Saturday, April 24, 2004
top 1 -- Ichiro 0-2...2-2 line running 9; Spiezio 2-2...full looking K (inside/low...); Boone 3-1 5-3
bot 1 -- Young 1-1 4-3; Blalock (nice 1-0 change) 1-2...2-2 4-3; Soriano 1st-pitch 1B LF; Fullmer 0-2...1-2 U3
>> I thought the pitch Scott Spiezio was wrung up on was a little inside, and Ron Fairly thought it was low. The Mariners didn't do anything against Joaquin Benoit. Dave Niehaus used the word "awesome" to describe Freddy Garcia's last start, which is noteworthy because DAVE NIEHAUS used the word "AWESOME." That may never happen again. Freddy did good in the first, and was stung only for the Soriano two-out single.
top 2 -- Edgar 1st-pitch 1B LF one-hops Dellucci; Olerud 1-0 7; Aurilia 1-1 6-4-3 DP
bot 2 -- Dellucci 2-0...3-1 U3; Mench 1-1 4-3; Nix 2-1 1B CF; Laird 2-0 1-3
>> Edgar got on by singling on the first pitch. Yes, the first pitch. In related news, hell froze over. The video reel rolled of Bob Melvin saying the Mariners have to "make [their] own breaks." Edgar's leadoff single went for naught as Olerud flew out and Aurilia got his 6-4-3 on. The Rangers had a sequence in the second much like the first, as both of the first two hitters bounced out to the right side, the third hitter got aboard, then the fourth hitter grounded out. Freddy went to a three-ball count on Dave Dellucci, hit first three-ball count of the game. It'd be a while before another Ranger hitter got a three-ball count.
top 3 -- Winn 0-1 9; Wilson 0-2...2-2 1B CF; McCracken 0-2...full...look K (in corner); Ichiro 1-1 hard 1B RF; Spiezio (swings over top of another change..0-for-7 w/3 K in RISP) 1-2...2-2 swing over change K
bot 3 -- Gonzalez 0-2...1-2 change low/away swing K; Young 0-2...1-2 5-3; Blalock 1st-pitch 4-3
>> Dan Wilson hit a one-out single. Quinton McCracken, filling in for the bruised tailboned Raul Ibanez, battled to a full count from 0-2 before gazing at a ball over the inside corner. Ichiro roped a single to right, then Spiezio came to the plate. At this point, Ron Fairly said he did some research and found that the Mariners strand more runners in scoring position with two out than their opponents. I know it sure seemed like it. FSNNW flashed a graphic on the screen saying that Spiezio was 0-for-7 with 3 strikeouts this year with runners in scoring position. Swinging over the top of three changeups will make you 0-for-8 with four strikeouts on the year. Freddy set down the Rangers in order.
top 4 -- Boone 3-0...3-1 6-3; Edgar 2-2 down/away slider swing K; Olerud 3-0...3-1 BB; Aurilia (2-1 way low/away swing) 2-2...full dying quail 1B CF; Winn 0-2 swing K
bot 4 -- Soriano 0-1 7; Fullmer 0-1 F5; Dellucci 1-1 2B RF line; Mench (1st-pitch WP low/away, Dellucci to 3rd) (Mench 3-for-10 with 4 RBI with RISP) 2-1 6
>> The Mariners exhibit a small two-out flurry with the Olerud walk and the Aurilia dying quail single into centerfield. Randy Winn took his .200 average to the plate and saved everyone some time by striking out on three pitches. The Rangers then had a small two-out flurry of their own, as Dellucci doubled down the rightfield line and went to third on the wild pitch to Kevin Mench, who was hitting 3-for-10 and had driven in 4 on the year with runners in scoring position. Freddy got him to pop out to Aurilia. Freddy had some small issues with low and away pitches, but he was doing just fine.
top 5 -- Wilson 2-0...3-1 4; McCracken 0-2...1-2 5-3; Ichiro 1-0 4-3
bot 5 -- Nix 1-1 IF 1B Boone dive hole no play; Laird 1-1 8; Gonzalez 2-0 step from track 8; Young 1st-pitch charging 5-3
>> Dan Wilson had the count his way and flew out to second as the Mariners calmly bowed down 1-2-3 to Joaquin Benoit. It was in the top of the 5th that the TV broadcast showed a very damning Mariner stat: the Mariners had played in 162 innings (not sure if that was up to that game or up to that inning) and had led in only 38 of them. That's a blazing clip of 23%. OUCH. Laynce Nix got aboard on a ball in the hole behind second base. Freddy then set down the next three.
top 6 -- Spiezio 0-2 (POWELL WARMING)...2-2 1B RF; Boone (low/away slider swing on 0-1) 0-2...1-4-3 DP; Edgar 1-0 6-3
bot 6 -- Blalock 0-1 8; Soriano 1st-pitch 5-3; Fullmer 2-2...full BB (first three-ball count); Dellucci 2-0...3-1...full breaker swing K -- Freddy has second and third three-ball counts of game on Fullmer and Dellucci, already had 2 out though. 73 pitches through 6.
>> Spiezio led off with a single to extend his hit streak to 5 games. He wouldn't have to wait long to be erased from the basepaths, though, as Boone bounced into a rare 1-4-3 double play. Edgar then bounced out to short. Freddy went to a three-ball count on Brad Fullmer with two out, the first time since the second that he had gone to a three-ball count on any hitter. Fullmer then walked and Dellucci got another three-ball count before whiffing on a breaking ball. Freddy had deep counts on those last two batters and still had only thrown 73 pitches though six innings.
top 7 -- POWELL IN; Olerud 1-2 6-3; Aurilia 1-1 track 9 (close); Winn 0-2...2-2 5-3 -- 1-2-3 once again.
bot 7 -- Mench 2-2...full 5-3; Nix 3-1...full 2B off wall RF; Laird (MYERS WARMING) 3-1...full slider low/away swing K (Freddy's 3rd); Gonzalez 1st-pitch 5-3
>> Aurilia rode a ball to the track in rightfield that I thought might leave the yard, but it didn't. The Mariners went 1-2-3 against Jay Powell, and Dave Niehaus said this Mariner futility was "getting to be a tired old record." Freddy started getting into some more three-ball counts, with the streak reaching five straight batters before Adrian Gonzalez ended the inning on his first pitch. Freddy was having some issues, but still stranded a runner in scoring position.
top 8 -- Wilson 2-2 (MATEO WARMING)...1B RF; BLOOMQUIST PR; McCracken bunt FC right to 1-6 (DAMN close); Ichiro 2-1...(McCracken breaks for 2nd, Laird throw dirty into CF, McCracken to 3rd) 3-1...full look waist-high plate K; Spiezio 0-1 8
bot 8 -- Young 2-0...3-1 9; Blalock 1-1 HR CF grass (3rd HR against Freddy Garcia, TEX 1-0); Soriano 1-2 5-3; (NELSON WARMING) Fullmer 1st-pitch IF 1B Boone deep backhand close play 1st; Dellucci 1-1 1B RF; MATEO IN; Mench 2-0 track gap fastball 2B RCF (TWO SCORE, TEX 3-0); MYERS IN; Nix 1-1 4-3
>> The inning that did the Mariners in. Dan Wilson got aboard with a leadoff single. Willie Bloomquist pinch-ran. McCracken was sent to the plate to bunt, and he did so on the first pitch...RIGHT BACK TO THE PITCHER. Jay Powell threw to Young at second and Bloomquist was forced out on a real close play. Ichiro came to the plate. On the 2-1 pitch to Ichiro, McCracken broke for second and drew a throw from Gerald Laird behind the plate, who made a bad throw into centerfield. McCracken went to third on the play. Ichiro had a 3-1 count with a runner on third and one out. A sufficiently deep fly ball would have given the Mariners a 1-0 lead. On 3-1, Ichiro fouled off the pitch. On 3-2, Ichiro GAZED AT THE WAIST-HIGH FASTBALL RIGHT OVER THE PLATE. Mark April 24, 2004 in your calendars as The Day Jay Powell Posterized Ichiro. Say hello to the anticlutch. Yes, Ichiro, who had whiffed with the bases loaded and two out last night, had been caught looking tonight with the go-ahead run on third with one out. Brutal. Freddy got the first out in the 8th before Hank Blalock roped one out to the "sod farm" (Niehaus term) over the wall in center. He got ahead of Soriano and forced a groundout to Spiezio. Brad Fullmer then got aboard on an infield hit, and Dave Dellucci got his second hit of the game. With Freddy one out from getting the complete game (let's face it, the Mariner pitchers weren't going to pitch a 9th inning in this game, and I think everybody knew it), Bob Melvin yanked him. Freddy had thrown 107 pitches in this game after throwing 115 in his last start. I can somewhat sympathize with yanking him, but I wanted him to get out of his own mess. With the way the bullpen has been lately, would you really think that leaving the starter in a bit longer is worse than bringing in someone from a Rafael Soriano-less bullpen? Anyway, Julio Mateo came in, fell behind 2-0 on Kevin Mench, and grooved one right over the plate that Mench tagged into the gap in rightcenter to score all of Garcia's runners. Then Melvin didn't hesitate to bring in Mike Myers to face Laynce Nix, who grounded out. As Mateo was pulled, the first thought in my mind had to do with Mateo having more than enough experience in long relief to deal with hitters from both sides of the plate. So at that point, I was asking myself why the hell Mateo was pulled after facing only one hitter, Mike Myers' splits versus Laynce Nix (I don't know them) be damned. Anyway, I didn't like Freddy getting pulled, though I can see how it's somewhat defensible, but the Mateo pull seems a little dumb to me, that's all.
top 9 -- NELSON IN; Boone 2-2 OF grass 4-3; Edgar 1-2...1B CF; Olerud 0-1 8; Aurilia (1-1 fastball "by him" --Niehaus) 1-2 swing K -- That's it.
>> And to prove that the world is cruel, a 9th inning had to be played. Jeff Nelson came in to close. Boone bounced out to Soriano on the outfield grass. Edgar got aboard with a single, then Olerud flew out and Aurilia had some balls blown past him on the way to a strikeout. And with that, it ended.
How good was Freddy today? He was amazingly efficient. He was at 73 pitches through six innings. He hadn't encountered his second three-ball count of the game until there were two outs in the 6th. That's pretty much the point where the efficiency went by the wayside a bit, as Freddy went to three balls on five straight hitters over the 6th and 7th. He had 92 pitches after seven innings even after he had a little trouble with the ball low and away. Still, Freddy had gotten 22 hitters out and yielded zero runs. Even after it was all said and done, how often should a guy go 7 2/3 innings, give up three runs and lose? This is simply unjust.
