Friday, September 03, 2004


It wasn't a good night for starting pitching wearing any uniform tonight at the SkyDome in a short-lived matchup between first-time starter Cha Seung Baek and Justin Miller.

I'd have to say that tonight's game featured more weird pitching deliveries than I'm used to. This doesn't involve Baek. Miller does a weird thing with his throwing arm that is painful for me to watch and reminds me of Mark Gubicza. Bob File's motion seems to me like it has something missing or he's not getting everything he can out of it; not enough loading up or something like that. Masao Kida has a motion that reminds me of an amalgam of about four Japanese pitchers of whom I can't name a single one, but I'll try. For now, I'll call it an Irabu/Hasegawa/Sasaki. I'll hate myself for even making that initial assertion, I'm sure. Part of George Sherrill's delivery reminds Steve Sandmeyer of Terry Mulholland, but Sherrill's nowhere near as crazy with the glove hand.

Again, the spectrum...

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
Ichiro singled on the first pitch because he's out of his mind. Randy Winn fouled off four pitches en route to a single. Bret Boone walked to load the bases with nobody out. Okay, so the Mariners didn't somehow manage to score zero runs in the inning, but it's not like any of the runs came in on any authoritative hard-hit and/or extra-base hits. Raul Ibanez walked (SEA 1-0), Bucky Jacobsen bounced out to the shortstop (SEA 2-0), and Jolbert Cabrera dinked one into centerfield (SEA 3-0). Three runs are three runs, I guess. Dan Wilson was caught looking and Jose Lopez whiffed to end the inning.

Total aside, but when I used the word "dinked" there, it reminded me of a band called Dink. If you remember that, well, you've got quite the musical mind. If you can manage to name their one single that got the most airplay, your mind may even be as screwed up as mine.

BOTTOM 1ST -- minimal damage
Cha Seung Baek began his first Major League start by getting Reed Johnson to fly out to Raul Ibanez on the second pitch. But the thigh-high breaking ball to Orlando Hudson wasn't so good (second deck in rightfield, SEA 3-1). But Baek bounced back to get Vernon Wells to whiff and Carlos Delgado to line out to Lopez, and getting through Wells and Delgado is never a small task.

TOP 2ND -- ho, hum
Miller, Bobby Madritsch's long-lost sleeve-wearing tattoo-covered pseudo-brother, set down the Mariners 1-2-3, slicing through Willie Bloomquist, Ichiro, and Winn like that one infomercial knife through a steak. OR A LEAD PIPE!!! I'm telling you, that knife can do anything.

BOTTOM 2ND -- massacre
I think this might be the first time I've used the massacre level since I've gone to this system of recap. This would be one inning that Baek would like to forget, and fast. Baek had Alexis Rios behind 1-2, but Rios drilled a bullet into centerfield for a single. Baek fell behind 3-0 on Eric Hinske before he drilled a single to centerfield of his own, through the wickets of a jumping umpire Laz Diaz near second base. Baek fell behind 2-0 on Zaun, who was beaned six pitches later. Zaun saw eight pitches in the at-bat, and left the game with a bruised elbow, meaning he wouldn't be rushing up Mariner pitch counts like he did the night before. Gabe Gross would be the bases-loaded-with-nobody-out hero, dinking one into leftcenter that Ibanez got caught inbetween on (not far enough in to catch on the fly, too far up to play the hop thanks to the Astroturf) to score Rios and Hinske and tie the game at 3-3. It looked for a second like Baek might dig his way out, getting Chris Gomez (after falling behind 3-0) to line out to Ibanez at the wall (there was contact with the wall on the play), and getting Johnson to whiff. But Hudson touched him up again, this time with a roped double to score Zaun and the Grossmeister (TOR 5-3). For good measure, Wells homered over the centerfield fence on the first pitch he saw (TOR 7-3). Delgado bounced out to end the inning. The damage? 6 runs, 5 hits, one beaning, 41 pitches. OUUUUCCCHHHH.

But as Rick Rizzs always reminds us, even if the Mariners are down 49596647254-0 in the top of the 9th on the road, these guys never quit.

By the way, the absence of a fourth man on the broadcast team in this series is a throwback to yesteryear for me. Two guys on TV, and one flying solo on the radio side harkens back to that one era in Mariner broadcasts where Ron Fairly never saw the radio booth and was just the color man on TV all the time. If I remember right, the reason Fairly has the immortalized radio call of Griffey's 8th homer in 8 straight games is because he was the number two play-by-play guy that year, and I think Ken Levine was doing color at the time. Anyway, I was driving when the game started and realized Rick Rizzs was flying solo. But just now, I realized that might not be so bad because I remember the last Baltimore series when Dave Valle was introducing the Baltimore lineup. He couldn't even do that right. It was beyond brutal. It was up there with the stuttering kid trying to read aloud on Billy Madison.

TOP 3RD -- ho, hum
Boone led off with a walk, but was doubled off on a good ol' Ibanez GIDP. Bucky took Gross to the track in left for the third out.

