Friday, September 17, 2004


Yes, the mere occurrence of contact between a baseball and a bat decided the outcome of this game, but not in the way that you might think.

After three innings tonight, I thought Jamie Moyer would make good on debunking the latter half of my prediction that both Franklin and he would not win for the rest of the season. But Moyer would have to hope that the Mariners would score enough runs for him as he tried to hold the more potent Angel offense at bay.

The stories of the night? Well, Ichiro played, and he's sort of chasing that record. The Mariners 2004 offense was in vintage form tonight. Lastly, Bret Boone had quite the night in the field. Two nights ago, I said that since Boone is sucking with the bat, "[a]t least the Mariners have that Gold Glove defense back there." Let's just say the tables turned a bit tonight.

This was brought up on the KJR postgame show, but the flop from 90 wins in one season to 100 losses the next season isn't something that happens very often and I'd mess around at Baseball Reference for a few hours and check old records to look into this more if my computer and connection weren't abominable. Yes, your Seattle Mariners are helping make history.

But before I proceed, the Ichiro update.

Ichiro was 0-for-2 tonight. He was intentionally walked twice, he drew a walk of his own, grounded out once, and reached on an error (to those who saw it, it's pretty apparent that it was an error), leaving him stuck at 233 hits on the season, 24 shy of George Sisler's 84-year-old record and 25 shy of setting his own record.

For Ichiro to break Sisler's record before the end of the season...
>> if he averaged four at-bats per game the rest of the way (16 games remain), he would need to go 25-for-64 (.391).
>> if he averaged five at-bats per game, he would need to go 25-for-80 (.313).

For Ichiro to break Sisler's record in 154 games and avoid the asterisk (since I'm doubtful about Ichiro breaking the record altogether, I know there's no way in hell he'll break this one)...
>> if he averaged four at-bats for the next 9 games, he would need to go 25-for-36 (.694).
>> if he averaged five at-bats a game, he would need to go 25-for-45 (.556).

In spectral form...

Mariners on defense/pitching (bad to good)
massacre < terrible inning < some damage < fighting out of jam < decent inning < 1-2-3

Mariners on offense
I hate this team < come on, y'all < ho, hum < minimal damage < some damage < big inning

TOP 1ST -- 1-2-3
Moyer was off to a good start, getting groundouts from David Eckstein and Darin Erstad, and a first-pitch flyout by Vlad Guerrero.

BOTTOM 1ST -- come on, y'all
Ichiro fouled off three Aaron Sele pitches over the course of his at-bat, and he drew a walk. Two pitches later, Randy Winn hit a ball to Eckstein for a double play. Edgar Martinez then walked on four pitches, but Raul Ibanez flew out to Jose Guillen in leftfield.

TOP 2ND -- 1-2-3
Moyer got through the meat of the lineup this time, getting Garret Anderson to whiff, Troy Glaus to hit a deep-but-not-long-enough fly ball to left, and Guillen to ground out to Jolbert Cabrera at third.

BOTTOM 2ND -- minimal damage
Ah, yes. Nothing like an inning dominated by boring station-to-station baseball along with walks and singles. Bret Boone led off with a single and moved to second on a one-out walk by Hiram Bocachica. Dan Wilson singled into rightfield to score Boone and get the Mariners an early lead (SEA 1-0). Jose Lopez then grounded out to second to move the runners along. With two runners in scoring position and two out (and the Angels actually playing for something), it made perfect sense to intentionally walk Ichiro, Randy Winn's semi-hot bat be damned, and that's exactly what the Angels did. The move worked to perfection as Winn was caught looking to end the inning.

TOP 3RD -- 1-2-3
Moyer, now with a 1-0 lead, was perfect through three innings. Chone Figgins (groundout to Boone), Josh Paul (popout to Cabrera), and Adam Kennedy (looking) were no match for the slow stuff.

BOTTOM 3RD -- ho, hum
Ibanez doubled with one out.

TOP 4TH -- some damage
Eckstein broke up Moyer's perfect game by taking a shin-high ball and driving it up the middle for a single. Erstad followed up with a single of his own (Eckstein ended up on third). Moyer went inside on Vlad and got him to hit into another weak flyout. Garret then came up and hit what seemed destined to be a double-play ball to Boone. Boone had a flawless turn to Lopez, but Lopez didn't have two hands on the ball when catching it, therefore causing more motions needed to get the ball to first, etc. Anyway, the transfer didn't occur quickly enough and Lopez never got the ball off to first. Eckstein scored on the play to tie the score (1-1). Glaus lined out to Cabrera to end the inning.

BOTTOM 4TH -- ho, hum
With two outs, Lopez rattled a double to leftfield, and Ichiro was put on base once again. Like before, the strategy worked, as Winn grounded out to Erstad to end any threat.

