Game 35 “Not Quite Dead Yet”
Hey, 14-21. Perhaps there’s hope after all.
Late edit: The West Tenn Diamond Jaxx’ website says that Jack Wilson will be rehabbing with them starting tomorrow when the roadtrip to Mississippi begins. The Mariners official site confirms.
* Doug Fister had six walks coming into the game, and this was advertised as one of the things he’d need to keep up in order to win this one. He got to a full count on Jason Bartlett and threw eight pitches before he induced the ground out. This at-bat was a rough summary of how Fister was pitching today. While he did manage to get first pitch strikes in for over two-thirds of the batters he faced, he struggled to put them away and left after just five innings, having walked three. To be fair, one of his walks, the one to Brignac, basically wasn’t if you take a look at it…
Not a great outing for him, though watching him fool Longoria badly on a 88mph pitch in, and then get him to K on a checked swing up in the eyes, that was nice.
The run that scored against Fister was among the stranger ways I’ve seen to get on the board lately. First there was the double to Bartlett, which is something I suppose, but then Saunders threw a dart to the left of the second base bag that Figgins couldn’t line up with, and so the ball ended up spiking and bouncing away. After that, Fister got a cleat caught in the mound and ended up with a balk that resembled some unintentional whirlwind move that scored Bartlett from third. That was annoying.
* As disheartening as the losses in Baltimore were, this game served as a reminder of how much better the team is with Gutierrez in the lineup. The first inning home run on a pitch into his wheelhouse was a decent enough example of that, especially considering that was the first home run Wade Davis had given up to a right-handed hitter all season, but so was the sixth inning walk, where he stole second and alertly went to third as the throw went astray. Smarter baserunning always helps.
* One of the comments made during the game was that neither Johnson nor Moore has really taken the title of starting catcher, due to both weak hitting and frequent mistakes behind the plate. After tonight’s game, I figure a number of people out there will want to give that title to Moore after seeing a double and a home run in the box score. Frankly, I don’t know if those two aren’t caught in a ballpark where the ball doesn’t carry as well, but their location, to right field in both instances, raises an interesting point. You look at Rob Johnson’s hitting charts, in Safeco at least, and you’ll see that only four of the balls he’s hit have gone to the right side. Moore, while logging nine fewer at-bats at home, has five, and three of his four balls in play tonight went to the right side. That ability may be more conducive to future success in Safeco.
* In May, Casey Kotchman has hit .056/.190/.083 in 36 at-bats. The Rays still opted to walk him intentionally in the sixth in order to bring up Josh Wilson. That should tell you what other teams really think of Wilson’s recent hot hitting.
* Kanekoa Texeira had to face the 4-5-6 hitters in the Rays lineup in the bottom of the sixth. He frisbeed in two pitches around 90 mph to get two quick inside strikes on Longoria, and then struck him out two later on a pitch in the dirt. He then struck out Carlos Pena, a left-hander, on eight pitches, and Upton on five pitches, the last two of which were swings out of the zone. The seventh inning featured three pitches to get through the likes of Pat Burrell and John Jaso, and after the walk to Brignac, one more to Bartlett to end the inning. We like Texeira.
* Sometime in the sixth inning, seeing a number of pitches being dropped in around the dirt and barely snagged, a small child behind home plate screamed “HE CAN’T EVEN GET A HOLD OF IT!” Though this was one of our better games behind the dish all season, clearly the child had not been watching much Mariners baseball this year.
* We shouldn’t fault Kelley for the dinger to Longoria because it was a decent pitch to a fantastic hitter. All you can really do in that case is tip your cap to the guy. Against Carlos Pena, Kelley managed a strikeout on five pitches all around the zone, and B.J. Upton was knocked out with just four. Kelley is still one of the Mariners better relievers when used properly.
* I know that the condensed game for this one will include the highlights of the home runs by Gutierrez, Moore, and Sweeney, but I really do hope that Sweeney’s stolen base, his first in four years, manages to make it in there too.
Another edit: We now have more home runs than the Cleveland Indians. LOOK OUT, AMERICAN LEAGUE.