Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Rangers 3, Mariners 2 (11 innings)
Reuters photo -- Anthony P. Bolante

In 25 words or less: Remember that home game Felix pitched against the White Sox a while ago? This game kind of reeked like that one.

This one featured Kameron Loe going up against Felix Hernandez. This would be the first game of a six-game homestand to close the very long 2005 season.

Jeremy talked about it in last night's thread, but I too miss when September baseball in Seattle meant something. Since the division's been decided now, the Mariners can't even play spoiler in the final series. The boring gets even more boring.

I won't lie here, but my usual two- or three-paragraph game spiel after the gameball/goat entries might be gone for the rest of the season, or I'll have to come back to them. I'm preparing this week to get ready for a flight to Norfolk, where I stay until March for training purposes. Thus, I'll at least try to crank out the gameballs and goats.

Grade: B-
Slight tarnish. Gary Matthews, Jr. got ahead 2-0 and singled just past Yuniesky Betancourt's glove side at short. Michael Young looped an 0-2 pitch along the rightfield line and off the angled portion of the stands for a double, moving Matthews to third. Mark Teixeira grounded the second pitch to second, scoring Matthews and moving Young to third.
Hank Blalock whiffed at an 0-2 change over the outside corner. Alfonso Soriano grounded the first pitch hard to short.

Grade: C-
Nothing to see here. Ichiro chopped a 1-2 pitch to second. Jeremy Reed grounded a 2-0 pitch hard to first. Raul Ibañez grounded the second pitch hard to first (3-1 putout).

Grade: A
Nice rebound. Kevin Mench chopped a 1-2 pitch to a charging Jose Lopez behind the mound. Adrian Gonzalez whiffed on an 0-2 change. Jason Botts took a 1-2 pitch barely off the inside corner, then whiffed on a 2-2 breaking ball.

Grade: C
No run from a leadoff walk. Richie Sexson walked on a 3-1 pitch. Adrian Beltre whiffed on a low sinker. Greg Dobbs popped high to leftfield on a 2-0 pitch. Jose Lopez bounced a 1-2 pitch to short for a 6-4 force on Sexson.

Grade: B+
No damage. Rod Barajas popped the first pitch high to rightfield. Matthews walked on a 3-1 pitch. Young watched as Matthews was picked off before a pitch was thrown, going on first move. Young punched the first pitch up the middle under a diving Lopez. Teixeira popped a 2-2 pitch high to Ichiro in rightcenter.

Grade: C+
Not good. Yuniesky Betancourt cranked a 2-0 pitch off the track and over the wall for a ground-rule double into the bullpen. Yorvit Torrealba fell behind 0-2 and whiffed over a 2-2 pitch. Ichiro lined the first pitch right to Botts in leftfield, who threw to second to easily double off Betancourt.

Grade: B
Nice damage control. Blalock took a first-pitch 97mph fastball to the ribs. Soriano took a first-pitch ball and the trainers came out to the mound as Felix had slipped on the mound after delivering the pitch. Nothing appeared to be wrong. Soriano later whiffed on a full-count dirt curve low and way outside. Mench grounded the first pitch up the middle, where Lopez stepped on second and threw to first for the double play.

Grade: B-
Life? Reed bounced a 3-1 pitch over the centerfield wall for a ground-rule double. Ibañez slapped the second pitch over the left side and into leftfield, moving Reed to third, except the ball got past Botts in leftfield, allowing Reed to score.
Sexson grounded the second pitch hard into the hole on the right side, but Young was there to start the 4-6-3 double play. Beltre got ahead 3-1 and walked on a full-count pitch down and in. Dobbs popped a full-count pitch high to Soriano in shallow rightfield.

Grade: B+
Chugging along. Gonzalez drilled the second pitch through the left side for a single. Botts whiffed on a 1-2 fastball over the outer half. Barajas popped the second pitch to Torrealba in front of the Mariner dugout. Matthews grounded the second pitch to Lopez on the rightfield grass.

Piece by piece. Lopez scooped an 0-2 pitch into rightcenter for a single. Betancourt took the second pitch way outside, and Lopez stole second, but just barely. Betancourt later took a full-count pitch low and away for a walk. Torrealba bunted the second pitch along the left side, where a charging Blalock threw to first, dodging Loe in pursuit of the ball (Lopez to third, Betancourt to second). Ichiro was intentionally walked. Reed got jobbed by the third-base umpire on an 0-1 checkswing, then grounded the next pitch to the right-side hole, where Soriano couldn't get the ball quickly out of his glove, getting the runner at second, but nullifying the chance of a double play. Lopez scored, and Betancourt went to third.
Ibañez bounced a 1-2 pitch to second.

