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.

Welcome back, Jose Lopez!


Gosh darn early Estern start times. Due to the hour's difference and having to work, I was able to catch only a brief moment of this afternoon's ballgame. However, that moment just so happened to be the top of the fourth inning in which Richie Sexson hit a two-run home-run to give the Mariners a 3-2 lead. And that absolutely rocked, of course.

I was much closer in my prediction for today's game than I was for yesterday's. Though the Mariners did win, their 7-3 margin of victory was just two runs off my 7-5 guess. The only trend I can spot is that I should continue to state matter-of-factly that the Mariners will lose, as it appears they tend to win whenever I do that.

Having been ubale to watch and/or listen to the game, I can only piece together an analysis through the box score, which tells me that Jose Lopez's bat awoke in a big way in tonight's ballgame, as he went 3-for-5 with a two-run single in the ninth inning that broke the game open. And boy was tonight's performance needed by Jose. It broke an 0-for-15 streak, and where Lopez's first basehits since the birth of his baby daughter. Prior to today, Jose had only one RBI for the month of July- hardly All-Star numbers. (In comparison, he had 15 RBIs in June and 25 in May.)

Eddie Perez was in the line-up, but he was batting 6th. Even though he went hitless in two at-bats (plus a walk), his lack of offensive didn't prevent a Mariners loss. Adrian Beltre went 2-for-4, with an RBI single knocking in Ichiro in the first to give the Mariners an early 1-0 lead. Beltre was also hit by a pitch in the ninth inning, when the Mariners scored four runs off the Indians' wanna-be closer.

And for the second time this season, the Mariners took two of three against the Indians on the road at Jacobs Field. Now its on to Baltimore, where the mercury is supposed to be in the triple digits the three games the Mariners are to play there. The Mariners took two of three against Baltimore at Camden at the end of April (in which Beltre hit his first home-run of the season). However, I'm not sure how the sweltering heat will affect the M's offense, which seemed fairly subdued during the Cleveland series, despite winning two of three.

Gil Meche is taking the hill for the Mariners tomorrow night, looking to rebound from his worst outing of the season in last week's 12-3 trouncing at the hands of the Blue Jays. There is no reason to indicate Meche should pitch anotehr poor outing against the Orioles: it had been nearly two months between outings in which Meche struggled as bad, and he has been dynamite against the Orioles so far this season. His 0-2 record belies the numbers he has accrued against Baltimore: in 12 innings, Meche has allowed 12 hits, four earned runs, five walks, and 13 strikeouts (inclduing a season high 10 on May 25) for a 3.00 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP. It's just that the Mariners have scored a whopping two runs for Meche in those two losses.

Even with those two losses, Meche enjoys a 4-2 career record versus Baltimore, with a 3.17 ERA, striking out 46 in 65 innings. The batters in the Orioles line-up who have hit Meche well- including Ramon Hernandez (.353 in 17 AB), Melvin Mora (.333 in 15 AB), and Jay Gibbons (.286 in 14 AB)- all have singles to show for it. The only Oriole to hit Meche for power is Brian Roberts, who along with a .500 average in 20 at-bats has four doubles off Meche. Other than that, he has mananged to control the Orioles' offense quite handily.

Adam Loewen, who made his major-league debut against the Mariners in a blow-out 14-4 Orioles victory last May 24, takes the mound for the Orioles. In that outing, Loewen K'd Sexson (which isn't hard) and gave up a hit to Kenji Johjima, so his experience with the M's is limited indeed. Loewen did throw five innings of one-run ball in his last start, picking up his first win, but that was against the Kansas City Royals, so take that with a grain of salt. It appears that the Orioles are being careful with this promising young pitcher, as he has only pitched into the sixth twice out of his nine starts. Still, there is every possibility that Loewen can 'Jeremy Sowers'-ize the Mariners, pitching a 1-0 two-hit shutout.

In the end, I'm saying that the M's will drop the opener of the series 4-2, not because Meche is going to get out-pitched, but moreso because the Marienrs have struggled to score runs against the Orioles in games that meche has started. With their offense struggling to score runs and the triple-digit heat, I think the factors will be in Baltimore tomorrow.

Watch me proved wrong....

All right, so I was wrong on both counts. It wasn't a slugfest (I must've forgot that the Mariners were playing ...) and the M's came out on top, beating Jake Westbrook and the Indians 3-1.

To sum the game up, the Mariners were very methodical in tonight's victory. Washburn came on, and for the first time this season, bested Cleveland with hardly any difficulty. Jarrod needed less than 100 pitches as he pitched into the seventh, allowing five hits and a run as he did so. It was reminiscent of the last time he faced Cleveland, last May 7, in which Jarrod pitched seven innings and only gave up four hits and two runs, but was on the losing end of a C.C. Sabathia 2-0 shutout. After Jarrod left, Mark Lowe took over in the seventh and pushed his scoreless inning streak up to 10, and Putz- unfortuantely referred to as "The Plug" by the M's radio crew- slammed the door shut on the Tribe in the ninth for his twenty-first save. Methodical, indeed.

Tonight one run wasn't going to do it for the Tribe. The M's manufactured a run in the third on a Yuniesky Betancourt double, wild pitch, and then a chopper hit to short by Willie Bloomquist. After the Indians tied it, the M's made one of their rare usage of the long ball, using home-runs by Raul Ibanez and new addition Ben Broussard to complete the scoring, and give Jarrod his first win in six weeks.

This series against the Indians so far is the exact opposite of the one that was played between the two clubs last April. Listening to those games, I was in awe over the offensive depth that was in the Indians' line-up. It appeared every batter was a tough out, and in the game that Washburn pitched against them on April 11, in which the Indians teed of jarrod for nine runs and six hits in his second start for the Mariners, it just seemed that there were no easy outs in this Cleveland line-up, and they would just pile on the singles until the eventual three-run home-run. In that early April series at Jacobs Field, neither the Mariners or the Indians were having trouble scoring runs. The two teams combined to score 48 runs over the three games. In the first two games of this series, the two teams have combined to score 5. What gives?

It doesn't matter, as long as the Mariners win. Beltre didn't help with the Mariners' victory tonight, going 0-for-3 to snap his nine-game hitting streak. With both Beltre's hitless night and Sexson going 0-for-4, tonight's win was one of the rare instances in which Beltre & Sexson will combine to go for 0-for-7 and the Marienrs still came out on top. Saints be praised!

Tomorrow's pitching match-up reeks of uncertainty, and I'm going to offer my slugfest prediction for a second game in a row. Joel Pineiro takes the mound for Seattle, and though he may have pitched well as of late- giving up five earned runs over his last 12 innings pitched- he's still, well, Joel Pinero. While it may be true that Joel kept the Indians to one run over eight innings at Safeco last May, it should also be pointed out that Pineiro has a career 6.10 ERA and 1.55 WHIP versus the Indians. Casey Blake and Victor Martinez have hit Joel hard, combining to hit .391 (9-for-23) off of him. And the Indians' big bopper, Travis Hafner, has three hits in four at-bats against Joel. None of the Indians, however, have eye-catching power numbers of Joel, so that's encouraging.

Cliff Lee is Joel's opponent, taking the hill for the Indians. Lee was a one-time shining star for the Indians, who won 18 games last year for the Indians, good enough to tie for second in the league. His luster has worn off from his shine a bit, however, as Lee has struggled to a medicore 9-8 record with a 4.78 ERA this season. After a sterling June, in which Lee went unbeaten in four decisions with a 3.09 ERA, Lee has struggled the past month for Cleveland, going 2-3 with a 5.40 ERA. However, considering he has a 5-1 career won-loss recod against Seattle with a 4.03 ERA, tomorrow's match-up may just be what Lee needs to right his ship.

