Mariners clip Birds 2-1, fly home after rough road trip

  The Seattle Mariners finished up a rough road trip by containing the St. Louis Cardinals to one run and going on to win the final game of the series 2-1. Jason Vargas was outstanding tonight going 7 2/3 innings and only giving up 5 hits and allowing no walks against a potent Cardinals offense, he now moves to 5-2 on the year. Jaime Garcia pitched a nice game but will pick-up his third loss of the year despite only giving up 5 hits and walking one tonight. Jason Vargas has been a shining star in an otherwise dismal year for the Mariners as he continues to get the job done on a regular basis.

   This was a fun game to watch, featuring a David and Goliath type match-up in front of 40,020 Cardinals fans mostly dressed in red and anticipating another slaughter by their sluggers against the hapless Mariners. Baseball is a major part of the culture in this part of the country and the fences are adorned with the faces of past heroes like Stan Musial, Bob Gipson and 87  year-old Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst who was interviewed before the game. I remember Schoendienst from when I was a kid rooting for the SF Giants and he managed the Cardinals winning the World Series in 1967. Red still hits fungos every day and sounded sharp as a tack in his interview. 

   Sometimes in a season like this it is nice to reflect and enjoy the rich history of this game rather than fret over the win-loss column. It also makes it easier to watch a game like tonight’s and just enjoy the quality plays. One of the most exciting plays of the night was watching Milton Bradley climb the fence in the 4th inning to rob Albert Pujols of a homer. Bradley jumped up and swatted a ball that had barely cleared the fence back in to play as if he was playing badminton,  holding Pujols to a double. Pujols would eventually score that inning for the Cards only run on the night, but Bradley’s play was spectacular and fun to watch.

  Offensively the Mariners picked up a run in the 4th when Josh Wilson hustled to break-up a double play allowing Milton Bradley to score on a grounder by Langerhans who got the start at first. The only other run for the Mariners came in 5th inning when Chone Figgins delivered a clutch 2-out double to score Michael Saunders from second and break the ugly 0-16 with RISP streak of the Mariners. But tonight really was all about Jason Vargas who knows how to execute the most basic of  pitching fundamentals ie: getting the first pitch in for a strike, which at one point in the game he had done in 14 out of 18 batters he faced. 

    Jose Lopez came out of the game in the sixth with an injury to his knee which is not good for the club as we seem to have half a dozen guys on the DL now.  Speaking of which, where are these guys? Josh Bard went down a month ago and seems to have disappeared off the map. Bedard seems to be in perpetual limbo, and Jack Wilson apparently left a game in the 6th inning because he was tired, also Mike Sweeney has been out on the longest 15 day DL I can remember. It all seems quite surreal as the AAA guys slowly have taken spots in the line-up over the last month or so leaving us with an ever-changing cast of characters with a new surprise line-up everyday.

   Well at last our battered sailors are making way for their home port after this 3-7 road trip,now  floating in the wake of their AL West rivals the Rangers and Angels who are starting to turn it on. Hope to make it down to the Safe to see the Reds this weekend or for sure when the Cubs and Lou Pinella come rolling in.

Snell gone, Mariners woes continue losing 4-2

  The St. Louis Cardinals used five pitchers, including newly returned starter Jeff Suppan to beat the Mariners 4-2 at  Busch Stadium tonight in front of 40,269 fans. The Mariners started out with Ryan Rowland-Smith tonight, and the big  Aussie looked a little better than usual in his four innings of work giving up 3 runs including a two-run bomb to Colby Ramus. This kid  Rasmus is the kind of player I’d like to see us get in exchange for Cliff Lee, he is 23 years old, hits for power with 13 dingers on the year, and seems to be confident. Of course the Cardinals who are rumored to be in the hunt for Lee will probably hang on to this budding star, but I wanted to use him as an example.

   The Cardinals in general are a well-balanced club with some depth at the major league level including newly acquired ex-Mariner Randy Winn who came in to pinch-hit late in the game. Of course their star Albert Pujols is the glue that holds this club together and he delivered a solo home run off  Shawn Kelley in the 5th to put this one away. Not that the Mariners didn’t have chances to score tonight. As a matter of fact they stranded 9 runners including two bases loaded situations, one in the first and one in the 5th, each time the Paper-boy Josh Wilson failed to deliver the clutch hit.

   The Mariners did manage to lift a couple of balls out of Busch stadium tonight, one by Milton Bradley in the 4th and the other a pinch-hit homer off the bat of Ryan Langerhans off another ex-Mariner Ryan Franklin in the 9th. Also on a positive note I did notice that several Mariners were more aggressive at the plate tonight going after first pitch strikes and though it didn’t produce a victory I hope in the long run this approach will help our club.

   The Mariners made a long overdue move today designating for assignment Ian Snell and bringing up 36-year-old Brian Sweeney from Tacoma. Maybe Snell will get picked up by another club who will be able to turn him around, as Lord knows the Mariners gave him every possible chance, and then some. All and all this was not a terrible game, our boys just couldn’t get the clutch hit tonight, and with a solid club like St. Louis you need to take advantage of scoring opportunities or the Cards will prevail. So it is one more game against the Cards before coming home for the weekend to face more NL teams starting with the Reds on friday who are in a tight race with the Cardinals in the NL Central.

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……..

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