Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wilkerson/Norton Released, Clement/Balentien Called Up

Ok so you gotta feel a little bad for Brad Wilkerson considering he was 3-3 last night. According to Mariners management though the decision for his release was already made before last nights game. It is really for the better if you ask me. Wilkerson had done NOTHING in this entire month of April. He was a liability at the plate every night. Why keep him if he isn't going to produce when you have a young guy waiting for his chance?

Norton was kind of the odd man out here. I feel for him. I really thought he did well for us in the few appearances he had this year. But the reality is with Clement and Balentien there is really no place for him. Balentien will become our everyday right fielder while Clement will get most of his time at DH. Manager John McLaren has already said Clement will face righties while Vidro will still get the starts against lefties. Which I am okay with considering the majority of pitchers in the league are righties. The more of Clement and the less of Vidro this teams sees the better for all of us.

So there we have it. Management actually realized this team needed a change. They realized it was time to get rid of some dead wood. I will admit I liked the Wilkerson signing when it happened. I really thought he would do well in Seattle. I was wrong and I am kinda glad I was because I would rather see Balentien out there than Wilkerson.

Welcome to the Seattle Mariners Jeff Clement and Wladimir Balentien. The Angels have their Vlad and now we have OUR Wlad. YAY! Hopefully we be seeing lots of this...

Seattle Mariners Game 27: Seattle 7 Cleveland 2

Seriously? Did anyone watch this game and NOT feel like they were in The Twilight Zone? It was weird and creepy. Was I happy we won? Of course. But the manner in which we did just left me feeling eerie. What was so eerie you ask? Well for starters Brad Wilkerson was 3-3 with a walk. Jose Vidro was 2-4 with 2 doubles, 2 RBI's and a walk. And to top it all off we scored FIVE runs in the 9th inning. That's right folks I said FIVE. Count them with me.... 1, 2, 3, 4, 5!!! Seems we have struggled to score 5 runs in an entire game. Never mind 5 in the same inning. But I digress...

Carlos Silva pitched another outstanding game. 7 innings pitched and only 2 earned runs. So far Silva has been worth every penny of the contract he signed in the off season. Will be interesting to see what his numbers end up being come the end of the year.

The offense frustrated again in this game. That is of course until the 9th inning. But up until then an RBI double from Vidro in the 3rd and Beltre's solo HR in the 5th was all the Mariners could manage. Scoring 5 in the 9th inning was exciting, but this team needs to be more consistent. They can't wait till late in the game and try and scramble to win every night.

Next up is Washburn vs Lee. Little nervous about Cliff Lee considering he is 4-0 with a 0.68 ERA or something crazy like that.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Seattle Mariners Game 26: Oakland 4 Seattle 2

For 7 innings Felix Hernandez was pitching a gem. He struck out 10 batters and clearly had the A's hitters frustrated. When he walked the first batter he faced in the 8th inning I felt he should have been taken from the game at that point. He was up over 100 pitches so why take the chance? I know Felix is a gamer and will always want to stay in the game. But it is still the coaches decision to take their pitcher out when he looks done. Felix loaded the bases with nobody out before surrendering a 2 run single to Emil Brown. Felix was finally removed from the game and replaced by Brandon Morrow. Morrow walked the first batter he faced to once again load the bases. He then gave up a 1 run single before striking out the next batter. Unfortunately he went on to give up another hit which scored Oakland's 4th run of the inning.

Once again NO OFFENSE! Beltre had a run scoring double in the first inning and Betancourt had a solo HR in the 4th. Other than that NOTHING. 11 batters left on base. Over and over we had men in scoring position and no one could get them home. What is the point in having great starting pitching if you have no offense to compliment it. WHY is Brad Wilkerson on this team? He has done nothing. It is time to call up Clement and Balentien and let them prove themselves in the big leagues. Neither one of them could be any worse than Vidro and Wilkerson. Cut your losses Bavasi and give your team a chance to win.

The team is in Cleveland tonight for the start of a 6 game road trip. 3 games in Cleveland and then it's off to New York for 3 against the Yankees.

First up in Cleveland is Silva vs Carmona. Going to be a tough night. They will need Silva to be sharp and they will somehow have to find a way to get hits off of Carmona.

Seattle Mariners Game 25: Mariners 5 Oakland 3

I don't really have a lot to say about this game because I didn't see it. What I will say is WELCOME BACK Erik Bedard. For his first start after his recent stint on the DL I thought he pitched well. Could have done without the 4 walks but aside from that he was almost unhittable. 6 2/3 innings, 2 hits and 4 strikeouts. Not a bad night. Putz looked a little shaky in the 9th, but in the end he shut things down and the M's got the win.

Another disturbing night for the offense however. Yeah they scored 5 runs but they also left 14 batters on base. This team needs to start hitting with some consistency. Nice to see Greg Norton get the start at DH though and go 3 for 4 with 3 RBI's. Maybe we can see Norton DH'ing for a while and leave Vidro on the bench where he belongs. With 87 at bats on the year Vidro has 17 hits, 2 HR's, 16 RBI's, 7 walks and is batting .195. Norton has 16 at bats on the season and has 7 hits, 4 RBI's, 2 walks and is batting .438. So basically if you do the math and Norton had the same amount of AB's as Vidro, based on the current numbers Norton would be the more effective hitter. So WHY waste a roster spot on a guy like Vidro who can't perform?