Adrian Beltre has struggled mightily against Lee, only able to put up a double in fifteen career at-bats against Lee, so don't expect any offensive heroics from Beltre in tomorrow's game. Here's hoping that Hargrove switches AB in the line-up, and has Eduardo Perez bat third against the Indians' left-hander. Perez may have a small number of at-bats agaisnt Lee in his career- just eight- but he has put up four hits including a home-run in that small sample size. I wouldn't be surprised by a multiple-hit night from Perez. And dear God, let Hargrove do something crazy like bat Perez third....!

If Perez bats third, or somewhere in the line-up that he'll have a good number of at-bats with runners on, then I like the M's chances to win tomorow's ballgame. But if not, then I'm going to have give the game to the Indians, simply due to the pitching match-up. It is Cliff Lee agaisnt Joel Pineiro after all. It should be a no brainer. 7-5 Indians, with Beltre having his second hitless game in a row...

Ugh. I hate these 1-0 games.


Okay, so I wrote a really long post after Wedensday's triumph of the M's over the Blue Jays, and in it I previewed this evening's Felix Hernandez-Jeremy Sowers match-up. After I finished, however, blogger crapped out and me and I wasn't going to spend another hour re-typing the post.

It's a shame, however, because in my write-up I stated "Sowers is the type of pitcher who can easily extend his scoreless inning streak against the Mariners." Which is exactly what he did, tossing a five-hit shut-out of our beloved, beleaguered Mariners. This was Sowers' second consecutive shut-out, coming on the heels of a four-hit shut-out of the white-hot Minnesota Twins. The Twins have lost less than ten games in the past month-and-a-half, and one of their losses was a shut-out at the hands of Sowers. You think there is something special about this kid?

Not to get lost in the hoopla, however, was a decent outing by Felix. Not great, but definitely veered from medicore territory. Felix allowed only one run over six innings, though he did get into a lot of trouble as the 108 pitches thrown and six walks allowed can attest to. However, what was impressive about Felix's outing was that though he was constantly in trouble with runners on base, Felix was able to buckle down, throw the pitches he needed to, and escape with no self-inflicted damamge. Mostly.

Felix's bout of wildness proved to be his undoing. With two outs in the sixth inning, Felix fell behind 3-0 to former Tacoma teammate Shin-Soo Choo, who promptly deposited Felix's next offering over the fence. Cleveland just received Choo in a trade to the M's for Ben Broussard, and Choo thanks his former team for trading him by hitting his first career home-run against them. And that would be all the scoring in the game as Jeremy Sowers became the latest left-handed master pitcher to befuddle the M's bats.

Adrian Beltre picked up two of the Mariners' five singles, and with his night AB is now batting .333 (13-for-39) over a nine-game hitting streak. This brings AB's batting average up to a season-high- !!!!- of .264. Also, Beltre's first inning single almost gave the M's an early 1-0 lead, as Ichiro was on second when Beltre singled into left field. Ichiro attempted to score, but Beltre just hit the ball too_dang_hard, and Ichiro was thrown out at the plate. AB took second on the throw, and that would be the last time a Mariner batter saw second base in today's ballgmae.

Tomorrow the pitching match-up is Jarrod Washburn versus Jake Westbrook. At one point in this season, I thought Jarrod might be able to salvage something and make that big contract he signed in the off-season look almost redeemable. Indeed, Jarrod had a 3.61 ERA in early May, his win-loss record being done in by the lack of run support from his team. Since then, however, Jarrod has been atrocious, with a 5.17 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP. Jarrod has avergae career numbers versus the Indians- 6-6 record with a 4.94 ERA- with Travis Hafner brutalizing him for a .471 average and a 1.559 OPS in 17 at-bats, with three home-runs. Ronnie Belliard (.353) and Victor Marteniz (.375) also enjoy hitting the fly-ball left-hander, though Washburn has been able to keep Casey Blake (.222) and Jhonny Peralta (.200) in check.

Jake Westbrook, on the other hand, has been roughed up pretty bad by the Mariners in his career, sporting an ugly 8.27 ERA against the M's. And knowing that Westbrook has given up 12 earned runs over 15.2 innings over his last three starts, there are some good indications that the M's bats will rise from the slumber that was induced by Sowers' hypnotizing high-80s fastball. Beltre has two hits- including a double- in seven career at-bats against Westbrook, and when looking at how other Mariners batters have fared against Jake, it appears the ones that gave him the most fits are no longer playing for Seattle (Edgar, Everett...). Jake has done quite nicely keeping Ichiro (.227 in 22 at-bats) and Raul Ibanez (.286 in 21 at-bats) in check. Even so, here's hoping that Westbrook's string of poor starts will continue in tomorrow's game.

Prediction? Slugfest, 9-7 final score. But I don't think the M's will come out on top. In fact, I don't like the chances of the M's taking a game in this series. (And of course, I am merely saying that so I can be proven wrong.)

The pitching match-up that wasn't


It had the makings for a great game. The Mariners were riding a three-game winning streak, and their newly minted ace, Gil Meche, was taking the mound against perhaps arguably the best pitcher in the league, Roy Halladay, who the Mariners hit well the last time they faced him in Toronto. It should've been a tight-knit, low-scoring, affair, something along the lines of 2-1 or in that neighborhood.

Should've been, but wasn't. Along the way, something went horribly, horribly wrong. Somebody forgot to tell Meche that he was supposed to exhibit his 2006 version to provide the pitching match-up against "Doc" Halladay, and instead ol' Gil reverted to his 2004 version of mediocrity. Well, it didn't help that he was being squeezed on the strike zone, and home plate umpire was denying Tim McClelland the outside corner to right-handed batters all night. To be fair, Halladay wasn't getting that corner either, but he was able to adapt and locate his pitches better, demonstrating why he's head-and-shoulders above Gil (and most of the rest of the league).

At any rate, Gil was forced to groove cookies all night, the Blue Jays' offense took advantage, and they ended up trouncing the Mariners 12-3, thus splitting the first two games of the series. And it wasn't just Gil who was being squeezed by McClelland's strike zone (which ended up getting Hargrove tossed from the game). Jake Woods and Emiliano Fruto provided 4.2 innings of lousy five-run relief, the big blow being a ninth-inning grand slam hit by light-hitting Blue Jays shortstop John McDonald, who entered the game batting .222 with one home-run before taking Fruto deep.

Beltre went 1-for-5 with an RBI single in the seventh inning, continuing a seven-game hitting streak. The highlights for the M's were few and far between. Ichiro got three hits, Johjima two, and Betancourt knocked in two with a fifth-inning double. Kind of appropriate that the M's Japanese contigent performed well on the night that former ace closer Kazahiro Sazaki threw out the first pitch, huh?

The Mariners attempt to take their second series in a row tomorrow night with junkballer Jamie Moyer on the mound. I have less and less confidence in Moyer as the season continues. Sure he's looked brilliant at times this season, against the Kansas City Royals and the Tampa bay Devil Rays, but he's pretty much a hittable beer-league soft-tosser as the season's warmed up. It's been brutal to watch Jamie on the mound over his past three starts- 17 earned runs given up in just under 18 innings, including 6 runs in 6.1 innings against the Blue Jays in his last start in Toronto.

One of the Blue Jays' off-season free-agent signings, A.J. Burnett, takes the mound tomorrow night for Toronto. The Jays invested $55 million over five years for Burnett, averaging $11 million per year. And so far this season, Burnett has provided a 2-3 record, meaning that he has earned $5.5 million per win so far this season. Burnett has faced the Mariners once, stymying them on two runs and six hits over seven innings, though he didn't get a decision. No current Mariner has hit a home run off Burnett, and Beltre has the most number of hits, four in fifteen at-bats.

I find it highly unlikely that the Mariners will be able to scratch out another win tomorrow and take this series, not with Moyer on the mound. Burnett has been hittable in his last few starts- 21 hits and 11 runs in 20 innings- so perhaps the M's can put a three-spot on the board, but I believe the Jays will score at least six off Moyer.

