Thursday, September 29, 2005


Rangers 7, Mariners 3
AP photo -- Elaine Thompson

In 25 words or less: Joel Piñeiro didn't have the horrible first inning like usual. He made it the second instead and took care of a 3-0 lead too.

This one featured the tall Chris Young going up against Joel Piñeiro. It was revealed that Jeremy Reed will miss the rest of the season with a partially torn left wrist ligament, possibly from an outfield dive or something. Apparently it had bothered him for a couple weeks. Surgery may be had.

But hey, Richie Sexson nabbed number 39, though just barely. There is a gameball and a goat at the end of this, so yes, I at least got that posted.

Grade: A
Uncharacteristic. Gary Matthews, Jr. chopped a 1-2 pitch to second. Michael Young grounded the second pitch hard to second. Mark Teixeira got the hitters' counts and grounded to Jose Lopez in the hole on the right side on a full count. Lopez was a busy man in the inning.

Grade: A-
Good start. Ichiro slapped a full-count single past Young and into centerfield. Yuniesky Betancourt popped an 0-2 pitch high to centerfield. Raul Ibañez watched as Ichiro took off on a 1-1 pitch, stole second, then moved to third on a throw that bounced past Michael Young at the second-base bag. Ibañez roped a 3-1 single through the right side to score Ichiro.
Richie Sexson popped the second pitch just barely past Jason Botts' reach (he had misjudged the ball to begin with) and off the top of the leftfield wall in front of the visitors' bullpen. Ibañez scored as well.
Adrian Beltre rolled over an 0-2 pitch to short. Greg Dobbs lined a single into rightcenter. Jose Lopez popped a 1-2 pitch to Soriano in shallow rightfield.

Grade: F
Terrible. Hank Blalock took a 1-2 fastball over the outside corner. Alfonso Soriano cranked a 2-2 knee-high breaking ball off the wall in rightcenter for a double. Kevin Mench punched a 1-2 pitch up the middle for a single, moving Soriano to third. Adrian Gonzalez watched an 0-2 fastball down over the outside corner. Jason Botts slapped an 0-2 single into leftfield, scoring Soriano.
Gerald Laird walked on a 3-0 pitch (ball four way inside), loading the bases. Matthews walked on a 3-0 pitch up and away, forcing Mench across the plate.
Michael Young lined the second pitch up the middle, scoring Botts and Laird.
Teixeira crushed the second pitch, bouncing it over the rightfield wall, scoring Matthews and moving Young to third.
Blalock whiffed on a full-count high fastball.

Grade: C
Nope. Shin-Soo Choo popped a 2-2 pitch to Young in shallow leftfield. Rene Rivera poked a 2-2 pitch through the left-side hole past a diving Young for a single. Ichiro dribbled a full-count pitch to a charging Blalock, moving Rivera to second. Betancourt got ahead 2-0 and whiffed on a 2-2 pitch.

Grade: B-
No runs at least. Soriano cranked a 3-0 pitch into the leftfield corner for a double. Mench popped the second pitch to Choo in rightcenter. Gonzalez laced a single up the middle and into centerfield, scoring Soriano, who drew a throw from Choo that was about a second late.
Botts hit a sinking liner into Dobbs' glove in leftfield. Laird flew out to fairly deep leftfield on an 0-2 pitch.

Piñeiro's line: 3 innings, 6 runs, 7 hits, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts, 67 pitches (40 strikes)

Grade: C-
Nothing here. Ibañez grounded hard right to first. Sexson got ahead 2-0 and walked on a full count. Beltre whiffed on a 2-2 dirtball about a foot outside. Dobbs got ahead 2-0 and later popped to Soriano on the infield dirt.

Grade: B+
Shigetoshi Hasegawa came in for Piñeiro. Matthews popped out to Choo in shallow rightcenter. Young took an 0-2 pitch barely outside and whiffed on a 1-2 pitch low and away. Teixeira got ahead 2-0 and chipped a hanging breaking ball outside into centerfield for a single. Blalock whiffed on a 2-2 breaking ball low and away.

