Week #23 in Review
Watching this Mariner team fight for a split with the Yankees has some measure of moral victory. Somewhere.
Wins: 57. Losses: 76. Games out of first place: 18.
For the first time in what feels like years, the Mariners climbed the standings. And by that I mean they are 1/2 game closer to first place than they were this time last week. It’s sumthin’. The Angels were swept by the Devil Rays and dropped 5 straight, and now they’re sharing the division lead with Oakland. Texas, on the other hand, took 3 of 4 from the White Sox, and so now third place stands 7.5 games away. Unless Providence intervenes, the Mariners are on their way for their first back-to-back last place finishes in club history. In 28 years, the Mariners have finished last 7 times (or once every 4 years, just like the Olympics!), but never twice in a row. Maybe Bill Bavasi has some ‘splainin’ to do. Maybe Pat Gillick does, too. They are now 4 games below their projected wins according to third-order wins.
Runs Scored: 588 (12th in the American League). Batting average: .255 (last). On-base percentage: .316 (13th). Slugging percentage: .396 (13th). Home runs: 116 (12th). Bases on balls: 376 (8th). EqA: .249 (11th, tied with White Sox). The American league average is .262/.329/.426. The M’s are well below the league average on all counts.
Runs allowed: 619 (7th). Staff ERA: 4.47 (7th, tied with Yankees). DIPS ERA: 4.73 (13th). Strikeouts: 730 (last). Bases on balls: 426 (11th). Home runs allowed: 152 (11th). Starters ERA: 4.98 (11th). Relievers ERA: 3.43 (5th). Defensive efficiency: 70.4% (4th).
As is usual, the Mariners offense was measly this week. However, their pitching was overpowering, and thus, the Mariners outscored two playoff hopefuls in the White Sox and Yankees 32-24. They were outslugged 12 home runs to only 6, but they did draw more bases on balls 24-23.
No Mariner hitter logged 20 or more at bats and had an OPS above .800. So we gotta go with Jose Lopez, who was 4-for-11 (.364/.417/.818) with a pair of doubles, a home run and a walk. Tuesday against the Yankees, Lopez walked to load the bases with no outs in the second inning. In the next inning with one out, he doubled, scoring two runs, making a 5-2 game “a brand new ballgame” at 7-2.
On the one hand, Joel Pineiro made two starts, pitched 12.2 innings, allowed 4 earned runs on 11 hits and 3 walks with 10 strikeouts. On the other, Felix Hernandez made two starts, pitched 15 innings, allowed 5 earned runs on 11 hits and 5 walks while striking out 15. Take out those 4 home runs Felix allowed, and that’s a pretty damn good week for Felix. But home runs really do count.
The rest of the lineup ranged from mediocre to replacement level to just plain awful. And below that was Yuniesky Betancourt. The 23-year-old shortstop was 2-for-23 (.087/.160/.174) with a walk and a stolen base. On the bright side, those two hits were doubles. His 21 outs were second in the lineup only behind Ichiro!’s 24.
Considering opponents hit .227/.300/.426 against the Mariners this week, picking on a single pitcher is not an easy task. Ryan Franklin’s start wasn’t near good, but it wasn’t godawful either. Monday Franklin lasted 5.1 innings and allowed 4 earned runs on 4 hits and 4 walks while striking out 4. How many outs are collected in 5.1 innings, you wonder aloud? 16, which is only significant if you’re into numerology and stuff.
Coming to a stadium near you
The Mariners won’t be winning any pennants this year, but they can steal one this week as they travel to Los Angeles and Oakland. The Angels haven’t scored more than 3 runs in a game since last Friday. They’ve lost 5 of their last 7. They were 14-13 for the month of August. They are 10th in the league in runs scored and have allowed the fewest runs in the league. Versus the Mariners this year the Angels are 7-5. Randy Winn had been the M’s biggest Angel-killer (okay, maybe “Angel-abuser”), so beyond him, Richie Sexson has 3 home runs and 11 walks in 40 AB against LA (.250/.412/.500). Pitching matchups are Moyer/Byrd, Franklin/Washburn and Harris/Colon.
Monday, the Mariners travel to Oakland for a three-game set. Since a rough spot in mid-August when they lost 7 of 8 against the likes of Baltimore and Tampa Bay, the A’s had run off a 7-game win streak before dropping the last two games to LA, which leaves them in a virtual tie for the division lead. They were 17-11 in August. They are 4th in the league in run scoring and 2nd in the league in preventing runs. As a team, the Mariners have it .228/.283/.324 against Oakland, and that includes Bret Boone’s .294/.368/.588 in 34 AB. Don’t hold your breath Monday thru Wednesday; it could be a long series. Or short, depending on your point of view. The A’s are 9-3 this season against the Mariners.
King Felix starts the Oakland series on Monday against Joe Blanton, who allowed just 6 earned runs in 7 August starts. Should make a great holiday baseball game.