Thursday, August 18, 2005


Twins 7, Mariners 3
AP photo -- Ann Heisenfelt

In 25 words or less: This one's a lot more interesting if you knew about the ruckus in the Mariner dugout after the first inning.

[***NOTE -- recap posted in full Sat ~12:50a.]

This one featured Ryan Franklin going up against Joe Mays. Is it The Downward Spiro going up against the former Mariner farmhand? Why haven't I gotten the Mariner feed for the MLB.tv telecasts in about a week? I miss my crew.

Grade: C
Very not good. Ichiro looped the 2-0 pitch above Justin Morneau at first for a single. Willie Bloomquist shoveled the second pitch into centerfield for a single, moving Ichiro to second. Raul Ibañez took a 1-2 pitch a bit off the outside corner for a strikeout. Richie Sexson worked an 0-2 count full before chopping a ball to the right side, where Morneau tried to find another play and went back to Mays at first, but it wasn't in time, loading the bases. Adrian Beltre popped the second pitch to Morneau with the infield fly rule being called. Jeremy Reed bounced the second pitch to second.

Grade: D
Dig it early. Shannon Stewart looped a single into shallow rightcenter. Nick Punto grounded the second pitch to the hole on the left side, where Yuniesky Betancourt dove to his right and threw in time to second from the seat of his pants for a 6-4 fielder's choice. Joe Mauer chopped a ball up the middle and into centerfield for a single, moving Punto to third. Justin Morneau grounded the first pitch to second for a 4-6 fielder's choice, though Morneau beat the throw back to first, and Punto scored.
Matthew LeCroy fell behind 0-2 but clobbered a 1-2 pitch well over the 408-foot marker in dead centerfield for a two-run homer.
Jacque Jones took an 0-2 pitch over the outside corner.

Grade: B
It's something. Mike Morse lined a ball down the leftfield line where he only got a single out of it. This is where the FSN North feed showed the video replay of a Ryan Franklin/Adrian Beltre confrontation in the dugout (or so it was believed to be from the FSN North TV crew). Yuniesky Betancourt fell behind 0-2 before drilling a ball into the leftcenter gap, scoring Morse from first, though he ran through Carlos Garcia's stop sign at third.
Miguel Ojeda took a high 3-1 pitch for a walk. Ichiro fell behind 0-2 and later took a 2-2 dirtball that got away and went to the backstop, moving Betancourt and Ojeda to third and second, respectively. Ichiro wound up taking a full-count pitch up and in for a walk, loading the bases. Bloomquist roped the first pitch right into Morneau's glove at first, and the latter went over to second for the double play. Raul Ibañez poked a single into shallow leftcenter to score Betancourt and move Ichiro to second.
Sexson tapped an 0-2 pitch back to the mound.

Grade: B+
Not bad. Lew Ford lasered a single into rightfield. Michael Cuddyer got ahead 2-0 and later grounded hard into a 6-4-3 double play. Brent Abernathy bounced a 1-2 pitch to second.

Grade: B-
Mildly eventful. Beltre blasted a pitch a couple rows over the fence in leftcenter.
Reed popped a 2-2 pitch to Punto in shallow centerfield. Morse flew out to rightfield on the second pitch. Betancourt grounded an 0-2 pitch hard to third.

Grade: B+
Grr. Stewart poked the second pitch into leftfield for a single. Punto popped out near the leftfield corner. Mauer laced the second pitch up the middle for a single, moving Stewart to second. Morneau singled a 2-0 pitch under Sexson and into rightfield for a single, scoring Stewart and moving Mauer to second.
Before anyone even realized it, Franklin was called for a balk, and the runners were moved to third and second (hidden ball trick gone wrong -- Betancourt kept the ball, but Franklin went to the mound without the ball). LeCroy got ahead 2-0 and barely missed a homer down the rightfield line. He later bounced out to third, and the runners held. Jones was intentionally walked to load the bases. Ford grounded an 0-2 pitch to short for a 6-4 fielder's choice.

Grade: C
Nothing too shocking. Ojeda grounded the 3-1 pitch to short. Ichiro grounded the second pitch hard to short. Bloomquist grounded hard to third, where Cuddyer had the ball off his glove, then overthrew to first, allowing Bloomquist to move to second. Ibañez flew out to leftfield on the second pitch.

Grade: B
It's never totally easy. Cuddyer flew out to centerfield. Abernathy poked an 0-2 pitch through the hole on the left side for a single. Stewart popped to Reed in rightcenter. Abernathy stole second on the first pitch to Punto, barely beating the throw from Ojeda. Punto flew out to Betancourt in shallow centerfield on an 0-2 pitch.

