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.

The suddenly unbeatable M's


It's time once again for the Seattle Mariners to taunt their fans. To give them a teasing glimpse of what this season could've been like. After going 0-11 on a intra-division road trip, the Mariners returend home to face the Yankees, Red Sox, and Angels. For every intent and purpose, that losing streak should've reached 15 or 16 games. Instead, the Mariners are in the midst of a season-high five game winning streak.

I've always thought that 92 wins would be necessary to win the AL West. For the M's to reach that mark, they need to win 29 of their last 30 games- a ridiculous achievement. (But, of course, they've been playing .875 ball on their current home-stand.) And though it's nice to see the Marienrs rough up and spoil the Angels' chances this year, the fact that the A's have been playing just as strong over the past ten games- an 8-2 record compared to the M's 7-3- means that the Mariners have made up no ground in the division. And by beating the Angels, the Marienrs are helping the A's run away with the divisoion in a different manner than just losing to them.

Yesterday the M's trounced Angel uberstud Jered Weaver, roughing him up for nine hits and five runs in lessthan five innings. After dominating the M's throughout the season, Jered gave up four solo home-runs ot the M's bats, with Chris "Doyle" Snelling leading the hit attack with two solo shots.

This came a day after Felix showed his dominating self for truly the first time this season, throwing a complete-game five-hit shut-out. Indeed, Felix needed only 95 pitches- 70 of which went for strikes- in throwing the Marienrs' second shut-oiut in six games. Which bucks the trend of them getting shut-out for something like 20 times so far this season.

In the final game of the home-stand, Jake Woods, a former Angel, takes his thrid start in an attempt to complete the sweep. Woods has performed admirably as he has filled in for Joel Pineiro in the rotation. Woods has pitched pretty solidly against the Angels this year, with a 2.79 ERA in 9.2 innings, including his first start a couple weeks back inwhich Woods allowed only one run in 5.2 innings. Vlad Guerrero is the only Angel who has multiple career hits off Woods, with two in four at-bats. So it appears the Angels' offense has their work cut out for them.

For the Angels, underrated John Lackey takes the mound. LAckey has pretty good stuff, harnessing a fastball, cutter and change-up int oa 14-5, 3.44 ERA season last year. A month ago, Lackey was sitting at 10-6 with a 2.95 ERA, appearing o improve upon last year's numbers. He has failed to win a game so far in August, however, dropping three starts in five decisions to go with a 7.07 ERA. One of those came against the mariners on that god-awful road trip. Even with Lackey allowing 12 hits and 5 runs in less than five innings, the bullpen blew the lead and the marienrs eventually lost 9-7.

This time it should be better. Lackey holds a 5-8 career record and 4.90 ERa gainst the M's- clealry not a team that he dominates. Raul Ibanez and Richie Sexson love facing the Texan right-hander, with Ibanez hitting .394 in 39 at-bats and Sexson with a 1.318 OPS- and ten RBIs- in 19 at-bats. While Adrian Beltre has only a .257 average in 27 at-bats, Ichiro has 17 hits in 57 at-bats for a .298 average.

Look for hits- and more homers- galore tonight as the marienrs complete an 8-1 homestand. After that, all they have to do is go 28-1 for the rest of the season, and the division is theirs!

A beautiful thing


There is no denying the fact that a sweep of the Red Sox- the first by the Marienrs since 1989- is a beautiful thing. As long, of course, that you're not a Red Sox fan.

If only it could continue, but the unbeatable Angels are the next to come to town. After the M's horrendous 0-11 road trip in which they couldn't buy a win from their divison rivals, they returned home and immediately take five of six from the Red Sox and the Yankees, who are battling it out for the AL East.

Some could say that the M's were lucky to play the Yankees when they did- fresh off an their own emotionally exhausting five-game sweep of the Red Sox followed by a cross-country flight. But the Mariners dominated the Red Sox in the weekend series sweep, culminating in Cha Seung Baek's two-hitter that was tossed in yesterday's 6-3 win. Without any info to back it up, I believe that's the fewest number of hits this vaunted Boston Red Sox offense has been kept to all season.

In fact, as a team over the past three games, the Mariners' batted .323 and slugged .495. The Mariners' attack was led by Raul Ibanez, who batted .600 in ten at-bats and slugged 1.000, including yesterday's Richie Sexson impression by hitting a fifth-inning grand slam. Yuniesky Betancourt also helped out with the bat, hitting .417 and slugging .917, with three of his five hits going for extra bases. After missing the first game with lingering effects from his dramatic slide that broke up a double-play against the Yankees on Thursday, Adrian Beltre batted .286 and slugged .857, with both of his hits going for extra bases.

For Red Sox fans, this season was apocalypse now-ish.

It would be nice to continue playing winning baseball against the Angels, but the Angels will arrive carrying the Mariners' kryptonite, being the fact that Los Angeles is on the west coast, and as such the M's can't beat an American League team from the west coast. The last time the Mariners won a game versus the AL West was June 10, against the Angels, over two months ago.

The first Angels pitcehr the Marienrs face is Kelvim Escobar, who dominated the Mariners for seven innings of one-run ball during that disastorous road trip. Despite that recent dominance, Ichiro has been hitting Kelvim pretty well this year- 5-for-12 for a .417 average- as is Jose Lopez- .400 in ten at-bats.

Taking the hill for the Mariners is Felix Hernandez, who has lost three consecutive decisions nad hasn't won since a 2-1 triumph over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on August 2. Whn Felix last faced the Angels, he allowed three runs in six innings of a 3-0 loss, and he has a 1-2 record and 3.74 ERA in 21 innings versus the Angels this year. Although Felix has dominated Garrett Anderson (.125 average and three strike-outs in 8 at-bats) and Mike Napoli (.167 average and three strike-outs in six at-bats), he needs to keep the ball away from Orlando Cabrera who's scorched Felix to the tune of .500 in ten at-bats.

