Saturday, April 16, 2005
In 25 words or less: Paul Konerko and Mark Buehrle sent everyone home early. Ryan Franklin wasn't going to get run support from this lineup.
This one was fast. I hope you don't like hitting.
Ichiro singled to center on the first pitch of the game, and that's how rallies get started with this team. Randy Winn has a decent average so far this year, but Mike Hargrove had him bunt anyway. Adrian Beltre lined out to center. Bret Boone flew out to Paul Konerko at first on the 2-0 pitch. Buehrle needed only seven pitches in the inning. This whole Ichiro-and-nothing deal would hold up for the rest of the game.
Franklin threw a 1-2-3 first inning. Timo Perez bounced to Bret Boone on the first pitch. Tadahito Iguchi grounded out to Wilson Valdez on his second pitch. Carl Everett hit his 2-0 pitch to Adrian Beltre, who threw to first. Franklin threw a miniscule six pitches in the inning.
Raul Ibanez and Scott Spiezio both fanned. Willie Bloomquist bounced one back to the mound. At least the Mariners worked the count a bit. Buehrle threw 16 pitches in the inning.
Paul Konerko hit a majestic blast about 15 rows or so into the stands in left-center. Franklin got too much of the plate.
»» WHITE SOX 1, MARINERS 0
Jermaine Dye then bounced out to Valdez. Aaron Rowand went down swinging, then Juan Uribe popped out weakly to Valdez instead of jumping all over the ball like he did last night against Joel Pineiro. Franklin threw 15 pitches in the inning.
Dan Wilson took his 3-0 pitch for a strike, but put a nice lick on the 3-1 pitch, which was a popup to first. Wilson Valdez flew out to right on his first pitch. Ichiro flew out to left on his second pitch. Buehrle threw only eight pitches in the inning.
This half-inning was one of the more longer ones in the game. Chris Widger, ex-Mariner and guy who fractured Jamie Moyer's shin in a rehab sim game back in late 2000, popped out to Spiezio at first. I found that popups hit to first today were more of an adventure than they were with Richie Sexson out there. Joe Crede mashed his first pitch off the wall in center. Bloomquist looked like he had somewhat of a beat on the ball, but he hit the wall about the same time as the ball, and the ball was about 10 feet to his left. I'll admit that I had something like that happen to me once in leftfield (ball got above the lights in a night game), but he's a Major Leaguer and I'm not. Perez had 2-0 and 3-1 counts, but he's Timo Perez, and he realized this as he bounced out to Boone. Franklin got ahead 0-2 on Iguchi and got a bouncer to third to end the inning. Franklin threw 18 pitches in the inning, but that was no danger toward his longevity today.
The non-Ichiro components of the lineup continued to suck. Winn attempted to check-swing on a 2-2 pitch, but that's in the books as a whiff. Beltre was caught looking. Boone walked on a 3-1 pitch, but Ibanez whiffed. Yes, Buehrle struck out the side, needing 20 pitches.
This inning almost went as quick as Franklin's first. Everett rolled the first pitch to Boone. Konerko didn't homer this time, instead swinging over the top of a breaking ball for strike three. Dye hit his second pitch on the ground to Valdez. Franklin threw eight pitches in the inning.
The non-Ichiro components of the lineup continued to suck. Buehrle only struck out two-thirds of the side this time. Spiezio was one of them, and he did so to lead off. Bloomquist didn't strike out, but hitting a weak liner to second isn't much better. Wilson was the other strikeout in the inning. Buehrle threw 12 pitches and was at 63 through five.
Franklin didn't get by quite as easily as in the 4th, but he still came away all right. He fell behind 2-0 to both Rowand and Uribe to start, but got flyouts from both. Uribe's flyout was to Spiezio in foul ground down the rightfield line, truly an adventure. Widger tagged a ball into leftfield that Winn had to play on an unexpectedly high hop. Crede reached on a pitch low and away and he called Winn's number as well, but Winn was able to make a sliding catch to end the inning. Franklin threw 14 pitches and was at 61 through five.
Ichiro and nothing else. Valdez led off with the whiff before Ichiro rolled a slow one through the right side for a single. Winn bounced one to Konerko that probably should have been a double play to end the inning. Konerko bobbled it a bit and couldn't get the play at second, and pulled a 360 and threw in time to Buehrle at first to get Winn. Beltre then grounded out to second. Whoopdee-damn-doo! Buehrle threw 12 pitches and was at 75 through six.
Franklin got the three outs in different ways in this 1-2-3 inning. Perez popped one to Valdez on the outfield grass, Iguchi watched strike three on the outside corner, and Everett nubbed one to Boone. Easy enough. Franklin threw 10 pitches in the cinch of an inning.
The only thing not futile for the Mariners today was the futility itself. Boone rolled a slow one to short which Uribe bobbled, but Boone was still nailed. Ibanez grounded his second pitch to first, and Spiezio hit a weak flyout to short. Yippee. At least the game was fast. Buehrle threw nine pitches and was at 84 through seven.
Franklin threw almost the same pitch to Konerko, and with the same result. The only difference this time was that it was Konerko's third pitch, it landed a little more to the left, and it only landed about five rows deep this time.
»» WHITE SOX 2, MARINERS 0
Dye then flew out, and groundouts and jolly good fun times were had from Rowand and Uribe to end the inning. Franklin threw 10 pitches and was at 81 through seven.
Come on, there's no way the 7-8-9 hitters were going to do anything today if the 2 through 6 hitters weren't going to do anything. Bloomquist flew out to right-center on his first pitch, then Wilson and Valdez used their all-day passes to the Festival of Whiff. Buehrle threw nine pitches and was at 93 through eight.
Franklin threw his final 1-2-3 inning for naught. Widger flew out to Beltre on the first pitch. Crede took Bloomquist to the warning track in left-center. Perez flew out to Winn. Franklin threw 10 pitches in the inning.
Well, Franklin didn't have run support today. Come on, though. This lineup was brutal. Franklin's line, however, was not: 8 innings, 2 runs, 4 hits, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts, 91 pitches (61 strikes). He did his part today, and though this will undoubtedly feed the Franklin-gets-no-run-support people, just look at the names in the boxscore for the Mariner lineup and think about the remote possibility of runs actually coming from this lineup.
Ichiro got way ahead and hit a pitch to Konerko's left, but it got past him and rolled slowly down the line and toward the corner. Ichiro had the double for sure, and pretty much had third base when a fan touched the ball, but it really didn't have much impact on the outcome of the play (triple). Winn then watched one strike and whiffed on the next two pitches, which was clutch. Beltre hit his 2-1 pitch toward first, though Konerko had to make a diving stop before throwing to Buehrle at the bag. The Mariners put one across and spoiled the shutout, but now there were no runners on and two out.
»» WHITE SOX 2, MARINERS 1
With the lineup the way it was today, the only way the Mariners could hope for anything was if Bret Boone came up hacking and ended up tying the game. He watched the first pitch for a strike, and fouled off the next pitch. It was 0-2, and Buehrle is left-handed, so I imagine the patented Boone whiff pitch (slider low and away, off the plate) was out of the question. Instead, Buehrle went high over the inside part of the plate. Whiff. Ballgame.
Well, Mark Buehrle sure tossed a nice one today. His line: 9 innings, 1 run, 3 hits, 1 walk, 12 strikeouts, 106 pitches (73 strikes).
Gameball: Ryan Franklin.
I had the choice between Ichiro getting three hits, or Franklin making two bad pitches and losing the game. People are going to cry and say that he didn't get run support, but when the Mariners were basically punting a third of their lineup today (Spiezio, Wilson, Bloomquist), the Mariners were pretty much beaten before they even took the field.
Goat: Raul Ibanez.
He was 0-for-3, struck out twice, and left Bret Boone on base with two out in the 4th. Worse yet, his sparkling .175 average will keep him on the Pump. But hey, the Exxon Ibanez Plus fuel would be a lot cheaper than what any of us are paying for real fuel these days.
At one hour and 39 minutes, today's game was the shortest in the history of the Seattle Mariners. After missing out on the perfect game yesterday, I'm glad I could be a part of watching this, though I got a late start because I thought it was a late-afternoon start for today's game. Alas, it was not.
Ichiro was the only other possible choice for the gameball, going 3-for-4 and scoring the only run. Hey, at least the Mariners only stranded five runners. Should I tabulate what the non-Ichiro Mariners did at the plate today? Here are the grisly numbers: 0-for-25, 1 walk (Beltre), 1 RBI (Beltre), 12 strikeouts. Willie Bloomquist somehow avoided the strikeout virus along with Ichiro. Every other Mariner struck out, and Beltre and Boone were the only ones that struck out just once; everyone else did so twice. There's nothing like eight Ks from your 5 through 9 hitters. I'm sure that's exactly how Mike Hargrove drew it up. In a way, it is exactly how he drew it up, though not with the fate I'm sure he would have liked.