At least we can hope that the rest of the AL West loses as well again.

Lord almighty, it is hot! I mean hoooootttt! I mean sweat-dripping-down-my-back-in-tiny rivulets hot. I mean continally adding more ice to my underwear hot. I mean the type of hot that forces me to hit on every girl I pass on the street simply so I get the cold shoulder. Know what I'm saying?

So I've avoided sitting in front of my computer in my non-AC office, and have even avoided following most of the M's- Red Sox series in favor of air-conditioned summer blockbusters. ("Lady in the Water"- meh. "Superman Returns"- what "X3" should've been.)

But I gotta admit, though, that I did catch today's game, one of about a handful I've been able to watch on TV so far this year. And let me tell you, it was quite a game. Holey cow was it ever.

Oh, know what else I forgot to say was hot? How about Adrian Beltre's bat. He was denied two home runs in tonight's ball game, as Safeco's dimensions held both balls he slammed just barely in the park. But even if the Gods of Safeco were determined to keep Beltre in the ballpark, Adrian was not to be denied. When the fly-ball he hit in the eighth inning caromed off the top of the fence and the Red Sox threw it around like a Keystone Kops routine, Beltre hustled around the bases to score on an inside-the-park home-run, giving the Mariners a brief 8-7 lead. Granted, J.J. Putz coughed that lead by serving up a two-out home-run to Jason Varitek in the top of the ninth, but Big Richie Sexson won it moments later with a walk-off homer in the bottom of the inning.

In so doing, today's win presented a couple of "firsts" that ended some long dry spelss: Beltre's dash around the bases allowed him his first home-run since June 20 at Dodger Stadium, and the team's nine runs were the first time they scored that many in 19 games. Sheesh.

Let's take a second and look back on the series: In the first game, Jamie Moyer continued to show the further degradation from ace to junk-balling beer-league soft-tosser that his skill levels have been reduced to. The bats in the Red Sox line-up basically used Moyer for batting practtce throughout the 9-4 wallop of the M's. Moyer gave up five home-runs, a career high for home-runs allowed in a game. Seattle knocked out eleven hits, with the only extra-base one being Adam Jones's first major-league double. Beltre went 2-for-4.

Saturday, Felix Hernandez dialed in perhaps the exact opposite of Jamie's performance from Friday night. Dave, Rick, & Red on the radio were calling Felix's outing Saturday afternoon "the best of his career." Indeed, Felix was able to stymie the Red Sox, hand-cuffing them to four hits and two runs in seven innings of the 5-2 Mariners victory. Again, Seattle cranked out eleven hits, this time all of them were singles as they hen-pecked the BoSox's Kason Gabbard, who was making his major league debut. For the second game in a row, Beltre went 2-for-4, scoring a run.

And tonight's ballgmae was a roller coaster of thrills and chills. The game had it all, breaking out to a early three-run lead with Beltre's RBI double in the first, the Red Sox tying it, then Eduardo Perez hitting a home run to stake a 5-3 lead. Julio Mateo coughed up the lead, and an eventual 7-5 hole. But then the M's staged a two-out comeback in the seventh, tying it with two runs off one of the many filthy Red Sox relievers, Manny Delcarmen. Then the trade-off of homers in the final innings before the eventual Mariner "W."

So, contrary to their last home stand, it appears that not only can the Mariners win at home, but they can win against some pretty good teams as well. And today was Beltre's third straight game with multiple hits. In fact, for a good break-down of Beltre's numbers, you should go read the analysis posted over at USS Mariner.

Now that the Red Sox leave town, it's tempting to breathe a sigh of relief, but you still can't quite do that just yet. The Blue Jays follow in on the heels of the BoSox, and judging from the series played between the two clubs last week, the M's continue to have their work cut out for them.

Not only did the Blue Jays just take three of four games from the New York Yankees, they won today in commanding fashion with a final score of 13-5. Casey Janssen is taking the mound for the Blue Jays in tomorrow night's game, and the rookie is more than likely looking to avenge getting roughed up at the hands of the M's two Fridays ago. Casey has lost six of his last seven decisions, including a loss to Texas last week. In the Mariners victory the last time they faced Casy, Adrian went 2-for-4 with a double and 2 RBIs. With his hot bat, I wouldn't be surprised if Adrian continues his streak of two-hit games for the M's.

Joel Pineiro takes the mound for the Mariners. Having missed the Blue Jays in their most recent series- instead the last time we saw Joel pitch he was shutting down the Yankees- Joel brings a career 1-4 record and a 4.72 ERA against the Blue Jays into tonight's ballgame. None of the current Blue Jay batters could be said to "own" Joel, though Vernon Wells does have a .353 career lifetime average off Joel in 17 at-bats and Frank Catalanatto has a .385 average in 13 at-bats. However, Joel has been able to dominate Troy Glaus in their small sample size of at-bats, with Troy only able to hit a meager .188 in 16 at-bats.

Conclusion? I think the Mariners will continue to hit Janssen well, though there's always the off-chance that Casey will make adjustments to the Mariners' hitters and dial in a quality start. But I don't see that happening. So, with the M's able to hit Janssen, their chance of success depends on which Joel shows up: Good Joel or Bad Joel. I see a final score along the lines of 7-6, with whichever Joel Pineiro showing up dictating the Mariner's chances...

It just doesn't get any easier!


So the Mariners were able to sratch a victory against the Big Unit and the Yankees, bookending a 2-4 road trip with wins against two tough AL East opponents in Toronto and New York. However, by being unable to match that .500 mark that the M's had played against the Al East so far this season prior to the road trip (mostly at the expense of the Baltimore Orioles) the Mariners have dropped two games in the standings during this road trip, and now return to the Safe to play Boston and then Toronto again. There is no letting up in this portion of their mid-summer schedule.

As advertised, the pitching match-up between Randy Johnson and Gil Meche was a dandy. Both pitchers came out dueling, throwing strikes and getting ahead of the batters. Over the 112 pitches Gil threw over his six innings of work, 75 of them went for strikes. And while Randy had to labor to toss 129 pitches over 8 innings, 89 of them went for strikes, with Randy eventually striking out 11- the first double-digit strikeout performance for RJ this season- which isn't that hard of a feat against these free-swinging Mariners.

Gil was unable to pick up the win despite delivering another quality start for the Mariners' pitching on this road trip, with the starters ending up at simply 1-1 along with a 3.49 ERA, despite pitching lights out against two very tough offenses. Instead, Mark Lowe, who was recently toiling down at AA, received his first major-league win. Fantastic!

Beltre went 1-for-4 with a double to continue his miserable July, in which he is now hitting .220 with a .292 OBP and slugging .373. Indeed, couple Beltre's offensive futility with Jose Lopez's lousy July (in which he is both batting and slugging .273) and it's plain to see why the Mariners have had such a struggle scoring runs when the calendar flipped from June to July. Indeed, the 3.83 runs averaged during the six-game road trip is a far cry from the 4.79 runs per game averaged during the team's first 89 games.

When your #2 and #3 batters combine to go 28-for-117 with a combined OPS of .641, then its time to alter your line-up a bit. I mean, Yuniesky Betancourt and his .345 July average is being wasted in the number eight slot. At least when Betancourt was batting ninth, Ichiro was able to get a few at-bats with runners on. But now with Adam Jones still trying to figure things out in the ninth slot, there is absolutely no reason why Betancourt is batting eighth and not second. I mean, it sure would be nice if the two batters after Ichiro in the line-up weren't automatic outs!

Of course, for Hargrove to swap Betancourt into the second slot would mean he'd have to exhibit some managerial decision-making. And as we saw painfully clear in the extra-innings losses this past week, Hargrove does not have a surplus of such strategerial tactics available at his disposal.