Considering that Escobar has a career 5-6 record and 4.85 ERA against the M's, it's not as if the Marienrs can't beat Kelvim. It's just necessary for the top of the Mariners' line-up to get the ball rolling if the M's are going to have a chance.

2 out of 3 from the Yankees? Whaaaaa?


What is this? Do my eyes deceive me? Can it be that, yes indeed, the Mariners actually took a series? Against the New York Yankees, winning 4-2 no less?

With their 19-15 mark against the AL East (and 14-18 mark against the AL Central) it's easy to forget sometimes that the Marienrs can actually be a quasi-decent team against the rest of the league. They're mostly just putrid versus the AL West, in which they now hold a 10-31 record against.

They key for taking the rubber game for the Yankees was pitching. Somehow, Jarrod Washburn was able to strike out a season-high nine Yankee batters in 6.1 innings. A fly-ball pitcher facing this tough Yankee line-up, you probably would've expected for jarrod to have given up nine home-runs rather than nine strike-outs. But that was not the case. Just how was Jarrod able to pitch so effectively against the Yankees, and be successful in keeping them off base? (The Yankees only got two walks.) According to the AP story, "I'm aggressive with my fastball," Washburn said. "It's like facing an All-Star team with their lineup. So maybe some guys tend to be tentative when they pitch to them. But I don't."

Ah, so that's the trick for pitching agaisnt the Yankees. Fastballs. In the striek zone. I guess it's their kryptonite or something.

Offensively, the Marienrs were lucky to squeeze by the Yankees as Randy Johnson pitched a complete-game in a losing effort. The M's scored four runs on seven hits, with Jose Lopez's 2-for-4 with 2 RBI night leading the way. This game was Lopez's first multiple-RBI game in a month. In fact, Lopez's three RBIs over the past two games are all of Jose's RBIs for the month of August.

By striking out only three times against Randy Johnson- a far cry from the 12 I predicted- it was as if the Marienrs did a role reversal with the Yankees by exhibiting patience.

Willie Bloomquist made the start at third, meaning Beltre's sore neck just may be something serious. Poor guy. He practically had to sacrifice his entire body to beat the Yankees in the first game.

The Boston Red Sox come into town fresh off the Yankees' heels. Its not as if there's any good time to face the Yankees-Red Sox back-to-back, but perhaps with a little bit of confidence instilled in them after beating New York, plus the Red Sox recent pitching struggles, the Marienrs could very well win two series before their next series versus the Angels, in which a sweep by Los Angeles is all but guaranteed.

However, tonight's pitching match-up seems so lop-sided it's unfair. Curt Schilling vers Jake Woods? Holy cow, why even play the game? Schilling's numbers on the year make a good case for the Cy Young award: 14-5 record, with a 3.84 ERA and 160 strike-outs in 180.2 innings. Over his last two starts, Schilling has allowed five runs in 14 innings, and has gotten no decisions in both of them. He;s been stuck on 14 wins for nearly all of August, and I'm sure he's a little hungry for win #15. In three career starts versus the Mariners, Schilling has a 2-0 record and a 3.12 ERA.

Even if Beltre is healthy for tonight's game, it might be more appropriat to have him ride the pine rather than play the field. Beltre has an anemic .139 career batting average against Curt Schilling, with 5 hits in 36 at-bats, with one home-run. Richie Sexson, however, has the most success of the current MArienrs, with 7 hits in 18 at-bats for a .389 average and a 1.143. So look for some big hits from Big Sexy in tonight's game.

Meanwhile, for the Marienrs, Jake Woods makes his second start as the auditions for 2007 starting rotation continue. Woods pitched pretty effectively in his most recent outing versus the Angels, pitching into the sixth and allowing only one run in an eventual 2-3 loss. For his career, Woods has an 0-1 record with a 4.15 ERA. Coco Crisp and Eric Hinske are the only Red Sox batters to have faced Woods more than twice, and they have combined to go 0-for-7.

Regardless of whether the Red Sox are from the AL East or not, I do not see the marienrs becoming victorious in this one. I predict the final score to be along the lines of 5-3, and we'll see at least one home-run from Sexson....

Let the next losing streak begin!


After dropping the first game of the series, the New York Yankees appeared to have collectively said "Oh no you didn'!" and smacked the Mariners around with 22 base-runners in a 9-2 victory in the second game of the series.

My prediciton of a tight-knit pitching match-up was half-correct. Chen-Mieng Wang brought his 'A' game and stifled the M's on a variety of pitches, including a devestating sinkerball. Wang allowed only seven runs and two hits, while striking out five.

Felix Hernandez, who is reverting more from 'King Felix' to 'Boy Prince' with every start, dialed in a very Joel Pineiro-ish start of 13 base-runners- 9 hits and 4 walks- in 3.2 innings. In less than four innings of work, Felix was forced to toss 82 pitches before giving way to the real Joel Pineiro. Joel provided 5.1 innings of decent long relief. Although he allowed nine base-runners- five hits and four walks- only two runs came in to score. It was the most effective performance we've seen from Joel since he allowed three runs in seven innings on July 30 in a no-decision versus Cleveland.

And to top it all off, a day after nearly single-handedly beating the Yankees, Adrian Beltre had to leave the game after two hitless at-bats. AB was being botehred by a sore neck, lingering effects from the dynamite double-play breaking slide he executed in last night's ball-game. At any rate, Beltre's average stands at .266 and it'll be interesting to see if AB will play in tomorrow's ballgame.