Grade: C-
Yawn. Lopez popped the second pitch to Teixeira in foul ground, who dropped the ball and fell down, nearly colliding at low speed with Laird. Lopez later bounced a 2-2 pitch to third. Choo popped the first pitch to leftfield. Rivera popped a 3-1 pitch lazily to centerfield.

Grade: B
Decent. Soriano got ahead 3-1 and walked on a full-count pitch down and in. Mench popped the second pitch to Ichiro. Gonzalez tapped back to the mound, starting a 1-6-3 double play.

Grade: C-
Bah. Ichiro popped the second pitch to Teixeira in foul ground near the rightfield line, who made an over-the-shoulder catch. Betancourt whiffed on a 2-2 pitch and showed some frustration afterward, hammering the end of his bat into the dirt afterward. Ibañez whiffed on a 2-2 pitch as well.

Chris Young's line: 5 innings, 3 runs, 5 hits, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts, 94 pitches (58 strikes)

Grade: C+
Zzzzzz. Botts got ahead 3-0 and walked on a 3-1 pitch low and away. Laird fell behind 0-2, took the next pitch barely off the plate, then roped a 2-2 pitch over Dobbs' reach in leftfield, moving Botts to third. Matthews popped the second pitch to leftfield, scoring Botts.
Michael Young flew out to Ichiro near the rightfield corner, moving Laird to third.

Matt Thornton came in for Hasegawa. Teixeira got ahead 2-0 and whiffed on the 2-2 offering.

Hasegawa's line: 2 2/3 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts, 46 pitches (26 strikes)

Grade: C-
Doug Brocail came in for Young. Sexson took a 2-2 pitch over the outer half. Beltre splintered his bat on a 2-2 roller to short. Dobbs bounced to Teixeira on the right side (3-1 putout).

Brocail's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 17 pitches (12 strikes)

Grade: B-
I guess no runs scored. Blalock fell behind 0-2 and reached down for a 2-2 pitch, doubling it into the rightfield corner. Soriano fouled an 0-2 pitch into Rivera's glove. Mench whiffed on a high 0-2 pitch. Gonzalez got ahead 3-1 and took the full-count pitch off the inside corner for a walk, luring Bryan Price to the mound. Mark DeRosa, hitting for Botts, got ahead 2-0, then watched as Rivera tried to pick Blalock off of second, but the throw went into centerfield (Blalock to third). DeRosa popped to Ichiro in rightcenter on a 3-1 pitch.

Thornton's line: 1 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, 27 pitches (16 strikes)

Grade: C
John Wasdin came in for Brocail. Is there a game going on? Lopez whiffed on a 2-2 pitch way outside. Choo worked a 1-2 count for a walk (ball four outside). Rivera dumped an 0-2 pitch into shallow rightcenter for a single. Ichiro popped the second pitch to Blalock in front of the third-base dugout. Betancourt chopped a 2-0 pitch to short.

Wasdin's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 19 pitches (10 strikes)

Grade: B+
Gil Meche came in for Thornton. Laird popped the first pitch to Choo in rightcenter. Matthews lined a 1-2 pitch to Beltre's glove at third. Young roped the second pitch into rightfield for a single. Teixeira bounced a 2-0 pitch to second.

Meche's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 11 pitches (6 strikes)

Grade: C-
Joaquin Benoit came in for Wasdin. Ibañez got the hitters' counts and popped high to leftfield on a 3-1 pitch. Sexson fell behind 0-2 and whiffed on a full-count breaking ball. Beltre got ahead 2-0 and wound up whiffing on a 2-2 breaking ball low and away.

