Thursday, September 09, 2004
Main stories for tonight
-- Ichiro went 1-for-5, moving himself to 227 (remember that TV show?) hits, with the record being 257. If Ichiro plays in every game for the rest of the season, he'll have played in 161 games (24 games remain). George Sisler set his mark in 154 games. So, if Ichiro wants to set a record without it being 257*, he'll have to break the record in his next 17 games. If he got four at-bats per game for the next 17 games, he'd need to go 30-for-68 for a .441 clip. If Ichiro got five at-bats per game for the next 17 games, he'd need to go 30-for-85, a clip of .353. Of course, given the tougher schedule coming up with Boston and all the divisional rivals (most of which are playing for something), those teams are going to reeeeaallly want to win, and walking Ichiro will definitely be an option for all teams involved. So, the pace that Ichiro will have to set will probably be something inbetween those two numbers I posted, unless opposing teams start walking him at a Bondsian rate. Then Ichiro breaking the record in 154 games probably won't happen.
-- Two homers for Edgar. Way to go, Papi. And for those who don't know, don't believe what you hear. The SECOND syllable is the stressed syllable in "Papi," because the last "i" is supposed to have an accent mark on it.
-- Greg Dobbs massively upstages the Major League debut of Jeremy Reed by mashing one about twelve rows deep in rightfield in the 9th.
-- Oh, the team? They still suck. They've lost seven straight, but I think at this point in the season, we're numb to all the losses.
-- Bucky Jacobsen is done for the year and will have knee surgery. I haven't seen reports yet other than the ESPN Bottomline, but I'm betting it had something to do with the fluid in his knee that made him sit out every few days, or made Melvin sit him out. Sadly, no more BuckyBlasts for the season. Tears hath been shed. Not just because of the lack of BuckyBeltings for the rest of the year, but because we'll see more of...
-- Willie Bloomquist playing first base. What have I...what have I...I'm going to stop this because I've already used the Pet Shop Boys reference once this season.
Now, the recap.
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 -- some damage
The night started out ominously for Baek, as Coco Crisp led off the game with a double. After getting two flyouts, Baek yielded a dinker off the bat of Victor Martinez that plated the Crispy One (CLE 1-0). Travis Hafner, a.k.a., Steve Sandmeyer's pick for 2003 Rookie of the Year, whiffed.
BOTTOM 1ST -- minimal damage
Ichiro didn't lead the game off with a hit. Randy Winn was caught looking, and then Edgar mashed one out to leftcenter to tie the game at 1-1. Bret Boone hit a single, but Jolbert Cabrera flew out to Omar Vizquel at short.
TOP 2ND -- 1-2-3
Whaddaya know? Baek set down Casey Blake, Ben Broussard (I always want to call him Steve when I see his last name...Seahawk fans would understand), and Ron Belliard on 13 total pitches.
BOTTOM 2ND -- ho, hum
Hiram Bocachica enjoys what should be his final month in a Mariner uniform by singling with one out, and watching a Jose Lopez flyout, and an obligatory Bloomquist whiff, this one after he was ahead 2-0 in the count.
TOP 3RD -- 1-2-3
Baek extended the streak to seven Indians retired, getting through Jody Gerut, Crisp, and Vizquel on a mere nine pitches.
BOTTOM 3RD -- some damage
Ichiro flew out to left, so no dice there. Winn walked on four pitches, and Edgar blasted a 2-1 pitch over the rightfield wall to get the Mariners the lead (SEA 3-1). Nothing else really happened in the inning, other than a four-pitch walk with two out by Cabrera. Cliff Lee had two four-pitch walks in the inning, and didn't end up lasting in the game very long.
TOP 4TH -- terrible inning
Granted, a good portion of the terrible inning isn't Baek's fault. On the first ball in play, Matt Lawton hit a grounder that went to Boone's backhand side and appeared to be a routine play. Boone had it go in and out of his glove, and Lawton was safe at first at this point. But where Boone REALLY screwed up was when he was so pissed off at himself that he let the ball go into shallow rightfield without chasing after it. Lawton scurried over to second before the ball came in to the infield. That play was purely pathetic. In another somewhat related note, I heard Harold Reynolds on Baseball Tonight say that Orlando Hudson might get a Gold Glove this year. Frankly, I didn't know what to think.
There was more to the inning after the Boone muff, though. Lots more. Victor Martinez' groundout pushed Lawton to third, and an infield single by Hafner (I saw this one, but it's hard to describe; kind of a 'tweener) drove in Lawton (SEA 3-2). Blake then tagged a double into leftcenter and moved Hafner to third. One out later, Belliard visited the leftfield seats above the manual scoreboard to put the Indians back on top (CLE 6-3). Cleveland would hit two more singles in the inning before Baek got Vizquel to fly out and end the inning.
BOTTOM 4TH -- ho, hum
Levine's Law applies once again, as Bocachica drew a leadoff walk, stole second on a 2-2 whiff pitch to Bloomquist, and went to the dugout after Ichiro tried to bunt and did so, to the pitcher. I heard Niehaus lamenting the bunting decision, saying something like "he's the team's best hitter with runners in scoring position, and they have him bunt?"
