I’m sure a lot will be made about Seattle losing three games in a row by late inning home runs. Today’s loss should not be blamed on pitching, however. No team, whether it be the Mariners, Yankees, or anyone else, can be expected to win while scoring only two runs. Yes, Brandon League gave up a killer late inning home run to Paul Konerko. Konerko has 334 career home runs. He’s a power hitter. He will hit home runs on occasion. Brandon League is a pitcher. Pitchers in fact do give up home runs from time to time. We didn’t lose because Konerko hit a home run. We lost because our offense isn’t very good. Thank god for Franklin Gutierrez, because if it wasn’t for him our offense would be absolutely terrible to watch instead of just mostly terrible.
*Jason Vargas didn’t pitch particularly well today, walking 3 while striking out only 3. He did pitch into the seventh inning however, allowing only 4 hits in the process, and based on his performance today I would say Ian Snell has a pretty darn good chance of being sent to the bullpen on April 30 when Cliff Lee returns. Jesus Colome will almost certainly be sent back to Tacoma.
*Vargas got Andruw Jones to strikeout on three swinging strikes in the bottom of the first. Hitters don’t strike out swinging at three pitches very often. That was pretty cool to watch, and made me love Vargas just a little bit more than I already did.
*Adam Moore allowed a terrible passed ball in the bottom of the first that scored Juan Pierre to give Chicago an early lead. I’m not a Rob Johnson fan by any means, but if Moore continues to play as badly as he has played in April, then we might as well start Johnson every day. Moore was supposed to challenge and eventually replace Johnson as our number one catcher, but at this rate all he’s doing is making Johnson look like our best option at the position.
*Matt Tuiasosopo made multiple bad throws to first on easy ground ball outs. It’s a good thing Jack Wilson will be able to play again in a game or two, and a damn good thing that Casey Kotchman plays first base.
*Alexei Ramirez swung and missed on two Vargas pitches on the way to a strikeout in the bottom of the second. Vargas had 6 swinging strikes through two innings today. His control wasn’t there like it has been in previous games this year, but his deception was still top notch.
*Franklin Gutierrez hit his second home run in as many games in the bottom of the fourth. Guti was already far and away the best hitter on our team this season before he started hitting home runs. He’s probably the best center fielder in baseball. If he puts up a season where he hits 25-30 home runs, then watch out, because we may be watching one of the five or ten best players in the game.
*Mike Sweeney and Ken Griffey Jr. combined are as valuable as any one of them by themselves. Which is to say, they’re worthless. The only thing more predictable than Mike Sweeney going 0-2, then striking out swinging in the top of the fourth was Ken Griffey Jr. going 0-2, then striking out swinging in the bottom of the ninth. One of them has to go. Griffey won’t. Figure it out.
*Sean White should never be pitching when the score is tied in the final third of the game. At best, he’s our #5 reliever, behind League, Aardsma, Lowe, and Kelley. There’s an argument to be made that both Texeira and Colome are better than him. He didn’t hurt the Mariners today, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that he is continually put in situations where he can, and eventually will, hurt them.
*The top of the eighth didn’t work out for Seattle in terms of scoring runs, but it was one of their best innings in terms of plate approach. Both Moore and Tui struck out swinging, but Moore worked the count full and fouled off a couple of pitches before going down, and Tui was at 2-2 when he went down. Ichiro then worked the count to 2-1 before blooping a single to left. Figgins followed that up by looking at two strikes, then hitting a bloop single to center. Guti popped out to center after going 0-2 to end the inning. We scored no runs, but we made John Danks throw 23 pitches in the process. If the Mariners could consistently bring that approach to the plate every inning, then starters would have a hard time getting past six innings against them.
*Casey Kotchman made an awesome play in the bottom of the eighth inning to get A.J. Pierzynski out at first. That being said, if Pierzynski runs at full speed there’s a very good chance it’s an infield single. It always annoys me when players don’t run at 100 percent, regardless of the team, because of situations just like this.
*Seattle should have pinch hit with Milton Bradley in the top of the ninth, not Griffey. Bradley may be too hurt to play left field right now, but he isn’t too hurt to swing the bat, and at this point in their respective careers, Bradley is a far better hitter than Griffey. The result may not have been any different, but the Mariners would have had a much better chance to score the tying run (which was on second) had Bradley been at the plate.
We lost three games in a row because of late inning home runs. That sucks. But the way our team is built, we’re going to win and lose a lot of close games. Something like this was bound to happen. Don’t let it eat at you too much. We were 2-6, then we were 9-7, now we’re 9-10. We’re an average-to-slightly-above-average team playing in maybe the weakest division in baseball. No one thought we would be better than 85-77 this year. 85-77 just may be good enough to win this division, considering the other three teams involved. 9-10 isn’t that bad considering Lee and Erik Bedard have combined to throw 0 innings for us this year. Let’s just hope the next series goes a little bit better than this one.