Well, what can you say about Ryan Franklin? He got the eight-inning complete game and didn't get the run support. Granted, he won't always be this good, and the Mariners won't always be this bad, but we've got to take the good Franklin outings when we can get them. He threw 8 2/3 innings last time out, and he threw eight more today, with both outings not really getting too high in terms of pitch count. If he keeps getting a lot of low-pitch games, he'll be the 200-inning starter he's been. The Mariners need as many innings as possible out of the starting staff this year, especially since Garcia and Madritsch are gone. Let's face it, the Mariners are still looking for the 200-inning starter they lost when they traded Garcia. Unless they trade for an innings-eater at the deadline (the Mariners would have severely exceeded my expectations to warrant such a thing) or wait for Felix or something, they'll have to patch it up with what they've got.
Can you guess what the other great thing is resulting from Ryan Franklin throwing a complete game? The bullpen's well-rested if/when Gil Meche throws 95 pitches in 3 2/3 innings tomorrow. They're keeping themselves covered, and you gotta admire that.
The Mariners are once again under .500. I don't think it's anything to get worked up over. I'd get more worked up about the thought of the Mariners getting swept in Chicago.
This post was chugged through with assistance of background music provided by the first disc of Van Halen's Best of Both Worlds compilation. As per usual, I skipped "Love Walks In" because it's easily my least favorite song in the entire Van Halen catalog.
Meche. Garcia. Tomorrow.
You want me to sum up today's ballgame for you? Trust me, it will take less than 25 words. I'll name that tune in 3 notes, Jim Lange:
THIS. LINEUP. SUCKS.
I'll actually side with Ryan Franklin's crusade for more run support today. I would love to know what Mike Hargrove was thinking by putting that craptastic lineup out there today in New Comiskey Park. No, it's not U.S. Cellular Park to me.
I just wasted an hour and 39 minutes of my life today. Not good.
Mariners at White Sox, 11:05 Pacific (FSN Northwest, WGN, MLB.TV)
SEA: Ryan Franklin (1-0)
CWS: Mark Buehrle (1-1)
THIS. LINEUP. SUCKS.
Here's hoping that my MLB.TV feed won't have WGN. I already have the game on WGN on my cable system, so it would really be a terrible deal if I have Hawk Harrelson on my computer as well. HE GONE! Hopefully.
Jon F**king Garland?
(posted ~11:28a -- Don't fall asleep when you're trying to type stuff up.)
The Sonics are finally 2004-2005 Northwest Division champions. Yeah, I just had to go with Lo for the photo.
Thank goodness for this softball in the schedule, because I don't know how I would have dealt with it if they would have lost their final 10 straight and coughed up the division. That would have been unbearable, especially when the team sneaking up from behind would have been the Nuggets, and especially when that team is coached by George Karl. I still can't believe Karl is coaching the Nuggets; it just seems wrong on so many levels.
Still, even though the Hornets were the opposition, the Sonics still had to defend, hit their shots, and make their plays. Actually, the fact that the Sonics didn't break the century mark in the score but still had the huge lead is attributable in part to the defense. In this game, the Sonics looked more like the team that got to 50 wins beforehand rather than the team that had lost six straight. The Sonics killed New Orleans on the boards, they got great bench production, and they were finally able to get Ray Allen off to a good shooting night even though Rashard Lewis had a terrible night on offense. That's what his mere presence on the floor does for this team.
The Hornets scored the first basket of the game on their first possession. Jerome James dunked two trips later down the floor to tie it, and the Hornets never led again. Ray Allen scored 7 points in the quarter. The Sonics never led by more than six in the quarter, and it ended up with the Sonics leading by only two, 25-23.
Then the Sonics reeled off an 11-0 run to start the second quarter and stretch their lead to 13, with Ron Murray hitting a couple of baskets in the run. The Hornets missed six straight shots over the span. The Sonics led by double digits for the rest of the half, and it ended with the Sonics up 53-39.
The Sonics shot 19-for-44 (43%) in the first half from the floor. They shot 12-for-16 (75%) from the line and 3-for-9 (33%) from beyond the arc. They were beating the Hornets 25-14 on the boards.
Ray Allen led the Sonics with 14 points. Daniels had 7, Lewis and Ridnour both had 6, Fortson had 5, Collison, Murray, and James had 4, and Wilkins had 3. Collison had 6 boards and Evans had 5.
The Hornets went about five and a half minutes without hitting a shot in the third quarter. The Sonics went on a 9-0 run in the same span, getting the lead to 19. Ray Allen scored 12 points in the quarter and scored the Sonics' final 10 points of the quarter. The Sonics led 73-56 after three quarters.
About halfway through the fourth quarter, the Soncis scored on four straight trips down the floor, which included a couple of three-pointers by Antonio Daniels and Ron Murray. That was an 11-0 run that got the Sonics a lead of 28, which still wasn't enough for me as a fan of the Seattle sports scene. Nick Collison hit a free throw with 1:37 left, which gave the Sonics a 30-point lead, their largest of the night. The Hornets got a basket on the other end, but the lead got back to 30 again when Mateen Cleaves got an assist to get on the scoresheet when he fed Damien Wilkins.
It's a win. It's a division title. If the Sonics can just get one more win, they'll have home court for sure in the first round. I'm kind of on the fence about that, since the Sonics usually play better basketball on the road than at home, but we'll deal with that later.
PEEK AT THE BOXSCORE
Ray Allen 32 pts/7 ast (12-19 FG, 4-9 3pt, 4-4 free throws, 39 min), Luke Ridnour 10 pts/4 reb/5 ast (3-9 FG, 1-2 3pt, 3-3 free throws, 25 min), Rashard Lewis 6 pts/4 reb/2 ast/2 stl (1-12 FG, 1-6 3pt, 3-4 free throws, 34 min), Reggie Evans 4 pts/7 reb (2-4 FG, 20 min)
Antonio Daniels 13 pts/2 reb/4 ast (3-5 FG, 6-6 free throws, 23 min), Ron Murray 10 pts/6 reb (4-9 FG, 2-3 3pt, 25 min), Nick Collison 8 pts/10 reb/2 blk (3-5 FG, 2-4 free throws, 26 min), Danny Fortson 5 pts/4 reb (2-3 FG, 15 min), Damien Wilkins 5 pts (2-5 FG, 13 min), Mateen Cleaves 0 pts/1 ast (0-1 FG, 3 min)
Jerome James Watch
4 pts/6 reb/2 blk (2-6 FG, 2 fouls, 1 turnover, 17 min)
shot 34-for-78 (43.6%) from the floor, shot 9-for-23 (39.1%) from downtown, shot 20-for-25 (80%) from the line, outrebounded the Hornets 44-31, turned ball over 11 times (scored 22 points off the Hornets' 16 turnovers), beat New Orleans 34-24 in the paint (and 24-4 on the break), bench outscored Hornet bench 41-31 (outrebounded them 23-11)
Like I said, the fact that the Sonics didn't really shoot the lights out but still won by 25 points is thanks to their defense. That and the fact that the Hornets suck, since they shot 37.1%.
Antonio Daniels got to the line, which is much-needed and par for the course when it comes to him. Ray Allen also went to the line a few times, which I always like to see. Rashard Lewis had a terrible night, but the Hornets had to guard him because he was the other All-Star, and the Sonics never had the defense drawing away from that other All-Star when he was out with the bone bruise in his foot. Thus, Ray Allen sat back and hit 12 of 19 shots, instead of going 5-for-22 or something.
Also in decent shooting news, Ron Murray had a decent night off the bench as well, and grabbed more rebounds than I'd usually imagine. He also hit a couple threes. For the bench as a whole, both Murray and Daniels scored in double figures, and Collison rebounded in double figures.
Of course, you can only take the good details so much when the Sonics had busted out to a big lead in the second quarter and it was basically over from that point. That aside, the Sonics still had to run their sets and make their shots, and they finally looked like the Sonics that we've all been accustomed to this season.
I would have asked Jinkies if he wanted some celebratory chocolate milk in his bowl as opposed to just regular milk.
In 25 words or less: Joel Pineiro was far from sharp, but the Mariners went from trying to fend off a perfect game to almost winning it.
Joel Pineiro made his first start of the year and was up against Jon Garland. Richie Sexson was a late scratch due to the flu, and it would have been nice to have him in this one. The flu bug the Mariners have had lately is the type of thing I usually see sweeping through hockey teams, not baseball teams.
Garland made quick work of the top of the order. Ichiro fanned, Jeremy Reed hit a grounder up the middle that Juan Uribe was able to make a play on, and Adrian Beltre nubbed a fly to shallow centerfield that was caught by the second baseman. Garland threw only 10 pitches.
Pineiro looked fairly decent in his first inning of regular-season Major League action in a long while. Though he gave up a leadoff single to Timo Perez, he set down Tadahito Iguchi with a nasty curve on 1-2. Carl Everett harmlessly popped one out in front of the first row of stands by the third-base dugout, and Olivo was there for the catch. Pineiro got ahead 0-2 on Paul Konerko and got a tapper back to the mound for the easy out. Pineiro threw 12 pitches.
