Saturday, October 02, 2004
But the big story of this game revolved around one of those hits in the third, as well as a hit by the same guy before that and another after that.
Ichiro hit a chopper over third baseman Hank Blalock's head on a 1-2 pitch to tie George Sisler at 257 hits (see posts from Jeremy and I below that have a more immediate reaction). Ichiro didn't wait too long to break the record, ripping one up the middle for hit number 258 and the new single-season hit record. Add to this the fact that Ichiro's first hit got him the record for most hits over a four-year span; Ichiro has 921 hits from 2001-2004, breaking Bill Terry's record of 918 from 1929-1932. Of course, Rick Reilly will bust the chops of Ichiro on this one, too...154-game seasons were still in effect in Terry's years, but that's Reilly for you.
Well, I don't have to do the Ichiro countdown thing tonight because it's over and done with -- the record is now Ichiro's.
Two more spectra left...
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
Ron Villone started out the night ominously by walking Eric Young to start the game. However, he did get Blalock swinging and Michael Young looking. But then Mark Teixeira mashed one (TEX 2-0) after Jeff had a one-way exchange with Dave Niehaus.
BOTTOM 1ST -- ho, hum
I use the term "damage" if there's runs, but this is probably the best "ho, hum" inning of the year. Ichiro singled for hit number 257 to lead off, the crowd loud, the flash bulbs bright. Randy Winn singled two pitches later. Edgar Martinez stepped to the plate, and surely saw the huge EDGAR 1987-2004 emblem painted behind the plate. He drew cheers (there'll be more Saturday night) and flew out to Teixeira at first. Raul Ibanez then hacked at 3-0 and singled to load the bases. But in came Bret Boone with a 5-4-3 double play. Around the horn, ah yes. In a related story, I, Max is infinitely more entertaining than Around the Horn post-Kellerman. We'll see if Kellerman can last as long on Fox Sports Net as Jim Rome did.
TOP 2ND -- 1-2-3
It wasn't the easiest 1-2-3 inning, but it ended with Laynce Nix being caught looking on the 8th pitch.
BOTTOM 2ND -- ho, hum
Dan Wilson got aboard on a two-out infield single. Though this is rare, it's not really something to jump up and down about.
TOP 3RD -- 1-2-3
Another good inning for Villone, perish the thought. Hank Blalock was hacktastic, flying out on his second pitch to end the inning.
BOTTOM 3RD -- big inning
I don't get to use the phrase "big inning" with this offense often, but this was it (surprise, there were no homers). First off, Ichiro worked his count full and his single up the middle broke Sisler's record. Hit number 258 was followed by multiple acknowledgements of the crowd by Ichiro, the Mariner dugout emptying out onto the field in congratulation, the Ranger infield tipping their caps, fireworks (I miss the post-homer fireworks of the Kingdome), and even smiles on the usually emotionless face of Ichiro. With the ink dry in the record books, it was time to play ball again. I'll try to keep it short. Winn singled to move Ichiro to third. Edgar singled (TEX 2-1) and moved Winn to third. Ibanez doubled to right (2-2) and moved Edgar to third. Boone hit a 3-0 pitch the other way (SEA 3-2) and moved Ibanez to third. Jeremy Reed then singled (SEA 4-2) and moved Boone to second. Bucky Showalter had seen enough and pulled Drese for grizzled veteran John Wasdin. I hadn't seen a Texas manager that flustered since Alex's new Ranger team was getting their butts handed to him in the first Texas/Seattle series at the Safe. Yes, the days of Doug Davis, Ryan Glynn, and Colby Lewis, ah yes... Anyway, Wasdin gave up a single on the first pitch to Greg Dobbs (SEA 5-2) and Wilson hit an RBI groundout (SEA 6-2). Jose Lopez was caught looking and Ichiro swung on 3-0 before getting robbed of a double by Nix out in centerfield on a catch where he had to jog toward the wall and reach back at the same time. I hope you saw it with video, because my description is brutal.
TOP 4TH -- fighting out of jam
Michael Young and Teixeira both flew out to start the inning, but then things got interesting. Jose Lopez made a bad throw to first, and Kevin Mench got aboard. Villone fell behind on Brian Jordan and walked him. The inning would end on a ground ball from Chad Allen.
BOTTOM 4TH -- ho, hum
Winn got aboard with a leadoff single and was stranded. It's a familiar story, really.
TOP 5TH -- decent inning
Both a Ken Huckaby one-out walk and an infield single by Blalock were sandwiched by outs.