Ron Fairly made that note during the game about the Mariners being futile with runners in scoring position with two outs. It's somewhat related, but Baseball Tonight gave out this rub-it-in stat: today, the Red Sox went 0-for-18 with runners in scoring position today AND WON in the Bronx. They are the first team since 1974 to be that futile with runners in scoring position and win.
Gameball: Freddy Garcia. For why, see two paragraphs ago. This guy got jobbed. Steve had noticed something about Freddy afterward...
Goat: Ichiro. 1-for-4, but the other numbers in his line are one strikeout and one stranded runner, both on the same play. So he gets the big contract extension in the offseason and he whiffs with the bases loaded last night and is caught looking with the go-ahead run on third with one out tonight. On this night, that even outdoes Quinton McCracken's sparkling 0-for-3 line stranding two along with the sacrifice bunt right back to the pitcher.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is a bad baseball team.
For those who try to look on the bright side, I'll ask the question that I've seen being asked in a few places...
When does "it's still early" stop being a fallback for this team?
Franklin. Wasdin (yes, he still has a career). Tomorrow.
The Mariners were 6-10 heading into this one. Such a record brings to mind some subpar Seahawk seasons, but also the absolute reverse of last year's 10-6 Seahawk season with the playoff berth.
top 1 -- Ichiro 1-1 1B CF; Spiezio 2-1 1B RF (hit-and-run, Ichiro to 3rd); Boone 1st-pitch DP 4-6-3 (ICHIRO SCORES, SEA 1-0); Edgar 2-2...full...BB; Ibanez 1-2...2-2 U3
bot 1 -- Young 2-2 swing K; Blalock 2-2 1-3; Soriano 2-2 U3
>> The Mariners drew first blood in the first, getting back-to-back singles to start off and then getting the run on a Boone double-play ball. Pineiro had no trouble in the first with the top of the Ranger order.
top 2 -- Aurilia 1-1 6-3; Olerud 2-1 track 8; Davis 2-0...2-2 look K
bot 2 -- Fullmer 1st-pitch U3; Dellucci 1-0 HR LF (5th Pineiro HR this yr, TIE 1-1); Mench 2-2...(fastball barely in) full 9; Nix (checkswing) 0-2 4-3
>> Rich Aurilia was nailed on a Web Gem nominee play by Michael Young on a diving stop. Ben Davis lost the favorable count in his at-bat. Pineiro had a decent 2nd inning except for that part where he gave up the tying homer to Dave Dellucci. That wasn't so good.
top 3 -- Winn 1-2 1B LF under SS glove; Ichiro 2-0 FC 3-6 (beats out DP); Spiezio 2-0 3B RF line (ICHIRO SCORES, SEA 2-1); Boone 3-1 6-3 shallow; Edgar 2-1 track 9
bot 3 -- Laird 1-1 6-3; Gonzalez 1-1 2B RCF; Young 1-1 1B lay bat on ball LF (Young 28 hits leads AL); Blalock 0-2 swing yakker dirt K (a big one, Davis gloves it); Soriano 1st-pitch 1B CF (TIE 2-2); Fullmer 1-0 IF 1B dribbler touched by Joel, Boone no play; Dellucci (yakker) 0-2 (WP backstop, TEX 3-2)...full change swing K
>> Ichiro beats out a double play then scores on a Scott Spiezio double down the rightfield line. With Spiezio on 3rd with one out, Boone grounds out to short, but Ron Fairly believed Spiezio thought the ball was going right back to the pitcher, so he didn't break for home. Then Edgar flies out to the track in right. Dave or Ron pulled up the stat that Randy Winn was a grand 2-for-23 on the last homestand. Ron Fairly continued his multi-inning rant about his perceived increase in the number of infielders in baseball that seem to use the barehand to make plays a little more than they should. Michael Young got a base hit where he just laid the barrel of the bat onto the ball and put it into leftfield. Adrian Gonzalez hit a ball that fell for a double. The thing is, it was sort of a gapper, but I have a problem with a double that doesn't get past a fielder and/or roll all the way to the wall. Bottom line is, Winn (two strides or so short of the ball on the fly) must have been playing back real far or was cheating to the wrong side or SOMETHING. Al Soriano roped an RBI single on his first pitch. Brad Fullmer hit a grounder that Pineiro touched but Boone had no play on. Pineiro threw an 0-2 curve to Dellucci that found the dirt as well as the five-hole of Ben Davis to give Texas the lead.
top 4 -- Ibanez 1-0 2B RF line; Aurilia 1-2 swing K (up/away); Olerud 4-pitch BB; Davis 1st-pitch 4-6-3
bot 4 -- Mench 3-0...3-1 HR CF (fastball over plate, TEX 4-2); Nix 2-0...2-2...(RAIN DELAY) swing K; Laird 0-2 breaking look K; Gonzalez 3-1 BB; Young 3-1 1B CF; Blalock 0-2 2B smash wall RF (TWO SCORE, TEX 6-2, Joel at 77, JARVIS WARMING); Soriano 0-1 bat shatter 1B CF (BLALOCK SCORES, TEX 7-2); Fullmer 1-0 fly 7
>> Raul Ibanez hit a leadoff double and didn't move. Kevin Mench blasted a 3-1 fastball into the grassy area over the CF wall. It was the 6th HR that Pineiro has surrendered this year. Laynce Nix was up with a 2-2 count before the first rain delay of the night came. Coming out of the delay, Pineiro struck out both Nix and Gerald Laird before unraveling. He walked Adrian Gonzalez with the bases empty, then Hank Blalock drove a pitch to deep rightfield that I thought was going to leave the yard. Still, two runs scored on the play to give Texas a 6-2 lead. Around this point, Bob Melvin appeared ready to throw in the towel, as Kevin Jarvis was warming in the bullpen. Dave Niehaus noted that a tornado watch was canceled for the area. Soriano dumped a bat-splitting single into centerfield to score Blalock to make it 7-2. Joel Pineiro had a pitch count of 80 through four.
top 5 -- Winn 1-2...2-2 HBP; Ichiro 0-1 Soriano dive no play; Spiezio 1-0 FC 3-6 (beats out DP); Boone 2-0...2-1 FC 6-4 (WINN SCORES, TEX 7-3); Edgar 2-2 6-3
bot 5 -- Dellucci 1-0 1B CF; Mench 1-2 5-4-3 DP; Nix 1-2...2-2 breaker K
>> Randy Winn was beaned to start it off. Spiezio and Boone beat out double plays, plating Winn. Bret Boone drove in his 10th run of the year. Dellucci hit a leadoff single but was erased on a Mench double play ball. Joel had a fairly easy inning thanks to the pitcher's best friend.
top 6 -- Ibanez 0-1 4-3; Aurilia 0-2 4-3; Olerud 1st-pitch 1B CF; Davis 1-2...full BB; Winn 2-0...3-0 (97 pitches)...3-1 BB; RAMIREZ IN; Ichiro 1-2 swing K
bot 6 -- Laird 2-2 (JARVIS IN PEN, pitch just misses)...full IF 1B deep hole SS; Gonzalez 2-0...full tweener LF 5 small collision Ibanez/Spiezio, Ibanez kneed; Young 1-1 DP 5-3
>> Ryan Drese hit the wall with two outs in the 6th and couldn't get through the inning. Olerud hit a single, Ben Davis battled back from 1-2 to walk, then Winn walked to load the sacks. But there were two out, and Ichiro knew this, so he whiffed on some off-speed junk from Erasmo Ramirez. Before he struck out, I made a Top Forum post about how I was glad Ichiro hit so many balls because he looks horrible when he swings and misses. It appears I cursed him. That's the dumbest I've seen Ichiro look since he faced Pedro a couple years ago. Bob Melvin was armed and ready once again to throw in the towel as Kevin Jarvis was warming up to start the bottom of the 6th. Gerald Laird hit one in the hole at short that Aurilia had no play on. Gonzalez hit a ball in between Ibanez, Spiezio, and Winn. Spiezio caught the ball, but then collided with Ibanez, kneeing him in the hip region. The later prognosis would be a bruised tailbone for Ibanez. Ron Fairly noted that Aurilia couldn't make the play because he was breaking toward second when the runner on first took off. Michael Young then hit into a double play.
top 7 -- Spiezio 1st-pitch 5-3 Young in CF almost; ALMANZAR IN; Boone 2-0 HR RF (TEX 7-4); Edgar 3-0...3-1 solid 7; Ibanez 1-1 1B CF; Aurilia (MAHAY WARMING) 1-1 2B LF (Dellucci dives/misses, TEX 7-5); MAHAY IN; Olerud 1-1 4-3
bot 7 -- JARVIS (TOWEL) IN (Joel gone after 106 pitches), MC CRACKEN IN for Ibanez; Blalock 2-0 1B CF; Soriano 0-1 2B LF (3rd hit); VILLONE IN; Fullmer 2-0 jammed high/tight 3; PH CHAD ALLEN (.518 in minors, righty) 1-0 lineout 3; Mench IBB; Nix 3-1...full looper LF (TWO SCORE, TEX 9-5); Laird 0-2 (wild pitch high above Davis' glove, TEX 10-5)...Davis nice stop on 1-2 pitch in dirt...2-2 swing K
>> The Mariners got deep into the Ranger bullpen in the 7th, as Boone hit a 393-foot blast off Carlos Almanzar to bring the Mariners within three. With one out, Edgar laced a ball right to the leftfielder. A small two-out rally then took place, as Ibanez singled to left, then Aurilia hit a fly ball (off new pitcher Ron Mahay) on which Dellucci had a long way to run to get. Dellucci dove and missed, allowing Ibanez to score from first and bring the Mariners to within two. Then it came: Bob Melvin Throws in the Towel is brought to you by Bed Bath & Beyond, the USS Mariner, and Sports and Bremertonians. Kevin Jarvis threw a total of five pitches. He faced two hitters. He went 2-0 on Hank Blalock, who singled to center. Jarvis' 1-0 pitch to Soriano ended up being laced for a double. Jarvis came in to start the inning, threw FIVE PITCHES, and left with two in scoring position and the same number of outs he had when he came in. Ron "Vanilli" Villone came in, got two outs to give Mariner fans false hope, then proceeded to let Jarvis pay for his debauchery. The righty Kevin Mench was put aboard with two outs to load the bases to face the lefty Laynce Nix. That backfired when Nix looped a single into left to score Jarvis' runners. Gerald Laird had his 0-2 pitch sail up and over Ben Davis' glove and to the backstop to give the Rangers a 10-5 lead.