Garland made quick work of the middle of the order. Raul Ibanez sliced a 1-2 pitch into the glove of Perez in leftfield. Bret Boone grounded out to short. Randy Winn had a 3-1 count, but later grounded out to second. Garland threw 13 pitches in the inning.
Unfortunately, the first inning (and maybe the fifth) was as good as it would get for Joel Pineiro on this night. He got ahead 0-2 on Jermaine Dye and walked him to lead off, then handed a four-pitch walk to Aaron Rowand. Pineiro snapped out of it long enough to get way ahead on AJ Pierzynski and drop one low and in to catch him looking. Then the "bad" switch flipped on again, and Joel walked Joe Creded on four pitches. The bases were loaded with walks for Juan Uribe. On the first pitch, he lifted a deep enough fly ball to left-center. Randy Winn caught the ball, so really that's all I have to tell you. To those not grabbing hold of my sarcasm, Winn has no arm. Of course, the ball was probably deep enough anyway even if Reed would have caught it and gone straight home. Anyway, Jermaine Dye scored on the sacrifice fly.
»» WHITE SOX 1, MARINERS 0
Perez then bounced out to Boone in his first pitch, though the putout wasn't of the easy variety. Boone had to go to his knees on his glove side, and then turn to throw. As an added degree of difficulty, the mammoth Sexson wasn't the one receiving the throw tonight (it was Scott Spiezio instead). Pineiro threw 21 pitches in the inning.
Garland made quick work of the bottom of the order. Scott Spiezio got behind 0-2 and ended up flying out to the gap in leftcenter. Miguel Olivo grounded out to short. Wilson Valdez got down 0-2 in his count and eventually struck out. Garland threw 12 pitches in the inning.
This inning was a bit less traumatic for Pineiro than the one before. He fell behind 2-0 on Iguchi before inducing a comebacker to the mound. Everett flew out to Winn. Bad Pineiro made an appearance again, walking Konerko on four pitches on the third four-pitch walk issued by Pineiro in the game. Luckily, Dye bounced his second pitch to Beltre, who threw to Boone to force out Konerko and end the inning. Pineiro threw 16 pitches in the inning.
Garland made quick work of the top of the order. Ichiro flew out in foul ground down the line in left. Reed flew out to right on his second pitch. Beltre took a couple of horrible swings in his at-bat on balls that were riding up and in. On one pitch, it appeared that the ball had badly missed Pierzynski's target, but Beltre was badly thrown off anyway and tried to fight it off. It looked awkward. He should be okay, though. I'm not really worried. Garland needed only nine pitches to get through the inning.
Pineiro didn't walk a billion people in this inning, but damage was done. Rowand bounced his first pitch to Valdez, so it didn't start out too bad. Pineiro got Pierzysnki to chase a pitch for strike three on the same down-and-in location that caught him looking in his previous at-bat. Joel had two out, and it looked fine and dandy. Crede hit one up the middle for a single. Everything should have been fine; it should have been just a two-out scratch hit by the 8th hitter in the lineup, and the #9 hitter was about to come to the plate. Juan Uribe stepped to the plate and just unloaded on a belt-high 1-1 pitch, sending the rocket into the stands in leftcenter. It got out of there in a hurry. That ball was blistered.
»» WHITE SOX 3, MARINERS 0
Then Perez grounded out harmlessly to Boone to end the inning. Still, the way Garland was throwing, one wondered whether the three runs was enough for the White Sox to take this game going away. Pineiro threw 16 pitches in the inning and had thrown 65 through four.
Garland made quick work of the middle of the order. Ibanez got a nice 2-0 count, but his ball to the warning track in left-center was caught. Boone hit a seemingly well-placed grounder to short, but he was nailed by a nice throw. Winn got a 2-0 count as well, but he ended up lining out to left. Garland threw 11 pitches and was at 55 through five.
This inning wasn't that bad for Pineiro. He got Iguchi to hack and miss on a breaking ball down and in. He got 0-2 on Everett, and got him to checkswing twice (I thought one of those two had to have been a swing), but Everett managed to single into right. Pineiro got out of it by getting Konerko to ground a 1-2 pitch to Beltre, who started the 5-4-3 around-the-horn double play. That kind of around the horn is better than the one that starts with Tony Reali at 2pm every day on the "worldwide leader." Pineiro threw 15 pitches and was at 79 through five.
Garland made quick work of the bottom of the order. Spiezio bounced out to second. Olivo broke his bat and nearly beat out a grounder to short, but was nailed by about a quarter-step, or slide (he did the latter). Valdez also bounced out to short. Garland needed only 10 pitches in the inning, and was at 75 through six perfect innings.
Pineiro would meet his demise. Dye busted out the 9-iron and laid up somewhere behind the fence in left-center. He later made the putt for par.
WHITE SOX 4, MARINERS 0
Rowand tagged the first pitch he saw to right for what was at least a double and definitely was a triple after the relay was somewhat botched. Pierzynski again couldn't solve Pineiro, but this time hit a ball right to Beltre, who held Rowand at third and got the out at first. Pineiro saved the strikeout he would have gotten on Pierzynski for Crede instead, who was caught looking on a 1-2 thigh-high inside pitch. Who would deliver the knockout punch for Pineiro? Juan freakin' Uribe again. Uribe jumped all over his second pitch, but didn't get the lift this time, instead sending a laser beam with less trajectory into left for a single, easily scoring Rowand.
»» WHITE SOX 5, MARINERS 0
Matt Thornton came in for Pineiro, signaling to most fans that this game was over. The Mariners' garbage-time reliever got Perez to hack and come up empty on an off-speed pitch to end the inning.
Pineiro's line: 5 2/3 innings, 5 runs, 7 hits, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts, 98 pitches (60 strikes).
Garland would not make quick work of the top of the order. Ichiro bounced out to Konerko at first. It appeared that maybe history might be on Garland's side as he faced Reed. Reed had gotten ahead 2-0 and 3-1, but he fouled off a pitch well out of the zone that would have been ball four. Nonetheless, Garland threw one even more outside of the zone to put Reed on first and end the threat for the perfect game. Beltre then came up and drilled a 1-2 pitch up the middle to end the no-hit bid and make things even more interesting. Ibanez got himself a 3-1 count and was able to coax a walk to load the bases for Boone. This was getting very VERY interesting. Boone then smacked his first pitch the opposite way to score Reed and Beltre and ruin the shutout bid. Very quickly, the Mariners had brushed aside the perfect game, the no-hitter, and the shutout. Beautiful.
»» WHITE SOX 5, MARINERS 2
The Mariners still had two on and one out for Winn. He hit the ball hard, but right to Crede, who started the 5-4-3 double play. FIDDLESTICKS! Garland threw 22 pitches in the inning.
Garland's almost-perfect start was over. His line: 7 innings, 2 runs, 2 hits, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts, 87 pitches (55 strikes).
Something had gotten into Matt Thornton. He caught Iguchi looking, then got Everett to whiff on a slider in the dirt. Konerko popped one out to Valdez in front of the bag at second. Thornton threw 15 pitches.
Thornton was done for the night. His surprisingly good line: 1 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts, 21 pitches (14 strikes).
Luis Vizcaino came in for Garland. Spiezio popped out lazily to short. Olivo whiffed. Valdez whiffed on a slider low and away. Vizcaino threw 11 pitches in the quick inning.
Jeff Nelson came in for Thornton. He got a quick lineout to Boone from Dye. He fell behind 2-0 and Rowand shot one up the middle for a single. Pierzynski singled on his first pitch as well. Rowand took advantage of Nelson's high leg kick and stole third on the first pitch to Crede. Rowand's hand got to the bag in time, and his contortionist slide away from Beltre's tag helped as well. On the next pitch, Crede bounced one to Beltre's left, and he forced Pierzynski out at second, but Rowand scored.
»» WHITE SOX 6, MARINERS 2
Crede went to second on Nelson's first pitch to Uribe, a wild pitch. Uribe woudl get ahead 2-0 but didn't jump on Nelson like he did to Pineiro. Instead, he whiffed on a frisbee pitch. Nelson threw 11 pitches.
Nelson was done for the night. His line: 1 inning, 1 run, 2 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 16 pitches (10 strikes).
Would the Mariners mount a final rally? Ichiro rolled one up the middle into center for a leadoff single. Reed got down 0-2 in his count but managed to bloop one into center for a single. Beltre had two on and nobody out but fell behind 0-2 right away. He had a decent at-bat, but finally whiffed on a soft breaking ball low and away.
Former Mariner farmhand Damaso Marte came in for Vizcaino as Ozzie Guillen started playing the chess match. With an 0-1 pitch, Marte nailed Ibanez just above the right elbow, on the ol' triceps muscle. That'll smart for a while. It also loaded the bases with one out for Boone.
