Saturday, September 24, 2005


Tigers 7, Mariners 1
AP photo -- Duane Burleson

In 25 words or less: Moyer on the road and a no-name going for the Tigers. In other words, a good chance for Detroit to snap their skid.

This game featured Jamie Moyer going up against Jason Grilli. The Tigers were looking to snap their eight-game losing streak. The Mariners were trying to extend their one-game winning streak, which doesn't necessarily qualify as a streak. What unfolded was something that would make you wish you spent your Saturday late afternoon doing something else. As for me, I have no car and my bus line doesn't run up the giant hill on weekends, so I soak up the heat in a studio in Hawaii with no air conditioning. As if that wasn't bad enough, I watch the Mariners in these conditions.

Grade: C-
Stumbling out. Ichiro fell behind 0-2 and wound up popping out near the leftfield line on a 2-2 pitch, the eleventh pitch of the at-bat. Yuniesky Betancourt grounded out to short. Raul Ibañez rolled the second pitch to short.

Grade: B-
Misstep. Curtis Granderson bounced the second pitch back to the mound. Placido Polanco flew out to centerfield on a 1-2 pitch. Chris Shelton clubbed a homer about ten rows back into the leftfield seats (414 feet).
Craig Monroe split his bat and tapped a full-count pitch to the mound.

Grade: B-
Knot. Richie Sexson got ahead 3-1 and first-base umpire Adam Dowdy said he went on the full-count pitch. Adrian Beltre got the hitters' counts and took a low 3-1 pitch for a walk. Greg Dobbs dumped the second pitch into shallow leftfield for a single, and Beltre hustled around second and took third base on the play. Jose Lopez drilled a single through the left side, scoring Beltre and moving Dobbs to second.
Shin-Soo Choo foul-tipped an 0-2 pitch into the catcher's glove. Rene Rivera whiffed on an 0-2 breaking ball low and away.

Grade: A-
Sufficient. Carlos Peña grounded the second pitch behind the bag at first (3-1 putout). Ivan Rodriguez grounded the second pitch to third. Marcus Thames got ahead 3-0 and took a full-count pitch over the outside corner, though he was on his way to first with what he thoguht was ball four.

Ichiro whiffed on a high 1-2 pitch. Betancourt got ahead 2-0 and popped a 2-2 pitch to rightfield. Ibañez grounded to a charging Shelton, who scooped to a to-be-covering-first Grilli for the out.

Grade: A-
Fast. Brandon Inge popped a 2-0 line drive to Choo in fairly deep centerfield. Omar Infante popped the second pitch to Betancourt along the leftfield line. Granderson grounded a full-count pitch to first (3-1 putout).

Grade: C-
Too fast. Sexson fell behind 0-2 and worked a walk (ball four down and in). Beltre grounded the second pitch to third for a 5-4-3 double play. Dobbs popped the first pitch to centerfield.

Grade: C
Another dent. Polanco fell behind 0-2 and rolled a full-count pitch to second. Shelton hit a low liner to centerfield, where Choo picked it off his shoetops. Monroe crushed a line drive on the first pitch about six rows back into the leftfield seats.
Peña took a 1-2 pitch for strike three and took umbrage with the plate umpire.

Grade: C-
Gak. Lopez got the hitters' counts and walked on the 3-1 pitch. Choo popped the second pitch to Infante in foul ground outside the leftfield line. Rivera whiffed on the first pitch, on which Lopez took second with a huge jump and no throw. Rivera grounded the second pitch to short. Ichiro smacked the second pitch right into Grilli's glove on the mound.

Grade: B+
Decent. Rodriguez flew out to centerfield on the first pitch. Thames stuck the first pitch up the middle and into centerfield for a single. Inge grounded a 2-0 pitch to second for a 4-6-3 double play.

Grade: C-
Sigh... Betancourt smoked a line drive right to a leaping Inge at third. Ibañez flew out just short of the track in leftfield. Sexson rolled over on a 2-2 groundout to short.

Grade: C+
Double the hole. Infante popped the second pitch to leftfield. Granderson lined the first pitch into Moyer's glove on the mound. Polanco golfed the second pitch just beyond the leftfield fence.
Shelton fell behind 0-2 and went with a 2-2 pitch for a single into rightfield. Monroe hit a sinking liner to Choo in centerfield.

Grade: C-
This is bad. Beltre walked on four pitches (ball four low). Dobbs hit a soft liner up the middle into Infante's glove. Lopez fell behind 0-2 and later bounced a 2-2 pitch to third for a 5-4-3 double play.

