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.

Meet Josh Fogg, Mr. Human Brick Wall


Wait, didn't I say something about how Mariners tend to make subpar pitchers that face them the first time look like staff aces? And how it would be unlikely that Josh Fogg would become the human brick wall and stop the Mariners' winning momentum? Well, the former was proven correct in tonight's game, and the latter was proven wrong as Fogg only needed 91 pitches (58 strikes!) in less than two hours to shut out the Mariners 2-0.

Forget Aaron Cook or Jeff Francis. Obviously it's Josh Fogg, a cast-off by the PITSBURGH PIRATES, who is the ace of the this Rockies pitching staff. And Jason Schmidt, Brad Penny, and Brandon Webb? We can bat around on that troika of dominant NL pitchers, but Josh Fogg's change-up? Far too befuddling for the Mariners' (once) hot bats.

Well, it was a nice month, but now that June is slipping off the calendar pages in exchange for the month of July it appears that perhaps the team might be all too willing to slip back into the woeful offensive performances of May and April. But what a June it was, huh? As a team (and disregarding tonight's ballgame), the Mariners hit .294 with an .859 OPS- tops in the league! Their league-high 10 triples and 39 home runs led to 453 total bases, and scoring 151 runs which was good enough for a 53 run differntial, as the M's pitching only allowed 98! But, alas, June is over. Time once again to be shut-out by the likes of Joe Blanton, John Rheinecker, and, now, Josh Fogg.

Indeed, tonight's ball-game was the ninth shut-out of the Mariners all year. It's amazing to me that the Mariners can have scored 403 runs- eighth in the league and thirty more than their opponents- and still have been shut out nine times. With nine shut-outs in the team's first 81 games, that means the Mariners are on pace to be shut-out 18 times, obliterating the team record of 15 set in 1978, by a team that lost 104 games and, in 1990, by a team that lost 85 games. For a little comparison, I'd just like to point out that the Mariners were shut out less than in the three seasons spanning 1994 to 1996 combined (3 in 1994, 2 in 1995, and 3 in 1996) then they have been so far this season. It's knowledge of facts like that make me remember I had the M's pegged for 90 losses at the beginning of this season.

Also something I forgot to consider in weighing the odds of the M's chances of winning was the fact that Jamie Moyer has been getting lousy run support by the Mariners' bats this season. Coming into tonight's game, Jamie Moyer might have been ninth in the league with his 3.51 ERA, but he ranked third to last in run support, getting only 3.94 runs a game. This explains his sub-.500 record. The M's had been shut-out three times while Moyer was on the mound so far this year and, true to form, they were unable to put up any runs to support Jamie's cause tonight. I'll have to consider that factor the next time Moyer pitches.

Adrian Beltre got one of the Mariners' two hits, a first-inning single to keep his 13-game hitting streak alive. As the M's are at the 81-game mark, we can look at how his stats would be projected over a full 162-game season:

610 92 160 36 6 14 68 20 46 120 .262 .326 .410 .736

The interesting thing is, if you look at Beltre's page over at, it's not too far off from his 162 game average, disregarding the dip in power numbers. But there's something positively David Bellish or even Jim Presleyish about those numbers that make me feel that Beltre still might be just a little overpaid for his amount of production, hot recent streak notwithstanding.

The Rockies are on a bit of a roll, as they now have a three-game winning streak in the works. They're looking to continue that roll tomorrow night when Byung-Hung Kim takes the mound for Colorado. Kim has been dominating lately, not allowing a run in his last two starts, throwing 13 scoreless innings against Oakland and Texas. Kim has only thrown six innings versus the Mariners in his career, in which he both walked and struck out seven batters. And he has had no problem with Adrian Beltre or Richie Sexson, who both have combined to go 1-for-16 against Kim.

Taking the mound for the Mariners is Joel Pineiro, who pitched decent enough in his last outing against San Diego- 7 baserunners and four runs in six innings- to get a win, yet didn't. In his prior start, he had allowed 11 runners in six innings versus the Dodgers and some how escaped with a victory. However, in his only career start versus Colorado, Joel went all the way, giving up two runs and seven base-runners in a complete-game victory.

So tomorrow's game? Two words: pitcher's duel. I see Joel throwing enough junk to keep it in the confines of Safeco and Kim's funky delivery driving the Mariners' hitters batty. (Of course this mean it will be an 11-10 slugfest by the third, but you know, whatever...) The winner? It's too close for me to feel comfortable picking one, so I went to an online magic 8-ball and typed "Will the Mariners beat the Rockies tomorrow?"

And what did the 8-ball say in reply?

"Answer unclear."

Back when I started this blog, I wrote:
The beauty of having this blog called "Bad Bad Beltre" is that if suddenly gets hot, Beltre would be "bad' in a whole different connotation.

Suffice to say that applies to all of the Seattle Mariners, currently, as they finished off their sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks, 3-2 with more late-inning dramatic fireworks. This time it was Raul Ibanez, who's on pace for 35 home runs and 128 RBIs according to, who led-off the ninth inning with a home run, followed by Kenji Johjima- there he is again!- who hit a one-out triple, and then Yuniesky Betancourt, with two outs, singled in Kenji's pinch-runner, Willie Bloomquist, to complete the scoring against the DBack's relief "ace" Jorge Julio.

The most surprising result of the latest Mariner late-inning rally is that it provided Eddie Guardado with his first win of the year, as the former closer is now 1-3. Eddie G. pitched one inning, giving up two singles but also recording a strikeout as he (hopefully) adds to his potential trade value.

So the Mariners finished up their nine-game road trip 7-2, the most successful road trip for the Mariners of nine games or more since the M's ripped of 11 of twelve on the road from May 27 to June 9, 2003. Sadly, this current series with the Rockies is the last series against an NL team, as the M's do not face any more National League teams for the rest of the year. But by beating up on the same NL West teams that have given the rest of the AL West fits (Oakland 7-7, Texas 5-8, Los Angeles 5-10 against the NL West) they return home to kick off tonight's series start against Colorado two games above .500 and just two games behind the A's.

Adrian Beltre picked up yet another two hits in last night's game, his third multiple-hit game in a row, lifting his season batting average up to .262, just nine points below his career average. And in keeping with his incredible slugging prowess in June, both of them went for extra bases. He hit a one-out triple in the first inning, eventually coming around to score on Jose Lopez's infield hit, and also added an eighth inning double, obviously trying to will the Mariners to victory in the late innings, but got stranded at second. Not to worry, as the late-inning magic happened an inning later, regardless of Beltre batting or not.

Beltre's OPS in June? 1.007. And batting second? .994. Bad bad Beltre, indeed.

After the long flight home and arriving at about two in the morning- why yesterday's game wasn't an afternoon game I don't know- the Mariners face Josh Fogg who is taking the hill for the Rockies. Fogg was a former Pirate rotation stalwart who signed a one-year contract with the Rockies in the off-season. Fogg has been a subpar pitcher throughout his career (the 2006 Baseball Prospectus says of him: "Fogg doesn't make batters miss, and he can't keep the ball in the park, which is why he's ill-equipped to be in the bigs.") and for some reason I find it confusing for pitchers that have similar career numbers to sign free-agent contracts with the Rockies and pitch half their starts in the thin mountain air of Denver. And, as expected, he's continued his subpar ways for Denver- with a 5.08 ERA on the season, and a 5.85 ERA at home at Coors Field. However, obviously tonight Fogg is pitching in Safeco, which is not only Fogg's first career start in the Mariners' home stadium but also his first against the Mariners. Adrian Beltre, however, has faced Fogg in the National League, and has enjoyed success, batting .455 with a 1.175 OPS- no home runs, however- against Fogg in 11 at-bats, and Sexson has 17 career at-bats versus Fogg and though Fogg may have held Sexson to a .235 average, Richie has homered against him.

Jamie Moyer is taking the mound for the Mariners, and the grizzled veteran has not enjoyed success versus the Rockies in his career, losing both of his two starts against them with a 7.10 career ERA to go along with. In a sense, however, it will almost be like facing the Rockies for the first time as well, as in the current crop of Colorado players, only Todd Helton has faced Jamie's junk (ewwww!) and Moyer has kept Helton to a double in five at-bats. Moyer, however, has had an incredible June (a 2.06 ERA and 3-1 record) and has pitched well at home (2.67 ERA in 67 innings) so his past failures against the Rockies may be ruled out with his recent success.

The Mariners have made subpar pitchers facing them for the first time look like brilliant staff aces. But I find it doubtful that will occur with Fogg, who would be better suited in a bullpen role rather than as a starter. Also, I think the Mariners' momentum is too strong to be stopped by a wanna-be brickwall like Josh Fogg. Instead, look for Jamie's slow and slower stuff to befuddle the Rockie's bats as the Mariners continue with their winning streak and their mastery of the National League in tonight's game versus the Rockies.

Just as planned


The Diamondbacks series is going just as planned. Similar to the San Diego series, the Mariners are beating up the DBack's bullpen, having scored 13 runs in the last three innings of both games combined. In fact, in the series as a whole, the Mariners' bats are just beating up whatever offerings are coming from any of the DBack's pitchers.

In short, the first two games are exactly how the Mariners should be playing a team that has now lost 19 of their last 22. Wouldn't it be ironic if the Mariners visit and dominance of the Snakes in Phoenix costs Arizona's mananger (and former M's skipper) Bob Melvin his job?

Pitching-wise, Washburn may have struggled a bit in Wedensday night's start. After being spotted a five-run lead in the top of the first, Jarrod must've thought "Gosh, with the lack of run support I've had all year, I'm not quite sure what to do with this 'lead,'" as he promptly gave up three runs in the bottom half of the ining, on a three-run homerun blast by Luis Gonzalez, who ended a Beltre-like string of 204 at-bats without a home-run.

Despite giving up a home run to Shawn Green in the second inning, Washburn settled down and made it through six innings. He only needed 89 pitches, and his six baserunenrs allowed won't hurt his WHIP any. Only two pitches kept Washburn from having a quality start, but luckily the Mariners were playing a NL team so he was never on the hook for a loss.