BOTTOM 5TH -- ho, hum
Wasdin gets his easiest inning of the night, going 1-2-3 with Reed, Dobbs, and Dan Wilson.
TOP 6TH -- 1-2-3
Villone didn't come out for the 6th. Julio Mateo was brought out. Eleven pitches later, he'd gotten through Teixeira, Mench, and Jordan fairly easily.
Villone's line: 5 innings, 2 runs, 2 hits, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts, 87 pitches (54 strikes). Three walks in five innings is never anything to write home about (not in a good way, at least), but for some reason I'm passing this as decent a five-inning start we would ever see out of Villone. Hopefully he can make five-inning starts with someone else next year.
BOTTOM 6TH -- minimal damage
With one out, Ichiro legged out a ground ball to Michael Young for hit number 259. Winn walked. Both runners moved up on Edgar's whiff, but Ichiro came home on a bad throw from Huckaby (SEA 7-2). Ex-Marlin Michael Tejera was brought in and he mowed down Ibanez to end the inning.
TOP 7TH -- 1-2-3
Mateo needs only five pitches to get through Allen, Nix, and Huckaby. Though it's nice to see Mateo throw two shutout innings, I've still got qualms about him pitching in the big leagues this season rather than being shut down after the injury. Sure, the possibility of the Mariners being competitive next year is probably not that good, but with two games left in the year, I'm pretty sure I know where they'll end up. So why is Mateo throwing in these ballgames? Again, these moves that I would rather pass on are simply interpreted by me as Bob Melvin trying to get himself fired. Sure, it's probably not true, but it gets me through and gives me the only possible closure I can have on this matter.
BOTTOM 7TH -- ho, hum
Boone led off with a single, and Dobbs legged one out with one out. Nothing was doing, though.
TOP 8TH -- some damage
Shigetoshi Hasegawa was called in for Mateo. Blalock singled with one out, and Teixeira singled with two out. Mench bounced one to Hasegawa, who was charged with an error on his throw to first. Blalock scored on the play (SEA 7-3). Hasegawa caught Jordan looking to end the inning.
The Mariners were tagged with three errors tonight (all on throws), all on plays at first base. I can't remember all three of the plays right now, but I have this hunch that at least one of those had to be an error on Ibanez at first. That or he just doesn't have the picking skills that you need out of a first baseman.
BOTTOM 8TH -- minimal damage
Ichiro was caught looking by Michael Tejera and boos directed at the home plate umpire Joe West rained down from the crowd, pegged at 45573. Travis Hughes trotted in from the bullpen and got Winn to whiff. Edgar, Ibanez, and Boone singled to cap the Mariners' end of the scoring (Jolbert Cabrera pinch-ran for Edgar and scored, SEA 8-3).
TOP 9TH -- decent inning
JJ Putz has Allen get aboard with an infield single, but Nix grounded into a double play. Adrian Gonzalez pinch-hit for Huckaby, and he flew out on a nice catch by Reed in centerfield to end the game.
Gameball: Ichiro. 3-for-5, scoring twice, with the strikeout thrown in there. It can't be anybody else tonight, even though three other hitters got three hits. Ichiro capped a season that we thought would never take place given how he'd started out in April. Five months, he's given us one of the main things to cheer about in this abysmal campaign. I hope that this Ichiro thing trumps Hideki Matsui over in Japan, because it should. I said last offseason that Ichiro isn't worth $10M a year, and I still believe that it wasn't necessarily the exact contract I would have given them at the time, but damned if Ichiro didn't go out there this year and become an absolute singles machine. You know, Ichiro could have had a decent April, but teamwise (even with him in the "catalyst" role), it still wouldn't have mattered because nobody would have driven him in. In other news, Ichiro was probably a decent April away from hitting .400, as well as breaking this record about two or three weeks ago. But that would have taken away a little bit from this homestand, I think.
Goat: Jose Lopez. 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and an error, stranding four. Yes, even on this night, there has to be a goat. You'll have better days, Jose. No one will ever get me to use that phony nickname (Lopey). Ninety-five percent of all nicknames ending in -y or -ly are phony; can we not agree on this?
Why is the recap so late? Well...have you ever fell asleep in front of the keyboard?
Edgar Martinez Day festivities will be held in less than twelve hours. As Pat Cashman would say in those fake Roscoe's Oriental Rug Emporium commercials on Almost Live!, miss your son's Little League game, miss your grandmother's funeral, miss your period, but DON'T MISS THIS!!
Rogers. Moyer. Thirteen hours.