Guillen continued with the chess match, bringing in Shingo Takatsu to face Boone. Last summer, I was listening to the Mariners playing in Chicago when I was at geology camp in the middle of nowhere in central Oregon. It was Boone against Takatsu in the bottom of the 9th and two out. In that game, Boone got ahead 3-0, but eventually struck out (it was 2004, after all). In this game, Takatsu got ahead 1-2 on Boone, before the latter got into the doggy-dump stance and served one into leftfield to plate two runs (Ichiro and Reed) and make the game much more interesting that it seemed it would ever get just a few innings before.
»» WHITE SOX 6, MARINERS 4
With that, the book was closed on Luis Vizcaino. His line: 1 1/3 innings, 2 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts, 25 pitches (18 strikes).
Winn got a 3-1 count and eventually walked, loading the bases again with one out.
That's when Guillen went with the chess match again, all a part of making the ninth inning last about four hours. Dustin Hermanson, he of the goatee that transcends time and space, was brought on with the bases loaded and one out and a two-run lead. Of course, the hitters we would end up facing were Scott Spiezio and Greg Dobbs (pinch-hitting for Olivo). Spiezio got down 0-2, though he had me on edge for a few seconds fighting back to 2-2 before watching Hermanson paint the outside corner, or the dirt just past the outside corner. Dobbs got down 0-2 as well, fouling off multiple pitches. He bounced a 1-2 pitch to short for a fielder's choice, ending the game.
Marte's very uneventful and short line: 0 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 2 pitches (1 strike, 1 beanball)
Takatsu's line: 0 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 12 pitches (6 strikes)
Hermanson's line: 2/3 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 10 pitches (7 strikes)
Gameball: Matt Thornton.
What happened to the guy who seemed destined to be 2005's Kevin Jarvis? I seem to remember an instance last year where Kevin Jarvis was brought into the game for some garbage-time relief, and he held it close until the Mariners came back within reach. Then Jarvis got knocked around. Amazingly, this didn't happen to Thornton in this game, and to top it off, he didn't walk anyone. Between Thornton, who was conceivably on the roster only because he was a lefty with a fastball who was out of options, and Valdez, who's on the roster because Pokey Reese in injured and Jose Lopez absolutely cannot be brought up, the Mariners are getting some positive contributions out of two spots where I thought the positives would be severely minimal. It's early, though, and the positives could level off in a hurry.
Goat: Scott Spiezio.
He was 0-for-4, stranded three, and made everyone wish Richie Sexson wasn't out of the game with a brutal case of the flu. I know I didn't feel good when I realized Sexson was out of the lineup, especially since the whole lineup got shuffled around. I really don't feel comfortable with Ibanez batting anywhere higher than fifth, and to have him at cleanup just made the lineup seem that much more fallible, though it did get Guillen to shuffle his bullpen a bunch in the 9th, which was good for the Mariners but bad for fans at home who just wanted to watch baseball instead of pitching changes and commercials.
Hey, it's a .500 team again. This might happen a few more times this season, but remember -- it's still way better than last year. Luckily my expectations for this year aren't very high, so I'm not hanging from a thread watching every game, but I'm enjoying this season a lot so far. With such a bad year last year, any sort of competitive baseball on a regular basis is a welcome departure. I've said it more than once here at Sports and B's, but I'm going to sit back this year and enjoy the better baseball, but then I'm going to REALLY look forward to the 2006 Mariners. I know this season just started, but I'm looking forward to 2006, and not just because Felix should be up with hopefully another free-agent arm. I'm also looking forward to the 2005 Seahawks as well, but that gushing of enthusiasm will come with another more applicable post.
Joel Pineiro was looking like a pitcher making his first Major League start after coming off the disabled list. He sure did after the first inning anyway. His fifth wasn't bad as well, but handing out four-pitch walks to three guys is never good. Hargrove didn't let him get the pitch count crazy into the hundreds or anything, so at least I was happy to see that. Joel was kinda all over the place, though. Still, I can't help but wonder if the Mariners win this game if Joel just figures out how to pitch to Juan Uribe.
Bret Boone drove in all four of the Mariners' runs in the game. He didn't start out too hot in the first couple games, but he's up to .316 now, and I've been feeling a little better with him up at the plate lately. I hope he just figures out how to lay off the slider low and away, or take it the other way, or foul it off. I dread any pitcher that faces Bret Boone with a decent slider.
You know, if I was in front of the TV for a perfect game, I guess I would have witnessed some history, though it'd have been at the expense of the Mariners. Still, you don't get to see a perfect game every day. Not that I was relieved when it was over, because I was. I was also surprised at how quickly the game turned and the White Sox ended up having to hold off the Mariners for the victory.
Good gracious, the bench is weak.
Well, it was different watching televised baseball in the northwest again. I forgot what it was like, though it also means that Ron Fairly was welcomed back into our homes after a four-day layoff. I'm sure he was happy to be at the ballpark because that meant he would be watching baseball.
This game post was chugged through with help from the following albums...
-- The Thirteenth Step, A Perfect Circle
-- Lullabies to Paralyze, Queens of the Stone Age
Franklin. Buehrle. Today.
Friday, April 15, 2005
Ichiro talking on his imaginary cell phone after Jon Garland struck him out:
"Dude, Jon f**king Garland struck me out. That goes against my custom."
If only we can hear Ichiro speak English more often.
For 6 1/3 innings, Jon Garland had his way with the Seattle Mariners.
Jon F**king Garland?
Oh, and get well soon, Richie. This offense needs you. I sure picked the perfect night to get the MLB.com All Access package, eh?
(NOTE: Mariners-White Sox Game 1 thread is below this post)
Today is the 58th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's Major League debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was hitless in three at-bats on April 15, 1947, getting the start at first base. But Robinson would be victorious on his first day in the big leagues, as Brooklyn defeated the Boston Braves 5-3.
His impact on the game of baseball cannot be denied.
Thank you, Jackie.
Mariners at White Sox, 5:05 Pacific (KSTW)
Jeremy Reed makes his first appearance in Chicago as a Mariner. I'm looking for a big series out of the guy this weekend, because he doesn't deserve to be on the Pump. I've put Scott Spiezio on the Pump since he's played in enough games. Free Sandfrog EPs for the truckers!
Joel Pineiro makes his first start of the 2005 season tonight for the Mariners, while Jon Garland (1-0) is on the hill for the White Sox. Don't be surprised to hear Rick Rizzs wax poetic about the 1959 White Sox this weekend, since he's originally from Illinois. Tomorrow, I get to hear Hawk Harrelson and Darrin Jackson on WGN. Just wonderful. I'll have "HE GONE!" in my head all week long.
The box is open. Use it.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Baseball is back in Washington, D.C. for the first time since 1971.
The Washington Nationals defeated Bob Melvin's Arizona Diamondbacks 5-3 in front of 45,596 at RFK Stadium. Vinny Castilla was 3-for-3 with a home run and 4 RBIs for the Nationals.
I like the Nationals' jerseys. But I think they need to switch from the old Senators hats to the hats they wore in spring training. The "DC" hats are very sharp. Why they didn't decide to wear the DC hats during the regular season, I have no idea. It just makes too much sense. If there was an all-blue DC hat on the market, I'd buy one.
I'm just glad that RFK Stadium is hosting a meaningful sporting event again.
Sorry, soccer fans.
In 25 words or less: The big inning arrived again. Jamie Moyer got through seven innings, though sometimes in an awkward fashion.
This one featured Jamie Moyer and Denny Bautista and a cool clear day in Kansas City.
Bautista got ahead of all three hitters he faced, and got them all to ground out. No hits for Ichiro, Jeremy Reed, or Adrian Beltre in the first. Bautista threw 15 pitches.
Moyer started off by throwing three straight balls to David DeJesus, who later lined a single to centerfield. DeJesus was bunted over to second by Tony Graffanino. Mike Sweeney bashed his first pitch into the gap in right-center for a double, scoring DeJesus.
»» ROYALS 1, MARINERS 0
Emil Brown hit his first pitch hard to Wilson Valdez at short, who completed the putout. Eli Marrero flew out on his second pitch. Moyer threw 10 pitches in the inning despite the trouble.
The Mariners started off by showing a bit of patience. Richie Sexson got behind 1-2 but came out with a walk. Bret Boone walked on four straight pitches. Raul Ibanez tapped one back to the mound and Bautista got Boone at second. Randy Winn was down 0-2 in his count before he hit a deep-enough fly ball to left, enabling Sexson to cross the plate. Eli Marrero caught the ball and tried to nail Sexson at the plate, but his throw was too high and Ibanez was able to sneak to third.
»» ROYALS 1, MARINERS 1
Two pitches later, Dan Wilson bounced one up the middle that went under Graffanino's glove, and Ibanez scored.
»» MARINERS 2, ROYALS 1
Then Valdez tapped one back to the mound to end the inning. Bautista threw a 22-pitch inning.
Calvin Pickering hit a very high fly ball to Ichiro. Angel Berroa singled into centerfield on his first pitch. Moyer threw four times over to first during John Buck's at-bat to try to keep Berroa honest. Buck only saw three pitches and ended up flying out to Boone. Moyer threw once more to first during Joe McEwing's at-bat, but ended up yielding a single to the ex-Met. DeJesus singled hard over Valdez to score Berroa and tie the game.
