Alex Liddi’s Achieves the American Dream

For Seattle third baseman Alex Liddi, his road to the show was literally just that — “a road to the show”.  Raised in San Remo, Italy – he made the journey to the States, working up the ranks of the Mariners minor league system in an explosive way.

With the Tacoma Rainers, Liddi batted .259 with 30 homeruns and 104 RBI’s in a span of 138 games. Assuring a spot amongst the September call-ups, manager Eric Wedge’s inital reaction was to place him in the lineup; rounding out the bottom of the order against the Los Angeles Angels.

 

Despite the fact that he went 0-for-2 on the night, a ground out in the third and a strikeout in the sixth he achieved the American Dream. Becoming the first player in Major League History to reach “the bigs” being both born and raised in Italy.

Mariners beat-writer Greg Johns has also reports that ” (he) will be the first graduate of the MLB European Academy to play in the Majors,”.

Spills, Thrills, and Flops Give Seattle a 7-3 Loss

 Winning ball games is a combination of timely offensive production and consistent defense backing up the pitcher. It reveals in a time-span of six months, the “contenders from the pretenders” metaphorically speaking.

Though to win last night’s ballgame against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, “it takes two” — as Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston have said, something the Seattle Mariners lacked resulting in a 7-3 in front of 35,497 fans at Angel Stadium on Monday.

While the Mariners struck early against Angels three-time All-Star Dan Haren in the first — via Justin Smoak RBI single — the lead would quickly diminish in the bottom half. After lead-off hitter Maicer Izturis grounded out to Seattle second baseman Dustin Ackley to begin the frame, Peter Bourjos lined a double to right-field, setting the table for Tori Hunter with two away.

 Taking a first-pitch strike from Anthony Vasquez, Hunter responded by hitting a routine fly ball. A 69 mile-an-hour curveball to be exact, which sailed to left fielder Trayvon Robinson. Taking the appropriate route to the ball, Robinson — some how misjudged the trajectory of the hit, resulting in a dropped ball error. Alert on the basepaths Los Angeles took advantage of the situation,  scoring Bourjos from second while Hunter raced to third for an RBI triple; his 75th on the year.

Tying the game at one, Mark Trumbo followed up by launching a 1-1 change up from Vasquez over the center field wall; his 26th of the season estimated over 412 feet, making the score 3-1.

In the second Seattle cut their defict to one, on an RBI single from Josh Bard, scoring Adam Kennedy from second after a lead-off double to begin the inning. An Ichiro Suzuki groundout and a Brendan Ryan strikeout unfortunately would end the threat.

The Angels –  “taking care of business” would reciprocate in the third, by tacking on three runs.  Thanks to fielding errors from Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager and Suzuki allowed Los Angeles to have a “free-for-all” around the infield; providing Haren with a 6-2 insurance lead.

Both clubs would put up “1s” in the fifth and sixth, which was enough for Los Angeles bullpen to shut the door on Seattle. Relief pitchers Bobby Cassevah and Hisanori Takahashi combined for three innings of one hit baseball, securing the team’s 77th win of the 2011 campagin.

With the victory the Angels trail the divison-leading Texas Rangers by just two-and-a-half games in the American League West, while Seattle falls to 58-82. Even though Seattle “jumped out of the gates” strong, their defensive misques and bullpen was what subsequently cost them the ballgame. 

 On another note, outfielder Mike Carp was selected by Major League Baseball as rookie of the month, sharing honors with Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel. Carp in his second-stint with Seattle this season has posted a .313 average, with six homeruns, and 25 RBI since being recalled to the bigs in June. Including a .353 on-base percentage with a .545 slugging percentage.

The Mariners look to rebound tonight at 7:05 against Ervin Santana (11-9 3.27 ERA), opposed by Seattle ace Felix Hernandez (13-11 3.27 ERA).

Seattle Cooling Down Going into the Month of September

September is the month when contenders emerge – making their playoff push inevitable to those around them. For eight the opportunity is crucial, and with one mistake — the hopes of a 2011 World Series can come down crashing.

