Two years into a five-year, $64 million contract, Adrian Beltre has produced a .262 average, 44 home runs, and 176 RBIs. However, after the All Star break in 2006, Beltre slugged .552 with a whopping 18 home runs. Does this strong second half bode well for a turn-around in 2007, or will Mariners fans have to deal with 'A-Drain' once again? This blog intends to follow the 2007 season for Adrian Beltre, and the Seattle Mariners, and promises to hold no punches.



Frustration Boils Over

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When Raul Ibanez got tossed out of the game in the first inning, my initial thought was "Yeah, you go Raul, give em' a piece of your mind." After all, it was a horrible call for strike three on a ball way down, and I figured that if Raul got thrown out for arguing a call that was obviously wrong, it would fire up the team and lead to an emotional victory.

As soon as I had the time to reflect on the situation, I began to wonder if maybe the strikeout wasn't Rauls fault anyhow. I mean, he did foul off some other decent pitches that he should have smacked for basehits. Sure, that's the way the cookie crumbles when things are going the way they are. But it poses the question all the same, was it the umps fault for calling a bad strike? Or Rauls fault for working himself into that situation?

Anyhow, the team was fired up. For all of three innings anyway. Until Gil Meche decided to let the Texas Rangers play long ball. Something they're well capable of, especially in "The Ballpark"

I didn't catch most of this game as I working, and it was competing with game 4 of the Suns/Mavericks (it's sad enough that my favorite sports franchise can't keep my interest away from two basketball teams I could care less about). But I'm sure I caught enough of it. i saw the bottom of the third, when the Rangers scored all six of their runs, via the long ball. Minutes before the inning started, a patron said to me "I don't trust a three run lead against these bats." I simply replied, "of course not"

I also saw Adreinne ground into a double play with the bases loaded and one down, his second at bat (after scorching a meaningless single his first at bat, he finished 1-4, raising his average ONE point to .222. He did score a run and draw a walk, but also stranded three runners.

I don't know how much longer I can do this


Pass me a Rheineken!

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Congratulations to John Rheinecker on getting his first career victory on his 27th birthday.

The conditions couldn't have been better for him.

At home on a national holiday. A warm, dry evening with temperatures hovering around 90 degrees. And staring down the hitters of the Seattle Mariners. The hitters who as a whole rank 10th in the American League in batting average. Only 2 points above the lowly Royals.

The young left hander stymied the Mariners offense for 8 1/3 shutout innings, allowing only four hits and one walk while striking out 6. He was replaced with one out in the ninth by Rick Bauer who quickly recorded the final two outs for his first save of the season.

So how did the rookie feel, making his second career a full five weeks after his first start, an outing in which he gave up 2 runs on seven hits in just four innings?

"I was a lot more confident going out there this time," Rheinecker said. "I wasn't as nervous. I had a lot of confidence in (catcher Rod) Barajas."

Of course you weren't nervous, John. You probably couldn't wait to get up on the hill against these bums.

So, should we rush out and pick up Rheinecker in our fantasy leagues. No. Even I predicted another big, fat shutout in this game. And you can go ahead and assume the same results for any other pitcher we may encounter for the first time this season. This is nothing new to the Mariners. They have been unable to take rookie pitchers to school over the past few seasons, except for perhaps the occasional reliever. Everyone who owns a rookie pitcher in a fantasy baseball league has to expect occasional meltdowns (or string of meltdowns in Felix's case) along with their successes. But don't ever expect one of those meltdowns to come at the hands of this seattle offense.

Beltre collected the first hit of the game on a high chopper to second that he beat easily by two whole steps. Great solid hitting Adrienne (you'll lose the girls name when you stop hitting like one). His 1-3 performance raised his average 2 points to .221. Bars had ought to start doing a "Beltre Beer" during games like they used to with Dave Valle.

The only bright spot I can take from this is of the other teams hitting worse than seattle, other than KC, include Anaheim and Oakland. But somethings gotta give. The mariners must start hitting before one or both of those teams get it turned around. The AL west really wont continue to be this bad will it?


A lot of ducks left on the pond...

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Maddening. Simply maddening.

Short list of things that are more enjoybale than watching the Mariners: sticking forks into your eyeballs. Giving yourself a root canal. Watching "Gigli" 24 hours straight.

The Mariners completed being swept at the hands of the Minnesota Twins today, and they way the played over the past three games, they got what they deserved. Three times over the past three games, the Mariners had the bases loaded and only had one run to show for it. First, Kenji Johjima was doubled off second Friday night, then the heart of the batting order struck out three straight times in the first inning of last night's game, then the Mariners grounded into a frickin' triple play in last night's game. (Of course, the triple play did knock in a run, so the M's can at least do that efficently.) The Mariners definitely had their chances over the past three games- they had 53 seperate opportunities to knock in runs. We're not talking about being two-hit by Rodrigo Lopez or anything of that nature.

Maddening. Simply maddening.

In trying to pinpoint how, exactly, the Mariners offense is so bad, I did some comparisons of this year's team and last. Mostly, I was looking through box-scores to see how the Mariners did in low-scoring pitcher's duels (games where there were no more than five runs combined). I thought that this year's offensive ineptitude was a carry over from last year's, but what I found surprised me:

2005 results in five-run combined games:
18-15 for a .546 winning percentage (!!!!).
Most team in these ‘duels’: Oakland, who won 4 of 6 (I think this is the essence of why I hate the A’s).
Pitcher with best record in these games: tie between Aaron Sele (wha??) and Gil Meche, both with 3-0 records.
Worst record: both Pineiro and Harris had 0-1 records, but Ryan Franklin, he of little run support, had eight decisions and lost 5.

2006 results in five-run combined games:
2-11 for a .154 winning percentage. Un-frickin-believable! (The M’s were 5-8 through their first 13 pitcher’s duels last season.)
All three games against the Red Sox in April at Fenway was the most unlikely stretch of pitcher’s duels.
The pitcher to win both games in these situations? Joel Pineiro, if you can believe it.
Both Felix, Moyer, and Washburn are 0-3

In fact, when it comes to Felix, he is now 3-5 in his brief career for the M’s in these situations. Considering he has 22 career starts that means that more than a third have been involved in “pitcher’s duels.”

Also, the frequency of these pitcher's duels are up- from 20% last year to 27% this year. Given the discrepency in won-loss records, however, it could be said that the main difference between last year and this was that last year the Mariners averaged one pitcher's duel a week and stood a good chance to win it. This year, they average about a couple a week and have no chance to win either.

So, what gives? The team is pretty much the same this year as last year except for the following: Lopez, Betancourt, Everett, Johjima, and Washburn on the pitching staff. Lopez & Betancourt are out-producing who the Mariners had at second and short last year, Everett is second on the team in home runs, and Johjima is not only out-producing last year's catchers, but is a main reason why the M's pitching staff are keeping them in so many duels, which Washburn has contributed to.

So is the decrease in production by Sexson and Beltre so much that it cancels out the improvement in production by Lopez, Betancourt, Johjima, and Everett?

By the way, Beltre had a good series. (Well "good" by his standards.) He went 3-for-13 with one double, no runs or RBIs, and left 6 men on. He entered the series hitting .207 and left hitting .219, but, hey, silver lining, right?


The human buzzsaw that is Francisco Liriano

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Sometimes baseball just isn't fair.