The M's beat up DBacks ace Brandon Webb, roughing him up for seven runs in seven innings. That was a season high of runs allowed for Mr. Webb, and brought his ERA up to a season-high of 2.85. ALthough there wasn't a cover story of Webb in a recent issue of Sports Illustrated, there was a profile about him & his sinker within the magazine. Perhaps that cuased a slight example of the dreaded SI jinx, as whatever Webb's sinkerball was doing, it sure wasn't sinking. In fact, as Webb gave up six extra-base hits, it could be safe to say the Mariners had no problem with Webb's sinker, unlike the struggles they had versus Derek Lowe's last week.

Obviously, Kenji Johjima had no problems with Webb's offerings in the slightest, nor from what one-time DBacks relief ace Brandon Lyon in the ninth either. Both of Kenji's two hits were home runs, his second consecutive two home-run game. This extended his hitting streak to eight games (soon to become nine on Wedensday), in which Kenji has gone 18 for 36, batting .500 and slugging a ridiculous 1.028. There was worry that catching the most innings in the American League and playing a longer season than in Japan would wear Kenji's production down. It appears that does not seem to be a problem, as of yet.

Beltre went 3-for-5 with two doubles, raising his average to a season-high .255 (finally getting over that .250 mark) and his slugging to a season-high .386. Beltre also extended his hitting streak to ten games (11 on Wedensday). Raul Ibanez joined Kenji and Beltre as Mariners with multiple hits as the team pounded out 12 of them, scoring 11 runs and leaving a measly five runners on base.

Wedensday's game could be summed up in two words: Felix Hernandez. And if you wanted to add another word, it would be "dominating." Good Felix returned to take the mound in Phoenix, much to the Diamonbacks' chagrin. In 95 pitches over seven innings, an unusually economical start by Felix, he held the DBacks to two runs while striking out four. The DBacks did take a brief 2-1 lead on a weak ground-ball to third in the fourth inning, but Jeremy Reed was having none of that as he tied up the score with a home-run leading of the fifth.

The DBacks never had a chance for the rest of the game. Edgar Gonzalez kept it close in his continual quest for his first win since 2003. Gonzlez allowed three runs in seven innings before turning the ball over to his bullpen, which promptly gave up seven runs in the game's last two innings.

Kenji Johjima was at it again, continuing his offensive heroics by providing the tie-breaking RBI single in the sixth inning to give the M's the lead for good at 3-2. Johjima finished with yet anotehr multiple-hit/ multiple-RBI game. The question's got to be asked: why is he not in contention for the starting spot as the AL's catcher in the All-Star game? That's where my vote's gone all season!

Beltre went 2-for-4 in his quest to raise his batting average to the .260 mark, finishing at .258. Both of his hits went for extra bases, a double and a triple, as his slugging percentage rests just below .400 at .397. Is it just me or has Beltre become a barely passable third baseman?

Every batter in the Mariners' line-up got a basehit as the team supported Felix's outing by cranking out 14 hits in total. Tonight the Mariners face another of the DBacks' E. Gonzalezes, this time Enrique Gonzlez. Enrique has only six caeer games under his belt, so pitchers of that ilk have historically given the Marienrs fits. I find it highly doubtful, however, that the Mariners' hot bats can be turned off in a dramatic manner. Then again, the Mariners have never swept a series in Phoenix (to be fair, this is only the second series played there). After throwing seven shut-out innings versus the Giants on June 13, Enrique has been awful giving up 12 earned runs in 9 innings over his last two starts.

Gil Meche is taking the mound for the Mariners. He has won his only career start versus the Diamondbacks, allowing five hits and three runs over seven innings at a start in Safeco. He brings an incredible June track record into tonight's game, allowing four earned runs in nearly 27 innings. And none of these current Diamondbacks have hit Meche particularly hard, except for Orlando Hudson, who has four hits in ten career at-bats versus Meche as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.

While it seems to ridiculous to believe the Mariners can pull off yet anotehr sweep, it seems the factors are lining up to allow that to happen. Have I ever shared with all of you how much I love the National League, and their willingness to become sacrifical lambs for the betterment of the Seattle Mariners' season?

jebus effin kriest!!


well, at least we won.
wow. .500?....when was the last time that happened this late in the year?
I'm sure TS will tell us the exact date soon, ,but my guess is september 03.

feels good.


I"ll drink to that

Hungry for .500 (Salivating for the D-Backs)


Somehow my math was wrong. I could've sworn that if the Mariners took two of three from the Padres this weekend they'd end the series at .500. Oh well, a game below heading into a series against the struggling Diamondbacks- who have lost 17 of their past 20 games- is well enough. The controversey surrounding former Diamondbacks pitcher Jason Grimsley admitting to using HGH- human growth hormone- has dogged the team, leading to not only a tiff between the team's franchise player and the front office, but has also helped the D-Backs slide from first to last place in the NL West.

Perfect. Just what the Mariners need.

The Mariners won the last two games of the weekend series against the Padres in convincing fashion, as they continue to prove that any Padres pitcher not named Jake Peavy is nothing more than a glorified batting practice pitcher against them. The two games were decided by similar scores, 9-5 on Saturday and 9-4 today, with a similar late-inning offensive explosion occuring. In both games combined, the Mariners scored nine runs in the last three innings.

That's what a team has to do to win ballgames- especially when your closer comes in and gives up four straight singles to knock in a run, before proceeding to strike out the side to finish the game out. Remember that game "Mercy" in which you twist your opponent's wrist until they scream out for mercy? That's not how you play winning baseball. You have to continue piling on the runs, and you can't let up. Two outs, late innings, fantastic bullpen by the Padres- it doesn't matter. The Mariners came, piled up some runs, and leave town winning two of three. And looking pretty tough while they're doing it, as well. The M's would have the NL West locked up easy.

In continuing fashion, both Beltre and Sexson hit well in the M's two wins, combining on a 19-6-8-2 line, for an average of .421, and slugged .842 with two doubles and two home runs. Much of that, of course, is due to Sexson's 5-for-5 performance today, setting a career high in hits in a game, and hitting two home runs to boot! According to the Seattle Mariners official site, this ties the team record for most hits in a game. However, Raul Ibanez rapped out six hits in a game versus the Angels is September 2004, so here's a word to the official Mariners website- update your shite all ready! Sheesh!

(It should be pointed out that Meche started that game against the Angels. Despite the fact the Mariners were beating up the Angels' pitching, it still took Gil 105 pitches to make it through 5.2 innings. Nice to know some things in life are truly consistent.)

It's been pointed out many times on this blog that when Sexson & Beltre hit, the Mariners win. Intrigued by this trend, I looked at how well Big Richie and AB fare in games the M's win compared with their losses. Expecting them to do better in games they win- as I'm sure that split could be found on any player on the team- Richie and Adrian combine to hit just .256 and slug .469 in Mariners wins. Fairly underwhelming numbers. But when you compare that to their performance in Mariners' losses- combining to hit .196 and slug .278- it shows the huge discrepancy in the prodcution of the big bats in the Mariners' line-up.

Much of the huge gulf in this split can be attributed to Richie, who is absolutely horrid in Mariners' losses. In those losses, Richie has batted 138 times, with 23 hits, four runs, and a measly three RBIs. He's hit nine doubles and nary a home run- not one! Compared with knocking in 50 runners on 39 hits in Mariners' wins, Sexson's slugging percentgae drops from a robust .614 to a measly .232. Beltre's slugging percentage, by comparison, only suffers a 70-point drop from .395 in wins to .326 in losses. I know what you're thinking and, yes, Beltre's slugging percentage sucks no matter how you view it.

Not content with his average being at .250 any longer, Beltre went 1-for-5 today to drop it to .249, his only hit being an eighth inning RBI single. Sexson, however, raised his average 14 points with his five-hit performance, from .211 to .225. And, in case you wondering, Sexson now has more five-hit games on the year than Ichiro does.

So, now the Mariners are off to the desert to take on the D-Backs. As pointed out earlier, the D-Backs are ripe for the picking and the M's should have no problem finally reaching the .500 plateau. Even the unhittable Brandon Webb, who had started the season off so well, has dropped down to mortal status as of late, losing his last three decisions and giving up 15 runs in his last 27 innings. Even the triple-digit heat should be no problem for the Mariners, as in six games at Phoenix in franchise history, the M's haven taking three.

So bring on the D-Backs!

Drat! Missed a close one!


Once again, Jake Peavy played the Mariners tough, holding the M's to one run in eight innings ina 2-1 loss. In the process, Peavy lowered his career ERA versus the M's to a microscopic 1.56. However, I was wrong in predicting that runs would be scored in bunches, as Gil Meche limited the Padres to a one-out Mike Cameron home-run in the third. I was correct in saying that Meche would struggle to complete his 5.2 innings, as he threw 108 pitches, 60 for strikes. The lack of economy, pitch-wise, was due to Meche striking out six, keeping pace with Peavy's nine strikeouts.

When the tiring Meche turned the ball over to Emiliano Fruto, the M's bullpen was sterling as they matched Peavy and the Padres' bullpen in an epic struggle, extending a 1-1 game into the tenth inning before losing on a Brain Giles RBI single in the bottom of the tenth. Talk about losing a tough one! That makes it two losses in a row, but for the M's to battle the tough Peavy in such a manner, in the same week that also saw victories over Jason Schmidt and Brad Penny, the Mariners continue to show their competitive chops. Now that they got the Padres' ace out of the way, there's a pretty good chance that the M's could take the next two games and might, just might, wind up this series at .500.

Adrian Beltre went 1-for-4 for the second game in a row. It seems that since he reached .250 for the season three games ago, he seems commited to grinding out a hit every four at bats and maintaining that 25% success rate. His hit, however, was a lead-off double in the fourth inning and AB came around to score a batter later on a Raul Ibanez double. Beltre's double is the sixth extra-base hit in his past six games, in which he's been slugging .800!