Grade: B+
Not perfect, but more than sufficient. Young bounced up the middle behind the mound to a charging Betancourt. Teixeira popped the second pitch to Reed in leftcenter. Blalock got the hitters' counts and took the 3-1 pitch outside for a walk. Soriano got ahead 2-0, luring Torrealba to the mound for a chat. Soriano splintered his bat on a 3-0 pitch, bouncing to short for a 6-4 fielder's choice.

Grade: C
Sexson rolled over a 2-0 pitch to short. Beltre rolled the first pitch up the middle for a single. Dobbs spanked an 0-2 pitch right to Blalock, who shotputted to second, starting the 5-4-3 double play.

Grade: A
He's settled. Mench grounded a 1-2 pitch behind the bag at third. Gonzalez rolled an 0-2 pitch to third, and Beltre played the tricky hop and threw to first. Botts whiffed on an 0-2 fastball.

Grade: C+
Golden opportunity. Lopez crushed a 2-2 pitch into and out of a crease in the padding on the very top of the leftfield wall just to the right of the manual scoreboard, though it looked like Botts may have had a chance to catch it (double). Betancourt bounced a full-count pitch to Young in the left-side hole, and Lopez had to hold at second. Torrealba grounded hard to second, and Lopez went to third. Ichiro was intentionally walked.

CJ Wilson came in for Loe. Reed whiffed on an 0-2 fastball.

Loe's line: 6 2/3 innings, 2 runs. 6 hits, 5 walks, 2 strikeouts, 108 pitches (61 strikes)

Grade: A-
Rawhide. Barajas bounced a 2-2 pitch up the middle, where Betancourt went to both knees to stop it, double-clutched, looked like he wouldn't get the out, but the umpire gave it to him (very close). Bucky Showalter came out to argue and was tossed. Matthews walked on a 3-0 pitch barely inside. Young chopped a ball to Betancourt, who went to one knee to make the stop, then backhanded to Lopez at second to start the 6-4-3 double play. Dude's crazy.

Grade: C-
Unfruitful. Ibañez fell behind 0-2 and rolled a 1-2 pitch to Soriano on the rightfield grass.

Doug Brocail came in for Wilson. Sexson lined out to centerfield. Beltre whiffed on a 2-2 pitch over the outer half.

Wilson's line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strkeout, 8 pitches (7 strikes)
Brocail's line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 9 pitches (5 strikes)

Grade: B-
Daaaaammit. Teixeira got ahead 3-0 and took a 3-1 pitch high and away for a walk, and Esteban German ran for him. Blalock grounded a 1-2 pitch softly into the left-side hole, where Betancourt went to second for the out (too soft for a double play). Soriano rolled the second pitch to a charging Beltre, who threw to first as German went to second. Mench lined a single into leftfield, where Ibañez slipped and fell fielding the ball, allowing German to score. Mench took second on the throw.
Gonzalez took a 1-2 belt-high fastball for strike three.

Hernandez' line: 9 innings, 2 runs, 5 hits, 4 walks, 7 strikeouts, 114 pitches (75 strikes)

Grade: C
Joaquin Benoit came in for Brocail. Dobbs popped the second pitch to Matthews in the rightcenter gap. Lopez got ahead 2-0 and slapped a ball to third, where German had the ball go off his glove and into foul territory, and Lopez beat the throw to first. Betancourt got the hitters' counts and took a full-count pitch up and in, moving Lopez to second. Dave Hansen, hitting for Torrealba, never saw a pitch.

Brian Shouse came in for Benoit. Rene Rivera, hitting for Hansen, bounced the second pitch in the left-side hole, and he threw to second, getting Betancourt since his back leg hit the bag, and not the front foot. Rivera went to third on the play. Ichiro was intentionally walked. Reed had the count 1-2 as members of the Rangers' training staff came out to assess Shouse's health, but he shook them off. Reed wound up whiffing on a 1-2 pitch way outside.

Benoit's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 12 pitches (6 strikes)

Grade: A-
Julio Mateo came in for Hernandez. DeRosa rolled the second pitch to short. Barajas popped a 2-0 pitch high to leftfield. Matthews whiffed on a 2-2 slider.

