Thursday, April 30, 2009

Whazzat? M's in first?

As we prepare to flip our calendars to May I notice that the Seattle Mariners, losers of more than 100 games on a $100 million-plus payroll in 2008, are 13-9, in first place by 2 1/2 games, and are the only club above .500 in what is looking like a truly pathetic AL West.

Who'd-a thunk?

Pitching has been the key. As of this evening, the M's have the best ERA in the American League at 3.47, just a shade ahead of ... Kansas City? Felix Hernandez (4-0, 2.38) has been lights out, Erik "The Great" Bedard (2-1, 2.61) nearly as good, and Jarrod Washburn (3-1, 3.42) is doing well after putting up an atrocious 23-43 record with ERA in the mid/upper 4s in three years with the Mariners.

Sweetie the Official Scorer has taken an early liking to Chris Jakubauskas, an independent-league refugee who made the club at age 30 and has gone 1-3, 5.23 so far. The numbers are a bit deceptive; Jak has pitched well in four of five appearances, three of them starts. The high ERA is due mainly to one stinker of a start against Tampa Bay. The other day against the White Sox he pitched a complete game, allowed two runs on two hits, and lost. 

The defense has been much improved, especially in the outfield, where Endy Chavez and Franklin Gutierrez have been a far sight better than the assorted cripples who flanked Ichiro last year. Though we can't help noticing that the statue known as Raul Ibanez is tearing it up to the tune of .359 with seven homers and 17 RBI for the Phillies. 

The offense has been another story. Russell Branyan leads the club in batting (.333) and homers (4). Meanwhile prodigal son Ken Griffey, Jr. is batting a robust .200 with a pair of 'taters and five RBI, but word is he's been great as judge of the kangaroo court. Ichiro missed the first eight games with ulcers -- what does this dude have to worry about? -- but is hitting over .300. 

Don't go printing up the playoff tickets just yet. But it looks like the Mariners have as good a chance as any of the flawed teams in the AL West to capture the flag and take their chances in the playoffs.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Oh while it lasted.