Saturday, September 18, 2004
There wouldn't be another brilliant outing from Gil Meche on this night. He only got through five innings, and left the game on the hook with the Mariners down two runs. Though you never like to see Meche give up eight hits (and walk three) in just five innings of work, he somehow only gave up the three runs. Usually that'd be enough to do the Mariners in this year, but this wouldn't be a usual night in that regard.
I guess the main stories of this game were Ichiro (that's a given, and there was a record tonight) and Greg Dobbs, one big reason why Willie Bloomquist should never see another start at third base for the remainder of the season (other than that whole "he's not good and he should have no future with the organization" thing). We also learn for the second time in the homestand that pinch-hitting for Willie Bloomquist is a good thing. Randy Winn parked one to centerfield in the pinch against the Angels. Tonight Dobbs pinch-hit for Bloomquist.
It occurred to me that sometimes I have the KJR postgame show playing in the background while I type these things, and I may relay a couple of stats here and there from the show. Tonight, there was no Baseball's Best Postgame Show. Instead, it was Varsity Football Live with Dick Fain, an hour of high school football craziness. Between Paul Silvi's High School Sports Blitz on KING-5 and the new Varsity Football Live on KJR, local high school football players are getting way more media attention than ever before. KJR will carry over the Friday night high school sports madness when basketball season rolls around. But enough of this aside...
Once again, the Ichiro update.
Ichiro was 2-for-4 tonight, putting him at 235 hits on the season, 22 shy of George Sisler's 84-year-old record and 23 shy of setting his own record. I know we're all more than amazed by Ichiro at this point, but I'm going to say right now that I don't think he's going to break it in 154 games or 162 games.
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 (15 games remain), he would need to go 23-for-60 (.383).
>> if he averaged five at-bats per game, he would need to go 23-for-75 (.307).
For Ichiro to break Sisler's record in 154 games and avoid the asterisk...
>> if he averaged four at-bats for the next 8 games, he would need to go 23-for-32 (.719).
>> if he averaged five at-bats a game, he would need to go 23-for-40 (.575).
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
Only a few things were of note in Gil Meche's first inning. Mark McLemore hit a one-out homer (OAK 1-0). Meche gave up a two-out walk to Scott Hatteberg. Meche threw 17 pitches in the inning.
BOTTOM 1ST -- ho, hum
Barry Zito had his way with the top third of the Mariner lineup. Ichiro grounded out to lead off the game, and therefore didn't get a hit. Yet.
TOP 2ND -- fighting out of jam
Meche had some trouble after there were two outs. He walked Eric Byrnes. Adam Melhuse doubled to the wall in rightfield. Luckily for Meche, Mark Kotsay hit a fly ball to a very deep part of rightcenter to end the inning. Nothing like a 23-pitch inning with all five hitters watching ball one.
BOTTOM 2ND -- ho, hum
Zito got the curveball of death over, and Bret Boone witnessed it firsthand, and walked to the dugout afterward. Other than a walk by Jolbert Cabrera, the inning didn't have much else.
TOP 3RD -- fighting out of jam
The only thing keeping Meche's pitch count from being out of control for the third straight inning was that most of the Oakland hitters started swinging early in the count. McLemore doubled off Meche to lead off the inning, and he went to third on a single by Eric Chavez. Meche managed to get Hatteberg swinging and to get Erubiel Durazo to fly out. But then Meche walked Nick Swisher to load the bases. Bobby Crosby swing at the first pitch and flew out to Winn in center.
BOTTOM 3RD -- ho, hum
Jose Lopez hit the ball off the end of his bat and barely missed a homer to leftfield on a crappy swing. Other than a single by Ichiro for hit number 234, along with the obligatory instance of Willie Bloomquist being caught looking, the inning didn't have much else of worth.
TOP 4TH -- fighting out of jam
Byrnes doubled to lead off, so I'll just say it was a jam even though Byrnes didn't move from second in the inning.
