Monday, April 11, 2005


Mariners 8, Royals 2
AP photo -- Orlin Wagner

In 25 words or less: Ryan Franklin was really good. He kept the Rangers at bay until the Mariner bats busted out the big inning.

For Jeremy's shorter and more concise take on the game, scroll down a post or click here.

This day game featured Ryan Franklin in the Bobby Madritsch spot (looks like it'll be Ryan's for a while) and Runelvys Hernandez.

Grade: C
Ichiro singled on the second pitch of the game, extending his hitting streak. Jeremy Reed took two pitches for strikes and whiffed at the third. Adrian Beltre bounced his second pitch to the shortstop for a 6-4-3 double play.

Grade: B+
Franklin got David DeJesus to bounce a ball back to him on the second pitch. Ruben Gotay was the victim of Jeremy Reed charging and making a diving catch on the third pitch. Mike Sweeney smacked the first pitch for a double, but he was stranded when Matt Stairs flew out to Randy Winn on his second pitch. Add all of that up, and Franklin threw eight pitches in the first. Unlike some ugly trends we've seen at times this year, this one was a good one, and it would hold up in an even more crazy way than when Carlos Silva threw against the Mariners last week.

Grade: C-
The middle of the lineup failed to do anything, much less get a ball past the infielders. Richie Sexson was caught looking, Bret Boone flew out to the second baseman, and Raul Ibanez bounced out to first. Ho hum. Hernandez needed 15 pitches to do this.

Grade: A-
I'm only nicking Franklin for the two-out single here. Emil Brown bounced out on one pitch, Terrence Long bounced out on his second pitch, Angel Berroa got a base hit on his second pitch, and John Buck created Hurricane Buck, which really would be a cool-sounding name for a hurricane, though hopefully Hurricane Buck wouldn't damage homes and lives, because that'd be bad. The Royals had the very limited damage, and Franklin threw eight pitches.

Grade: D+
Why the low grade? If you get a leadoff single (Randy Winn) and you get anything other than an out from Wilson Valdez (1-out walk), you should score in the inning. Olivo flew out between Winn and Valdez, then Winn tried to nab third on the first pitch to Ichiro. (NOTE: the game logs differ, and I'm not sure which one is right). Come on...it's ICHIRO at the damn plate with one out. How often do we associate Ichiro with the sacrifice fly? If Winn wasn't nabbed at third, that's what it would have been. How often do we associate Ichiro with something hit on the ground that finds a hole? I'd have to say pretty often, more often than the former situation. My point? Randy Winn's gonna score from second base anyway if Ichiro makes the kind of contact we're used to seeing him make. I'm not used to hoping that Ichiro can hit a fly ball deep enough to score somebody. Hit a ball with eyes. Anyway, Ichiro bounced into a fielder's choice to end the inning, and if Winn got to third safely on the steal, at least the Royals' infield would have had to hustle to try to beat Ichiro at first (double play) so Winn wouldn't score. If Winn stays at second, then he takes third on the double play. Now I'm just babbling. Hernandez needed 15 pitches in the inning.

(NOTE Tue ~11:42a -- Reader Brock says Winn stole second during the Valdez at-bat, so my reaction is kind of, shall we say, irrelevant. I guess the more shocking thing is that I would have believed it if he indeed stole third with Ichiro at the plate. I'd like to add that I only bail to the game logs when I miss parts of games, and this part was one of them.)

Grade: A-
Franklin threw first-pitch balls to the first two hitters (the first ball of the inning was the first ball Franklin threw in the game, on the 17th pitch), but no two-ball counts. He got a flyout from Tony "I Wish I Still Played For Atlanta" Graffanino and David "Don't You Dare Call Me 'Of Jesus'" DeJesus. Like the second, Franklin allowed a two-out single, this time to Ruben Gotay, probably miffed about getting robbed by Reed in the first. Gotay would get back into the doghouse, though. He actually fell for Franklin's pickoff move (surely you've seen it at least 30 times per Franklin start), which means we'll see Spiroman pick off his next runner sometime in late August. Franklin threw eight pitches in the inning.

Grade: B+
I hate the phrase "manufacturing runs" almost as much as Jeremy hates the "Ryan Franklin doesn't get run support" myth. Thankfully, the Mariners didn't throw down any bunts in the inning, an occurrence which usually lends itself well to my hated phrase. Reed drew a leadoff walk. Beltre flew out to right. Sexson got a base hit to left to keep things interesting. Then Boone poked a 3-1 pitch to left as well, putting up a crooked number (Reed scored) in a game that was zipping along. Runners were on at first and second.
Ibanez got behind 0-2 in the count and never took a ball, fouling off one pitch before grounding out and moving the runners. That brought Randy Winn to the plate. I like having Winn up in these situations because I like the way he can slap the ball and I'm confident in his ability to make contact. He made contact here, but with the rightfielder's glove on the fly. Hernandez threw 22 pitches in the inning.