top 8 -- Davis 1-2...2-2 track 9 RCF; (NELSON WARMING) Winn 2-0...2-1 8; Ichiro 2-0...3-1 BB; Spiezio 2-0...3-1 HR LF (SEA 10-7); NELSON IN; Boone 2-2...full BB; Edgar 1-1 (Boone steals 2nd)...2-1 2B (Boone scores, TEX 10-8); BLOOMQUIST PR; McCracken 2-2...full (RAINING LIKE HELL/lightning) BB; CORDERO IN; Aurilia 2-0...2-2 swing K
bot 8 -- Gonzalez 1st-pitch 4-3; Young 3-1...full IF 1B Spiezio misses barehand (30 hits...RAIN DELAY 1:02); MYERS IN; Blalock 2-2 fly 8; HASEGAWA IN; Soriano 0-1 FC 4-6
>> Mariner fans were prepared for yet another false hope comeback. Davis flew to the track in right, then Winn had a 2-0 count before flying to center. Another two-out flurry ensued, as Ichiro walked and Spiezio hit one over the scoreboard in left. Jeff Nelson came in and had an outing almost as bad as that of Jarvis, walking Boone, serving up Edgar's double, then walking a horrible hitter in Quinton McCracken. At this point, Dave Niehaus made a remark where he called a strong rainstorm a "frog strangler." Aurilia faced Francisco Cordero with two on and two out, had a 2-0 count, then struck out to end the threat. The Mariners were only down 10-8, but where would they have been if Melvin hadn't thrown in the towel? Wouldn't anyone other than Jarvis to start the 7th have been a better idea? All the good that Jarvis has done this year has been of dumb luck. The usual Kevin Jarvis is closer to this than the one that can throw an anomalous three shutout innings after the starting pitcher struggles. Michael Young hit a one-out single before the longer rain delay of the night came, lasting 62 minutes and managing to put my night on hold and bore me all at the same time. KXLE Radio in Ellensburg aired some news talk show and also twice threw in the obnoxious Emergency Alert System. Does anyone agree with me when I say the EAS sounds like a malfunctioning fax machine? Mike Myers was the first pitcher out on the mound after the delay, getting Hank Blalock out and fulfilling the LOOGY role for the night. I doubt Myers broke a sweat. Shigetoshi Hasegawa came in and got Soriano to bounce into a fielder's choice on the second pitch.
top 9 -- Olerud 3-1...full...BB; PH HANSEN 0-2...full lineout 9; Winn 1-2...2-2 U3; Ichiro 3-1 BB; Spiezio 2-2...full...swing K (10 pitch AB)
>> The top of the 9th mercifully came. Francisco Cordero had some turbulence, first by walking Olerud to bring the tying run to the plate. However, he helped his cause by getting Dave Hansen to fly out in the pinch, then getting Winn to bounce out to first. Ichiro then walked to bring the go-ahead run to the pick in Scott Spiezio, who had a cliffhanging, though-it-out 10-pitch at bat, but he whiffed on the tenth pitch to end it.
Looooong game. Dave Niehaus pointed out at some point during the game that the Mariners haven't had a game this year where they've scored first then held the lead to the end of game for the win. My friends and readers, that is not good (I haven't gone through the fact-checking, but I don't doubt it's true).
Gameball: Scott Spiezio. Not just for the obvious reasons. He was 3-for-6, drove in three, and had a bomb. But that last 10-pitch at-bat put him over the top for the gameball on a night where no one else really deserved it. Ichiro's whiff action with the bases loaded and two out cost him my gameball, not just because he struck out with the bases loaded, but because it's Ichiro. Expectations, expectations...
Goat: Kevin Jarvis. I don't care if Ron Villone was the one to score all his runs; Jarvis put them on in the first place. Jarvis had by far the largest crap-per-time ratio of anyone on the team tonight. I'll repeat the stats one last time: 5 pitches, two batters, a single, a double, two runners in scoring position, no outs.
At 7-5 heading into the bottom of the 7th after the Mariners got a couple runs and with Joel Pineiro having thrown 107 pitches (and having had a terrible line of 7 runs and 11 hits), Bob Melvin made the stupid decision to bring in Kevin Jarvis to face Hank Blalock (lefty) and Alfonso Soriano keep the game close. For one thing, like I said, the normal Kevin Jarvis is closer to the one that was in the game tonight rather than the one that is bound to do good every once in a while because he's really not that good.
The offense scored eight runs and pounded out 12 hits. There's still a few things to complain about (stranded 17 runners), but when the Mariners are lucky enough to get 8 runs, they've got to win. Did Joel Pineiro have a crappy outing? Sure. Did they still have a chance to win after they scored two runs in their half of the 7th to make it 7-5? Hell yes. Why did Melvin bring in Kevin Jarvis to face the ever-potent 2nd and 3rd hitters in the Ranger lineup? I'm not sure, other than to say Melvin may have somehow convinced himself that Kevin Jarvis is good. That or the puppetmasters from above are prodding Melvin to use Jarvis.
Garcia. Benoit. Tonight.
Friday, April 23, 2004
I hope Simeon Rice is feeling very good about himself today. That bastard.
Rest in peace, Mr. Tillman.
Rest in peace, champ.
Thursday, April 22, 2004
The Mariner offense had innings in the 4th, 6th, and 8th when they had runners in scoring position with less than two outs. What happened in these innings?
4th: Bases loaded with nobody out. Two runs would score in the inning, both on outs. Dan Wilson hit a sacrifice fly to push Scott Spiezio across, while Raul Ibanez scored on a Jolbert Cabrera groundout. This gave the Mariners two runs in the inning. Little did they know at that point that they were done scoring in the game. Also, the Mariners were already down 3-0 before the rally, and this wasn't enough to put them over the top. Like I said, In perfect hindsight (or like in hockey when they use the "game-winning goal" stat), Eric Chavez had already won the game offensively.
6th: Rich Aurilia walked to push Raul Ibanez to second with one out. After ending the game last night, Dan Wilson came to the plate, ready to reprise his past role as resident rallykiller. He would line a 2-2 pitch right to Marco Scutaro, who stepped on the bag to force out Ibanez. End of threat.
8th: Edgar got aboard with a one-out double. Scott Spiezio came up, swung at the second pitch and roped it right at Eric Chavez. With Edgar on at second, well, that's a sure double play.
So the Mariners offense was largely impotent in the game. This isn't to say they were the only facet of the Mariners at fault for the game (though they were pretty bad though).
Jamie Moyer obviously didn't have it today, making it three of four outings this year that haven't been too Moyer-like. In this game, he couldn't get past the 5th inning, throwing 91 pitches and giving up five of Oakland's right runs. Moyer definitely didn't pitch as long as the Mariners would have liked him to, but the score was only 5-2 when he left, so one could argue the Mariners still had a chance to win the game. Given that the Mariners would have two chances to put runners across, it wouldn't be a bad argument. The trusty SportsLine recap (okay, it's a wire article with the box score) quoted Eric Chavez as saying Jamie Moyer wasn't getting the corners all day from Terry Craft behind the plate. As you may remember, QuesTec expanded to all the parks this year (correct me if I'm wrong) from the trial basis of a few ballparks last year. This brings the question that I thought had a chance to arise -- Is Jamie Moyer getting burned by QuesTec? We know he's meticulous with his pitches and needs certain calls, and if he can't get the corners, and QuesTec is now ubiquitous...this might be bad news. Taking away corner calls from a guy who depends on placement because he can't depend on speed is something that could be heavily detrimental.
The Mariners would end up surrendering three more runs to the A's offense, however, not the least of which was Oakland's 6th run, which scored in the 7th. This is pretty well-documented by Jason Barker, who was a firsthand witness to the carnage. Randy Winn made two gaffes in the inning, first misplaying what ended up being a leadoff double by Eric Karros. The wire says he lost the ball in the sun, whereas Barker noted he was in position to make the play and just plum dropped it. Later in the inning, Winn bobbled a two-out Damian Miller single with Eric Karros on second to start the play. Apparently there were some discrepancies over whether Winn was charged with an error in the inning (the play-by-play gives Winn an error, whereas he isn't charged with an error in the final boxscore). Barker notes that it was debatable whether Winn would have had Karros at home on the play. This is all too true, even though the single was "hard" (play-by-play word) to Winn, but once again, Randy's arm more than likely would have done what it usually does on that play. Given the psychological ramifications and the fact that apparently boos rained down from the stands, the run that made it 6-2 was probably the killer in this game. Ron Villone would chip in and give the A's another run in the form of Eric Byrnes (stole second ON THE LEFTY to put himself in scoring position), who was plated on Jermaine Dye's RBI single. Three hitters later, Dye would score on an error, the only one that was officially scored in the game.
Before I go further...
Goat: Willie Bloomquist. 0-for-3. E3. Three runners stranded.
Gameball: Edgar Martinez. 2-for-4. He singlehandedly put himself into scoring position twice (that's what happens when you hit doubles) and never scored.
By the way, James Barker thought the official scorer at the Safe might be smoking something. I already knew Terry Mosher was from Bremerton and contributed to The Sun at one time (this article won't tell you he ran an independent rag called the Sports Paper, which wasn't too bad), but I wasn't aware of the scorer-choosing process.
Lastly, Jeff noted of Melvin's great handling of Ed Guardado, who did pitch with an 8-2 lead today after not pitching at all last night with the game on the line.
Hey Bob...this isn't Kazu you're dealing with here. Did you ever think there might be a chance that maybe Guardado WON'T suck if you bring him into a tie game? You don't know unless you try, and hell, I'm sure you could dig up some stats on this...
The Mariners have officially negated half of the four-game winning streak they were just on. Note that even with the Mariners' winning streak, they were STILL two games under .500 before losing these two games.
Pineiro. Drese. Tomorrow.
[Edit Fri ~5p -- Aparently it's Drese, and not Snare. SportsLine hath lied to me.]
I haven't seen the entire Blender's "50 Worst Rock and Roll Songs Ever" list yet, but I'll go ahead and put up 10 of the worst songs ever, according to me.
In no particular order...
Men Without Hats "Safety Dance"
Worst video ever. The song is just as bad. I'll dance when I want to, not when that jackass from MWH tells me to.