Grade: C
More frustration. Sexson drilled a 2-0 pitch up the middle for a single. Beltre bounced a 3-1 pitch to short for a 6-3 double play. Reed rolled the second pitch to second.

Grade: A-
Pretty good. Mauer lined out to centerfield on the first pitch. Morneau had the hitters' counts and took the eighth pitch over the outside corner. LeCroy foul-tipped a 1-2 pitch into the catcher's glove.

Grade: C-
Ho hum. Morse worked a 1-2 count full before whiffing on a full-count pitch low and away. Betancourt reached for an 0-2 pitch low and away, grounding it to third, but nearly beating out the throw. Ojeda flew out to rightfield on the first pitch.

Mays' line: 6 innings, 3 runs, 9 hits, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts, 94 pitches (57 strikes)

Grade: C+
Little damage is still damage. Jones chopped the first pitch to short. Ford bounced a pitch down the line near the third-base bag, but it went off Beltre's glove and into foul territory as Ford was credited with a single. Ford took off on a 1-0 pitch to Cuddyer, who broke for second but stopped halfway after Ojeda threw to second, but the throw was wide, and Betancourt beat Ford to the bag at second. Cuddyer bounced out to third. Abernathy drove the second pitch into rightcenter for a single, scoring Ford.
Stewart drilled the second pitch off of Beltre's glove at third and into leftfield for a single, moving Abernathy to second. Punto got ahead 2-0 and later took a full-count pitch over the inside corner.

Franklin's line: 6 innings, 5 runs, 11 hits, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts, 94 pitches (65 strikes)

Grade: C-
JC Romero came in for Mays. Ichiro fouled the second pitch off the outside of his left knee. After hobbling around a bit, he stayed to finish the at-bat. Ichiro chopped a 3-1 pitch to short. Bloomquist flew out to rightfield on the second pitch. Ibañez sliced a flyout short of the track in leftfield.

Romero's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 11 pitches (5 strikes)

Grade: B+
George Sherrill came in for Franklin. Mauer whiffed on a 2-2 breaking ball. Morneau whiffed on an 0-2 pitch over the outside corner. LeCroy got ahead 2-0 and wound up walking on a full-count dirtball, and Jason Bartlett ran for him. Jones chopped the second pitch to Sexson at the bag at first.

Sherrill's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 17 pitches (11 strikes)

Grade: C
Boo. Sexson popped the second pitch very high to the rightfield corner. Beltre reached for an outside 0-2 pitch and chopped it just over Morneau at first and down the line for a single. Reed flew out to the track in leftfield on the 2-0 pitch. Morse worked a 1-2 count full before whiffing at a slider low and away.

Rincon's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 15 pitches (10 strikes)

Grade: D+
JJ Putz came in for Sherrill. Ford flew out to left on a full count. Cuddyer drilled the first pitch over Ibañez' head and off the leftfield wall for a double. Rodriguez pulled a full-count pitch down the first-base line where Sexson stopped the ball behind the bag, but had no play as Cuddyer went to third. Stewart smacked the second pitch to centerfield for a single, scoring Cuddyer and moving Rodriguez to third.
Punto drilled the second pitch up the middle for a single, scoring Cuddyer and moving Stewart to second.

Matt Thornton came in for Putz. Mauer took a 2-2 breaking ball over the plate. Morneau was ahead 2-0 and later tapped the 2-2 pitch back to the mound.

Putz' line: 1/3 inning, 2 runs, 4 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 21 pitches (14 strikes)
Thornton's line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 12 pitches (8 strikes)

Grade: C
Jesse Crain came in for Rincon. Dave Hansen, hitting for Betancourt, chopped the second pitch to Morneau behind the bag at first, and he stepped on it for the out. Scott Spiezio, hitting for Ojeda, nubbed the first pitch into rightcenter for a single (really). Ichiro grounded the second pitch up the middle to Rodriguez, who started a nifty 4-6-3 double play. Ballgame.