Grade: B
Mike Sweeney tried to bunt for a base hit to start the inning, which would have me ticked off if I were a Royal fan. He ended up flying out to Reed. Matt Stairs of New Brunswick (yeah, I used to read the backs of baseball cards) put up a fight against Franklin, a nine-pitch at-bat ending with ball four. But then Franklin got Emil Brown and Long to fly out on the next two pitches. Franklin threw 14 pitches.

Grade: C
Again, I will keep stressing that if Wilson Valdez gets on base, he must be driven in because it's a bonus if he doesn't get out. Olivo whiffed to start the inning before Valdez singled. Unfortunately, Ichiro rolled another ball to the shortstop, wiping off Valdez. Reed bounced out to first on the first pitch. Hernandez threw 14 pitches in the inning.

Grade: A
Even with his insanely low pitch count going into the inning (38), Franklin had not gotten a 1-2-3 inning. This was the one. Berroa flew out on the first pitch, Buck flew out on his fourth, and Graffanino bounced out on an 0-1 pitch. Franklin threw seven pitches.

Grade: C-
The middle of the lineup wasn't playing pile-on just yet, though I'm sure Franklin was dying for them to do that. Beltre bounced out to third, Sexson whiffed, and Boone tapped one back to the mound. Though it was a 1-2-3 inning, Sexson and Boone at least worked the count a bit. Hernandez threw 14 pitches in the inning.

Grade: A
Remember how in the 5th I said Franklin hadn't gotten a 1-2-3 inning before that, and then he did? Here's another one. Flyout (Of Jesus), groundout (Gotay), flyout (Sweeney). Franklin threw 10 pitches (9 strikes) and was up to a mere 55 pitches after six innings.

Grade: C+
Positive marks for Olivo doubling with two out, though it was with two out. Still, something from Olivo is better than nothing at all. Ibanez (fly to second), Winn (groundout), and Valdez (fly to center) accounted for the futility in the inning. The last three hitters of the inning were set down on five pitches. Hernandez threw 11 pitches in the inning, and was up to 98 after seven, a pretty good start for this early in the season.

Grade: A-
Remember how in the 6th, I said, "[r]emember how in the 5th I said Franklin hadn't gotten a 1-2-3 inning before that, and then he did? Here's another one"? Well, here's another one. Stairs grounded out on his first pitch. Franklin fell behind 3-1 to Brown (only reason it's an A-minus) before getting a groundout, and Long lined out to Winn. Franklin needed eight pitches to get through, and was up to...63 through seven, which is insane.

Grade: A
Then the bats awoke from their slumber, and were out to disprove the notion that Runelvys lives. Ichiro led off with a flyout, but happenings thereafter would be mostly happy. Jeremy Reed doubled to right and almost had a triple out of it. Hernandez got a visit from his pitching coach after his first-pitch ball to Beltre. Then Beltre mashed his second pitch off the US flag to the left of the "We Stand United" sign just below the fountains beyond the leftfield wall. One thing I know this year is that with Sexson and Beltre, the Mariners are going to be a freakin' fun road team with these big bats.
Then Richie Sexson had hacks at 2-0 and 3-1 pitches, but drew a walk.

Though he'd had a pretty good outing up to the Beltre blast and probably had a good outing nonetheless, Hernandez was pulled, and Nate Field came on in relief. Of course, Tony Pena may have wondered afterward about the usage of the word "relief." Field immediately fell behind 2-0 on Boone before he singled. Field was ahead 1-2 on Ibanez, who fouled off three pitches before hitting a grounder to the right side, advancing the runners. Randy Winn was given the empty base so Field could face the diesel of Miguel Olivo. After a first-pitch ball, Hernandez got yet another mound visit. Amazingly, Olivo's diesel was more like Shaq Diesel as he singled into leftfield. Sexson scored easily (from third you would hope so), and Boone was able to slide nicely into home to avoid the Buck tag off the Long throw.
When Sexson scored, the book was closed on Runelvys Hernandez. His only crime today was the one pitch to Adrian Beltre and the fact that he'd pitched on the same day as an on-fire Ryan Franklin. Hernandez' line: 7 1/3 innings, 4 runs, 8 hits, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts, 109 pitches (64 strikes)

Valdez came to face Field and managed to single to center on a 1-2 pitch, plating Winn and putting runners on the corners. Valdez picked up his first RBI as a Mariner. Way to go, Exxon.

Pena was crushing up whole rolls of Rolaids and mixing them with water to make these weird Rolaids shakes, and it still wasn't spelling relief. Pena brought in Jaime Cerda to hopefully get the final out of the inning. Cerda immediately got ahead 0-2 on Ichiro, who took a ball and then hit a ball that Terrence Long dove for, but he was about five feet short. The ball rolled past him toward the wall, clearing the bases (Olivo and Valdez).
The book was closed on Field. His line: 1/3 inning, 4 runs, 3 hits, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 20 pitches (11 strikes)

The nuttiness finally ended when Reed flew out to Long in left. He was the 10th hitter sent to the plate by the Mariners in the inning.