The biggest disparity of the game was the lack of patience on the part of the M's bats. While the Yankess walked eight times and forced Felix to labor heavily in the early going, the Marienrs were only able to chalk on base on balls for the whole game. Indeed, in comparison to the number of pitches Felix had to throw, it is positively jaw-dropping that the M's were able to only coax out 90 pitches from Wang in seven innings. With the free-swinging Mariner ways, Wang could've thrown a complete game with little effort.

Indeed, according to, the Mariners have a 426 walk-to-strikeout differential. If you've thought that the M's have been on base an incredible lack of time, well you're not just dreaming. The 308 walks the M's have received are the fewest in the league, and when you consider the 267 differential the Oakland A's have it's little wonder that the M's can't measure up to Oakland, regardless of whether the A's have an offensive that's similar to the Tampa bay Devil Rays in nearly every other category.

What's really bizarre is when you consider Mike Hargrove's career statistics as a major-league player. 965 walks to 50 strikeouts? Oh really? I don't understand why Hargrove doesn't just print these stats out and pin them on the clubhouse wall, perhaps with a note scrawled across it: "This is how you win ball-games." Instead, his method of 'mananging' must go along the lines of the following advice: "Just swing away. Don't worry about getting on base. That ideology is so thirty years ago...."

At any rate, the Mariners can continue to not get on base tomorrow facing Randy Johnson, who lost 2-3 to the Mariners last July 19. Given that was the only double-digit strikeout start for Randy this year- indeed he went two consecutive starts versus Cleveland and Tampa Bay, over nine innings in total, without striking out any batters- it appears Randy just ran into a bit of bad luck in losing that ballgame, as he was just out-pitched by Good Gil Meche. Look for Randy to strike out at least that much in tomorrow's game, as Randy has a 35-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 32.1 career innings versus the Mariners, to go along with a 3-1 record and 1.41 ERA. Adrian Beltre has the most career life-time hits off Randy than any other current Mariner- 14 in 62 at-bats for a .223 average, with three of them being home-runs. Eduardo Perez has four homers off Randy, and Ichiro sports a .455 average off Randy. Pretty much every otehr Mariner, however, has poor career records versus Randy, with Richie Sexson's- a .208 average in 24 at-bats- being the most pronounced.

Jarrod Washburn, he of the 6-12 record, will put up the futile effort for the M's to win the rubber game against the Yankees. In his last appearance against the Yankees last July 17 Jarrod gave up only one earned run in 6.1 innings and still managed to lose. Jarrod owns a 3-3 lifetime record versus the Yankees and a very respectable 2.55 ERA agaisnt them. Which means the Yankess should score only five runs or so. Alex Rodriguez has loved teeing off Washburn, with a .333 average,five home runs, and 1.150 OPS in 36 at-bats versus Jarrod. For the most part, however, Jarrod has done a respectable job keeping the big bats in the Yankees line-up quiet (Damon is only 4-for-23; Giambi 7-for-30; and Jeter 6-for-23).

Regardless, no way is Jarrod stopping this Yankee locomotive. Final score, 5-1 Yankees with the Mariners' run coming in on a Randy Johnson wild pitch.

Beltre's 2 HRs help hammer up a 'W'


Unsurprisingly, the marienrs ended their 11 game-losing streak against a team outside of the American League West, a divison they've lost twenty straight against. Surprisngly, it was against the Yankees, ateam that just swept a five-game series versus their arch-rival Boston Red Sox in commanding fashion.

Beltre capped his first multiple home-run game of the season in a dramatic manner, belting the game-winning home-run leading off the ninth inning. ording to the AP reports, this home-run came moments after shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt pleaded with Beltre to "end this thing." His first home-run came in the first, after a one-out walk to Chris Snelling who is now sporting a .571 on-basep ercentage in his five games so far.

Prior to the game, over at USS Mariner they stated that this line-up was the best line-up the M's have put up all year. Regardless of what the outcome of the game turned out to have been, I'd be inclined to agree. The top 4 of Ichrio (in center!)- on-basem achine Snelling- Beltre- Sexson may prove to be the most productive top foursome the Mariners have seen since the days of Griffey & Edgar. Last night, these four went 5-for-15 with 5 runs, 5 RBIs, and three home-runs. Mariners games could start being fun again if this top of the line-up remians the same for the rest of the year. It might also blow holes in the "Mike Hargrove" is an idiot theory.

On the minus side, having Ichrio play center means Adam Jones had to be sent down to play the remaidner of the season, but AAA is where I argued Jones needed to psend this season in the first place. It does raise questions for next year- presumably, Jones will beready for full-time major league duties and where does that leave Jeremy Reed? And what position would Snelling play next year if Ichiro reverts back to right?

But on the plus side, the days of seeing Wille Bloomquist making gritty plays in center are over, at least for this season. And that's a good thing.

Last night saw the season debut of Cha Seung Baek, who made his first appearance in the Mariners' rotation since 2004. The Korean stand-out had a solid, if not spectacular start as he made his bid in the open try-outs for Jamie Moyer's one-time spot in the rotation. In five innings, Baek allowed six base-runners- three hits and three walks, including a three-run home-run to Bobby Abreu (who's attemtping to make a case for AL MVP a la Shannon Stewart in 2003 with a .388 average and 1.048 OPS in 22 games for the Yankees so far)- but Baek still struck out six. It was the Mariners' turn to take advantage of a young pitcher, jumping on Jeff Karstens in his major-league debut for eight base-runners and two home-runs in 5.2 innings in Karsten's debut. Usually, the Mariners struggle agaisnt pitchers they see for the first time (see Rheinecker, John) but that was not the case last night.

