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.

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So the M's and the Indians split the four game series, but it easily could've been a 3-1 split in the Mariners favor. If it wasn't for a mud-coated cleat forcing Ryan Rowland-Smith to toss an errant pickoff throw Tuesday night, the Indians might have gone slinking into Kansas City having lost three of their last four. As it is, somehow the Indians managed to stay afloat and are still battling it out for the league's best record.

I've been viewing this whole series through the prism of October baseball. And the biggest mystery I have about the Indians reaching the playoffs is how can they possibly be competing for the league's best record? In tonight's 4-2 loss to the M's, they were held to one run over six innings by Cha Seung Baek, who was a dynamo on his return to the mound. The Indians consistently got runners on against Baek, but were unable to force any across the plate. The M's bullpen combined for three innings of one-run relief to close the game, finished with Grady Sizemore getting picked off at first by Kenji Johjima.

It doesn't matter if they get home field advantage or not. If the Indians play their first playoff series like they've done the past four games against the M's, they're not going to go far. And that's just pointing out the obvious.

Of the Mariners' 11 hits, nine went for singles. However, two went for two-run home-runs off Paul Byrd, who was unable to translate his dominating career stats against the M's into a victory as he was somehow outpitched by Cha Seung Baek. Byrd was victimized by Jose Guillen and Jose Lopez, with Lopez tying his career high of ten home-runs and Guillen being brought to 99 RBIs, on the verge of reaching his second career 100 RBI season. Beltre, obviously , was held without his 100th RBI as he went 1-for-4 to bring his average to .277, while Ichiro went 1-for-4 to stay stuck at .350, also staying nine points behind Magglio Ordonez's league-leading .359 average. For Ichiro to win his third career batting title, he's going to need to have a huge weekend against the Rangers, with Ordonez responding with an epic collapse in his final season against the White Sox, his former home team who Magglio has just hit .325 with a .878 OPS in 166 at-bats. If things remain the way they are, then Ichiro's .350 average stands to be the highest for a runner-up since Darin Erstad's .355 came in second to Nomar Garciaparra's .372 average in 2000- a year before Ichiro made his major-league debut!

Ichiro has a couple of hits in seven at-bats against Edinson Volquez, tomorrow's starter for the Texas Rangers. One of the Rangers' prized starting pitching prospects, the right-hander has put some solid numbers in his brief foray into the majors this year, with a 2-1 record and 4.40 ERA in 29 innings over five starts. However, after winning his first two starts, the Rangers have dropped his last three. In three career outings against the Mariners, Edinson has a 1-0 record and a 3.86 ERA over 11.2 innings, allowing home runs ot Kenji Johjima and Richie Sexson, though he hasn't faced the M's this year. With so little samples to read from, there's no telling what kind of outing Volquez is liable to have tomorrow, though his last outing on the road consisted of allowing two runs in six innings against the Twins. Let's just hope that doesn't happen tomorrow...

However, Jeff Weaver is starting for the M's tomorrow, and the last time he faced the Rangers he allowed three runs in seven innings last August 23, when the Mariners were still looking like they were going to make something happen with this season. Since then, however, Weaver has won one time in four decisions over six starts, allowing 30 runs in 26 innings, and giving up eight home runs. Ugh. BRad Wilkerson has four extra-base hits in 21 at-bats against Weaver for a 1.126 OPS, while Hank Blalock's only two hits in 11 at-bats against Weaver were home-runs, resulting in a .977 OPS despite a .182 average. Overall, I'm not seeing a consistent trend of dominance of Weaver by the Rangers' batters, so there's no telling what's going to happen tomorrow.

In the end, I'm siding with the Rangers as I predict that Weaver will give up plenty of runs to put this game away early as he has done so many times all ready this season. I'm saying the final score will be 8-6, Rangers.

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