»» ROYALS 2, MARINERS 2
Graffanino bounced a ball to Beltre at third, who stepped on the bag to force out McEwing and end the inning. Moyer threw 12 pitches in the inning and threw five pickoff throws to first.
This inning gets into the "mild letdown" category. Ichiro poked a 3-1 pitch into left for a leadoff single. Ichiro stole second on the 2-1 pitch to Reed, who flew out to center on the next pitch. Then Beltre bounced out to short and Sexson was caught looking. Bautista threw 18 pitches in the inning.
Sweeney hit a ball to Beltre at third, who then threw low to first and was charged with an error. Beltre was replaced by Scott Spiezio in the lineup and then in the field, leaving the game with tightness in his lower back, possibly contributing to the error. Moyer then fell behind 3-0 on Brown and gave up a single on the 3-1 pitch. Marrero lined out to Beltre and Moyer got ahead 0-2 on Pickering and eventually got the whiff. Moyer looked like he might get out of it until he fell behind 3-0 once again, this time to Berroa, who walked. Luckily, John Buck had been hitless so far this season, and he continued the futility, flying out to Ichiro. Moyer threw 26 pitches in the inning.
Then Bautista lost control. Boone got the yummy 2-0 and 3-1 counts, but bounced out to short. Ibanez walked on four pitches. Winn got a 3-1 count and singled with a full count. Wilson was beaned in the back on his 1-1 pitch. Valdez was up with the bases loaded and one out. He doubled down the rightfield line to score Ibanez and Winn. I don't know what's gotten into the bat of Wilson Valdez, but if he hits like this on a semi-consistent basis, he'll stick somewhere in the Majors even after Pokey Reese gets back onto this team.
»» MARINERS 4, ROYALS 2
Terminator Exx brought the end to Denny Bautista's outing, and Mike Wood came in. Apparently Tony Pena didn't even trust Bautista to throw four wide ones to Ichiro, who was put aboard. The bases were loaded once again with one out, this time for Jeremy Reed, who hit his second pitch over DeJesus' head in the gap to clear the bases and MAKE IT CRAZY.
»» MARINERS 7, ROYALS 2
Now that Wood had scored all of Bautista's runs, the book was closed on the latter. Bautista's line: 3 1/3 innings, 6 runs, 4 hits, 3 walks, 1 strikeout, 78 pitches (41 strikes).
Spiezio came in to pinch hit for Beltre, who had officially come out of the game with his back tightness. Spiezio whiffed. Then Sexson doubled down the leftfield line, scoring Reed and making this inning even crazier.
»» MARINERS 8, ROYALS 2
Sexson scampered to third on a Buck passed ball, and Boone ended up walking in the at-bat. Ibanez got a 2-0 count, but ended up whiffing. Oh, what an inning! Six freakin' runs! Wood threw 25 pitches to get his two outs.
Moyer got ahead 0-2 on McEwing and threw three straight balls before giving up a single to the right side. Moyer got 0-2 on DeJesus also, but got a lineout to Winn. Graffanino flew out to Ichiro, then Sweeney bounced a ball to Valdez, who stepped on the bag to force out McEwing and end the inning. Moyer threw 18 pitches, kinda high for a mostly harmless inning, and had 66 through four.
The bottom third of the order did nothing. Winn flew out, Wilson popped one to Berroa in shallow left. Valdez at least worked the count a bit before grounding out to third. Wood threw 11 pitches.
Moyer threw first-pitch strikes to everyone in a 1-2-3 inning. Brown was down 0-2 and flew out to Reed in rightcenter. Marrero gave Reed some more work, flying out to him on the second pitch. Pickering then whiffed. Moyer threw 10 pitches and had 76 through five.
It wasn't the fourth, but the Mariners scraped something together with two out. Ichiro tapped one back to the mound and Reed flew out to Brown in right. Who would start the two-out rally? Scott Spiezio did it with a walk after he swung the bat once in an at-bat where he watched a 3-0 count work itself full before fouling off a pitch. Spiezio scored when Sexson blasted off into the grass beyond the centerfield fence.
»» MARINERS 10, ROYALS 2
Boone was down 0-2 in his count before working it full and singing into center. Ibanez got a 2-0 count and later singled. Winn grounded out to second to speed the game along. Wood threw 31 pitches in this inning, as the Mariners worked the count multiple times.
That was it for Wood, who didn't come out for the 7th. His line: 2 2/3 innings, 4 runs, 5 hits, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts, 68 pitches (36 strikes).
Moyer had a very laborious 1-2-3 inning. Moyer threw three straight balls to Berroa, who took the green light on 3-0 and popped out to Boone. Buck finally snapped his season-long hitless streak, singling past a diving Boone into rightfield. McEwing was down 0-2 but grinded out a nine-pitch at-bat, though it resulted in a 6-4-3 double play. Moyer threw 15 pitches in the inning and was at 91 through six.
Eastlake grad 6'10" lefty Andy Sisco came in for Wood. Dan Wilson had a 2-0 count but ended up whiffing. Valdez whiffed as well. Ichiro managed an opposite-field single. Reed got a 2-0 count, but later bounced out to first. Sisco threw 16 pitches in a harmless 7th.
Moyer allowed only a two-out single in his final inning of work. DeJesus fanned, Graffanino bounced out to Sexson, Sweeney hit the single, and Brown whiffed. Moyer yielded no true hitters' counts in his last inning. He threw 16 pitches.
Moyer was done for the day. His line: 7 innings, 2 runs, 9 hits, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts, 107 pitches (71 strikes).
Oddly, Spiezio walked again. Sexson grounded out to third to move Spiezio to second. Spiezio wouldn't score, since Boone and Ibanez both whiffed. Sisco threw 17 pitches in the inning.
Julio Mateo came in for Moyer. This inning also featured the all-scrub infield, with a fearsome foursome of Spiezio/Valdez/Bloomquist/Dobbs. Yowza. Marrero rolled a grounder to Valdez, who nearly made a nice play to gun him down at first. Pickering foul-tipped a ball into Wilson's glove for strike three. Berroa popped an easy one to Spiezio (as easy as it can be on another windy day), and Buck flew out to Reed. Mateo threw 16 pitches.
The bottom of the lineup did nothing, but the game was just about over anyway. Winn flew out on his second pitch, and Wilson flew out on the first pitch. Way to move the game along, guys! Then Valdez spoiled it all by grinding out an 8-pitch at-bat before flying out to right. Sisco threw 11 pitches.
Sisco was done for the day, as one might suspect with the huge Mariner lead. His line: 3 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts, 44 pitches (28 strikes).
No single Royal saw more than three pitches in this inning. They probably wanted to get this one over with as well. McEwing flew out to Reed. DeJesus hit one under Spiezio's glove and into left for a single. Mateo beaned Graffanino before getting Sweeney to fly a high one to Reed. Brown bounced one to second to finally end the game. Mateo threw 12 pitches in the inning.
Mateo's final line of pretty nice garbage-time relief (where was Thornton?): 2 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 29 pitches (20 strikes).
He's starting another hitting streak, going 2-for-4 today and being intentionally walked once, both good things for the batting average, now up to .417. Ichiro also scored once and stole a base. Sexson and Moyer are the too-obvious gameball choices, though in a closer game I might have gone with Mateo with the two scoreless innings in relief.
Goat: Raul Ibanez.
Well, I could have goated Beltre two days in a row because of the error and his hitless day today, but he might have managed a hit with two more at-bats (we never know). Since every other Mariner that batted got a hit, I'll just go with the guy that struck out the most and stranded the most runners. Ibanez was 1-for-4 with a walk and scored twice (decent enough), but also struck out twice and stranded five.
No late scoring this time, though the big inning showed up again. I'm liking the fact that every once in a while, the Mariners can get a baserunner or two aboard and the hits just keep coming. It almost makes me forget about those games where they do barely anything else for the rest of the game. The hits are infectious sometimes, I guess.
Jamie Moyer had a line with only one walk, which is amazing considering how many times he was falling behind to hitters. There were a ton of hitters' counts with Moyer on the mound today, and this might partially manifest itself in the fact that the Royals outhit the Mariners 11-10 in this game, and Moyer gave up nine hits. Of course, it helps that he struck out four guys and was able to come away unscathed in the inning where Beltre made the error. Speaking of which, I hope Beltre is okay. Back to Moyer, though, I was a tiny bit surprised that Hargrove left him in there for the entire seventh inning, but I was unsurprised at the same time. I'd be more worried if Moyer threw faster. I know Moyer's not Wakefield-slow to the point where I wouldn't worry if he threw 140 pitches, but I'm not as afraid of Moyer throwing this many pitches as I would for Joel Pineiro tomorrow night.
For hitting stars today, obviously there's Richie Sexson, who cleared the wall in center, and I'm still hoping to see that on ESPN here. Ichiro was the only other guy with a multi-hit game. There were two other big hits though. Wilson Valdez had the first big hit in the fourth with the double down the line, and Jeremy Reed blew the game wide open two hitters later (Ichiro was put on first) with the bases-clearing double. Valdez has a batting average higher than Beltre, Sexson, and Ibanez, and I'm not quite sure what to think about this.