Grilli's line: 7 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts, 97 pitches (61 strikes)

Grade: B+
Some diciness. Peña popped an 0-2 pitch to Rivera on the track behind the plate. Rodriguez walked on four pitches (no gimmie 3-0 pitch). Thames grounded the first pitch to short, where Betancourt bobbled the ball to snuff out a double play chance (Rodriguez went to second), but Betancourt's arm saved him as he got Thames at first (replays showed otherwise). Inge walked on a full-count dirtball low and away, luring pitching coach Bryan Price to the mound. Infante got the hitters' counts and grounded the 3-1 pitch to Beltre at third, who threw to second for the force.

Grade: C+
Chris Spurling came in for Grilli. Choo stuck a 2-2 pitch up the middle, but Infante ranged to his left to make a diving stop and nail Choo at first from one knee. Rivera popped the second pitch to rightfield. Ichiro chopped a ball over the mound and Infante couldn't come up with it quickly enough. Betancourt dumped the first pitch into shallow leftfield for a single, and Ichiro scampered to third on the play.

Jamie Walker came in for Spurling. Ibañez took a 2-2 pitch barely low before grounding the full-count pitch hard, but right to Infante at short.

Spurling's line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 11 pitches (8 strikes)
Walker's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 7 pitches (4 strikes)

Grade: D
Caving. Granderson popped a 2-2 pitch to shallow left.

Scott Atchison came in for Moyer. Polanco bounced an 0-2 pitch into the rightfield corner for a double, stopped pretty hard in his tracks coming around second, nearly tripping. Shelton did nearly the same as Polanco, doubling the second pitch near the rightfield corner, scoring Polanco.
Monroe got ahead 3-1 before drilling the full-count pitch up the middle for a single, though it appeared Choo had Shelton out by ten feet at the plate. Shelton was called safe, and replay showed that Rivera waited but applied a high tag.

Matt Thornton came in for Atchison. Peña spanked the first pitch over the wall in leftfield.
Rodriguez drilled the second pitch up the middle for a single. Thames got ahead 2-0 and popped a full-count pitch high to leftfield. Inge got the hitters' counts and took a 3-1 pitch way outside. Infante watched a second-pitch dirtball inside that got away from Rivera, allowing Rodriguez to scoot to third and Inge to second. Infante got ahead 3-1 and whiffed on a full-count fastball over the outside corner.

Moyer's line: 7 1/3 innings, 3 runs, 5 hits, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts, 97 pitches (58 strikes)
Atchison's line: 0 innings, 3 runs, 3 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 11 pitches (7 strikes)
Thornton's line: 2/3 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 21 pitches (11 strikes)

Grade: C+
Fernando Rodney came in for Walker. Sexson walked on a 3-1 pitch low and away. Beltre broke his bat on the second pitch, popping to Inge running back into shallow rightfield. Dobbs dropped a 3-1 pitch into rightfield for a single, moving Sexson to third. Lopez whiffed over a 2-2 breaking ball. Choo splintered his bat on a full-count pitch, looping to the left side where the ball was caught by Inge diving backward toward leftfield.

Rodney's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 24 pitches (12 strikes)

Gameball: Greg Dobbs.
The Doobinator went 2-for-4, singling with one on and one out in the second, then singled with one on and one out in the ninth during the Mariners' last gasp. He has five multi-hit games in the month of September, and he is hitting .333 for the month with eight RBIs. He's been getting regular play since being called up in late August. In the stretch starting from August 20th until now, Dobbs is 27-for-92 (.293) and has driven in 13 runs. I have the feeling I'll be remembering Dobbs for signing my Carlos Guillen batting practice ball last winter; I don't think Dobbs will be with this team next year. What role would he serve? With the direction the Mariners plan to be going, I just don't think there is room for him, and I know he wants to be more than some designated hitter who may or may not get playing time. Surely there's a young team like the Twins or A's or the Nationals that might be able to use him or something, though Dobbs is no spring chicken in baseball terms. There's no room for him on this team next year unless he's the 24th or 25th man on the roster again, and I doubt he or the Mariners want(s) that.

