Sunday, September 04, 2005


Angels 5, Mariners 3
AP photo -- Ric Francis

In 25 words or less: A certain starting pitcher finally got lit up in the Majors. Even after two opposing blasts, there was room for a false-hope comeback.

This one featured Jeff Harris going up against Bartolo Colon. Would Harris keep up his stellar pitching? Would Colon give the Mariners yet another Colonic? The answers would be revealed on a Sunday afternoon at the ballpark.

Grade: C-
Omen? Ichiro grounded the first pitch hard to short. Jeremy Reed took a 2-2 pitch low and over the outside corner. Raul Ibañez took a 1-2 breaking ball down the pipe.

Grade: A-
Defensive. Chone Figgins grounded the first pitch hard to short, where Yuniesky Betancourt dove and threw in time to first. Orlando Cabrera blistered the ball toward third, and Adrian Beltre took the ball off his glove and chest, had to corral it, then threw in time to first. Garret Anderson got ahead 2-0 and later popped high to rightfield.

Grade: C-
Repeat. Richie Sexson flew out to centerfield. Adrian Beltre popped the second pitch high to Casey Kotchman alongside the mound. Greg Dobbs fell behind 0-2 and wound up bouncing to first.

Grade: D
Destruct. Vladimir Guerrero walked on a full-count pitch outside. Juan Rivera poked a second-pitch single into leftfield, moving Guerrero to second. Casey Kotchman crushed a 3-0 pitch over the wall in the rightfield corner.
Robb Quinlan got ahead 3-1 and popped a full-count pitch to Sexson halfway down the first-base line in foul territory. Jose Molina worked a 1-2 count full before lining the ninth pitch into centerfield for a single, luring Bryan Price to the mound. Steve Finley got ahead 2-0 before flying out near the track in centerfield. Molina took second without a throw on the second pitch to Figgins, who ended up lining out to first. By the way, Harris threw 36 pitches in the inning.

Grade: C
I'm bored at this point. Lopez fell victim to a sliding catch in rightfield by Juan Rivera. Yorvit Torrealba worked a 1-2 count full before taking a pitch over the outside corner. Yuniesky Betancourt smoked the ball off of Colon's glove, which slowed it down, but Cabrera couldn't get a handle of the ball, nullifying any chance he had at a play. Ichiro popped the second pitch high to Figgins on the rightfield line.

Grade: C-
Yes, there's more. Cabrera fell behind 0-2 and laced a 1-2 pitch into centerfield for a single. Before any pitches were throw to Anderson, Cabrera stole second despite being picked off at first, but he beat out the throw from Sexson to second base (huge jump too). Anderson flew out high to Lopez in shallow rightfield on the second pitch. Guerrero crushed a pitch above fourteen rows deep inside the leftfield foul pole.
Rivera flew out to centerfield on the second pitch. Kotchman hit a double over Jeremy Reed's head and off the track in centerfield, bringing Price to the mound again. Quinlan bounced a full-count pitch to a diving Betancourt at short, and he made the play.

Harris' line: 3 innings, 5 runs, 6 hits, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 69 pitches (45 strikes)

Grade: C-
I'm asleep at this point. Reed had a second-pitch foul pop nearly caught by a running Anderson near the leftfield stands. Reed ended up flying out to leftfield. Ibañez flew out to Rivera in the gap in rightcenter near the track. Sexson whiffed on a 2-2 pitch down and in.

Grade: B+
Shigetoshi Hasegawa came in for Harris. Molina lined out to Beltre on a snowcone grab. Finley rolled a 2-2 pitch to second. Figgins ripped the first pitch into rightfield for a single. Cabrera took a 1-2 pitch over the outside corner.

Grade: C+
Signs of life. Beltre grounded the first pitch along the third-base line, and Quinlan got to it from behind the bag and threw very wide of first, allowing Beltre to scoot to second. Dobbs dumped the first pitch into centerfield for a single, moving Beltre to third. Lopez singled into the rightcenter gap, scoring Beltre and moving Dobbs to second.
Torrealba whiffed on a 2-2 fastball outside. Betancourt lined out to Anderson in front of the leftfield track. Ichiro flew out to Anderson in foul ground along the leftfield line.

Grade: B+
Relief? Anderson got ahead 2-0 and later whiffed on a full-count breaking ball. Guerrero worked an 0-2 count for a walk (low and away final pitch). Rivera chopped to third for a 5-4-3 double play.

