Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Ron Villone didn't take long to look like he was going to take an early exit. Jose Cruz Jr. ran out an infield single and went to third on a Jorge Cantu double. One out later, Geoff Blum (average now up to .221) singled to leftfield to score both runners (TB 2-0). Two pitches later, Rey Sanchez doubled to Randy Winn territory to plate Blum (TB 3-0). Carl Crawford singled to put runners on the corners, and Julio Lugo hit an RBI groundout to drag out the lead to four (TB 4-0).
Meanwhile, Jorge Sosa looked like he was up to his old tricks against the Mariners, firing 95mph fastballs to the plate and retiring the first 10 hitters to face him.
There was nearly a Mariner scoring threat in the 5th. Bret Boone walked on four pitches to lead off. Bucky Jacobsen's groundout moved Boone to second, and a Jolbert Cabrera groundout moved Boone to third. Miguel Olivo then whiffed.
The Mariners would get to Sosa in a big way in the 6th, with big help from the Tampa Bay defense. Jose Lopez dribbled a 1-2 pitch along the third-base line; the ball must have had a chalk magnet in it or something, because it rolled on the line until it hit the bag at third. Ichiro swung at a 2-0 pitch and hit a bouncer to Cantu at third. Cantu hurried the throw and airmailed the second baseman by about five feet. Runners were on second and third with nobody out. Winn singled into rightfield to score Lopez (TB 4-1). Edgar Martinez came to the plate and hit a sac fly to centerfield (TB 4-2). Raul Ibanez ripped a 3-1 pitch into rightfield for a single. Bret Boone bounced into a 5-4 fielder's choice to put runners on the corners. This set the stage for Bucky. The Hermiston Hammer ripped a 1-2 pitch foul down the third-base line (just missed a double), but mashed a hanging slider on the next pitch into the front couple of rows in the leftfield bleachers above the KOMO 1000 sign to get the Mariners the lead (SEA 5-4). End result for Sosa is that four of the five runs are unearned.
What would Ron Villone do with his newfound lead? If your guess is "walk the leadoff guy," you are correct. Geoff Blum (again, a formidable and fearsome .221 hitter) drew the leadoff walk, and was singled over to second by Sanchez, who was 2-for-3 on the night. Carl Crawford bunted the runners over, and Julio Lugo hit a fly ball to centerfield that may have been deep enough to score Blum even with a league-average arm throwing the ball back in (5-5). Yup, that Mariner lead lasted for all of three hitters. Villone would walk BJ Upton on four pitches and start Tino Martinez off 3-0. Tino would bounce out to Bucky to end the inning. Villone would not come out for the 8th inning. His line: 7 innings, 5 runs, 8 hits, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts, 107 pitches (66 strikes). Basically, the number of innings is good, but the runs and walks are not good. I wish people (certain media outlets, i.e., KJR's postgame show tonight) would stop saying that this guy is important. The guy gave up five runs tonight to bring his ERA up to 4.50. To me, there's guys out there that can do what he's doing that cost considerably less than $1 million. If both Bob Melvin and Ron Villone are wearing Mariner uniforms next year, I'll be miffed. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but did the Mariners break the Scott Boras client moratorium on Rey Sanchez last year? That's just a Villone/Boras-related thing that came to mind there. One great moment of last offseason was when I read that Boras and Bill Bavasi apparently get along well, which I think translates to "Boras cleans Bavasi's clock." If Ron Villone comes into spring training next year with a multiyear deal, I might be forced to go back to Mitchell, Oregon and live out of a tent or something. Believe me, that's bad.
Olivo hit a leadoff single right after the 7th inning stretch. Lopez bunted Olivo to second, then Lou Piniella put Ichiro on first base. Travis Harper came out of the bullpen to whiff Winn and get Edgar to fly out to Cruz.
The Mariners mounted a small threat in their half of the 8th after Scott Atchison set down the Devil Rays 1-2-3 in the top half of the frame. Ibanez singled to lead off, and went to second on an 0-2 low/away slider in the dirt to Boone (he laid off of it?!). Boone woudl whiff two pitches later. Bucky would also whiff. Jolbert Cabrera would ground out to Tino.
Atchison returned to the mound in the 9th. How did he start off? Exactly like Villone started the 7th: leadoff walk to Blum. He moved to second on a Sanchez bunt. Carl Crwwford was put on first, then Lugo hit a hard single to rightfield, which prevented anyone from scoring (somebody's got an arm out there) and left the bases loaded. Aubrey Huff was brought in to pinch-hit and George Sherrill was brought in to face him. Huff hit a ground ball to Boone's glove side that was too slow and too far away for Boone to turn an inning-ending double play. Instead, Boone merely got the sure out at first as the go-ahead run crossed the plate (TB 6-5). Tino hit a comebacker to Sherrill to end the inning.
Unlike last night, Danys Baez threw a 1-2-3 9th, setting down Olivo, Lopez and Ichiro.
Ichiro is still stuck on 199 hits. Does anyone want to wager how long it'll take him to get 200?
Last tidbit of note for the night: Tampa Bay's tying run and go-ahead run were put on base via the leadoff walk.
Gameball: Randy Winn. 2-for-4 with an RBI single in the big inning. Honorable mention to Bucky and his big three-run smash, one night after his pinch-hit two-run single. To think the Mariners are paying Scott Spiezio $9 million over three years for the type of clutch hitting that Bucky has shown the Mariners over the past two days.
Goat: Jolbert Cabrera. 0-for-4 with a strikeout, stranding two. That's called being a waste of space.
You know, what sucks about the LA area not having an NFL team is that I can't take tonight's way-out-of-hand Kansas City/Anaheim game and say something like "the Rams hung three touchdowns on the Chiefs" or anything like that. All said, do you think the Royals might have a chip on their shoulder after having the Angels hang up 21 runs on them the night before?
Oh yeah, I was watching some of that Baltimore/Oakland game that went scoreless into the 9th, when Marco Scutaro walked off with a three-run blast. After the game, the viewing choice was between a Wednesday Night Baseball postgame show of Pam Ward/Rob Dibble or a Baseball Tonight show with Karl Ravech involved. No contest.
Anderson. Moyer. Tomorrow.