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Hey, at least we didn't lose any ground to the Angels. If they keep playing at their current pace, and we go undefeated, we'll find ourselves in a first-place tie in just 39 games. And you thought this wasn't a competitive ballclub.

This was just another quiet day for the offense, which couldn't produce enough runs to overcome some mistake pitches by Aaron Sele and JJ Putz. Quiet for the non-Sexson part of the lineup, anyway. Let's break things up:

Sexson in July: .357/.432/.686
Rest of the offense in July: .253/.304/.386

If not for Sexson, the Mariners would have the third-worst team OPS in the month, ranking ahead of Pittsburgh and Washington. Not that every lineup wouldn't look worse without its best hitter, mind you, but no one should ever be this dependent on one guy. Just look at the Giants. Richie Sexson is almost singlehandedly keeping this offense respectable right now, as there are only two other hitters on the team carrying July OPS' above the league average (.753). Put another way, Sexson is pretty much the difference between the 2005 Mariners and last year's nightmare.

To the .jpg:

Biggest Contribution: Matt Thornton. Really. +5.4%
Biggest Suckfest: JJ Putz, -17.2%
Most Important Hit: Sexson homer, +11.3%
Most Important Pitch: Broussard double, -21.5%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -27.0%
Total Contribution by Hitters: -39.0%

(What is this?)

I had to make a judgment call on that line drive double play in the first inning. After much deliberation, I decided that the ball wasn't hit hard enough, and Bloomquist's catch wasn't spectacular enough, to penalize Sele for a single he didn't allow. So, I rewarded him for the double play instead, which made his rating a little more tolerable (but still bad).

New rule of thumb: when nobody makes a positive contribution of at least 10%, it's a sign that the game was unwatchable. Not only does it mean that the Mariners probably lost, but that it was almost certainly a boring loss, devoid of any big hits or clutch pitches. So in the future, if you miss a game, check this site, and see that some jabroni like Matt Thornton led everyone on the team with a +5.4% rating, you can rest assured that you didn't miss much.

There's only so much you can say about Aaron Sele. You try and you try to think of something original to write, but after a little while you just have to throw up your hands, lean back in your chair, and ask yourself if it's really worth it. After all, he won't be on this team much longer anyway, God willing, and I don't know anyone who's particularly interested in reading about a 35 year old zero-upside veteran on a bad team. Aaron's a great guy, and he's had himself a pretty decent career, but he's a bad pitcher (not even intereresting-bad; just regular-bad) who's just keeping a rotation spot warm for someone half his age and ten times as exciting. That is, as warm as his rotting corpse could possibly keep a rotation spot, anyway.

In the ninth inning, Ron Fairly launched himself back into his patented "score four runs and win!" daily monologue. Nevermind that scoring four runs today would have only helped us lose by a little less. In fact, if the Mariners were averaging four runs a game, they'd have the second-worst offense in the league, just in front of the Nationals, whose pitching staff has an ERA half a run better than ours.

Hell, why not take it a step further? Going by the 2005 schedule, if the Mariners had scored four runs in every game so far this year, they would have 33 wins, 52 losses, and 12 ties, which we can only assume would favor the opponent somehow. That's a bad record, far worse than where the team currently stands. We should be thanking our lucky stars that the players don't subscribe to Ron Fairly's school of productivity.

We also got to hear from Fairly in the bottom of the sixth that Casey Blake is 2-32 this year with men in scoring position and two out. Too bad there was only one out at the time.

Finally, in dicussing the AJ Burnett trade rumors with Dave in the booth, since the game on the field wasn't really worth acknowledging, much less narrating in a detailed fashion, Ron mentioned that Burnett has a good arm but a .500 record, questioning his knowledge of how to win. I would've liked to hear what he had to say about Ben Sheets a year ago.

You kind of get to make a choice of who to listen to when watching a Mariners game. You options:

(A) Fairly, who says crazy shit
(B) Niehaus, who possesses a classic voice but has trouble reading pitches^ or fly balls
(C) Both, which is like scraping nails across a chalkboard with one hand and operating a jackhammer with the other
(D) Neither, pressing the SAP button so that the empty cliches are incomprehensibly foreign

(^-At one point today, Niehaus said "and the curve that time is outside" on an 86mph fastball up and in.)

You will, some time before the end of the year, tell someone that "Chris Snelling rocks my socks."

Signs That Ben Broussard is on the Mariner Payroll, #1:
-he loses his bat while swinging in the bottom of the sixth, sending it flying into the Seattle dugout and narrowly missing Miguel Olivo's head.

JJ Putz has allowed eight home runs against 39 fly ball outs this year - twice the amount that you'd expect. He's also only allowed two doubles, which means one of two things: either (1) JJ's pitches are so hittable that they're easy to send over the fence, or (2) he's been pretty unlucky so far. The problem is that he usually pitches in close games, meaning that every home run he allows has a pretty significant impact. It gives him a reputation as something of a choker, a guy who wilts in high-pressure situations, and that's the kind of label that's hard to shake. Working in his favor is that he closed a few games last summer, but what's happened recently always matters more than what happened a while ago, so it'll be interesting to see how much trust Hargrove has in Putz over the next few weeks. Given that the bullpen may be dismantled by trades, Hargrove might have to throw JJ out there for another few reluctant eighth innings, but I can't imagine he's too happy about that.

I'm out of time today. Back to Safeco tomorrow, with Ryan Franklin going up against Nate Robertson at 7:05pm.