Next up is Felix vs Blanton as the M's try to win this series and head out on their road trip on a positive note.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

JJ Gets Pied

Mariners closer JJ Putz is always the one who gives out the shaving cream pies to the face. Usually it will go to the pitcher with his first win or save. The batter with his first hit or HR. JJ returned last Tuesday from the DL and notched a save his first night back. After the game he was visibly nervous and couldn't stop looking over his shoulder while being interviewed in the dugout. It was pretty funny to see him so paranoid.

JJ made his way into the clubhouse and sat down in front of his locker to talk with the media. He clearly thought he was safe, although he did joke with reporters asking them to "make a wall around me so no one can get in here." As the reporters started asking him questions Mariners reliever Mark Lowe emerged from behind JJ and got him with a pie. Lowe had been hiding in JJ's locker behind some clothes for like 5 or 10 minutes. He gave all the reporters a scare as well because no one knew he was there.

Welcome back JJ!!

Click HERE to see the video.

Seattle Mariners Game 24: Oakland 4 Seattle 3

Friday, April 25, 2008

Kenji Signs

The Seattle Mariners have signed catcher Kenji Johjima to a 3 year contract extension. Kenji has been off to a very slow start this season which in some ways makes the timing of this announcement a little odd. However a good defensive catcher that can hit for average and put up decent numbers is pretty rare in this league. When Kenji is on his game he is a reliable bat near the bottom of the line up that produces runs. I like Kenji and I am glad he will be around for another couple of years.

What I also hope this means is that the Mariners can stop trying to make power hitting prospect Jeff Clement into this great defensive catcher and just call him up and slot him in at DH. While Jose Vidro has had some productive at bats as of late he is still a liability in this line up. Too many times he is an automatic out when we need a hit. This team needs a boost and I think a young guy like Clement who is eager to show his worth is just the jolt they could use.

Seattle Mariners Game 23: Orioles 8 Mariners 7

The Mariners scored 5 runs in the first 3 innings and decided after that they didn't need to score anymore runs. They decided they could take the rest of the night off. For a while it seemed like the 5-0 lead would stand up. Even though Washburn lasted only 5 innings, he only gave up 2 earned runs. It is nights like this that our bullpen is supposed to carry the game the rest of the way. They did nothing even close to that this game. What they did was come in to the game and give up 1 run at a time until all of a sudden we no longer had a 5-0 lead. In fact the 5-0 lead turned into a 7-5 lead for Baltimore in the top of the 7th inning.

Corcoran came in and gave up 2 hits and 1 earned run. Arthur Rhodes came into the game gave up 2 hits, 1 walk and 3 earned runs. Mark Lowe came into the game when the Mariners still had a slim lead but he gave up 2 hits a walk and a run. We were given a brief glimmer of hope we would actually win this one when in the bottom of the 7th Ichiro hit a run 2 run HR to tie the game. But in the 8th Sean Green decided to give the lead right back to the O's by giving up a solo HR to Brian Roberts. So lets see here... our bullpen in ONE game managed to give up 7 hits and 6 earned runs in only THREE innings of work. Disgraceful.

Who cares that Ichiro hit a HR. Who cares Washburn only gave up 2 earned runs. You CAN'T blow a 5-0 lead in a baseball game and come away with anything positive to say.

The A's are in town this weekend. Batista is up first tonight against rookie Dana Eveland who is 2-1 with a 1.91 ERA. Not too shabby. The boys best find a way to beat him tonight. Lose this series and they could be in some trouble.

Seattle Mariners Game 22: Orioles 3 Mariners 2

Silva was having a great night on the mound until he started to feel tightness in his right thigh in the 7th inning. Gave us all a little bit of a scare when he came out of the game given how great he was been for us early this season. Good news though, he says he is fine and he won't miss his next start.

Nothing to really talk about offensively in this game. It was another disappointing night. Daniel Cabrera is just not a good pitcher and yet we made him look like an all-star. The Mariners have a habit of doing that and it is oh so frustrating.

Next up is Washburn vs Loewen. Hopefully we can win it and take this series and forget all about the lack of offense in this one against a less than mediocre pitcher.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Seattle Mariners Game 21: Mariners 4, Orioles 2

Thunderstruck is back in town, solving the Mariners late-inning indecisiveness. That's right folks, J.J. Putz nailed down his second save of the year on his first night back off of the DL.
The game started off quite rocky for King Felix, throwing 52 pitches through the first two innings. But after that he settled down, allowing 2 runs over 7 innings while striking out 7. The Orioles starter, Jeremy Guthrie was just as good, pitching 7 2/3 innings. Fortunately for the M's, once he got to the 8th inning he allowed a leadoff double to Betancourt, then got Ichiro and Lopez out. Ibanez was intentionally walked, and in the key at bat, Guthrie walked Beltre to bring up Vidro. Now, so far this year, Vidro hasn't done much of anything (which is why the Mariners should sign Frank Thomas to the veteran minimum and give him a shot at DH...but that's another post) but this time he finally came through with a two-run single to make the score 4-2.

As detailed before, J.J. Putz came into the ninth inning and shut it down, only allowing a double. Tonight's game is Silva against Daniel Cabrera. See you there.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mariners News and Tidbits

Good news in Seattle today. Closer JJ Putz has been activated from the DL. PHEW! R.A Dickey has been sent back to AAA Tacoma to make room on the roster for JJ. Having a healthy JJ back in the pen is huge for the Mariners. The confidence that he brings when the Mariners have a late lead in a game is something they have missed terribly. Will be great to see him back out on the mound.

Erik Bedard is pretty much good to go and will get the start Saturday against Oakland and that will slide him back to the front of the rotation where he belongs. Here is to hoping he is healthy and ready to dominate.

