Why Do The Mariners Suck So Bad Hitting At Home?

This isn’t going to be the most informative post in the world, but then again I’m not really trying to spend four hours on every post I write.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Seattle Mariners and their struggles at home.  That’s because the Mariners have sucked an entire Chinese phonebook’s worth of dicks at home.   And because that’s all the local media can talk about (with good reason, because seriously, where’s the fucking progress, Wedge?).  AND because after playing 37 of their first 59 games in other states or other countries, the Mariners have played 16 of their last 22 at Safeco.  With three more games (starting tonight) before a three-game stand at Oakland and then the All Star Break.

In short, lately, it’s all anyone can think about.  And I got to wondering:  how much of it is Safeco, how much of it is the Mariner bats sucking, how much of it is the opponents being particularly dominant, and how much of it is blind, piss-ass bad luck?

I can’t speak to luck, because I’m not a wizard (but I’ll make my feeble attempt at the end of this post anyway).  Safeco is Safeco, and frankly I think we’re all a little tired of hearing about the fences and the air thickness and the open roof.  Ditto the sucktitude of the Mariner bats; it’s been the same broken record for the last five seasons.  So, I went through today and looked at our opponents.

Thus far, we’ve played the 2nd-best team in ERA (Dodgers), the 3rd-best (Giants), the 6th-best (A’s, twice), the 7th-best (Angels), the 8th-best (Rangers), and the 12th & 13th best (Padres & White Sox) in eight of our twelve home series.  Granted, we’ve also faced the 20th-best (Red Sox), the 28th-best (Indians) and 29th-best (Twins), but still.

I also went and listed all of the starting pitchers we’ve faced at Safeco Field this season.  Now, obviously, not all of these starters have defeated us, or even looked all that great, but I’m going to list them anyway because I went to all the trouble.  Here they are, with their season ERA:

  • Bartolo Colon – 4.22
  • Tommy Milone – 3.73
  • Graham Godfrey – 6.43
  • Justin Masterson – 3.92
  • Derek Lowe – 4.42
  • Josh Tomlin – 5.85
  • Chris Sale – 2.27
  • Philip Humber – 6.01
  • John Danks – 5.70
  • Carl Pavano – 6.00
  • Jason Marquis – 5.83
  • Nick Blackburn – 7.74
  • Doug Fister – 3.91
  • Justin Verlander – 2.69
  • Drew Smyly – 4.54
  • Yu Darvish – 3.59
  • Matt Harrison – 3.16
  • Scott Feldman – 6.13
  • Dan Haren – 4.53
  • Ervin Santana – 5.12
  • Jerome Williams – 4.46
  • C.J. Wilson – 2.33
  • Nathan Eovaldi – 4.61
  • Clayton Kershaw – 2.65
  • Chad Billingsley – 4.18
  • Clayton Richard – 3.77
  • Jason Marquis – 5.83
  • Edinson Volquez – 3.68
  • Ryan Vogelsong – 2.26
  • Tim Lincecum – 5.60
  • Madison Bumgarner – 2.85
  • Tommy Milone – 3.73
  • Travis Blackley – 2.79
  • Jarrod Parker – 2.57
  • Franklin Morales – 2.59
  • Aaron Cook – 4.32
  • Josh Beckett – 4.06
  • Felix Doubront – 4.42

Now, obviously, ERA doesn’t tell the whole story about whether a pitcher is good or not, but if you’re savvy enough to know that, then you’re savvy enough to just look at most of these names and figure out that – aside from a few aces (Kershaw, Verlander, Wilson to a lesser extent) – we’re not talking about world beaters.  Philip Fucking Humber threw a fucking perfect game at Safeco and has a 6.01 ERA for Christ’s sake!  Aaron Cook is a career piece-of-shit and he shut the Mariners out on 81 pitches!  These are NOT great pitchers, not by a long shot!  And, for the most part, they’re doing most of the ass-kicking in Safeco this season.

It’s time to face it:  it’s not the stadium, it’s not the opponents; it’s some combination of our hitters underperforming and some outrageous bad luck causing these underperformances.