The Red Sox are flying high after back-to-back 1-0 shut-outs of the Kansas City Royals, the first time Red Sox pitchers have done that since 1930. (And not, contrary to what was said on Sportscenter this afternoon, with Babe Ruth on the Sox pitching staff.) Luckily for the M's, after jetting home after the close win over the Yankees for a day off in Seattle, the Red Sox have to stay in town to make up a game against the Rangers that was rained out in last month's New England flooding.

Does that mean the Red Sox will be tired out come Friday night? Hardly. The least the Red Sox could do is bring the Texas Rangers, currently losing 3-1 to Toronto, yet another half-game closer to the Mariners' grasp. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

Kansas City cast-off Kyle Snyder takes the mound for the Red Sox on Friday's game. The former first-round draft pick in 1999 had labrum surgery in 2004, and now with only 31 career starts under his belt, Snyder carries a 3-10 career won-loss record into tonight's game, mostly due to playing for the hapless Royals. In three starts this season split between Boston and KC, Snyder has allowed 17 runs in 11.2 innings. He has never faced the Seattle Mariners, and while it might be tempting to scoff at the numbers Snyder has and feel confident that the Mariners will trounce on Snyder's offerings, reemmber that pitchers facing the Mariners for the first time give the team trouble. Both Beltre and Everett are the only Mariners to have faced Snyder, with Beltre going hitless in two at-bats and Everett going 2-for-6.

Jamie Moyer, on the other hand, has flat-out pitched horribly in his career against Boston. Over 113 innings spanning 19 career starts, Jamie Moyer holds a 6.39 ERA versus the Red Sox, allowing 20 home-runs and holding a 6-10 career won-lost record against Boston. To nobody's surprise, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez have feasted on the offerings of the soft-tossing left-hander, combining to go 28-for-81 with 13 homers and 27 RBIs. Ortiz holds a career 1.391 OPS versus Moyer, and Ramirez holds a 1.405 OPS. Moyer's start last Saturday is more than likely an indication of things to come Friday night, and folks going to the Safe to watch the game will probably be pretty busy chasing balls hit into the stands.

Final prediction? Snyder will probably be what the M's bats needs to get out of their latest funk, but Moyer has no chance in keeping the Red Sox bats in check. I believe the final score will fall along the lines of 13-11, with anybody's guess as to who the victor will be, but most of the signs are pointing Boston's way....


It's like God himself interferred with tonight's game.

I mean, the east coast has been hit hard by a dry, humid, overwhleming heat spell for a while now- until when? Until the bottom of the ninth inning, when the sudden downpour caused J.J. Putz to be unable to grip the baseball to have control of his pitches, and the falshes of lighting blinded the umpire's eyes, causing a missed call at first place, allowing the Yankees to make up a two-run deficit.

Thanks, God.

How often do you get a two-run lead going into the bottom of the ninth in Yankee Stadium, with your ace closer on the mound and the Yanks undoubtedly on the ropes? Obviously, it's quite clear that you can't take that position for granted, as the Mariners snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in tonight's game.


So that extends the M's losing streak on the road to four games. As Danthemanusual has pointed out, a loss is still a loss regardless of how tough the M's play. I mean, on one hand, at least the M's aren't getting blown out aginst these teams from the AL East, down 8-1 by the third inning orsomething and not giving a reason for their fans to follow the games to be played out. On the other hand, when you consider the M's won-loss record now stands at 8-16, it sure would be nice if there was a fity-fity chance that they could come out on top of these one-run games. But sadly, that is not the case.

Sometimes blow-outs are a lot less heart-renching.

The highlight of the M's road trip would definitely be the team's starting pitching. Besides a hiccup by Jamie Moyer on Saturday, the team has had a string of quality starts, sometimes from unlikely sources, such as from Joel Pineiro in today's ballgame, who I thought would be eaten alive by the Yankees. What is intersting about Jamie's Saturday start was that he went into the ballgame receiving the lowest run support in the league at 3.83 runs per start, nearly a half-run less than the next hard-luck pitcher. So what happens when the team scores 6 runs for him, nearly two more than their average? Why, Moyer responds by giving up six in return. If this is how he misuses his run support, perhaps we shouldn't bemoan the lack of support Jamie has gotten so far this year.

Besides Moyer's start, during theroad trip the M's starting pitching have combined to pitch 25 innings, allowing 29 hits, six walks, fifteen strikeouts, and a 3.60 ERA. And they only have a 1-1 record to show for it.

Indeed, it's not the Mariners' pitching that is at fault for its latest slide into mediocrity. Instead, it is in the emptiness of the Mariners' bats, with their inability to get a Big Hit when the game is on the line. Jose Lopez was the club's "Mr. Clutch" the first two months of the season, but has provided all of one RBI so far in July. Richie Sexson, unable to knock in any runners home in two back-to-back extra innings losses to the Blue Jays, provided the 'Big Hit' in today's ballgame, a three-run home-run in the top half of the first inning, exactly when the big hits matter the least.

Still, it looked as if that three-run home-run was going to provide the Mariners with what they needed to scratch out a victory as they headed into the bottom of the ninth, but instead God decided that the Mariner's bullpen should try to close it out admidst a monsoon. Frickin' Yankee mystique. Mystique? More like my stick up your ass....

Beltre has gone 3-for-14 the past three games, and his bat's disappearance has obviously not exactly prevented the Mariners from sliding further down the once-close standings. That brings his July average to .218 and, once again, it's been nearly a month since AB's last home-run, hit June 20th versus the Dodgers. (Remember the Dodgers series? Remember how fun that was? Sigggghhhhhh......)

Tomorrow has the looks of a pitching duel, with Gil Meche taking the mound against the tall lanky left-hander with one of the worst nicknames in baseball history, Randy Johnson aka "the Big Unit." It is time for Meche, who appears to have claimed the title of "ace of the Mariners" to show that he is, indeed, a stopper and can put an end to this losing strak and provide the first victory since the last time he pitched. Nothing less than a complete game shut-out will suffice (wink wink).

Meche has solid numbers versus the Yankees, with a 3-2 record and 4.01 ERA in eight career outings. A-Rod, of course, has hit Meche hard with a .353 batting average and 1.468 OPS in 17 career at-bats against Gil, so expect some offensive heroics from Alex tomorrow. On the other hand, Meche has all but shut down otehr big boppers in the Yankees' line-up, with Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, Derek Jeter, and Bernie Williams combining to go 14-for-60 off of Gil. So, hopefully Meche can keep the rest of the Yankees' line-up in check despite what Alex does.

The Unit, on the other hand, has all but dominated Seattle in the three career starts he has pitched against them. Along with his 3-0 record, Johnson carries a 1.13 ERA and has 24 strikeouts in 24 innings. Beltre has by far the most experience facing Johnson, tracing back to their days in the NL West, and in 58 career at-bats versus RJ, Beltre has a .224 batting average with three home-runs and 16 strike-outs. As could be expected, most of the batters on the current Mariners roster have pretty pathetic numbers versus Johnson, save Eduardo Perez, who has not only been able to hit RJ, but hit him hard. In 29 career at-bats, Perez has been able to hit .310 off Johnson, along with four home runs for a 1.153 OPS. If Everett is starting at DH tomorrow over Perez, then Hargrove doesn't know what the fawk he's doing.

Final score? 3-0 Yankees. Oh, heck. Let's say Eduardo is the starting DH. Then it'll end up 3-1....

Playing the Blue Jays tough


Due to the early-morning East Coast start, as i write this it is a scoreless tie between the marienrs and the Blue Jays in the bottom of the fourth inning. I never got a chance to et my pre-game predicitons in, but I wasn't sure if the match-up between King Felix and the mercurial A.J. Burnett promised a nice pitching match-up or not. This is the first time either pitcher had faced the opposing team, and that eitehr leads to dominance or the team having no problems with the verious offerings. I was going to shy from offering a victor in this game, and have my only prediciton be that tehre will be a good amount of strikeouts racked up by the starters, who are takin gthe hill against two tired teams after last night's 14-inning marathon. Currently, there are six K's combined by Burnett and Felix in eight innings, and you could expect to see both starts go at least seven, if not eight, innings in an effort to gie the bullpens a rest.