In other news the M's are throwing around the idea of whether or not to sign aging DH Frank Thomas who was released this weekend by the Toronto Blue Jays. Honestly I would be all for this. A struggling Frank Thomas is going to hit way more home runs than Jose Vidro could ever hope to hit. This team needs another potential big bat so why not take the chance. I would welcome the big hurt to Seattle with open arms. If he struggles you release him, but it is worth a shot.

The King gets another chance to show us all tonight that he is the King indeed. Felix Hernandez will take the hill tonight against the Baltimore Orioles. The Mariners will be looking to get revenge after being swept a few weeks ago in a 4 game series in Baltimore. Former Mariners Adam Jones and George Sherrill will play their first games back in Seattle since being traded in the off season for Mariners new ace Erik Bedard.

No Gas Left In The Tank

The Bruins just had nothing left. In the end they just ran out of gas. Yes they got eliminated by the Canadiens last night, but it is an effort they should be darn proud of. They played their butts off and gave the Canadiens and their fans fits. The experience the young Bruins players got is something they can't get in the regular season. It is a different game in the playoffs and they have that going forward. They don't have to spend the off season thinking of what might have been. Instead they can be proud of what they did accomplish and focus on next season. The Canadiens on the other can be proud of the fact they didn't completely meltdown and the fact they have fans who riot after ONE round in the playoffs. Stay classy Montreal, stay classy!
The first round of the playoffs will come to close tonight with two game 7's on the schedule. First up at 7pm ET is the Philadelphia Flyers @ the Washington Capitals. Washington was down 3 games to 1 in this series before fighting back and winning games 5 and 6 to force a game 7 tonight. The Caps have the home crowd on their side and I would bet it is going to be LOUD in that building tonight. Make sure you wear your ear plugs Grandma. If the Caps can win this game they will become only the 21 st team in NHL history to come back from a 3 games to 1 deficit in the playoffs. Will Alexander the Great lead his team to victory tonight? I sure hope so cause I love to watch him celebrate.Next up at 10PM ET is the Calgary Flames @ the San Jose Sharks. I have to give San Jose the slight edge in this game just because they are playing at home. These are two good teams though so we could be in for a real treat. My heart wants San Jose to win this game so bad, but I just don't know. GO SHARKS GO!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Will The Bruins Complete The Upset?

"It just makes it easier when you’re looking at the guy next to you and you know he’s going to give everything he has, it makes it easier to give everything you have as a team." --Tim Thomas (Bruins Goaltender)

I have always had a soft spot for the Boston Bruins. I have an even bigger soft spot for the underdog in sports. The Bruins went into this series as the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference, the Canadiens the 1st seed and one of the best teams in the entire NHL all season long. The Canadiens won the season series against the Bruins 8-0. EIGHT games they lost to the Canadiens and they were now expected to win 4 in a playoff series against them?

Montreal won the first 2 games at home and it seemed like all hope was lost for the Bruins. The Bruins found life however in game 3 at home and won that game in overtime. But any hope quickly faded for Bruins fans when they lost game 4 at home by a score of 1-0. They were headed back to Montreal for a game 5. No one gave them a chance to win that game in Montreal but they did. They came back to Boston down 3 games to 2 with a chance to win one at home and force a game 7. What a game it was. 6 goals were scored in the third period. 4 by the Bruins and 2 by the Canadiens. One team would score and the other would answer right back. It was insane. Boston took the lead with just under 3 minutes to go and this time they held the lead and sent the Garden into delirium at the final buzzer.
The Montreal Canadiens thought they had this series in the bag. They underestimated the Bruins. The Bruins were kicked down over and over, but they kept getting up. And to the surprise of the Canadiens, they just wouldn't go away.

And so now it all comes down to 1 game. Whatever happened before this doesn't matter. This is it. Every man on both rosters needs to play the game of his life tonight. Perhaps all the pressure lies with the Canadiens. After all, they are the team that blew a 3-1 lead. They are the ones with the rookie goaltender that will be expected to put his team on his shoulders tonight and carry them through to victory. They are the ones on the verge of letting it all slip away. The Bruins on the other hand weren't even supposed to be in this game tonight. The Bruins according to many should have been swept away in 4 games by this high powered Montreal team. Everyone said the Bruins couldn't compete and but they have proved everyone wrong. And now they have a chance to make franchise history. But if the Bruins lose tonight they won't have to hang their heads. They have already performed well above expectations in this series. They should be proud of what they have done thus far. Montreal on the other hand has everything to lose tonight and they should be ashamed if they let Boston come into their building and take away their dream of the Stanley Cup.

Face off is at 7pm ET tonight. Who will it be? Boston or Montreal? Tune in to find out, could be a fun night.

Game 7. For some it’s what dreams are made of, while for others it can be a nightmare. Either way, one team will wake up in the second round tomorrow morning and the other will be left wondering what might have been.

Why Richie Sexson Is My Favorite Baseball Player...

