The Seattle Mariners have clearly put their focus on defense and pitching since Jack Zduriencik took over as general manager.
A team with little power figures to have even less after letting slugger Russell Branyan leave via free agency. But offensive concerns aside, they should at least be a major pain at the top of the order with Chone Figgins batting second behind Ichiro.
They’ll both get on base – Ichiro by racking up hits, Figgins with a fine eye for the strike zone – and once there, they’ll both drive pitchers nuts with their speed. A fine example occurred during Thursday’s Cactus League game against the Giants.
Ichiro led off the game with a double off Tim Lincecum. Figgins walked. The speedsters pulled off a double steal, then scored on a single by Ryan Garko.
This prompted Giants manager Bruce Bochy to utter this phrase (from Kirby Arnold of The Herald):
“Those two guys at the top of the lineup are going to be like gnats.”
Bochy might want to trademark that one real quick, because that sound you hear is the Mariners’ promotional team scrambling to come up with a whole new line of “Gnats” products.
That’s gold, Jerry!
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Mets starter Jon Niese left his start Tuesday night against the Cardinals due to left knee pain.
Niese walked two and gave up an RBI single before leaving with a trainer with one out in the bottom of the first inning. He was eventually charged with three earned runs. Robert Gsellman, just up from Las Vegas, took over, making his major league debut under unexpected circumstances.
Niese, who has not pitched well at all since coming over in a trade with the Pirates, is likely to be placed on the disabled list after the game or before tomorrow’s game.
Mark Trumbo still has many chances to hit a home run tonight — it’s only been an inning or so in the Nats-Orioles game — but his weird home run streak is over.
Coming into tonight’s game, Trumbo’s last seven hits had been homers. The all-time record had been 11, set by Mark McGwire back in 2001. The last time Trumbo got a hit that wasn’t a dong was back on August 11. Later in that game, however, he hit a grand slam. After that he went 6 for his next 34, with all those safeties dingers.
But that’s over now. In the first inning tonight he drove in a run with a two-out single. Then he was thrown out trying to stretch it to two. Good job on the RBIs, Mark. Bad job on the base running. Judgment withheld on the homer streak because, really, that’s just kind of weird and cool.