But hey, it's a win. The Mariners have a winning record for the first time since...Opening Day. It hasn't been that long. Before that, though, it was a very very long time.
Do you know what tomorrow is? Besides Friday. It's the return of televised Mariner baseball to the Seattle area!! I vaguely remember what that's like. I think it requires use of the eyes.
Pineiro. Garland. Tomorrow.
Mariners at Royals, 11:10 a.m. Pacific (no TV in Seattle)
SEA: Jamie Moyer (1-0)
KC: Denny Bautista (1-0)
You know the drill.
Okay, the team still has their magic number stuck on one to clinch the division. Against Houston they played a lot better than in the four games before that. For this game, they got Antonio Daniels, Rashard Lewis, and Danny Fortson back, and their additions seemed mostly seamless apart from Rashard's first-quarter shooting (Ray Allen's shooting in the beginning was off as well). Another different thing about the game was that the Sonics were down multiple times by sizable leads (say around eight or more) and managed to tie or take the lead, which definitely wasn't happening for most of the last couple weeks. The standard fare lately has been along the lines of the following: hang close early, have the shooting go cold, have the other team pull ahead by double digits, never really get back into the game, get within 8 or 9 at the closest, and try to not have anyone else get hurt.
The Sonics opened up in a nice fashion with a 7-2 run off of a couple of Ray Allen baskets and a three from Luke Ridnour. Then the Sonics had another one of those spells, missing nine of ten shots and turning the ball over three times, resulting in a 14-2 Dallas run (nine points by Dirk Nowitzki). The only Sonic basket in the stretch came when Nick Collison put back a Ray Allen miss from beyond the arc. The Sonics made two baskets the rest of the quarter, though Danny Fortson did nail three free throws. The Sonics were down 25-17 at the end of the first quarter.
It got worse, though. Keith Van Horn nailed a three with nine minutes left in the first half to get Dallas out to a 12-point lead at 35-23. The Sonics reeled off an 11-2 run, keyed by seven points from Rashard Lewis, who scored nine points in the second quarter. The Sonics had gotten to within three at 37-34 with just over five minutes left before halftime. The teams started trading baskets a bit before Ray Allen was able to get the Sonics the first lead since early in the first quarter with a three to make it 45-44 Sonics before he fouled Nowitzki on the other end. The Sonics trailed only 46-45 at half, though during the quarter it seemed it would be a lot worse.
How would the Sonics come out of the locker room? They had a nice run going into halftime, taking the lead and everything. To open the second half, Dallas scored the first 10 points. They had a 12-0 run carrying over from the first half and led 56-45 with 9:22 to go in the quarter. That run was broken by a basket from Jerome James, the first two of his ten points that he scored in the third quarter (actially, the ten points were all the points he scored in the game). An FSNNW scoop from Cara Capuano said that in a team huddle earlier in the game, Nate McMillan got on Jerome James a bit for calling for the ball on the block and then "chickening out." It seemed to spark Jerome a bit, because he turned it up, with and without the ball in the third quarter of play. Dallas had a decent lead of eight with 4:31 left in the quarter (65-57) before the Sonics warmed up a bit. This included a loose-ball situation after a missed Reggie Evans free throw where the ball was tipped about a billion times (James was in on the play and actually tried to put it back) and the ball eventually went back to Evans, who went back up and was fouled again. Eventually, Damien Wilkins tied the game at 70-70 (13-5 run) with a three-pointer on the Sonics second-to-last possession of the quarter. Dallas led 72-70 after three.
The Sonics didn't fall behind by double digits or anything in the fourth quarter, but it seemed they could never pull ahead and away. Damien Wilkins chimed in with another game-tying three early in the quarter. Rashard Lewis hit a running banker with 8:11 left to give the Sonics their first lead since right before halftime. It would be their final lead of the game. From there, Dallas was able to answer every clutch shot from Seattle. They tied it at 87 with 1:30 left on a Daniels basket, probably the one where he got up real slowly afterward. Of course, one big gaffe was when Ray Allen went to the line with the Sonics down 89-87 inside the final minute and bricked the first free throw. Ray Allen's usually dead-on from the line, but this is how it's been going lately. He didn't have too nice of a shooting night either, even with Rashard returning to the floor.
I guess if there's one fact that sums it up, it's this: outside of the first three minutes or so of the first quarter, the Sonics never had the lead with the ball.
PEEK AT THE BOXSCORE
Ray Allen 19 pts/6 reb/3 ast (7-20 FG, 2-6 3pt, 3-4 free throws, 39 min), Rashard Lewis 12 pts/4 reb/2 ast (5-13 FG, 1-7 3pt, 1-2 free throws, 36 min), Reggie Evans 6 pts/13 reb/2 ast (1-3 FG, 4-6 free throws, 23 min), Luke Ridnour 5 pts/5 reb/4 ast (2-9 FG, 1-5 3pt, 31 min)
Antonio Daniels 17 pts/4 ast (5-13 FG, 1-4 3pt, 6-6 free throws, 26 min), Damien Wilkins 10 pts (4-6 FG, 2-2 3pt, 20 min), Danny Fortson 5 pts/7 reb (1-2 FG, 3-4 free throws, 20 min), Nick Collison 4 pts/2 reb (2-4 FG, 17 min), Vitaly Potapenko 2 pts (1-1 FG, 3 min), Ron Murray 0 pts/2 ast (0-1 FG, 9 min)
Jerome James Watch
10 pts/6 reb/1 blk (5-9 FG, 2 turnovers, 20 min)
shot 33-for-81 (40.7%) from the floor, shot 7-for-25 (28%) from downtown, shot 17-for-22 (77.3%) from the line, outrebounded Dallas 45-30, teams deadlocked 38-38 in the paint, were beat on the break 17-9, beat Dallas 24-9 on second-chance points, turned the ball over 11 times, bench outscored Dallas bench 38-34 (outrebounded them 11-5)
Well, I think McMillan played Lewis a lot more minutes than he was leading me to believe. I didn't think he was going to play more than about 25, but McMillan went ahead and played him for 36, second only to Ray Allen's 39. I'm glad Ray Allen wasn't up into the 40s, however. That's nice to see for the first time in a while.
As for Daniels, it didn't look like he'd lost a step at all. The Sonics have been missing his spark for what seems like an eternity now, and it was nice to see it come off the bench and start driving to the basket again. It was also nice to see him spell Luke Ridnour a bit, who's been playing some massive minutes as of late. That was good in this game because Ridnour was shooting horribly again.
In frontcourt news, it was a good night for Evans and a solid night from Jerome James after the light bulb went off in his head apparently. For bench frontcourters, Danny Fortson played limited minutes, but 5 and 7 in those minutes are definitely Fortson-like numbers. Nick Collison had an off night, though. I think the double-figure games from Collison come with a little less certainty than they were when Fortson was out tending to his mother's health and then having run-ins with McMillan.
Well, the Sonics have four more tries to finally wrap up this Northwest Division, and the next game is the softball; it's a home game against New Orleans on Friday. They'd better square it out of the way then, because closing with three on the road at Minnesota, Dallas, and Houston is not going to be easy in the least.
I would have asked Jinkies if he'd ever dressed as the Cadbury bunny in those Cadbury Creme Egg commercials so he could get free Cadbury Creme Eggs.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
In 25 words or less: It was yet another late-inning victory. Aaron Sele held the fort, and Eddie Guardado made me chew my nails.
This game had Aaron Sele going up against Zack Greinke on a windy afternoon in Kansas City.
The leadoff man got aboard and busted out the Barcalounger. Ichiro fought back in the count and bounced a ball to third. Tony Graffanino sidearmed his throw and pulled Mike Sweeney off the bag at first, and Ichiro was safe. Mike Hargrove had Jeremy Reed bunt, which I won't try to think about at risk of it making me mad. It's not like Reed didn't have a four-game hitting streak coming into the game or anything. Adrian Beltre fouled off a hanging curve and later flew out to right. Then Richie Sexson whiffed on 0-2 to end the inning. Greinke threw 11 pitches.
Sele had a pretty painless first inning. He froze David DeJesus for strike three, got Ruben Gotay to hit a ball back to him, and mowed down Sweeney on a curve. Sele threw 13 pitches in the inning.
The only baserunner got on with two outs. Bret Boone was down 1-2 in his count before working it full and bouncing out to third. Raul Ibanez popped a ball to short on his first pitch. Randy Winn accounted for the base hit in the inning, knocking one to right. Then Miguel Olivo was just a bit late beating a grounder to short, as Sweeney had to stretch at first to take the throw. Greinke threw 20 pitches in the inning.
The inning looked like it might get a little interesting, but 'twas not to be. Matt Stairs grounded out to lead off. Calvin Pickering was down 1-2 in his count before Sele walked him. Angel Berroa hit a 1-1 pitch to Ichiro in right, who caught it. Then Ichiro threw to first to double off Pickering, who was a bit too far off the bag. That's a 9-3 double play to end the bottom of the 2nd. Sele threw 11 pitches.