For those like the Seattle Mariners, who are “spoilers” at this point, have their fate predicted. Standing at 58-81 on the year, the M’s are the proud owners of a  four-game losing streak, and have the potential to tie — if not break last season’s 101 loss total.

Clearly this is something the ballclub looks to avoid, but ever since the Mariners AL West Championship in 2001 — Seattle has not been able to string together a competitive team to make such a push. Call-ups have proved unaffective, despite the gems in rookies Michael Pineda, Trayvon Robinson, and the unleashed verison of Mike Carp.

To an extent that’s when Seattle General Manager Jack Zduriencik has to come to the decision to buy or sell; stay content or not. Though whatever he decides to do, there appears to be a solid foundation that the club can work around. Concerns as well, but every club has those, which in time should be addressed. 2012 is a new beginning, but the question remains, does that include the Mariners?

Young Blood Could Lead Mariners to Future Success

When Spring Traning comes around — and the players report to camp, there generally is one thing that sits in their mind. And that is, “Is this the year we win it all?”.

Contesting against opposing clubs, teams unveil free agents, new acquistions, and even those from the farm system; just to see how they come together. Each year is different and unpredictable from the last, which makes baseball a mysterious game where changes occur in an instant.

Though for the 2011 Seattle Mariners, “the beat goes on”, concluding another season where they’ve failed to reach the playoffs. This marks the 10th consecutive season where the Mariners have failed to reach postseason, reflecting on a 2001 campaign which to a point seems distant.

Primary focus now is to allow prospects Charlie Furbush, Tom Welhelmsen, and Trayvon Robinson to get some playing time in hopes of a brighter tommorrow. Following in the footsteps of other prominent players such as 2009 first-round draft pick Dustin Ackley: who’s batting .293 with 23 rbis in 43 games this season. As well as starter Michael Pineda evolving into that 1-2 punch behind All-Star Felix Hernandez.

Being his first year in the bigs — Pineda holds a 9-7 record and an 3.53 ERA, with an appearance in Arizona as well. Pitching an inning of scoreless baseball up against National League greats: Troy Tulowitski, Scott Rolen, and Rickie Weeks.

Closer Brandon League has recorded 26 saves with Seattle in his second year, up to the point where he was league-leading going into the second-half.

With “diamonds in the rough” such as these, only time can tell if the Emerald City will be gleaming come 2012. And who knows, anything can happen.

Mariners Make Major League History… but not in the way you think

Whether it’s good or bad, history is history — and once recorded in the books, it cannot be taken back. For the Seattle Mariners, Tuesday’s loss to the “Bronx Bombers” 4-1 and a sweep to the Boston Red Sox earlier this week marked a milestone for the club; in fact multiple.

As if the number “13″ wasn’t bad enough, Seattle surpassed that reaching 14, (which tied the franchise’s consecutive losing streak — established in the mid-1990s). Skipping over 15 and declining their invitation to the “sweet 16″ brought the Mariners to uncharted waters.

Waters that not even the rain delay in New York could hault, or C.C Sabathia for that matter. Going the distance, with seven innings of one run and hit ball, and 14 strikeouts to add to his statline. With the victory, the California native improves to 15-5 — which is quite impressive considering he’s only pitched 161.2 innings in 22 starts this season.

Mariners starter Doug Fister, also went seven innings and for the most part kept the Yankees in check. Except for Curtis Granderson’s 28th homerun in the fourth, and timely hitting from six-time glove Eric Chavez and Derek Jeter in the fifth; making the score 3-0.

Both offenses’ would stay quiet until the top of the eighth when a Chone Figgins rbi, (via fielder’s choice) scored Justin Smoak from third cutting the lead to two. Prior to his at-bat, Seattle had the bases loaded — but failed to score, leaving a total of three runners stranded on the base paths for the game.

Even so, things remained fairly calm for the last-place M’s, a two-run deficit compared to series past seemed like a dream. Regardless of their offensive being completely there or not, Fister kept his club in the game — that was until Jamey Wright took the hill with two outs in the bottom of the eighth.