Take me higher to a place where I'll never have to hear this song again. It's too bad that Creed couldn't improve on their 1997 debut album, "My Own Prison."
Sixpence None The Richer "Kiss Me"
This is a song I just absolutely dread. My God, what a horrible song.
I got knocked down by this song, and I didn't want to get up again, fearing that I would have to keep hearing this song.
Dan Hill and Vonda Shepard "Can We Try?"
Can I try to get back 3-4 minutes of my life after hearing this song?
Kip Winger, quit dancing around like a fairy.
MXPX "Move To Bremerton"
Baha Men "Who Let The Dogs Out?"
Mariners fans know what I'm talking about here.
Sinead O'Connor "Nothing Compares 2 U"
I shed a few tears of frustration after hearing this song more than a few times. Just like Sinead in the video for "NC2U."
Golden Earring "Radar Love"
If there's one song from the 1970s that just says CRAP, it's "Radar Love."
Here's 5 more songs. But for this list, these are songs that most people love to hate, but songs that I like.
Deee-Lite "Groove Is In the Heart"
Groove is in the heaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrt!!!
Survivor "The Search Is Over"
Yes, Survivor had a few songs other than "Eye of the Tiger" and "Burning Heart."
Sting "If I Ever Lose My Faith"
Gordon Sumner, musical legend. I will not debate this.
Johnny Hates Jazz "Shattered Dreams"
Arguably my favorite one-hit wonder of all time.
Journey "Don't Stop Believing"
The Senators failed to make it out of the first round this season, losing to the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games. Martin is a damn good coach. He'll get a chance to coach somewhere next season. YES, THERE WILL BE A NEXT SEASON.
Two words for the Sens...
-- Van Halen, "The Dream is Over"
Okay, the dream isn't really over, but a four-game winning streak is.
I don't have the international keyboard on right now, so there's no hat over the E in the headline. Sorry to the linguistic sticklers out there. (Thanks to Steve at the Wheelhouse for the later tip, changed ~12:23p.)
I'll first warn you that schoolwork tonight prevents me from posting an inning-by-inning recap. But I'm still trying here.
Tim Hudson's shutout bid was spoiled in the 7th inning, so I don't get to call the Mariners Tim Hudson's bitch this time.
Gil Meche had an outing that is reminiscent of past years' early-season outings from Freddy Garcia (you remember, the years where he'd start off shaky and then warm up with the weather?). Freddy's outings would total out as something like 5 2/3 innings, 5 runs, 9 hits, a few walks, 5 or so strikeouts, and 115 pitches. In other words, some control struggle and some deep counts. Meche's line tonight was 5 2/3 innings, 3 runs, 6 hits, 5 walks, 4 strikeouts, 112 pitches.
I frankly was kind of surprised that Bob Melvin trotted Gil Meche out there for the 6th. I've counted back through the game logs and I think Meche was at 91 pitches. Given Meche's past with arm issues, his unprecedented (for him) workload of last year, and the fact that it's only April...do you really want Meche to come out for the 6th? If anything, I would have let him get one out (hopefully the first or second batter) and then yield to the bullpen. One baserunner, and he'd be gone. I'm not Bob Melvin though. There's letting your starter clean up his own mess, and then there's running the risk of wrecking your starter's arm later in the season (Jeremy has set his over/under for the inevitable Gil Meche DL stint). Melvin gave Meche a chance to clean up his own mess, and he nearly got out of it until Esteban German had something to say about it, and gave the A's a 3-0 lead on his RBI single.
After the fans stretched, the Mariner rally started with Raul Ibanez getting beaned, then Rich Aurilia moving him over to third with a single. John Olerud knocked Ibanez in to put a crooked number on the scoreboard for the Mariners, making it 4-1. Then Dave Hansen did exactly what he was brought to the team for (okay, maybe that whole "ditching Cirillo" thing was part of it too), parking one off Hudson to tie it after being in the hole 0-2.
Then came the 9th. Mike Myers, fresh off getting Mark Kotsay out to end the 8th, was brought out for the 9th. He would face two batters in the 9th before he was pulled so Shig Hasegawa could face Jermaine Dye. Myers walked Eric Byrnes and allowed an Eric Chavez single. As far as I'm concerned, there's your game. Dye doubled on the first pitch off Hasegawa to clear the bases and give the A's the 6-4 lead. The insurance run came across two batters later on an Erubiel Durazo sacrifice fly, with Bret Boone flashing the leather in between. By that, I mean he made an error.
If it seemed like the Mariners were grounding into double plays left and right, it's because they were. The Mariners racked up a handful of double plays: Spiezio in the 1st, Ibanez in the 4th, Davis in the 5th, Edgar in the 6th, and Boone in the 8th. Wow. If only they could have thrown one into the 7th there, the Mariners could have grounded into double plays for five straight innings.
Before I hand out the gameball and goat, I'll bring to everyone's attention that Edgar and Boone (3 and 4 hitters tonight) went a combined 0-for-7, struck out twice, and left five runners on base.
One more thing before the gamer and goat...that was one weird lineup Melvin threw out there tonight. Edgar batting third didn't tweak me too much. Spiezio batting second...that was weird. McCracken batting 9th...I can't say I argue with the placement as much as the fact that he's on any of the 30 Major League rosters.
Okay, the "Wrap It Up" box is blinking at me...
Gameball: John Olerud. 2-for-3 with an RBI and a beaning. He got the badly-needed clutch hit to drive in the first Mariner run and give the rally in the 7th some steam. The bad thing? This performance raised his average to a hefty .224. Ouch.
Everyone and their mother would have picked Dave Hansen with a gameball here, but I hate being really obvious. That's going to happen here with the goat, too. Everyone's going to say that no matter what, Hasegawa's job is to nail the door shut, and put out the fire, but...
Goat: Mike Myers. ...someone had to start the fire in the first place. This guy only faced two hitters in the 9th and let both of them get aboard. You just can't do that in a tie game, and you can't do it with Jermaine Dye, Scott Hatteberg (okay, not as fearsome as Dye), and Erubiel Durazo (I fear this guy, and he will warm up eventually) coming afterward.
I hope everyone enjoyed the four-game winning streak. Unfortunately, I can't remember who in the blogosphere said it (I'll give credit when I do remember), but just like the first ten games weren't an accurate gauge for the rest of the season, the four games before tonight weren't an accurate gauge either. It's going to be somewhere in between those two extremes. Also on this front will be the inevitable neutralization of Raul Ibanez. The four days before tonight may be Raul's high point for the entire 2004 season.
On the bright side, one thing is sort of holding up in the early stages of the season. I thought (before the Angels picked up Vlad Guerrero) that the only way the Mariners could win the AL West would be if the rest of the division sucked. Okay, so the rest of the division doesn't suck, but no one is head-and-shoulders above the rest either. The Mariners are a mere three games back (I don't know how this happened) of first-place Oakland after the loss tonight. Of course, we've learned one thing since this unbalanced schedule came into place. The Mariners have really gained their cushion in the years of the unbalanced schedule by doing really well in divisional play. Where the Mariners stumbled was when they failed to beat up on the patsies of the American League, and especially the memorable run of no-name worldbeaters they faced last year.
My goodness...I'm reading through the recaps at SportsLine and they have banner ads plastered EVERYWHERE for Iron Chef America tomorrow (Thursday) on the Food Network. Surely the theme ingredients won't be nearly as exotic as those on the original Iron Chef episodes. It's going to be really weird without voiceovers though. That was one of the main nuances of the original Iron Chef episodes. Of course, one of Chris Kattan's great roles in SNL history was when he played the Iron Chef host.
Okay, time to end this and get some sleep...
Mulder. Moyer. Thursday night. Hope my homework's done.
[Edit Thu ~11:30p -- Sorry to anyone who depended on us for knowing what part of the day the game was in, because it turns out it was a day game. Sorry.]
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
The complete history of NHL Uniforms, written and illustrated by Andrew M. Greenstein.
If I had money to burn, I'd buy a few jerseys.
---Road Minnesota North Stars jersey (green with the N, not "STARS")
---Road Hartford Whalers jersey (green, not blue)
---Road Edmonton Oilers jersey (Gretzky era)
I've had two hockey jerseys in my lifetime. One Los Angeles Kings road jersey I found at a garage sale when I was 10 and a road San Jose Sharks jersey (the first road jersey they wore). Great stuff.
Second round starts tomorrow. Can't wait.
Oh, and don't wait to check out the NHL Uniforms site. It's great.
(My picks in italics)
HART TROPHY (MVP)
Martin Brodeur, New Jersey
Jarome Iginla, Calgary
Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay (Leading scorer on the East's #1 regular season team)
VEZINA TROPHY (Best Goaltender)
Martin Brodeur, New Jersey
Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary (He only played in 38 games, but he had a 1.70 GAA. That has to count for something.)
Roberto Luongo, Florida
NORRIS TROPHY (Best Defenseman)
Zdeno Chara, Ottawa
Scott Niedermayer, New Jersey (He stepped it up when Scott Stevens was hurt)
Chris Pronger, St. Louis
SELKE TROPHY (Best Defensive Forward)
Kris Draper, Detroit
John Madden, New Jersey
Alyn McCauley, San Jose (Plus-23 when he was in the lineup)
CALDER TROPHY (Best Rookie)
Trent Hunter, New York Islanders
Andrew Raycroft, Boston (2.05 GAA and solidified Boston's goaltender situation early on)
Michael Ryder, Montreal
LADY BYNG TROPHY (Sportsmanship and Gentlemanly Conduct)
Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa (Key cog of the Senators)
Brad Richards, Tampa Bay
Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay
JACK ADAMS AWARD (Best Coach)
Darryl Sutter, Calgary (There shouldn't be any doubt about this, even though Tortorella got the Lightning to finish first in the East)
John Tortorella, Tampa Bay
Ron Wilson, San Jose
The NHL Awards special will be televised on June 10. Ron McLean will be the host once again, I think.
---David, I know what you're talking about.
"THERE IT GOES! SEE YOU LATER! THE KID HAS DONE IT!"
---If Raul Ibanez can hit a home run off of Tim Hudson, then I'll be somewhat impressed.
---Enough about Raul Ibanez.
---Why in the hell did the NBA decide to change their first round playoff format from 5 to 7 games last season? A 5-game series is much more exciting than a 7-game series, at least in basketball. In a 5-game series, the first game is really critical. It seems like this year's first round has no drama whatsoever.