It always starts okay when Wilson Valdez gets on base. He got the count his way and singled into left; at this point it was his 6th hit in his last 9 at-bats. Ichiro hit a popup to Gotay, who intentionally let it drop to try to get the double play, but the umpires weren't having it, and Ichiro was called out for the flyout. Reed had a 2-0 count but flew out to center. Beltre fell behind 0-2 in the count before getting nailed in the back four pitches later. Richie Sexson was up with a 1-1 count when catcher John Buck caught Valdez napping off of second base for a 2-4 pickoff. Greinke threw 21 pitches.
Sele didn't start off too well, going 3-0 on Terrence Long, who singled past a diving Bret Boone. Graffanino hit his first pitch behind the mound, which Valdez played, spinning and throwing to second to force out Long. Buck popped one to Boone, then David DeJesus flew out to Winn to end the inning. Sele got by using 10 pitches.
Not much doing for the middle of the order. Sexson popped out to second on his first pitch, though Boone did rip one to center for a single after working the count full. Then Ibanez bounced into a double play on his second pitch. Greinke threw only 9 pitches.
Sele fell behind a couple hitters, but left unscathed. He got behind 2-0 on Gotay before getting a lineout. Sweeney singled to center on his first pitch. Sele got ahead but fell behind Stairs before getting him to whiff on a curve. He fell behind 2-0 on Pickering, but induced a flyout to Reed. Despite minimal trouble, Sele threw 13 pitches.
I wasn't a big fan of this inning. Winn started it off on the right foot by doubling down the leftfield line on a 1-2 pitch. Hargrove made Olivo bunt (grrrrr) and he hit it back to the mound too hard. Still, Winn had time to read whether the ball was hit back to the mound too hard, but never hit the brakes and still tried to nab third. Not a chance. Hargrove put a hit-and-run on with Valdez up, which moved Olivo to second and prevented the inning-ending double play. Despite the runner at second, Ichiro grounded out to end the inning. No hitting shoes today for Ichiro. Greinke threw 15 pitches and was at 76 through five.
Berroa flew out to Boone, then Long bounced one to Sexson, who tossed to a covering Sele. Sele fell behind 3-0 to Graffanino, eventually walking him. He fell behind 2-0 to Buck, but thankfully got a flyout to Reed. Could Sele be faltering? He still only threw 12 pitches in the inning and had 59 through five.
The Mariner bats did absolutely nothing. Reed flew out to left. Beltre lined out on his second pitch. The crowd ooh'd and aah'd when Sexson hacked and missed Greinke's slow curve on 1-0. Greinke threw another one on 2-2 with the same outcome. Greinke threw 10 pitches in the inning and had 86 through six.
In what was a mild surprise to me, Greinke didn't come out for the 7th. I would have had him come out for the 7th, and maybe get the first out, and at least get an ovation. Anyway, Greinke was done. His line: 6 innings, 0 runs, 4 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 86 pitches (54 strikes). Solid outing by the youngster.
Maybe Sele wasn't faltering after all. He started off all three hitters in this inning with first-pitch strikes. He got an 0-2 groundout from DeJesus. Gotay worked his count full, but flew out to a sliding Randy Winn. Sweeney hit a 1-2 pitch to Valdez, who had to make a long throw to nail him. Sele threw 14 pitches in the inning and was at 73 through six.
Jamie Cerda came in for Greinke. He got ahead 0-2 on Boone, who later singled to rightfield. Ibanez then singled past the shortstop. Winn bunted along the third-base line, moving the runners.
Cerda was pulled and Mike MacDougal was put in to face Olivo. Olivo took a strike and also took the next pitch, which was in the dirt and got past the catcher Buck, allowing Boone to score and Ibanez to move to third.
»» MARINERS 1, ROYALS 0
Olivo singled to left on the next pitch to score Ibanez. How about the clutch hitting from Olivo in this series?
»» MARINERS 2, ROYALS 0
With that, the book was closed on Jamie Cerda. His line: 1/3 inning, 2 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 10 pitches (7 strikes).
Valdez hit a 1-2 pitch to short, and Olivo was forced out on the fielder's choice. Ichiro was up, but he never had a pitch thrown to him as Valdez was nailed at second AGAIN, the same 2-4 putout as last time, except this one was on a steal attempt, and the bat was taken out of Ichiro's hands this time instead of Sexson's. MacDougal threw eight pitches in the inning.
The ball that scored the first run wasn't the only time John Buck was having trouble with MacDougal's sinking stuff in the inning, as he was having multiple balls go off his glove.
Sele fell behind immediately 2-0 on Stairs, who hit a ball deep to centerfield which Reed dove for and missed. Take that into account if you look into the boxscore and see Matt Stairs credited with a triple, because that's the only way it's going to happen. I was listening to the radio, but I bet on TV that play took forever to unfold. On the next pitch, Pickering hit a deep-enough fly to center to Winn (it was windy in this one) to score Stairs.
»» MARINERS 2, ROYALS 1
With that, Hargrove pulled Sele. He had a solid start today, especially for this early in the season, though it was against a Kansas City lineup that proved to hack early in the count for the second game in a row, though not quite to a degree as on Monday. Sele's line: 6 1/3 innings, 1 run, 3 hits, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts, 79 pitches (46 strikes). It wasn't a question of strength, I'm guessing, but Sele was falling behind some hitters, so I'm not really questioning the move to lift him this early.
Hasegawa came in for Sele. He threw three pitches and got out of it. Berroa popped to Valdez on the first pitch, and Long flew out to Ichiro.
This inning was a mild letdown. Ichiro hit one hard to short, but he was thrown out. Reed managed to walk. Niehaus gave the "BELTED!" call when Beltre swung at a 1-0 pitch and hit it to centerfield, but the wind killed it for a flyout. Sexson then walked on four pitches.
That was enough for Tony Pena to yank Mike MacDougal and put in the Reignman, Shawn Camp. Boone worked the count full, but flew out to short.
MacDougal's line: 1 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 2 walks, 0 strikeouts, 24 pitches (11 strikes)
Shawn Camp didn't come out for the 9th. His line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 6 pitches (3 strikes)
It was a 1-2-3 inning spread across two pitchers. Graffanino flew out to Reed on his second pitch, and Buck flew out to Boone in shallow rightfield on his second pitch.
Hargrove then called on Ron Villone to face David DeJesus. Hasegawa's line: 1 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 6 pitches (4 strikes). Four outs on six pitches for Hasegawa.
Villone got ahead 0-2 on DeJesus and eventually got him to ground out to Boone. The Mariners had the lead going into the 9th, so Villone wasn't going to come back out. His line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 6 pitches (4 strikes).
The inning ended (the Villone part) with an odd Dave Niehaus story. He built it up first with some facts about the Harry S. Truman presidential museum(/library?) in Independence, not far from Kauffman Stadium. Then he segued that into how on his off day yesterday, he'd asked some people where he could get a good bowl of chili. He was recommended to some place in Independence, but didn't feel like traveling that far for a bowl of chili.
Jeremy Affeldt replaced the Reignman. He warmed up with the training staff around him, but he stayed in the game. Based on results, he looked okay with this 1-2-3 inning. Ibanez bounced out to second, then Winn and Olivo both flew out to Matt Stairs in right.
Affeldt's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 11 pitches (7 strikes)
Eddie Guardado came on to close the game out and provided all Mariner fans listening on the radio network or watching on MLB.tv with a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat, borderline infuriating inning that somehow yielded the desired result. How? He started out 2-0 to four of the five hitters he faced. Gotay put his 2-1 pitch into rightfield for a single. On his first pitch, Sweeney bounced a ball to third that could have been a double play, but Beltre threw the ball a bit high to Boone, who couldn't finish off the DP. Eli Marrero came on to pinch hit for Stairs, and Joe McEwing came on to run for Sweeney at first. As mentioned, Guardado fell behind 2-0, but then fought back to get the whiff. McEwing stole second on the whiff pitch, though Olivo argued that Marrero stood in front of the plate while Olivo uncorked his throw, which was much wider than usual. Emil Brown came on to pinch hit for Pickering, and Guardado fell behind 2-0, then 3-1 before walking Brown. This was not good. Guardado then fell behind 3-0 (even worse) no Berroa before thankfully getting him to whiff on some high Swiss. Whew. Sigh of relief. Ballgame.
Guardado's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 24 pitches (12 strikes)
Gameball: Bret Boone.
He went 2-for-4 and didn't make any defensive gaffes. It's not his fault the four hitters in front of him in the lineup didn't get a hit (that includes Ichiro, whose hitting streak is kaput). He was erased on a double play in the fourth. He led off the 7th with a single and scored the first run of the game by scampering home on the wild pitch by Mike MacDougal.
Goat: Adrian Beltre.
