Some random thoughts on a Sunday morning in St. Pete:
* Franklin Gutierrez (60), Jose Lopez (56) and Casey Kotchman (51) are the only Mariners with more RBIs this season than Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has this month (40). Russell Branyan (57) doesn’t count because he hasn’t spent the entire season with the Mariners.
Tulowitzki, by the way, was projected by many experts (including MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo) to be the Mariners’ first-round Draft choice in 2005, when they had the fifth overall pick. They chose catcher Jeff Clement and Tulowitzki was selected by the Rockies two picks later. Ouch.
* Interesting comments in the St. Pete Times today from the Rays clubhouse talking about how the first two batters in Saturday night’s game — catcher John Jaso and second baseman Ben Zobrist — challenged Ichiro’s arm, and won, stretching singles into doubles.
“Most players are not going to challenge Ichiro in that situation,” manager Joe Maddon said, “and (Jaso) did, and he’s safe. Everybody in the dugout was like, ‘No! No! No!’. And then they’re like ‘Yeah! Yeah!, Yeah!’. It worked out great.”
*Tropicana Field has become the “noisiest” facility in the Major Leagues. Not because fans fill the place every night (or day), but the sound system is soooooooooo loud it’s almost like being in an NBA arena. The Devil Rays swimming in a pool out there in center field must be scared out of their wits.
* St. Pete Times baseball writer Marc Topkin had an intersting stat in his Cy Young Award handicap chart, pointing out that Felix Hernandez has pitched against teams with records of .500 or better 63.6 percent of the time this season while CC Sabathia is at 51.5 percent. Rays lefty David Price has had it even tougher than Felix, facing winning teams 73.3 percent of the time.
Furthermore, Price has received an average of 6.04 runs per start, compared to 6.12 for Sabathia. Felix? Try 3.09.
*The Mariners need to win one more game on this road trip to avoid becoming the second team in franchise history to notch only 23 wins on the road during a non-strike season.
And finally, the Mariners’ lineup for the series finale against the Rays has been posted:
1. Ichiro, RF
2. Chone Figgins, 2B
3. Jose Lopez, DH
4. Franklin Gutierrez, CF
5. Justin Smoak, 1B
6. Matt Mangini, 3B
7. Josh Bard, C
8. Greg Halman, LF
9. Josh Wilson, SS
LHP Luke French
— Jim Street