Tonight the Mariners face Chan Ho Park, who was roughed up for ten runs in five innings on May 21 at Safeco. That was a very atypical start for Park against the Mariners, as otherwise he enjoys a 3.26 ERA against Seattle. Like Derek Lowe, Park is a pitcher who enjoys geat success versus every Mariner not named Ichiro, who has hit Park to the tune of .393 in 28 at-bats. (Beltre has only managed one hit in nine at-bats.) Park has won his last three decisions, giving up just 8 earned runs in 25 innings over his last four starts. Park is also enjoying a 3.18 ERA at Petco so far this year so, lousy last start versus Seattle or not, the M's have their work cut out for them in tonight's ballgame.

Taking the mound for Seattle tonight is the crafty veteran Jamie Moyer, who's been even more dominating over his last four starts, giving up just six earned runs over his last 28 innings. Moyer didn't face the Padres in the sweep at Safeco last May, and has a career 4.52 ERA, giving up 86 hits in 71 career innings versus the Friars for a career batting average against of .295. However, most of the Padres who have hit Moyer tough in the past are not active, and Jamie has proven to be an old master pitcher, schooling the new, young crop of Padres.

Conclusion? Tonight's game will be very similar to last night's. It will be a tight, very well played ball-game in which the outcome will hinge on a play or two, a missed cut-off man here or a passed ball there. If Ichiro can get on base versus Park as he was unable to do against Lowe two nights ago, and if Moyer can continue to keep these current Padres' bats in check, then the Mariners will have a pretty good chance to win. At the same time, Park is just as liable to throw a two-hit shutout as he is of giving up ten runs, so you never know.

The Padres are playing like division leaders. The Mariners are playing like competitive challengers. Its games like this that the baseball season is all about!

Conventional wisdom won out


Ah, well. All good things had to come to an end eventually. The Mariners couldn't have been expected to sweep every series for the rest of the year. And I found it doubtful that they'd reach .500 in this series versus the Dodgers. For a brief, shining moment it seemed like it would happen, but the conventional wisdom I had regarding Derek Lowe and his sinker stymieing the Mariners' offense won out.

Derek Lowe pitched a complete game seven-hitter, as the Dodgers prevailed 4-2. Of the 27 outs Lowe needed, 17 were from ground balls. When the M's did figure out his mistakes, they capitalized as both runs scored were by solo home-runs from Yuniesky Betancourt and Raul Ibanez. But it was not enough to defeat Lowe's sinker.

It should be interesting to point out that in the latest Sports Weekly, Lowe and Penny are listed as the 1-2 National League "most valuable pitchers" rankings in regards to opposing players' OPS against. This is figured by those pitchers whose opposing batters' OPS is the furthest below the OPS against their team's collective staff. Lowe ranks first in the NL with 128 OPS below, with Penny right behind at 123 OPS below. Indeed, coming into the series, both pitchers had given up 8 home runs in nearly 180 innings pitched. Obviously, the Mariners roughed up Penny on Tuesday night, touching him for five extra-base hits (three doubles, two home-runs), and hit three extra-base hits versus Lowe last night. Indeed, now of the 12 home-runs given up by the two Dodger stalwarts, a third of them have come from the bats of the Mariners. At least the Mariners were able to get one win against the two tough Dodger right-handers.

Felix reverting back to Bad Felix didn't help the Mariners' chances last night either. He was able to strike out six in nearly six innings, but his 11 hits and 4 earned runs isn't going to help his WHIP or ERA any. One interesting thing to point out about Felix's performance versus the Dodgers is that LA was unable to collect any extra-base hits off of Hernandez. So, even if they were touching Felix, they weren't exactly roughing him up hard. And it should be noted that Felix was able to keep Nomar hitless in four at-bats (Nomar did hit an eighth inning single off Eddie Guardado), so my "key" to the series- keeping Nomar under control- proved to be fruitless, as they did keep the elder Garciaparra at 2-for-9 the last two games, which ended up being split between the two teams.

Beltre was unable to keep his hot bat swinging against his old team, as he collected just a sixth inning single in four at-bats. He does keep his average at a season-high .250, however, and his six-game hitting streak is still intact. (Beltre's only been hitless in two games so far in June, hitting in 17 out of 19!) Ichiro's streak, however, was ended at 20 as Lowe was able to limit the damage done by the one Mariner batter who had a history of success against him, hitting .471 against Lowe in 17 at bats coming into the game. "Going into the game, my No. 1 priority was to keep Ichiro off base," Lowe said. "Keeping him off base was huge." With his ability to minimize Ichiro's impact in the game, Lowe was able to set the tone and dominate the Mariners' line-up.

The Mariners continue their stretch versus the National League, and their quest for .500, with a short bus ride down the California coast today as they take on the San Diego Padres and the always tough Jake Peavy. Peavy has been nothing short of dominating in his career versus the Mariners, racking up a 4-0 record against the M's in four career starts, with a career 1.69 ERA in nearly 27 innings versus Seattle. In those innings he has only allowed 17 hits, with one home-run, and struck out 18. Although he did not pitch against the Mariners in Seattle's May sweep of the Padres in Safeco, it should be pointed out that Peavy has been one of the NL's worst tough-luck pitchers so far this year, as the Padres have only given him an average of 3.6 runs per start so far. Plus, Peavy has been extremely hittable recently, high strikeout numbers or no. In nearly 22 innings over his last four starts, Peavy has given up 28 hits and 20 runs, raising his ERA from 3.64 to 4.81. Even the friendly confines of Petco Park hasn't helped Peavy out much this year, as he carries a 5.13 ERA in his home stadium. Beltre has seen Peavy the most out of the current Mariner line-up, factoring in his Dodger days, and in his 25 at-bats has mustered six hits, including a home-run.

Gil Meche, coming off a complete-game five-hitter versus the Giants last weekend, takes the mound for the Mariners. Meche has enjoyed success versus the Padres in his career as well, going 3-0 in four starts versus San Diego, with a 3.16 ERA. Meche won his only career start at Petco, even if he did give up five runs in five innings.

Predictions for tonight's game? Despite his record of dominance versus the M's in his career, I don't see much of a pitcher's duel between Peavy and Meche. Instead I see a battle between the two pitchers just to go five innings and give which ever team's bullpen the best shot at nailing the game down. Even though I see runs being scored early and often, and, yes, I do see Peavy racking up the strike-outs, I also see Meche getting a healthy amount of K's as well. End result? Too close to call, but given how the Mariners have smacked around San Diego so far this year, I'm going to give them the benefit of a doubt and say that they're going to eke out a victory in a close game. No home-runs for Beltre tonight, though.

Holey Moley! (7-0 in interleague play!)


When I finally got a chance to tune into last night's game versus the Dodgers, at around nine o'clock, things weren't going so hot. After just giving up one run in five innings, I tuned in just in time to hear Jarrod Washburn gave up a four spot in the sixth. With a 5-2 deficit and three innings left to play, it appeared that the Mariners' run of good luck would come to an end.

Well, a Carl Everett pinch-hit home-run and a Jose Lopez sacrifice fly followed right after Jarrod's troubles, and the Mariners got back to within a run. An inning later, Jeremy Reed hit a lead-off home-run as the Mariners batted around for four more runs to take the eventual 8-5 victory, thus preserving their perfect record in seven interleague games so far this year.

It's hard to believe that the Mariners are 7-0 against the National League. It's also hard to believe that the Mariners are just one win away from being .500. The Mariners have been on fire over the past month, winning 19 of 24 games. Still, it's hard to beleive they're as good a team as they appear to be. If they can complete the sweep tomorrow with Felix on the mound perhaps I won't be so ambivalent. Could it be that this team would no longer lose 1-0 games versus the Tampa Bay Devil Rays? Could it be that this team would no longer get shut-out by the likes of John Rheinecker, a 27-year old minor-league journeyman? Could it be that this Mariners team is actually a contender? Could it?

The best thing about the Mariners reaching .500 is that the season, in a way, starts all over again. It's almost wiping the slate blank. So the Mariners were ten games below .500 at one point? Once they reach .500, none of that matters.

In fact, it's a shame the Mariners couldn't have started their season on April 17. Coming into that game, Adrian beltre carried a .109 average, Ichiro was hitting .185, and Sexson was hitting .245. From April 17 on, Beltre has been hitting .278, Ichiro has been hitting a ridiculous .403, and Sexson has been, well, not hitting at all, as he's put up a .206 average. And the team's been 30-30. Ever since the Mariners were four-hit by Rangers call-up John Rheinecker on Memorial Day, with Beltre moving into the number two spot the following day, the Mariners have had a 14-6 record. There has been talk of moving Beltre back down in the order, but it's got to be asked: if it aint broke, why fix it?

Beltre continued to bludger Dodger pitching in last night's game, as he obviously finds comfort in Chavez Ravine. Against the Doger's vaunted young pitching stud Chad Billingsley and LA's ineffectual bullpen, AB went 3-for-4, including a double, along with two runs and 2 RBIs. He even stole a base (his tenth of the year) and his heads-up baserunning in the third manufactured a run. With two outs, Adrian was on third and Raul Ibanez was on first and attempted to steal second, daring Dodgers catcher Russell Martin to attempt to catch him at second. Martin took Ibanez's bait, and Beltre took of for home on Martin's throw. Ibanez stopped short and let himself get tagged out in a run-down, allowing Beltre to score before the third out was completed, tying the game 1-1.

Beltre is feasting on National League pitching this year. There have been some who have said Beltre's struggles with the Mariners are due to him switching leagues. Perhaps there is some truth to that. Indeed, in the last five games versus the Giants and the Dodgers, Beltre has gone 10-for-21 for a .476 average, and has had a ridiculous .905 slugging average, thanks to three doubles and two home-runs! Do my eyes deceive me, or is Beltre actually playing the role of a slugging third baseman?

Beltre has a career average of .270 (.271 if you discount his 2006 numbers). He finishes the second game of the Dodgers' series batting .250- meaning that not only has Beltre reached a season high in average, but that he has raised his batting average 19 points in five games! When you consider that, according to, Adrian Beltre averages 587 at-bats over a 162-game season, AB only needs to hit .289 (90 for 311) to match his career averages. Considering how he's been hitting the ball lately, that seems entirely plausible- as opposed to April, when it seemed highly unlikely that Beltre would even sniff his career norms.