BOTTOM 3RD -- minimal damage
Baek caught Rios looking, but Hinske doubled to center. He got new catcher Kevin Cash to whiff, but the Grossinator roughed Baek up again, dinking one into centerfield to score Hinske (TOR 8-3), sending Baek to the showers. This isn't the kind of first Major League start that anyone would want to have. His line: 2 2/3 innings, 8 runs, 8 hits, 0 walks, 4 strikeouts, 83 pitches (54 strikes). The absence of walks might be the most interesting thing in that line. But that's definitely offset by the eight runs (and two home runs), more than likely meaning way too many pitches were getting too far up in the zone and getting too much of the plate (the Hudson one sure did). They've gotta give him at least one more go in the rotation though. I hope Melvin isn't knee-jerk about this and throws Villone right back into the rotation, because there's no point. The Mariners are now mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, so Melvin can't play the "we're still in it card" now.

Oh, right. The inning wasn't over. That new 35-year-old Japanese pitcher (former Orix Blue Wave player and ex-Dodger systemite) Masao Kida came in for Baek. Korea and Japan were now represented on the mound for the Mariners in the first three innings of the game. My request to the Mariners to bring me in to pitch and half-represent the Philippines evoked incessant laughter. Kida would get Gomez to line out to Ichiro to end the inning.

TOP 4TH -- some damage
Jolbert Cabrera ran out an infield single and moved to second on a Dan Wilson ground ball to third base (we want RIGHT side, Dan...). Lopez then ripped a double to left to score Cabrera (TOR 8-4). Bloomquist hacked at the first pitch and hit a comebacker to the mound. Ichiro then singled (imagine that) to score Lopez (TOR 8-5). Ichiro stole second on the first pitch to Winn, and Winn walked, rendering the steal moot. Facing new pitcher Bob File, Boone flew out to the third baseman to end the inning. Bob Melvin cringes whenever he hears Boone cursing, throwing bats, throwing helmets, and taking the chaw out from his lip with his index finger and throwing it on the ground. Quick aside...did we not learn anything from Bill Tuttle, people?

BOTTOM 4TH -- decent inning
Kida gave up an infield single to Johnson, but would get a double-play ball from Hudson, and would get Wells hacking.

TOP 5TH -- come on, y'all
Ibanez, Bucky, and Cabrera are retired in 1-2-3 fashion by the indispensable Bob File.

BOTTOM 5TH -- decent inning
Not much here off of Kida, though a two-out triple by Hinske is almost a jam.

TOP 6TH -- minimal damage
Dan Wilson led off with a double off new pitcher Vinny Chulk. Lopez moved him over to third with a groundout to second (the right side, which Rizzs and Fairly heaped wayyyy too much praise on him for). Bloomquist broke his bat on a groundout to second to score Wilson (TOR 8-6). Ichiro again singled, becaues he's nuts, then Winn bounced out to Delgado at first.

BOTTOM 6TH -- fighting out of jam
Kida walked the leadoff batter, Gross (who was having much too good of a day). One out later, Johnson singled. Hudson would fly out, however, and Kida would get Wells swinging.

TOP 7TH -- ho, hum
Ibanez hits a one-out single off new pitcher Kevin Frederick, pulls up a chair, and reads the latest Cat Fancy magazine while on first. It's a great way for him to kill time while Bucky flies out to center and Cabrera flies out to left.

BOTTOM 7TH -- decent inning
Masao Kida would not come out for the 7th. His line: 3 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 3 hits, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, 41 pitches (25 strikes). Not too bad of a Mariner debut for the newbie. Can he make me forget temporarily about Shigetoshi Hasegawa version 2004?

Matt Thornton came on in the 7th, and we were all hoping that he wouldn't give up five runs on eight hits in an inning or something crazy like that. He got Delgado hacking, which was a good start. Walking Rios wasn't so good. He got Hinske to fly out to Cabrera, which was good. Cash singling to right wasn't good, but being the first Mariner in the game to solve Gross (flyout to Cabrera) was good.

TOP 8TH -- ho, hum
Jason Frasor quicky retired Wilson and Lopez with consecutive groundouts to Hinske. Edgar Martinez pinch-hit for Bloomquist (umm...yup, that's a good move) and doubled into centerfield. Ichiro was tired of singling, so he just grounded out to end the inning.

BOTTOM 8TH -- fighting out of jam
It was only a two-out jam that Scott Atchison had to face. Hudson drew a walk and Wells singled. But Atchison got a groundout from Delgado to end the inning.

TOP 9TH -- ho, hum
Justin Speier came on to close for the Blue Jays. Winn led off with a single to bring the tying run to the plate. Boone flew out to rightfield. Winn took second on the first pitch to Ibanez (indifference). Ibanez would be caught looking. And Bucky would whiff to end it.

Baek's first Major League start didn't go so well today. Let's hope it's a little different tomorrow for someone making their first ML start in front of his hometown fans.

Gameball: Masao Kida. Why not? I posted his line above. 3 1/3 shutout innings sure helped the Mariners in a time of need when Baek got rocked.

Goat: Bucky Jacobsen. 0-for-5 with an RBI and 2 strikeouts, stranding two.

Madritsch. Garland. 15.5 hours.

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