Cerda didn't come out for the 9th. His line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit (costly for Field), 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 10 pitches (6 strikes)

Grade: A
Remember how in the 7th, I said, "Remember how in the 6th, I said, "[r]emember how in the 5th I said Franklin hadn't gotten a 1-2-3 inning before that, and then he did? Here's another one"? Well, here's another one"? Well, here's yet another one. Franklin sandwiched a groundout from Buck between flyouts from Berroa and Graffanino. Franklin threw seven pitches, and was at only 70 through eight innings.

Grade: C
Jeremy Affeldt came on to pitch the 9th. Beltre bounced out to leadoff; on radio I believe this was the 4-6-3 putout. Sexson and Boone had 3-1 counts, with Sexson flying out, and Boone reached second when Brown muffed a ball in right. Ibanez got a base hit to move Boone to the other corner, but then Winn bounced into a fielder's choice.

Affeldt wouldn't come out to pitch again. His line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 18 pitches (9 strikeouts)

Grade: C-
Remember how in the 8th, I said...okay, I won't do that again, because it doesn't apply this time. DeJesus bounced out to start the inning, but then Gotay walked on four pitches to snap Franklin's string where he'd mowed down 15 straight Royals. The pain train started rolling a bit, as Sweeney singled to make things dicey. Stairs flew out to left. Franklin got ahead of Brown 0-2, but two pitches later he singled to score Gotay and break up the shutout.
At this point, Mike Hargrove's hook can probably be attributed to Franklin's effectiveness instead of whether he had enough to get to the end of the game, because he was only one out away. JJ Putz came on to get the final out. He allowed a single to Long first to scuff some more marks on Franklin's line
Then Putz got Berroa to foul out to Sexson in foul ground, who fell down backwards making the catch. Ballgame.

Franklin's line: 8 2/3 innings, 2 runs, 5 hits, 2 walks, 1 strikeout, 83 pitches (64 strikes)

Putz' line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 11 pitches (8 strikes)

Gameball: Miguel Olivo.
One of these days Wilson Valdez might get one of these if he keeps on getting hits here and there and doesn't mess up on defense, but here's one for Olivo. His 2-for-4 day leaves his average a little less horrible. He also only struck out once. He had the nice two-out, two-run single in the crazy inning.

Goat: Randy Winn.
It's hard to pick a goat when none of the guys in the starting lineup hang up an 0-fer. I'm going with Winn. Why? He stranded the most runners (four). Also, he was nailed trying to nab third base with Ichiro up and one out (though first base was occupied), which I'm still not understanding. He's been nailed twice trying to steal third in a very short span (as I said, the game logs differ, but he was still caught stealing somewhere). It doesn't help if the second-fastest useful baserunner on the team is getting nailed at third. I hope this stops before it gets weird.

After Carlos Silva started against the Mariners, I pointed out that the Mariners had tried their hack-early philosophy before that game, once against Silva before (though to a lesser degree) and once against Tim Hudson last season (extreme example). The thing about those two guys is that they're both sinker-ball pitchers, and the game plan going into those games was to swing early in the count hoping they'd get some decent pitches to hit before getting what I'm guessing are chaseable sinkers deeper in the count. The thing is, Ryan Franklin's a fly-ball pitcher (13 flies, 11 grounders today), and the Royals used the sinker-ball game plan that we've seen the Mariners use against Silva and Hudson. Just thought I'd share that.

Yeah, the obvious pick for a gameball was Franklin, but it's a little too obvious, and that's no fun. It's a shame he couldn't have gotten the complete game, it's a shame he couldn't have gotten the shutout, and it's also a shame that we won't see a string of five starts in a row like this because this one was awesome. Let's face it, there's nowhere for Franklin to go but down from here, unless he throws a complete-game shutout, no-hitter, or perfect game after this. But if Ryan Franklin can be somewhat efficient and get into the 7th every time out, this rotation might be a lot less dead than expected after Madritsch hit the shelf.

Also, hooray for the first Beltre blast of the season. I tipped the burrito I ate earlier to the prospects of many more happy blasts like the one Beltre hit today. Good times (ain't we glad we got 'em).

Lastly, what's up with the Mariners and scoring late? What's up with the Mariners and the big inning?

Very lastly, if there's one trend I'm glad I didn't see continue today, it was the loss of a game in which the go-ahead runs were yielded via the homer.

What to do for tomorrow's stupidly scheduled off day? I'll down an entire bottle of KC Masterpiece barbecue sauce in honor of Franklin's masterpiece today. Okay, maybe not.

Sele. Greinke. Wednesday.

[Edit ~9:13p -- The game logs in the top of the 3rd differ as to when Winn was caught stealing and what base he was trying to swipe.]

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