The final game of the Dodgers series proves to be an exciting one. I've written before how the grand slam Eddie Guardado gave up in April to the Red Sox was perhaps the one defining moment of the Mariners' season so far, as it insitiagted a week-long stretch of futility that put them in a hole they still haven't dug out of yet. It's hard to pin-point a moment in which a team turns it around and instigates a period of playing good, competitive baseball. Certainly hindisght always helps, as it allows you to analyze and comapre the different results of different moments. The hour-long "talk" in Oakland after the Mariners first got swept down there kicked off a stretch of good baseball, which didn't carry over on their return trip to East Bay. However, if Felix can shut down the Dodgers and Beltre can continue to wield a hot bat over his former team one more time, then- voila! The Mariners would be at .500 and the 2006 season would have an entirely different smell to it (less putrid rotting carcass-like, more Irish Springish)!

Due to his brief career, Felix has yet to face the Dodgers. And despite his recent trend of dominance (7 earned runs in his past 22 innings with 19 strike-outs) and the Mariners' perfect record against the National League so far this year, Felix has struggled against NL teams this year, giving up 11 runs in 12 innings versus the Padres and the Giants. Felix will face sinkerballer Derek Lowe for the Dodgers, who has a career 3.52 ERA versus the Mariners with a 5-4 record. The former Mariner draftee has been pretty tough agaisnt the current crop of M's not named Ichiro, who has hit Lowe to the tune of .471 with 8 hits in 17 at-bats. Beltre has been kept hitless in five at-bats versus Lowe.

So what's going to happen in today's game? Conventional wisdom will be that Lowe will induce a number of sinkerballs against this Mariners line-up, and the M's offense will be unable to get anything going. Felix should get a number of strikeouts, but his numbers versus the NL this season are hardly inspiring. So, conventional wisdom should be that the Dodgers will come out on top in today's game, right? Well, conventional wisdom no longer applies to this series. Unless we see the return of Bad Felix (Hernandez did win both starts versus the NL this year, despite the number of runs given up) who grooves first-pitch fastballs down the heart of the plate, I believe it's safe to say the Mariners have yet another sweep locked up.

Oh, and who called Olmedo Saenz hitting a home-run against Washburn? I did. Kinda.

Finally! (Four freaking runs?)


So I decided to spend this Tuesday evening grilling up some chicken and sitting on my porch listening to the M's game, taking in a beautiful northwest early summer evening. Unfortunately, that meant I had to run to the store to get my fixin's for such an evening, and as I meandered through my local Fred Meyer a few minutes after seven o'clock I heard Adrian Beltre hit a two-run home-run in the top of the first inning of tonight's game versus the Dodgers.

It was the first home run I heard hit by Adrian Beltre all year- in the 72nd game of the year. Finally!

Welcome back to Chavez Ravine, Beltre, as you had the type of game Mariners fans had in our minds when you signed the mammoth contract after the 2004 season. This was AB's line for tonight'sgame: 3-4-2-2, with two walks. That means that not only did Beltre get on base four times, but he scored every time he got on. This was also due to the hitting by Richie Sexson, who went 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Sexson hit a homer, and actually hit two singles (!!!)

Sexson & Beltre get a hit, they win. They get a bunch of hits, they win big. Tonight's final score was 9-4.

And to reach that final score, they had to beat Brad Penny, who had been the ace of the Dodger's staff. Coming into this game, Penny had the 4th best ERa in the national League with 2.49 (1.89 at home and 1.33 in June). Penny ranked in the top 10 in batting average against (.231) and WHIP (1.16). He had only given up three home runs all year, and somehow gave up two to Beltre and Sexson.

This current version of the Mariners could be called "giant killers." The smack-down they gave to Penny came just days after the thrashing they gave to Jason Schmidt last Saturday, roughing him up for six runs in six innings. So first Schmidt, then Penny. As long as the Mariners face pitchers of their ilk and avoid Joe Blanton until September maybe- just maybe- they might have a chance at the division title?

It was nice to finally hear Beltre hit a home run this season. And his four runs tied a career high that he first got in 2001 against the then-Montreal Expos. He finishes the game batting .243- his season high! In the month of May Beltre raised his average 41 points from .189 to .230. Could it be possible that Beltre finishes with a .271 average when June turns into July?

I'll admit, I didn't think the Mariners had a chance against Brad Penny and the Dodgers tonight. I thought they'd score some runs- Beltre likes to face Penny- but I didn't think Joel Pineiro could contain the Dodgers. And, if anyone heard Joel's response to the media after the game, it appears he had read my slamming of him in this blog and it got under his skin. Sorry Joel! Never knew you were so sensitive!

Tomorrow, the M's go up against Chad Billingsley, the Dodgers' version of King Felix. Given as this is Chad's second major league start (he gave up two runs in five innings versus the Padres last Wedensday) there's not much to go on. So let's see what the 2006 Baseball Prosepectus has to say about him. This 6'2" right-hander is a "potential" and "stud" as the BP sums up in two words. Lordy. The Mariners have their work cut out for them tomorrow, as young pitchers tend to give the M's fits.

Nomar was able to touch the Marienrs for three htis tonight, and still they won. So my 'key for the series' was perhaps wrong. It should be pointed out, however, that Nomar has had little success versus Jarrod Washburn, who's taking the hill for the M's tomorrow. Nomar has only gotten three hits in 17 at-bats so far versus Washburn in his career. In fact, the one Dodger that has given Washburn trouble is Olmedo Saenz, who has roughed Washburn up for ten hits in 24 at-bats for a .417 average and 1.184 OPS. If Saenz isn't in the line-up at third tomorrow, then therumor is confirmed: Grady Little has no business managing a major league baseball team.

My guess for tomorrow's game? It'll be unlike tonight's game. Instead of runs scored early, I think the two pitchers will duel each other in a low-scoring battle. The winner? Er, uh, um.... it really could just go either way. So I'm not calling it.

Instead, I'm ending this blog post by asking the follwoing question. What would bewrose tonight, being a St. louis Cardinal fan, or being Kobe Bryant?

Sweep, Swept, Sweep


Well, by finishing the sweep against the Giants, the Mariners are giving weight to my statement that they're a pretty good team, just as long as they don't face the A's.

It wasn't exactly a laugher, but my prediction of a Father's Day victory for the M's at the Safe proved to be correct. The score may have been just 5-1, but if the Mariners hadn't been able to beat Jamey Wright, or even if Wright had kept the Mariners close (say a 2-1 ballgame) I would've had my doubts about the make-up of this team. Instead, the Giants bats were baffled by the slow-motion pitching of Jamie Moyer. When Moyer is on, he resembles a Rembrandt or possibly a Carvaggio on the mound, simply a master doing his thing: baffling and frustrating batters with his tantalizing yet unhittable curveballs. And today, Moyer was on, as he gave up 6 hits and one run in eight innings. After throwing only 97 pitches (66 for strikes) Jamie could've finished the Mariners' second complete game in a row, but Putz closed out the ninth instead. Jamie has now given up six earned runs over 28 innings spanning his last four starts, as his veteran leadership has inspired a slew of good outings by the M's starters, besides a hiccup in the Oakland series (natch).

You know who else was on was Adrian Beltre. AB went 2-for-5 and knocked in a couple of RBIs today, keeping in line with my prediction on how Beltre would do against the Giants' starter. He even hit a home run leading off the fifth, his sixth of the year. (Which now makes it six home runs I have yet to hear AB hit.) My predictions were off by just one thing- of his two RBIs, none were Ichiro. (Instead they were himself and Yuniesky Betancourt.)

One thing I kept noticing during the radio broadcasts of the Giants series was how the M's did such a great job of picking up basehits with two outs to knock in runs, something they were unable to do versus the A's (yet what the A's were able to do with aplomb against the M's). While this is true, I find it of interest that the M's scored a lower percentage of their runs against the Giants with two outs (8 out of 18) as they did against the A's (5 of 8). Of course, the A's kept them to fewer chances, so that will skew the numbers...

So, the Mariners find themselves at 34-37 as they go on a long road trip against the NL West. Another sweep will bring them back to .500! Although I don't expect that to happen, their first series will be at Chavez Ravine facing the LA Dodgers, who are coming off a three-game sweep at the hands of the A's themselves. Let's hope the Dodgers aren't as energized after a thrashing by the A's as the Mariners were, but instead find themselves dispirited as our Boys in Teal come into town. If so, then possibly the Mariners could take two of three!

For them to do that, however, and the key to the series is to hold Nomar Garciaparra in check. Nomar holds a career .336 BA and .967 OPS versus the Mariners. If the Mariners can't contain Nomar, their shot at the series would be in jeopardy. The Mariners are trotting Joel Pineiro out to the mound on Tuesday as he continues to attempt to make a case that he is, indeed, a major league-caliber pitcher. Nomar has owned Joel to the tune of a .500 career batting average, 5 hits in 10 at-bats. On the flip side, the Dodgers are putting up Brad Penny, who is pitching like a man on fire so far this season (7-1 record, 2.49 ERA, 1.16 WHIP). Adrian Beltre has 4 hits in 14 career at-bats versus Mr. Penny, but three of them went for extra bases (2 doubles and a triple). It should be an interesting match-up on Tuesday, and I see a high-scoring game, but I don't see the Mariners coming out on top.

.500 won't be reached, not against the Dodgers at least.

The Confusing Mariners


These Mariners kind of confuse me. I'm all ready to call it quits on the season after they lose six in a row at the end of May. Suddenly they rip off nine wins out of their next 11 games, propelling them back into the hunt in the AL West. Then they play the A's, and, predictably, they fold like a wet newspaper. But when they got that A('s)lbatross behind them, they take the first two games from the Giants, including today's 8-1 victory.

So, are they a good team or not? When you subtract the Mariners' 1-9 record against the A's from their won-loss record, the M's are a .533 team (32-28). If the M's played against the A's as they did the rest of the league, it would translate into five more wins, with the M's record ending up at 37-33, an exact mirror image of the team's actual current record of 33-37. In this fantasy world in which the Mariners were actually able to compete against the A's, they would be atop the divison, a game above Texas, with Oakland at a sub-.500 record (32-34).

