Woot!

KEVIN P. CASEY/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

So I reported yesterday that Ichiro was supposed to be out of the series opener against Baltimore due to the injury he sustained during Sunday’s loss to Detroit.  Imagine my amazement at 7:10 yesterday evening when ole number 51 strolls into the batters box and leads the game off with a double and later steals thir dto give the Mariners an early 1 nothing lead.  It’s true I was amazed.  Shows a lot of heart (or foolhardiness if this turns out to be an issue exacerbated by playing) to bounce back and go 2 for 3 when you are supposed to be out.  Good on ya!

Horatio Ramirez also made his return to the M’s last night pitching a gem in what the local sports radio guys call making good use of location and opponent.  Ramirez is lights out at home (undefeated with a sub 3 ERA) but Weaver-esque on the road (ERA over 13).  So facing a punchless Oriole offense (no Tejada, no Melvin Mora) at Safeco is a good formula for success if you happen to be good at home against AAA hitting.  I think we need to initiate a rotation within the rotation for that 5th spot.  Let Ramirez pitch at home but have someone more effective pitch his road starts, don’t know who that would be quite yet but that’s why I’m not on the Mariner payroll. 

KEVIN P. CASEY/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

I’m finally getting my wish.  On the 29th the M’s are having a Turn Back the Clock Night with the team fielding the Trident uniforms from the inagural 1977 season.  I know it’s not my multi-game all uniform showcase featuring era-relevant former players but I am glad that the team is doing something to acknowledge that the franchise did in fact exist before 1995 (though it would be hard to find many other fans that would). 

Jose Guillen is having an outstanding month of July.  Crazy is hitting over .440 for the month and is hitting over .400 against left handed pitching coming into last nights game.  I made a prediciton early on that if he could stay healthy and get over his offseason surgery that he could be a factor and I am very glad that it was able to come to fruition.  His throwing arm also looks to be back and healthy.  If we are to make a real push for the postseason we need his bat (since Sexson is apparently carrying his for decoration). 

It looks like it will be time for me to issue some more Trident awards soon.  With The work of the aforementioned Crazy Jose, others (J.J., Ichiro, "34") are in need of the props that only a ninja like myself could provide.  No that the weather is cooling down I may be able to get some extra writing done. We’ll see.

Tonight is game 2 vs the Orioles, it’ll be Felix "34" Hernandez vs. Jeremy Guthrie

Standings:  AL West, 2.5 GB Californiheim. Wild Card, 1 GB Cleveland.

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Ichiro Injur Update and Pitching Issues

For those out of the loop recently re-signed center fielder Ichiro was hit by a Justin Verlander fastball during the 5th inning of yesterday’s 11-7 loss to Detroit.  Per the ESPN.com he is going to be day-to-day and miss at least today’s game against the Orioles.  This is what I call bad times. 

JIM BRYANT/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Jeff Weaver failed to make it out of the fifth for the first time since his return from the "DL".  Must’ve know I was posting again and want me to get bored with all of this consistency and victory.  Nothing lulls a fan to sleep like a pennant chase.  I think it may be time to send Brandon Morrow back to the minors to polish up his skills.  He’s given up runs in less than 3 innings per appearance in 3 of his 4 July appearances and gave up multiple runs twice in June. Worse off he’s starting walk guys (4 BB in 2 IP on 6/11 and he had 15 walks to only 9 k’s in June).  It’s getting pretty obvious that he can’t locate his offspeed pitches with regularity so he tries to muscle the fastball over to get outs.  Problem is when  the hitters know you can’t locate a certain pitch they will sit on the fastball and either take the walk from 4 missed curveballs or launch the fastball into the stratosphere.  I think dude needs to to Double AA for a while and get his offspeed pitches tight so he can ge tback to being an effective major league pitcher. 

Horatio Ramirez comes off of the DL tonight to start against the Orioles.  It is usually better to start a comeback against one of the less successful clubs and he has been lights out at Safeco.  I expect a halfway decent start from him (for once). Pennant Fever people, catch it!

Standings:  AL West, 3 GB Californiheim.  Wild Card, 2 GB Cleveland. 