Like the times when your team's offense seems just about to start clicking, and you're licking your chops at them starting against an 8.07-ERA pitcher to help fill your team with confidence as they pad their stats. Instead, they get two-hit.

Immediately after that game, your team faces perhaps one of the most dominating left-handed Dominican pitchers to make their presence felt in the American League for quite some time. You suspect that your team's offense will flail away blindly, which is exactly what they do.

This was the fate that befell the Mariners last night, as their offense crumpled under the sheer dominance of Francisco Liriano last night. Liriano played the latest version of the Mariners' "daddy", filling the role most recently played by Rodrigo Lopez, stymying the Mariners with, according to the AP write-up on the game, a "dazzling combination of 97 mph fastballs, 90 mph sliders and 82 mph changeups."

90 mph sliders? Time to revisit the whole "life-isn't-fair" moral.

Mel Brooks may have said "It's good to be King" in History of the World, Part. I, but so far this season it's probably been more of a bummer to be Felix Hernandez. Last night was the third quality start of the season for Hernandez (six innings/less than three runs, so that discounts his five innings of one-run ball in his first start against the A's). Felix has only one won of those starts, against Tampa Bay, and has been outpitched by Justin Verlander and, now, Francisco Liriano. Not only are other teams' phenoms out-pitching the Mariners, but Felix's ERA in his three wins (5.79) is the exact same in his losses which means that Felix's win-loss record is more dependnet on the M's offense more than what he's bringing to each start, and given this offense, that's not a good thing.

At least the Mariners scored a run, stopping a scoreless streak of 21 innings. They would've had more, but Beltre attempted to score from first on a bloop single to right. Mananger Mike Hargrove might call that "aggressive" base-running. To me, that's just bad base-running, and it cost the Mariners more runs.

Beltre had two hits in four at-bats, which on the positive side raises his average to .213, though he had no RBIs and was the vicitm of poor base-running decisions. Today the Mariners face Boof Bonser, a pitcher who has the distinction of sharing the same name with Michael J. Fox's girlfriend from "Teen Wolf." This is only Boof's second major-league start, but the Mariners don't fare well in those situations, so don't be surprised if Bonser pitches a no-hitter or something....


Dr. Mindbender

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So, apparently the Orioles were using mind control tactics against the M's Thursday afternoon. They saw no other chance but to trick the mariners into believing Rodrigo Lopez was, in fact, not Rodrigo Lopez, as Richie Sexson points out so clearly;

"We were trying to slow him down, but he got strike one all the time," Sexson said. "It's Greg Maddux. Same guy. He hasn't done that all year -- but he did today."

No, Big Sexy. It's not the same guy. Greg Maddux pitches for the chicago cubs, and is not Mexican. Imagine how silly he's going to feel when he looks at the boxscore tomorrow and realizes who they were facing.

Those dirty O's. If they're brainwashing opposing teams, who knows wht lows they'll stoop to next.


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Whooooooooops

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Notice the nine 'o's? Clever, huh?

Anyway, did I say something about the Mariners' offense seemingly cliking on all cylinders? About how the Mariners should feast on Rodrigo Lopez and his 8.07 ERA? And that Beltre would contribute to the Mariners' offense today- even possibly hitting a home run?

Can we just scratch that?

Baseball is a funny game. Its a law of averages, and pretty much even the most novice of fans are aware of a player's batting average. Batting averages tend to even themselves out- that's why they're called "averages." Richie Sexson is not a lifetime .206 hitter- that won't be his batting average at the end of the year. It will ride up as the year continues, and even if he doesn't reach his career average of .267 by the end of the year, it'll probably end up a little below it, not sixty points below. (I hope.)

The same goes for pitching. Rodrigo Lopez is not an 8.07 ERA-type pitcher. He's won 15 games twice, and his highest ERA in a season of 23 starts or more is 5.82. One would assume that it would only be a matter of time before Lopez began to revert to his 'average'- which would entail throwing some very good ballgames to balance out the very bad ones that his season has been full of so far.

Well, he threw his first very good ballgame today, combining with Chris Ray on a 2-0 two-hit shutout of the Mariners.

As I had a two-hour afternoon class, I only caught the first inning and the bottom of the ninth. Good thing, too, as I probably would've smashed my walkman into a million little pieces if I had to listen to the whole game. It probably would've been the most maddening game to listen/watch/attend. Gil Meche followed up his mastery of the Padres last weekend with another brilliant start- 7 innings of four-hit ball with ten strikeouts. For any other team, that's a win. For the Mariners, that means being on the losing side of their sixth shut-out of the season.

The Mariners weren't able to get anything going against Lopez. Absolutely nothing. He only threw 88 pitches- 65 of which went for strikes. The Mariners were obviously intending to be patient today and force Rodrigo to throw first-pitch strikes, which he did, forcing the Mariners' batters to continually be behind in the count, and popping up all over the infield. Only three runners got on base, due to singles by Ibanez and Sexson and a walk by Jeremy Reed, and none got to second. Beltre, obviously, going 0-for-3 and lowering his season average to .207.

What a horribly depressing and deflating way to end an otherwise succesful home-stand. Sure it was great to win five of seven games, but against a struggling pitcher like Rodrigo the M's have to wonder why they didn't go 6-1 as they head back out on the road.

Tomorrow night the M's play the Twins in the Metrodome, Felix Hernandez versus the Twins' young phenom Francisco Liriano (who Beltre has never faced before). Contrary to a pitcher's duel, why do I have a sneaking suspicion that a few batters are going to add to their season stats in a big way?


Beating up Benson

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A day after the ninth inning melt-down in which the Mariners gave up nine runs to the Baltimore Orioles, it was time to turn the tables. The Mariners were the benefit of the big inning against the Orioles yesterday, scoring seven runs in the bottom of the second against the Orioles' Kris Benson. This was the Mariners' biggest inning this season since the, well, the eight run second against the Padres last Sunday.

Could this be a sign that the M's offense is beginning to click on all cylinders?

After Beltre led off the inning by grounding out, the Mariners strung together a walk to Johjima (why is he batting behind Beltre again?), a Mike hargrove-patented bunt single by Jeremy Reed, a two-run double by Yuniesky Betancourt, then an RBI ground-rule double by Ichiro before Jose Lopez struck out forthe second out of the inning. But after only scoring three runs, the Mariners weren't done yet. Raul Ibanez walked, and Benson uncorked a wild pitch, moving the runners up 90 feet. Richie Sexon followed wit ha double- the third of the inning, and the second two-run one. Carl Everett singled, knocking in Sexson, and then Adrian Beltre followed wit ha single, continuing his recent trend of hitting with runners on, even if he wasn't able to knock in Everett. Johjima ended the inning by striking out, but not before seven runs had come in to score.

Perhaps the filing for divorce by his hot wife caused Benson to pitch so poorly. Who knows. But at any rate, the Mariners have had two big innings in the past week, and if they can keep up this trend, then they'll approach .500 and respectability in no time at all.

Beltre's single was his only hit of the game, as he went 1-for-4 with no runs or RBIs. Still, that was what he had done in 4 lifetime at-bats against Benson, so he was able to continue his "success" and raised his average to .211.