But they're not, and the A's are ripping off their usual summer hot streak. I have pointed out that the A's have not been able to translate their dominance over the Mariners the past few years into division titles. If they win the AL West this year, the M's impotence versus the team from East Bay will explain why.

But looking at the M's season in this perspective got me thinking: perhaps this team isn't such a bad one after all? I know, I know- this blog is intended to kick the Mariners as they continually disappoint, taking the sting off an otherwise frustrating season. But the Marienrs are winning at a .667 clip so far in June- not much to kick at or find frustrating from a team playing like that. Before the season I thought the M's and the A's were the two weakest teams in the Al West, and would be battling each other for last place. However, obviously the Angels are much weaker than in years past and I don't quite trust Texas just yet. Could I have got it wrong? Could the A's and the M's possibly be the two best teams in the division? Would they be battling out for the title come the last week of the season? (And if that's the case, my money is Joe Blanton wrapping the title up with a solid two-hit shutout against the M's at the Safe in the last week of September.)

Anyways, today's game. The M's continued with their dominating interleague ways, having won 12 of their last 13 games against the NL at the Safe. They schooled Jason Schmidt, who grew up a few hours south of Seattle and imploded in front of 300 friends and family members. Will, maybe not 'imploded.' But he defintiely served up some long-balls, including a two-run homerun to Richie Sexson in the second inning and Jeremy Reed following with another homer an out later. The six earned runs Jason Schmidt gave up were a season high for him, and, defying my expectations, he only struck out six batters, which was one less than Gil Meche.

Speaking of Gil Meche, what does a brother have to do to win some love? The much-maligned right-hander has allowed all of four runs in his past three starts since serving up that grand slam to Texas May 30. His lines since the Texas game:

6/5 v. KC: 7 4 1 1 2 6 96 pitches, 60 strikes
6/10 v. LAA: 5 7 2 2 4 3 102 pitches, 59 strikes
6/17 v. SF: 9 5 1 1 1 7 112 pitches, 78 strikes

Though Meche may not have been that economical versus the Angels, he made the pitches he needed to as he kept those he walked from scoring. If you're not a fan of Meche, then I sympathize, as you need to get used to seeing his face. His recent stretch brings up the following questions: what team will Joel Pineiro be traded to, and for who? Seriously, Meche must be seeking to pitch himself into an extension, and I'd be all about having the team grant one to him.

Being as this is a blog about Beltre, it deserves to be noted that AB got in on the offensive action today, going 1-for-5, and knocking in Yuniesky Betancourt with a ground-rule double in the seventh. Beltre's double knocked Schmidt out the game, as that was Jason's last pitch. Beltre eventually got around to score on Raul Ibanez's three-run home-run, and ended the game batting .236. Both Sexson and Beltre got a hit, the Mariners win. It's as simple as that.

Tomorrow the M's face Jamey Wright, a barely serviceable replacement-level pitcher. Adrian Beltre owns Wright, to a tune of a .368 average and a .921 OPS. Let's just hope Ichiro can get on base plenty of times so that AB can have plenty of RBIs in what should be a laugher of a win for the M's- a great way to spend a Father's Day. (Of course, every time I say that- see Rodrigo Lopez- the M's are on the receiving end of yet another shut-out.)

If the M's do finish the sweep versus the Giants, it just makes their inability to compete against the A's all the more frustrating. Because if a sweep is secured we just might have to admit that, yes, they're a good team. Against everybody but Oakland.

Rockin' the Safe


So the Mariners are done playing the A's? That means they can start hitting the ball now, right?

Ichrio showed signs of what was to come in today's game, as he led off the bottom of the first with a home run on a one strike pitch from Giants' southpaw Noah Lowry. Indeed, in what is a usual "pitcher's paradise," Safeco played like a virtual "hitter's haven" tonight. Ten of the game's 17 basehits went for extra bases- games like this just don't happen at Safeco.

But that's the problem when everyone knows the scouting report on young Felix Hernandez: "He's going to establish his fastball early." Oh yeah? Well if that's the case, than other teams should just know to look for it and hit it early- which explains the Giants hitting three home runs in their first ten at-bats of the game.

Indeed, even if Felix slipped to the inconsistency he showed earlier this season rather than his more recent dominating self, he did pick up his fourth win in a row, and now spots a won-loss record over .500. Congrats, Felix!

Other pluses include the M's improving their record against left-handers, now 8-16, and also in one-run ballgames, now at a 5-9 record. Plus Putz just simply froze Barry Bonds with a wicked splitter for a called third strike, ending the game on perhaps one of the most positive notes so far this season!

Adrian Beltre went 2-for-4, pumping his average up to .236, and scored a run on Mike Morse's bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the first. (Oh, me likes it when the Mariners don't leave the bases loaded without scoring any runs!) Richie Sexson went hitless as he continues to battle the Mendoza line, so this victory was one of the rare ones for the M's in which just one of the two supposedly Big Boppers got a hit.

Let's hope the positive end to tonight's game leads to a carry-over for the rest of the weekend. Tomorrow Gil Meche takes the hill for the M's versus Jason Schmidt, who has won six straight decisions. That means there will be a lot of K's- here's wondering if Beltre will be able to avoid whiffing four times tomorrow. Schmidt has pretty much slapped Beltre around from AB's days of being a third-sacker for the Dodgers. In 38 at-bats, Schmidt has kept Adrian to 5 hits and 13 strikeouts.

Might be a good day to have Morse play third. Or, since Schmidt's a right-hander and Reed will be in center, have Willie Bloomquist man the hot corenr. It will give Ute some more chances to entertain the Safeco crowd with his gritty baserunning antics.

How strongly does Schmidt own the M's? According to Yahoo!, the only player on the Seattle roster this year to have hit a home run off Schmidt in his career was Matt Lawton. That does not bode well for tomorrow's game. Granted, such players as Ichiro, Betancourt, and Reed haven't faced Schmidt- and if they don't produce, we could be in store for the M's ninth shut-out at the Safe tomorrow afternoon.

Who didn't see THAT coming?


Perhaps you were one of those misguided, hopeful fans, excited about the mariners stretch of dominance, and thought that the M's could take at least one game in the three game series versus the A's. Honestly, you should've known better.

As much as the Mariners "own" the Angels, the A's have been able to smack the M's around and force the M'sto call the A's their daddy the past couple of years. Being swept by the A's after sweeping the Angels brings the road trip to a 3-3 finsih, as they return to the Safe for an abbreviated home stretch, playing three games against the San Francisco Giants.

If there is one solace for Mariners fans about the A's knocking the M's about the past couple of years, is that it hasn't made a lick of difference in the over-all standings in the AL West. Sure, the Mariners may have been 14-23 as whipping boys versus the A's in 2004 and 2005, but the A's were unable to ride that dominance over a divison rival to a title. In fact, the last time the A's won a divison crown, in 2003, the Mariners won 12 of 19 games between the two- the third straight year that the M's had won in double figues against Oakland.

Still, while that fact might be nice, it's still not going to justify getting swept by Oakland.

Adrian Beltre went 1-for-4 in Saturday night's 7-2 loss (I almost called it- predicting 7-3!) while Sexson went 0-for-2. Yesterday, Beltre went 0-for-3 with a run and a ribbie, while Sexson went 2-for-4 with an RBI. This gives credence to the theory that both Adrian and Sexson need to get a hit in a game if the Mariners are going to win. Adrian Beltre's average stands at .231, which it seems to be more often than not this year, and I wouldn't be surprised if he finishes the year with that batting average.

Tonight is the first game of the Giants series, and the Marienrs face left-hander Noah Lowry. As he's a leftie, a loss for the M's is basically assured. Beltre is 1-for-3 in his career versus Lowry, so he might pop off a single.

Freakin' Joe Blanton


If Joe Blanton's pitching, then that must mean the Mariners just lost their eighth shut-out of the season. 2-0. Excuse me while I scream.

Oh, but I haven't even gotten to the best part. Keeping with my theory that by not listening to the baseball games means Adrian Beltre will hit more home runs, I abstained from turning on the radio until around 8:30. Unfortunately, my theory didn't work as an hour-and-a-half into the game, it was the bottom of the seventh and the A's were ahead 1 to zip. So I listened. And what happens? The Mariners load the bases with no outs in the ninth inning (thanks in part to a double lined down the left-field line by Adrian Beltre). And, as you can tell, the Mariners failed to score.

Bases loaded, with no outs! I have no idea what the likelihood of that happeneing is, but this season the Mariners have proved that not only as it possible, but also very repeatable as it's been a situation that has happened numerous times for our struggling Boys in Blue. Wait, that's the Dodgers. I mean the Tykes in Teal....

Freakin' Joe Blanton. The man who ruined Felix Hernandez's first start of the year back in April by tossing 8 innings of two-hit shut-out ball against the M's, besting Felix's five innings of one-run ball. Freakin' Joe Blanton. Dude just came off giving up 10 hits and six runs in five innings against the Indians last week. Freakin' Joe Blanton. The dude is 3-0 against the Mariners this year with a 0.75 ERA, allowing 15 baserunners in 24 innings for a WHIP of 0.63. Against the rest of baseball, he's 3-6 with a 6.91 ERA, and allowing 103 base-runners in 56 innings for a WHIP of 1.84- and that's including a complete game shut-out against the Royals.

Freakin' Joe Blanton. He's not even good enough to be carried on anybody's fantasy baseball team. As I pointed out over on USS Mariner, he wouldn't be worth a spot on the Mariners' roster because he would never get a chance to face the Mariners.

Freakin' Joe Blanton.

Well, I know it's rather pointless, but how did the Mariners' bats do? Well, uh... yeah. It's pointless. Never mind that, I just want to reiterate how much I hate Joe Blanton.

According to Yahoo!, Beltre was the "player of the day" for the M's as he provided the only extra base hit out of the five that the M's meager offense pushed against Joe Blanton's confusing array of pitches. That is Beltre's sixth extra-base hit out of the 12 hits he's gotten so far in June. Which is good, but not enough to help beat Freakin' Joe Blanton tonight.

