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.

A doubleheader split

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Again, viewing the doubleheader split with the Indians through an October prism, things don't look rosy for the Indians going into next week's playoffs. The Indians should get a mulligan for their 12-4 blowout win in the first game (hey, I pretty much pegged that game's score too!) as they really shouldn't get much props for putting six runs up in 2.2 innings against Ryan Feierabend. The Tribe isn't going to be facing pitchers with that lack of caliber in the playoffs, and as such their offensive explosion- while good for padding stats- is hardly relevant when it comes to sizing up the team for the playoffs.

However, with the second late-inning failure by Joe Borowski in two days in the second game's 3-2 Mariners, eyebrows are again raised about the durability of the team's much-heralded bullpen going into October. After getting two quick outs, Borowski left a fastball up like a gift to pinch-hitter Jeff Clement, who thanked the Cleveland closer by depositing the ball deep into the right field stands for his first major league home-run, after picking up his first major league hit on a ground-rule double earlier in the afternoon in the doubleheader's first game. With a Ben Broussard walk, Jose Guillen bloop single, sacrifice fly by Adrian Beltre, and a hard smash by Mike Morse one inning later, the Mariners came out on top 3-2 in the second extra-inning game of the series.

It may be one of the last highlights for Morse in a Mariners uniform as Morse, despite being a good-looking and obviously talented young ballplayer, never managed to insert himself into the Mariners' plans as a role-player a la Wille Bloomquist, and now faces an off-season in which his status with the Mariners' future is in question. Having run out of options, Morse needs to make the team out of spring training, or else will be exposed to the waiver wire will he will be undoubtedly picked up. If the team's plans don't include Morse, then perhaps they'll be able to package him together for a trade to pursue the M's most dominating need: pitching. Thinking of teams that may be going through a rebuilding period and making an effort to get younger, I immediately think of the Giants. Could the M's package Morse together with another attractive young player and perhaps pry Matt Cain, who's 16 losses this season may have tarnish his value, off San Francisco's hands?

Without a doubt, of the four teams going into the American League playoffs, the Indians have the weakest bullpen, despite Borowski's league-leading 43 saves. If the Indians' offense aren't able to put away games early and often, and the team's chances for a championship relying on the inconsistent arm of Joe Borowski, their chances are in doubt indeed.

Fausto Carmona looked playoff ready in the first game of the double-header, pitching seven innings and allowed three runs on seven hits, two of which were home runs including Wladimir Balantien's first major-league home-run. (Quite a day for young Mariners hitters hitting their first major league home-runs!) In the second game, it's not surprising that Jeremy Sowers had a dominant start against the Mariners, despite his 1-6 record and 6.93 ERA on the season. One of Sowers' two league-leading shut-outs tossed as a rookie last summer was against the Mariners. Making his first start since the beginning of June, the Mariners were just the team for Sowers to face as he kept the Indians in most of the game. However, Jarrod Washburn also had an excellent start as he just allowed two runs on two solo Indians home-runs, keeping the Mariners in the game long enough for the M's to stage their late-inning rally and win for the first time all season when trailing after eight innings. The inability of the Indians' offense to ramp up any runs against a talented veteran like Washburn speaks more volumes about the state of the team more than them slapping Feierabend around like a red-headed stepchild in the first game.

Adrian Beltre was held without an RBI on the doubleheader to end the day stuck at 99 RBIs. Ichiro also ended the day where he started, with a .350 average, trailing Magglio Ordonez's league-leading .359 average.

The Indians' get a chance to roll up stats in their quest for playoff home-field advantage when Cha Seung Baek starts for the Mariners in the last game of the series. Baek is making his first start since mid-June, having been sidelined with an inflamed shoulder. The Indians have been brutal against Baek in two starts this season, as he allowed ten runs on 18 hits in 11.2 innings, and Baek holds a career 5.94 ERA against the Tribe. Don't expect a strong performance from Baek in his first return to the mound in three months tomorrow.

Paul Byrd takes the hill for Cleveland in tomorrow's game, and despite allowing seven runs on 11 hits in four innings of an 8-7 loss to the M's last June (in yet another game that Borowski blew), Paul has a career 6-2 record and 3.14 ERA over 63 innings. But Byrd has had trouble with the bat of Raul Ibanez, who's picked up 11 hits in 20 at-bats including four extra bases 9and two home runs) for a .550 average and 1.550 OPS. Jose Vidro also has two home runs to go along with a .571 average and 1.743 OPS in 14 at-bats. Adrian Beltre just has a .261 average in 23 at-bats, while Ichiro is batting .281 in 32 at-bats.

So the M's might be able to put some up runs up on the board tomorrow against the Indians, but the Tribe will put up more against Baek. I'm picking the final score to be along the lines of 8-6 and Cleveland will take one more step towards their claim of home-field advantage during the playoffs.

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