Today the Mariners face Rodrigo Lopez and his 8.07 ERA and 13 homr runs given up in 58 innings so far this year. Beltre has a good record of actual success- not the .250 kind- against Lopez, hitting .294 in 17 at-bats against him with one home run and an .882 OPS. There's a very good chance that the Mariners could put up anotehr big inning against Lopez, and today was the day I predicted Beltre would hit his second hom-run nearly a month ago. Even if he doesn't hit a homer, if the Mariners beat up Lopez, Beltre will more than likely join in this time....



The game wasn't pretty. I wasn't there, and didn't watch it on TV or even listen to it on the radio, but it didn't matter. Looking at the boxscore on the computer was enough to severly sear my corneas to the point that i was blinded for a good five minutes.

Nine runs in the ninth inning? Against the Orioles? Seriously, I gotta ask- wtf????

It's like the Mariners were trying to re-create that spectacular loss against the Indians in which they gave up twelve runs in the ninth inning back in '01.

And it's not like the Orioles got to our scrubs either. J.J. Putz, so dominant so far, started off the ninth. For some reason, Gameday is being uncooperative so I'm unable to look at J.J.'s pitching counts with each bater he faced. What knowledge is available is that after Ramon Hernandez, who had all ready torched the Mariners for 7 RBIs inthe game, grounded out to third, Putz hit Corey Patterson, whop stole a base, then gave up an RBI single to Kevin Millar, followed by an RBI double by Nick Markakis, followed by a single to Matos. Jake Woods came in and he promptly gave up an RBI single. After walking Melvin Mora, Miguel Tejada followed with an RBI fielder's choice. This eneded Putz's night.

The line for the M's most 'dominating' reliever of the year?

0.1 3 4 4 0 0

sigh. In one-third of an inning J.J.'s ERA jumped from 1.96 to 3.47.

The only good thing about the ninth inning meltdown? The mariners weren't in the lead. Sure, perhaps they were only down by one run, but at least they didn't blow the ball-game.

And the otehr good news is that Adrian Beltre got the team's only extra-base hit. Some how he was able to gimp out a triple on his bad hamstring. (Perhaps that hamstring's not as bad as it's made out to be.) By hitting the three-bagger, Adrian's slugging percentage is now at .287, which is four points higher than his on-base percentage. Way to go Adrian!

Today, the Mariners face Kris Benson, who Adrian Beltre has only faced four times. He does have a hit against him, and compared to his current season, that qualifies as 'success.'


The week that did in the Mariners' 2006

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The Mariners have played good ball lately, in case you've been on Mars, under a rock, with both fingers in your ears and your eyes shut. After winning the first game in the three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles, the Mariners have won 8 of their last 13 games.

This new tendency to win ballgames has led to an increased talk of the Mariners shomehow slipping into the AL play-offs. Well, this and the fact that so far this year the AL West has retreated to the AL Worst and no time, as of yet, has been able to take the divison by its cajones. However, any play-off talk concerning the M's at this point is incredibly premature, and should immediately be hushed. Regardless of how weak your team's divison in, when it's four games below .500 at any point in the season, play-offs are not something to be discussed.

Consider that if the Mariners are ana average team for the rest of year and play .500 ball, they'll finish with 79 wins. A great improvement over the past couple seasons, yes, but still short of play-off caliber. My preseason thoughts on the AL West is that whatever team that won 90 games would win the division. Which is a safe bet, even though I thought that team would be the Angels (HA!). For the Mariners to do that, they'd have to play at a level incredibly higher than average, and win games at a .595 clip, going 69-47.

Its not as if that's unheard of, but a lot of things would have to break the M's way: Beltre and Sexson would have to perform at least at their career averages. There would have to be no drop-off from Jose Lopez's production. Felix would have to find his inner King and at least be a replacemnt-level pitcher and not the groove-ball tosser he has become. Hargrove would have to stick with Putz as closer regardless of Guardado's contract. And less of Ute Bloomquist playing means more wins. All of these things would have to happen for the Mariners to have a fighting chance.

What put the Mariners in this position? We'd have to go back to Sunday April 16th to mark the doom of the Mariners' 2006 season. Yes, I know. It's early in the season, and it was simply a hard-fought 3-2 loss at the hands of Josh Beckett and the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park, but that loss started a horrendous week of play by the Mariners. Before dropping that loss, the Mariners were a .500 team at 6-6. However, the next day after Beckett's dominant performance was the early-morning Patriot's Day game, in which Eddie Guardado gave up a two-ou two-run home run to Mark Loretta in a season-deflating 7-6 loss.

That loss put the Mariners at a 6-8 won-loss record as they returned home for a four game set against the Rangers, which they promptly dropped three of four from. The Mariners then preceeded to be swept at the hands of the Tigers and their dominating pitching staff. In told, the Mariners lost 7 out of 8 games, and the team that found themselves at Fenway Park with a .500 record now found themselves in last place with a 7-13 record an a .350 winning percentage. In fact, the only win keeping them from dropping eight straight required a go-ahead ninth inning home-run from dinosaur-lovin' Carl Everett.

During that week, (or should I say weak?) the Mariners hit .256, which could be considered average (their team average through today is .264) but left a whopping 91 runners on base and hit only three home runs, two by Everett. In fact, if you take out the 18-for-38 performance against the Rangers in their sole win, the Mariners hit .219 in their seven losses.

Adrian Beltre actually out-performed the team during that span, hitting .286. However, his troubles with hitting with runners on have all ready been noted in this blog, as he left nine runners on during the Mariners' horrible week. And, of course, he hit no home runs.

Very rarely does it appear that the fortunes of a season can turn on a single pitch or a single at-bat. It would require empirical evidence to have a data-based claim that play-off bound teams find an extra-drive from a clutch extra innings base-hit ot a strikeout with the bases loaded, perserving a close lead in late innings. However, there is a mental aspect to the game and losing negatively affects that mental side. It seems clear that Guardado serving up that two-run blast to Mark Loretta was the turning point of the Mariners' young 2006 season, and prompts two questions:

Will there be another turning point for the Mariners to put together a successful season? And why the heck is Eddie Guardado still on the Mariners' roster for, any way?


13 RBIs.... awesome

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So the Mariners won their fourth straight, 8-6, against the Orioles. It was a tight, hold-on-to-your-hat type game, with a grand-slam home-run by Richie Sexson in the fifth inning staking the M's to an 8-3 lead, only to have the Orioles score three unaswered runs. Eddie Guardado was able to close it out in the ninth for his first save in over three weeks.

Beltre even got into the action, driving in a first-inning run with a single. He tried to gimp out his basehit into a double, but his bad hammy wasn't helping him out in that regard as he was thrown out. But still, AB picked up an RBI, his 13th of the season.

13 RBIs, that's pretty sweet. That means Beltre is on pace to have 46 RBIs on the season. To put that in perspective:

*After today's game, Jose Lopez has 37 RBIs in 46 games.
*With his grand-slam, Sexson dang near knocked in a quater of Beltre's season RBI totals in one inning.
*The major league record for most RBIs in a game is 12, done twice, most recently by Mark Whiten, during his four home-run performance in 1993. That means Whiten was able to accomplish in five at-bats what it's taken Beltre 164 at-bats to do.
*On April 23, 1999 Farnado Tatis hit two grand slams in one inning for the Cardinals versus the Dodgers. In one inning, Tatis knocked in 62% of Beltre's 2006 season total RBIs.

I could go on but I'm beginning to depress myself.