Crain's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 5 pitches (4 strikes)

Gameball: George Sherrill.
He gave up a two-out walk in the seventh in relief for Franklin, but I didn't figure it was enough to pan him for the gameball. He'd been having it pretty rough lately. Sherrill can struggle through growing pains trying to better adjust to the Major Leagues, but every time that happens, I just try to remind myself of one thing, and that's the fact that Sherrill isn't Ron Villone. Then I sleep a lot easier at night. If Georger Sherrill was with this team the entire year, I can't suppose they could have been much worse. They might have been better. Sherrill isn't "effectively wild." I guess I'm just glad that Villone is gone, and that he took all his overratedness with him. Effectively wild, versatile, gamer, all that crap. I tended to forget all of the good things about Ron Villone after he'd nail a guy and then allow a double to the next hitter. Don't forget when Hargrove would bring him out to face one lefty, and Villone would either walk him or nail him. Has anyone missed the beanballs over the past three weeks? I thought so.

Goat: JJ Putz.
Nothing like this outing to remind us that he definitely hasn't turned the corner yet. Luis Rodriguez' infield single was pretty unlucky, but four pitches later, the Mariners' deficit had gone from two runs to four. When you get pulled so that Matt Thornton can put out the fire, you know it's bad. Of course, the fact that two meat-of-the-order lefties were coming up might have had something to do with it as well. I guess what's different from earlier this year is that Putz didn't implode via the home run, so he's changed it up a bit since. Let's assume that Eddie Guardado is gone next year, which I think is a more-than-fair assumption. Who's your closer? We're a long way from deciding this, but who would you pick? Putz? Rafael Soriano? Ryan Franklin? Weirder things have happened. Yes, we've got a month and a half left in the 2005 season and I'm talking about the battle for the closer spot in the Mariner bullpen for 2006. Yes, it's been that kind of season. Of course, at this time last season, we were just aghast at how bad the team was.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 87-33 .725 -- W4
2002 73-47 .608 14 L1
2003 73-47 .608 14 W2
2000 69-51 .575 18 L4
2005 52-68 .433 35 L1
2004 45-75 .375 42 L2

[As the post was prefaced, this bottom part was typed up just after midnight, early Saturday morning]

After the Mariners loaded the bases in the first with one out and didn't score, Ryan Franklin served up the smash to Matt LeCroy. As was reported in the Seattle dailies, Franklin came back to the dugout between innings and "let off some steam," according to pitching coach Bryan Price. Franklin let off said steam behind the dugout, then came back out, and Price told him to calm down, etc. Apparently where Beltre came in was when Franklin needed to be separated from Price. Basically, it wasn't how it looked on television, and I'm guessing that the 7-second clip was taken out of context with the Price-related stuff, and therefore it looked like Beltre was going at Franklin for whatever reason, which was debunked afterward in the press. Since the Mariners didn't win, this part proved to be one of the more interesting things about the game. It's not every day the Mariners get skimrishes in the dugout. THIS WOULDN'T HAVE HAPPENED WITH A PAT GILLICK TEAM! Chemistry is important, but it's not that important.

Lost in the dugout happenings that the fact that Franklin gave up early runs and dug a hole was the fact that Mariners were within one run of the Twins from the fourth to the sixth, and were down 5-3 in the seventh and eighth when they came to bat. They were within reach. The problem? After Adrian Beltre's leadoff homer in the third that tied the game at 3-3, the Mariners put only one runner on second base, and that was Willie Bloomquist reaching on an error with two out in the fourth. The only real scoring chance came when Richie Sexson led off the fifth with a single, but he was erased on a Beltre double-play ball.

Multi-hit games for Mariner hitters went to Willie Bloomquist, Richie Sexson, and Adrian Beltre. Bloomquist was 2-for-4, singling behind Ichiro with nobody out in the first, smoking the ball right to Morneau in the second, and apparently in the fourth they're counting that he got aboard on a hit, and that he advanced to second on the error, rather than just saying he got to first via the error. Sexson reached on a lucky play in the first and led off the fifth with a single. Beltre homered to tie the game in the third and singled with one out in the eighth.

It didn't seem like Franklin got rocked in the game. He gave up the three early and settled down a bit, then got touched up for a couple runs here and there later on in the game. It doesn't seem that bad. Then you look at his line, and sure enough, it's five runs and eleven hits. One walk is the best thing about his line. The scary thing is that the five runs actually lowered his ERA. The other scary thing is that eleven hits in six innings is a whole lot of hits. Hitters can hit Ryan Franklin, not that we don't already know this. Mike Hargrove and company could have easily refused comment on the Beltre/Franklin video clip and let the original speculation stand, and we probably wouldn't have known the difference considering Franklin's plight this year. Yes, it's a story of steroids, dugout tussles, and steroids...that sounds like a book deal to me. What if Franklin's a better writer than he is a pitcher? My mind's running wild.

Can the Mariners preserve their chances for a series win in the four-game set?

Meche. Silva. Tomorrow.

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