Of course, it's a heartbreaker to lose last night's game in such a fashion, an inside-the-line single to left-field knocking in the winning run on the bottom of the 14th. At the same time, there are a number of silver linings to view the extea-inning lost in an optimisitc manner.

First, similar to their June appearances versus Brad Penny and Jason Schmidt, the Mariners were not only able to hit Halladay, they were able to put some runs up on the board against perhaps the league's best pitcher. Haladday may not have picked up the lost, but he didn't dominate the M's as I thought he would, so that's encouraging.

Second, although Jamie Moyer was predictably hittable versus the Toronto line-up, giving up 12 hits in 6.1 innings, he was able to keep the Mariners in the game. Indeed, when he left the game, the Mariners were down only by a couple of runs, 6-4. Keeping it close despite allowing 13 baserunners and three homers is a mark of smart starting pitcher.

And last, the offense should signs of being able to provide the cluthc hits when needed, at least in the first nine innings. The game was sent into extra innings due to back-to-back home-runs hit by Richie Sexson and Carl Everett in the eighth inning. It's always nice to see production from Richie Sexson, even if he was uncharacteristiclaly productive in a Mariners' loss. By going 4-for-7 in the first two games of the series, Sexson's averaged was riased eight points from .218 to .226.

The Mariners played the Blue Jays, a team challenging the Red Sox and the Yankees in the AL East, tough, and of course that's always encouraging as well. If Ichiro hadn't fallen into such a funk in these first two games, going 2-for-11, the M's may have won the first two games with no problem, or at least last night's game might've avoided going into extra innings.

Of course, the Mariners had a number of chances to take the lead in extra innings, with six runners getting on but being denied the chance to score due to some clutch plays by the Blue Jay's defense. One reason for the extra-inning loss can be pointed out to the difference of managerial styles. Scott Downs was pitching in the 14th inning for the Blue Jays, the last reliever available for Toronto mananger John Gibbons. Emiliano Fruto was on the mound for the M's in the 14th, and Hargrove still had two live arms available inhis bullpen- Jake Woods and J.J. Putz. For some reason, Hargrove seems reluctant to use Putz, his best releiver, in games that are close and tight, leaving games to be decided by the likes of Eddie Guardado earlier in the year and now by Fruto.

Beltre went 2-for-5 with a triple in the fifth inning, eventually scoring on Raul Ibanez's triple two batters later. Beltre's off to a hot start for the second-half, and by going 4-for-10 in the two games, his season average has been raised to .258 and his OPS has raised 15 points to .725. And, as I write this, his fifth-inning double knocked in Yuniesky Betancourt in today's ballgame.

Can Felix keep this slim 1-0 for the rest of the game? We'll see...

Nah, as Reed Johnson just tied the game at 1-1 with an RBI double.

Nice start to Second Half!


Well, that's how you start off the second half of the season.

I was pretty close on my call for this game! Instead of winning 5-4, the M's came out on top 5-3! I'll take it!

Meche came out attacking the batters- 14 of the 23 batters he faced had a first-pitch strike (or was hit for a bsehit)- and by avoiding nibbling, Meche was able to dial in, once again, a solid start. In six innings, Meche only allowed three runs, and limited himself to 97 pitches. His weariness at the end was obvious, however, and it appeared that the 125-pitch effort in his last outing caught up with him when he gave up back-to-back home runs in the sixth inning. It didn't matter, however, as the bullpen stepped in and closed the game off. Well, excepting George Sherrill that is, who, after allowing the first two runenrs on and a sacrifice bunt in the bottom of the seventh, gave way to Rafeal Soriano, who proceeded to get out of the inning. Soriano struck out three over his nearly two innings of work, and Putz shut the B-Jays down on a one-two-three ninth to notch his seventeenth save on the season.

Perhaps I shouldn't just feel that Meche will provide a solid outing with each start. Maybe I should convince myself that, despite his history, Meche actually places the M's on a good chance to win with each outing. Boy, he sure seems like a pitcher looking for a big payday in the off-season. Has he switched his agent to Scott Boras yet, al la Barry Zito?

Adrian Beltre got his second half of the season off to just as good a start as his team's, helping them win with a 2-for-5 evening. His single in the first inning was part of the Mariners' three-run effort, as he eventually scored on an Aaron Hill error by a ball hit by Richie Sexson. Then, in the sixth, Beltre lined a two-out double into left field, scoring Johjima and Suzuki. This was a key hit, obviously, as Meche coughed those two runs back up in the bottom half of the inning on the home runs to Gregg Zaun and Vernon Wells. If Beltre didn't line that double, the game might still very well be in action.

With his two-hit effort, Beltre finishes the game out hitting .256 on the season, and picks up RBIs #36 and 37. Remember, I said that Beltre is a hotter batter in the second half of the season....

Adam Jones watch: In his major league debut, the Mariners' centerfielder of the future (or present, I guess) went 0-for-3 with a fourth-inning walk. Though he was hitless, Jones played a number of chances in the field flawlessly, even calling Raul Ibanez off on a late-inning fly ball. Will Adam get his first major-league hit in this series, and if so, what will it be?

Tomorrow looks like a tough one for our beloved M's. I might even avoid listening to it all together. Roy Halladay takes the mound for the Blue Jays, and Doc has proved to be one of the toughest pitchers in the AL so far this year, as he is the first hurler to reach 12 wins. He should have no problems gaining no. 13 tomorrow versus the M's.

Or perhaps not. Even though Halladay has a low career ERA versus the M's- 3.07- he does carry a sub-.500 career won-lost record against them into tomorrow's game (3-4). Carl Everett, in particular, has given Halladay problems in the past, with seven hits- and three home runs!- off Hallday in 24 at-bats. Halladay has, however, kept Beltre hitless in four at-bats and has kept Ichiro hitting .200 against him in 15 career at-bats. I wouldn't be surprised if the only Mariners run scored off Halladay tomorow is a C-Rex solo home-run. We'll see.

For the M's, the wiley Jamie Moyer takes the mound against Doc Halladay. Not only has the soft-tossing left-hander has bequeathed the title of ace to Meche, but as the Oregonian points out, Moyer has the lowest run-support by more than half a run than any other pitcher in the league. Why should that trend expect to be broken tomorrow? Moyer may have a 12-7 career record against he B-Jays, but he also has a 4.94 career ERA in 202 innings, which means he has given up plenty of hits (213) and plenty of runs (115) against Toronto. And, unlike Meche, there are current B-Jays who have hit Moyer hard in the past. Eric Hinske, for example, owns a .987 career OPS against Moyer in 20 career at-bats, and Troy Glaus has a 1.017 career OPS against Moyer in 44 career at-bats. In fact, looking for current Blue Jays who have struggled against Moyer in their career is nearly a fruitless effort.

Prediction on tomorrow's game? Doc shuts the M's down, Moyer gets lit up. 8-1 final score. Let's hope I set another "reverse curse" as I did last Sunday versus the Tigers...

Bring on the B-Jays!


Hm. I suppose that could be misinterpreted. I am, of course, referring to the Toronto Blue Jays, who are the Mariners' first opponent after a four-day All-Star break.

Although this is the M's first series versus the Blue Jays this year, they have been played tough by the AL East, to no surprise. In 14 games, the M's have a .500 record and are averaging nearly a run less (4.2) than they have been over-all on the season (4.8). Those losses also include shut-outs being tossed at them by Rodrigo Lopez and All-Star Scott Kazmir.