The real questions that should be asked: is Beltre's hamstring problems serious? Should he serve as DH for a spell, and let Ute Bloomquist get some starts at third base? Did the recent lighting caught in a bottle by the M's provide Mike Hargrove some job security to last through the year?

Tomorrow, the Mariners face Adam Loewen, who is making his major league debut. According to minorleaguebaseball.com, Loewen's shown some impressive strikeout numbers, with 55 in 50 innings at AA Bowie. Loewen's had problems with wildness, but his walk rate in the minors is below what it's been in the past. Still, Baseball Prospectus said that in 2005 Loewen was "alternately brilliant and horrible, where 'horrible' usually meant being totally incapable of throwing a strike."

Here's hoping the "horrible" Adam Loewen shows up tomorrow, and the Mariners can stretch their winning streak to five games! Here's also hoping that Hargrove sits Beltre, as Loewen is a leftie and AB has a horrible .132 battign average against lefties so far this year. Then again, his average against anything is horrible, so why should it matter what side of the mound Loewen throws from?

Prediction for Beltre in tomorrow's game: 0-for-4, two strikeouts, and one 'belted' fly ball that dies on the warning track....



Ah, nothing gets the stale taste of being swept by the hated A's out of your mouth like taking three games from our 'bitter rivals' the Padres.

In these three games, the Mariners were everything they weren't in the three game series in Oakland. They were able to hit (.308) and got some excellent outings from their starting pitching (Washburn and Meche). Sure, Felix "Tons of Fun" Hernandez gave up a ton of runs & hits again in today's 10-8 trouncing of Chan Ho Park, but if Felix hadn't struck out Geoff Blum with a wild pitch, who knows how his start line would've looked like?

At any rate, at the risk of bringing the rain on the Mariners' parade, it appears that the only person who seems determined to not partake in the team's offensive success over the past few games is Adrian Beltre. Beltre entered the series hitting below .210 after the sweep at the hands of the A's, a mark he avoided being under for two weeks. And, yes, AB did pick up a second inning single in today's game (with Carl Everett on, a rare hit for Beltre with runners on!) but in the Padres series, Beltre went when 2-for-12 with one run and one RBI. He comes out of the sweep with a .205 average. In fact, since his season's high water batting-average mark of .230 was reached May 9th against the Tampa bay Devil Rays, in a game that marked the end of a stretch in which Beltre hit .326 by hitting in ten out of twelve games, his ability at the plate has collapsed to April standards. Since May 9th, Beltre has gone 4 for 34, a .118 average.

If Beltre's bat can't wake up out of its slumber with all of his teammates hitting around him, I'm going to have to again say that it's time for Willie Bloomquist to start a series at third, and give Beltre time to watch video of 2004 for a few days. Or, Grover, at least move Beltre down to ninth and let somebody productive bat sixth, like Yuniesky Betancourt or Jeremy Reed. Please?

Tomorrow the Mariners face Erik Bedard, who he has only received one hit in five at-bats against. So if you're looking for Beltre to pick up his average any, quit it.


Jose Lopez = Mr. Clutch?

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This is the type of game you like to see.

The Mariners triumphed over their 'natural rivals' the san Diego Padres 7-4. The game had a little bit of everything: Jose Lopez hitting a home run on a 3-1 pitch in the third inning; Washburn with a solid effort, 102 pitches in six innings, dead arm or no; and a brilliant strike thrown by Ichiro to Johjima to complete a rare 8-3 double play, with Johjima tagging out a barreling Josh Barfield who attempted to score on a sacrifice fly.

Lopez also continued to make his case that he is the Mariners' Mr. Clutch by lining a tie-breaking double into right field in the seventh inning. Who knows where the Mariners would be without the bat of Jose Lopez so far this season. He leads AL second basemen in RBIs, and should receive some consideration for the All Star game.

In this game the Mariners exhibited grit, hustle, and a seemingly desire to win ballgames. Their record may be 18-25, but as it appears this year's AL West will be similar to last year's NL West, a division that nobody wants to win, if the Mariners can string together a few more games like this the division will become a lot more interesting.

As every Mariner in the line-up got a hit in last night's game, so did Beltre, who singled to left field in the third inning. By going 1-4, Beltre raised his average to .211. As long he avoids going hitlesss or going 1 for 5, Beltre can only improve his average. Which makes me think of a conundrum. Earlier this year, Jeremy Reed began his season with a 10-game hitting streak, in which he hit .286 with no multiple-hit games. If a player went on a hitting streak and went 1-for-4 in game after game, eventually breaking Joe Dimaggio's 56-game hitting streak, but went 57-for-228 to do so, would such a feat be acclaimed or ignored?

Anyways, tonight the Mariners face Clay Hensley, who was supposed to serve in the Padres' bullpen but is starting due to injuries. This will be the first time the Mariners face Hensley, which gives me a sneaking suspicion that Hensley will throw seven shut-out innings or something similar. We'll see...


Mission, Impossible: To Stop the A's

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Gosh, the series against the A's didn't suck that badly, did it?

Sad to say, it did. Going through mlb.com's Gamedays of the past three ball games, I counted 52 at-bats with runners on base, and the Mariners collecting 13 hits in those situations for a .250 average. Minus the 6-for-13 performance in Tuesday night's blow-out, and that average takes quite a tumble to .180. Considering that espn.com has the Mariners hitting .271 with runners on, that means the A's pulled their Bob Gibson-impression once again on the Mariners and stymied them to one hundred points below their average. If you thought that was a lot of runners being left hung to dry, you weren't the only one. 50 runners being left on base makes for a loooooooong three-game series. No wonder Hargrove kept the team in the clubhouse for a fifty-seven minute long meeting.

And was I the only one that felt the M's lacked patience in this series? Tracking the 105 plate appearances over the past three games, I found that the M's swung on the first offering from A's hitters more times (14) than on any other count. And for those free-swinging efforts? Two hits, equaling a fourteen perecent success rate. 1-1 and 1-0 counts were next popular, with 12 swings each, and seven hits being collected on 1-1 counts for a 58 percent success rate. However, three ball counts were only reached in 17 plate appearances- 16 perecent of the total number of PA- and only one hit to show for it, Ichiro's full-count single leading off today's game.

In a word: pathetic.

On the radio in Portland today one of the local hosts suggested that the Marienrs pull a Pedro and collectively call the A's their "daddy." The M's ineptitude at the hands of the A's over the past few seasons are maddening and frustrating and provide a huge clue as to how to win the division: buy beating the A's.

Bavasi, or whoever replaces him in the front office, should adopt a Theo Epstein appraoch to building the Mariners, and that is with one goal in mind. As Epstein is solely concentrating on beating the Yankees, bavasi should soley focus on the A's for every part of the Mariners development. Since the instigation of the unbalanced schedule in 2001, the Mariners controlled the series between the A's, winning 33 of 57 match-ups. Since 2004, however, the A's have turned the tables and have won, including this year, 29 of 44 games. The A's have simply dominated the M's, and as they continue to do so the Mariners may want to look into transferring into the National League.