Benoit's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 17 pitches (9 strikes)

Grade: A
Rafael Soriano came in for Meche. Blalock fell behind 0-2 and later rolled a full-count pitch to second. Alfonso Soriano grounded the first pitch nearly foul down the third-base line, where Beltre made an off-balance throw to first, where Sexson had to come off to field it, but tagged Alfonso's left thigh on his way to first. Mench popped a 3-1 pitch to Betancourt in shallow leftfield.

Soriano's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 12 pitches (6 strikes)

Grade: C+
CJ Wilson came in for Benoit. Dobbs whiffed on an 0-2 pitch way low and away that got away from Laird and into foul territory, allowing Dobbs to get aboard. Lopez took the second pitch way inside, and it rolled up Laird's arm, but not enough to allow Dobbs to move to second. Lopez got ahead 3-0 and lined the 3-1 pitch to Matthews in centerfield. Mike Morse, hitting for Choo, laced a 2-2 single through the right side, moving Dobbs to second.

Francisco Cordero came in for Wilson. Dave Hansen whiffed on a 2-2 pitch low and away. Ichiro bounced the second pitch to the right-side hole, where Alfonso Soriano bobbled the ball twice and his throw to first was a bit late to get Ichiro. This loaded the bases. Betancourt popped the first pitch to centerfield. Ballgame.

Wilson's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 13 pitches (8 strikes)
Cordero's line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 8 pitches (5 strikes)

Gameball: Rafael Soriano.
Yeah, I've got to make a reach for this game's gameball. He threw a perfect ninth in a game that had been long lost. He seems able to reach mid-90s on the speed gun again, so that's a good thing. I have no idea if they're going to have him play winter ball again, but I wonder whether they should send him south anyway. Should he play winter ball and get more game situations in before camp, or should he just spend extra time in Peoria over the winter? I'm not suggesting that his winter ball in 2004 might have led him to the ribcage injury (and subsequent Tommy John surgery possibly due to overcompensation for the ribcage), but it's something to think about. Overall, it looks to me like JJ Putz and Soriano are the righthanded one-inning stoppers at the back end of the bullpen. Or maybe you could play matchup and have one of those guys sandwich a lefty. Julio Mateo is your long man, and if you had a righty garbagetime role (lefty Matt Thornton's role, for example), maybe that could be Scott Atchison. Still, though it's just nice to see Rafael Soriano is getting back to speed. At least the results are. I'm not in the box standing in against the pitches.

Goat: Yuniesky Betancourt.
Ichiro wasn't intentionally walked three times in this game, but for the second night in a row, the Mariners' #2 hitter (it was Reed the night before) left seven runners on base. On this night, the defensive wunderkind struck out twice and left the lucky seven. This was somewhat related to the fact that Ichiro in the leadoff spot left five runners on base. Dave Hansen pinch-hit for Rene Rivera, the #9 hitter, and stranded two runners himself, so a banner night for the ends of the lineup. Really, I'm just hoping that Betancourt can hit like Adrian Beltre circa 2005, and I hope Beltre can hit more like Adrian Beltre circa 2004. Betancourt would only have to hit 19 homers to equal 152-game Beltre 2005's power numbers. Right now, Jose Lopez is the weak link among the infield defense, but sheesh, the other three are well above average. Seattle fans, except for last season, have been particularly spoiled in recent years with the defensive crews that have rolled through the Emerald City.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 113-45 .715 -- W3
2002 92-66 .582 21 W4
2003 90-68 .570 23 L1
2000 89-69 .563 24 W3
2005 67-91 .424 46 L4
2004 62-96 .392 51 W2

With this 1-for-5 game, Ichiro has 197 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 (663 at-bats in 158 games, 4.20 at-bats per game, which leaves him with about 17 at-bats)...
-- he needs 3 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 .294 season average.
-- he needs 7 hits to finish with a .300 average for the season; he'd need to hit .417 for the rest of the season, and he'd end up with 204 hits.
-- (virtually impossible) he needs 21 hits to finish with a .320 average for the season; he'd need to hit 1.251 for the rest of the season, and he'd end up with 218 hits.

Rogers. Franklin. Tonight.

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