Skipper Eric Wedge strategically had the right mindset putting a right-handed reliever up against Mark Texieira, considering his numbers from the left side. But in this case, the odds weren’t in the Mariners favor, as the switch-hitter from Georgia Tech launched a laser-shot to right field; recovering their three-run lead for Sabathia. With his 28th homerun of the year, Texieira and teammate Granderson became tied for the second most hr’s in the American League. Right behind (“Joey Bats’) Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays with 31.

Going into the ninth inning, Seattle’s offense prepared to take their finally hacks against closer Mariano Rivera — looking to string together some sort of comeback. May it be on the basis of the club’s team meetings or Wedge’s shaved mustache — but something had to happen, to give.

Something did happen, Rivera retired the side — 1,2,3 — with punchouts from Brendan Ryan and Miguel Olivo, while adding a Dustin Ackley lineout to third in the mix. With the win, New York improves to 61-40, and as for the Mariners — they continue to make themselves comfortable in the AL West cellar falling to 43-60 in 2011 with a 17-game losing streak.

Felix Hernandez, (8-9 3.47 ERA) gets the nod to close the three-game set, opposing Phil Hughes, (1-2 9.47 ERA) at 1:05 eastern-pacific time.

Seattle Reaches “Unlucky 13″

Ever since the Mariners took two out of three from their AL West rival Oakland Athletics, Seattle has not won a series — or even a game for that matter. Losing 13 consecutive games in a row with tonight’s 7-4 loss in Boston.

After being swept by the Toronto Blue Jays, a matchup consisting of Felix Hernandez v. John Lackey looked promising, considering “the king” was 2-0 with a 2.16 ERA in his last five starts against the Red Sox.

With a lead-off single from Ichiro Suzuki in the first, and a steal of first and second; the odds for Seattle looked just that — “promising”. A groundout from Brendan Ryan and single to left from Dustin Ackley put the M’s on the board early 1-0, going into the bottom half.

While things seemed well for the moment, the “Red hot Sox” as their called these days, didn’t let this deficit affect them. Rallying back against Hernandez with two singles, and “a gift from the gods” Boston tied things up. Jacoby Ellsbury rolled over on two pitches, hitting a routine groundball to Ryan making it one away for Dustin Pedroia.

Pedroia, who holds a .444 average in his last 10 games, began tonights affair with a 18-game hitting streak. And it wouldn’t take long to extend it, as he slapped a 2-1 slider to left field to get things rolling.

An Adrian Gonzalez groundout  allowed the Sox to reach scoring position. And a passed ball with Kevin Youkillis at the plate, set the table for the burly right-hander — hitting a single to left, tying things at one a-piece.

The game remained quiet in the third, until the “hot-hitting” Ellsbury stepped into the box. Unloading on Hernandez, crushing a bomb into the right field stands of Fenway Park; making the score 2-1. Prior to what is now his 16th homerun of the season, Boston’s center-fielder came off of a series sluggers only relish for. Posting a .500 average with two “hr’s” and three runs batted in against the Baltimore Orioles.

Bats for both teams stayed dormant for the next three innings. As Hernandez retired Carl Crawford, Josh Reddick, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in order — while escaping  jams in the fifth and sixth, trailing by one.

Lucky enough to avoid damage in the middle innings, the king wasn’t so fortunate in the seventh; as Francona’s lineup batted around — putting up five runs in the inning.  Saltalamacchia and Ellsbury began the frame with singles, (on the corners) when Pedroia was walked on five pitches — loading the bases for Gonzalez.

He would single to center, scoring two, ending the 2010 Cy Young’s day — surrendering a total of six runs, on 11 hits, while walking four.

Reliever Jeff Gray couldn’t stop the damage, as Youkillis would double, and David Ortiz continued the inning with a single — making the score 7-1 after seven.