For that, look no further than BABIP (batting average of balls in play).  Here are some numbers:

  • League Average:  .291
  • Ichiro:  .282
  • Kyle Seager:  .278
  • Miguel Olivo:  .230
  • Brendan Ryan:  .229
  • Justin Smoak:  .222

These are guys who play every day, damn near every day, or at the very least REGULARLY, and they’re getting absolutely crushed by luck.  Factor in the few regulars who are above league average – Saunders is the best at .319 – and you’re not exactly getting very much good luck on the other end of the spectrum.  .319 isn’t THAT much more than league average, and that’s arguably our most productive hitter.

By the way, those BABIP numbers are for the entire season.  I imagine they’re much lower across the board for when those guys are playing in Safeco (I just don’t feel like looking into it anymore).

So, that’s that.  The Mariners suck, but PROBABLY not as bad as they’ve been recently?  I’m going to go with that.  Here’s to a second half of runaway improvement!

That 17-Game Losing Streak Was A Thing of Beauty

It’s been a long, crazy week of Seahawks madness, but I would be completely remiss if I didn’t at least acknowledge the 17-game losing streak before the week ends.

Of course, every fucking person with an Internet connection and some tie to Seattle has written about this thing, so I’m gonna do something a little different.  I hereby present 17 mini recaps of 17 historical losses.  And I do mean historical.  I don’t know what you want to consider official (I choose to go by Geoff Baker’s list because it’s right there), but by Baker’s count, there were 16 teams with streaks longer than 17 games.  The top of the shitpile was the Cleveland Spiders with a whopping 24 losses in a row.  Almost made it.

Game 1 – @ Oakland, 2-0:  We came into this game 43-43, having already won the series with the A’s right after taking the series against the Padres.  We were 2.5 games behind Anaheim & Texas and all anyone could talk about was:  will the Mariners ACTUALLY be buyers at the Trade Deadline?  Then, some guy named Guillermo Moscoso made us look absolutely ridiculous as he combined with two other guys to 2-hit us and start the streak that would officially end our season.  Vargas was your hard-luck loser going the full 8 and striking out 6 while only giving up 5 hits.

Game 2 – @ Anaheim, 5-1:  This was Doug Fister vs. Jered Weaver, so what did you expect?  Run support?  Ha!  Yeah, Weaver went the full 9, striking out 6.  Our lone run started off the scoring, but ultimately the Angels were too much for Fister as they came right back in the bottom half of the third to take the lead for good.

Game 3 – @ Anaheim, 4-3:  A Blake Beavan Special!  My man actually did enough to win this, giving up 2 runs over 6.1 innings (while Ervin Santana gave up 3 runs in 7), but then Jamey Wright came in and gave up a homer to light-hitting catcher Hank Conger.  David Pauley would go on to give up the game-winning homer to Mark Trumbo in the 9th, hanging the most miserable changeup you’ve ever seen.

Game 4 – @ Anaheim, 9-3:  If you want an MVP for this losing streak, look no further than Michael Pineda who looked particularly bad in at least two all of these games.  Here, he got knocked around for 7 runs in 5 innings (including two homers to Torii Hunter).  Meanwhile, Joel Pineiro slopped his way through 7 innings  (giving up 10 hits but only 3 runs, thanks to 7 strikeouts).  We were 4 for 12 with runners in scoring position, yet only scored the 3 runs.  Sad.

Game 5 – @ Anaheim, 4-2:  Getaway day.  Last game before the All Star Break.  Felix vs. Haren.  The King did his part, holding them to 2 runs over 7 innings, but Haren also held serve, giving up 2 runs over 8.2 innings.  Co-MVP of the streak David Pauley gave up yet ANOTHER game-losing homer, this time to Alberto Callaspo in the 8th.  Again in this game the Mariners had an early lead, our 2 runs coming in the first inning.  Unfortunately, Felix isn’t always perfect, and Pauley rarely is.

Game 6 – vs. Texas, 5-0:  Vargas gave up 12 hits in 6 innings, giving up all the runs.  Derek Holland continued the mastery left-handed starters have over our hitters (to be fair, right-handed starters are also very damn good against us), going the full 9, striking out 8.  Also, count this as the start of the Jeff Gray Showcase.

Game 7 – vs. Texas, 4-0:  After this game, we were at a streak of 26 consecutive scoreless innings.  Righty Colby Lewis did most of the damage in this one, going 8.2 and striking out 8.  Fister, shockingly, got no run support again.  Of course, he did himself no favors by giving up 4 runs in 7.2.