Grade: B+
More life. Reed blistered the first pitch past Kotchman and down the rightfield line for a triple (Rivera had been shaded over to rightcenter). Ibañez took a first-pitch ball and watched as the trainer and Mike Scioscia went to the mound and yanked Colon from the game for what was revealed to be tightness in his lower back.

Esteban Yan came in for Colon. Ibañez whiffed on a 1-2 pitch over the inner half. Sexson bounced a 3-1 pitch to short, and Cabrera's off-balance throw was picked at first by Kotchman. Reed scored on the play.
Beltre popped an 0-2 pitch near the rightfield foul pole, where Rivera had the ball go past the end of his glove, allowing Beltre to sneak in with the double. Dobbs got ahead 3-1 and eventually scorched a full-count single through the hole on the right side, scoring Beltre.
Lopez punched a 1-2 pitch past Kotchman for a single, moving Dobbs to third, who had been going with the pitch. Torrealba whiffed on a 1-2 breaking ball outside.

Colon's line: 5 innings, 2 runs, 5 hits, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts, 68 pitches (47 strikes)
Yan's line: 1 inning, 1 run, 3 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 27 pitches (19 strikes)

Grade: B+
Moving along. Kotchman poked a first-pitch single into centerfield. Quinlan watched with the count 2-1 as Kotchman was hung up between first and second after a frew throws. Quinlan bounced out to third on the next pitch. Molina flew out to leftfield on a 3-1 pitch.

Hasegawa's line: 3 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 39 pitches (21 strikes)

Grade: C-
Brendan Donnelly came in for Yan. Betancourt fell behind 0-2 while Dave Valle revealed Gaylord Perry's strategy of cutting off the collar on his jackets and putting K-Y Jelly on his neck hair (this was all in reference to Donnelly's pine tar incident earlier this year). Betancourt grounded the 1-2 pitch to second. Ichiro hit a low liner to a running Finley in centerfield on a 2-0 pitch. Reed whiffed on a high 2-2 pitch.

Donnelly's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 16 pitches (11 strikes)

Grade: B
Matt Thornton came in for Hasegawa. Finley roped a 1-2 pitch for a single into rightfield. Figgins got ahead 3-0 before bouncing to third on a full-count, moving Figgins to second.

Julio Mateo came in for Thornton. Cabrera fell behind 0-2 and popped a 1-2 pitch to Beltre, who reached over the railing of the camera well on the left side to make the catch. Anderson foul-tipped a 1-2 pitch into Torrealba's glove for a strikeout.

Thornton's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 10 pitches (6 strikes)

Grade: D+
Scot Shields came in for Donnelly. Ibañez walked on four pitches (final pitch up and away). Sexson got ahead 3-1 and took a full-count pitch down the pipe. Beltre took a 1-2 pitch way outside and to the backstop, moving Ibañez to second. Beltre later took the 2-2 pitch in the dirt, but not far enough away to advance Ibañez to third. Beltre finally whiffed on a full-count pitch in the dirt (2-3 putout), but Ibañez moved to third on the play. Dobbs flew out to leftfield on a 3-1 pitch.

Shields' line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 21 pitches (8 strikes)

Grade: B+
Yep. Guerrero got ahead 2-0 before walking on a full-count pitch barely outside. Rivera grounded up the middle into a 6-4-3 double play. Kotchman bounced a 3-1 pitch right to short.

Mateo's line: 1 2/3 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 23 pitches (13 strikes)

Grade: C-
Francisco Rodriguez came in for Shields. Lopez got ahead 2-0 and later whiffed on a full-count pitch way outside. Dave Hansen, hitting for Torrealba, worked a 1-2 count full before flying out just inside the leftfield line. Betancourt popped high to centerfield. Ballgame.

Rodriguez' line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 17 pitches (10 strikes)

Gameball: Shigetoshi Hasegawa.
After Jeff Harris floundered to start the game, someone had to take the middle innings of the game, and Hasegawa did so in this game, and with good results. I would have thought Julio Mateo was going to be the first guy out of the bullpen, but apparently not. Of course, it's come quite clear that Hasegawa's role in the bullpen is definitely different compared to what it was in years past, or even compared to the start of the season. In any event, Hasegawa faced only ten batters in his three innings of work, just one over the minimum. He did get the benefit of a double play to end the fifth as well as having Casey Kotchman wandering aimlessly between first and second. Kotchman doubled, homered, and drove in three runs in a 3-for-4 day, so I think he sort of made up for the baserunning blunder. He was a triple away from the cycle. In any event, Hasegawa held the game close after Harris was gone, and wouldn't you know it, the Mariners were down only 5-3 when Hasegawa was replaced with Matt Thornton. Hasegawa did his job.