Then again, this is not my NBA. You know, the NBA pre-ABC/ESPN era. I'm not a big fan of John Tesh, but dammit, I could really use some "Roundball Rock" right now. Of course, if it were my call, I'd ax the last clip in the NBA on NBC promo, which is the shot of Michael Jordan clutching the Larry O'Brien Trophy (for you casual folks, that's the NBA Championship Trophy). Michael Jeffrey Jordan is no hero to me.
---If you're not paying attention to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, shame on you.
For the sake of tradition, we need a Montreal-Toronto Eastern Conference Finals. You mean to tell me that a Habs-Leafs series wouldn't be cool to watch? Remember, it is Canada's game. Don't let ESPN fool you with those stupid factory commercials.
There are 3 Canadian teams left in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The last time a Canadian team made it to the Cup Finals, Montreal did it in 1993. They beat Barry Melrose's Los Angeles Kings in 5 games. Yes, I think there will be a Canadian team in the Cup Finals this season. Too bad I had predicted Ottawa to come out of the East.
---Patrick Lalime just let another goal in. I haven't seen a choking like that since Ichiro in the 2001 ALCS. Yikes.
---Jeff at Leone At Third is still with us today. Thank goodness for that.
---Don't worry about putting too much stock in the new list of the "50 Worst Rock and Roll Songs of All-Time", according to Blender. Last year, they put Toad the Wet Sprocket in their "50 Worst Artists of All-Time List". Blasphemy.
That's enough rambling for right now. Later.
Did anyone wake up in the morning and open the paper to see this? If Ramon Santiago somehow is the 5th-best prospect in the system, then the Mariners are dead. Of course, it's probably just a flawed evaluation of Santiago, but man...it wasn't a good thing to see.
You know, my posting habits in regards to the Mariners have been a little different. In the offseason, it was mostly a cycle of waiting for the P-I and the Times to refresh their articles around midnight and then bash away. Now, it's more of a cycle consisting of watching the game, taking notes on the game, putting in some thoughts here and there, and wrapping it up. It's a lot more fulfilling to talk about and dissect the game rather than it is to pick a couple of quotes from an article and take my hacks. At least it is right now. Frankly, I'm glad I haven't read any articles (other than that prospect list) for today because Premature Raul Ibanez LoveFest and Worshipping Ceremony 2004 is more than likely taking place right now in the Seattle media. I thought about turning KJR on a few minutes ago, but then realized that for some reason Softy was on the Ibanez bandwagon before the season started, so it'd be a load of irrational celebratory hijinks.
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
-- Raul Ibanez does NOT have an awesome arm; don't let that play on Vlad fool you.
-- Raul Ibanez is NOT chasing Dale Long, Don Mattingly, and Ken Griffey, Jr. I think you all know what I'm talking about. (If not, comment box...I'll get to you.)
-- Raul Ibanez will be 34 at the end of his contract, regardless of what he does.
-- Raul Ibanez was shipped out of Seattle originally because HE SUCKED. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
-- I could hit a home run out of Kauffman Stadium.
-- If you do a Ctrl+F search right now and type in Cruz, you'll eventually find the link to my Jose Cruz vs. Raul Ibanez argument. Cruz is a year younger, I think, but let's make no mistake: no one else was even CLOSE to bidding what the Mariners did for Raul Ibanez. How about if they paid sensible market value for Ibanez and then overpaid for Tejada instead? Nice thought, no? And yeah, the last point somewhat segues into this one, with the parks.
I'll fire up the recap, then give my thoughts afterward...
top 1 -- Kotsay 1B RF; Kielty 9; Chavez 0-2...full BB; Dye 0-2 swing K; Hatteberg 3-1 BB; Durazo track 8
bot 1 -- Ichiro 4-3; Olerud 0-2...look K; Boone 1-2 swing slider K low/away
>> Ryan Franklin walked two, but got out of the jam. Rich Harden sliced through the
top third of the Mariner order with ease.
top 2 -- Crosby 2-0...full swing K; Miller 2-0...2-2 HR LF bullpen (stayed inside the ball); Scutaro 0-2 fly shallow 8; Kotsay 6-3
bot 2 -- Spiezio 1-2...2-2 6 sprinting LF injury; Ibanez (swung through 1-1 change) 1-2...2-2 8; Aurilia 3-0...3-1 BB; Winn first-pitch 7
>> Franklin made his only hiccup of the game that resulted in a run. Damian Miller hit a homer that I hope every father told their child/children to pay extra attention to. It was nothing short of beautiful how Damian Miller stayed inside the ball and drove it into the bullpen. Great stuff. Nothing much happened for the Mariners in this inning, but the Bobby Kielty/Bobby Crosby collision was noteworthy at the very least. I just heard John Kruk on Baseball Tonight say that if that happened in the Kingdome, Crosby could have had a career-ending injury.
top 3 -- Kielty 3-1 BB; Chavez 2-0...3-1 BB; Dye 8; Hatteberg FC 6-4 (near DP, beat Franklin at 1st); Durazo 3-1 BB; Crosby track 8
bot 3 -- Davis first-pitch 1B CF up middle; Bloomquist 4-pitch BB; Ichiro 2-2 4-3 (runners advance); Olerud 3-1 charging 7 (Fairly says crucial counts, high fastballs to Mariners, high flies); Boone 0-2 swing K (letterhigh fastball in)
>> Franklin somehow walked three and got away with it. The Mariners had Ben Davis AND Willie Bloomquist get aboard and had Ichiro, Olerud, and Boone set to drive them in. None succeeded. Rich Harden set up both of his first two strikeouts very nicely -- in the first strikeout, Harden blew a fastball past Boone before striking him out with the slider low and away. In the second strikeout, he threw the slider low and away to get the second strike, then busted Boone in with a letter-high fastball that he swung through.
top 4 -- Miller 5-3; Scutaro 0-2 tomahawk LF 2B; Kotsay 0-2...1-2 swing K breaking ball; Kielty 1-2 swing K
bot 4 -- Spiezio hard 1B CF; Ibanez 3-1 FC 6-4 (swung at ball 4); Aurilia 6-4-3 DP
>> Franklin didn't walk anybody, as he was finally settling into a groove. The Mariners gave the A's two chances to turn a double play and did it the second time on the Aurilia grounder. Dave and Ron were talking about the AFLAC trivia question which asked what town was in the video montage, and it was Spiro, Oklahoma, Ryan Franklin's hometown. Dave was bored and asked Ron whether he'd ever been in Norman, Oklahoma for football Saturday. Ron said no, but that he had been in Lincoln for one. Something really needed to happen in this game.
top 5 -- Chavez F5; Dye 0-2 9; Hatteberg 0-2...6-3
bot 5 -- Winn bunt 6-3; Davis 0-2 swing K; Bloomquist 9
>> Franklin finally threw a 1-2-3 inning. Then Harden had probably an even easier inning.
top 6 -- Durazo 1-2 6-3; ESTEBAN GERMAN 3-1 4-3; Miller 0-2...1-3
bot 6 -- Ichiro 1-2...full BB; Olerud (ICHIRO STEALS) 2-0 (Harden steps off twice)...2-2...full look K; Boone 0-2 swing K; Spiezio swing K
>> Franklin went 1-2-3 again, one victim being Esteban German, who came into the game as a result of Bobby Crosby being shelved with a knee contusion. At this point, Franklin had set down 8 straight. This inning actually saw Ichiro steal, which was amazing, and I hope veryone out there was able to see this rare occurrence. Then Harden struck out the side, including Boone for the hat trick.
top 7 -- Scutaro (VILLONE WARMING) 2-0 F5; Kotsay 8 (over-shoulder basket catch); Kielty F5
bot 7 -- Ibanez HR RF; Aurilia 0-2 swing K; Winn 2-2 swing K 2-3 (9th for Harden); Davis 1-2...full BB; Bloomquist first-pitch diving U3
>> Franklin ended the game on a tear, setting down 11 straight. It was too bad he couldn't get the win, and I was surprised in a way that Melvin trotted him out there for the 7th, though when I considered the state of the bullpen after the night before, I wasn't so surprised. He ended with 105 pitches. Raul Ibanez hit the solo blast, then Ben Davis reached base for the second time in the game.
top 8 -- VILLONE IN; Chavez 6; Dye 4-3; Hatteberg 4-3
bot 8 -- RINCON IN; Ichiro 4-3; Olerud 4-3; Boone 0-2...1-2 F2
>> Ron Villone came in and mowed through the 3-4-5 hitters of the A's lineup. Somehow. Ricardo Rincon came in and sliced through the top of the Mariner order. Clutch.
top 9 -- Durazo 8; German 2-2...full BB; Miller 3-6-1 DP
bot 9 -- MECIR IN; Spiezio 1-2 swing K sinker; Ibanez HR RF
>> Villone was able to get a key double play after he walked Esteban German to put the go-ahead run on base. Jim Mecir came in, whiffed Scott Spiezio, and then Raul Ibanez won the game.
Gameball: Ryan Franklin. Found himself after struggling early, gave the team a chance to win exactly the type of game that they're supposed to win. I could gameball Ibanez, but come on, you read the first part of this post, didn't you? Honorable mention here to Ben Davis, who went 1-for-2 with a walk. Baby steps, Ben. Baby steps.
Goat: Bret Boone. Got the strikeout hat trick tonight, and generated enough wind with his bat to be classified as a Category 4 hurricane. Hurricane Bret also stranded 3 runners on the basepaths.
You know, we're really damned either way. If the Mariners win (especially with people like Ibanez or McCracken making game-breaking or winning plays), then the management has enough to convince themselves that what they're doing is fine and dandy and correct. If they lose, maybe management thinks again about its idiotic philosophies, but that means we'd have to sit through losing baseball. As you can see, we're screwed both ways.
The Mariners won the two games in this series that they had the best chance to win. Luckily for them, they lucked out and don't have to face Barry Zito in this series. In any event...
Hudson. Meche. Tomorrow.
I went home, I saw a few innings, and I watched the ending. A balk? Sadly, there's a chance it may have saved the Mariners another inning of futility. This might be somewhat of a stretch though, considering there were runners at the corners with nobody out. However, Scott Spiezio had the count 0-2 on him. If Spiezio strikes out, there's one out and a ground ball makes the game an inning longer at the very least.
About the balk itself, I don't know what the exact rule is, but I do know that the move Justin Duchscherer made seemed weird just seeing it unfold. Something was not complete about it, like he didn't step toward third enough or something.
Anyway, there's not too much more I can say about the game because I was visually detached from it until the very latter stages. I just know it was a shame Freddy lost this game because he appeared to rebound from what seemed like a struggle in the early stages of the game.