For 12 big league seasons Richie Sexson has done what he does best, hit home runs. Lots of them. So many in fact he is only 1 away from 300 on his career. In 2001 and 2003 Richie hit 45 home runs. His first year in Seattle he hit 39 and the following year 34. Not too bad if you ask me.
Yet somehow Richie Sexson has taken enough criticism from Mariners fans to last him a lifetime. Last year Richie struggled with injuries. Injuries he never complained about or used as an excuse for his struggles. He ended up missing 41 games because of those injuries. And yet he still managed to hit 21 HR's and had 63 RBI's. Not a great year stats wise for a guy who people are used to seeing hit 30+ HR's and 100+RBI's. I really think that people would have looked past the lower than normal numbers and accepted that it was an injury filled season for Richie had his batting average not hovered at the .200 mark all season. He ended the season with a .205 batting average and that is the only number that people bothered to look at. While I agree an average that low is unacceptable for any big league player I don't agree that it was reason enough for the home town fans to boo him at any chance they got. How does that help anyone? How does that help some one's confidence? I think it affected Richie much more negatively than he ever let on. But that is who Richie is. No excuses. He stood up like a man and admitted his struggles and never blamed anyone else. ONE bad season and people were ready to write him off as a bust.
Richie did start things off a little slow this season. But now 19 games in he has 5 HR's and 15 RBI's. He is hitting the ball well. Even his outs are on balls that are hit deep. He takes more pitches than I have ever seen him take. That patience is paying off as he already has 14 walks on the season. No longer are we seeing the guy from last year who swung at anything because he wanted so bad to hit a HR every time he went to the plate so the fans would cheer him and not boo him. He over thought every plate appearance because of the pressures on him. I don't see that guy this year, and I really don't think we will. Richie has put last year behind him and hopefully the fans can do the same. Before the season I said Richie would have 30 HR's and 100+RBI's and hit right around .250. I stand by that prediction. His batting average will always be a little lower just because of the kind of hitter he is. Richie has always struck out a lot even in the seasons he hit 45 HR's, it is just who he is.

Richie leaves everything he has out there every night. Even on the nights when the boos are raining down on him. There are times he will struggle, what athlete doesn't? But through it all he will never make excuses. He will just come right back the next day and try again. And THAT is why Richie Sexson is my favorite baseball player.

Seattle Mariners Game 20: Mariners 4 Angels 2

Mariners Win Mariners Win!!!

PHEW! Crisis averted. A sweep would have hurt. Now we are 3-3 against our bitter rivals and sit only 2 games back in the standings. Not too shabby considering we are weathering injuries to all-star closer JJ Putz and ace pitcher Erik Bedard. Never mind the batting struggles of guys like Johjima and Wilkerson.
Miguel Batista was a magician in this game. He pitched into the 8th inning and he was solid. If it hadn't been for his pitch count they probably would have left him out there to finish what he started. 7,2 innings, 8 hits, 0 earned runs, 1 walk and 8 strikeouts. He was a warrior out there. 7+ innings from your number 5 starter is as good as it can get. If he can put up more performances like this the Mariners are in for a great season on the mound. If healthy we have one of the deepest rotations in all of baseball. If the Mariners make the playoffs they will have a rotation that could compete with any in baseball. It is nights like this that Batista shows his worth to this team.

The bullpen nearly blew this one. Arthur Rhodes came in after Batista left the game in the 7th inning and struck out the only batter he faced to end the inning. With a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the 9th the Mariners sent out Mark Lowe to close things down. He didn't do so well. He walked the first two batters he faced by throwing 8 straight balls. I nearly popped a blood vessel when they decided to leave him out there to face the next batter. Luckily he struck him out and the got SS Aybar to hit a high chopper off the mound which Lowe eventually caught and threw him out. 2 down and 2 on. Lowe then proceeded to walk Chone Figgins to load the bases. Apparently 3 walks in the inning was not enough to have Lowe removed from the game. They decided to leave him in there for yet ANOTHER batter. That batter was Gary Matthews Jr and he hit a 2 run single into right field. 4-2 ball game with big Vlad Guerrero at the plate. Guerrero is a Mariners killer and the LAST man you want to see at the plate with a chance to win or tie a ball game. Brandon Morrow was brought in from the bullpen to face Vlad. He didn't fare much better than Lowe as he walked Vlad to load the bases. YIKES! Bases loaded, 2 out, Anderson at the plate. McLaren made the move to bring lefty Ryan Rowland-Smith in from the bullpen to try and put an end to the game once and for all. It took 11 pitches but RRS finally got Anderson looking at a slider and FINALLY the game was over. I can't wait till JJ is off the DL and back so we can stop having fits every time we have a lead going into the 9th.

The highlight offensively on the night was another home run by Richie Sexson. He hit a 2 run shot in the 2nd inning to give the M's a 2-0 lead. He is really hitting the ball well right now and needs only 1 more home run for 300 in his career. The other two RBI's of the game went to Ichiro and Lopez. Wilkerson didn't score any runs but he did have 2 doubles in the game. Could be a big confidence booster for him.

Mariners are back home for a 6 game home stand. First up is a 3 game set against the Orioles. The Mariners will be eager to seek revenge after the Orioles swept them in a 4 game series near the beginning of the season. Felix will take the mound in game 1 opposite Jeremy Guthrie.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Big Night of Hockey Ahead

Plenty of things hockey to write about but I will get to all that later. For now I just want to make mention of 2 big games going on tonight. The San Jose Sharks have a 3 games to 2 lead over the Calgary Flames heading into game 6 at the Saddledome tonight. The Saddledome is a tough building to play in and the Flames are always tough there. Who will be there hero tonight? Will it be Kipper with the save that keeps the Flames alive for a game 7? Will it be captain Jarome Iginla with the game winner? Or will it be Patrick Marleau or Joe Thornton for the Sharks? We will find out soon enough, game starts at 8 ET.The defending champion Ducks have their backs up against the wall in a must win game on the road in Dallas. Dallas has been notorious for over performing in the regular season and then fading in the playoffs. Goalie Marty Turco is one of the best in the game, but has always struggled in the postseason. Do the Ducks have it in them to win a big game on the road or will Dallas shut the door on Anaheim's quest to be the first team to win back to back cups since the Red Wings did it in 96/97 and 97/98? Game starts 9pm ET.

