Team has meeting, then delivers beating 4-2

  The Seattle Mariners rallied around their Ace pitcher Felix Hernandez and came away with a 4-2 victory over the San Diego Padres to snap a 5-game losing streak. This victory came on the heels of a closed-door players only meeting after the Mariners loss on Saturday. Apparently the veterans Chone Figgins, Milton Bradley and Cliff Lee showed leadership in pulling the meeting together. It was nice to see these guys step-up and start the process of being more accountable to each other in the post-Griffey era. Griffey was a great player but the truth is that back in the glory days of the 90’s  it was guys like Jay Buhner who kept the team together and were not afraid to call each other out when they needed to for the good of the team.

  Felix Hernandez pitched like the lion he is today going 8 and 2/3 innings  giving up only 4 hits and walking only one Padre while striking out 9. Milton Bradley blasted a 2-run homer as well, and you can say what you want about Bradley but he does play with heart. It was nice to see Rob Johnson pick up three hits today, including a single in the top of the ninth in which he eventually scored on with the help of a clutch double by Ichiro, giving the Mariners an insurance run.

  Felix Hernandez gave what I thought was his best performance of the year. I was also glad to see Wakamatsu allow Felix to go out to the mound in the ninth despite his pitch-count and get the first two outs before handing the ball over to Aardsma for the final out. As you know I have been writing a lot about the scientific approach to pitch-count that the Mariners have been following like a religion up to this point in the season with miserable results. With all due respect to the sabermetrics crowd on certain unnamed blogs, I am old-school when it comes to judging when it is time to pull a starter. By that I mean if you have a big strong kid like Felix on the mound throwing well, you make the judgement based on the situation at hand. And after losing 5 games in a row and your Ace is on the mound feeling and looking strong, well then let him finish the game and count the pitches later but first win the game!

   So as to be clear I have a respect for statistics, trends, and projections based on past performances but it just seems a Manager needs to be able to follow his gut feeling as well, and not become over reliant on abstract numbers. Rest assured I have a copy of  Baseball Prospectus 2010 full of useful information that I refer to now and then, but we are talking about a real live group of men not some bizarre fantasy baseball league.

   We shall see if this club is ready to suck it up and come out swinging after the closed-door team meeting yesterday. Luke French will be making his first start this year with the big club facing the tough Adam Wainwright as we make our way to St Louis to face Albert Pujols and the Cardinals. This should be a fun and interesting series to gauge the grit of our  sailors from Seattle. Heart and guts cannot be measured by sabermetrics, but I’m hoping our team is  ready to represent  the true scrappy nature of the Northwest Pioneer spirit for the rest of the campaign .

Mariners continue to drown in a Sea of Futility 7-1

The San Diego Padres beat the Seattle Mariners 7-1 in Interleague play at  field in front of 30,019 fans. This game was actually closer than the score indicates as Cliff Lee once again had a strong outing, as both teams collected 10 hits on the night. In reality the writing was on the wall for this one in the first inning as the Mariners managed to load the bases with the 1-2 punch of Ichiro and Figgins collecting singles followed by a walk to Gutierrez to load the bases. What followed was indicative of the entire Mariners season as Jose Lopez watched a first pitch strike down the middle by Padres starter Wade Le Banc, then hit into a double play. Josh Wilson had two hits on the night but in the first he popped up to leave the bases loaded, and the Mariners who seem to lack the “Killer instinct” came away with a big goose egg despite  having the bases loaded and no outs.

  The surprising Padres came back in the bottom of the first and picked up two runs off the bat of Adrian Gonzalez who hit a 2-run homer which put the Padres up for good. The Mariners picked up their only run in the second inning when Ichiro drove in Rob Johnson with a flare to left field. Cliff Lee gave up a run in the fourth but otherwise pitched well enough to win for most Major League teams, and I’m sure by the end of July he will get a chance to go somewhere where his skills will be better utilized.

    In the 8th inning the Mariners managed to load the bases with one out and brought in Michael Saunders to pinch-hit. It was painful to watch the lanky young  fella stare at the first two called strikes as even Mike Blowers pointed out that in this situation you need to go the plate and be ready to hit when coming off the bench late in a tight ballgame. Saunders did manage to run the count full before swinging at strike three. Casey Kotchman who I though had been delegated to a role as a late inning defensive replacement rather than offensive, came in a hit and weak dribbler to drown any hopes for a comeback in this one.

   Sean White and Brandon League managed to give up 4 runs between themselves, including a 2-run shot off the bat of Salazar to put icing on the cake. So the Mariner continue to drown in the Sea of Futility for the fifth game in a row and we still have 100 games to go. I hope those of you still paying attention have like myself started to figure out a way to detach emotionally from the Mariners to save your sanity, and if not there is always a new season starting tomorrow as our good friend Jack Z told the press Friday.

Padres pound Mariners 8-1

The San Diego Padres beat the Mariners today 8-1 and won the rubber-match of the series behind the pitching of Matt Latos. Felix Hernandez got the start for the Mariners and held the first-place Padres to three runs through 7 frames. But once again the M’s Bullpen imploded and gave up 5 runs in the top of the 8th. Skipper Don Wakamatsu started Mike Sweeney at first and Matt Tuiasosopo at third in attempt to shake things up. Both Tui and Sweeney got hits and fielded well, but it wasn’t enough to get things moving. Chone Figgins continues to struggle and now has 41 strikeouts this year.

