And so, for those of you keeping track - and who isn't? - that makes seven. On Sunday, the Mariners ran their unbeaten streak to seven games, as Jason Vargas and a host of relievers blanked the rival Angels by a score of 2-0. The M's haven't lost a game since last Sunday, and have over that stretch outscored their opponents 43-19. This is just dominant baseball, and based on a sample size of the last seven days, it's only going to continue.
I wasn't paying super close attention to this game, but anyway, on to the bullet holes:
- Jason Vargas was solid in his first start and even better today, stretching out to four innings and keeping the Angels off the board. While he was facing a split-squad lineup, he struck out three and only allowed three singles, one of which came on a bunt. Of course, I can't say anything conclusive about Vargas' effort since I don't have pitch data. With that said, I'm guessing Vargas will come away saying he's happy with his performance, and one gets the sense he might be one of those guys who thinks Spring Training is too long. He's just about ready to go now.
Dan Cortes and Josh Lueke worked back-to-back innings, protecting a 1-0 lead in the seventh and eighth. Neither of them faced much in the way of opposition, but while Lueke worked a very quick 1-2-3, Cortes issued walks to both Howie Kendrick and Hank Conger. That makes five walks in four innings for Cortes so far, while Lueke only has one in 6.1. It's no wonder that Cortes has been talked about as a guy who needs to make adjustments, while Lueke has entered into the interim closer competition. Cortes has been far too wild, while Lueke's been sharp.
- In the post about Milton Bradley the other day, I noted that Jack Zduriencik spoke very highly of Bradley's energy level in ST. Rewind to the third inning. Bradley doubled home Jack Wilson for the first run of the game. Bradley then took off for third on a wild pitch. After that, Bradley tried to catch the Angels napping and broke for home, but was thrown out in a bang-bang play. Bradley didn't argue and Eric Wedge apparently applauded the attempt.
Bradley, right now, is just going all-out. He's only gotten into nine or ten games, but he's had a great approach and a terrific attitude. One worries that this max-effort endeavor could end up putting Bradley on the sidelines with an injury, but Milton is focused, and Milton can do big things when he's focused. The Mariners might actually have something here.
- Ryan Divish wrote about a new stance that Michael Saunders is trying out. Struggling batters are always futzing around with new stances and swings in the same way that struggling pitchers are always futzing around with their mechanics, but anything that could give Saunders more time to react is worth a go, and in the fourth inning we saw Saunders turn on an Ervin Santana fastball and rip it to right for a triple. No, it doesn't mean much. It's just nice to be able to write about a Michael Saunders extra-base hit.
- Sean Kazmar now leads the team with 13 spring appearances. Sean Kazmar is like glitter. It doesn't matter how little of it you get. Before too long, it's going to be everywhere.
- Facing Amalio Diaz in the ninth, Kazmar ripped a double off the wall on a fly ball to left fielder Chris Pettit. Dustin Ackley then stepped in and ripped a double off the wall on a fly ball to left fielder Chris Pettit. I've been trying really hard to come up with something exciting to say about Ackley's double but I keep coming back to the fact that Sean Kazmar did the same exact thing.
- In 2007, Brandon Wood made his big league debut and hit .152. In 2008, looking to establish himself, Wood hit .200. In 2009, trying to shake off the disappointment and take a step forward, Wood hit .195. And in 2010, as the everyday third baseman out of camp, Wood hit .146. He came to Spring Training this year looking to prove that he's made adjustments, but opened by hitting .188. Which brought us to today.
Wood came up in the second and struck out. He came up in the fifth and grounded out. He came up with two on in the seventh and flew out. And finally, with two down in the ninth, Wood came up as the potential winning run and struck out. He struck out on three pitches, and, for good measure, Steve Baron tagged him after dropping the ball in the dirt. So, in Wood's head, he got out, and then he got out again. His average is down to .167.
You have to think that, one of these days, Brandon Wood is just going to snap and move to Kansas to till fields.
Doug Fister and the M's get Matt Garza and the Cubs tomorrow afternoon. For anyone curious, Carlos Silva has allowed 18 runs in 8.1 innings over three starts. I can't believe we might still win that trade.