Crucial Game

Batista 1-2 (6.35 ERA) vs Moseley 1-1 (7.80 ERA)



Ichiro (CF)
Lopez (2B)
Ibanez (LF)
Beltre (3B)
Vidro (DH)
Sexson (1B)
Wilkerson (RF)
Johjima (C)
Betancourt (SS)


Figgins (3B)
Matthews (CF)
Guerrero (RF)
Anderson (LF)
Kotchman (1B)
Rivera (DH)
Izturis (2B)
Napoli (C)
Aybar (SS)

Yes it is early in the season. But you just can't get swept by the one team you need to keep pace with in the standings. The M's took two out of three in Seattle last week and they need to win this one to even the season series between the two teams at 3 games a piece. Win today and they sit 2 games back in the standings, lose and they are 4 back.

The Mariners NEED Miguel Batista to keep them in this game today. They need him to go 6 strong innings. They also NEED their offense to put up some runs against the Angels worst starting pitcher Dustin Moseley. He is last start was a less than stellar outing against the Rangers in which he gave up 7 hits and 4 runs through only 4 innings.

Seattle Mariners Game 19: Angels 4 Mariners 1

I feel like a broken record lately. It seems like whenever we lose it is because the offense doesn't show up. Our pitching seems to do just enough to keep us in the game but no one can score.

Washburn went up vs Ervin Santana last night. Washburn pitched well enough for his team to win. He went 6 innings giving up 4 earned runs. From your #4 pitcher that is pretty decent in my opinion. What is NOT decent is getting only THREE hits through 8 innings against the other teams #4 starter. THREE hits people, that is just not acceptable against a guy like Ervin Santana. Johan Santana? Absolutely. But not Ervin Santana. Washburn gets a bad rap from people, me included. But let's give credit where credit is due. The guy has gotten ZERO run support in his last 2 starts.

This game was a disgrace in every aspect. The defense was terrible, namely Brad Wilkerson who made TWO completely ridiculous throws from right field he never should have made in the first place. One of those throws directly led to a run for the Angels. I will admit I was one of the people who really thought the Wilkerson signing could work out for the M's. And who knows, it still might. But for now the site of him makes me squirm. In 40 at bats so far this season he has only 6 hits and 4 rbi's and his batting average is sitting at a pretty gross .150. Time to sit the guy for a while don't ya think? His offense is terrible and his defense clearly isn't much better. While we don't have anyone offensively to put out there at least Willie B has good defensive skills and won't make boneheaded plays.

The only form of offense in this game game on a solo shot from Beltre in the 7th inning. Good for him, but what was the point really? 4 hits means nothing in this game. And if the Mariners don't start hitting with some consistency up and down the lineup they are going to be in trouble. They are a better team than this and I wish they would start playing like it so I can stop using photos like the one below to describe their effort.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Seattle Mariners Game 18: Angels 5 Richie Sexson 4

Dickey's first start in two years didn't start off quite as well as I think he would have liked. The first 3 Angels batters reached base. 2 on singles and one on a walk. Bases loaded+nobody out+first inning= recipe for disaster. He then struck out Anderson for the first out of the game. But still, bases loaded with only 1 out and guys like Torii Hunter waiting to hit. Hunter got down 2 strikes to Dickey and it was starting to look like he just might get out of this mess unscathed. A ground ball for a DP would end the inning. But instead of sticking with his knuckleball he decided to try and get fancy and throw a fast ball inside. It wasn't inside enough and Hunter drove the ball to left field for a bases clearing double. Oh vey! Should have stayed with the knuckler R.A. But in his defense this was his first start in a very long time and he was asked to do it against our biggest rivals in their stadium. I am certain nerves had a lot to do with his first inning of work and that bad pitch to Hunter was probably more about being afraid to make a mistake than anything else. He should have stuck with what was working for him with Hunter and he didn't and it hurt him in the end. He really settled down after that first inning though. He went 6 innings, gave up 8 hits, 5 earned runs, 2 walks and 2 k's. Really not a terrible outing from a guy who is trying to make his way back in the big leagues with a fancy new pitch on his resume. If Dickey gets another start, I bet he doesn't make that same mistake he made to Torri Hunter on this night.

The bullpen did their part in trying to keep the boys in this game and give them a chance to come back and win. Green, Rhodes and Lowe pitched 3 scoreless innings to keep the Angels at only 5 runs.

Offense? Well other than Richie Sexson who I will get to in a minute there was NO offense from these guys. Lopez, Johjima, Bloomquist and Betancourt all went without hits. No one had a walk in this game, no one seemed to have the patience to wait for the pitch. Some of the seemed liked they just wanted to hack at everything and anything. That my friends will NOT get you base runners.
Sexson certainly did his part tonight to try to help his team win a baseball game. In the 2nd inning he launched a solo shot off of Saunders making it only a 2 run ball game. When the 7th inning came around and no one else had done anything to add to the Mariners 1 run, Richie once again took matters into his own hands. With 2 on base he launched a 3 run homer off of Saunders to make it a 1 run ball game. 5-4 Angels in the 7th inning. Richie gave his team a chance, Richie made this a ballgame. But once again no one else had an answer. And so came the 9th inning. 2 out, 1 on and Richie Sexson at the plate. It was only fitting that he was the one with the final shot at putting some more runs on the board in this game. He got his shot alright. Richie launched a ball to the deepest part of the park off of Angels closer Francisco Rodríguez. But Gold Glove center fielder Torii Hunter made a spectacular play and robbed Richie of what would have been his 3rd HR of the game and a 6-5 lead for the Mariners. Absolute robbery and a heartbreaking loss for the M's. But perhaps the start of something great for Richie. So much has been made of his struggles of last year. Maybe this was the kind of game he needed to kickstart a monster season. Maybe we will see many more games like this where Richie tries to carry his team.

