Thursday, September 22, 2005


Mariners 3, Blue Jays 2
AP/CP photo -- Adrian Wyld

In 25 words or less: A young pitcher who has the chance to throw a no-hitter every time out had a decent chance at exactly that in this game.

This one featured Felix Hernandez going up against Dave Bush. Could Felix bounce back from his sketchy starts of late? Could the Mariners win and have a chance to take three of four in the series? Would they crumble under the fact that games in Toronto start at times ending with the number 7? Would the retractable roof have Safe-like computer problems? Would the power go out?

Also, after a few days of being relegated to audio feed for archived games, I finally found a way to get my Windows Media Player to stream video again. I don't know what was keeping it from streaming video, but now it can do it again. I may have had no motivation to fix it if MLB.com enabled Realplayer to play archived MLB.tv feed of the games. If you're wondering why the stream of recaps dried up the first half of this week, part of the reason was that I couldn't stay awake with just the audio feed on. I needed something to look at to keep my eyes open.

Grade: C-
Did the game start? Ichiro grounded very hard to third, but Corey Koskie made a very nice quick stop on the ball and made the throw. Jeremy Reed bounced a 1-2 pitch to first for a 3-1 putout. Raul Ibañez popped the 2-2 pitch to shortstop Russ Adams in shallow centerfield.

Grade: B+
No damage. Russ Adams bounced a 3-1 fastball hard to first for a 3-1 putout. Frank Catalanotto chopped the second pitch high along the first-base line, where Greg Dobbs came down with it and raced to the first-base bag in time. Vernon Wells got the hitters' counts and walked on the 3-1 pitch inside. Corey Koskie watched as Wells stole second on the 0-2 pitch with nobody covering second base on the delayed steal. Koskie failed to check his swing on the next pitch, which was low.

Grade: C
Long, but no results. Richie Sexson whiffed on a 1-2 big curve outside. Adrian Beltre fell behind 0-2 and finally whiffed on the twelfth pitch of the at-bat, a 2-2 dirtball. Greg Dobbs popped the first pitch to Johnson on the track in rightcenter.

Grade: A-
Like the top half, but good for Felix. Shea Hillenbrand tapped a 2-2 pitch in front of the plate, and Yorvit Torrealba came out to field the ball and throw. Eric Hinske flew out high to rightfield on a 1-2 pitch. Gregg Zaun fell behind 0-2 but worked a ten-pitch at-bat, though he took that full-count wicked curve for strike three.

Grade: C
Blip on the radar. Yuniesky Betancourt bounced to third. Ramon Santiago rolled the first pitch to second. Yorvit Torrealba rolled a 2-2 pitch up the middle for a single, snapping Bush's game-opening streak of retired Mariner hitters at eight. Ichiro got ahead 3-1 but whiffed on a big slow full-count curve.

Grade: A
Rolling? Reed Johnson got behind 0-2 and bounced the 1-2 pitch to second. Aaron Hill grounded an 0-2 pitch to third. Adams bounced to first for a 3-1 putout.

Grade: B+
Could have been more. Reed took a 3-1 pitch outside for a walk. Ibañez took a four-pitch walk (last pitch outside), moving Reed to second. Sexson laid his bat on a full-count pitch over the outer half, looping it over the second baseman and scoring Reed. Ibañez also moved to third.
Beltre fell behind 3-0 and walked on the ninth pitch of the at-bat, a full-count pitch low and away, moving Sexson to second to load the bases. Dobbs bounced a second-pitch single up the middle to score Ibañez and Sexson and move Beltre to second.
Betancourt bunted the first pitch between the plate and mound, moving Beltre to third and Dobbs to second. Santiago was nailed in the leg with an 0-2 curveball, loading the bases.

Brandon League came in for Bush. Torrealba broke his bat on a 2-0 grounder to Adams at second, who tagged Santiago in the basepath and threw to first to complete the double play.

Bush's line: 3 1/3 innings, 3 runs, 3 hits, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts, 78 pitches (47 strikes)

Grade: A-
Still no hits. Catalanotto bounced slow to first, and Dobbs had to sprint over to the bag in part due to a late-covering Hernandez. Wells bounced a 2-2 pitch over the mound to Betancourt, who ranged over and threw to first. Koskie walked on four pitches (last pitch low), snapping Hernandez' streak of nine straight retired Blue Jay hitters. Hillenbrand fell behind 0-2 and whiffed on a 1-2 dirtball curve low and away (2-3 putout).

