Thursday, September 08, 2005


Athletics 8, Mariners 7
AP photo -- Ben Margot

In 25 words or less: The game turned fast and turned hard, as the bullpen picked the ninth inning to blow up. At least it was dramatic.

[posted in full Thu ~11:15p]

This one featured Ryan Franklin going up against Dan Haren. It didn't featured the leftfield thrill ride of Mike Morse, who was nailed earlier in the day for violating Major League Baseball's steroid policy. Perhaps it was weird irony that Morse's suspension was announced on the same day as a Ryan Franklin start.

Grade: B+
Happy start. Ichiro lined the second pitch down the rightfield line for a double. Jeremy Reed air-bunted the first pitch near the third-base line, but Haren came off the mound and made a diving catch. Raul Ibañez rocked a 3-1 pitch to the wall in leftfield for a double, scoring Ichiro.
Richie Sexson mashed the first pitch to leftfield, where Jay Payton leaped to make a catch on the track. Adrian Beltre got ahead 2-0 and was intentionally walked. Greg Dobbs dropped a 2-2 pitch into centerfield for a single, scoring Ibañez.
Jose Lopez whiffed on a 2-2 dirtball away.

Grade: A
Quite good. Mark Ellis popped an 0-2 pitch high to rightfield. Jason Kendall bounced out to second. Mark Kotsay rolled a 1-2 pitch to Lopez up the middle.

Grade: C
Ho hum. Yuniesky Betancourt dumped a 2-2 pitch into centerfield for a single. Miguel Ojeda bounced the first pitch to the hole at short for a 6-4 fielder's choice. Ichiro nailed a 3-0 pitch, but not enough as Matt Watson caught it in rightfield. Reed watched the second pitch go by as Ojeda either took off way too early or someone missed a sign. Ojeda was nailed by a mile.

Grade: B
Baserunners, but no damage. Eric Chavez popped a 3-1 pitch to Betancourt in shallow leftfield. Jay Payton blooped a first-pitch single into rightfield in front of Ichiro. Scott Hatteberg nubbed a full-count pitch into rightfield for a single, moving Payton to second. Dan Johnson popped a full-count change into leftfield. Marco Scutaro bounced the first pitch to third for a 5-4 fielder's choice.

Grade: A
Pile on! Reed smoked the second pitch up the middle for a single. Ibañez poked a double just fair down the leftfield line, scoring Reed.
Sexson punched the first pitch, getting jammed and singling to rightfield, moving Ibañez to third. Beltre fell behind 0-2 and took the next pitch near his head for a brushback. Beltre later bounced out to third on a broken bat, scoring Ibañez.
Dobbs popped the second pitch high near the third-base line to Chavez. Lopez cranked a 2-2 pitch off the top of the wall for a double, scoring Sexson.

Juan Cruz came in for Haren. Betancourt popped the second pitch to Ellis.

Haren's line: 2 2/3 innings, 5 runs, 8 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 56 pitches (31 strikes)

Grade: B
Holding fort. Matt Watson popped to Ibañez in the gap in leftcenter. Ellis looped a 2-2 pitch in front of Reed in centerfield for a single. Kendall bounced to Betancourt on the infield, who flipped it to second for a 6-4 fielder's choice. Kotsay lined the second pitch right to Ichiro.

Grade: C-
Boo. Ojeda whiffed on some 2-2 high heat over the outer half. Ichiro walked on a 3-1 pitch for a walk. Reed bounced a 1-2 pitch into a 4-6-3 double play.

Grade: B
Blip on the radar. Chavez crushed the second pitch well over the wall in centerfield.
Payton popped the second pitch to rightfield. Hatteberg got ahead 2-0 and whiffed on a high 2-2 pitch, the eighth pitch of the at-bat. Johnson looped a 2-2 pitch just fair down the leftfield line for a single. Scutaro whiffed on an 0-2 pitch down and in.

Grade: B
Cannon. Ibañez chopped out to Scutaro in front of the bag at second. Sexson clubbed a laser a few rows above the leftfield scoreboard for a homer.
Beltre took an 0-2 fastball over the plate after getting two curves over. Dobbs got the hitters' counts before one-hopping to short.

Grade: C+
Hammering. Watson got the hitters' counts and looped the full-count pitch to shallow leftfield. Ellis fell behind 0-2 and knocked a 1-2 pitch through the left side for a single. Kendall slapped an 0-2 pitch into rightfield for a single, moving Ellis to second. Kotsay doubled the first pitch off the track and wall near the rightfield corner, scoring Ellis and moving Kendall to third.
Chavez bounced the second pitch deep in the hole at short, where Betancourt's only play was to first, and amazingly, he made it. Kendall scored on the play.
Payton got the hitters' counts and popped the 3-1 pitch to Sexson in the acres of foul territory on the right side.

