Cliff Lee was back on the mound at Safeco Field tonight, doing what Cliff Lee does no matter what uniform he wears. Lee seems to be back to his early season form as the Rangers head down the stretch towards the playoffs, picking-up another win tonight 6-1 over the Mariners.
Unfortunately I missed Felix’s no-hit bid last night along with the Tacoma Rainiers victory as I was still down in sunny So. Calif. on business. Felix Hernandez definitely is showing that he is deserving of seriuos consideration for the Cy-Young award this year, and it will be fun him compete in his last few outings. even if the team looks like they are going to lose 100 games this year.
I was looking forward to tonight’s game perhaps to catch a glimpse of Danny Cortes who was just called-up along with Justin Smoak. I ran into Dan Cortes this year a couple of times at spring training and he came-across as a real decent guy who is hungry to compete in the Majors and get a chance to use his 100 mph+ fastball. But perhaps Darren Brown is going to try to give the kid a shot when the game is on the line to see how he does under pressure. Cortes is something special, and we could sure use him in 2011 in the bullpen.
As it turns out we have seen this sort of game many times this year so it was nothing spectacular. Pretty much the same routine of a strong well-balanced team facing the Mariners who are anything but strong when it comes to finding a way to win. As usual the Mariners starter in this case Jason Vargas, pitched a decent game but got no support from his offense. The Mariners had runners on second and third with nobody down in the fifth, but failed to score anything for Vargas….. and well you know how the rest of the routine unfolds.
Ichiro did manage to add to his hit total tonight with two more singles and now stands at 193 on the year, closing in on the magic 200 hit mark for the 10th year in a row, which is quite an accomplishment though it feels kind of empty in comparison to the overall sad state of affairs for the good-ship Mariners.
Franklin Gutierrez also hit his 12th home run in the 7th in an otherwise routine Mariner loss. Nice to see Smoak get a hit in his first night back and I am hoping to see Greg Hallman and Mike Wilson get a chance to swing the bat with the big club after the Rainiers finish up Tuesday. It seems that we have gotten a pretty good look at Michael Saunders out in left and if you ask me he doesn’t seem to have clearly won that spot in 2011. Saunders looks good in the field,has great speed, but seems to be lost at the plate most of the time. Hopefully either Mike Wilson or Greg Hallman can get a chance to prove they can hit for power against Major League pitching during the final road trip.
It looks like the AL West title will go to the Rangers who will then play either the Yankees or Rays depending on who wins the AL East. The Twins barring a complete melt-down, look like they have the AL Central title in-hand even without Justin Morneau. The NL Central looks like a lock for the Reds, but the AL East is still up for grabs with the Phillies on top of the Braves for now. And then you have the NL West where there is a three-way battle going on between the Giants, Padres and the surging Rockies. This race in the NL West seems to have the most potential for a photo-finish and is worth keeping an eye between Seahawks games…..