Tonight the M's play the middle game of the three-game match-up versus the Yankees, and could it might be possible for them to string together a little winning streak? The Yankees' Taiwanese 14-game winner Chien-Ming Wang takes the mound for New York, and Wang has won all three career starts versus the Mariners, with a 3.48 and has yet to allow a home-run in 20.2 innings against Seattle. Beltre has two hits in 11 career at-bats versus Wang, with Ichiro having three hits in the same number of at-bats. The only current Mariner with an average against Wang above .300 is Ben Broussard, with a .333 average in nine at-bats.

At first glance, it appears the Mariners may have their work cut out for them, but Wang has allowed 12 earned runs over his last 16.1 innings in his past three starts for a 6.61 ERA. Wang has been very hittable lately as well, allowing 27 hits, 8 walks, and three home-runs over that span as well. Given his success versus the Mariners, however, it may just take a start against Seattle to right Wang's ship.

Felix Hernandez, looking to even his record to .500 at 11-11, takes the hill for the Mariners. Felix has lost his only career start versus the Yankees, despite giving up jsut two earned runs in eight innings and striking out seven. Robinson Cano is the only Yankee in the current line-up to have both mulitple hits (two in three at-bats) and a home-run off Felix. (Gary Sheffield has the other.)

I'd be surprised if tonight's game had a similar amount of offensive explosion as last night's game. If both Wang and Felix bring the best of their games, it could be a tight-knit, low-scoring affair. Being said, I do believe the Yankees will come on top, perhaps on a score of 3-1. But who knows, perhaps surprises might be the name of the game in this Seattle-New York series.

We still got 38 games left of this crap?


Ah, the experience of listening to your team's ace closer cough up the tying and go-ahead runs in the last two innings, depriving the marienrs of an opportunity of ending their ten-game winning streak. It's an experience unlike any other. Or perhaps its similar to having a cotton swab inserted into your urethra, which I would imagine is pretty painful. Kind of like this game, which the angels won 3-2, extending the mariners' losing streak to a god-awful eleven games.

By comparison, the longest losing streaks for the 2005 and 2004 Mariners teams were seven and nine games, respectively. Obviosuly, the 2006 Mariners had been playing at quite a higher level than those two teams this season and needed to quickly make (or lose) ground to match those levels of mediocrity.

So, 0-11 on a intra-divison road trip. Nice. One bright highlight of today's game was the start turnd in by Jake Woods, who made his major-league debut as a starter. Woods pitched into the sixth, allowing six base-runners and one earned run. Sadly the Marienrs' bullpen, such a key strength for the Mariners earlier in the season, let Woods down and his start was squandered. If Woods had been able to compelte the sixth, it would've been the Mariners' third quality start of the series versus the Angels- without any wins to show for them. Regardless, it was the best start coming from Joel Pineiro's place in the rotation in three weeks.

As the Marieners went nearly a week-and-a-half between quality starts, their lousy pitching has wasted some excellent performances from the M's bats. Six times during the eleven-game slide, the M's have had at least ten hits (including a ridiculous ten-hit shut-out thrown by Danny Haren and the Oakland A's) including three games in a row from August 15-17. In those six games, the team combined to hit .320 and still leave a ridiculous 103 runners on base. The offensive ineptitude stinks to high heaven, and makes one wonder what would currently be happeneing if there was a 43-year old Edgar Martinez in the line-up at DH.

Surely the M's can break their losing streak next week against the Yankees, right? I mean, all the Yankees have done is score 39 runs in three games versus the Red Sox, the first time the Red Sox have allowed at least 12 runs a game three games in aa row versus an opponent in franchise history. Bobby Abreu has been creaming the ball for the Yankees since he's come over from the Phillies- a .392 average and 1.021 OPS in 19 games. Luckily, Tuesday's starter for New York, Jaret Wright, has a 6.69 career ERA versus the Mariners, so chances are the M's won't get shut-out. Not saying they'll win, mind you, but they won't be shut out. Most of the current Mariners, however, haven't faced Wright in their career- Beltre has two hits in eight at-bats- and considering he gave up five runs in three innings in a 12-2 loss to the Orioles in his last start, there's a good chance the Mariners might score a few runs. (However, keep in mind that Wright allowed only one earned run in each of his three prior starts, and has a 3.54 ERA in August.)

Gil Meche is the meat being tossed to the Yankees' hungry lions. Meche has a 3-2 lfetime record and 3.88 ERA versus the Yankees, and allowed 2 runs in six innings in his only start versus the Yankees this year. Those are promising signs, but you have to remember that Meche has reverted to not only Bad Meche but God-Awful Meche over his last three starts, allowing a 9.53 while dropping all three decisions. It's been over a month since Meche has won a game (July 14th) or thrown a quality start (July 19th). While Meche for the most part has kept a number of Yankees batters in check throughout his career- Damon 3-for-17, Giambi 4-for-15, Bernie Williams 2-for-16- Alex Rodriguez has feasted on Meche's offerings, slugging three home-runs and four doubles in 20 at-bats for an otherworldy 1.490 OPS. In short, I see the final score being along the lines of 11-4 or something like that. The Yankees series is going to suck, and I don't see an opportunity for the Mariners to end their losing streak against the Yankees.

Mike Hargrove's lognest losing streak as a manager is 12 games with the 2002 Orioles. The Mariners' longest losing streak is 12, reached in 1992. Both numbers will be met against the Yankees.

Oh yeah. And Beltre- remember this blog is about him- went hitless in four at-bats today so both his streaks of games hitting and games getting on base are history, and his average dropped to .265- three point shigher than when his 15 game hitting streak began. Thanks AB. It was fun while it lasted.

But the Mariners lost. Again. 9-7 at the hands of the Angels, stretching their major-league record to 19 straight losses against divison rivals. At least the Mariners had some sort of record-setting season this year...