Franklin's line: 5 innings, 3 runs, 8 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 90 pitches (59 strikes)

Grade: C
Blown more. Lopez whiffed on an 0-2 high fastball. Betancourt punched the second pitch through the left side for a single. Ojeda bounced out to short.

Ricardo Rincon came in for Cruz. Ichiro got ahead 3-0 and was then intentionally walked. Reed got ahead 2-0 and later couldn't hold a checkswing on a 2-2 pitch.

Cruz' line: 3 inning, 1 run, 2 hits, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, 40 pitches (24 strikes)

Grade: B+
Matt Thornton came in for Franklin. Hatteberg flew out to leftfield. Johnson checkswung on a 2-2 pitch, much to the umbrage of the Mariner dugout, then walked on a full count pitch inside. Scutaro got ahead 2-0, which lured Ojeda to the mound, then wound up whiffing on a full count pitch down and in. Nick Swisher, hitting for Watson, got ahead 2-0 and rolled a 2-2 pitch to short for a 6-4 fielder's choice.

Thornton's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 22 pitches (12 strikes)

Grade: C-
Few tile. Ibañez fell behind 0-2 and took a 1-2 pitch at the knees, a pitch that gave Ibañez have some things to talk about with plate umpire Dana DeMuth.

Kiko Calero came in for Rincon. Sexson bounced the second pitch up the middle, where Scutaro moved over and made the play. Beltre popped the next pitch to Swisher along the right side.

Rincon's line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 14 pitches (7 strikes)

Grade: B+
Julio Mateo came in for Thornton. Ellis rolled a single up the middle to centerfield. Kendall flew out to Ichiro in rightcenter on the second pitch.

George Sherrill came in for Mateo. Kotsay whiffed on a 1-2 pitch up and away. Chavez got the hitters' counts and nubbed the 3-1 pitch to second.

Mateo's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 5 pitches (4 strikes)
Sherrill's line: 1 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 25 pitches (15 strikes)

Grade: C-
Very futile. Dobbs flew out to centerfield. Lopez grounded hard to third. Betancourt bounced the second pitch to short.

Calero's line: 1 2/3 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 13 pitches (8 strikes)

Grade: B+
Solid. Payton grounded a 2-2 pitch up the middle past Betancourt for a single. Hatteberg lined out to centerfield. Johnson took a 2-2 pitch over the outside corner for a strikeout.

JJ Putz came in for Sherrill. Adam Melhuse, hitting for Scutaro, whiffed at three straight pitches.

Grade: B-
Huston Street came in for Calero. Ojeda looped a single into shallow leftcenter. Ichiro chopped to first for a 3-6 fielder's choice, with Ichiro beating out the double play. Reed doubled off the track and wall in the leftfield corner, scoring Ichiro.
Ibañez was walked intentionally. Sexson fell behind 0-2 and wound up lacing a single through the left side, loading the bases. Beltre rolled into a 6-4-3 double play.

Street's line: 1 inning, 1 run, 3 hits, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 26 pitches (14 strikes)

Grade: F
Swisher fell behind 0-2 and bounced a single past a diving Lopez through the right-side hole. Ellis took a strike followed by three balls for a walk (Putz didn't get a borderline 2-1 pitch, objected to DeMuth behind the plate, and definitely didn't get the 3-1 pitch).

Eddie Guardado came in for Putz. Kendall got ahead 3-1 and bounced the full-count pitch through the left side for a single, loading the bases. Kotsay doubled into the leftfield corner, scoring Swisher and Ellis, and moving Kendall to third.
Chavez doubled the second pitch into the rightfield corner, scoring Kendall and Kotsay.
Payton was intentionally walked. Hatteberg watched and Chavez took a pickoff throw in the back on a wheel play. Hatteberg air-bunted the first pitch foul and to the backstop, then air-bunted the second right to Ojeda at the plate. Johnson bounced the first pitch into the hole on the right side, where Lopez slid to stop the ball, but couldn't make a play on it.

Jeff Nelson came in for Guardado. Keith Ginter, hitting for Melhuse, grounded the first pitch to short, where Betancourt went for the force at home, leaving the bases loaded. Swisher took a full-count pitch outside, scoring Payton. Ballgame.

Putz' line: 1/3 inning, 2 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 12 pitches (7 strikes)
Guardado's line: 1/3 inning, 3 runs, 4 hits, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 18 pitches (9 strikes)
Nelson's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 7 pitches (3 strikes)

Gameball: Raul Ibañez.
Raul doubled to drive in runs in both the first and third innings. His one-out double in the first drove in Ichiro to make it 1-0, and the double in the third made it 3-0 in the Mariners' favor. Raul ended up 2-for-4 with the two doubles and the two RBIs. He struck out once, but also walked once. That of course means he got on base three times. He also scored twice. Add it all up and Raul Ibañez figured into four of the Mariners' seven runs on the day. He had gone hitless in the previous three games and twelve at-bats, walking once in that span. After the short drought, Raul came through with this, his third multi-hit game of the month of September. As I mentioned in the goat entry for the middle game of the series, Raul hit a paltry .226 in the month of August, which I really didn't realize until I saw it in his game log. I guess I was desensitized by when he was on fire earlier in the season. Now it just seems like he fell off a bit, but when you see the numbers, yeah, he'd been struggling. Anyway, here's hoping that Ibañez rips it up the rest of the way. That's good for Sexson and Beltre behind him as well as the rest of the team.