That's why the Mariners should make an effort to pursue at least some of the following free agents:

Nomar Garciaparra, who has a .368 batting average and 1.000 OPS against the A's
Ivan Rodriguez, .306 BA, .827 OPS
Geoff Blum, .464 BA, 1.273 OPS in 28 AB (replacing Bloomquist as super-utility man)
David Bell, .306 BA, .851 OPS (why did the M's ever let him leave?)
Carlos Lee, .315 BA, .854 OPS
Jim Edmonds, .287 BA, .849 OPS
Mike Cameron, .292 BA, .843 OPS (Yayyyyyyyyyyy!)
Jermaine Dye, .319 BA, .917 OPS

Andy Pettite, 3.18 ERA in 99 innings versus A's
Mark Buehrle, 4.14 in 96 innings
Jason Schmidt, 3.86 in 23 innings
Jeff Suppan, 3.44 in 70 inninga
Doug Davis, 3.19 in 42 innings

There is no doubt about it: the A's are the evil empire, and the M's should make it their annual mission to bring them down.


Beltre's Thousand Dollar Outs

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Why are the Mariners having such a putrid season? Perhaps the answer can be gleamed by taking a look at each of Beltre's at-bats in last nights 7-2 loss to the Athletics.

With help from ESPN's GameDay:

1st At-Bat: Top of the second, one out, bases empty, 1-0 Athletics lead. Beltre lofts a fly ball to left fielder Jay Payton.

2nd At-Bat: Leading off the fifth, 4-0 Athletics lead. Beltre lofts a fly ball to left fielder Jay Payton. (I believe this is the one that Rick Rizz said "Beltre hits it deep... not deep enough" proving that if there was such a category as Warning Track Power, or WTP, the Mariners would definitely be leading the league.)

3rd At-Bat: Top of the sixth, bases loaded, two outs, 7-0 Athletics lead. On the first pitch from Barry Zito, Beltre swings and taps the ball meekly back to Zito who tosses it to Kendall for the force at home.

Bleh.

No wonder Jeremy Reed pinch-hit for Beltre in the eighth with Jose Lopez and Raul Ibanez in scoring position. What does Reed do? Promptly single to right field to knock in Jose Lopez with the Mariners' first run.

At least Beltre didn't clang any balls around with his iron glove. Instead he lent it to Jose Lopez, who committed two errors.

It's time to sit Beltre for a spell. And have Ute Bloomquist man third. Though Bloomie won't provide as much "power" as Beltre, he will certainly match Beltre's production. But as Bloomquist doesn't have a $64 million dollar contract, I guess that means Mike Hargrove's hands are tied, and Mariners fans are forced to watch Beltre and his patented thousand-dollar outs....


Beltre's Iron Glove

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Nice iron glove, Beltre.

I could only stomach listening to the first three innings of tonight's game before deciding that American Idol was a much better entertainment option. (Only two weeks left! C'mon Catherine!) In that span, however, I was lucky enough to listen to Beltre let a ball trickle through his legs for an error. That error would've been the third out of the inning, and came after a dynamite strikeout of Eric Chavez by Felix Hernandez that was nothing more than a battle of wills. However, instead of ending the inning on a high note, Beltre's seventh E of the season resulted in a run-scoring single by Jay Payton followed by a grand slam home run hit by Adam Melhuse (!!!!) before the bleeding could be stopped. All told, only one of the five runs scored in that inning were earned, thanks to Beltre's glove.

Of course, we can't blame this horrible blow-out of a loss against the A's, who beat the M's 12-6, entirely on the shoulders of Adrian Beltre (who went 0-for-3 at the plate, btw). Is it just me, or does Felix Hernandez seem very hittable and, well, ordinary? Where's this much-hyped phenom, the second coming of Christ, I mean Dwight Gooden, that I kept hearing about all spring? Prior to the game, opponents were hitting .277 against "King" Felix. After giving up 11 hits in four innings, that opponent's average against now sits at a hefty .376. Deserving of those pre-season baseball magazine covers, indeed.

I mean, when you're a hefty 20-year old grooving cookies that get turned into grand slams by the likes Adam Freakin' Melhuse, aren't you not much better than your typical AAAA player? For all the talk of Mariners' top-rated pitching prospects that never got to see the light of day with the big-league club (Ryan Anderson, I'm looking in your direction) if the results would've been any similar, then I'm glad the front office decided on the various Fasseros, Bosios, and Slocumbs rather than home-groans over the years.

Oh well. The A's had been sitting on Felix's fastballs all night. When they come to expect those, that's when they tend to not be so challenging. And it sure wasn't for Melhuse.

Tomorrow the Mariners face the knee-buckling (or very hittable) curve of Barry Zito, who is still an Athletic, at least for this month. Adrian Beltre has a .250 career average against Zito, so don't expect much from AB's bat. And here's hoping that his glove doesn't fail him again.


Nine homers in three games?

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Hope everyone had a nice weekend. The weather was beautiful, and I hope everyone made a good effort to look outside at the beautiful weather as they were inside, watching Mariners games.

Nine homers in three games? Did the Mariners dip into the Cream on their trip to California?

Thanks to a much-needed offensive explosion, the Mariners were able to take two of three from the woe-begotten Angels, who drop with a thud into last place in the AL West. Who led this explosion? To begin with, noted sluggers Jeremy Reed and Yuniesky Betancourt hit two homers each, which means they now have as many home runs- hit over a span of three days- that Adrian Beltre has all year. Carl Everett, Richie Sexson, Jose Lopez, and Raul Ibanez got into the action. (Thank you Jeff Weaver!) And as I all ready noted, Adrian Beltre even hit a meaningless home run in Friday's game.

The only part of Saturday night's game I caught was Sexson's game-winning home-run in the top of the 13th inning, and I pretty much caught all of Sunday's rout. It was a weekend that I wish could be repepated many times over the course of the summer...

Beltre, however, had a tough weekend, Friday's homer notwithstanding. Although he's been having a rough year all-around, prior to Saturday's game he had yet to have an 0-for-5 game. Going 0-for-6 in extra innings, however, put a stamp to the end of that streak, and marked Saturday as Beltre's worst game of the season. Over-all, Beltre went 2-for-13 on the weekend, dropping his average from .225 to .218, and scored three runs with 2 RBIs, with a caught stealing. Beltre's weekend is the type of weekend that Mariners fans don't want to see repeated many times over the course of the summer....

The Mariners travel to Oakland next, giving the A's starters another chance to emulate Bob Gibson at the expense of Mariners' bats. They face Joe Blanton on Tuesday, in a rematch of the Blanton-Felix Hernandez match-up from the first week of April that resulted in Blanton throwing eight innings of two-hit shut-out ball against the Mariners at SAFECO. Blanton's fallen off a bit since that start, and he brings a 6.38 season ERA into Tuesday's start against the M's. Beltre has good career numbers against Blanton- a .417 BA and 1.217 OPS- so let's see if AB isn't able to seperate himself from Betancourt and Reed home-run wise Tuesday night....



Well, Adrian Beltre confounded my predictions and decided to hit a home-run in last nights 12-7 blowout loss to the Angels. That was nearly two full weeks before I predicted he'd hit his next home run, which was May 25th.

At any rate, obviously the lead-off home run in the eighth was meaningless with the over-all meltdown/implosion/seppuku committed by the Mariners pitching staff, allowing the Angels to score 12 runs in four innings.