Their loss was no surprise, as it was what I and every knowledgable marienrs fan was expecting. What makes it just a little tough to swallow, however, was that the M's played tough baseball, and even held the lead, albeit a brief one. After falling behind 4-0, the M's stringed together six hits in the top of the fifth and produced five runs thanks to some heads up base-running by Ichiro, and a home-run by Ben Broussard.

Regardless, the Marienrs lost as Jarrod Washburn wasn't able to maintain the lead, and Richie Sexon- he of the four grand slams so far this season- struck out twice with the bases loaded. The only bright spots of the game was the fact that the Mariners chased Angels starter John Lackey out of the game by the fifth inning for the third time this season. Broussard going 4-for-5 with the home-run and three RBIs, and Beltre extending his hitting streak to 15 games by picking up three hits and raising his average to a season-high .267.

Are the mariners going to win tonight? Hell no. Tongiht marks the first major-league start of Jake Woods, the M's erstwhile middle reliever who is no playing the role of Joel Pineiro. Woods is the second ex-Angel to start against the team from Southern California, and has a 3-1 record with a 4.11 ERA on the season. In three games versus the Angels so far this season, Woods has given up two runs in four innings and picked up his only save. The odds of him making it past the fourth inning? Not too likely.

Ervin Santana takes the mound for the Angels in tonight's ballgame. Ervin may have a 1-2 record and career 8.27 ERA versus the Mariners, but both those marks should be improved by the time this game is over. Raul Ibanez has given the most trouble to Santana, with a .571 average and 1.911 career slugging percentage against Ervin, so here's hoping that Ibanez will contribute some big hits in tonight's loss. Beltre has gone 2-for-8 against Ervin in his career, so let's hope that he can continue his hiting streak.

I mean, at this point the only thing that Mariners have left to play for is individual accomplishments, right? Sexson and Ibanez can have arace to see who will reach 30 HRs first. Ibanez needs five RBIs to have 100 on the season, while Ichiro needs to turn his game up a notch to score the 20 runs he needs to continue hsi streak of scoring 100 runs every season. Felix Hernandez is the only pitcher with a shot at a .500 or better season. THese are pretty much the only reasons to follow the M's at this point.

The Angels haven't swept a four-game series versus the M's at home in over twenty years. That stretch will end tonight. 9-1 Angels.

The masochism of being a Mariners fan


During these past couple of weeks, as I continually find myself doing things that I should know better (such as turning on the radio for yet another inevitable Mariners loss), I ask myself: why am I doing this? Why am I submitting myself to such painful, depressing repition and hopelessness? It's summer. I should go outside. Perhaps meet my neighbors. Strill around the neighborhood. Breath in smells and take in sights that have heretofore go unnoticed.

But no, I refuse to do that. Instead I submit myself to the masochism of listening to the Mariners feebly lose baseball games on a nightly basis. Why do I do such a thing? Because I'm a Mariners fan.

I get frustrated, I admit. Sometimes I yell. (Usually something about Hargrove's idiotic line-ups. Seriosuly, Willie Bloomquist leading off?) Sometimes I pound my fists in anger. But then I have to stop and remind myself- isn't losing baseball a storied part of the Mariners tradition? Like a nomad wandering the face of the earth, have I lost touch with my roots, with my home?

I came "of age", so to speak, as a Mariners fan in the late 1980s. I remember line-ups that had such erstwhile ball-players as Jeffrey Leonard, Henry Cotto, and Phil Bradley. To me, Alvin Davis was the original "Mr. Mariner." By the time I began following the team in ernest as I entered my pre-adolescent years living in Olympia, WA, the Seattle Mariners had been around for over a decade and had yet to have a winning season. Not one. By comparison, the New York Mets averaged 105 losses the first seven years of their existence- and then won a World Series. The Mariners' expansion-mates, the Toronto Blue Jays, were a sub-.500 team for only six years before topping the mark in 1983.

So was I excited when the Mariners finally topped the .500 mark in their 15th year of existence, going 83-79 in 1991, making "Lefebvre Believers" out of the Pacific Northwest (until he was fired after the season, that is). Oh, you bet. Finally, I could rejoice. My team was just like every other team- average.

But until then I had all ready follwoed faithfully for a few years of mediocrity. I tuned in every possible chance I could get, not necessarily expecting the Marienrs to win. In fact, as a Marienr fan pre-1991 I'm pretty sure you expected them to not win on any given night, regardless of who was pitching or what team they faced. Sure, the dark days of the marienrs included some promsiisng pitchers like Mark Langston, Mike Morre, and Bill Swift, but combined this trioka went 170-212 for the mariners, good enough for a luaghable .445 winning percentage. Jeffrey Leonard was signed to provide some "power" in the middle of the Marienrs' line-up prior to the 1989 season, and supplied all of 24 home-runs and a .420 slugging percentage.

In short, to be a Mariners fan means you need to embrace losing. Its an instructive lesson to learn growing up. It instills shame.

But then, of course, 1995 happened. It appeared that not only could our team be average, it could be better than average. And not only that, we could beat the most storied team in baseball history- the New York Yankees- in a play-off season! Not only were we good, we had Junior, Randy, A-Rod, Buhner, Edgar as a nucleus! We were going to be good, nee dominating for a long, long time! Right! Right?

Sigh. And I don't want to bring up 2001, but I have to. Whoever thought that our team would win an unprecedented 116 regular season games, come three wins away from going to the World Series for the first time- and still not have a return trip to the play-offs five years later?