TOP 5TH -- 1-2-3
Moyer buckled down again, getting Guillen to whiff, Figgins to bounce out to Cabrera, and Josh Paul to fly out to Bocachica.

BOTTOM 5TH -- ho, hum
Boone singled to centerfield for his second hit of the game. He'd end up with two of something else after the 8th.

TOP 6TH -- some damage
Ugh. Small ball. Kennedy doubled on the first pitch of the inning and was bunted to third by Eckstein. Erstad grounded out to second and Kennedy scored (ANA 2-1). With no one now on base for the meat of the lineup, Vlad walked and Garret bounced out to Boone.

BOTTOM 6TH -- ho, hum
Scot Shields relieved Sele, who threw 97 pitches in his five innings of work. Shields caught Bocachica looking, got Wilson to fly out to Vlad, and got Lopez to bounce out to Erstad in a 1-2-3 inning.

TOP 7TH -- 1-2-3
Moyer had a pretty good start tonight, and in this inning he got through Glaus, Guillen, and Figgins.

BOTTOM 7TH -- ho, hum
Edgar hit a two-out single to keep the farewell train rolling.

TOP 8TH -- terrible inning
It started out bad, and Murphy's Law made it worse. With one out, Kennedy coaxed a walk out of Moyer. Eckstein then doubled to leftfield to put two runners into scoring position. With the infield up, Erstad hit a grounder to Boone, who got to it cleanly. He tried to nail Kennedy coming to the plate, but the ball hit Erstad's bat, which he had tossed away in front of the plate after hitting the ball. The thrown ball hit the bat and bounced over Wilson's head, allowing Kennedy to score as well as Eckstein (ANA 4-1). With Erstad on second with one out, Vlad got into a 2-1 count and then was given the open base to keep the double play in order. It seemed the strategy would pay off as Garret swung at the first pitch and hit a ball in Boone's direction. The play was almost Bucknerian, except Boone was a little more upright in letting the ball roll through his legs. Erstad scored on the play (ANA 5-1). Dallas McPherson pinch-ran for Garret as Scott Atchison came on in relief of Moyer. Atchison promptly fell behind 3-0 on Glaus. On the 3-1 pitch, McPherson took off for second and Wilson came up throwing. I'd have to get another look at the replay to know for sure, but it looked like this ball went through Boone's legs too. All in all, Wilson's throw made its way into centerfield, scoring Vlad easily from third (ANA 6-1). Atchison got Glaus whiffing and Guillen looking to mercifully end the inning.

All four runs in the inning were unearned for Moyer. His line: 7 1/3 innings, 6 runs (2 earned), 4 hits, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts, 113 pitches. He was better tonight, no question about it. Hopefully he ends the season on an up note for himself and feels good going into next season (if/when/however long that lasts). To get into the 8th with his stuff in not-quite-top form against a potent Angel lineup is no small task.

BOTTOM 8TH -- ho, hum
Shields was dealing out of the pen. Boone and Cabrera grounded out to middle infielders, and Bocachica whiffed.

TOP 9TH -- fighting out of jam
Paul drew a walk with one out and went to third on a Kennedy double. A lineout to Boone got not only the hitter (Eckstein) out, but also Paul at third, who didn't get back in time after the catch.

BOTTOM 9TH -- ho, hum
I've gotta agree with Terry Mosher on this one. Erstad should have had the grounder that Ichiro hit to him. If Erstad gets in front of that with his body, Ichiro is meat at first. Anyway, Ichiro reaching on the error with two outs meant nothing pretty happened in terms of legitimate scoring chances.

A split with the Angels in a four-game series? I thought this was going to be a salvage-one-game series, but at least the starting pitching was good. Madritsch, Meche, Moyer, and even Baek had starts where they improved. One could argue this would be less of the case for Madritsch, who continued his doings. But Baek had a 7-inning start that didn't horribly suck (his first in the Majors that accomplished that feat), and Moyer and Meche turned in two of their best performances in a while. What a great time to face the Oakland A's, huh? Nobody agrees with me? Yeah, I was joking.

Gameball: Jamie Moyer. He didn't get the win tonight, but it wasn't because he sucked. He had a pretty solid line, and though the hits he gave up got the 8th inning going, the happenings to Boone sort of threw everything out. Anyway, it's the best outing he's had in recent memory, and I also have to go with him because no other Mariner had a multi-hit game other than Boone, and he's not getting this gameball.

Goat: Randy Winn. 0-for-5, striking out once and stranding seven. Seven runners. Wow. Of course, if Ichiro gets on base four times in a game, and you're the hitter behind him that goes 0-for-5 and strands seven runners...yep, you've got the inside track to getting tagged with the Goat.

Zito. Meche. Eighteen hours.

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