Which leads us to the following question: will the real Joel Pineiro please stand up? After winning AL player of the week in which he dominated for two starts- giving up three runs and no walks in seventeen innings versus the Twins and the Indians- Joel was replaced by his evil twin brother, Noel Pineiro, who gave up six hits, six runs, and three walks in three innings against the Angels. (Or was it Noel who was pitching against the Twins & Indians? Did anyonce notice a black greased-out handlebar moustache that Noel/Joel would twist the ends of between innings during any of the past few starts?)

At any rate, factor in a grand slam given up by Bobby Livingston to Juan Rivera, and we have a mess of a ball game.

Oh well. At least Beltre hit a home run. Tonight its a match-up of two best friends, John Lackey and Jarrod Washburn, which promises to be fun. Beltre has never faced lackey, so I'm predciting he'll hit four home runs against him.....



Talk about the weakest way to lose a 1-0 ballgame. Stumbling off a mound? That's how Jamie Moyer's going to lose this beauty of a start? Especially when you consider that it had been nearly ten years since his last balk?

Boy, the Mariners sure are finding all sorts of new ways to lose ball-games this season, aren't they?

Of course, if they had just hit a home run, it would've been a 1-1 tie and who knows where it would've gone from there. However, that would require a home run, and that sure aint happening with this bunch of jokers.

While listening to the ball game on the radio, I became aware of some contests and sponserships that the Mariners do during their radio broadcast of games. One is the 'Taco del Mar Home Run Inning' in which one "lucky" fan submits the inning of a game in which they think a Mariner would hit a home run. Everytime I hear Rick Rizz read the fan's name on the air I think to myself, "You fool! You really think the Mariners will hit a home run in this inning!?!?!" Then I laugh uproariously to myself. Sometimes I wonder how I would fill out such an entry slip to the Taco del Mar contest- would it be possible to write that I don't think a Mariner will hit a home run in any inning of any upcoming game? Or could I be more specific, and say, like, "I find it highly doubtful that Adrian Beltre will hit a home run in this Sunday's game versus the Angels." If Beltre were to be homerless, would that get me a taco?

Also, I have to fel sorry for the kids at Zion's Prep Academy in Seattle. According to the radio braodcasts, the Mariners contribute a certain amount- $100 I believe- to the Academy for each home run hit. Upon making that announcement, Rick or Ron or Dave or whoever thanks the M's for helping out the community. One problem though: the Mariners never hit any freakin' home runs! It's a wonder that Zions Prep Academy isn't bankrupt yet!

Anyways, how did Beltre do? Admist the flailing bats of the Mariners versus Scott Kazmir and the Tampa bay Devil Rays (11 strikeouts for the D-rays in total) it's no surprise that Beltre went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. His last out, however, was the toughest. In the ninth inning, Raul Ibanez hit a lead-off double, only to have Sexson and Everett follow with strike-outs. Beltre smacked the first pitch down the third base line, and with the rise in Niehaus's voice I thought Bad Bad Beltre had turned into Bad-Ass Beltre and tied the game up. Nope. Third baseman Julio Lugo smothered the ball and threw Beltre out.

Sigh.

Random musings on the game: According to the AP recap, Jamie Moyer "yelled a one-word admonishment at himself" after committing the balk. I wonder what that "one word admonishment" was? My guess: "Kittens!".... What kind of name is Kazmir? You gotta admit, that's a pretty cool name. It makes me wish that starting pitchers could have theme music play similar to batters stepping up, just so we could've heard Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" being blasted from the Safeco Field's sound system. Or at least have a touch of the mighty Zep riff play every time one of the announcers said his name, similar to how the horses reacted to every mention of Frau Blucher's name in "Young Frankenstein".... Speaking of personalized theme music, I just realized that Willie "Ute" Bloomquist's song is Nirvana's "In Bloom." That's really fucking cool.

See ya in Anaheim, let's hoping the M's can take two of three from the reeling Angels again. I'm going to be realistic and say they take one of three this weekend....



I am working my way through the 2006 Baseball Prospectus, and this morning I read about the Mariners. The BP team had the following to say about Beltre, and I'm quoting verbatim:
Baseball Prospectus's other new book hitting shelves this spring, Baseball Between the Numbers, examines a variety of hot-button debates, from steroids to the best player of all-time to how to build a playoff roster- and whetehr players perform better just before free agency. Even after adjusting for age and other factors, the answer is yes, they do. Beltre is used as a prime example, but he's actually forged an atypical career path. A typical walk-year spike might mark the culmination of several years of development, but Beltre's OPS the last five seasons was 722, 729, 714, 1017, and 717. Beltre will never hit .334 again, but he still has power in his arsenal. Look for production somewhere between the 2004 masterpiece and the dregs of '01-'03 and '05, something along the lines of .280/.340/.500 with continued great defense. Given Richie Sexson's age and lack of defensive value, when all's said and done Beltre could still be better of the M's two '04 off-season deals.
Beltre's career comparables, according to BP? Aramis Ramirez, Larry Parrish, Brooks Robinson.

Me thinks BP was a little too optimistic in Beltre's 2006 season.


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To begin with, I'm going to share a little story that exhibits the twists and travails of playing fantasy basbeall.

As I set my fantasy baseball line-up for this week, I decided to sit Felix Hernandez (who I snatched from the waiver while after a fellow owner foolishly dropped him) for today's start against the Devil Rays. My rationale? Well, he's had an over-all small sample size career-wise, has had an erratic start to 2006, was coming off a lousy start against the White Sox, and had never faced the Devil Rays. So I placed Felix on the bench.

"Just watch," I said to a fellow league owner. "Felix will reward my benching with eight innings of two-hit shutout ball."

Not quite that, but Felix's 7.2 innings of one-run and eight strikeouts was a huge reason why the Mariners triumphed over the D-Rays 8-1 to take the first two games of the three game series.

So, while I'm glad the Mariners won, I had to slam my fist into my computer desk and yell with frustration regardless. Fantasy players will understand.

Anyways, how did our boy Beltre do? Would you believe another two hits? For the second game in a row? Beltre's hitting a sick .333 since the beginning of May, with a quasi-decent OPS of .813. Maybe somebody told him that he's garnered his own blog reveling in his putrid season, and decided to take his vengeance out on baseballs. Specifically, baseballs thrown by pitchers. From opposing teams. No complaints here.

Of course, it would be nice if some of those hits would actually make it over the fence. Oh, that's right. Beltre's next home run won't be until May 25th, against the Orioles. Just another 16 days before Beltre's next dinger.

(On a side note- thanks for jacking one today, Everett! I was beginning to forget what these things called "home runs" were, spending all my time following the Mariners!)

Tomorrow, the M's attempt to complete the sweep while facing the fireballing Scott Kazmir, who's having an excellent year, a 4-2 record with 39 Ks in 42 innings, making that trade with the Mets for Victor Zambrano looking better and better. Kazmir has pitched the M's tough- 2.38 ERa in 11 innings, and Beltre has only faced Scott twice- hitless both times- so there is no telling what he'll do against Scott's heat.

Of course, Jamie Moyer has an 8-3 record with an 2.75 ERA in his career versus the D-Rays, so I'm saying the Mariners will complete the sweep, even if Beltre goes 0-for-4 and only 5,000 fans show up.


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Why can't all games be like this? Another great start from a Mariners' starter, this time Gil Meche (who's never had the career he should've). The bullpen not blowing the win for Meche. Some heads-up base-running resulting in runs being created. And where would the Mariners be this season without Jose Lopez?