If I have the energy I will finish yesterday’s post and get it up later this evening.   

A Whirlwind of Activity

JEFF GROSS/GETTY IMAGES

********* did I pick the wrong month to be sidelined with bad health huh?  I went from some of the worst allergy attacks of my life to a respiratory infection that left me bedridden and popping all kids of cillin and finally a heat wave that made it impossible to stay indoors and write. 

Well that I can (sort of) breathe and the temps have dropped below ninety looks like I can try to get back in the game. 
If you were one of the 4 others watching the AAA all-star game this Wednesday you would have seen all kinds of Mariner and better yet Tacoma representation.  Super prospect Adam Jones started the game in center and got a double and run scored and “our rotation su*ks and yet somehow this guy is still in the minors” award winner Justin Lehr was the starting pitcher for the PCL.  Yeah I know he got roughed up by the beefcakes from the IL but that doesn’t tarnish his numbers (7-1, 3.78) especially in the hitter friendly PCL. It’s even more troublesome that while he continues to produce less effective but younger guys like Jake Woods (3-6, 7.80 AAA) and Ryan “Homer” Feirabend (2-3, 4.25) continue to log major league innings this season and see the obviously not ready Feirabend go near the team leader for homeruns allowed and Weavering two games badly (4 or more earned runs in the first two innings).  If the M’s want to keep winning games down the stretch shouldn’t the players that give the team the best chance to win be on the field?  I’d think so, give Lehr a shot and let him prove me wrong and I’ll kindly shut up about it. 
Speaking of all-stars did you think you were getting through this post Ichiro-free?  Sorry guys can’t help but swing from the guy’s nuts just a little bit for his historic performance at the Mid-Summer Classic.  3 for 3 with the first inside-the-park home run in All-Star game history and the first All-Star game MVP in 15 years (Junior back in ’92) coupled with the 5 year 100 million dollar deal that is supposed to be announced sometime today.  Normally I would be up in arms if my team were to offer a 5 ear deal for that much scribble to a 31 year old outfielder but the man has earned it.  7 straight all-star appearances, 2001 Rookie of the Year and an MVP award with no signs of reduced production.  At this rate he will likely be the third Mariner to get hall of fame recognition with Griffey and Edgar (Randy Johnson will probably go in as a D-Back and who knows what cap A-Rod will wear). 
Speaking of Junior; I was able to attend the second of the three games of the much ballyhooed Reds series that was punctuated with much love for the former Mariner centerfielder.  It was an interesting experience, after getting into an argument with an angry grandpa that thought we were stealing his seats, to the mouthbreather behind me that had to boo as loud as he possibly could to drinking Heineken from a camel-bak (thanks Zoe!) but the best part was watching Wash level the Cincinnati lineup under a beautiful summer sun.  Oh yeah and we won (a day after Homer Fierabend led the way to an embarrassing 16-1 loss against baseball’s worst team, woot!).   
So after his “DL stint” Jeff Weaver has been petty effective against NL cellar dwellers and the punchless A’s so I am going to address it before I start getting the “Josh why don’t you let up on him, look how good he’s doing” stuff from Trident Nation.  The way I see it, homeboy lost six so he owes me..no owes all of us at least 6. When he pitches his way back to .500 I’ll call off the hounds. 
Finally I want to address the abrupt and shocking departure of Mike Hargrove and the subsequent promotion of bench coach John McLaren.  I was as stunned as the rest of the Nation when I heard that Grover was stepping down during an 8 game win streak and a revitalized push for the pennant.  On the plus side Hargrove was regarded as one of the worst tactical managers on the game by a number of sports journalists I’ve read, and from what I’ve heard Johnny Mac has a much better rapport with the players.  Some even say that Ichiro came to his new deal because Hargrove left; now that is just hearsay so I wouldn’t make much of it.  On the down side McLaren has never managed at the big league level before and there is no way to measure if there will be psychological repercussions on the players, especially the younger guys, from a mid season change like this.  Either way it should be a fun second half.
Standings:  AL West: 2 games behind the Angels. Wild Card:  1 games behind the Indians