Saturday, September 17, 2005


Rangers 5, Mariners 3
AP photo -- Tony Gutierrez

In 25 words or less: El Gato had even more of a shaky outing, though we knew it was coming at one point or another.

[posted in full Sat ~1:33p]

This one featured Felix Hernandez going up against Josh Rupe, who was making his Major League debut. Jose Lopez was given the night off due to a sore wrist.

Grade: B-
Something. Ichiro stuck the second pitch into rightfield for a single. Ramon Santiago fell behind 0-2 and took the 1-2 pitch off his back, moving Ichiro to second. Raul Ibañez got the hitters' counts and drilled a full-count single into centerfield, scoring Ichiro and moving Santiago to second.
Richie Sexson whiffed on a 2-2 pitch. Adrian Beltre bounced a full-count pitch to Soriano at second for a double play.

Grade: C-
Boo. David Dellucci took a 2-2 pitch for strike three. Michael Young fell behind 0-2 and later grounded a full-count pitch to third that got past Beltre for a single. Mark Teixeira popped the second pitch to centerfield. Hank Blalock ripped the second pitch into centerfield for a single, moving Young to second. Alfonso Soriano softly lined the first pitch into centerfield for a single, scoring Young and moving Blalock to second.
Kevin Mench grounded the 2-0 pitch through the left side for a single, scoring Blalock and moving Soriano to second.
Adrian Gonzalez worked a 1-2 count for a walk, loading the bases. Gary Matthews, Jr. tapped the second pitch back to the mound.

Grade: C
Lame. Greg Dobbs got behind 0-2 and later punched a full-count single through the right side. Yuniesky Betancourt chopped the second pitch past the mound, nearly hitting into a double play, but he beat out the 6-4 fielder's choice. Jaime Bubela watched as Rupe's pickoff throw got by Teixeira and went to the wall in front of the stands in foul territory, and Betancourt scooted along to second. Bubela got ahead 2-0 and later popped foul to a running Blalock near the third-base dugout. Yorvit Torrealba took a 1-2 pitch very far outside, allowing Betancourt to move to third. Torrealba took the next pitch for strike three.

Grade: A
Muy good. Rod Barajas took a 1-2 brushback pitch and whiffed on the next pitch. Dellucci took an 0-2 curve over the outside corner. Young grounded the second pitch to short.

Grade: C-
Same results. Ichiro bunted along the first-base line, and Teixeira missed his tag, but Ichiro was called out of the baseline. Santiago got ahead 3-0 but bounced to first on a 3-1 count. Ibañez rolled out to Soriano, who charged and shoveled to first for the out.

Grade: B-
Shaky. Teixeira cranked a double on a 3-0 pitch off the track and wall in rightcenter. Blalock walked on a full-count pitch low and away, a ten-pitch at-bat. Soriano hit a liner to Ichiro making a long running catch in rightcenter as Teixeira tagged and went to third. Mench popped the first pitch to Betancourt in shallow centerfield. Gonzalez fell behind 0-2 and later whiffed on a full-count pitch.

Grade: C
Zzzzz. Sexson grounded a full-count pitch hard to second as Rick Rizzs told a story about meeting John Madden. Beltre lined out to centerfield on a 1-2 pitch. Dobbs fell behind 0-2 before lining a 2-2 single into centerfield. Betancourt bounced the second pitch to short for a 6-4 fielder's choice.

Grade: C-
Not his day. Matthews got ahead 3-1 and took a full-count pitch high and outside for a walk. Barajas crushed a pitch down and in for a homer about ten rows or so above the big wall in leftfield.
Dellucci clubbed a double into rightcenter on the second pitch. Young swatted a 3-0 single through the left side, sending Dellucci to third.

Shigetoshi Hasegawa came in for Hernandez. Teixeira poked a single through the right side, scoring Dellucci and moving Young to second.
Blalock grounded the first pitch right to Santiago at second to start a 4-6-3 double play as Young moved to third. Soriano grounded the second pitch up the middle to Betancourt, who ranged over and made the play.

Hernandez' line: 3 innings, 5 runs, 8 hits, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts, 78 pitches (43 strikes)

Grade: C
Barely a blip. Bubela grounded to first for a 3-1 putout. Torrealba bounced out to third. Ichiro grounded the second pitch to a charging Young, but he beat out the throw (umpire's call) for an infield single. Santiago fell behind 0-2 and whiffed on a 1-2 change.