What was nearly Richie's night to be the hero was actually Torii Hunters from the start. He went 3-4 with 3 doubles and 3 RBI's and of course the game saving catch off the bat of Richie Sexson. Richie's night to be the hero will come, but tonight was Torii's night.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Seattle Mariners Game 17: Mariners 8 Oakland 1

Once again Carlos Silva went out to try and prove to everyone that he is well worth the 48 million the Mariners gave him this off season. And once again he showed us just how right he is. Another strong outing for him. 7 innings pitched, 4 hits, 2 walks, 1 strikeout and 1 earned run. He now sits at 3-0 on the season with a 2.79 ERA. I have said it a million times before but I will say it again. This was a GREAT signing for the M's. Ryan Rowland-Smith and Brandon Morrow came in to finish the game off for the M's. Nice to see Morrow back, let us hope he is stronger than before and we can look forward to him in the late innings as setup man to closer JJ Putz.

Big nights from Lopez and Ibanez (what else is new?), both were 3-5 and Lopez had 2 RBI's and Raul 1.

"With or without a big contract, I am the same pitcher, trying to do my best every time I cross the line," Silva said. "I give everything every time. This team gave me a big opportunity and thank God everything is going well."

Class act all the way. I am glad we have this guy.

Big series this weekend as the M's take on the Angels in a 3 game set at Angel Stadium. We took 2 of 3 against them at Safeco last week. With the bottom of rotation going I am a little concerned about this one but we will see how it goes.

R.A Dickey will start his first game in 2 years as he fills in for injured ace Erik Bedard. Will be interesting to see what Dickey can do. He now throws the knuckball which could be fun to watch. Joe Saunders will go for the Angels which has me a little concerned. His last start against us we made him look like Cy Young himself. Okay well maybe not quite Cy Young, but he beat us and we did make him look a lot better than he is. Hopefully this game will be a different story.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Seattle Mariners Game 16: Mariners 4 Oakland 2


What a performance by Felix Hernandez last night. This kid is special. 9 innings, 8 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk and 8 strikeouts. The guy is a gamer and he hands down carried the Mariners from the first pitch to the last pitch. There really isn't much more to say about this game. He looked in mid season form. I really believe if he stays healthy this year that he WILL be a top contender for the CY Young award this year. 21 wins folks, you heard it hear first.

Carlos Silva goes up against Lenny DiNardo tonight in the last game of this short two game series.

Seattle Mariners Game 15: Mariners 11 Royals 6

Batista gave the Mariners more of what we see almost every game from him. A lot of hits, a couple of walks and 4 earned runs. From your 5th starter he really brings more to the table on most nights than a lot of teams could hope for from their number 5. I would have liked to have seen him work in to the 6th inning at least but for the most part he got the job done. Other than Ryan Rowland-Smith who gave up 2 runs in the 6th inning the bullpen held down the fort the rest of the way.

It was great to see the bats wake up in this game. Totally different team at the plate compared to the previous game. No homers in this game just a whole lot of hitting. Everyone got in on the action except Sexson. It was the night of sacrifice flys and Jose Lopez tied a major league record with 4 of his own. 1-2 on the night with 4 RBI's, not a bad day at the office.

Mariners are off to Oakland for a quick two game set. The King is up tomorrow night against Joe Blanton.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Let's Talk Hockey

The first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs are well under way and I love it. There is nothing like playoff hockey. Ok well there is Oilers playoff hockey but I digress.
Let's start with the Western Conference..

**Stars in 6**

There really aren't a lot of shocking developments so far this playoffs. Really the only shocker is the state of the Anaheim Ducks. They are down 2-0 to the Dallas Stars. Anaheim isn't scoring, they look terribly undisciplined and their D has been suspect. Crazy to say that when their blue line is occupied by guys such as Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer. Be interesting to see how that series ends. Game 3 is tonight at 8:30pm ET and all I can say is LET'S GO DALLAS!!

**Avs in 7**

Minnesota vs Colorado has turned out to be a better match up than I think anyone realized. They have gone to overtime in all three games so far. Last night was a heartbreaking loss in front of the home crowd at Pepsi Centre when defenseman Jeff Finger missed played a puck on what should have been an icing call. Game 4 is tonight at 10pm ET. The Avs will be hungry to win this one at home and not have to go back to Minnesota down 3 games to 1.

**Sharks in 7**

The Calgary Flames have a surprising 2-1 lead over the San Jose Sharks. As someone who loves to watch the Flames lose I have to admit I am very disappointed and a little nervous about the outcome of this series. San Jose seems to always be that team who is lights out all season long but just can't get it done in the playoffs. They will be in for a tough fight in Game 4 which is tonight at 10pm ET in the very hostile environment that is the Saddledome in Calgary. And I just have to ask, does everyone in Calgary own a red flames jersey? Seriously?

**Detroit in 6**

It seemed that the Red Wings were well on their way to a commanding 3-0 lead last night in their series against the 8th seeded Nashville Predators. Nashville was down 3-2 with under 5 minutes to go. That was until Jason Arnott and Ryan Suter scored 9 seconds apart to give them a 4-3 lead and leaving the Red Wings stunned. They ended up with the empty netter and winning the game 5-3. Interesting turn of events. Game 4 is Wed night at 9pm ET and Nashville will be fighting tooth and nail to tie this series up before heading back to Detroit for game 5.