Without further adieu, the gameball and the goat.
Gameball: Freddy Garcia. He rebounded fairly well from a shaky start and should have won. More offense would have helped on the Mariners' part, but what are you gonna do? I was going to pick Julio Mateo for this because of his three innings of scoreless relief (even with the four hits he gave up), but then I looked at the game logs and realized he played a high-wire act the whole time. Any kudos to him is due to the way he got out of his own jams.
Goat: Dan Wilson. What kind of world do we live in where Dan Wilson can strand four runners and go 0-for-6, yet still be hitting .306? It's a mad, mad, mad, mad, MAD world, I tell you.
Harden. Franklin. Tonight.
Last night, I posted a bunch of semi-transcribed postgame notes from the swan song of the Canucks' 34th season. Tom Larscheid has been in the booth with the Canucks since 1977 as the color commentator. He's been around the team for quite a while, and it's fair to say he knows what to expect from the team, knows when things are going bad, and knows when things are going good. I'll pull some of what he said from the notes last night because the notes are long, I know that.
Keep in mind, I can't promise that these are exact quotes (the information comes at me pretty quick), but they're close....
"We've raved about the chemistry, togetherness, and leadership on this Vancouver team, yet we saw a team (Calgary) that had more of all of those things than Vancouver, and that's the biggest disappointment."
"They didn't force the play, they didn't apply any speed or pressure. They were not a team that dictated the tone in Game 7 in their own building."
"If you're a contender, you don't lose 3 of 4 on home ice."
"Vancouver played right into [Calgary's] hands in this whole series."
I'm going to say something which most of you already know, but I still need to get it off my chest...
It'll be a cold day in hell before Rick Rizzs ever says anything like that about the Mariners. Tom Larscheid is a great homer when things are going good, even yelling "YESSSSSS!!!!" after a key goal or "EVERYONE LOVES THE COOKER" which he yelled after both of the Matt Cooke goals last night. But when things are going bad, and the team is lackluster, Tom Larscheid (as well as John Shorthouse on the play-by-play) is not going to let the players get away with it.
Quite frankly, the objectivity is absolutely enviable, and I long for the day that I hear it from someone sitting in the seat of the #2 play-by-play man of your Seattle Mariners. Of course, another guy that doesn't let the players get away with being crappy: Kevin Calabro. If someone puts up a terrible shot, is playing crappy defense, or the whole team is turning over the ball, he'll get on them.
Anyway, I'm not just going to miss the Canucks over the offseason, I'm going to miss John Shorthouse and Tom Larscheid, who are a more-than-solid radio crew. Lastly, for those who don't know, Shorthouse is one of those guys whose voice sounds a lot older than he actually is. I posted mainly about the bad moments and Larscheid willing to call the Canucks out on them, but some sound clips of the happy moments over the past couple years are here in mp3 format.
Joe Thornton is useless. I don't want to see his name in any discussions about the best players in hockey. He didn't even get a single point in the first round against Montreal. NOT A SINGLE POINT.
Hell, Jeff Goldblum (as played by David Duchovny in a "Celebrity Jeopardy" skit) is more useful than Joe Thornton.
Alex Trebek: That is awful. [ Jeff Goldblum buzzes in ] Jeff Goldblum.
Jeff Goldblum: [ marvels at the buzzer until time runs out ]
Alex Trebek: And you're an idiot! The answer was "a glass."
Sean Connery: Then the day is mine!
Alex Trebek: [ hesitant ] Technically, it's still Mr. Goldblum's board, but since he's a human wasteland, I'll let Mr. Connery pick again.
Alex Trebek. No. [ Jeff Goldblum buzzes in ] Jeff Goldblum, name this object.
Jeff Goldblum: Yes. Uh,. thank you. That's a..uh.. a what-do-you-call-it when you.. umm.. When you... when you punish criminals in.. uh.. days of yore. It was a.. And you'd put them in the.. uh.. the square in those.. you know.. uh..
Alex Trebek: You mean in the stocks or a pillory?
Jeff Goldblum: Yes, exactly! [ timer sounds ]
Alex Trebek: It's a freaking hammer!
Jeff Goldblum: Well, of course it is!
Sean Connery: Now, listen to me! You back off, Trebek! You wouldn't have known that if you didn't have that card in front of you! [ to Goldblum ] This guy reads from a card!
Alex Trebek: Are you English or retarded? Let's go to Jeff Goldblum, who appears to still be doing Tai Chi. Let's see what your answer was. [ screen reveals a huge number 2 ] The number 2.
Jeff Goldblum: Ah-hah ah-hah ah-hah.. the letter 2, my friend!
Alex Trebek: No, 2 is a number.
Jeff Goldblum: I, uh.. I can't read or write.
David's right, the Flames simply wanted it more. It's Game fricking Seven and the Canucks simply didn't give a damn until about 5 secs left in the third period. This should never happen in a Game Seven, especially on HOME ICE. But again, give credit to the Flames.
Anyways, I'll stick with the team that I predicted to win the Stanley Cup, the San Jose Sharks. Again, NOBODY is talking about the Sharks. They beat the Blues in five games, ho hum. Evgeni Nabokov currently sports a 1.56 GAA. They will have their hands full with the Colorado Avalanche. But I think the Sharks will take the Avs out in 6. David Aebischer's lucky streak will come to an end.
By the way, the worst possible way to win or lose a game is on a walkoff balk. However, I'll take it.
Game 7, Ottawa-Toronto. 6 p.m Central. ESPN. What else are you going to watch?
CALGARY/VANCOUVER POST ARCHIVE
Game 1 (at VAN): VAN 5, CGY 3
Game 2 (at VAN): CGY 2, VAN 1
Game 3 (at CGY): VAN 2, CGY 1
Game 4 (at CGY): CGY 4, VAN 0
Game 5 (at VAN): CGY 2, VAN 1
Game 6 (at CGY): VAN 5, CGY 4 (3OT)
Game 7 (at VAN): CGY 3, VAN 2 (OT)
A couple of quotes that I uttered/typed that had to do with this game...
"I'm really afraid of Martin Gelinas" --Me to Jeremy when the game was tied 1-1
"F*%K!!!!" --Me after the final goal was scored.
Sheesh, what to say after this series...
The team that wanted it more certainly won it. It's no stretch to say the better team won it either. On paper, Vancouver was the better team. Of course, the cliche here applies -- this is why they play the games.
I've told a couple people this and I think I've mentioned it once or twice here. I equate the Calgary Flames to being the Utah Jazz of hockey. They are a team that works hard, is fundamentally sound, and takes the embodiment of their coach. Darryl Sutter has his prints ALL OVER that Calgary team. Jerry Sloan melded a team of hacks in Utah into a near-playoff team, which frankly they had no business being. This year's Utah team had no stars, though. Before this year, there was Stockton and Malone, and Hornacek at one time. For Sutter? Jarome Iginla as Karl Malone. No one can say Iginla doesn't deliver after what he did tonight and how he responded after Sutter raked him over the coals after Game 1. Craig Conroy as John Stockton. This may purely be from an assists standpoint, but Malone and Stockton were partners in crime, so Iginla needs one too. So who's in the role of Jeff Hornacek, the man in the clutch? Miikka Kiprusoff. I can't really say that Miikka Kiprusoff stole any games in this series, but he was more than adequate for the Flames in this series. The Flames rode him into the playoffs, but he didn't steal any games in this series.
Bottom line is, save for a couple periods and maybe most of Game 1, the Canucks didn't play their game, and never did so for 60 minutes. The Flames controlled the play, plain and simple. Hard work, grit, and determination got the Flames past the Canucks.
I could try to come up with some articulate thoughts here, but I'll leave it to the radio crew on their final broadcast of the year. I'll bold the interesting stuff they had to say...
Tom: what happens next?
John: Auld made two huge stops in close before the game-winning goal. There were nine seconds left in the Jovanovski penalty
Tom: 3 OT shots, all on same play by Ccalgary. Martin Gelinas with his 2nd goal of the series
John: The fans and everyone had high expectations, even w/o Bertuzzi and Cloutier, but this is still disappointing. The offseason begins tonight
John: Gelinas ended it. It was scoreless through one. Iginla scored, then Cooke scored, then Cooke took the double-minor, then Iginla scored, then Cooke scored with 6 seconds left after Iginla missed the empty net, then Gelinas scored in OT on third rebound attempt on the power play (9 secs left in the kill). Shots were 28 apiece, with Calgary 2-for-5 on the power play, to face Detroit
Dan: It was an unbelievable, incredible, etc. finish. I can't begin to put this into words with the finish in third period, and then the OT was short-lived. It was a power play goal from a former Canuck. Calgary wins its first playoff series win in 15 yrs. The Vancouver late tying goal was after a faceoff outside the Calgary blue line. Jarome Iginla missed the empty net and fell. In the overtime, the Canucks couldn't get through the penalty kill as Gelinas scored on the third chance off the rebound from Iginla and Stephane Yelle.
Dan: It'll take a long time to put this into words
John: where do you start? Wasn't this reminiscent of a good chunk of their season? They scored late, got it done in OT (during season, anyway). It seemed like they led a charmed existence for most of the year. Calgary wanted to get it done early on the power play in OT and they did it. They got the puck to net, and crashed the net
Dan: I don't know what you might think, but I think the better team won the series
Tom: absolutely. Sutter is the story of the series, he pushed all the right buttons. He got team to believe in themselves, and believe they weren't just here to get here, but that they were here to do damage. They were the better team. This series, had it turned for Vancouver, would have been the best series of all, but they didn't, unlike the series that ended with the Bure OT winner, or the series with Greg Adams, or Geoff Courtnall
Dan: To come back from 4-0 to lose in 3OT, but still play perfect road game on the road, and answer back after the 1-1 goal, and still be great when OT starts? (Calgary)
John: How do you rally this team after what it's gone through in the last 48 hours? To lose like that and still win, and to keep composure after the Cooke goal...I am so impressed from this Calgary team. They have discipline, desire, work ethic. To battle from this adversity is amazing.
Tom: I just want to mention Bertuzzi only for the fact that this is a different team without him, but it's still a team game, and you have to find a way to win. We've raved about the chemistry, togetherness, and leadership on this Vancouver team, yet we saw a team that had more of all of those things than Vancouver, and that's the biggest disappointment.
