What We Learned Last Night

  • Griffey's still got it. A little. For the first few months, there'd been a lot of concern that Griffey'd lost his ability to turn around on a good fastball, but yesterday he got a first-pitch 97mph heater over the outer third of the plate from Tony Pena and drilled it into right-center field for his longest homer of the season. Whether Griffey went up there fully intending to swing like a crazy person at the first pitch, I'm not sure, but doing what he did is impressive, and it gives me a bit of hope that he's not totally finished as a power source. It's good to see him have the moment he almost had against San Francisco. Last night's homer may not have won the game, but no one's going to care - a year from now, it's all people will remember. While I've been less than thrilled by Griffey's performance to date, no other player could've given us what Griffey did last night.

  • David Aardsma isn't always a fright. Single or not, that inning was easy, as he just put on a fastball-throwing clinic and left the Diamondbacks looking helpless. He's now at 87% fastballs on the season, and yet he's generating arguably the best results of his career. Regardless of how unsustainable his ERA may be, he's been a savior, and he's making Zduriencik look like a genius. It's also worth noting that, over Aardsma's last 17 batters faced, he's whiffed nine and walked none while throwing an above-average number of strikes. So who knows, maybe he's getting better.

  • Russell Branyan laughs at hanging breaking balls. What a stupid mistake by Schoeneweis. Incidentally, I'm a bit reassured by Branyan's performance last night. After making an improved amount of contact for the first chunk of the season, he dropped down to 60.5% (close to his career mark) over the past 30 days. Yesterday, though, he only missed one pitch on ten swings, so that's a step in the right direction. When a player I like makes an improvement, I always get nervous whenever I see the slightest sign of regression, so it would really give me peace of mind to see Branyan get himself back up to a contact rate of ~70%. Games like yesterday help.

  • Yuniesky Betancourt is surprising. Endy Chavez hasn't been a Mariner for very long, but he's been here long enough to understand the modest limits of Yuni's range. So he probably wasn't expecting to have competition for Felipe Lopez's shallow pop-up. I've seen worse-looking collisions, but while Endy kept his head intact, he's now out for the year with a bollocksed knee, and that sucks. As far as the silver lining is concerned, though, I think the bright side could be twofold - for one thing, this opens the door for Michael Saunders, and for another, hopefully Endy showed enough in the early going to be a semi-regular again somewhere in 2010. Let's all just cross our fingers that this doesn't end up taking a toll on Endy's speed. He's unlikely to be a Mariner when he's healthy again, but he's been a useful player and a wonderful teammate, and no one wants to see an accident like that end up killing a career.

  • Rob Johnson isn't 100% completely worthless. Guess who has a higher wOBA than Yuni?

  • This team still needs help. I guess this doesn't really count as something we just learned, but lost in all the Griffey hooplah and Chavez grief is the fact that the Mariners got shut out for seven innings by Jon flipping Garland. Having things in common with the Padres is a bad way to put yourself in position to make the playoffs. Have I mentioned that Michael Saunders could help? Guys like Clement and Carp could help the offense, too, but an alignment where one of them takes over at DH and Griffey plays the field is considerably worse than an alignment where Griffey stays at DH and Saunders goes to left, so I'm rooting for the latter. I am ready to love Michael Saunders. I just need him to give me a reason.

Update - well apparently the team isn't ready to give Saunders the call. Wladimir Balentien is going to take over the ~full-time job in left field for the time being. Which, okay, if they don't think Saunders is ready yet then I'll defer to their expertise. But he's not far off, and if Wlad doesn't get things going, then I can't imagine it will take very long for them to make a change. As for Wlad, the time is now or never. If he doesn't impress, he's probably done as a Mariner. Done as a Mariner in a meaningful role, anyway. Perhaps he should try hitting a second home run. I dunno. I'm just spitballing here.

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