BOTTOM 4TH -- minimal damage
Yes, it's time for some singles hittin'. Edgar Martinez and Boone both singled into centerfield. Raul Ibanez hit a ball that was deep enough to score Edgar and tie the score (or maybe the leftfielder had a weak arm; 1-1). Cabrera followed with a single of his own, but Miguel Olivo (fielder's choice) and Lopez (popout to second) would prove to be too futile for the Mariner rally to continue.
TOP 5TH -- some damage
Meche wouldn't get out of this inning unscathed. Chavez doubled to lead off and the downhill got progressively steeper. Durazo got aboard on an infield single and ended up on second after a throw. I'd say more about what reads like an odd play in the game log, but I didn't see the actual play. Nonetheless, two runners were in scoring position with one out. Swisher hit a fly ball to left which was deep enough to score Chavez and give the A's the lead (OAK 2-1). Two pitches later, Crosby doubled to score Durazo and extend the Oakland lead (OAK 3-1).
This would be Meche's final inning. His line: 5 innings, 3 runs, 8 hits, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts. He didn't really last long, he gave up a good deal of hits, and three walks in five innings is quite a few. The way he was pitching at times today, it's a miracle that none of the walks came around to score.
BOTTOM 5TH -- ho, hum
Bloomquist whiffed this time, and Ichiro grounded out on a bang-bang play at first. What I think of every time I see Melvin come out of the dugout to argue is when someone in the blogosphere (I think Jeff at L43) once said something like "Melvin might have said 'damn.' " Moving on...
By the way, I hate the current-issue jackets that the Mariners wear on the field. I think they might be standard for all teams, but the big necks with the stripes on them just don't cut it for me.
TOP 6TH -- decent inning
Enter Ron Villone. Kotsay got aboard on a dinker with one out, but was erased on a double-play ball by McLemore.
BOTTOM 6TH -- ho, hum
Zito slices through Edgar, Boone, and Ibanez in order. I'd say "relative ease," but usually I don't equate that to a 1-2-3 inning that took 19 pitches to get through. It was hard-fought, I guess.
TOP 7TH -- 1-2-3
Villone suddenly turned into a short-lived strikeout machine, getting Chavez and Hatteberg to whiff for the first two outs of the inning. Durazo then bounced out on the first pitch.
BOTTOM 7TH -- big inning
The Mariners apparently loosened up during their seventh-inning stretch, or so their performance afterward would indicate. Cabrera swung at the first pitch and hit a ball to new pitcher Chad Bradford, which he muffed. Jeremy Reed then singled. Bob Melvin tried to play small and have Lopez bunt the runners over, but luckily this was foiled when everyone ended up being safe on Lopez' bunt, and the bases were loaded with nobody out. In the no-brainer move of the night, Greg Dobbs was brought in to pinch-hit for Willie Bloomquist. Dobbs worked the count full on new pitcher Ricardo Rincon and doubled to the wall in the gap in leftcenter; the bases were cleared, and Meche was suddenly off the hook because the Mariners now had the lead (SEA 4-3). Ichiro followed up with a hard single into rightfield for hit number 235 (and the new Major League single-season record 199th single of the year), moving Dobbs to third. Winn legged out an infield single and Dobbs scored (SEA 5-3). Ichiro went to third on a bad throw by Chavez. My guess (I didn't see the play) is that Chavez didn't have a chance on Winn at first, but threw anyway, and threw badly. Justin Duchscherer came in to pitch to Edgar, who hit a fly ball deep enough to score Ichiro (not hard to do; SEA 6-3). Edgar's RBI was his 1000th as a DH, which of course is a record for all-time DHs. The first six hitters of the inning reached base. Edgar was the first that didn't. What followed was a strike-'em-out/throw-'em-out double play, with Winn getting nailed and Boone being caught looking for the second time in the game.