So, given the marienrs current struggles, I've had to come to peace with myself. I've had to remind myself that it's an acceptable mind-set to trun on the radio and expect that the marienrs to be out of the game before the first pitch is even thrown. It's nearly comforting. It reminds me of my childhood. Playing catch with my dad in the back yard, drinking root beer floats outside on a warm summer's evening, listening to the Mariners drop yet another one in the dog days of August....

The Mariners dropped last night's game 3-0 to uberstud Jered Weaver and the nomadish Angels of Southern California. It was the M's 500th shut-out of the season. (that's not a correct number, more of an exaggeration.) The highlights of last night's game? Felix Hernandez wasted a steller outing- 8 baserunenrs and three earned runs in six innings to go with six strike-outs- and Beltre hit a ground-rule double in the ninth inning to keep both his hitting streak alive (14 games) as well as his streak of games getting on base (29 straight). Beltre goes to show that a sustained peformance of excellence by an individual player over a period of time does not necessarily translate into success for your team.

The lowlights? Having Wille Bloomquist "lead off", if that's what you want to call it. In the first three at-bats by a lead-off batter not named Ichiro this season, Wille pulled a sombrero, striking out all three times before being lifted for Ichiro, who pinch-hit for Bloomie in the eighth. It is now four game since we've seen Adam Jones- who was facing Jered Weaver in the minors on a regular basis earlier this season- play center field, as hargrove seems more content to have a player with a .246 average and .295 slugging not only man center but lead-off! Oh sure, you say that Jones is only hitting .217, but his slugging percentage- .348- is fifty points higher than Bloomquist's! Andsurely Jones would hit higher if he were to receive, oh I don't know, playing time.

I mean, the Mariners' season is toast. Why not let the kid play and see what he can do? We've had five years of suckitude from Willie Bloomquist- we know what he can do. And me not likey.

The worst is the fact that by leading off, Bloomquist had the misfortune of batting after Chris "Doyle" Snelling, who was making his season debut in the field (taking over RF for Icnhiro) and in the line-up, batting ninth. Well Snelling, an accomplished hitter (.370 last yearin Tacoma) with a history of injuires, calmly went 1-for-3 versus Jered's outstaign stuff, includiong a walk. So twice Snelling got on base, and what happened both times? Bloomquist struck out.

May you rot in hell, Hargrove. You know what this slide reminds me of? The miserable 9-35 ending to the Baltimore Orioles' 2002 season. After being a scant two games from .500 at 58-60 on August 15th, the team ended up nearly 30 games below .500 at the endof the year. Did that cost Hargrove his job? No. He returned the following year, as obviously he had something to prove to Orioles fans. And that something was that he could do it all over again in 2003. Again, roughly same time of the year- August 10th- and same place for the O's: two games from .500 at 57-59. The team proceeds to lose 32 of 46 games to finish at 71-91, admittedly a four-game improvement over the year before. No wonder Orioles fans had an online petition to fire Mike Hargrove.

And this was the man who Bill Bavasi hired to lead the marienrs back into contention after two humdrum years of Bob Melvin managing the club? Did Bavasi simply ignore Hargrove's track record at baltimore, only looking at Hargrove's glory days in Cleveland, where his success was inflated by the awesome team the Indians fielded. (Imagine how many World Series titles the Tribe would've won with a competent mananger.) I suspect Bavasi was looking for the perfect managerial candidate to lead the Mariners to their historical roots of insufferable, losing baseball, and when Hargrove became available, Bavasi had his "Eureka!" moment. On August 9th, the marienrs were one game under .500 at 56-57 after Jarrod Washburn's brilliant performance against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. They have yet to win since.

Looking into tonight's ball-game, I don't expect the Mariners to win. And I've come to terms with that. In fac,t I don't expect them to win for the rest of the season. That way when they do win, it'll be a pleasant surprise, like waking up and finding freshly fallen snow and that school will be canceled. You know, along those lines.

John Lackey is taking the hill for the Angels in tonight's ball-game. And he's been pretty lousy over his last three starts- a 6.84 ERA in 17 innings over three outings, all losses. But so what. He has a losing career record, 5-8 versus the mariners. But so what. Richie Sexson has a .438 career average and 1.375 career slugging versus Lackey, while Raul Ibanez has a .355 career average against him. but so what. Lackey will win.

Jarrod Washburn, ex-Angel, takes the mound against his former team. By comparison, Washburn has been pretty good over his last four starts- allowing a 3.00 ERa over 24 innings and getting a 2-1 record during that span. But so what. This season, he has been unbeatbale in three starts versus the Angels, 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA. So what. He has kept the Angels' bats silent, with Vlad Guerrero & Chone Figgins combining to hit .191 against him. But so what.

The angels will win. 5-4 is my guess at final score. 2006 Mariners, it's been nice knowing ya'....

17 straight!


Yep, that's right. That's a "1" before the "7". That's the number of consecutive losses the Mariners now have versus divison rivals. The last time the Mariners beat a team from the AL West it was June 11th, beating the Angels at home, the last game of a three-game series.

The team has now dropped a season-high 12.5 games out of first place. It's like this year is the anti-1995 or something. The 2006 Mariners were closer (3.5 games) to first place at an earlier time of the season (july 26) than the 1995 team, but rather than piling up wins this tieam continues to fold like a wet newspaper against AL West rivals night afer night after night. Obviously the secret is out on how to beat the Mariners, and that is to be in the same division as them.

What gives? Over at USS Mariner, they make the case that it was the fiery leadership of Carl Everett- in the clubhouse if not necessarily in the results on the field- that made the Mariners a good, if not competitive, team. Indeed, since Carl was DFA'd on July 26, the team has been a .400 team. I don't necessarily buy the "Carl Everett effect" to explain the Mariners' recent struggles. Rather, I feel it's just the team reverting to the norm. Remember, in the past couple of seasons theteam has reverted from one of the best in baseball to an over-all .420 team, posting a .389 record in 2004 (63-99) and a .426 record last year (69-93). Perhaps the team is realizing that they've been far out-playing their capabilities and are seeking out that magic .420 number. To reach that benchmark, the Mariners only have to go 12-29 for the rest of the year. ANd the way they've been playing in August, that's entirely do-able.