TOP 5TH -- fighting out of jam
Lawton singled to right in what would be Baek's final inning. Baek also would walk Hafner later in the inning. With runners on at first and second with one out, Baek got Blake to whiff and Broussard to bounce into a fielder's choice. Baek's line: 5 innings, 5 runs (1 earned; Boone keeps Baek's ERA down tonight), 8 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 90 pitches. He only walked one, which was good, but he threw a first-pitch ball to seven of the first 11 hitters he faced (four of five in the 1st). But the Cleveland hitters were tagging a lot of his pitches, and the Belliard homer with two runners on didn't help. Neither did Boone's error though. Anyway, it was a better start for Baek than the one in Toronto, so let's just hope the next one is a bit better. Maybe at this pace he'll throw seven shutout innings in his last start of the season.
BOTTOM 5TH -- some damage
Boone gets down 0-2, watches a couple pitches, and fouls one off. After the first two pitches, he was in that two-strike stance, or the maybe-I-just-like-having-a-bat-in-my-hand-while-I-mime-taking-a-dump stance, and on a 2-2 pitch, he just put one of those quick wave/swipe motions at the ball and hit it out to rightfield. It was a testament to bat speed and quick hands, or something like that (CLE 5-4). The homer brought the Mariners within one run in an otherwise lackluster inning.
TOP 6TH -- 1-2-3
Matt Thornton hasn't got shelled lately, though I'm waiting for him to do just that. Seven pitches was all he needed to get through Belliard, Gerut, and Crisp, with the batters not named Gerut getting out on their first pitches.
BOTTOM 6TH -- ho, hun
David Riske comes in and blows down Miguel Olivo and Bocachica, and gets Lopez to fly out to left
TOP 7TH -- some damage
Lawton singled off Thornton with one out. He would end up on third via stealing and via a wild pitch. Hafner would walk and Blake would single to score Lawton (CLE 6-4).
What a great time to put Ron Villone into the game. On his third pitch after entering the ballgame, Villone joined the Wild Pitch Party (I don't think they qualified for federal election funding though), which allowed the runners to advance into scoring. As a member of the Wild Pitch Party, Villone's campaign promise is to do whatever he can to allow opposing hitters to having runners in scoring position so that they're easier to drive in with a single. He's got Ben Broussard's vote (CLE 8-4). And just for the hell of it, Villone walked Belliard on four pitches after that. But he figured it had to stop somewhere, so Gerut was caught looking to end it (concession speech).
BOTTOM 7TH -- ho, hum
Rafael Betancourt was the second man out of the pen tonight in a game that would feature the Wheel o' Relievers for Cleveland. New pitcher, same result for Bloomquist (strikeout). Ichiro singled to tally his hit of the night, and stole second before nothing else of note happened.
TOP 8TH -- fighting out of jam
The game was basically over already, so it was an okay time to bring in Shigetoshi Hasegawa. Shigster immediately gave up two singles, and a groundout moved the runners into scoring position. However, Hasegawa got a quick flyout from Victor Martinez, before putting Hafner on base and getting a ground ball from Blake.
BOTTOM 8TH -- ho, hum
Levine's Law again. Boone walked to lead off and didn't score. Also of note in the inning: Cabrera had a 3-0 count and whiffed, and Bocachica later had a 2-0 count and also whiffed.
TOP 9TH -- some damage
Aaron Taylor's nickname is Big Country. Bryant Reeves had the same nickname and didn't do a lot in the NBA. Sure, he was great in college, and shattered the backboard in the Kingdome and everything, but my point is that the OSU Big Country didn't do anything in the NBA, and that Aaron Taylor is TBD, though I'm leaning toward him not doing anything in the Majors.
Other than an absolute no-doubter by Gerut to rightfield, and a walk by Crisp, it wasn't that eventful of an inning.
BOTTOM 9TH -- minimal damage
Greg Dobbs came in an made his Major League debut, pinch-hitting for Jose Lopez against Bob Wickman. Dobbs had a pretty good at-bat, fouling off a few pitches and working the count full before launching a no-doubter that was every bit as equal to Gerut's in the top half of the inning. Unfortunately for Jeremy Reed, the awe for Dobbs hadn't died down until after he hacked at the first pitch and bounced out to short in his first Major League at-bat. Ichiro grounded out and Winn was caught looking to end the game.
Some homers, a couple of Major League debuts, and hit by Ichiro on the way to what hopefully will become history. The only thing missing was a win, but I haven't been expecting those for a while now.
Gameball: Edgar Martinez. 2-for-4 with two homers and three RBI as he continues the farewell tour.
Goat: Willie Bloomquist. 0-for-3 with a hat trick. What more could you want out of a corner infielder?
Hey, that team from Boston is on a bit of a roll...
Wakefield. Madritsch. Tomorrow.