Game 8 – vs. Texas, 5-1:  The scoreless streak went a full 30 innings.  Not nearly as impressive as 17 straight losses, but I’d say we were about 15 innings away from giving 17 losses a run for its money.  The hero here?  Ichiro singling home Guti.  Meanwhile, Wedge left Felix in the game too long, turning a 2-1 deficit into an out-of-reach 5-1 drubbing in the 8th inning.  The King’s Court, unfortunately, could not carry our ace to the finish line.  Brandon League followed up his so-so All Star appearance with a scoreless 9th to get in some work.

Game 9 – vs. Texas, 3-1:  Beavan!  Mitch Moreland jacked a 3-run homer in the second inning and this one was done.  Nevertheless, my boy had a quality start, going 6.2 innings.  Meanwhile, Matt Harrison dominated.  We scored 2 runs in this 4-game series; just in time to hit the road for a 9-game East Coast swing.

Game 10 – @ Toronto, 6-5 (14 innings):  Another poor Pineda performance.  5 runs in 6.1 innings.  The Mariners had a lead in this one too:  1-0 in the first, 5-2 after the 2nd inning.  5-2 into the 7th inning, actually, then Pineda couldn’t get anyone out.  Technically, Jeff Gray got the blown save, giving up Pineda’s 5th run on a Jose Bautista single, but he went on to go 2.1 scoreless.  David Pauley came in to go another 3 scoreless.  Jamey Wright had AH scoreless inning, then we tried to push him for two and that was that.  Meanwhile, the Mariners missed a ton of scoring opportunities in extras, and the whole thing got blown up when Rajai Davis single-handedly socked us all in the gut by stealing 2 bases and scoring on a sac fly (even though Wright did all he could do to keep him close to the bags).

Game 11 – @ Toronto, 11-6:  Can’t say the bats didn’t come out to play in this Blue Jays series.  Unfortunately, our arms were sleeping on the job.  Vargas completely fell apart, giving up 5 runs in 3 innings.  Jamey Wright and Aaron Laffey combined to give up 6 runs in 4 innings, and there you have it.  Meanwhile, Dustin Ackley is still the man.

Game 12 – @ Toronto, 7-5:  This game was depressing as shit until the top of the 8th inning.  Once again, Fister had to go up against an ace in Ricky Romero; once again, Fister got zero run support while he was standing on the mound.  Then, all of a sudden, POW, Miguel Olivo jacks a Grand Slam to tie the game at 5.  Of course, David Pauley came in and promptly hung another changeup, allowing Rajai Davis to double in 2 runs in the bottom of the inning.  In related news:  I hate Rajai Davis.  A Lot.

Game 13 – @ Boston, 7-4:  So, of course, we have Felix vs. Lackey, and of course Lackey holds us to 1 run over 7 while Felix gets battered to the tune of 6 runs in 6.1 innings (11 hits, 4 walks, 2 K’s).  Mike Carp hit a 3-run homer in the 8th after we were down 7-1, so there’s that.

Game 14 – @ Boston, 3-1:  For a while there, Blake Beavan was dealin’.  He matched Josh Beckett 0 for 0 through 6 innings, then found himself with a 1-0 lead going into the bottom of the 7th.  Mike Carp (AGAIN!) with a homer, this time when it mattered.  Of course, hindsight being what it is, we probably should’ve went straight to the bullpen.  Instead, Wedge left Beavan in and the Sox scored 3 in the bottom frame.  It was over after that.

Game 15 – @ Boston, 12-8:  How about three terrible starts for Pineda; is something wrong with him?  This time:  7 runs in 4.1 innings.  Tim Wakefield also gave up 7 runs over 6.1 innings, but it didn’t matter because our bullpen again fell apart when given a chance to hold things close.  This was another game that wasn’t nearly as close as its score.  It was 11-3 before Brendan Ryan of all people hit the second Mariners Grand Slam of the season (and, ironically, of the streak) to pull us to within 4.  After Wakefield left to a rousing ovation, that was that.

Game 16 – @ New York, 10-3:  Vargas – shitty.  Defense – shitty.  Hitting – shitty.  Freddy Garcia – shitty yet effective.  No one wants to re-live this game, so let’s just move on.