On to the Eastern Conference...

**Habs in 6**

Montreal vs Boston seemed like a very unfair match up from the beginning. Boston lost all 8 games it played in the regular season against Montreal so what made anyone think they could beat them 4 games in the playoffs. Montreal took games 1 and 2 in Montreal which in my opinion could have easily been 1-1 coming back to Boston for game 3. Boston really got the short end of the stick when it came to refereeing in game 2. They took game 3 at home in Boston to get themselves back in the series. If they have a shot at all they NEED to win game 4 before heading back to Montreal for game 5. Head back to Montreal down 3-1 and the Bruins can pretty much say goodbye to any hope they have of making it past the first round. Game 4 is tonight at 7pm ET.

**Pens in 4**

Is there really anyone out there who actually believed the Ottawa Senators had a prayer in a 7 game series with the highly talented Pittsburgh Penguins? If you did then you clearly didn't pay attention to the last half of the season when the Senators were one terrible. If they hadn't have gone on such a good run to start the regular season they probably wouldn't have made the playoffs at all. Sidney and company are up 3-0 and have a chance to close this series out with a sweep on Wed night at 7pm ET. I really think the Pens need to just end this one and put the Senators and their fans out of their misery once and for all.

**Caps in 7**

Who doesn't love to watch Alexander Ovechkin play hockey? I love everything about this guy. He has a childlike love and passion for hockey that you just don't see very often anymore. He puts his heart into every shift and it shows. He is easily one of the most talented players we have seen in a long time, so for the Caps to make the playoffs is a treat for all the hockey fans. The series is tied 1-1 going into game 3 tonight in Philly.

**Rangers in 7**

I really have no idea who I think will win this series. Both are very good hockey teams with all star goaltenders. If you like the goalies, watching Brodeur and Lundqvist is about as good as it gets. The Rangers currently lead the series 2-1 and I really have a feeling they will pull this one out. Game 4 tomorrow night at 7pm ET.

Some of these games have been intense and it is only going to get better as the playoffs go along. I can' wait for round 2 to begin.

Seattle Mariners Game 14: Royals 5 Mariners 1

Offense, where was the offence? I have found myself asking that every other game lately. Ichiro had 2 hits and a RBI, Johjima had 2 hits and Vidro 1 hit. Wilkerson was the only batter to walk. Now lets give credit where credit is due, Grienke is a very good young pitcher. But 5 hits from 3 guys through NINE innings of baseball. Never mind the fact they hit into THREE inning ending double plays. That is unacceptable for the amount of money that has been put into this lineup. They boys better find their hitting shoes going into Anaheim this weekend or things could get ugly for this team in a real hurry.
Washburn pitched okay last night. He came out like a man on a mission to start the game with a quick first inning. But then in the second inning he gave up a solo home run to Billy Butler and then a 2 run home run to former Mariner catcher Miguel Olivo. But he recovered pretty well after that. He ended up going 6 innings and only gave up those 3 runs while striking out six. The bullpen did a decent job the rest of the way but still gave up two more runs. Grienke ended up with a complete game 5 hitter. Not too shabby for him. The Royals pitching has been a surprising bright spot for them early in this season.

The bright spot for the Mariners last night was that hard throwing knuckle ball pitcher R.A Dickey came in for a 1-2-3 9th inning. I am glad he is on the big team now where he belongs and not down in the minors. Hopefully he will be as good for us as we all expect him to be.

Tonight we send Batista out to the mound for another chance at his first win of the season. He has looked shaky thus far but I think he is one guy who deserves a little space before we throw him to the wolves. He did lead the team in wins last year with 16 and has lived up way beyond the expectations any of us had for him. I am confident he will rebound tonight from his first two starts.
Lets hope there is more exciting things in tonight's game than just the uber dance moves of the grounds crew in between innings.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Seattle Mariners Game 13: Angels 10 Mariners 5

This day had FAIL written all over it from the beginning. First I turn the game on to realize that newly acquired ace Erik Bedard was to miss yet another start with that lingering hip issue. Then I realized that Baek was getting the start in place of Erik and I just knew bad things were coming in this game. As much as a I like Baek, he looked terrible when he came in for some relief work the other night. Then they announced that Beltre was out of the lineup nursing a sore hamstring. Not really the end of the world on the Beltre front, he is bound to get days off whether he is hurting or not. Miguel Cario got the start at 3rd in place of Beltre and Mike Morse got the start in right field in place of Brad Wilkerson. Once I calmed down I thought to myself that maybe I was overreacting and we still did have a chance to sweep the Angels in this first series of the season. Then I remembered who was starting for them...

None other than Joe Saunders who has been outstanding early in this season. His ERA going into this game was something like 0.64. I think Saunders is a good pitcher but I don't think he is great. Something has to give eventually and I secretly prayed that this game was the game he would get lit up. Would this be the day he throws 80 pitches in 3 or 4 innings and struggles to get an out? Not a chance kids. While he only went 5.1 innings in this one, he also managed to only give up 2 earned runs on 6 hits. He left the game with a 4-0 lead and that would be all he needed.