The next two weeks pose a bit of a challenge for the M's. After the Blue Jays, they travel to New York to take on the Yankees. Then it's back home to face Boston, followed by the Blue Jays again. The Mariners need to continue to play this stretch against AL East teams as they've done all year. If they can manage a .500 record the next two weeks, they'll stay in contention in the divison. If they don't, they'll sink in the standings. On the flip side, however, the rest of the divison plays the same teams: Oakland has 6 v. Boston, 3 v. Baltimore, and 3 v. Detroit; Texas has 3 v. Bal, 3 v. Tor, a make-up game v. Boston, 3 v. the White Sox, and 3 v. the Yankees; and Los Angeles might have the "easy" schedule, with 6 v. Tampa bay, 3 v. Cleveland, and 3 v. Kansas City.

Friday night's game pits the M's newly-christened "ace" Gil Meche versus the B-Jay's rookie right-hander Casey Janssen. At one point during the season, Janssen was looking like he was attempting to make a case for himself in Rookie of the Year contention. From May 7 to June 7, Janssen won five out of seven starts and posted a 2.56 ERA and an 0.81 WHIP. Since the beginning of June, however, Janssen has hit a bit of a rocky patch, losing four of six starts while posting a 8.87 ERA and a 2.17 ERA. For the season, Janssen has a 6-7 won-loss record with a 4.73 ERA.

So, which Janssen will show up tomorrow night to pitch against the Mariners- Good Casey or Bad Casey? Here's hoping that it's Bad Casey, but considering this is Casey's first year and he has no prior experience versus the Mariners, that means even Bad Casey might be in a position to throw a two-hit shutout against the Mariners, their eleventh of the season. Janssen's got average-to-decent stuff, including a fastball in the low 90s, average breaking stuff, and strikes out more than twice the number of batters he walks. So, obviously, that means he's due to shut the Mariners down.

Unless, of course, Ace Meche has anything to say about it. Meche may not have solidified himself as the ace of a staff lacking one, as when he takes the mound I still don't have a feeling that the game, minus an Act of God, is an automatic win. What I do have, however, is the knowledge that, no matter the outcome, Meche will provide a solid outing, which is what I'm expecting for tomorrow night. After throwing a gutsy seven innings of two-run ball versus the Tigers, the best team in baseball, last Sunday to win the M's last game before the break, Meche takes the mound on the first game after the break against a team that he has a 2-2 career record and 4.50 ERA against.

For Meche to be successful tomorrow night, he needs to be spot on with his control. Looking over his career numbers, the most surprising fact is that B-Jay batters have walked 16 times in 32 innings, which is the same number of B-Jay batters Meche has struck out. There is no other team that exhibits such patience against Meche in his career, except possibly the walkeriffic A's (39 Ks to 32 walks in 60 innings). With this knowledge, and assuming the B-Jays will attemppt to keep their bats on their shoulders again, Meche needs to come out attacking the B-Jay batters for the M's to have a chance.

Another interesting point is that Meche has had relatively little trouble with the current B-Jay line-up. Alex Rios (.833) and Frank Catalanatto (.600) have given Meche fits, but in small sample sizes- 6 and 5 at-bats, respectively. However, versus the B-Jays' "big guns"- Troy Glaus and Vernon Wells- Meche has kept them at a .125 average, with only four hits in 32 at-bats. Two of those four hits, however, were home runs, so these two can definitely hit one out off Meche, if they are even able to catch up with his stuff in the first place.

Final prediction? I know I said this last Sunday, which ended up a pitching diel, but I think both teams will score a handful of runs. I do see the M's coming out on top, however, maybe with a score like 5-4.

Another player who might have something to say about the outcome of the game, and the series, is the M's new center fielder, uberprospect Adam Jones who, as I expected, has been called up from AAA Tacoma to make his major league debut and man centerfield, taking over for the disastrous Bloomquist-Choo platoon, whose fielding gaffes led to a number of runs in last weekend's series versus the Tigers. Jones may very well be the second high-end prospect in two summers making his presence felt with the big-league ball-club after Felix's electrifying run last year. Jones has been compared to Eric Davis over at USS Mariner and obviously it's a stretch to expect a second-half of Davis-like greatness from Jones, but we should expect to see flashes of greatness.

Hopefully that will coincide with some winning baseball, and the second half will prove to be just as exciting- if not more so- than the M's first half!

The M's scratch one out against the Tigers


The Mariners were able to finally win one against baseball's best team, beating the Tigers 3-2 today in Seattle.

I admit, my predictions for today's game were totally wrong. Instead of a bunch of runs being scored by both teams, it was yet another pitcher's duel between the two clubs. And me stating with certainty that the Tigers would complete the sweep seems to have caused a sort of 'reverse curse' as power provided by unlikely sources and clutch two-out hitting gave the Mariners a Detroit-style victory.

I have no problem being wrong with my predictions, if it means a Mariner victory. I just try to look at various numbers & trends and offer my best guess as to how the game will turn out. For example, Nate Robertson from Detroit pitched a heck of a ballgame, as all indications suggested he would. Allowing ten baserunners and three runs in eight innings usually leads to a win, but not today. Of note, however, is that the Mariner batters that gave Robertson fits in today's game are not the ones that have had success against him in the past. Beltre, Sexson, and Ichiro combined to go 1-for-11 against Robertson today. The sole exception was Eduardo Perez, who by going 2-for-2 against Robertson now has six hits in seven career at-bats versus the Tigers' left-hander. Rather, the rest of the damage was done by the bottom of the order: Rene Rivera, filling in for Johjima who surprisingly hit his second homer; Yuniesky Betancourt,who knocked in the go-ahead run; and Willie Bloomquist. These three, along with Perez, combined to go 7-for-11, scoring and knocking in all three runs. Coming into the game, the three had combined to hit .250 off Robertson in 8 at-bats (with Rivera never facing him prior).

So the bottom of the order produced, supporting a gutsy outing by starter Gil Meche. Meche was adamant about pitching through the seventh inning, regardless of his (typically) high pitch count. He was upset at having been pulled out in the top of the sixth inning of last Tuesday's 14-6 blow-out loss versus the Los Angeles Angels, feeling that if he had stayed in the game the outcome might have been different- and Meche had angrily told manager Mike Hargrove so. Hargrove said he was "fine" with the earful that Meche gave him. So, today, Hargrove let Meche complete seven innings, and finish up with 126 pitches thrown. Gil's 126 pitches were a season-high, and his 8-4 record is just off the 9-3 pace Gil had in 2003 on his way to a career best 15 wins.

Could it be softly stated that Gil has become the "ace" of the Mariners? Jamie Moyer, who is the team's no. 1 starter, is a 43-year old soft-tossing lefty who I wouldn't hold up to Mike Mussina, Roy Oswalt, or Carlos Zambrano. I'm not saying that Meche does hold up to those pitchers, he just holds up better than Moyer. Felix may be the future ace, but he's too young and inconsistent to rely on a solid performance each outing. Jarrod Washbrun has been an ace for the Angels in the past, but it'd be a surprise if he ever came close to winning 18 games in a season. And Joel Pineiro, who went 30-18 from 2002-03, has lost any potential to be the team's ace.

So, with his gutsy performance in today's game and his development into one of the team's leader, can it be stated that Meche, with his .667 winning percentage and his 98 strike-outs- good enough to be in the league's top 10- is, indeed, the team's ace?

Back on the Beltre watch, Beltre went 1-for-4 with a one-out eighth inning double. Jose Lopez followed with a single through the left side of the infield into short left field. Beltre attempted to score from second, but was easily thrown out on a strike thrown by Tigers' left-fielder Alexis Gomez. The throw practically left Gomez's hand as Beltre was rounding third, and it beat Beltre by a mile. I understood that Beltre was hustling, attempting to add an insurance run, but there was no way he'd be able to score from second on such a hit into shallow left field. Granted, it only took another opportunity away for Richie Sexson to strike out, but still...