Goat: Eddie Guardado.
In situations where the table is set and the later reliever gives up all the runs, I never forget that the table was set by someone. The one thing close to an excuse that Guardado would have in this case would be that he was warming up until Jeremy Reed doubled in Ichiro and the Mariners had a four-run lead instead of a three-run lead, therefore not making it a save situation when Oakland was to come up in the ninth. Then JJ Putz came out and set the table in the ninth by allowing a soft single to Nick Swisher and walking Mark Ellis, no doubt being shaken up by a borderline non-strike call that went against him in the latter at-bat. Two were on, and Guardado had to get ready again. Guardado has definitely been more accustomed this year to being given a lead of three or less and being brought in to start the ninth. This time, it was a save situation, but with a lead of four and two runners on base. Putz started off the inning in crappy fashion and Guardado's in a situation he's not that used to, sure, but Guardado should still be able to hold a four-run lead with a couple of runners on base. It was just a bad day for Guardado. They happen to everybody.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 99-40 .717 -- L1
2002 81-58 .583 18 L1
2003 81-58 .583 18 L1
2000 75-64 .543 24 L1
2005 60-79 .432 39 L1
2004 52-87 .374 47 W1

I'm not sure what I would have done if I saw this game live. I might have thrown things. This was the worst loss since...the game against Minnesota where Willie Bloomquist got greedy. The thing that rings true in both instances is that the Mariners were outs away from completing three-game sweeps of good ballclubs. Instead, the Mariners let the game get tied or let it slip away entirely in that half-inning, and Eddie Guardado was involved both times. It's just one of those losses that'll kinda leave your mouth agape after you're done watching it. Eddie got rocked out there, but the thought of bringing in Jeff Nelson right there just doesn't compute with me. There's a lot wrong with it, but I would have been more okay with putting Rafael Soriano out there, though that would have been far from a soft landing. The main thing about Jeff Nelson is that he's not good anymore, and he's prone to the walk. Either he gets his stuff over the plate or he doesn't. The latter has happened too often this season.

What else? The Mariners jumped all over Dan Haren early, knocking him out of the game in the third inning. That was just about it for the offense. Juan Cruz shut down the Mariner bats other than the Richie Sexson homer, and the Mariners got that last insurance run in the ninth that didn't prove to be enough. Ryan Franklin left with a 6-3 lead (he got run support) and the bullpen choked it away for him, which is deliciously ironic. Franklin had a pretty turbulent five innings filled with deep counts and eight hits, but no walks. Matt Thornton had a passable inning of relief, followed by shutout appearances by Julio Mateo and George Sherrill, the latter of whom did really well, striking out two. JJ Putz got the final out in the eighth before lighting the fuse in the ninth.

Multi-hit games in this one belonged to Jeremy Reed, Ibañez (gameball), Richie Sexson, and Yuniesky Betancourt. Reed singled to lead off the third and drove in the seventh Mariner run in the ninth. He finished 2-for-5 with an RBI, and scored after the single in the third. Sexson (3-for-5 with a homer and an RBI, scoring twice) singled in the third, homered in the fifth, and singled in the ninth right before Adrian Beltre grounded into a double play with the bases loaded and one out. Betancourt singled to lead off the third and singled with one out in the third to add to his usual defense.

Richie Sexson homered for the first time since August 20th, a span of sixteen games without a big blast. He finally scored homer number 33 as well as RBI number 99. Though he'd gone a while since homering, Sexson has gotten hits in five of seven games so far this month. He's coming off a .211 August with a .250 September. He probably won't get 40 homers, but the RBIs will easily eclipse the century mark. Hooray for Sexson's league adjustment period, though he did have prior experience in the AL.

With the 1-for-3 game on Wednesday afternoon, Ichiro has 172 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 (579 at-bats in 139 games, 4.17 at-bats per game)...
-- he needs 28 hits to reach 200 for the season; he'd need to hit .292 for the remainder of the season, and that'd leave him with a .296 season average.
-- he needs 31 hits to finish with a .300 (.301) average for the season; he'd need to hit .324 for the rest of the season, and he'd end up with 203 hits.
-- he needs 44 hits to finish with a .320 average for the season; he'd need to hit .459 for the rest of the season, and he'd end up with 216 hits.

An off day, then the Orioles at home.

Bedard. Moyer. Tomorrow.

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