Tomorrow the M's face Danny Haren, who is perhaps the best the A's have to offer right now in their starting rotation. (At least he's loads better than Joe Freakin' Blanton.) Beltre has actually hit Haren pretty well, .400 with 6 hits in fifteen at-bats, with half of those hits going for doubles. I wouldn't be surprised if the Mariners score a few runs tomorrow, as they're not facing Freakin' Joe Blanton. On the flip side, Joe Pinero is on the hill for the M's, which means the A's will probably score about 7.

Excuse me while I scream.

In the sake of keeping this blog all things Beltre, I submit the following article written by The Oregonian's John Hunt, in which he breaks it down just how Beltre and Sexson's lousy season has hurt he Mariners' chances to be competitive so far:

Mariners sink, swim with duo
Seattle's success depends heavily on the hitting production of Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre

Sunday, June 11, 2006

SEATTLE -- In the Seattle Mariners' season opener some two months ago, high-priced corner men Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre each went 0 for 4.

The Mariners lost.

The next day, they combined for four hits.

The Mariners won.

The trend had begun, and it hasn't stopped.

As Sexson and Beltre go, so go the Mariners in 2006, which helps explain why the team is third in the four-team American League West and also why it's tantalizingly close to first.

When Sexson and Beltre have combined for more than one hit in a game -- a feat certainly not as large as their collective $26 million salaries this season -- the Mariners are 18-11.

When they get a total of one hit or worse, the Mariners are 11-23, and five of those losses were by one run.

"If Richie and I did what we're supposed to, we'd be in first place," Beltre said.

Considering Seattle is 41/2 games behind the first-place Texas Rangers, Beltre is right -- especially since three of those unproductive games came against the Rangers.

But it's Sexson whose performance really has mirrored the team.

Sexson, who has averaged 40 home runs in his past four healthy seasons, has just nine so far in 2006, on pace for 24. In those eight games in which Sexson has homered (he had a two-homer game against Kansas City), the Mariners are 8-0.

In games in which Sexson drives in at least one run -- again, pretty much in the job description of a high-priced first baseman -- the Mariners are 17-2. He has had five three-strikeout games, all losses.

While Sexson's struggles are at least partly to blame on a sore foot, Beltre's are glaringly a result of pressure -- the more he wants a hit, the less likely he is to get it.

With two outs and runners in scoring position, Beltre is 3 for 29 (.103) with seven strikeouts. With the bases loaded, he's 1 for 9 (.111).

So on May 30, Mariners manager Mike Hargrove decided to release the pressure by writing Beltre's name in the No. 2 spot on the lineup card, a spot where he is counted on less heavily and often gets to hit with Ichiro Suzuki on first base occupying the pitcher's thoughts.

In the nine games since the move, Beltre is 12 for 44 (.273) with two home runs and six RBIs (compared with two home runs and 14 RBIs in the 53 games before the switch). He's also hit in nine of those 10 games and scored in eight, too.

Asked why the change has seemed to work for Beltre, Hargrove came up with as good an explanation as any: Sometimes, change is good.

"Why do you feel better after a cold shower?" he said.

The manager also dropped Sexson to fifth in the order, where he's added about 250 points to his slugging percentage.

"It may last 10, 20 days," Hargrove said after making the switch. "But it's something that could last all year."

Both players are getting an increasing amount of boos at Safeco Field. It's a sign of the times -- even the beloved Eddie Guardado gets booed -- and that fans realize the Mariners are close to being a good team, certainly good enough to compete in the 2006 AL West, and a little production from Sexson and Beltre would go a long way.

The catcher position, a seven-man offensive void last season, has been filled by Kenji Johjima. And Seattle's middle infield offense, long a strength with Alex Rodriguez, then Bret Boone, is looking up with second baseman Jose Lopez (the team's RBI leader) and shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt (at .293, the team's leading hitter not named Suzuki).

And then there's the money. Together, Sexson and Beltre make up 30 percent of the Mariners' payroll.

Six other teams devote as big a piece of the payroll pie to two hitters (including the Colorado Rockies, who give 40 percent of their payroll to first baseman Todd Helton).

Arizona gives 35 percent of its payroll to Luis Gonzalez ($10.7 million) and Shawn Green ($10.2 million). Jason Kendall ($11.6 million) and Eric Chavez ($9.5 million) account for 34 percent of Oakland's payroll. In Detroit, Magglio Ordonez ($16.2 million) and Ivan Rodriguez ($10.6 million) make 33 percent of the Tigers' total salary.

Atlanta gives Chipper Jones ($13.7 million) and Andruw Jones ($13.5 million) 30 percent of its player dollars. And Albert Pujols ($14 million) and Scott Rolen ($12.5 million) account for 30 percent of the payroll in St. Louis.

Seattle is the only club in the group that isn't batting one of the top-dollar hitters in the third or fourth spot in the lineup. In Beltre, the Mariners have a No. 2 hitter who might be the best defensive third baseman in the league, but who is falling far short of the 48-homer season of 2004 that earned him the big contract in Seattle.

In fact, if Beltre stays on his current pace of this season, he will have amassed 61 home runs as a Mariner when his contract expires in 2009.

But for now, the Mariners are taking comfort in Beltre's relative comfort in the No. 2 hole.

"He seems to like it," Hargrove said. "That's the important thing."

Fallen Angels/ Good to be King


Lose big--mamas' Fallen Angels
Get swept--can't score no runs
In last place--mamas' Fallen Angels
Don't worry, the series with M's is now done!

(With apologies to Poison- gosh, never thought I'd say those words before.)

On the flip side:

It's good to be King, if just for a game
Their line-up was rookies, can't remember their names
It's good to throw strikes, and allow only two runs
With 94 pitches, the complete game is done

(With apologies to Tom Petty.)

Well, the Mariners continue their mastery of the Angels, as they completed the sweep at the hands of King Felix. (Didn't the song lyrics tell you all you need to know?) Felix was nothing short of dominating in today's game. While my pre-game prediction of a no-hitter was slightly off the mark, Felix tossed a career-low four-hitter as he held the Angels in check with 94 pitches.

Man, what has happened to the Angels? The team had a .568 Pythagorean winning percentage in winning the last two American League West divisions. With perenniel MVP candidate Vladmir Guerrero in the middle of the line-up, surrounded by spark-plug Chone Figgins and the under-rated Jaun Rivera, as well as the reigning Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon (who, I admit, I think is a little over-weighted) anchoring a strong rotation that includes John Lackey (my pre-season dark horse for Cy Young Award winner this year) the Angels were my pre-season favorite to repeat as AL West winners. Instead, they are playing .435 ball as they find themselves looking up at the Mariners from the bottom of the standings, nearly ten games below .500.

Though some may say that injuries have taken the their toll on the Angels, forcing them to play their youngsters too much, it should be pointed out that only two Angel regulars have spent long stretches on the DL: centerfielder Darin Erstad and first baseman Casey Kotchamn, who wasn't really contributing too much before he went on anyway, with a .152 BA and a .436 OPS. Also, the Angels' farm system was one of the most vaunted farm systems as the season started. Take a moment and look at who the Angels have stashed in the minor leagues, and who the 2006 Baseball Prospectus has career projections in comparison to:

Erick Aybar- BP comparisons: Jimmy Rollins, Jose Reyes (Shortstop of the future has hit .333 in 12 games for the Angels.)
Howie Kendrick- BP comparison: David Wright (In 7 games with the big club, hit .115.)
Jeff Mathis- BP comparison: Fernando Tatis (In 12 games hit .103)
Kendry Morales- BP comparison: Jay Gibbons (The Cuban has hit .261 with 3 home runs in 11 games.)
Mike Napoli- BP comparison: Mike Schmidt (Has hit .314 with 6 home runs in 25 games, with the same number of two-homer games as Richie Sexson, one.)
Brandon Wood- BP comparison: Joe Crede (Perhaps the one prospect Halo fans are holding their breath the most for, after hitting 43 home runs at high-A ball last year, Wood has 13 home runs in 60 games at double-A. Currently blocked at short by both Cabrera and Aybar on the depth chart.)

Heck, BP has Dallas McPherson compared to such sluggers as Dave Kingman and Jay (wha?) Buhner, while Kotchamn has been likened to Don Mattingly in the past.

To sum it up, even if the Angels had been ravaged by injuries- which they haven't- the players should've been available at the farm system to step in and help the offense. The results have been mixed- Napoli, obviously, is a huge bat in the line-up as catcher, and Morales has been serviceable; Kendrick, Mathis, McPherson, and Kotchamn have all been disappointing, however, and have yet to live up to their hype.

This magnifies the problem the Angels have had hitting with runners in scoring position. As a team the Angels are hitting a full thirty points lower than their opponents with runners on- .257 to .288. Guerrero, signed to produce in such situations, has offered a .698 OPS instead. Erstad and Kotchamn combined to go 5-for-42. The rest of Angels' youngsters have combined to go 14-for-58 insuch situations. This lack of offensive production has negated some strong performances by the Angels' staff, last night's start by Lackey notwithstanding. Jeff Weaver pitched good enough to win today, but his two errors in the fifth inning did himself in.

Adrian Beltre continued with his hitting ways, making it 15 in 16 games with a hit, as he went 1-for-5 with a two-run single in Weaver's nightmarish fifth. This brings his batting average to .234, and with 23 RBIs, Beltre is on pace for 58 on the season!!!!

The Mariners get a day off to prepare themselves for the next series against Oakland. The A's are coming off a hot streak themselves, having just swept the Yankees and, like the M's, have won 9 of their last 11. So what happens when two objects with equal mass and force collide? I guess we'll find out when these two teams play this week. (Beltre, by the way, has a .577 OPS in his career versus the A's, so don't expect him to do any collidin'.)

This is getting ridiculous


All right, this is getting ridiculous.

I was listening to the game last night right up to about 9:00 or so, just long enough to hear Ichiro drive a pitch over the right field fence for a three-run home run and an 11-3 Mariners lead. But then it was time to go to a party, so I switched the radio off. Just before Adrian Beltre hit his fifth home run of the season.

So that now makes it five home runs AB has hit this year- and none I have heard him hit live. I have to rethink my earlier idea of avoiding listening to Mariners games, just so that Beltre can possibly appraoch his 2004 numbers!

