This will not be a comprehensive recap of the game. My only visual interaction with this game was via the MLB.com highlights afterward so my impressions are limited to the parts of the game that I caught via radio and some generalized thoughts.
The win today meant the Mariners officially won the series against the Rays, giving them six series wins in a row. The last time they accomplished that feat was 2001 when they won approximately 5,842 consecutive series. The Mariners currently have a winning record this season against all AL East teams except the Baltimore Orioles. Go figure.
The nine runs today gives the Mariners 26 runs for the four game series. They are now on pace to squeak past 600 runs scored for the season. I can't believe it came down to the wire last season whether they could hobble across the 500-run barrier. Unlike Jeff and others, I have little faith in any part of our offense, but maybe they are collectively coming out of their funk. It's nice of y'all to chip in finally for the party that the starting pitchers have been throwing all season.
Speaking of the pitching today was another stellar Erik Bedard performance. Working mostly off a 91mph average fastball - he threw just 22 curve balls and 16 change ups - Bedard recorded 14 swinging strikes. That is a season high for him and the fourth consecutive game with at least ten. His 111 pitches is also a season high. Day in and day out our starting pitching seems to keep the Mariners in the game, which is one of those useless platitudes until you look at our offense and you have new found respect for these guys being able to drag those clowns around with them like a stone of shame.
Unfortunately, for the Mariners, the Phillies rotation exists completely ruining the curve. While Seattle's has the better ERA, Philadelphia's rotation has a tRA almost a full run lower than the Mariners'. Their xFIP is nearly half a run better than any other team in baseball. The Phillies rotation has been insanely good by every measure and they've had to suffer baseball's second-highest BABIP. Well done, Ibanez.
The success and so far durability of Bedard has made me appreciate how much better he is making the team this season. One look to Tacoma's rotation and you should start counting your blessings that the Mariners have yet to need a sixth starter. Sure, David Pauley might be able to fill that role when needed, but using him there means not using him in the bullpen so that's a bitter salve. We sure could use a couple of our lower-level guys to keep their heads above water and move forward in the system.
I know there were quite a lot of comments about Jim Joyce's strike zone today, but not having seen the broadcast all I have is to look at the pitch f/x graphs and to me, it looks even-handed. That's a small zone to be sure, and underscores Bedard's great no-walk performance, but it appears a mostly balanced small zone. The timing of some of the calls may have added to the frustration, but I see nothing in the overall map to warrant mentioning.
Brandon League tossed another perfect inning and needed only eight pitches to complete it. Four were fastballs and four were sliders, including a first pitch slider to Sam Fuld. He didn't even get a chance to throw a behind-in-the-count fastball because he went strike one on every hitter and seven of his eight pitches were strikes.
On the hitting side, Greg Halman certainly made the biggest impression in his 2011 Major League debut. He singled to right field in the third off a 0-2 pitch, flew out to right field in the fifth, tripled to right-center in the seventh off a 1-2 pitch and singled to center field in the ninth. It's one game and I have no idea what Halman's spray charts look like in the Minors, but showing power the other way is a nice way to say hello. Greg Halman had five total bases today. He had five total bases in his 30 trips to the plate as a Mariner last season.
After a very welcome Ichiro triple, Brendan Ryan and Ichiro executed a flawless squeeze play in the third. Watching the video from it makes you wonder why teams, or at least the Mariners, don't squeeze more often because Ryan made it look so easy. And then you remember. The bunt and run increased the Mariners' win expectancy by 3.8% providing one of those few moments when a bunt is called for in isolation.