Goat: Jeff Harris.
I'd have to say the realistic expectation of what Jeff Harris could consistently give a team was worse than what he'd been putting on the scoresheet for all of his appearances before today. Of course, I'd expect that a consistent Harris wouldn't do what he did today. I think a start like this from Harris was bound to happen at least once before the end of the year, and for any 31-year-old rookie, the fact that today was the day didn't surprise me. It didn't help that the Angels are a pretty good team. All five of the runs he gave up scored on the homers by Vladimir Guerrero and Casey Kotchman. Though he only walked one batter, Harris just didn't have control of his stuff. He left a lot of pitches up, be they fastballs, breaking balls, whatever. Throw that stuff to Major League hitters, and it's pretty predictable what will happen. I was a tiny bit disappointed that Harris wasn't able to really dig himself out of the hole, but now we'll get to see how rebounds from this start in five days. We shall see.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 97-39 .713 -- W1
2002 79-57 .581 18 L2
2003 79-57 .581 18 W2
2000 74-62 .544 23 W2
2005 58-78 .426 39 L1
2004 51-85 .375 46 L5

The Mariners haven't won a series since the home sweep against Kansas City on August 15-17. Since then, they've split one series (four games with the Yankees) and lost the other four. Like I said in the post for yesterday's game, the Mariners haven't had a losing streak since the 27th of August, a span of eight games. Of course, they haven't had a winning streak since finishing off the sweep of the Royals, and it's been seventeen games since that happened. Yes, the 2005 Mariners are hopelessly gripped by mediocrity. Luckily, there's been more mediocrity this year than all-out suckage. Last year was filled with much more of the latter.

On offense, the Mariners' chances were a bit unfulfilling, not that it's news to anyone this year. After Jose Lopez drove in the first Mariner run of the game, runners stood on first and second with nobody out. Immediately afterward, Yorvit Torrealba, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Ichiro went away 1-2-3. No deep-enough fly balls, no bunts, no hits, nothing. In the eighth, Raul Ibañez led off with a four-pitch walk and would have stayed there to end the inning if Scot Shields didn't prove to be so wild. Ibañez got to third on a wild pitch and got to third on another wild pitch on which Adrian Beltre struck out. Other than that, Richie Sexson was caught looking and Dobbs flew out to left to sandwich the Beltre strikeout. All too often this year, the Mariners have enacted the latter half of Ken Levine's Law. To those who've forgotten about the Law, it's "the leadoff walk always comes around to score unless it doesn't." To those who've forgotten who Ken Levine was, he came over to the Mariners' crew after having done work with the Baltimore Orioles and a bunch of TV sitcom work too. I'm pretty sure he came over when Rick Rizzs went to Detroit.

With the 0-for-4 day today (he also left three runners on base), Ichiro still has 169 hits on the season and sits with a .297 batting average. If he gets at-bats at the same pace he's been getting them for the season (569 at-bats in 136 games, 4.18 at-bats per game)...
-- he needs 31 hits to reach 200 for the season; he'd need to hit .285 for the remainder of the season, and that'd leave him with a .295 season average.
-- he needs 34 hits to finish with a .300 average for the season; he'd need to hit .313 for the rest of the season, and he'd end up with 203 hits.
-- he needs 48 hits to finish with a .320 average for the season; he'd need to hit .441 for the rest of the season, and he'd end up with 217 hits.

In a more positive note, multi-hit games today belonged to the fifth, sixth, and seventh hitters in the Mariner lineup. Adrian Beltre, Greg Dobbs, and Jose Lopez all went 2-for-4. Beltre had the only extra-base hit out of the trio, a pop-fly double near the rightfield corner in the sixth that Juan Rivera just plain didn't catch, though he was obviously negotiating where the wall was going to be. Beltre's other hit was an infield hit behind the bag at third, and he was credited with the single and advanced on the Robb Quinlan double-wide throw. Dobbs and Lopez both singled in the fifth and sixth innings, with Lopez driving in a run in the fifth and Dobbs in the sixth. Jeremy Reed had the other extra-base hit of the day for the Mariners, a triple down the rightfield line to lead off the sixth, and he eventually scored the Mariners' second run on a Sexson groundout.

So, with the Mariners having not had a series win or a winning streak in forever, what's their reward? Three games in Oakland, of course. The first and last games of the series are day games. They get a day off on Thursday, then they don't get another day off until the 26th. At least we get to see Yuniesky Betancourt pick it at short on a daily basis.

Hernandez. Blanton. Tomorrow.

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