Franklin Morales would take the mound for Lackey just in time before being tagged for three runs in the eighth. A Mike Carp homerun, (1), infused with doubles from Miguel Olivo and Jack Cust cut the lead to three. But in the end wouldn’t be enough, falling 7-4 in the opener — en route to 13 consecutive losses in a row for the Seattle Mariners.

With Josh Beckett on the mound for Boston, (8-3 2.12ERA) Seattle’s starter Blake Beavan (1-1 2.70ERA) endures a difficult task — but none the less, takes the task at 7:10pm eastern time for game two.

BREAKING NEWS: The Texas Rangers are not Perfect!

Its now July 20th, and while the Texas Rangers hold a 12-game winning streak the club has shown the world concluding the four-game set with the Seattle Mariners that they aren’t perfect. Sure… they swept the M’s, but the matter of fact is that they allowed 2 runs to a Major League team.

Last Saturday marked the last time Texas allowed any runs to an opposing club until this point – was a week prior against the Athletics when they surrendered six on July 9th; winning 7-6.

The Mariners, despite having the lowest team average in the American League (.221) – scored a run off All-Star C.J Wilson in the third game of the series — via two out single from Ichiro Suzuki.

Franklin Gutierrez lead-off the inning with a single — lining a 1-0 fastball to left field. Kyle Seager would fly out to left, and after a Greg Halman strikeout proved diviends for Gutierrez — stealing second base on the play.

All of this ultimately set the table for Suzuki who, taking two pitches, hit a single to center field — while his teammate trotted home for the first time since they faced the Angels before the break.

Another run would come upon a Jack Wilson rbi single in game four, and so would two more “L’s”, extending the Mariners losing-streak to nine. 5-1 on Saturday,  with Felix Hernandez on the short end, and 3-1 on get-a-way day.

Moving to the next series in Toronto, Michael Pineda looks to turn things around for Seattle, as he goes up against Bret Cecil and the Blue Jays in Canada. Cecil who at 15-7 4.22 in 28 starts last season appeared to be at his prime, resembles a new look in ’11. Holding a 2-4 record with a 5.77 ERA in 48.1 innings pitched.

Mariners Fail to Score, Dropping Seven Straight 4-0

As of today, offense no longer exists in the confines of Safeco Field. It has been gone for awhile — almost three games to be exact, and because of this Seattle continues to fall deeper and deeper into the AL West standings. This was the case Friday night when Rangers Colby Lewis tossed 8 2/3 innings of four hit baseball, backed up by eight strikeouts (obtaining at least one punchout in six of the eight frames he took the hill).

Despite multiple rallies in the third, fifth, and ninth, the Mariners couldn’t put anything together; or advance a runner past second for that matter.

After surrendering two runs in the top of the first and second, Seattle looked to be brewing a comeback. In the bottom of the third — and a groundout from Kyle Seager, left fielder Carlos Peguero worked a full count walk from Lewis. And two batters later, Brendan Ryan would single — putting runners on first and second with two away. While the inning seemed promising, Dustin Ackley who was 0-for-4 coming into tonights game, got under a 2-2 curveball allowing Texas to escape the jam.

For a majority of the game on — the 30,000 plus in attendance would see a pitching duel from Doug Fister and Lewis. Fister, who from the fourth to the seventh — would set down the potent Rangers lineup in order; (eight of the twelve on groundouts). And regardless of a lead-off double from Franklin Gutierrez in the fifth, Lewis appeared quite comparable to his counter part; except for one crucial thing.

The Rangers were able to provide their starter with enough run support and affective relief from the bullpen to get a “W”, most importantly nine consecutive victories. Fister on the other hand, has received the lowest-average run support in the league — with 2.15 in nine innings.

No matter how many times manager Eric Wedge mixes up his lineup, nothing at the moment is proven to be affective. Jack Cust went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, as did Miguel Olivo (1), and Ichiro Suzuki. With the lack of production, the team’s overall average drops to .222 on the year. On the bright side, Seattle’s pitching staff has been outstanding. From quality appearances from Michael Pineda to Felix Hernandez.