The Mariners triumphed over the Devil Rays 6-3 today in the first game of a three game series. And Adrian Beltre had a pretty decent game. No home runs or stolen bases, mind you, but not at all a bad game. The box score says he went 2 for 4 with a run, but AB exhibited plenty of hustle to help the Mariners notch one in the win column.

In the eighth, after a single down the third base line, Beltre did a little hit-and-run action with Willie Bloomquist swinging at the first pitch, knocking it into right field. Beltre was able to motor over to third, where he scored on a 2-0 ball thrown straight to the backstop by Chad Harville as Willie stole second.

Beltre's other hit was an infield single in the fourth. He now has a six-game hitting streak (though only two doubles during that span) and has raised his batting average 30 points in the month of May alone.

Tomorrow the M's face Doug Waechter, who I remember watching throw a two-hit shut-out against the Mariners in his first major league start on September 2, 2003. Indeed, versus Seattle, Waechter has managed a sub-2.00 ERA (1.99) while giving up 20 baserunners in 22.2 innings. Waechter has yet to give up a run at Safeco in seven innings, nor a hit to Beltre in five career at-bats.

Waechter is going up against Felix Hernandez, who has been very erratic this season. It appears Felix will have his work cut out for him tomorrow....


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Does anyone remember 1997? When the Mariners had nine players with double digit home runs? Heck, does anyone remember the 39 bombs Richie Sexson hit for the Mariners last season? Anyone? Because I sure don't. In fact, I don't even remember the last time a Mariner hit a home run. Oh yeah- it was last Monday. In Minnesota.

One week since hitting a home run. Whose going to hit more home runs in 2006: the Seattle Mariners or Albert Pujols?

The Mariners lost to the Indians this afternoon 2-0. I'm hammering the point of the Mariners' current offenseive ineptitude as it cost the M's a beauty of a start from left-hander Jarrod Washburn. All Jarrod did was hold the Indians to six base-runners over seven innings (four hits, two walks) which is more than enough to earn a win against the hot-hitting Tribe. Unless, of course, you're playing for the Mariners.

If you hold Cleveland to eight hits and three runs over two games, you shouldn't split them. Your record should be 2-0. Pathetic.

Is Jarrod the 2006 hard-luck version of Ryan Franklin, minus the steroids, of course? Franklin had the worst run support in the major leagues over the past two years. In his last five starts, Washburn has only given up 11 earned runs in 35.1 innings. With the Mariners dropping games by such scores as 2-0, 5-1, 2-1, 3-2 (and winning one game 5-1 against Mark Buehrle and the White Sox), Washburn has had a 1-4 record during that stretch. So, yes, sadly it appears that Washburn is this season's version of Ryan Franklin, sadly.

Okay, so how did Adrian Beltre do? The box score said AB went 1 for 4, which raised his average up to .212. (AB now has a higher average than Richie Sexson!) AB got his hit with a ninth inning single, stretching his hitting streak to five games.

I got a chance to watch the end of the game while working out at my gym. However, the audio plug-in on my ellipitcal machine didn't work, so I was listening to Niehaus and Fairly call the game. This, of course, led to a delay as the TV lagged behind the radio. I watched Richie Sexson ground weakly to third, then watched Everett follow up with a single. Up stepped Beltre.

What do I do? If Beltre comes through with a clutch game-tying home run, I wouldn't have anything to bitch about on this blog. If he grounds into a game-ending double play, I'd come here and say 'See! Told you he can't hit with runners on.' Well, Beltre balanced both worlds, as he singled into center field, thus getting a base hit with runners on, but without actually knocking anyone in.

I was getting excited. Two runners on, one out. As I was watching the action unfold, another TV screen was showing VH1's "May Metal Month" with the Top 40 greatest heavy metal songs of all time. Coming in at number 12 was Anthrax/Public Enemy with "Bring the Noise." Anxious, I was looking back and forth. "Hell yeah, we're bringing the noise. All Kenji needs to do is not ground into a double play and it's good-bye shut-out!"

Seconds, nay miliseconds, after I thought that, Kenji proceeded to ground into a double play and end the ballgame.

Oh well. Tomorrow the mariners begin a series versus the Devil Rays, who have always played the Mariners tougher than they should. Casey Fossum is taking the hill for the D-Rays, and Beltre has scorched Casey to the tune of a .444 batting average and 1.413 in 19 plate appearances. So perhaps AB can help get the series off on the right foot....


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All right, so its been a couple of days, and for those of you who've visited this blog, you'll notice its got a different look. And its not done yet- consider it a work in progress.

So let's recap the past couple of games versus the Indians: Adrian Beltre has hit no home runs. Surprised? Don't be.

AB did, however, have a two-run double in the fourth inning, when the M's roughed up Indians starter for four hits and three runs to start the inning off. That's the type of 'hitting with runners on' that I've been harping about and waiting to see from AB for quite some time. (They have a link to Beltre's double over on the Mariner's official recap of the game.) It seems the last time he got a hit like that was 2004....

Of course, during this big inning versus the Indians, the M's dugout decided to get all cute and play small-ball versus the pitcher they had greeted with four straight hits (three singles and AB's double). Jose Lopez, who's gotten a hit in 21 of his last 25 games, sacrificed Kenji Johjima over after Johjima's RBI single knocked in Beltre. Needless to say, from that point on, the Mariners were runless and the inning soon ended. You can't blame Mike Hargrove for the M's strategy however- Grover was tossed in the third inning arguing balls and strikes.

Anywyas, the Mariners still won 4-1 behind the bat of Beltre (I love writing that, alliteration and all) and some vintage pitching from Joel Pineiro. Today the Mariners pit Jarrod Washburn versus C.C. 'Fat Man' Sabathia, who's only making his third start of the season as he had to be pulled out of his first start and placed on the DL due to a 'strained stomach.' (Strained from eating 12 hot dogs the night before, rumor has it.) Beltre has no hits in five at-bats versus Sabathia, so expect more of that and less of the doubles with runners on....

Oh yeah, on Friday the Indians walloped the Mariners 9-4. Beltre went 1 for 3, which raised his average to .209 and stole two bases. The speedster now has 9 SBs on the year, tying Ichiro for the team lead. Did Lincoln and Bavasi forget that they had one of the game's premier lead-off men when they signed Beltre to his contract?


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As I predicted (which wasn't that hard to do, admittedly), the Mariners were swept in their brief two-game series against the White Sox at the capable hands of Jose Contreras, who is now 16-2 since last year's All Star break.

But on the plus side: without Adrian Beltre being patient and receiving the third two-out walk given up by Contreras in the top of the sixth inning, the Mariners would've been shut-out! That is AB's fifth plate appearance so far in the young season with the bases loaded, and although he has yet to pick up a hit (obviously, runners are on base) he did pick up his third RBI in such situations. So hat's off, Adrian, for providing the only quasi-highlight of the afternoon.

Oh, and there is another highlight. It appears that manager Mike Hargrove has finally realized what every Mariner fan had been aware for quite some time: that Eddie Guardado is no longer a capable, effective closer. About freakin' time. The Mariners might be a .500 team if they had an effective closer this season. Good thing the AL West is shaping up to be an absolutely horrible divison this year.

Now that Eddie is demoted, perhaps Hargrove should make a similar move with AB? Have him ride the bench for a while, or hang out and watch videos of his spectacualr 2004 season, and maybe let Willie "Ute" Bloomquist man third. (Yes, I know Willie's nickname isn't "Ute." But it should be. Get it? Short for Utility? Clever, huh? Huh? Oh, never mind...)