Grade: C-
Fast end. Ichiro bounced the second pitch to second. Reed got ahead 3-0 and took the 3-1 pitch low and away. Ibañez flew out very deep to centerfield, but Wells caught it in front of the wall. Reed, running on contact, thought the ball would go over Wells' head, and he was easily doubled off of first while trying to run back in time.

Grade: A-
Yep, rolling. Hinske grounded the first pitch to first (3-1 putout). Zaun lined a 2-0 pitch right to Ichiro in rightfield. Johnson grounded a 1-2 pitch hard to first, where Dobbs made a backhanded stop and underhanded to Hernandez covering first for the out.

Grade: C-
Meah. Sexson grounded an 0-2 pitch hard to third which was nicely scooped by Koskie, who threw to first. Beltre whiffed on a 2-2 pitch up and over the outer half. Dobbs grounded a 2-2 pitch to third.

Grade: A-
Fire. Hill whiffed on a full-count curve down and over the outer half. Adams lined the second pitch right into Betancourt's glove at short. Catalanotto grounded the first pitch to Dobbs off of first for another 3-1 putout.

Grade: C
Slumber. Betancourt popped the second pitch to Catalanotto on the leftfield track in front of the bullpen. Santiago whiffed on a low 0-2 breaking ball (2-3 putout). Torrealba got ahead 3-1 and walked on a full-count pitch up and away. Ichiro rolled an 0-2 pitch to second.

League's line: 3 2/3 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts, 42 pitches (26 strikes)

Grade: B+
Dammit! Wells grounded hard to second. Koskie lined the second pitch toward Betancourt, who leaped to get a glove on it, but it went off the side of his glove and into leftfield. Koskie was awarded a single for Toronto's first hit of the night, though it was catchable (the crowd booed). Hillenbrand got ahead 2-0 and whiffed on a 2-2 pitch. Hinske rolled to second.

Grade: C
Shaun Marcum came in for League. Reed took a full-count fastball over the inside corner. Ibañez grounded a 2-2 pitch to first. Sexson got the hitters' counts and walked on a full-count pitch inside. Beltre doubled down the leftfield line. Dobbs got ahead 2-0 and looped a 2-2 pitch that didn't quite get over Adams at short, who leapt and caught it.

Grade: B+
Slight turbulence. Zaun walked on a high 3-1 pitch. Johnson got ahead 2-0 and whiffed on a 2-2 change inside. Hill smoked an 0-2 pitch that ripped off Hernandez' glove at the mound. Felix went back to field the ball, but had no play as Hill was safe at first, and Zaun moved to second.

George Sherrill came in for Hernandez. Adams foul-tipped a full-count breaking ball low into Torrealba's glove behind the plate. Frank Menechino was coming up to bat to hit for Catalanotto.

JJ Putz came in for Sherrill. Gabe Gross, hitting for Menechino, popped high to Ibañez near the leftfield line.

Hernandez' line: 7 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts, 106 pitches (64 strikes)
Sherrill's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 7 pitches (4 strikes)
Putz' line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 3 pitches (2 strikes)

Grade: C
Boo. Betancourt popped the second pitch to Hillenbrand in foul ground just past first base. Santiago got ahead 2-0 and grounded out to second. Torrealba grounded down the line to third, where Hillenbrand had to make a long throw, but Torrealba beat it out for a single. Ichiro bounced an 0-2 pitch to second.

Marcum's line: 2 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 39 pitches (25 strikes)

Grade: C
Eddie Guardado came in for Putz. Wells singled just past Betancourt's reach up the middle at short. Koskie chopped high to the mound where Guardado leaped to catch it, threw to second and it would have been a double play if Dobbs would have snared the scoop. Instead, the ball didn't stay in his glove, and Koskie was safe at first. Hillenbrand crushed a full-count pitch over the outer half into the second deck in leftcenter, scoring Koskie.
Alex(is) Rios, hitting for Hinske, walked on a full-count pitch barely high and inside. Zaun fouled off his first three pitches but flew out to Reed on a running catch in the leftcenter gap near the wall on the fourth pitch as Rios had to sprint back to first. Johnson got ahead 0-2 and foul-tipped a 1-2 pitch into Torrealba's glove. Ballgame.

Guardado's line: 1 inning, 2 runs, 2 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 31 pitches (19 strikes)

Gameball: Felix Hernandez.
I can't try to rationalize anyone else for the gameball here. In a game where the Mariners mustered only five hits (only one for extra bases), it has to be Felix. He took a no-hitter into the seventh, for goodness' sake. It'd be different if say Sexson went 2-for-4 with a double and a homer or something, but that's not the case here. You could say that from his line he wasn't that sharp, but the weird thing is that it seems to me like Felix concentrates his wildness. For instance, in his three walks in this game, one was on four pitches, and the other two were issued on only five pitches. Though it's never really a timely thing to walk hitters, I guess it's a good thing that Felix seems to right the ship pretty quickly after walking a batter. Felix now has ten Major League starts under his belt, and he has evened up his record at 4-4. This effort helped lower his ERA to 2.63. In his previous two starts, he had given up 6 runs in seven innings (big inning) against Baltimore and Texas. I just hope Felix has been able to learn things from those two games.

