Jason Vargas just called it a season after carrying a 4-1 lead through the seventh inning. The Mariners have only four hits today, but two of them were home runs and they also scored on that bizarre play earlier in which two errors were committed by the A’s.
A good sign? Vargas is 30-3 in his Seattle career when the M’s score at least four runs.
The M’s haven’t had a pair of pitchers throw at least 215 innings in the same season since Jamie Moyer and Freddy Garcia in 2002. But Vargas (217 1/3) and Felix Hernandez (226 2/3) have now done it.
2:21 p.m.: We’ve played four innings here and the Mariners have a 4-1 lead, based largely on a pair of homers in the fourth by Kyle Seager and Michael Saunders — the latter a two-run shot. Seattle had opened the scoring in the second inning when an attempted double play went terribly awry. A’s first baseman Brandon Moss had scooped up a grounder and stepped on his bag for one out, then tried to throw to second to nab John Jaso.
But that throw went into left field. Jaso took off fr third and Yoenis Cespedes tried to throw him out, only to see the ball wind up in the A’s dugout.
Jaso was awarded the plate.
Cespedes made up for it in the bottom of the fourth, when, down 4-0, he scored all the way from first on a single to right field. Cespedes was off and running on the pitch as Brandon Moss grounded one through the open right side. Cespedes slowed only briefly at third and then, when Casper Wells made an obligatory pump fake his way, took off and easily scored on a headfirst slide before the beleagured Wells could get the ball there in time.
12:19 p.m.: Mariners manager Eric Wedge wasn’t happy with last night’s performance from all aspects. But he hasn’t been pleased with his team’s defense for the past couple of weeks.
The Mariners are a team built on pitching and defense, but lately, that side of the ball has let them down. Part of it is the caliber of opponent. You play good teams all the time, you press and make mistakes you normally wouldn’t: Kyle Seager bobbling a routine grounder by Mike Trout the other night being Exhibit A.
Seager never makes mistakes like those. But when you’re playing a good team, they tend to have excellent players that make you hurry and do things you normally avoid.
Last night, we saw shortstop Brendan Ryan bobble a couple of balls. One of them was a hit, but we’ve gotten so used to seeing Ryan make those plays, anytime he doesn’t tends to stand out. And of course, there was the Dustin Ackley throw home that was off-target and wound up costing the M’s a bunch of runs.
Today, we get to see a new face in a shortstop. Carlos Triunfel is in there becausevWedge feels Ryan needs a break. Plus, Wedge wants to get a closer look at Triunfel.
And for good reason.
Munenori Kawasaki is just about done with his year-long stint of being the team’s energetic bench cheerleader and part-time fill-in as a pinch-runner/late-insert when Ryan is pinch-hit for.
But in no way should Kawasaki be back manning a full-time Mariners job next season. I doubt he’ll get any MLB job offers, either. He’s a fun guy and got to dabble in the big leagues, but the M’s need more viable backup infield options for next year, especially in the event that shortstop Ryan is again a sub-.200 hitter and needs to be sat.
Triunfel is still only 22 and as long as he’s on the 40-man roster, the Mariners can hold on to him for as long as they want. Whether that’s a the MLB level, or back in Class AAA as insurance. But if they take him off the 40-man roster, he’ll be a minor league free agent after next spring.
Triunfel has been in the organization since 2007. He may be young, but we’re getting to the point of where the M’s have to figure out whether he’s worth spending a 40-man roster spot on. As of right now, I’d say yes.
NickFranklin isn’t being groomed to be anyone’s backup. He’s in the organization to be a full-time player. We don’t know enough about shortstop Brad Miller yet to make that call one way or the other.
Triunfel used to be looked at as a potential full-timer. Now, not so much. But his defense at shortstop hasn’t been half bad. And his bat has shown some pop in it the few times he’s gotten to play.
He doesn’t have to make this team out of spring training next year. But if the M’s sign a utility backup type this winter, Triunfel can remain in AAA as insurance next season — and as a full-timer there once Franklin gets promoted to the big club — while the Mariners figure out whether he can develop into something more at age 23.
So, I’m not surprised Wedge wants a closer look at Triunfel today. This team’s middle infield has a lot of bodies starting to pile up in the majors and upper minors who project as SS/2B types.
But nobody exactly screams superstar. At least not yet. The Mariners have a lot that has yet to be decided at those positions and might as well hang on to a still-young Triunfel until they start to figure some things about about their other guys.
In other news, Franklin Gutierrez is back in the lineup as expected after getting an extra day to let his sore neck loosen up.
13 Dustin Ackley 2B
21 Franklin Gutierrez CF
15 Kyle Seager 3B
27 John Jaso DH
17 Justin Smoak 1B
55 Michael Saunders CF
30 Miguel Olivo C
33 Casper Wells RF
9 Carlos Triunfel SS
38 Jason Vargas LHP
4 Coco Crisp CF
5 Stephen Drew SS
52 Yoenis Cespedes LF
37 Brandon Moss 1B
31 Jimmy Gomes DH
16 Josh Reddick RF
20 Josh Donaldson 3B
36 Derek Norris C
17 Adam Rosales 2B
67 Dan Straily RHP