Goat: Scott Atchison.
Every time I see him go out there, I've been hoping he'll do well. I just want him to do okay and have something to build on so he can be a part of this bullpen next year, and I think if healthy, he'll be a good one. Of course, this is now, and his last two outings haven't been too hot. In this game, he gave up an 0-2 single to start off, gave up a double two pitches later, then fell behind with hitters' counts to Craig Monroe before he singled. Two runs, no outs recorded. Not a good outing. The 0-2 single isn't generally lucky, but he didn't dig himself out of the hole. But in a sense, all that this latter half of September is for is building for next year, though unfortunately it doesn't seem to include winning most of the time. Let's just hope that Atchison and Rafael Soriano get some work here and there and get used to facing live batters and everything so that they can build toward next year, because I see them as key contributors for the Mariner bullpen of 2006. I wish one of Atchison and Julio Mateo were lefthanded, but oh well. As long as next year's bullpen doesn't include Matt Thornton, I'm okay with it.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 110-45 .714 -- L1
2002 89-66 .574 21 W1
2003 89-66 .574 21 W2
2000 86-69 .555 24 L3
2005 67-88 .432 43 L1
2004 60-95 .383 50 W1

With seven games left in the season, the Mariners have 67 wins. They've failed to meet expectations for people who thought they'd get 88 wins and make the playoffs. They've failed to meet expectations of people who thought they'd get to .500. They've even failed what I thought was a realistic expectation, and that was to win 77 games, which would have been a 14-game improvement over the year before, which is significant. The way it is right now, the Mariners will improve by a guaranteed three games and possibly eleven games if they run the table. Eleven games would be nice, but it won't happen. It's fairly obvious where everything went wrong. The starting pitching was absolutely abysmal and/or hurt. Gil Meche and Joel Piñeiro failed to improve, though I thought Joel was hurt most of the time. Aaron Sele was Aaron Sele, and he should have never made the team out of spring training. The team really could have used Bobby Madritsch. The team could have really used a healthy Rafael Soriano. Remember Bret Boone's laser eye surgery? Didn't make a damn difference. Matt Thornton? Good gracious. Ron Villone? Overrated. Glad he's gone. You can throw all the numbers you want at me, I thought the bullpen was horribly overrated other than Eddie Guardado.

Enough of the retrospective though. Jamie Moyer's line didn't look too bad in this game. His good performances have usually happened at Safeco Field this season. He got into the eighth inning in this game and gave up three runs, which usually should be good enough to win. Of course, it's bad that three of the five hits he gave up sailed over the fence. But we know that about Moyer. He gives up homers. That happens.

What's not supposed to happen is the Mariners getting two-hit in seven innings by Jason Grilli. Seriously, what the hell was that? Even more disappointing is that three of the four walks that Grilli gave up were leadoff walks in the fourth, fifth, and seventh innings. None of those walks came around to score. Why? Adrian Beltre hit into a double play in the fourth, the three batters after Jose Lopez couldn't hit a fair ball out of the infield in the fifth, and Lopez hit into a double play to end the seventh. Those three leadoff walks should turn into scoring opportunities. Only Lopez managed to get to second base in those three innings, and that's because he stole on the first pitch. The Mariners only came through in the second inning when the game was actually within reach, and that was on a one-out Adrian Beltre walk followed by consecutive singles by Greg Dobbs and Jose Lopez, who had the only relevant RBI of the game. What can you say offensively about this game for the Mariners that is actually good? What can you say about the Mariner bats other than that they were simply Grillified?

The only multi-hit game went to Dobbs, who got the gameball. I guess I could have tried to find a gameball among the one-hit guys on the team, but nothing stood out. The 3-4-5 hitters in the lineup were held hitless. Raul Ibañez failed to get a hit or draw a walk. Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre each walked twice. Jose Lopez had the Mariners' only RBI and walked once. Rene Rivera made up for his three-hit game on Friday by going hitless, and Shin-Soo Choo struck out once and left five runners on base for his 0-for-4 day.

With the 1-for-4 game, Ichiro has 194 hits on the season and sits with a .298 batting average. If he gets at-bats at the same pace he's been getting them for the season (650 at-bats in 155 games, 4.19 at-bats per game, which leaves him with about 29 at-bats)...
-- he needs 6 hits to reach 200 for the season; he'd need to hit .204 for the remainder of the season, and that'd leave him with a .294 season average.
-- he needs 10 hits to finish with a .300 average for the season; he'd need to hit .341 for the rest of the season, and he'd end up with 204 hits.
-- he needs 24 hits to finish with a .320 (.321) average for the season; he'd need to hit .818 for the rest of the season, and he'd end up with 218 hits.

The Tigers snapped their eight-game skid, but can the Mariners still take the series on Sunday? Does anyone care?

Meche. Maroth. Tomorrow.

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