Grade: B+
Kinda there. Mench popped to Ichiro sprinting into shallow rightfield. Gonzalez whiffed on a 1-2 pitch. Matthews lined the second pitch off of Betancourt's glove and into leftfield (error). Barajas popped the second pitch to Sexson on the edge of foul territory on the first-base side.

Grade: B-
Sign of life. Ibañez walked on four pitches. Sexson got ahead 2-0 and wound up singling the 2-2 pitch to leftfield, moving Ibañez to second.

Scott Feldman came in for Rupe. Beltre bounced into a 6-4-3 double play. Dobbs drew a four-pitch walk. Betancourt singled into leftfield to score Ibañez and move Dobbs to second.
Bubela worked a nine-pitch at-bat, flying out to a running Matthews in centerfield to end it.

Rupe's line: 5 innings, 2 runs, 6 hits, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, 96 pitches (57 strikes)
Feldman's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 19 pitches (9 strikes)

Grade: A-
Okay. Dellucci got ahead 2-0 and grounded to first on a full-count for a 3-1 putout. Young flew out to the centerfield track on a 1-2 pitch. Teixeira was behind 0-2 and bounced a 2-2 pitch to first.

Grade: B-
CJ Wilson came in for Feldman. Torrealba grounded hard to second. Ichiro whiffed on a 1-2 low slider. Santiago got ahead 2-0 and ended up walking on a full-count pitch down an in. Ibañez poked the second pitch into centerfield for a single, moving Santiago to second. Sexson

John Wasdin came in for Wilson. Sexson blistered the first pitch halfway up the leftfield scoreboard, scoring Santiago, but Ibañez went through the stop sign and went to the plate standing up, enabling him to get gunned down on the relay from leftfield.

Wilson's line: 2/3 inning, 1 run, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 16 pitches (10 strikes)

Grade: A
Nice. Blalock lined the first pitch to Ibañez in leftfield. Soriano popped the second pitch high to rightfield. Mench popped a 2-2 pitch high to Beltre neat the third-base coach's box.

Hasegawa's line: 4 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 44 pitches (27 strikes)

Grade: C-
Bleah. Beltre lasered the second pitch to leftfield for a single. Dobbs just missed a double down the rightfield line on the second pitch, then lined a full-count pitch that was caught by Matthews on the run in centerfield. Betancourt popped the second pitch high to rightfield. Bubela fell behind 0-2 and whiffed over a 1-2 breaking ball.

Wasdin's line: 1 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 16 pitches (11 strikes)

Grade: A
Matt Thornton came in for Hasegawa. Gonzalez whiffed on a full-count pitch up and away. Matthews fell behind 0-2 and took a 1-2 pitch over the outside corner.

Scott Atchison came in for Thornton. Barajas popped a 2-2 pitch to Bubela in shallow leftcenter.

Thornton's line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 12 pitches (8 strikes)
Atchison's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 5 pitches (3 strikes)

Grade: C
Francisco Cordero came in for Wasdin. Dave Hansen, hitting for Torrealba, whiffed on a 1-2 slider down and in. Ichiro fell behind 0-2 and was nailed in the right (front) foot with a 1-2 pitch. Santiago punched a 1-2 pitch through the left side for a single, moving Ichiro to second. Ibañez popped to fairly deep rightfield, moving Ichiro to third. Sexson whiffed on a 1-2 pitch. Ballgame.

Cordero's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 26 pitches (20 strikes)

Gameball: Shigetoshi Hasegawa.
His role has decreased considerably over the season, be it due to ineffectiveness or injury. JJ Putz has for the most part taken the role that we'd seen Hasegawa take in the past. In this game, he was brought in to eat up some innings after Felix Hernandez underwent some growing pains. He did allow a single to the first batter to help inflate the ERA of Felix a bit, but then buckled down for four shutout innings of one-hit ball. Hasegawa, injuries into account, is on pace for considerably less appearances than in 2004. However, the innings pitched may actually be the same, most likely since he's been doing more longer relief than just to take the eighth inning. For example, in this particular game, I'd usually expect to see Julio Mateo take the next two or three innings of relief. Of course, Hasegawa hadn't pitched since the 10th (Saturday), and Mateo had just thrown two innings two days before. Hasegawa more than likely has the next two or three days off. More time for Scott Atchison to work, and more time for Rafael Soriano to make sure he's still got the velocity and some semblance of control.