Baek was not exceptionally sharp. But even still he only gave up 2 runs through 4 and a bit innings. When he came out of the game there were two runners on base and when I saw who was coming in from the bullpen I just knew those runs were going to come around to score. Eric O'Flaherty ladies and gentleman. The very guy who has cost this team at least 3 games this season. WHY I ask did we bring him into a game that was still very much in reach? Things got ugly in a hurry. As I said, those 2 runs came around to score. Then for some reason I cannot comprehend McLaren sent Eric back out there for the 6th inning where he managed to give up 3 more runs. The score was now 7-0. Sure the game seemed unreachable at that point but our team is known for their late inning scoring. It was that way a lot of last year. When we managed to actually put 2 runs up on the board in the 6th I was like ok, we are down 5 with 3 innings to go. But then when I saw Eric on the mound for the 7th inning I realized that our coach had decided to just give up. He decided that Eric working out his issues was more important than our team coming back from behind to win a game that even though early in the season means something. Eric went on to give up 3 more runs in that inning. Now a 10-2 game. We did end up putting up 2 more that inning and one in the 9th making the final score 10-5. O'Flaherty's line for the night was 2.2 innings pitched, 61 pitches, 8 hits, 6 earned runs, 2 k's and a home run. Disgraceful yes but what is probably more disheartening to me is that McLaren let it happen. In my opinion McLaren gave up on his team in this game. What kind of message does that send? What does that do for the confidence of a young pitcher? FRUSTRATING!!!!!

O'Flaherty isn't the only goat in this game however. For the first 5 innings this team looked dead. They looked like little leaguers who didn't know how to swing a bat. Mike Morse made 2 costly errors in right field and ended up hurting himself. He is now on the DL and the Mariners have called up pitchers Dickey and Rhodes for some much needed help in the bullpen and sent O'Flaherty to AA Tennessee. PHEW!!

Now let us all just hope that this hip thing with Bedard is not serious and he will be back on the mound in a couple of days. The Mariners desperately need him to be healthy and anchor their pitching rotation.

The Kansas City Royals are in town starting tonight for a quick 2 game series. Washburn will take the mound for the M's opposite Zach Grienke for the Royals. KC is playing great baseball right now so it could be and entertaining couple of days.

Seattle Mariners Game 12: Mariners 8 Angels 3

Carlos Silva has so far proved himself to be worth the very large contract the Mariners gave him in the off season. I had a good feeling about him when we signed him. I had a good feeling he would perform above and beyond for the Mariners this year. Sure it is early and there is still plenty of time for him to implode. I don't see that happening, I really believe he is going to be a work horse for us all year long. He did give up 11 hits in this game but he managed to work his magic and pitch himself out of all the jams he got himself into. In the end he went 8 strong innings and gave up only 3 earned runs.
We jumped on Angels pitcher Garland early in this game. I had a feeling we would hit him well. He only pitched 5 innings. It is always nice to get into a teams bullpen early in a series. It bodes well for you going into the next game if you happen to get that starter out early.
Everyone had at least 1 hit in this game. It felt like the coming out party for our offense. Lopez, Ibanez, Beltre, Sexson, Vidro and Betancourt all had 2 hits. Sexson had a big 2 run home run in the 5th inning and Ibanez hit his 5th of the year in the 8th.
All around this was a great game and the Mariners would go into Sunday knowing they had won the series. Now it was time to go for the sweep and send an early message that this Mariner team is not the team of the last few years.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The 2008 Masters

I love The Masters. I love everything about it--the first time I hear that CBS theme song around mid-March it sends tingles down my spine. The players, the coverage, the course, the strategy...its all great. I even love the contrast of colors with the white sand traps, the yellow pins, and the course being so green--seriously, is anywhere else in the world this green?

Well...going into this year's Masters, I was somewhat optimistic that my favorite golfer, Phil Mickelson, would be competitive and be near the top in the end. He hadn't played particularly great heading into the tournament, but he always plays well at the Masters. An opening round 71 was a good start that he could build off of. He sat tied for 11th, which on the first round is fine, because you can't win the tourney, but you sure can lose it. His second round was brilliant, shooting a 68 and moving to -5 for the weekend--within striking distance of Trevor Immelman, who shot two 68's and led at -8.

And then, he played his third round. He needed to make a move on Saturday, known as "Moving Day" and he did--backwards. Unfortunately, he shot a 3-over 75 and moved back to -2. He missed a five-foot putt for birdie on the 15th hole, and after that it all went to heck. A double-bogey on 16 pretty much sealed his fate. Especially after Immelman continued the pressure with another round in the sixties--this time a 69.

So going into today he was nine shots behind. Not good. He shot a respectable 72 even par today, and actually ended up tied for 5th, which all in all is a great showing. Oh least Tiger didn't win. He also shot an even par 72 today and ended up in second place at -5. Congrats to Trevor Immelman, who had a cushion going into the final round and used it by shooting a 3-over 75, but won by 3 strokes.

So maybe next year. Until then, I'll keep replaying that tranquil piano riff in my mind.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Seattle Mariners Game 11: Mariners 8 Angels 5

Well that was a good start against the one team we HAVE to play well against. Good performance by Felix last night going 6.2 innings and giving up 4 earned runs. The highlight of his night was probably striking out Mariners #1 nemeses Vlad Guerrero 3 times. The bullpen performed well enough to keep the victory intact for Felix.
Raul Ibanez had a great night blasting 2 solo home runs as well as a RBI double. Great game for him. The rest of the team pitched in as well (except for Vidro, shocking I know) to give the Mariners a leg up on the Angels for these next two games. Just winning this series would be wonderful, but if they can find a way to sweep them it will go a long in setting the tone for these 2 teams early in the season.

Carlos Silva takes the mound for the M's tonight and Jon Garland goes for the Angels. The Mariners will need another strong starting pitching performance tonight to keep them in this game. The Angels can put a lot of runs on the board quick.