Dan: After that goal with 6 seconds to go, I just felt the Canucks were going to win. With the jersey on the ice, it was almost like the football game with the marching band on the field
John: Vancouver had five games this year where they didn't lead until the final shot in OT. When Cooke got the goal, I thought "here we go again"
Dan: could you imagine what Calgary and their fans were feeling after the Cooke goal? It must have been like "this is not meant to be"
Tom: had Calgary not won, there still would have been 12000 fans waiting for them at the airport. That's the series they've given us. Their fans will be nuts when Detroit comes to Cowtown
Dan: Could you have imagined Iginla's long summer if they would have lost?
John: He fell down on the backhand on the empty net attempt
Dan: he set up the game-winner in OT
John: He had a slow start. The series was almost like his season
Tom: He led the team in scoring. Iginla had 9 shots on goal tonight. Didn't you think he was going to score the winner in OT? Auld made a fantastic save off him.
Dan: I can't believe Calgary pulled it off with all the injuries that they had
Tom: this is textbook stuff, what happened with Sutter's team. This is the perfect example of what team play can overcome. We saw hard-working guys prepared to do anything to win. They played with pain and were a beat-up hockey team, and they were able to beat a much better team on paper.
Dan: they were a more physical style of the Minnesota Wild
John: Sutter had an advatage over Crawford. 12 players on the Calgary roster came in w/no playoff experience. Sutter could get away with things like blasting them publicly. Calgary players were all ears to Sutter. Crawford doesn't have the option of blasting guys publicly. Sutter and Crawford are in different situations.
(coaches press conference...break here for my typing)
Dan: it's almost like we should see these teams play more often in the playoffs, maybe every year or two? In some ways, this was a microcosm of the entire season. They didn't force the play, they didn't apply any speed or pressure. They were not a team that dictated the tone in Game 7 in their own building
John: Vancouver roared out of gate at home. From Nov 20 until the end stretch, they didn't find it at home. Games they did win were like this one. They did enough to even the game up, but they didn't dominate on home ice like they should
Dan: with 5-on-5 play, Calgary was so good, Vancouver wasn't
Tom: They were superior. If you're a contender, you don't lose 3 of 4 on home ice. You can look at that during the regular season too. Vancouver was a better team on road. There was something noticeably missing about their home ice play. This was a very experienced group, and that made it puzzling.
Dan: Crawford seemed crushed with this one. How would you sum up this season?
Tom: Wacky is a very good word. It was so promising at the start, they were unbeaten in 10 at home. Then they leveled off, so thank goodness for the hot start. Then they showed class at the end of year and looked like a playoff team. I liked the opener against Calgary. Why did Vancouver get away from what they did so well? Their game is speed, attack, and pressure. When they did that, despite what Sutter says, Calgary looked inadequate when Vancouver played this game. Where was the get-up-and-go in the 1st period? They were playing like they'd play on the road (no mistakes). If Calgary stayed in the game, we knew they'd be tough. I thought Vancouver played right into Calgary's hands in the 1st period (took crowd out). Vancouver played right into their hands in this whole series. They were sitting ducks, and Calgary capitalized. Kiprusoff saw all the shots, but when Vancouver got some traffic, they did some damage. ... They didn't play CANUCKS HOCKEY.
Dan: They reinvented themselves after the Bertuzzi suspension. There were so many ups and downs
John: How many times can you call a 101-point season a disappointment? There was no 10-game winning streak this year, no 14-gm unbeaten streak, no mystique like last year. The Bertuzzi thing was huge, having Dan Cloutier hurt was huge, though Hedberg and Auld were adequate. March 8 will probably go down as an infamous day in the history of this franchise. The Bertuzzi suspension wound up being 20 games so far.
Dan: It was a huge part of their season. They're a different team without Bertuzzi. What kind of offseason will we have? What about Brian Burke?
Tom: I hope he's still the GM. If Vancouver doesn't do well, some people think he should take the fall. I found it disturbing that ownership waited till end of year to discuss any contract terms. I'd be surprised if he was re-signed though.
Dan: The loyal following of this team is fantastic. Say so long, hopefully it's just a normal summer with no long labor situation
John: Vancouver had such a high expectation, hopefully it's only a 5-month offseason. Thanks to Tom for a 6th year. Dan and Jeff for hosting, (more credits). This is the best job in the world. We hear from so many fans that have fun.
Tom: we are priviledged. From a personal viewpoint, this season was the most enjoyable sitting in this seat. I enjoyed Dan as host and as play-by-play (when John was tending to new baby). It's a very professional crew. The radio show is teamwork.
Dan: Have a great summer (no labor situation).
Tom: The NHL and the players ought to give their heads a real shake. This series was a treat for everyone that saw it.
John: we'll talk to you in September
I should note quickly that in both 1989 and 1994, the winning team out of the CGY/VAN series represented the West in the Stanley Cup finals.
There's tons of questions in the offseason for this team. One could argue Todd Bertuzzi, with one punch, may have sealed the fate of the guy who signed him. GM Brian Burke convinced ownership in the early stages of the season to sign Todd Bertuzzi to a new contract, and Todd had a weird season where he never lived up to expectations and never really got hot. Then the punch came, and that was it.
Who knows about coach Marc Crawford? He did a great job getting this team on that 6-game run at the end of the year. However, has any backup goalie ever been comfortable in Vancouver? And what about going with Alex Auld after signing Johan Hedberg for that exact situation?
What about the goalies themselves? Hedberg is more than likely gone. Cloutier's had three straight 30-win seasons, and though the end of the run this time can't be pinned on him, I really doubt he'd be back next year. Alex Auld might be the number one goalie in Vancouver already.
What about the core group of guys? They've been playing together for a few years now, and there's no Cup. Does there need to be a change?
I guess there really isn't that much more to say.
Damn, they really could have used Todd Bertuzzi in this series...park him in front of the net, have him knock people around, maybe he'd deflect a couple of goals in...
Before I go here, I have to say one thing to everyone that scoffed at Sports and B's for my posting of Canuck semi-recaps after most of the games this season: I hope you're happy. I also hope the Canucks are happy for giving me no reason to keep my playoff beard, which has now been trimmed and cropped into a goatee/'stache thing.
I don't think I'm lying when I say that I've invested more time in these 2003-04 Vancouver Canucks than with any other sports team in my life. This might be due to me having to go out and get all the information and stuff, but it's true. Not even the 2000 or 2001 Mariners got this much time from me, at least not in terms of mega-blogging time and knowledge accumulation. A blog will do that to someone. I wish the Mariners would have made some meaningful moves and not set themselves up for failure so I could root hard for them too, but I just can't.
If you're going to pick another team to root for other than the Canucks, you can go with Jeff at Fire Bavasi and root for the Sens. The Flames aren't a bad team to root for, they're really not. If I were a Calgary fan right now, I'd be absolutely enamored with that team. If you want to make an umbrella-rooting, just pick a Canadian team and stick with them. The Cup deserves to be north of the border, it really does.
Now, to our next-best chance at playoff glory in the northwest...
It's been real, y'all.
[Edit ~2:55p -- Just corrected a couple of spelling mistakes, because "cerainly" is not a word and because Darryl Sutter did not rake Jarome Iginla over the "goals."]
Sunday, April 18, 2004
Tomorrow night, Montreal-Boston on ESPN at 6 p.m. Central and Calgary-Vancouver at 9:30 p.m. Central on ESPN2.
And on Tuesday night, Ottawa-Toronto at 6 p.m. Central (no official network as of the moment).
Hockey Night In Canada Theme
O Canada (courtesy of the best damn Canadian band, Rush)
I'm up for some more multiple overtime games, how about you?
-- The Mariners scored all four of their runs via the long ball. I have a feeling we won't be saying that for a while. That's not just me being negative; they really aren't that type of team
-- Joel Pineiro had an outing reminiscent of some of his outings last year where he had trouble early then settled down and hopefully hadn't dug himself too big a hole for the offense to dig themselves out. For the Mariners' sake, it's a good thing Joel didn't spot the Rangers more than two or three runs, which happened a couple times last year.
-- Raul Ibanez did something (homer), went 2-for-4 and raised his average to a grand .237.
-- Though he's grossly overpaid and playing out of position, I'm probably going to like Scott Spiezio. He's a gamer and he's had two great games (I know he won't always be as good as the last two days). None of this means I have to like his band though.
-- Also on the "like" list, Ed Guardado. The saves might be rollercoaster-like, but as long as they don't reek of Mesa-dom, it won't be as hard to watch.
-- The Mariner offense took a few innings to warm up against Colby Lewis and Ryan Drese after reamining in slumber for the entire game against Chan Ho Park.
Gameball: Scott Spiezio. 2-for-4 with the solo bomb (insurance run).
Goat: Randy Winn. 0-for-4, a strikeout, 5 runners stranded.
The M's are off on a torrid 2-game winning streak and are a mere 4 games from .500. This makes a great time for them to run into the Oakland A's.
Redman. Garcia. Tomorrow.
showing on KCYU Fox Yakima (Mariners' local TV affiliate): NASCAR at Martinsville
showing on KSTW (we get some Seattle stations here in Ellensburg via Charter): simulcast of the TV LAND CHANNEL.
showing on channel 32: TV LAND. Nothing unusual about this because IT'S WHERE TV LAND PERMANENTLY IS ON CHARTER CABLE IN ELLENSBURG.
Yes, I've called Charter offices about this when the Seahawks or other Fox NFL telecasts were airing on the Fox station, which for some stupid reason is the Mariners' Yakima-area affiliate. Why do they feel the need to screw viewers out of Mariner coverage and instead show two channels airing TV Land? I have no frigging idea.
He's currently working for Fox Sports Radio. I turn on my radio and somehow, someway, I get FSR. Who knew? Anyways, he and the host (I can't remember his name) were talking about WGN, the Chicago TV station that airs the Cubs and White Sox games. The host said that WGN stood for "World's Greatest Newspaper." Mora cracked that it could mean "We're Going Nowhere."
"We're Going Nowhere", now that's something I never thought about before. It makes so much sense, yet I never heard it until April 18, 2004.
So the next time you're watching a WGN game with either Chip Caray or Hawk Harrelson, just remember the new WGN slogan...
"We're Going Nowhere"
(For the Cubs and White Sox fans who whine on a daily basis about their "curses", just keep this in mind. MY TEAMS HAVE NEVER WON JACK! So quit whining.)