Game 17 – @ New York, 4-1:  You could play this game 1,000,000 times and the Mariners’ record would be 0-1,000,000.  AGAIN with Fister going against an ace!  That guy needs to face some team’s fifth starter like you would NOT believe.  He was game for the challenge though, giving up only 3 runs in 7 innings.  Unfortunately, the offense had to go up against C.C. Sabathia.  We got the bases loaded in the 8th with no outs and could only muster a run when Figgins grounded into a fielder’s choice that should’ve been a double play to end it.  Thanks to Eric Chavez, we got the run.  Oh, and let us not forget, Sabathia was perfect through 6.1 innings.  Brendan Ryan got a clean single to the outfield.  Sabathia ended up striking out 14 over 7 innings (including 2 short rain delays) and as a team the Yankees struck out 18 Mariners.  Like I said, we could’ve played this game a million times and we would’ve lost each and every time.  I would refute any simulation of this matchup by simply showing you the Mariners’ lineup card.

So, there you have it. 17 games.  From 43-43 to 43-60; from 2.5 back in sole possession of 3rd place in the AL West (5.5 games up on Oakland) to 15.5 games back and in dead last (3 games behind Oakland).  From quasi-contenders to written-in-stone pretenders.  From potential buyers to certain sellers at the Trade Deadline.  From feel-good story to national laughingstock.

From Wednesday, July 6, 2011 through Tuesday, July 26, 2011, the Seattle Mariners were the worst team in baseball; and one of the worst baseball teams of all time.

A Paragraph With The Mariners – 80

As I watch the Mariners bullpen squander yet another quality start by an unexpected diamond in the rough in David Pauley by essentially being one of the most unreliable and – dare I say it – worst bullpens in all of Major League Baseball, I reflect on the day’s events and its star attraction. I’m not trying to beat a dead horse here, but I’m also not exactly taking the sudden removal of Cliff Lee from my baseball life very well, so just meet me half way here. There are two types of elite starting pitchers in the world: both get the job done every fifth day. Of course, they go about it in very different ways. You’ve got your flashier guys – people like Randy Johnson (in his prime), Pedro Martinez (in his prime), Felix Hernandez (now) – who just have nasty, electric stuff. They’ll murder you with their offspeed stuff, then they’ll chop your head off with their heat. These guys get all the glory on Sportscenter (except when they wear a Mariners uniform), these guys get all the attention come Cy Young time, and these guys are ultimately more feared because of the hype if not the stuff alone. Then, there’s everyone else who just go out and work you over. They might not have 97 mile per hour fastballs, they might not have curve balls that will buckle your knees, but they go out there with precision and accuracy and determination and bend you to their wills. I’m talking not just about Cliff Lee, but Jamie Moyer, Greg Maddux, Roy Halladay, Mark Buehrle. No one’s calling these guys electric. For the most part, their fastballs are pretty pedestrian. And their offspeed stuff – while effective – isn’t exactly setting the world on fire. Oftentimes, a team might come away from a game believing they should’ve beaten these pitchers. But, you know what? Even while you’re watching and not believing how they’re doing it, just know that these guys prove as long as you have the utmost attention to your control – in pitch location and overall emotional composure – even guys like Jason Vargas and Doug Fister can crack a rotation and stick. You don’t need to be Felix or Beckett or Santana or Strasburg. You can be someone’s idea of a 4 or 5 starter who doesn’t make many highlight reels, but does what he’s supposed to do and keeps his team in ballgames. And if you’re dedicated enough and consistent enough and focused enough, your stock will rise until one day multiple teams are clamoring for your services and throwing handfuls of players around to get you. Part of me wishes this had all happened tomorrow with the exact same results. Because it’s not often where I’m confronted with someone who I’m able and willing to appreciate as he’s doing something great. Not to just take for granted and look beyond. Not since Felix first cracked the big leagues have I made a specific player Appointment Television. I’ve gone out of my way just about every game to make sure I was glued to Cliff Lee’s starts. We’re halfway through with 2010 and the season’s been long over as far as the Mariners contending is concerned. But, not until now has my interest and passion for this season truly felt dead. I’ll still keep one eye on the team at all times the rest of the way – after all, I have a job with a computer that gets Internet – but let’s just say the last of the hot air has been released from the balloon. That is, until Michael Pineda is called up from Tacoma … that guy’s going to be a BEAST.