I mean, why else would you allow Willie Bloomquist to not only start the past two games in center field, reducing uber-propsect Adam Jones to bench fodder, but also allow him to swing away in two at-bats over the past two games with runenrs on- at a time when runs for the Marienrs are at a premium? In the fourth inning of Wedensday's 4-0 loss to the A's, Willie came to bat with the bases loaded and one out and immediatley struck out against Danny Haren. In the seventh inning, Willie came up with runners on first and third and immediately grounded into a double play. Sure, it got a run in, breaking a string of 18 shut-out innings, but the question has to be asked: Why in God's name is Willie swinging? He's the number nine batter! Why in these situations did Willie not bunt? Or is Mike Hargrove only able to do that strategy when Jose Lopez, one of the Mariners' top RBI guys, comes to bat with runners on.

It's quite clear that after Joel punched his ticket out of town, Hargrove is trying to follow suit.

On the bright side, Beltre extended his hitting streak to 12 games and now has a 28-game streak of getting on base, the longest current streak in the majors. Huh. Who would've thought that Beltre would've put together such a streak back in April?

Felix Hernandez takes the mound in tonight's ballgame versus Jered Weaver, a re-match of the 7-1 loss against the Angels last July 3rd. In that game, Felix went into the seventh and allowed five runs, though he did strike out six. Though Felix has struggled in his last start- giving up six runs in 5.2 innings versus Texas (an AL West rival, natch)- in his four prior starts Felix had allowed only 5 earned runs in 26 innings for a 1.73 ERA, lowering his season's ERA to 4.29. Which Felix will show up tonight? Felix has a 2-5 record versus the AL West so far this season, allowing 56 baserunners in 41.1 innings for a 5.88. Do we really expect Felix to stp the M's current horrendous slide?

If the Mariners are to eventually beat an AL West rival, it sure isn't going to be at the hands of Jered Weaver, who i still unbeaten (8-0) 11 games into his young major league career. In that 7-1 win last July, Jered allowed one run and struck out nine in seven innings. Jered has been the anti-Felix against the AL West this year, allowing 19 baserunners in 20 innings for a 1.80 ERA and a 2-0 record.

I'm goign to throw out the 9-1 final score guess for a second night, as I think the ANgels will eventually win one game of this four-game series with that score, and tonight's match-up promises to be just as good a time for the Angels to win by that score as any other.



No, just kidding. You weren't expecting the M's to have beaten the A's did you? Ah, silly M's fan....

I've pointed out on this blog before how the Mariners' season would be intruiging if only they could play the A's as they do the rest of baseball. I've made a list of prospective free agents with success against the A's that the M's better pursue. The 1-15 record versus the A's this season was the collective shovel that patted down the 2006 Mariners' grave.

It's maddening, but not just for Marienr fans. No, it's maddening for Angels fans, and for Rangers fans, as the Mariners have all but hand-delivered the AL West to the hands of their most hated divison rival. They might as well be whistling "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" while folding game after game versus Oakland.

And this ineptitude is not only maddening, its historical. A complete impotence against a divison rival on a scale like this hasn't been seen in nearly 40 years. The A's 15-game streak is the longest against a divisonal opponent since divisonal play started in 1969, matching the 15 that the Braves won in a row against the San Diego Padres. At least something historical is happening with the 2006 Mariners season.

If there is any solace for Marienrs fans, it's that the A's will be three-and-out in the first round of the play-offs. Why? Because they won't be playing the Mariners.

Oh, and Seattle got shut-out tonight. For, like, the 100th time. Here's a clue how to beat the A's: SCORE SOME FUCKING RUNS!

Beltre singled to left in the fifth, extending his streak to 12 games. Whoopee.

And as I called it, Joel Pineiro's ticket has offically been punched as he has been replaced in the rotation by Jake Woods, he of the 3-1 record and 39-36 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Woods is in line to make his starting debut- the first one not by Hargrove's "Furious Five" in the rotation this year- on Sunday against the Angels, so expect to see lots of red & white clutter the basepaths that day.

Yes, the Angels weekend trip. Four more games against a divison rival. Will the marienrs win one? Jamie Moyer attempts to halt the slide (ha!) tomorrow night. The Angels are one of two teams that Jamie has a career high in wins against (18, with the otehr being Baltimore) but his 152 runs allowed in 258.2 innings is by far the most. His 15 career losses versus the Angels is a career high as well, tying the same number against the A's. Leading the list of Angels who have success against Jamie is Vladimir Guerrero, no surprise, who has particualrly enjoyed facing Moyer, collecting 11 hits in 29 at-bats for a .379 average, with nine of those hits going for extra bases. In fact, looking for any Angels batters who have struggled against Jamie proved to be fruitless, so I quit looking.

Kelvim Escobar takes the mound for the Angels tomorrow, who after an eight-game losing streak has won three of his past four decisions. He threw a solid start against the Marienrs during that losing streak, giving up two earned run over eight inings in a 4-1 loss back in June. For his career, Escobar has a 4-6 record versus the M's with a 5.12 ERA over 91 innings. Raul Ibanez has enjoyed batting against Escobar, with a .400 average and 1.208 slugging in 20 at-bats. However, Escobar has shut down Ichiro to a tune of .257 in 35 at-bats, and Beltre has managed only one hit in 10 at-bats.