Beltre's double snapped a two-game hitless streak, the first one he had since mid-May. Still, however, his average hovers just over .250, at .254.

Now the Mariners don't have to whimper into the All-Star break. With the taste of victory on their lips, the team, excepting Ichiro and Jose Lopez, can take four days off and get recharged for the second half. And with the AL West as bunched up as it is- Oakland and Texas are tied, with the Angels and the Mariners just a couple of games out- it appears that the most rested team might be in the best position to make a run in the second half.

For his career, Adrian Beltre hits twenty points higher after the All-Star break than before, and his OPS is nearly 90 points higher. I'm just sayin'...

So predictable


Gosh, this series versus the Tigers is about as obvious as a Peantus cartoon in which Lucy is holding a football. Just what do you think is going to happen at the end?

Why did the mariners lose 2-1 tonight? Well, let's take a look at the factors I had pegged in the previous post:

1. After two innings, the Mariners had scored one run, on Raul Ibanez's second-inning home-run that tied the game at 1-1. At that time, as the Mariners had actually scored early on the Tigers' young Zach Miner, their chances to win were good. Or, at least, not bad.

2. However, after three innings some sloppy play in the filed by Yunisky Betancourt took away a double-play ball and gave the Tigers, a team 30 games above .500, an extra chance at-bat, in which they promptly scored a run. Three innings, 2-1 Tigers and Sexson was 0-for-1.

3. In the fourth, Richie Sexson struck out, making him hitless in his first two at-bats. Four innings, one run, and two hitless ABs for Sexson? Why even play the rest of the game out? it was obvious the Tigers would win.

4. Another great start by Washburn versus the AL's best team. That now means in his two starts versus Detroit this season, all Jarrod has done is thrown 14.2 innings, given up 12 hits and 3 earned runs, and has lost both times. In fact, tonight was the sixth time this season the Mariners have scored two or less runs in support of Washburn. I know there are many Mariners fans who feel like the contract given to Jarrod in the off-season was a mistake. I wonder if Jarrod feels the same way?

Tomorrow is the last game of the first half, in which the Mariners can finally end this current putrid streak of playing with a whimper. I can state confidently that the Mariners have no chance in winning tomorrow's ball-game, but I do think the Mariners will have an easier time scoring some runs than they have the past couple of days. Robertson may have a lifetime 2.30 ERA versus the M's, but individual Marienrs have given Robertson fits. Beltre's only hit off him was a home run, Eduardo Perez (who will probably make his Mariners' starting debut in tomorrow's game at DH) has gotten four hits in five career at-bats versus Robertson with a homer and a double, Sexson has homered and doubled in five at-bats, and Ichiro has batted .500 in 14 career at-bats. So, Robertson does have his work cut out for him tomorrow, but I'd be surprised to see him not come away with a victory.

Gil Meche has been flip-flopped for Felix Hernandez, as the M's brain trust is attempting to keep Felix's innings pitched for the season to 200, including the inning s thrown in spring training. Gil owns a 4-3 record and a lifetime 4.35 ERA against the Tigers, but remember folks, those wore the old Tigers, the Tigers with pitchers that lost 21 games and batted Bobby Higginson clean-up. No, these are the new-look, never-say-die Tigers, who with Jim Leyland managing are conjuring up images of the 1984 World Series-winning club. Meche has had little trouble given to him by the current Tigers roster, Dmitri Young is the only current Tiger to have homered off him, and he's not even active never mind batting .169 with no home runs.

So, I don't see a Mariners win, but that may because this losing streak has gotten me cynical. They may surprise me, and all of us, by jumping out to an early lead with first inning home runs by Beltre and Sexson.

Why do I find that entirely unlikely?

I knew it!


So Jeremy Bonderman threw 8.2 shut-out innings over the Mariners? Called it. Though the M's did score a run. I wasn't expecting that.

Sheesh, is this the most offensively inept team in Mariner history? Consider this team compared to the 1982 Mariners, which scored 651 runs and had an eye-popping .381 slugging average- and that was in the Kingdome! In comparison, the 2006 franchise is on pace to score 786 runs and is slugging .423. However, the 1982 team was shut-out all of 6 times, while the 2006 team has all ready been shut-out 10 times and nearly got #11 last night. Nearly doubled the amount of scoreless complete games than the 1982 team all ready!

Luckily the Mariners were able to string together three singles in the bottom of the ninth, the third a two-out single by Ibanez that scored Beltre, to break their 18-inning scoreless streak. 18 innings? That means the Mariners were shut-out in two consecutive games!

What has been the cause of this offensive ineptitude? The Mariners were on a roll on their most recent road trip, winning games in Arizona, San Diego, and LA. Does Safeco not provide any home field advantage for the M's, as they have won only one game over the seven-game home series so far? Plus, much has been made of the fact that Mariner's recent winning spell coincided with a lack of presence by Willie Bloomquist in the team's line-up. However, Jeremy Reed broke his finger in Sunday's 4-3 loss versus Colorado, meaning that his platoon partner Bloomquist might see more at-bats. Regardless of whether Reed's been hitless against left-handers this season or not, Reed got nine hits- including three home runs- in ten games during the recent winning spell and his provided excellent defense from center field. Reed's replacement, Shin-Shoo Choo, has only added to the Mariner's offensive futility by providing a double in 11 at-bats so far.

It's tough to admit, but perhaps it's time to let Willie Bloomquist man center field full-time. Choo just seems overwhelmed at the major-league level. At least Bllomquist's hitting .268 for the year, and is hitting lefties to a tune of .328. Or perhaps it's time to call up Adam Jones, the 20-year old uber-prospect who is hitting .277 with 13 homers and 12 steals for Tacoma, up to the bigs to man center field. If the Mariners are going to slide in the standings with Bloomquist in center anyway, might as well see if Jones' presence could halt that slide. Jones seems like the type of player that could provide an immediate impact, as Lastings Millege did for the Mets earlier this year filling in for the injured Cliff Floyd.

Though Beltre did score the Mariners' only run in last night'sgame, he went hitless in four at-bats, lowering his season average to .256. As tonight's pitcher for Detroit, Zach Miner, is making his seventh career start, Beltre obviously has no track record against him. And since Miner is a wunder-kind young pitcher, that probably means the Mariners will be shut-out for the eleventh time tonight, most likely on a two-hitter.

As I pointed out in yesterday's post, Jarrod Washburn has a 4-4 lifetime record versus Detroit, including his brilliant performace last April, throwing 8.2 innings in a loss. As long as Washburn's pitches can miss the bat of Detroit catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who has roughed Jarrod up to the tune of a .345 average and 1.103 OPS in 29 career at-bats, and keep his walks and pitch count under control, Jarrod might have an opportunity to out-pitch Miner.

I'll tell you what markers I'm going to use to gauge the Mariners' chances in tonight's ballgame: if they have at least one run by the third inning, chances are good. If they have three by the fourth, then they're chances are great. And if Richie Sexson is able to get at least one hit in his first two at-bats than I'll say their chances are really great. However, all that depends on Washburn being able to pitch well. If he's unable to keep the Tigers off base regardless of how the Mariners do, then their chances are moot.

At any rate, I don't see the M's ending their losing streak in tonight's ballgame.

Angels series... ugh


And the Tigers series doesn't look that great either.

Hope everyone had a good Fourth of July weekend. Mine was made even better as my exposure to the putrid play provided by the Mariners against the Angels was reduced to some late-night highlights during Sportscenter. (Watching Meche and Mateo getting singled to death in the sixth inning of Tuesday's blow-out 14-6 loss was ugly to watch condensed on TV- it would've been maddening to have listened to it happen in real-time. Seriously, two of three outs in the inning knocked in runs as they were sacrifice flies? Weak.)