As a matter of fact, Hernandez takes the mound in the third game of the series, opposing fellow All-Star C.J Wilson at 7:10 pst. Tonight in Seattle is also the 10 year anniversary of the Mariners 116-win season; which included a first-place finish in the AL West. Lou Piniella and general manager Pat Gillick who were a big part of the club’s success will be in attendance for a pregame ceremony.

Scorching Holland, Rangers Burn Mariners to Begin Second-Half 5-0

The Seattle Mariners had a  plan: to kick-off the second half of the season on a good note. Recharged from the several days during the All-Star break, this seemed prominent — until Derek Holland and the “red-hot” Rangers came to town.

Texas Rangers Starting Pitcher Derek Holland Throws

Rangers’ starter Derek Holland turns up the “Texas heat” in Seattle, pitching a complete game and receiving his eight win of the season.

With no hesitation, Texas got their bats rolling against Seattle starter Jason Vargas (6-7), with two outs in the first, Josh Hamilton stepped up to the plate — taking a few pitches before launching his 12th homerun of the season into the right field stands.

Things would only get worse for the Mariners, as Nelson Cruz went yard off  Vargas in the second — and a timely hit single from Michael Young allowed Elvis Andrus to score from second, putting the Rangers up 3-0.

Flipping the script for a moment, Derek Holland looked to be on top of his game. Pitching five innings of scoreless baseball before surrendering Seattle’s first hit in the sixth off of Chone Figgins. But even then, the M’s couldn’t capitalize, stranding runners on first and second before Brendan Ryan lined out to Nelson Cruz — ending the threat. Holland would continue to keep the Eric Wedge’s team in check, going all the way for his second complete game of his career. Allowing just five hits on one walk with eight strikeouts.

While the offense was tamed, reliver Jeff Gray appeared unaffected — despite five consecutive days off. Tossing two frames of shutdown baseball retiring Ron Washington’s 4-9 hitters — those of which included Mike Napoli who had homered off of Vargas in the sixth. Chris Ray replaced Gray in the ninth, but regardless of his quick inning — wouldn’t be enough for Seattle to muster up something in the bottom half.

The loss puts the Mariners 8.5 games behind in the AL West (43-49), and means the club has dropped six of their last seven games. Doug Fister takes the hill tonight, hoping to turn the tide on a string of unfortunate events for the M’s; which begins at 7:05pst.

Fast Forward to the All-Star Break

After being swept by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, (July 7-10) Seattle’s record stands at 43-48.  Putting them 7.5 games behind the division-leading Texas Rangers, the M’s, as well as the 29 other Major League clubs look to take a break from the first half — to enjoy the festivities of the All Star break. This year its located in Phoenix, Arizona – where starter Michael Pineda and closer Brandon League have been selected to represent the American League for the Mariners.

  American League All-Star Michael Pineda #36 Of The Seattle Mariners Reacts

Mariners starter Michael Pineda reacts to his scoreless frame in the third; thankful to be called upon.

For Pineda, this is his first all-star appearance, but even so, the young righty from the Dominician Republic has shown that he belongs in “the bigs”; Posting an 8-6 record with a 3.03 ERA in 22 starts this season. With 113 innings under his belt,  Pineda has averaged one strikeout per frame while surrendering  just 36 walks to opposing hitters. As the All-Star game progresses on, Seattle’s starter pitched a scorless bottom of the third; retiring Troy Tulowitzki, and striking out both Scott Rolen and Rickie Weeks.

League as yet to come into the game, but if the AL is able to regain the lead over their counter parts – count on him to be considered by skipper Ron Washington to get a call from the ‘pen, as he leads the league in saves with 23. Though in the end, that’s his decision to make — as for the Mariners, they have to ponder whether or not they are buyers or sellers this season.

With the recent call-ups of second baseman Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager at third, is the 2011 campaign just a rebuilding stage? Or is this the beginning of some big moves to increase the chances of Seattle’s postseason hopes? Only time can tell.

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