 3-4 hitting the ball hard as well as covering a lot of ground at second.

   In addition to the young Michael Saunderish looking guys with Ichiro spelt  on their chests I saw a group of older Japanese fans out in right field who were whooping it up tonight as well. A couple of the older Japanese gentlemen came over at one point in the game to shake hands and take photos of the “Ichiro Boys”. It was fun out in the right-field corner tonight on singles night. I didn’t meet the woman of my dreams but I had fun and even felt that elusive home-town pride in our ballclub. Jack Z. stated he was not going to make any decisions on trades till after the games with the Cubs and Reds. So for one more night the flickering flame of hope is still alive, and if we can keep rolling we may not need to replace that flame with a fire-sale next month.

Cliff Lee dominates as Mariners win 4-2

Cliff Lee pitched another gem tonight against the Texas Rangers going all nine innings to give the Mariners a 4-2 victory down in Arlington to start a four game series. Don Wakamatsu put  a new fresh lineup on the field tonight batting Chone Figgins at the bottom of the order as well as starting Mike Carp at first. Figgins responded by going 3-4 and making a great diving catch in the second inning. Carp who had 10 homers for Tacoma replaced Mike Sweeney on the roster while Sweeney tries to recover from his back problems. Wak shook up his own coaching staff by switching Lee Tinsley from first base  over to third base with Mike Brumley. Milton Bradley batted second and picked up a hit, but it seems Josh Wilson would be a more natural guy to bat second. I applaud Wakamatsu for trying some new moves and just hope they work.

    Offensively the Mariners had a big inning in the second when Carp lead off with a single and got forced out at second. Following that, none other than Rob Johnson picked up his first of two hits on the night setting the stage for Michael Saunders. Saunders turned on a pitch and lined a ball just over the right field fence for a 3-run homer. Figgins got on with a single and stole second but got caught trying to steal third following the blast by the tall lanky Canadian Saunders.

   The Mariners picked up another run in the third with a single by Rob Johnson scoring Mike Carp who had reached base on an error and was moved up by Josh Wilson who had another 2-hit night. The rest of the night was all about Cliff Lee who just kept pounding the strike zone all night keeping the Rangers at bay. Lee pitched out of jams in both the fourth and fifth innings leaving a couple of Rangers on base both times. Cliff Lee exudes confidence on every pitch and tonight there was no doubt who was in charge.

   Lee pitched 8 innings without giving up a run or a walk and thus was given the ball to finish this one out in the 9th where things got a bit dicey for the southpaw. The Rangers were able to get lucky and pick-up two runs in the ninth on sharp ground balls that made it through the infield. Jose Lopez however made a great play on a ball in the hole to get a force at second and save a run. It looked like the Rangers may have had a chance for a comeback victory after Lee dropped a ball shoveled to him by Casey Kotchman , but true to form Cliff Lee got the last out before we had to call on the recently shaky bullpen.

  The AL West is bunched up at the top with the other three clubs in the division hovering just above .500. The Mariners need to  win this series to stay alive. It seems we have been around 7 or 8 games back for over a month despite going through injuries, retirements and various melt-downs. For tonight we are still breathing in this race despite the endless trials this club has put itself and the die-hard fans through.

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.

Another Positive game for Mariners winning 5-1

Tonight the Seattle Mariners beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-1 on a wet and dreary night in front of 12,614 die-hard Birds fans. On display was exactly the sort of team Jack Z. promised us. Good Pitching, solid defense, and timely hitting, plus a home run by Ryan Langerhans. Mariners starter Cliff Lee picked up the win pitching into the 8th inning before Brandon League came in to finish this one out. Both pitchers were impressive facing an Orioles team that is struggling without their All-Star second baseman Brian Roberts. Orioles starter David Hernandez pitcher had another tough night and recorded his 11th loss in his last 11 decisions.

 Once again the trio from Tacoma Ryan  Langerhans, Josh Wilson, and Michael Saunders produced at the plate for the second game in a row. Langerhans playing 1st for Casey Kotchman and hit a solo homer in the 5th  Saunders also had 2 hits on the night including an RBI single in the 6th. It was a relief to see Rob Johnson pick up a couple of hits on the night including a clutch 2-out single in the 6th which scored 2 runners including Ken Griffey who hustled in when the ball was bobbled in left field. Even Chone Figgins picked up a hit tonight and had an RBI walk in the 5th.

Watching Cliff Lee pound the strike zone with first pitch strikes and his fast pace was fun to watch. But coming away from this game it was apparent to me that Brandon League is quickly becoming the go-to guy in the Bullpen. League came into the game in the top of the 8th with one out and runners on first and second, and with 4 pitches shut down the Orioles. League shut the Birds down in order in the 9th, and that was all she  wrote.

 The only way we are going to move beyond the drama from the last homestand is for this club to come together as a team like they did tonight and silence all the armchair GM’s. We looked like a team tonight and it feels good.

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