At any rate, I was off big-time in my pre-game predictions. It was the Mariners' bats who feasted on Lackey, the erstwhile ace of the Angels. They pounded him for 9 hits and 8 runs in 4.2 innings, highlighted by Richie Sexson's grand slam, the first grand slam Lackey has given up in his career. Meche had another decent start, only giving up three runs in five innings, though by not going six innings he failed to earn a quality start. The stars even aligned for Eddie Guardado, who pitched an easy ninth inning and gave up no home runs!

The folks over at USS Mariner have a poll that asks the following question: 'Beltre on fire in the #2 hole', with the options to reply being 'It's the turning point! Woohoo!' or 'We've been teased before.' I feel there should be another response option- 'Who cares? Just keep winning, baby!' By going 2-for-5, Beltre has raised his average to .234, just under his season high of .236. Over his past ten games, Beltre is hitting .289 and slugging .533- passable numbers for a slugging third baseman!

Today the Mariners face Jeff Weaver, who was awful when he faced the Mariners on Mother's Day, giving up 7 runs in 3.2 innings. The elder Weaver has pitched better of late, giving up a combined 9 earned runs in 19.2 innings over his last three starts. However, Weaver has, historically, performed lousy against the Mariners, as he holds a career 6.55 ERA against Seattle, who hit .318 against Jeff.

Felix Hernandez takes the hill for the Mariners. Young Felix has had a three-game streak similar to Jeff's, giving up nine runs in 20 innings. However, he has yet to face the Angels in his career.

Given the Angels lousy offense, could the situation be right for a possible no-hitter? And since it's an early game, and I'll miss it because I have to work, does that mean Beltre will hit two home runs? We'll find out....

M's continue their winning ways


For the first time this year, the Mariners took the first game of a road series, beating the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 4-1 in last night's ballgame. Over a third of the year has passed, and the Mariners are finally able to potentially sweep a series on the road.

This now means that although the Mariners have won seven of their last nine, they are still five games below .500. The Mariners' recent play has proved nothing else except that they are merely a bad team, rather than a god-awful one. It doesn't hurt playing three straight opponents that are below .500- the Royals, Twins, and now the Angels. Depending on how the A's, currently at .500, fare in the rest of their series versus the Yankees, there is a very good chance the Mariners may not see another sub-.500 team until the end of July, when they face Colorado in interleague play.

For the Mariners to have any stake in this season, they needed to win ballgames during this current stretch. They are, and as such you can't rule them out quite yet.

Adrian Beltre went 1-for-3 to bring his average back up to .231. (If he ever makes it to .240, we'll have a big celebration here at BBB!) The Mariners' win yesterday is more due to the Angels ineffectual offense than anything else. Jarrod Washburn put up one of his strongest starts of the season against his old team- 6 innings, 1 walk, 1 earned run, four strikeouts. An outing like that usually can't guarantee him a win. Instead, last night's tough luck pitcher was Kelvim Escobar who gave up 2 earned runs in eight innings, an error by Vladimir Guererro doing Kelvim in for his fifth loss in a row. But I can't say I'm complainin'.

The Mariners try to make it two in a row tonight versus the tough John Lackey, who's 4-3 record bears no reflection of the quality of pitching he's done so far this season. (In fact, it could be said that Lackey is attempting to do his best impression of Jarrod Washburn 2005 season, in which Jarrod went 8-8 but a had a 3.29 ERA in 29 starts for the Angels.) Lackey is coming off his eighth quality start, keeping the Indians in check on two hits over 7 innings in a 14-2 triumph, has a 3.06 ERA, replaced Gil Meche at #10 in the AL in strikeouts with 61, and leads the league in batting average allowed (.207). Still, ESPN has him projected to finish the year at 11-8 due to the lack of bats in the Angels' line-up.

Speaking of Mr. Meche, he allowed one run over seven innings in his last start. Of course, that was against the Royals. This year, Meche has been god-awful on the road, posting a 6.82 ERA, which includes a start last May in which Meche gave up 4 runs in 5.1 innings versus the Angels- and won. The Angels have been rough on Meche throughout his career, as Meche has given up 13 home runs over 77 innings in 13 career starts versus the Halos.

Although Lackey has slightly better numbers, he only carries a 5-7 career record versus the M's, who have hit .288 off him. Adrian Beltre, in fact, has hit one of his few American League home runs off of Lackey.

So, in trying to gauge how tonight's game will turn out, it's hard to tell. It could just as easily be a slugfest just as much as a pitcher's duel. Given the state of these offenses, however, I doubt the former. Considering Meche's problems on the road, I have a gut feeling that he'll be just what the Angels' bats need, and they'll batter him around for a 7-1 victory as Adrian Beltre goes 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a deep fly-out to center.

Perhaps if I say it, the opposite will happen. Meche will throw a no-hitter, and AB will actually hit three home runs!

Wrapping up the homestand: Feast & Famine


The Mariners finished up their homestand, dropping their finale against the Twins 7-3 to finish the 7 game homestand with a 5-2 record. That's acceptable, considering they were facing perhaps the best left-hander, or best starting pitcher period, in Johann Santana.

It wasn't a bad homestand at all. It's always a welcome respite for any team to play the Kansas City Royals four times, and the Mariners were able to avenge a horrendous sweep at the hands of the Twins at the Metrodome a couple of weeks back, beating two of three pitchers they had lost to in the last go-around.

Summing up the homestand, some Mariners players have some interesting stat lines, which could bode either good or bad, depending on interpretation. Here are the following stat lines of Mariners batters over the past 7 games, with comments:

Ichiro: a ridiculous .576 BA (19 for 33), .588 OBP, .788 SLG, and 1.376 OPS. Ichiro scored six runs in the past seven games, and had 26 total bases in 33 at-bats.
Beltre: .226-.273-.484-.757. Obviously, AB has had trouble getting on the bases, but he has been swinging with more authority, as the slugging percentage indicates. Four of hits seven hits went for extra bases.
Lopez: .154-.303-.385-.688. With the lowest OPS amongst Mariner regulars over the past seven days, Lopez is hurting his All-Star chances just when he needs to play his best. He did score 8 runs, and all four of his hits went for extra bases.
Ibanez: .500 (11 for 22)-.556-.864-1.420. Getting kicked out of that game down in Texas must have switched a button for Mr. Ibanez, as he has certainly been on the past week. He has been a certifiable RBI machine, with 10 ribbies and 19 total bases in 28 at-bats.
Sexson: .286-.300-.643-.943. Welcome back, big guy, with your three home run and 9 RBI week.
Everett: .143-.182-.286-.468. Carl has been reduced to a platoon role, splitting DH duties with Mike Morse. Though those numbers are bad, there is a game-winning home-run in there somewhere.
Johjima: .227-.261-.318-.579. Johjima leads the American League in innings caught, and its beginning to show on his numbers. Perhaps he can split DH duties with Mike Morse, and have Rene Rivera spend more time behind the plate?
Bloomquist: .100-.182-.300-.482. Granted, he only had ten at-bats, but his one hit was a triple, and he scored.
Betancourt: .375-.423-.625-1.408. Who's the third Mariner with an OPS over 1.000 the past week? Surprisingly, it's Betancourt, who piled up 15 total bases in 24 at-bats.
Reed: .133-.188-.133-.321. Is he still on the team? After a decent May, Reed has fallen out of favor with Hargrove and is in a center-field platoon with Bloomquist.
Morse: .444-.500-.778-1.278. Though nine at-bats is not enough to make the claim that Morse should be the full-time DH... ah, heck. Morse should be the full-time DH! Three of his four hits have been doubles, plus he's had 3 RBIs, 7 total bases, and even stole a base!

It is of interest that the problem spots in the Mariners line-up have been the second and third batters, Beltre (no surprise) and Lopez. But, as these numbers show, they've managed to be productive even when they're not. They have provided enough power, and gotten on enough, to allow RBI opportunities for Ibanez and Sexson. Betancourt has out-produced from the number nine slot, and that has helped with the RBI possibilities as well.

The other problem spot has been from center field. Bloomquist and Reed have combined to go 3 for 25 for the month of June. I know it's ridiculous to wax longingly for the days of Ken Griffey Jr., but there must be somebody more capable then this available. Perhaps the Mariners should contact the Rangers over the availablity of Jerry Hairston, Jr. Or (my dream-case scenario) perhaps the Mariners could talk to the Phillies about what it would take to get Portland, OR-native Aaron Rowand to man center field?

The Mariners' rotation stepped up as well. They almost made it one whole trip through the rotation with excellent starts, minus Washburn's melt-down versus the Royals. Minus that start, and today's typical Pineiro performance, the Mariners' rotation contributed 35 innings pitched, 29 hits, 7 runs, 6 earned, 9 walks, and 18 strike-outs for a 1.54 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. All in all, a great week, minus some hiccups in the bullpen by Eddie Guardado and George Sherrill.

Can the Mariners continue their winning ways as they embark to leave the friendly confines of the Safe for 15 of their next 18 games? The road trip starts off on the right foot, at least, by taking the M's down to Anaheim to face the Angels. The Mariners are only a half-game behind the Angels as they attempt to creep out of the cellar and inch towards respectability. According to Sports Weekly, the Mariners have the Angels "number", with a 64-49 record against the Angels, and having took four of six games from LA so far this year.

Beltre, however, has struggled against Los Angele's pitching, hitting just .154, even if he did hit one of his home runs against LA on May 12. Let's see if he can hit another one in the next few days...

Inching towards respectability


Last night was a match-up between future Cy Young Award winners Francisco Liriano and Felix Herandez, reprising their show-down from May 26, in which the Twins bested King Felix 3-1 in the Metrodome. Last night's affair had a happier outcome, as the mariners triumphed 4-2 over the Twins' young Venezuelan leftie. Felix was on top of his game last night- minus the first inning where after getting two quick hits Felix loaded the bases with a single, double, and a walk before escaping unscathed due to a ground-out from Justin Morneau. Other than that, he was methodical, only allowing six hits and two walks and keeping the Twins to scoring just one run in seven innings.

