Tonight, the Mariners held a lead for four innings. In the top of the sixth, the Kansas City Royals responded with a run off of an Eric Hosmer single. Most impressively, the Mariners responded. That’s when you know that a team is heading in the right direction, when they can respond to adversity, they can respond to having runs scored on them, or they can respond to a green ballclub. That’s exactly what more than half of this club is – green. They are a pile of rookies, and it’s nice to see some of the younger talent step up.
However, that wasn’t completely the case tonight. Ichiro Suzuki was up to his old tricks, hitting his 36th lead-off homerun. Justin Smoak isn’t a rookie anymore. But Dustin Ackley is. Ackley got on base before Smoak hit a two-run bomb. A team works best when they work together.
Tonight, the Mariners won because of quality pitching, quality at-bats, and quality defense. When’s the last time I could say that about a Mariners game!
Jason Vargas looked good today, which is nice to say, because I don’t remember the last time I could say that. Out of the 51 hacks the Royals took, 11 of them were swinging strikes, which is a 21.5% swinging strike rate. His control was also good – 64 of his 102 pitches went for strikes: a 62.7% strike rate. His last winning decision was August 10th, so it’s been a while since he got to put a W by his name. I’m all for building confidence, and this was definitely a step forward. Regardless of how the Royals approach at the plate was, his stuff looked good, and I’m surprised at how many swinging strikes he generated. I hope this is a step in the right direction, because if this was a step in the wrong direction, it must mean he has a poor sense of direction.
Ichiro hit his 36th lead off homerun, putting him 6th all-time, now past Bobby Bonds. I’m glad Ichiro is producing, but too bad he couldn’t have produced earlier in the year. It’s not like that would’ve turned the season around, but you never know. I guess this sort of thing just adds to the drama of the non-drama that is Seattle Mariners baseball. He also stole two bags in the seventh, so good to know he still has wheels? Or maybe it’s the rookie catcher, hard to say. Anyhow – 163 down, 37 to go. Sidebar: if you don’t know who Bobby Bonds is, he’s related to some other Bonds character. I’ve never heard of him. Maybe he was a contact hitter like Ichiro?
Smoak finally went yard since his return, blasting a two-run homerun while driving in Dustin Ackley. This has to feel good for him. Since he’s been back, he’s gone 8-for-28 (.285), with only three RBI. It’s nice to know that, when there are RISP, he can drive them in. So, good luck to Smoak, I hope to see him succeed. Or on another team succeeding. You know, business.
Tom Wilhelmsen touched 97 mph with his fastball tonight, and he earned his first hold of the season. Zduriencik said he wanted to get bigger, and he has two flame-throwers with high potential in Dan Cortes and Wilhelmsen. I really like Wilhelmsen. I don’t know if it’s the story or the stuff, but either way, I’m enamored with him. Maybe because I’m 99% sure I saw him at the Melting Pot.
- Chris Gimenez got his mask blown off his face twice in tonight’s game. In each occurrence, he had a complete look of disdain. He then continued to chew his gum, which I presumed to be of the double bubble variety, because it’s flavor doesn’t last, and neither does the career of the backup-catcher.
- Justin Smoak wears a special batting helmet when he’s batting righty, I assume to further protect his nose or whatever else is going on up there. It makes him look like the Arbiter.
- My new favorite pitcher is Tim Collins. It was Fabio Castro, but now it’s Tim Collins. Pipe dreams.
If the Mariners win tomorrow, they will have the same record as the Royals. I wonder which team feels worse about that.
Want to stay current with all the happenings at SoDo Mojo? Be sure to follow @adamhwong for the latest insights and article updates.