Woe is Dave

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It was heartbreaking, the sound of Dave Niehause resigning himself to another blown save from 'Everyday' Eddie Guardado. It went something like, "Ozuna hits it in the air to left... We're going to extra innings."

Not that I would have expected joy, of course, but the way he finished the sentence was revealing of more than a tie game. It carried the weight of disenchantment, the knowledge that a long season, following two very long seasons, was about to get longer. It was reminiscent of Uecker in 'Major League'. At the beginning of the movie, not the end. The warm, dare I say dulcet voice of Niehaus had the sound of defeat in it. And, as the M's trotted out young arm after young arm in extra innings, defeat was inevitable.

No, this loss was not BB Beltre's fault. He could have won it, but he didn't lose it by himself. This is yet another one you can pin on Guardado, who has blown three saves in the early going, and caused a number of heart attacks in the region during the games he has saved.

Twice against the World Champs he has had them to their final out before giving up a game-tying jack. On April 24th he gave up a shot to CF Brian Anderson, the fourth HR of his career (and 3rd against the M's). Last night it was Pablo "Picasso was never called and asshole" Ozuna with his first career HR. It should be noted that the slap-hitting speed merchant Ozuna was once a Rockie. Unfortunately he must have never faced Guardado in Colorado or he likely would have homered previously.

Could their have been a more demoralizing loss than this one for a struggling club? The M's have managed to play just under .500 ball despite the mediocrity of big money players Sexson, BB Beltre and Ichiro. They fought back valiently after a Joe Crede grand slam put them at a 4-1 disadvantage. They put the ball in the hands of the man expected to do nothing more than get the last 3 guys out. And, for his part, he was handed the gift of the bottom of the ChiSox order. A relative cakewalk. If Guardado was ever meant to be a closer, that time has past. But let's let Eddie tell us what's happening.

"I'm puzzled," Guardado said. "I'm not going to go out there and strike the world out or anything, but I do get ground balls and I do get fly balls. These fly balls are just going over the fence. And at the time, I don't need them to go over the fence." This begs the question, when is it a good time for them to go over the fence? How bout when Beltre's up?

Hargrove needs to realize what the rest of us have known for some time, Everyday Eddie sucks... Everyday.


Embarrasment of riches

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As I was logging in to post I heard Juan Uribe dunk a soft liner in front of a dazed and confused Jeremy Reed to knock in the winning run of a 6-5 victory for the White Sox over the Mariners, a game that the Mariners should've won 5-4.

Where do I begin? I know this blog is intended to highlight the season's adventures of Adrian Beltre, but let's begin with the following information. The following is a list of five Mariners, their 2006 salary, their ranking on the team in salary, season stats, and how they fared in the game tonight:

Eddie Guardado, $6.25 million (6th in salary), 8.38 ERA, 3 blown saves in 7 opportunities, gave up 2-out game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth to Pablo Ozuna, Ozuna's first career home run

Adrian Beltre, $12.9 million (2nd), .202 BA with 1 HR and 6 RBIs, went 1-for-5 leaving three men on base and was the third out of the inning three times

Richie Sexson, $13.3 million (1st), .206 BA with 3 HRs and 16 RBIs, went 0-for-5 leaving four runners on base

Ichiro Suzuki, $12.53 million (3rd), .270 BA with 1 HR and 8 RBIs, went 0-for-5 leaving three men on base

Carl Everett, $3.4 million (10th), .217 BA with 4 HRs and 15 RBIs, went 0-for-3 with a fourth inning sacrifice fly staking the Mariners out to an early 1-0 lead

So, there you go. To break it down for you, the Mariners spent roughly $300,000 on these clowns to go 1-for-18 with a sacrifice fly and a two-out blown save on Ozuna's first career home run.

The Mariners missed their chance in this game, battling back from a 4-1 deficit to come out on top 5-4, only to have victory clutched away by the jaws of defeat. Tomorrow they face Jose Contreras, perhaps the best pitcher in the American League currently, so the ChiSox fans might as well bring the brooms to U.S. Cellular Field....


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As suspected, the Mariners' succumbed to the lethal left arm of Johann Santana, losing to Minnesota 5-1. Santana struck out nine batters in seven innings, with Adrian Beltre being three of those strikeouts. To be fair, Santana pretty much put on a pitching clinic against the Mariners, but Beltre's dubious hat trick was his first of the season, struggles or no. The Mariners could've made it a close game out of it, as the first three batters got hits in the top of the first: a triple by Ichiro, and RBI single from Willie Bloomquist, followed by a single by Raul Ibanez. Sexson, Everett, and AB proceeded to then strike out, nullifying whatever momentum the Marienrs had in the early going.

Beltre had anotehr field day with runners on, going 0-for-4 with those three mentioned strikeouts, leaving six runners on base. To be fair, Santana pretty much put on a pitching clinic against the Mariners, but Beltre's dubious hat trick was his first of the season, struggles or no. I'll have to do a check on whether there is a site that tracks league-leaders of leaving men on base, as I'm sure Adrian Beltre ranks near the top of that list.

I filled out my first MLB All-Star ballot, and of course I marked Beltre as my choice for American League 3B. If he is, as isuspect, the league leader in leaving men on, that should be heralded to some regard. Oh sure, some may aruge that Eric Chavez or Alex Rodriguez may be better qualified to man the hot corner for the AL in the All-Star but I dismissall that talk as crazy nonsense...

The Mariners go to the Windy City for a three-game series against the World Champion White Sox, which they took two of three from at Safeco last week. Beltre went 1-for-10 in that series with 2 RBIs. Tonight they face pot-smoker and ex-Mariner Freddy Garcia, who Beltre has an empty career average of .250 against. So don't expect much from Beltin' Beltre the next few days.


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So with the beginning of a new month, Adrian Beltre is trying to put his horrible April behind him and get off on the right foot as he went 3-for-5 in Monday's 8-2 victory over the Twins. Still, no RBIs and only one run (Beltre was denied another as he was thrown out at the plate for the third out of the seventh inning), but you can't complain too much with AB's first three-hit game of the year, thus pushing his batting average up to .211. Which means- for the first time this season, Beltre is averaging a hit every five at-bats!

The most impressive aspect of Beltre's performace yesterday, in my opinion, was his two-out single in the top of the ninth. Sure, it may have not done much, just moved Robert Petagine from first to third, but it was Beltre's first hit in twelve plate appearances with runners on base. And considering that Beltre's sixth-inning double just missed being his second home-run by a couple of feet, could it possibly be that Beltre just might be in the process of breaking out of his slump?

If there's any pitching staff to do so, it's the woeful Twinkies'. I thought the Twins' pitching would be their strength, potentially lead them to contention for the division title. But the hard times they've had of late (not to mention a weak offense) has led me to reconsider. Tomorrow will be a true test for the mariners as they face the always-dangerous Johann Santana. Fortunately for the M's, Santana has been struggling this year (1-3, 4.45). Fortunately for Beltre, he was able to put up a good game agaisnt Santana last year, having gone 1-for-3 with a couple of runs and a couple of ribbies in the one game against Johann.

Of course, the Mariners may be just what Johann needs to get his season going on the right track...


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