Goat: Felix Hernandez.
I was hoping he'd bounce back a bit from the last start, but it turns out he had a bit further to dig to get to his worst outing of his young career. Well, here it was. Unlike the last game, where one inning was bad and the rest were pretty good, here he couldn't get out of the fourth. The Rangers sent eight batters to the plate in the first and five more in the third. Felix threw a 1-2-3 second. He gave up two hits after the Rod Barajas homer in the fourth, and his day was done. I'm almost glad I didn't get to actually see that part of the game (thanks, Windows Media Player). Nonetheless, I'm anxious to see what another Major League spring training camp is going to do for Felix. I'm wondering if the lessons he's learning right now can help him going into next year. We all know Felix has to go 26-3 to get this team a playoff spot in 2006. I know we haven't gone through the post-2005 offseason yet, but I have no idea what to reasonably expect from this team in 2006. I just know it's unacceptable to have them take a step back.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 106-41 .721 -- L1
2003 85-62 .578 21 W3
2002 84-63 .571 22 L5
2000 81-66 .551 25 W3
2005 64-83 .435 42 L2
2004 56-91 .381 50 W1

Yes, the end of the season looked so promising after the sweep of the Angels, didn't it? This time the Mariners don't have the excuse of the All-Star break flagging their momentum. They've scored six runs in two games in homer-happy Arlington, and they haven't homered in this series yet. The starting pitchers they've faced in the series, by the way, are Kameron Loe and Josh Rupe. One guy was just converted to a starting pitcher a month or so ago, and the other made his Major League debut. I'm remembering all the no-name pitchers the Mariners lost to in the second half of 2003, but strangely enough, this 2005 team will get the same reward that the 93-win 2003 team got -- no playoffs. This loss gave the Rangers a 10-5 lead in the season series against the Mariners. Of course, if I'm a Ranger fan, I look at 2005 as a step back for my team, since they did quite well in the beginning of the season. They still haven't quite gotten the pitching to turn around in Texas. For example, remember Ryan Drese? How bad are you if you're a pitcher who gets designated for assignment by the Rangers?

After it was clear that Felix was having an off day, how realistic of a chance did the Mariners actually have of winning this game? I guess that was my first reaction when I saw the lineup for the Mariners and saw the names of Ramon Santiago and Jaime Bubela in it. Needless to say, I'm looking at the lineup and pretty much seeing that the Mariners are punting at least two spots in the lineup. Let's say Ichiro and someone from the bottom of the lineup are on base with two out in the fifth inning or something. What do you expect Ramon Santiago to do? I'd have to surmise that you'd run Ichiro's glove and cap out to him. Say Sexson and Dobbs are both in scoring position with two out. Jaime Bubela comes to the plate. Again, the correct answer is to run Sexson's glove out to him at first, and maybe get Dobbs' seat cushion ready, or warm up the JUGS machine in the back since he's the designated hitter and all.

Where was Beltre or Santiago signaling Ibañez to get down? I'm referring to the play that ended the top of the seventh. Richie Sexson reached the leftfield scoreboard for a double and Ramon Santiago scored. Mistake number one came when Raul Ibañez blew through Carlos Garcia's stop sign at third base. What was mistake number two? I know what it was, but I'm not sure who to blame. The mistake was that Ibañez went into the plate standing up on a play at the plate that was way too close to do so, and he was tagged easily. Ramon Santiago scored just ahead of him, so I guess he could have turned around and yelled or signaled for him to slide, but usually I don't think that's the leading runner's responsibility. Still, I'm pretty sure I didn't see him throwing up hands or yelling or anything. Who else? Adrian Beltre was the on-deck batter, and I don't remember him getting near the plate and signaling down or yelling or anything. Whatever the case, the situation should have either been a runner on second with two out for Beltre or runners on second and third with two out for Beltre. You have to at least give Beltre a chance to pull a grounder to the shortstop to end the inning.

With the 2-for-4 game here, Ichiro has 184 hits on the season and sits with a .301 batting average. If he gets at-bats at the same pace he's been getting them for the season (612 at-bats in 147 games, 4.16 at-bats per game)...
-- he needs 16 hits to reach 200 for the season; he'd need to hit .240 for the remainder of the season, and that'd leave him with a .297 season average.
-- he needs 18 hits to finish with a .300 average for the season; he'd need to hit .256 for the rest of the season, and he'd end up with 202 hits.
-- he needs 32 hits to finish with a .320 average for the season; he'd need to hit .512 for the rest of the season, and he'd end up with 216 hits.

Can there be a series split? Yes, we're relegated to looking forward to series splits. Can there be a half-healthy Ichiro?

Piñeiro. Rogers. Tonight.

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