TOP 8TH -- decent inning
No runner reached scoring position in the inning, but an error and a 10-pitch walk for Byrnes made it a gritty "decent" inning for new pitcher Shigetoshi Hasegawa. Swisher reached on a bad throw by Boone, which went for the third error in two nights, and one could argue for another error the night before on the throw to second on a steal attempt that seemed to go right past him. Anyway, Hasegawa managed to get Crosby to bounce into an around-the-horn double play, which Boone did handle and not muff. Byrnes scratched the 10-pitch walk, but Melhuse flew out to end the inning.
BOTTOM 8TH -- ho, hum
Ibanez singled to lead off, and moved to second on a Cabrera groundout. Dan Wilson then drew a walk, and both runners moved up 90 feet when Lopez bounced one back to the pitcher (not quick enough to get a double play, apparently). With two in scoring position with two out, the A's apparently were awe-stricken enough by Dobbs that they brought in a new pitcher (Art Rhodes) to face him. It worked, as Dobbs whiffed, but he'd done his damage for the night, and he did it well.
TOP 9TH -- 1-2-3
JJ Putz came in and got the save, flyout (Kotsay), groundout (McLemore), and whiffer (Chavez).
With this, the Mariners are making life rough for the A's, as now the top two teams in the division are within just a game of one another. I've forgotten over the last four years what it's like to not be able to actively keep track of a team in contention. I didn't use the phrase "pennant race" there because 2001 was freakish (way early clinching) and 2002 and 2003 were more like a train wreck in slow motion (time duration: entire second half).
Now, for the complete aside. I've been listening to a musical selection that I purchased just a few hours ago. A couple weeks ago, I picked up The Tipping Point by the Roots, as well as Behind the Music by the Soundtrack of Our Lives. Today, I picked up Soundgarden Superunknown (finally) for $9.99, along with Megadeth's The System Has Failed (new, first album post-radial neuropathy for Mustaine) for the same price. On DVD, I picked up Alice In Chains Music Bank and U2 Go Home -- Live From Slane Castle, Ireland. I will only say two things about the stuff I picked up, because any more than this should probably result in me posting it on our severely underused music blog.
(1) I'm a couple listens through the Megadeth, and I'm liking it, but I can't think of many words yet to describe it. But Jason Birchmeier of Allmusic.com says it's "an excellent, damn near perfect Megadeth album" and "[r]egardless of where The System Has Failed ranks alongside Megadeth's other standout albums...it most certainly blows away practically every other aboveground metal album of 2004. No joke. This is the sort of latter-day masterpiece Metallica struggled in vain for a decade-plus to record to no avail." That's pretty lofty, but it is a pretty good album a few listens through.
(2) The U2 concert took place on September 1st of 2001 (before everything happened), so that provides quite the backdrop in itself for watching it three years later. I'm not through the show yet, but hearing "Sunday Bloody Sunday" performed in Ireland has sold the DVD for me. If I watch the rest of the DVD and the only word Bono says into the microphone for the rest of the show is "testing," then I still won't be disappointed.
As always is the case for me, that was much too long. I'll try to keep music anecdotes that are that lengthy on the music blog in the future.
Oh yeah, gameballs and goats...how quickly I forget.
Gameball: Ron Villone. You know, I have to say I don't Villone in very rare doses and only out of the bullpen. He threw the two shutout innings in the 6th and 7th and struck out three, giving up only one hit. He picked up the win tonight, but three cheers for the Mariner bullpen tonight. As a whole, they threw four scoreless innings, gave up one hit, struck out four, and walked one.
Goat: Willie Bloomquist. Because I can. Other than that, the 0-for-2 with two strikeouts has a lot to do with it.
It's some daygame action for Saturday, but given that I'm up this late, I hope I get up in time to catch the first pitch.
By the way, the Mariners would have to win six more games to prevent losing 100 games on the season.
Hudson. Baek. Eleven hours.