Tuesday, August 24, 2004


Before I get to Kazmir/Madritsch, here's why I'm late with the recap tonight. A lefthanded longtime teammate of mine roped me into a pizza-and-poker fest. The pizza was...I'm not picky about pizza, so it doesn't matter (very edible). The poker match was among six players, with a $10 buy-in. Unfortunately for me, it was winner-take-all. I folded most of my crappy hands, and only won one good full house hand, with a couple of minor hands. I was the third person to bow out, ahead of two others that knew more about poker than me. Not bad, but I don't plan on playing again for a while. See, if that was tournament format, maybe I could have at least won my money back.

That said, there's still no reason for poker to be on ESPN, Fox Sports, etc.

I saw Scott Kazmir throw his first fastball of the game tonight, and man, was I impressed. I liked his mechanics, I liked the hair on his fastball, and I liked how well he was doing considering it was his Major League debut and he was 20 years old.

Bobby Madritsch also pitched fairly well, but he had one bad inning, and it just wasn't meant to be tonight.

I saw the first five innings of this game before I left to lose $10. Madritsch and Kazmir appeared locked in a pitchers' duel, though with Kazmir being the visibly more jittery and wild pitcher.

Kazmir had himself and Rey Sanchez to thank for landing him into some hot water in the 2nd. Kazmir walked Bucky Jacobsen on four pitches. Miguel Olivo hit a grounder to the normally sure-handed Rey Sanchez on a 3-1 pitch. On what would have been a double-play ball, Sanchez had the ball fly out of the pocket of his glove on his transfer/twist movement before he would have thrown to second. Sanchez would immediately atone, turning a 4-6-3 double play on the next hitter, Jose Lopez. Kazmir got Willie Bloomquist to line out to Carl Crawford in center after blowing a fastball by him.

Then came Kazmir's 27-pitch 3rd inning. He got two quick outs before Edgar doubled off the top of the wall (it bounced off the horizontal surface of the wall and back into the field of play). Raul Ibanez worked the count full and drew a walk before Bret Boone also worked the count full and bounced out to third.

Madritsch weathered BJ Upton's leadoff double in the 4th by getting Tino Martinez to pop out to Olivo, by getting Jose Cruz, Jr. to line out to Ibanez, and by getting Jorge Cantu to pop out to Bloomquist at third.

The last out of Kazmir's night occurred in the 5th when Ichiro was nailed trying to steal second on a 1-0 pitch to Ibanez.

Then came the runs. With one out in the 6th, Madritsch fell behind 3-0 on Julio Lugo and walked him. Upton then singled on a 1-2 pitch to move Lugo to third. Tino then dinked one into leftfield on the first pitch to score Lugo (TB 1-0) and move Upton to second. Then Cruz mashed one off the leftfield foul pole (TB 4-0). Tough break for Bobby Madritsch. I wish I could have seen the pitch he threw, but man, it was only a pan of two pitches, and four runs crossed the plate. Ain't that a b. Cantu hit a comebacker to Madritsch and Toby Hall lined out to Lopez to end the inning. Madritsch followed his unsightly 6th inning with a 1-2-3 7th inning, his final inning of the night. His line: 7 innings, 4 runs, 5 hits, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts, 109 pitches (78 strikes). The most positive thing about the start is probably that he threw seven innings, and is consistently throwing about that many innings every start, and giving the bullpen enough rest for when the Ron Villones of the world have to take the mound for a start.

What followed Scott Kazmir's exit was two innings of complete impotence from the Mariner offense against Travis Harper. What followed Travis Harper was Clint Nageotte and his complete impotence in terms of holding the game at least remotely close. Nageotte threw two pitches, and Lugo was on third base with one out (Lugo doubled, Upton fly ball). Tino then reached on what was probably a well-placed infield single. Cruz singled to score Lugo (TB 5-0) and move Tino into scoring position. Nageotte's 1-2 pitch to Cantu was wild, moving both runners into scoring position. Nageotte then walked Cantu, loading the bases with one out. Hall hit a sufficiently deep fly ball to score Tino (TB 6-0). Even Geoff Blum version 2004 got into the act, singling to left to score Cruz (TB 7-0). Just to drive the dagger, former Mariner Sanchez drove in Cantu and Blum with a double (TB 9-0). Just to break down that inning, Clint's line was: 1 inning, 5 runs, 5 hits, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 24 pitches (16 strikes). Hey, Clint's ERA for that inning was 45.00, not that it makes any sense to calculate an ERA over one single inning or anything.

The Mariners would muster some glimmers of false hope against Lance Carter in the 8th. Randy Winn singled to lead off, and Edgar walked. A deep Ibanez flyout moved Winn to third. Boone whiffed, and Bucky hit into a fielder's choice. End of threat. Carter would follow this up with a 1-2-3 9th to end it.

That's about it.

Boy, Scott Kazmir sure looked like a young pitcher that I'd want on my team, holy crap. That fastball had some life to it, to say the least. The breaking balls may need a tiny bit of work, but man, that fastball, yikes. I'd like to see him about five outings from now, maybe see how he does without the jitters and butterflies.

Gameball: Edgar Martinez. 2-for-3 with a double. The double tied him for 33rd on the all-time list with Mark Grace, at 511 doubles. This isn't to detract from another solid (though not the best) start by Bobby Madritsch.

Goat: Bret Boone. 0-for-4 with a strikeout, stranding six. Stranding six runners is the only thing that would keep me from goating Willie Bloomquist for his back-down-to-earth 0-for-4 (with a strikeout, stranding two) game.

For the record, Jose Cruz Jr.'s batting average is 39 points lower than that of Raul Ibanez, but Cruz has a better on-base percentage than Raul, has one more Gold Glove than Raul, and the two are pretty much a wash in the OPS department. I know Raul spent a long time on the DL, but yeah, I'm still bitter about his contract.

And what was up with Clint Nageotte doing his best Matt Thornton impression tonight? Or is Thornton the one doing Nageotte impressions? There's been some KJR discussion about how some trades the Mariners have tried to make over the last couple years involving their young pitching have fallen through because other teams had valued the Mariners' arms much differently than they did. Given that we're closest to this team, and we've been hearing about these young arms and how great they are, it's quite possible to think that the Mariners thought they had the best freakin' young arms out there, while other teams knew better when trade talks came. Long story short, this is what I think about every time Matt Thornton and Clint Nageotte stink it up on the mound for the big club, and this is what I think about when I read the minor league reports and see that Travis Blackley has stunk it up once again in Tacoma. If only it were so simple for those three just to get their heads on straight and throw strikes.

Bell. Franklin. Tomorrow.

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