 Josh Wilson continues to play well at shortstop, as Jack Wilson appears to have a questionable future as he revealed in interviews yesterday. Ryan Rowland-Smith came in to pitch the top of the 9th in a mop-up role as the bullpen keeps revolving and morphing into I’m not sure what. On a positive note the Texas Rangers lost again so we remain 8 1/2  games back.

 This series opened with a bang and ended with a thud. Tomorrow is an off day for the club before the Detroit Tigers come to town for a 2-game series. I have enjoyed the recent comments from friends and family on here as well as the loyal followers of our team. Of course I have received a few abusive comments particularly when I stick-up for the veterans Mike Sweeney and Ken Griffey. For the record this is a Mariners Fan Blog, I do not claim to be impartial I am a die-hard Fan. Anyway I hope to hear from more of you as we trudge the road of the 2010 season still keeping the faith.

Padres edge Mariners 2-1

The San Diego Padres managed to squeak by the Mariners tonight in a classic Pitchers duel. The Padres starter Clayton Richard went 7 full innings, and had the edge on Mariners starter Ian Snell who pitched 5 innings giving up 1 run on 5 hits. The one run Snell gave up came at the hands of 42 year-old veteran Matt Stairs in the 4th. Stairs who is best remembered for his dramatic home-run for the Phillies against the Dodgers in game four of the 2008 play-offs, crushed home-run # 260 to right field with his patent full swing.

 Ian Snell pitched well and got out of several jams early in the game. Kanekoa Texeira gave up the other run in the 6th inning on a breaking ball in the dirt that allowed Headley to score from third on a wild pitch. Offensively for the Mariners they had runners on first and third with one out in the first but could not get the sac-fly or base hit needed from either Sweeney or the slumping Lopez. Mike Sweeney did manage to drive in our only run in the 6th with a two-out single and had a 0ne-out double in the 9th to continue his hot hitting. The Mariners once again had runners at the corners with one-out in the bottom of the 9th, before Milton Bradley fanned and Casey Kotchman grounded out with Ken Griffey on deck, to end this tight match-up of West Coast teams.

 With the win the Padres managed to stay tied for first in the NL West, and the Mariners stay 8 1/2 back of  Texas who lost to the Cubs today in Interleague play. 28,670 were on hand tonight and they were treated to the complete opposite of  the slugfest on Friday with this low-scoring affair. The series is now even at 1-1 and I like our chances of winning this series when Felix Hernandez takes the mound for the Mariners in the rubber-game tomorrow afternoon.

Somebody had to Pay, Mariners explode for 15-8 Win!

Safeco field May 21 2010

On a cold May night I took the bus down to the Safe tonight following a hunch that yesterday’s come from behind victory marked a turning point in the season for the Mariners. Little did I know what was to follow would be a slugfest, thinking instead the pitching duel between Cliff Lee and Wade Le Banc throwing for the 1st place San Diego Padres. Cliff Lee didn’t seem to have his best stuff and the surprising Padres scored 2 runs in the first with Pesky David Eckstein starting things off with a single, followed by a double from slugger 1st baseman Adrian Gonzalez.The padres picked up a couple more singles from Headley and Salazar, before Lee shut them down.

  In the Mariners half of the 1st I got my first clue that tonight King Neptune was on our side when Gutierrez reached first on a dropped routine fly to right field. We didn’t score in the 1st but something was different in the air tonight after the collective sigh of relief we all felt after Griffey’s clutch hit on Thursday to win that one.

  And then it came, the Baseball Gods decided to start the bottom of the second with a fluke base hit by Bradley that bounced off third Base and gave Milton Bradley the 1st of his 3 hits for the night. We loaded the bases up on walks before Josh Wilson delivered a single. Ichiro picked up a hit as well and on another odd play Josh Wilson scored from 3rd on a ground ball by Guti to third baseman Headley who instead of going for the double play, decided to throw home allowing Wilson to score. Mike Sweeney came up with 2 runners on and fouled a ball that just missed being fair for a homer. I’ve watched a lot of baseball in my life and 99% of the time when a batter hits a ball out but foul he doesn’t come back and hit a home run. But again this night was our night, and Mike Sweeney did indeed connect for a 3-run bomb and the Mariners were up 7-2 and never looked back.

 Our new starting catcher Josh Bard hit a solo homer in the 3rd to answer the Padres 2-runs effort in the top half of the frame. It was odd to see Cliff Lee labor tonight and he actually gave up 7 earned runs before the night was over. But this time things would be different for our suddenly on fire bats, every time the Padres scored we answered back, and then some.

  Mike Sweeney picked up another homer and had 4-hits and 6 RBI’s on the night. Milton Bradley had a 3 hit night, and Josh Bard lifted his average to .400 with his 2 hits. Only Jose Lopez went hitless tonight though he was robbed of extra bases late in the game by a Willie Mays over the shoulder basket catch by the Padres left fielder Denorfia. I had a great seat in section 120 three rows back, I brought the sign pictured above in support of Ken Griffey which Vargas and a couple other player acknowledged. But I kept looking for Griffey who must have been sitting back and enjoying the hit parade he started Thursday.

  Finally in the 6th he came up to the rail and Bedard pointed my way, Griffey saw my sign and acknowledged it by tipping his hat to me! And in reality he was tipping his hat to all of us that stood with him recently. That whole Larry Larue story is officially dead now. The Barometer is rising, though it has a long way to go to reach .500, so I think I will enjoy the memories of tonight’s break-out 15-8 win and let King Neptune do the rest.

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