Grade: C-
Get this over with already. Ibañez fell behind 0-2 and later rolled the 2-2 pitch to second.

John Wasdin came in for Shouse. Sexson popped a full-count pitch to fairly deep rightfield. Beltre popped a 1-2 pitch high into centerfield.

Shouse's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 18 pitches (10 strikes)
Wasdin's line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 10 pitches (6 strikes)

Grade: C
I got my wish, kinda. Young flew out to rightfield. Teixeira got the hitters' counts and smoked the 3-1 pitch toward Lopez, who stopped it, but it got away from him and he couldn't get off a strong throw. German crushed the second pitch (up in the zone) off the base of the leftfield wall for a double, scoring Teixeira.
Soriano popped a 3-1 pitch to the rightfield track, easily allowing German to move to third (Ichiro's arm isn't that strong). Mench bounced the first pitch to Lopez on the right side.

Mateo's line: 2 inning, 1 run, 2 hit, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 27 pitches (15 strikes)

Grade: C
Francisco Cordero came in for Wasdin. Dobbs grounded out to Teixeira near the first-base bag. Lopez dumped the second pitch into leftcenter for a double. Betancourt drilled a single through the left side, but it was hit too hard to score Lopez, who held at third. Shin-Soo Choo, hitting for Rivera, whiffed at an 0-2 pitch off the outside corner. Ichiro, not walked intentionally, bounced the second pitch to Teixeira in front of the first-base bag, who intended to block Ichiro off. Teixeira backpedaled to the bag after some juking.

Cordero's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 15 pitches (11 strikes)

Gameball: Yuniesky Betancourt.
He's hit .262 on the season, with his first game being July 28th. He's hitting .282 in September. He has eight multi-hit games this month. His batting average has been on a pretty steady upward climb since it was at .213 on the 12th of the month. He didn't just go 2-for-3 with a double and two walks in this game. The defense was amazing as usual. The two plays in the eighth were really something. I guess the first one could have been fielded more cleanly, but boy, did he flash that arm. I thought originally that Rod Barajas was safe on the play (Bucky Showalter obviously did, and got thrown out for it), but replays showed it was way closer than I thought it was. That same inning ended with the one-knee backhand toss to start the double play. As good as Betancourt has been at short, let's not forget that on all these double plays that start with Betancourt, Lopez is doing a solid job turning the double plays, and his defense seems nowhere near a stumbling block as it did last season. Bill Bavasi has said it himself that he can see an Opening Day infield next year of the one we see now with Beltre/Betancourt/Lopez/Sexson. It's crazy to see that we've moved from what we thought was a damn good defense with Cirillo/Guillen/Boone/Olerud to what we see now, and the dropoff really isn't that much.

Goat: Jeremy Reed.
There are many ways to go with the goat. Ichiro, Richie Sexson, Greg Dobbs, and Yorvit Torrealba all went hitless. Reed didn't. Reed went 1-for-5, drove in a run, and scored once. He struck out twice. The main thing is that Ichiro was intentionally walked three times in this game and Reed, hitting behind Ichiro, ended up leaving seven runners on base. That's just the opposite of clutch. The pitch at which he swung and missed to end the ninth inning was way outside. It wasn't even close. I know we got way more than we expected with Reed as a defensive centerfielder, but I hope he can hit around .275 next year. It'd improve the team offense quite a lot. If I'm reading the charts right, Reed's 33 doubles are tied for the lead among all American League rookies. I'm thinking about it more, and I end up thinking the same way I did when Mike Cameron was here. If Reed can produce at the second spot in the lineup, he provides protection for the meat of the order. If not, they move him down to seventh and hit Betancourt or someone in the second slot. Of course, if they do get some lefthanded power in the lineup, some of this may change.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 112-45 .713 -- W2
2002 91-66 .580 21 W3
2003 90-67 .573 22 W1
2000 88-69 .561 24 W2
2005 67-90 .427 45 L3
2004 61-96 .389 51 W1

With this 0-for-3 game (three walks), Ichiro has 196 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 (658 at-bats in 157 games, 4.19 at-bats per game, which leaves him with about 21 at-bats)...
-- he needs 4 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 8 hits to finish with a .300 (.301) average for the season; he'd need to hit .382 for the rest of the season, and he'd end up with 204 hits.
-- (just about impossible) he needs 21 hits to finish with a .320 average for the season; he'd need to hit 1.002 for the rest of the season, and he'd end up with 217 hits.

Young. Piñeiro. Tonight.

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