The Mariners had owned the Angels all year before getting knocked around the last three games to go from two games over .500 at 42-40 to two games below at 42-44.

I knew it was too good to be true, but I find it hard to believe that the Mariners' hot bats could cool off with such a simple turn of a page in the calendar. However, there's the truth in the numbers, plain as black-and-white: in the six game home series so far, the Mariners have hit .207 (.178 in the three versus the Angels), scoring 18 runs while leaving 28 men on base, and were shut-out twice.

That, my friends, is having your ass firmly handed to you and being forced to wear it as a hat. And it doesn't look like it will get any easier in the next three games.

Let's look at the pitching match-ups versus the Tigers: tonight, Joel Pineiro, last seen getting the final out of Monday's ballgame in relief, versus Jeremy Bonderman. Though Joel's had success against the Tigers in his career- 5-0 record, 2.37 ERA- he has been inconsistent this year to say the least, while Bonderman- who only has a 1-2 record and a 4.12 ERA versus Seattle- has firmly established himself as an ace-caliber pitcher, with a 7-4 record and 107 strikeouts in 111 innings this season.

Tomorrow, Jarrod Washburn- 4-4, 4.45 ERA in his career versus the Tigers- takes on yet another Tiger rookie sensation in Zach Miner, who has a five-game winning streak, and has given up 8 earned runs over his last 33 innings. Washburn had a pretty good start versus the Tigers last April 21, giving up just two runs on five hits while coming one out away from a complete game but the only offense the Mariners could muster was a ninth-inning sacrifice fly in a 2-1 loss to Mike Maroth.

Sunday pits Felix Hernandez, who has lost his only two career decisions versus the Tigers despite just giving up two earned runs in 12 innings pitched, against Nate Robertson, who enjoys pitching against the M's, owning a 3-1 record and a cool lifetime 2.30 ERA versus Seattle. Felix was done in by his catcher Rene Rivera when he pitched against the Tigers on April 23. In that game, Rivera allowed two passed balls and committed an error, allowing two unearned runs to score as the Mariners' were being stifled by Justin Verlander's (who Seattle will luckily miss this time around) overpowering heat in a 6-4 loss.

The series versus the Tigers last April consisted of three very tight games with wondeful pitching performances on both sides. Indeed, only 15 runs were scored by both teams combined over the whole series, which was an eventual sweep by the Tigers. It's hard to see a different outcome this time around- unless the Mariners are able to get to young Miner early in Saturday night's game- as I see another series of pitching duels with the Mariners getting swept, yet again, their sixth series' sweep this year at the hands of their opponents.

There has been some recent Mariner news lately, and none of it has been involving Adrian Beltre (who, by the way, batted .250 with a run, RBI, and a double in the Angels series and now sits at .259 for the year).

On Wedensday, less than 24 hours after a heated shouting match with manager Mike Hargrove, Carl Everett was speaking to a group of young players from the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County and was asked how he felt about playing for the Mariners. "I have mixed emotions about it," was Everett's reply. Later that evening, Everett was ejected from the game for getting into an argument with first base umpire Brian Kinght after clearly getting thrown out at first on a play. Ostensibly, the "mixed emotions" Everett is having has to do with playing time, as his contract vests for 2007 if he reaches 450 plate appearances, and he is on pace for well over a hundred of, about 550 plate appearances is his current pace.

Everett still finds himself in the line-up on an everday basis as the team's DH, besides the games played in NL parks during inter-league play. The problem, however, is that Everett simply isn't wielding a hot enough bat to merit such a spot in the line-up. His OPS is .680 which is atrocious for a player who's only job is to hit. He's batting .161 versus left-handers, and only .228 at Safeco, where the team plays half their games. The time has come for the M's brain-trust to recognize the obvious- that Everett hinders moe than he helps as the every-day DH. If there is a role to play, it should be coming off the bench to face right-handers late in the game. Yeah, yeah, people may point to the two games he won with walk-off home-runs this year, but it hasn't been determined how many games Everett has lost with his lack of production, and how many games the Mariners might have won with a replacement-level DH.

There's no space for Everett on next year's roster, and Eduardo Perez, who hits lefties to the tune of .326, can split the DH duties with Carl until Mike Morse recovers from arthroscopic surgery, or until the Mariners consider bringing up Chris "Doyle" Snelling, who hit .276 in 15 games with the M's last year. But playing Carl to make sure his contract vests for next season is not a very high priority. And if that means trading Everett is an option, perhaps the Mariners should consider moving him to an out-of-divison contending team that could use some DH help. Such as the Twins, who have recieved a horrendous .425 OPS from the now injured DH Rondell White, in exchange for a pitching cast-off, such as Carlos Silva or Jessie Crain.

Hey, we're talking Carl Everett here, what else could you expect in return?

In other news, the M's traded "Everyday" Eddie Guardado to the Red for pitching "prospect" Travis Chick. Though it was tough to see Eddie G. go, it was obvious his usefulness as a pitcher for the Mariners had vanished. For clubhouse morale, of course, Eddie could always be counted on for a hot-foot at a moment's notice, but that has little relevance on the outcome of baseball games compared to giving up game-winning home-runs and blowing three saves.

GM Bill Bavasi said he is "happy" with this trade, saying that in Chick, the Mariners picked up someone who is at a comparable level with Asdrubal Cabrera, the shortstop the Mariners traded to the Indians for Perez. Now, I have no problem with the trade of Cabrera, as he was being held at AAA with the solid play by Betancourt, and (hopefully) it'll make it easier for the M's to sign Nomar in the off-season and put him back in his original position. But to compare Asdrubal to Chick doesn't quite cut it. Sure, Asdrubal was only hitting .236 for Tacoma, but he was leading the PCL in fielding percentage. And he proved he could wield a hot bat last year, hitting .295 in a combined two stops at A ball. Cabrera probably needs another year at AAA for some seasoning before being promoted, and when he does, the Indians may have gotten another Omar Vizqul-type shortstop from us.

Chick, on the other hand, seems mediocre-to-average in every sense of the word. Besides posting an 11-4 record as a 20-year old in A ball, thus cementing himself as a "prospect", Chick got roughed up in San Diego's AA Mobile team to begin 2005, posting a 2-9 record with a 5.27 ERA before being traded to the Reds. At Chattanooga to finish off the year, Chick was marginally better, going 2-2 with a 4.86 ERA. And so far this year, Chick had posted a 4-5 record and a 4.61 for Chattoonaga prior to being traded to the Mariners.

In comparing the peripherals, per nine innings Chick gives up lots more hits (9.7 to 7.6) and lots more walks (4.5 to 2.5) than Guardado, plus Guardado strikes out a ton more (8.2 to 5.3). Of course, the caveat of comparing an All-Star closer with a minor-league starter needs to apply. In short, the Mariners dumped their problem one-time closer to the Reds in exchange for their problem (and cheaper) one-time prospect. Guardado fits the Reds' needs, as he'll take his turn attempting to close ballgames for Cincy, and after he blows a few the Reds can go back to Wagner, Coffey, Weathers, or throw Milton into the mix.

And the Mariners can let Chick squander at AA for a few years, or however long it takes for Chick to get batters to hit less than .300 against him.

As I finish this, its in the fourth and the Tigers have taken a 1-0 lead on a RBI single by Magglio Ordonez in the first. Ho-hummmmmmmmmmmmm.

Young Weaver vs. The King


Jered needs a real nickname.

Tonight's pitching match-up looks like a doozie. Hopefully I'll get to watch it from my Westport motel room.

Yep, True Slicky's taking a much-needed vacation to eat hot dogs and ruminate on what it means to be an American. Hopefully the Mariners' series with the Angels goes over well, and that Felix will school the Angels as he did the last time he faced them. But with the younger Weaver- who some say was the greatest college pitcher ever- taking the hill for the Haloes, I doubt it'll be that easy.

Have a great holiday!


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