Goat: Ichiro.
Both Ichiro and Yorvit Torrealba left three runners on base in this game. Yorvit had two base hits, but Ichiro had zero. Hence, Ichiro is in this here paragraph. Of course, there's also the discussion that Ichiro is bunting more lately because he might be especially conscious about getting to 200 hits. Part of a related argument is the simple question -- why the hell hasn't he been bunting more all along? I remember the big contract that Ichiro got, and for the amount of money he's being paid, he's got to step up for more than .301. If you judge him by on-base percentage, he's also got a career-worst year in that statistic on tap this season. It's widely known that he doesn't walk a lot, but what's he going to do when his hits stop falling for a period of time? I guess he's either going to have to bunt or draw some walks. This is where I add that if he's making outs instead of walking, that means he's not getting on base. In turn, that also means that Ichiro is not on the bases and wreaking havoc on the opposing pitcher and the supporting defense.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 108-44 .711 -- W2
2002 88-64 .579 20 W4
2003 87-65 .572 21 W1
2000 86-66 .566 22 W8
2005 66-86 .434 42 W1
2004 58-94 .382 50 W2

Hey, the Mariners have a completely opposite record from five years ago. That's curious.

Felix Hernandez taking a no-hitter into the seventh is one thing. Managing to only get five hits in a game where the pitchers faced were Dave Bush, Brandon League, and Shaun Marcum is another. For one reason or another, the Mariners were at the plate performing like Roy Halladay was on the mound or something. I also remember when the Mariners were actually able to hit home runs in the not-too-distant past. At home they'd play Safe ball, then on the road they'd bust out the whoopin' sticks and hit home runs. All we're seeing thus year out of the offense is that Richie Sexson hits homers wherever, and anyone else chimes in once every blue moon with a homer as well. Since the Mariners have lined themselves up this upcoming offseason for a free-agent starting pitcher, they can't bring in a top-flight slugging threat. So, the current crop of Mariners has to just keep working on their swings and the fans just have to hope like hell that a decent percentage of the guys can turn it around and have their swings start clicking, and I'm not just referring to Adrian Beltre.

Eddie Guardado's lost. His last few weeks of outings have just been beyond shaky. There's shaky when you walk a guy, allow a base hit, and still finish off the game. Shaky takes on a sharper meaning when you start bringing the winning run to the plate in the ninth after you've already given up a homer that brought the home team to within a run. I've always wondered how Eddie gets it done with slow stuff, and I guess for him it requires a bulletproof mental state and pinpoint control. It seems like he might have neither right now. As far as I'm concerned, to a certain extent I'm just willing to give him a free pass since he was one of the better reasons to watch this team for the first five months of the season. It's a shame to see his numbers crashing back to earth, but what can you say? Them's the breaks, and he's been helping pilot this broke-ass team for a good deal of the season.

The only multi-hit game went to Yorvit Torrealba. He ended Dave Bush's no-hit bid in the third inning and legged out an infield single in the ninth. He was 2-for-3 with a walk, reaching base three times. Since letting the paragraph stop here would be boring, the other three hits went to Richie Sexson (4th-inning RBI single), Adrian Beltre (8th-inning two-out double), and Greg Dobbs (4th-inning two-run single). Raul Ibañez, Sexson, Beltre, and Torrealba each drew a walk. Jeremy Reed walked twice.

With the 0-for-5 game, Ichiro has 192 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 (637 at-bats in 152 games, 4.19 at-bats per game, which leaves him with a bit over 42 at-bats)...
-- he needs 8 hits to reach 200 for the season; he'd need to hit .191 for the remainder of the season, and that'd leave him with a .295 season average.
-- he needs 12 hits to finish with a .300 average for the season; he'd need to hit .286 for the rest of the season, and he'd end up with 204 hits.
-- he needs 25 hits to finish with a .320 average for the season; he'd need to hit .597 for the rest of the season, and he'd end up with 217 hits.

Can the Mariners get the series win tonight? Let's hope so. The last memory I have of the Skydome is a botched throw at first base in late 2003. Baaaaaaad times.

Piñeiro. Chacin. Today.

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