End result? 9-1, Angels. Ah, who am I kidding? 9-0, Angels.

This is getting ridiculous


There has to be some point where its asked why the M's even play the A's this season. Wouldn't the time be better spent working on fundamentals, perhaps some extra batting practice? All of the rest of the games between the two teams this season could be 9-0 victories in favor of Oakland, and the Mariners could get prepared to play teams they have a chance of winning. Oh, but wait- that would deny Mariner fans the opportunity to see how the Mariners figure a different way to lose against the A's.

The season series stands at 1-14. Forgive me if I never want to see a frickin' green and gold uniform for months. That is, until the Mariners' front office get some players on their roster that can, oh I don't know, beat the frickin' A's!

Perhaps the only good thing that came out of last night's 11-2 drubbing was that Joel Pineiro punched his ticket out of town. Look, it's bad enough that you give up five straight baserunenrs with two outs- consecutive walks to Mark Kotsay and Milton Bradley, followed by run-scoring hits from Frank Thomas and Eric Chavez before another walk to Jay Payton- but to do that against a division rival as your season slips further away into meaninglessness? That's nothing short of pathetic. When you get out-pitched by Kirk Saarloos, then the promise that was once present in Joel Pineiro is obviously spent.

Joel's contract ends after 2006. It's time for him to leave Seattle and find a role doing mop-up duty for some team elsewhere.

As if it matters, Beltre extended his hitting streak to eleven games with a sixth-inning single. He is hitting .289 and slugging .578 during that span. At least somebody in the Mariners' line-up is putting forth an effort to beat their division rivals.

Today the inevitable sweep will be concluded at the hands of Dan Haren, who has a 4-1 lifetime record and 3.35 ERA against the Mariners. Beltre has hit Haren pretty good in their career match-ups- .400 in 20 at-bats, with half of the hits going for extra bases. Raul Ibanez and Ichiro have also hit Haren well, combining to hit .306 off haren in 36 at-bats, with five extra base-hits. No matter. Considering the way this season has progressed, I wager you'll be able to count the number of hits the Mariners will get against haren on one hand. And Sexson (1-for-15 lifetime against haren) and Broussard (1-for-12) will lead the parade of futility.

Gil Meche is the latest M's pitcher to be thrown under the wheels of the "unstoppable" A's machine. (If you look at their aggregate numbers- with an offense worse than kansas City's- it is quite clear that the A's are the worst good team in the league.) At one time being lauded as the M's "ace" by this very blog, Meche has transformed into mediocre Meche that Mariner fans have become used to over the years. on July 14, Meche stymied the Blue Jay's awesome offense for three runs over six innings, and was sitting pretty with a 9-4 record and a 3.87 ERA. A month later, meche hasn't won since, dropped his record to 9-7 and his ERA has risen 70 points to 4.58. Any hopes Meche had of parlaying this season into a huge off-season contract is pretty much kaput.

The only hope Meche has in tonight's game is to not punch his ticket out of town a la Pineiro, and make it so the Marienrs keep a modicum of interest in re-signing him during the off-season. (Because you have to admit even if the M's don't re-sign Meche as a free agent, they'll be forced to sign an even worse pitcher than Meche in his stead. And that thought sends shudders down my spine.) Not surprising, given the A's dominance of the M's in recent years, Meche has his second highest number of career losses against one team versus the A's, coming into today's game with a 2-6 record, though he does sport a decent 4.39 ERA against them. Eric Chavez has been a particular thorn in Meche's side, hitting .333 with three home runs (and seven walks) in 27 career at-abts versus Gil. As Chavez has struggled this year with injuries, I'd look for Marco Scutaro and Frank Thomas to wield the big bats in today's game. Scutaro's hit .333 in 15 at-bats, while in ten career at-bats, Thomas has hit .300 with a home-run.

Meche has been the only Mariner pitcher to beat the A's this year, winning the first match-up before the 14 game losing streak. Still, this year he has managed only a 5.23 ERA in a little over ten innings, so don't expect any magic agaisnt Oakland today. I think with such a build-up like this, I envision the only way the Marienrs can beat the A's would involve a 19-0 no-hit shut-out victory. And I find that highly unlikely.

Guess on final score? 5-1, A's (of course).

That's right, it's my boy Adrian Beltre. Putting the Bad-Ass in Bad Bad Beltre, so it appears.

AB couldn't stop the trend of the Oakland A's making the Mariners their personal bitches, but here's his line over the past five games:

18 3 4 0 0 3 7 0 3 4 .222 .333 .722 1.055

Though it's nice to see a slugging average 500 points higher than a batting average, it does kind of suck to see AB hitting just .222. That probably provides an insight as to how AB couldn't help the M's beat the A's, power surge or no. Still, seven RBIs on three home runs probably means that he was able to knock them with runners on, which is quite a change from his struggles earlier in the year with runners on.

After the A's fiasco, the M's took the first one from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, with AB knocking a two-run home-run. Jae Seo takes the mound for the D-Rays in tonight's ballgame, and AB holds a whopping 2.190 lifetime OPS against Seo. So things are looking promising for Beltre to continue his power surge...

BBB on a short hiatus


To any visitors out there, regular or casual, I just want to post a note saying that BBB will be on a short hiatus, as those behind the site are taking a week-plus long trip to Alaska to attend a wedding.

There might be some opportunity to post some game recaps and thoughtful analysis. Hopefully of the M's dismantling the A's. But as they don't get to avoid Joe Freakin' Blanton in this series, chances are the A's will take it, yet again...

If Beltre goes o-fer the week, you bet we'll be here to razz him! Course, that two-run home-run to give the Mariners the victory over the Orioles today was prety sweet. What was that, his tenth? At least he reached double figures by early August...


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