In the seventh inning, Adrian Beltre led off with a deep drive to center. I froze in reaction to Niehaus's call- could it be that I will actually listen live to Beltre hitting a ball out of the park? But it was not to be, as the drive faltered and was caught on the warning track. Unoffically, that must be like Beltre's 20th fly-out to the warning track. If just half of those had gone of the fence, Beltre would be on pace for 30 home-runs, if not 40. Beltre finished the game going 1-for-5, holding his average at .231, where it had fallen to from .236, Beltre's season high after hitting his most recent home-run against the Royals.

Also, theren eeds to be an obligatory rant about Eddie Guardado. Eddie's early season troubles I viewed in a comical manner- obviously "Everyday" Eddie was washed up and could no longer be trusted with a lead in the ninth inning. His implosion led to the revelation that J.J. Putz was a dominat, if not a potential All-Star, closer. But Hargrove's continual usage of Eddie in situations where his pitching will serve as a detriment to them's chances of winning (see May 28, versus the Twins) is absolutely maddening. Last night, Eddie came on in the eighth inning and grooved a 2-0 pitch to lead-off batter Jason Kubel, who deposited it over the center field fence. After giving up a full-count single to Joe Mauer, Mauer's fourth hit of the ball-game, hargrove took Eddie out and replaced him with Julio Mateo. That was it for Eddie: two batters, two hits, one run. five walks, two strikes. Ridiculous.

I'm not saying there isn't a sitution in which we can use Guardado. Like mop-up duty in the late innings of a 10-2 ball-game, for example. But why rely on Eddie in those instances when we have young pitchers such as Travis Blackley or Clint Nageotte who could gain experience in a relatively stress-free situation? It makes no sense to continue to run Eddie out onto the mound. Yes, I know he's earning $6.5 million dollars, but does that necessarily mean you need to spend that money and buy yourself a bunch of losses or bad outings? I think it's about time to buy out Eddie's contract, and designate him for assignment- ASAP.

Tonight the series between the M's and Twins, with a rematch between Jamie Moyer and Boof Bonser. Moyer got rcoked hard at the Metrodome the first time around, giving up 11 hits and 7 earned runs in a 9-5 loss to Bonser and the Twins. Although Jamie has all ready lost two games at the Safe so far this year- unable to match the 10-0 home record he had last year- his home ERA (2.65) is lower than the home ERA he had last year (2.95), and plaes in comparison to his ERA in the road this year (6.20). Adrian Beltre also picked up one hit in two at-bats versus Bonser, so my prediciton for tonight's game is that Moyer will baffle the Twins with his array of off-speed junk and Beltre might even pick up a single as the Mariners win and continue to inch towards respectability.

Insert obligatory "Wood" joke here


So the Mariners took the final game of the four-game series with the Royals, besting Mike Wood and Kansas City 4-1 due to a strong outing by Gil Meche, who limited the Royals to 4 hits in 7 innings. Giving up a low number of hits to the Royals may not necessarily be the hardest feat to pull off, but on the plus side this equals Meche's sixth quality start of the year. In fact, the Mariners' rotation so far this year has not been too shabby, as they've combined for 31 quality starts in 59 games. This is good enough for third in the American League, behind Detroit and the White Sox. It should be noted that both those teams are in the hunt in their divison, while the Mariners are not, unless you use the definition of "in the hunt" very loosely.

Beltre went homerless, which put an end to his run at Griffey Jr.'s team (and league) record of eight straight games with a home run. Still, all though he went hitless (ending his nine-game hitting streak), he did score a run, which now gives him seven runs in the six games he's batted second. Keep at it, AB!

Also of note: with his six strike-outs, Meche now ranks 10th in the American League in strike-outs with 59(!). And the Mariners drafted University of California ace Brandon Morrow with the fifth pick in today's amateur draft. Though he may be better suited for a relief role rather than as a starter, here's hoping he can team up with former USC catcher Jeff Clement, last year's top pick, and make a formidable battery in the future!

And, don't get me wrong here, but isn't it just wrong for Roger Clemens to start a ballgame down at single-A? I understand he hasn't competed in a year, and that's where his son plays, but how do you think those guys feel on the other team? If Clemens doesn't throw a no-hitter, then whoever gets that first hit off him should feel special, indeed.

Tonight, the Mariners host the Twins at the Safe, which means its round deaux of the future Cy Young Award winners, Felix Hernandez and Francisco Liriano. Adrian Beltre did get one hit in two at-bats versus the Twins' amazing young Venezuelan, so hope springs eternal for tonight's ballgame...

To begin with, I must bemoan my bad luck.

Due to a crazy schedule and lack of time, I wasn't able to catch the first two games of the Mariners' series versus the Royals. Upon early-morning checks of the box scores, however, I realized they were two games not to be missed: a two-hit shut-out softly tossed by Jamie Moyer on Friday, and Saturday's 12-1 pasting. Today I was able to tune in to catch the game, only to have the Royals throttle the Mariners 9-4.

I know it sounds superstitous, but perhaps I should only catch a Mariners game every four to five days, in the chance that more winning streaks would occur while I'm not paying attention.

Also, Adrian Beltre has hit two home runs in the past two games, and considering that I tuned in half-way through this game, means that out of the four home runs Beltre has hit this year I have caught absolutely none of them live. As someone contributing to a blog that is all things Beltre (both good and bad) that is maddening.

What's not maddening, however, is Beltre's production from the #2 slot. In the five games since Hargrove moved Beltre up in the order, Beltre has gone 8-for-22 with six runs, five RBIs, and two homers. Beltre's streak of two homers hit in two days means that he has six to go before tying Ken Griffey Jr.'s team (and major league) record of eight consecutive games with a home run. C'mon Beltre- you can do it!

Adrian had hit in the four games before the move to #2, and so is now in a season-long nine-game hitting streak. I do not know why Beltre is responding so well to the line-up move and producing in a manner as of yet seen from him since his tenure in Seattle began, and neither does his mananger. "Why does someone feel better after a cold shower?" Hargrove responded in his post-game interview to a question regarding Beltre's production from the two-spot.

Perhaps Beltre was pressing too much while in the "power" slots he was batting at earlier in the season, trying too hard to provide protection for Richie Sexson. After bottoming out at a horrendous .102-.170-.122 line batting fifth, Beltre flailed away to a .252-.312-.357 line batting sixth. Batting second? Beltre's line reads .364-.417-.682.

It'd be too much to say that Beltre's move up is a "stroke of genius" by mananger Mike Hargrove, but their has been a noticable difference in the runs scored by the Mariners' offense since the line-up move. In the five games that Beltre has hit second, the Mariners have scored 4,12,4,14,4 runs for an average of nearly 8 runs a game. The five games before? Try 0,3,5,1,0 runs for an average of just over 2.

This increase in runs can't be attributed alone to Beltre's presence atop the line-up, but the player Beltre replaced in the #2 spot, Jose Lopez, has gone 4-for-19 in five games batting third, providing 4 runs, 4 RBI, and a home run. In fact, over the past two weeks, Lopez's batting average has dropped from a season-high of .311 on May 20 to its current .279 average.

It should be pointed out that Lopez contributed strong numbers from the second spot as well- he provided a .286-.317-.505 line in 46 games there. Perhaps the two-spot is the "golden spot" for Mariners' hitters this year. Batting behind Ichiro, who provides distraction on the basepaths, forces pitchers to throw better pitches to hit to whoeever is batting second. Perhaps that's where Hargrove should place batters to get them out of their funk- will Sexson bat second next?

At any rate, Beltre's two-run first inning home-run in today's ball-game failed to set the pace for the rest of the M's line-up as they, and their pitching, let them lose a laugher to KC. Tomorrow the Mariners face Mike Wood, who Beltre has never faced, so let's hope he doesn't re-discover his O-fer ways and strikeout four times or anything along those lines....



Consider today's 14-5 trouncing of the Rangers payback.

A payback for only scoring 13 runs during the Mariners' six-game losing streak. Payback for Gil Meche giving up six runs in the third inning the night before, as the Mariners answered with their own six-run third in Wedensday's game. Payback for folding like a wet newspaper versus Rangers left-hander John Koronka last April 18, as he held the Mariners to one run in five innings in a 7-4 victory for the Rangers at Safeco. Payback for Felix pitching like a demon in his last start, yet losing 3-1 to the Twins. Payabck for giving up agrand slam to Brad Wilkerson in Tuesday's game.... wait, Felix gave up a grand slam to Gary Matthews, Jr. Never mind.

But still, the M's got a win and getting that monkey, nee gorilla off their back, is HUGE. Just when I was wondering what day in June the Mariners were going to get their next win (could it be possible to be swept by the Royals?) my thoughts were distracted by ground-ball after ground-ball finding their way through the infield, only to be interuppted by Raul Ibanez depositing a flyball over the outfield fence, which was his own way of getting payback for getting tossed out on a lousy strike three call the night before.

So, kudos, Mariners for scoring a season high in runs. Is this why you got shut-out twice in five days, though? Using up your allotted runs in one ball-game? Perhaps this game, plus a day of rest after playing 16 straight, will have an opposite carry-over effect as last week's Rodrigo Lopez shut-out did in the final game of the homestand, and the M's bats will return to the Safe juiced and ready to pound the Royals' pitching.

Adrian Beltre even got in on the action today, going 3 for 6 with a run and 2 RBIs. Beltre has been en fuego lately, hitting in 11 out of his last 13 games for a .289 average. Though it'd be nice to see him add to his power numbers, he has once again brought his batting average to a season high of .230, a point previously reached on May 9th (before falling into a 3-for-30 stretch that brought it tumbling to .205). Although May lacked fireworks, Beltre's line of .264-.302-.355 far surpassed the Sexsonish .189-.284-.233 numbers that were put up in April. Beltre has also responded to being moved to the number 2 spot quite nicely (perhaps Hargrove inserted Beltre in behind Ichiro, moving Lopez down to third, to resist the urge to have Lopez continually bunt). Still, even by going 4-for-10 in the two-spot and picking up his third 2-RBI game of the season, Beltre is a career .185 hitter batting second, so hopefully Hargrove wises up (before he gets fired, natch) and moves Beltre back to where he should be batting.

You know, eighth.


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