I knew this series was going to be long, but man...I didn't think there'd be a game going three overtimes in there. This is most likely the most draining experience I have ever had as a sports fan, sitting there in the geology undergraduate room at Lind Hall listening to the game online (did I mention this was a more-than-viable alternative to putting up with that brutal ESPN2 crew at the game?) and chatting with Jeremy online while having the Mariners pulled up on the SportsLine GameCenter. I got there at about 6:55pm, the game started at 7, and it ended a shade after 11:30. Maaaaaaan. That took a while. I watched the late edition of Northwest Sports Tonight on NW Cable News (12:30am, probably taped), and they showed a couple of the Canucks' goals and a couple of the Calgary goals, and then said the score was 4-4 in the third overtime, which is hilarious, because they would have had to only wait a couple minutes for the game to end and deliver the happy highlights. Viewers were told to tune in Sunday night to see how the game ended.
The game itself started out quite well for the Canucks, as they finally were able to take their game to the Flames, and played more physically than they have in a while. They had quite a lot of shots in the first period, and put 15 of those on the net, outshooting Calgary's 5. Of course, the 15 shots doesn't count all the shots that missed the net or were blocked by traffic, skates, sticks, diving bodies, etc., as usual. The fact that Vancouver was able to get so many shots was partly due to how they dictated the flow of the game in the period, and the fact that they had three power plays. Miikka Kiprusoff seemed up to the task for this flurry of shots, as he had been since getting rocked in Game 1 of the series. Kip was perfect until Jarkko Ruutu (not getting a lot of ice time in the series up to that point) tipped the puck in with 1:59 left in the period. As always with goals toward the end of the period, they're doubly bad because the thinking is, "if we only could have held them off for another two minutes." Of course, when a team scores early in a period, the other team might think "dammit, we just got out here!!" The Canucks hadn't scored a goal in the first period in quite a while (this is me too lazy to check stats because it's almost 2am), so that was one good thing about the Ruutu goal. The other was that it woke up the Sedin twins, as they tallied the assists on the goal and had probably their best game of the series after being held silent for much of the series. The Canucks headed into the dressing room with a 1-0 lead and had controlled the game.
The second period came and the first half of it was like gangbusters for the Canucks. Daniel Sedin scored on the ensuing power play after Stephane Yelle plowed into Alex Auld and came out banged up from the experience. Henrik Sedin had an assist on the goal, as the Sedins proved to be very much alive in this game. Only 70 seconds later, Brad May tipped one in (making up for taking some stupid penalties earlier in the series), netting points for himself and for his linemates at the time, Artem Chubarov and Geoff Sanderson. With 9:45 left in the period, Geoff Sanderson used his lightning speed and scored on a breakaway to give the Canucks a commanding 4-0 lead.
Who could ask for more? All the Canucks had to do was hold a four-goal lead for the remaining 29:45, and they'd take this series back to Vancouver for Game 7 on Monday. I've only been following these guys day-to-day for this one year, but I did know what they were up to last year in the playoffs and I know some tidbits about the history of the Canucks. It's never easy for these guys. They were down 3-1 to Saint Louis in the first round last year and then reeled off the final three to get to the second round. In the second round, they had a 3-1 lead on Minnesota and then LOST three in a row. I remembered two games this past year that reminded me somewhat of this one. This game saw the Canucks build a 4-0 lead and have to hang on to beat Minnesota 4-3. This game saw the Canucks with a 3-1 lead in the third period against the Isles, who then scored three goals in a span of 2:17 to take the lead. Henrik Sedin was able to salvage a tie and a single point, but Adrian Aucoin sealed it in overtime for the Isles.
Then came the carnage...
The four-goal lead lasted for all of 16 seconds as Robyn Regehr put up a shot that went off the stick of Oleg Saprykin (former Seattle Thunderbird) and in. The goal was video-reviewed by the video judges in Toronto, who were looking into the case from the Canuck bench that Saprykin's stick was higher than the crossbar. Such a deflection would result in a goal being disallowed. But hey, this is Calgary, and the officials probably want to make it off the Saddledome premises alive, so the goal was allowed, 4-1 Vancouver. Only 1:53 passed before Ville Nieminen cut the deficit to 4-2 with a backhand past Auld. Calgary had momentum going their way. From a period-to-period perspective, the Canucks came into the second period with a one-goal lead and came out of it with a two-goal lead. However, the fickle beast known as momentum was heavy in the corner of the Flames, and it wasn't done working in their favor by any means.
The Flames fired back in the early/late-in-period goals department, getting a goal off a Chris Clark deflection in off of Martin Gelinas just 74 seconds into the third period to cut the Vancouver lead to 4-3. Everyone watching the game on TV, listening to the game on the radio (me), and in the arena watching the game knew that the momentum was on Calgary's side, and in a very sick way. The Canucks by this point were a completely different team compared to the one that was on the ice when they scored the four goals to jump out to the lead. Calgary was on a tear and had the crowd on their side and the meltdown was all but complete as Vancouver completely blew the lead they'd built up. The Canucks had only 7:04 left to hold their lead and blew it on a Robyn Regehr shot that went off Chris Clark. The Flames had gotten three of their four goals the way they've enjoyed doing it throughout the series: on deflections and tip-ins, a direct result of crashing the net and the immediate area around the net, or in a simple phrase, "hard work." Luckily the Canucks were able to finally regroup and hold the Flames scoreless for the rest of regulation and force the game into overtime.
As the clock ticked away to end regulation, I thought about what a travesty this was. The Canucks had blown a 4-0 lead. Did they even deserve to win this? I know the Flames are a good hard-working, fundamentally sound blue-collar team, but that was still a four-goal lead that just went up in smoke! At this point I was asking myself a bunch of questions like "why the hell am I a sports fan?" and "why do I put myself through such heartache?" and "why do none of my favorite teams ever seem to win on the same day?" I thought that last one after the Mariner game went final.
On came overtime. No team seemed to be giving an inch. Alex Auld turned away Chris Clark and Shean Donovan on Calgary's best chances of the first overtime. Likewise, Miikka Kiprusoff turned Trevor Linden away on the Canucks' best chance of the period.
On came another overtime. Chris Clark was once again stopped by Alex Auld, who appeared to have used the intermission after the third period to get himself mentally straightened out, as he was now solid in the net. Nonetheless, Ville Nieminen nearly ended the Canucks' season when he put one off the crossbar. But as they like to say, that and the posts are part of the goalie's equipment.
The longest overtime game in the history of the Vancouver Canucks ended at 102:28 as Brendan Morrison took a Markus Naslund pass and deked Miikka Kiprusoff in close before moving to the forehand and netting the gamer. At this point, my being ticked off over the Canucks blowing the 4-0 lead had gone. Vancouver had staved off the Calgary momentum that was rolling like a freight train -- the Flames had scored four goals in the last 30 minutes of regulation -- held them scoreless for two more overtime periods, and come out on top to stay alive and take this show back to Vancouver for the deciding game. I hadn't flailed uncontrollably like that as a result of a sports moment since Game 5 of the 1995 AL Division Series. Dead serious. I think I might have strained a bicep or something.
What a relief, and what a draining game.
Here's what the radio crew thought of it. Once again, Dan Russell, John Shorthouse, and Tom Larscheid...
Dan: The Brendan Morrison goal was a big goal in Vancouver playoff history
Tom: This was unbelievable...dramatic stuff. This one had the mountains and valleys of a hockey game all rolled into one. I was happy to see Vancouver score 1st, and then they were up 4-0. Then the comeback started. Calgary has really battled hard in the series, though they're a little beat up now (Gauthier was out from the third period onward). Morrison showed great poise on the winning goal
Dan: This was like 1989, when Vancouver had the best chances. Calgary had the best chances today, including the one by Nieminen. If Calgary doesn't win this series, they'll look back at that like Vancouver looked back at all the chances they had against Mike Vernon in that series
Tom: if Vancouver wins Game 7, faces San Jose and goes deep. This Morrison overtime winner ranks up there with Pavel Bure's OT winner except Bure's goal put them into the next round; this one kept them alive
Dan: if Calgary comes back and wins Game 7 on the road after this, then hats off to them
John: they have a lot of energy
Tom: it's heartbreaking for them, but don't sell Darryl Sutter short one bit. He's pressed all the right buttons in this series. There is no real big edge in the 7th game.
Dan: Calgary is back in their preferred underdog role, and were nervous tonight as the favorite, expected to win. They came alive when they were down 4-0 and played more loose
John: they respond better in that situation. If Saprykin's high-stick goal doesn't count, we could be home in bed right now.
Dan: Auld didn't have any work in the first period, and then it's 4-0 and Calgary gets to him, then he's shaky. After that, he shuts the door
Tom: after Auld got that intermission reset after the third period, he was great. He needed that time
John: it felt like an avalanche at that point in the third period after the tie. Calgary was getting their tip-ins and deflections on goals
Tom: Mark Howe (intermission guest) said "Calgary gets deflections because Vancouver defensemen are not getting pucks out of their zone"
Dan: Vancouver collapsed with the 4-0 lead, but they needed elevated play to get there in the first place
Tom: Geoff Sanderson, the Sedins, and Trevor Linden all had great games. Sanderson went from nowhere to coming up big by using his speed. Jarkko Ruutu was great and Brad May battled hard tonight. When push came to shove, though, the big line came through
Dan: Robyn Regehr had a lot of ice time (over 43 minutes, 57 shifts)
Tom: that was thanks to Gauthier being out
Dan: Last year's Minnesota series and Saint Louis series both went to 7
John: the Canucks have yet to end a playoff series anywhere but Vancouver in the last 4 years
Tom: How about the crowd here?
Dan: I have never been in a louder building in my life
Tom: This place went from one of the quietest building in the NHL to being the loudest. Vancouver fans have a chance to really step up on Monday
Dan: can I get you to say "get ready, Vancouver, the Canucks are coming home?"
Tom: GET READY, VANCOUVER, THE CANUCKS ARE COMING HOME!
Game 7 Monday, 7:30pm. It'll be on CBC, if you get that, and I have looked through the TV Guide listings, and there's a spot reserved for "Stanley Cup Playoffs" Monday at 7:30pm on ESPN2, and since that would have to be a west coast game to fit in that time slot and since this series is the only one in the west that's still going, I think it's a safe bet that Game 7 will be televised in the States.
If you only watch for one reason and one reason alone, watch the first five minutes of the telecast to see if they show Mark Donnelly sing "O Canada" and hand it off to the crowd for the middle two stanzas of the song. I'm telling you, it's chilling, and Donnelly kicks the crap out of the two singers that Calgary had singing "O Canada" up at the Saddledome.