It's a tough choice between Ichiro and Beltre, but I'm going with Beltre here. Beltre got on base once, but that's because he got beaned. He was 0-for-3 and stranded two runners. Most notably for me is that he threw the ball high to Boone at second in the 9th inning, and I think a double play in that situation makes the 9th inning that much easier. On another day, with that play and Olivo not getting the interference call, the Mariners might lose this game.
If this team gets to the playoffs (not likely), I want him off the roster at all costs, but after two starts I'm pretty impressed with Aaron Sele. I didn't think he was going to get into the 7th today, but he did, and I'm guessing he had juice left in the tank to finish off the 7th, though not necessarily the command or control. I could have done without the two walks, but amazingly none of them came around to score.
My second choice for a gameball today might have been Shigetoshi Hasegawa, who got four outs on six pitches. Hasegawa hasn't reeked anywhere nearly as fierce as last season, and so far he and the team have been better for it. That 1.42 ERA looks good even if it is early.
Eddie Guardado, though. Yikes. If we get two or three outings like that in a row, I might make him Every Other Day Guardado and send out JJ Putz once in a while. Yikes. I like watching Guardado pitch, but seriously, yikes.
The first four hitters in the Mariner lineup were 0-for-12 today with two walks, two strikeouts, one beanball, and the ability to strand 9 of the Mariners' 14 stranded runners today. You can't have everyone hitting everyday, I guess. The 5 through 9 hitters, however, went 7-for-18 and had all the Mariners' hits.
In baserunning news, Randy Winn ran to third on a hard bunt even though he had time to pull back and even though he apparently had no chance to make it. Wilson Valdez was picked off at second by John Buck and caught stealing second by Buck as well. How aggressive can this team be on the basepaths if this stuff keeps happening? Did I mention that Winn is 0-for-3 on steal attempts so far?
The Mariners have won two straight! The Mariners are at .500! They've won this series! They could sweep tomorrow! They could have a winning record after tomorrow!
Congratulations to Mike Hargrove on his 1000th win as a Major League manager.
Moyer. Bautista. Tomorrow.
Here's the 2005 Seattle Seahawks schedule, which was released today.
Sunday, Sept. 11 at Jacksonville 10:00 am FOX
Sunday, Sept. 18 Atlanta 1:05 pm FOX
Sunday, Sept. 25 Arizona 1:05 pm FOX
Sunday, Oct. 2 at Washington 10:00 am FOX
Sunday, Oct. 9 at St. Louis 10:00 am FOX
Sunday, Oct. 16 Houston 5:30 pm ESPN (national TV)
Sunday, Oct. 23 Dallas 1:05 pm FOX
Sunday, Oct. 30 BYE
Sunday, Nov. 6 at Arizona 1:05 pm FOX
Sunday, Nov. 13 St. Louis 1:15 pm FOX
Sunday, Nov. 20 at San Francisco 1:05 pm FOX
Sunday, Nov. 27 N.Y. Giants 1:15 pm FOX
Monday, Dec. 5 at Philadelphia 6:00 pm ABC (national TV)
Sunday, Dec. 11 San Francisco 1:05 pm FOX
Sunday, Dec. 18 at Tennessee 10:00 am FOX
Saturday, Dec. 24 Indianapolis 1:15 pm CBS
Sunday, Jan. 1 at Green Bay 1:15 pm FOX
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
---No Week 4 bye? You're kidding me, right?
---I called it on March 21 when I said that the Seahawks would open the 2005 season in Jacksonville. Of course, I had originally pegged Philadelphia as the Seahawks' first opponent, but that possibility was eliminated (Eagles at Falcons Monday, Sept. 12). So I guess I sort of "called it".
---Home opener against Ron Mexico's Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 18. Oh, I meant Michael Vick's Atlanta Falcons. Right. That week will be a short one for the Falcons, because they play the Eagles on Monday Night Football Sept. 12.
---The Seahawks are playing back-to-back road games just once in 2005 (Oct. 2 at Washington and Oct. 9 at St. Louis).
---OCTOBER 9, IT IS SO ON.
---There's two nationally televised games on the schedule for the Seahawks, Oct. 16 at home vs Houston (ESPN) and Dec. 5 at Philadelphia on ABC for Monday Night Football. I wonder if the Sunday Night game with the Texans was a late change because of Jamie Sharper coming to Seattle? Maybe not, but I'm just sayin'.
---Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts are coming to Seattle on Christmas Eve. Should I start believing in Santa Claus again?
---New Year's Day in Green Bay? Somehow I don't think all will be quiet.
This schedule screams out 10-6 at me. In the NFC West, 10-6 will get you a division title. 11-5 is possible as well. Hell, 11-5 could get the Seahawks a first-round bye.
If you check out the Seahawks.com story, be sure to watch the interview with Mike Holmgren. It's not that he says anything earth-shattering, it's the background in the video. Notice anything different between the Bob Whitsitt era and the new Tim Ruskell era?
The schedule is now official. Start planning. 2005 will be better than 2004.
Mariners at Royals, 11:10 a.m. Pacific (no TV in Seattle)
Aaron Sele makes his second start for the Mariners while Zack Greinke is on the mound for the Royals. I still don't understand the questionable off-day yesterday.
In non-baseball news, NFL.com plans on releasing the 2005 NFL schedule around 11 a.m. Pacific. So for all the Seahawks fans out there, I'm just giving y'all a heads up. After all, Sports and Bremertonians is one of the few Seahawks blogs in the blogosphere.
The Pump is in effect for this Wednesday afternoon. I would love to take Jeremy Reed off of the Pump soon. He's too worthy to be on the Pump as far as I'm concerned.
As always, leave your comments in the box. That's what it's there for. FYI, if you feel the need to post a questionable link in the box, please post a "NSFW" tag. Thanks in advance.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
The Seattle Seahawks have signed linebacker Jamie Sharper to a 5-year deal worth $17.5 million, according to ESPN.com. He will also receive a $1.5 million signing bonus from the Seahawks as well.
Folks, the Seahawks just got a football player. A damn good football player. Jamie Sharper is one of the best linebackers in the NFL. You don't believe me?
---Has not missed a game in his 8-year career (1997-2001 Baltimore, 2002-2004 Houston)
---Recorded over 100 tackles in each of the last 4 seasons
(2001 - 108, 2002 - 137, 2003 - 166, 2004 - 139)
---Has won a Super Bowl (2000 with Baltimore)
What does this mean for Chad Brown? There has been talk of the Seahawks releasing Brown if he does not restructure his current deal. Brown is 35 years old while Sharper is 30. I'd love to see both Brown and Sharper in Seattle, but if Brown doesn't restructure his deal, he's likely to be gone. I can't shed too many tears about that. At this stage, Sharper is the better player.
Thank you, Tim Ruskell. The man knows defense, folks. In Tim I trust. You should trust Tim too if you're a Seahawks fan.
WELCOME TO SEATTLE, JAMIE!!!
In his first comments to the media about the trial and about the 2004 arrest, Little told the Post-Dispatch: "The people that support me, and the people that know me, knew I wasn't intoxicated driving."
Even so, Little conceded that having anything to drink and getting behind the wheel of his 2003 Mercedes, "was stupid on my part. That was a dumb mistake I made that night, driving home, even though I wasn't intoxicated."
It's a lesson many think Little should have learned in October 1998, when the Lincoln Navigator he was driving in downtown St. Louis collided with a car driven by Susan Gutweiler of Oakville. Gutweiler, 47, was killed. Little admitted he was drinking, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, and was sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service, 90 nights in jail, and four years probation.
After the latest incident, Little said he will bring a designated driver with him if he ever goes out for a beer again.
"I guarantee you that," Little said. "But I doubt if I ever touch any alcohol at all again. It's not worth it. It's not worth my family. It's not worth my career. ... I've had plenty of time to think about it. And it's not worth it. So it's best for me not to do it at all, than to do it and get myself in another jam."
Little says he rarely drinks alcohol.
"Probably once a month," he said. "A lot of guys go out and they ask me to go out. I always stay home. I don't put myself in that environment too often. I'm always at home, usually watching TV. That's my best hobby - watching TV."
The family of Susan Gutweiler would have appreciated you watching TV that night in 1998, Leonard.
Here's hoping that the bastard gets his knee blown out this season. There's no justice in the world when Leonard Little still gets to play football for a living. No justice at all.
I hate the St. Louis Rams, but most of all, I hate Leonard Little.
A murderer who should be locked up, not playing football.
Yesterday afternoon in Boston, the Red Sox received their 2004 world championship rings. Sure, the whole deal was played to death, but hey, when you haven't won in 86 years, you might as well make it the biggest deal ever. Speaking of big deals, Derek Lowe and Dave Roberts were at Fenway Park to accept their rings. Not only that, but both players were wearing Red Sox jerseys. In case you haven't kept up, Lowe is now in Los Angeles and Roberts is in San Diego.
ESPN's "Baseball Tonight" brought up the issue last night of whether it was right for Lowe and Roberts to wear their former team's jersey. Personally, as a diehard baseball fan, I didn't see a problem with it at all. Lowe and Roberts were two key cogs of the Red Sox' 2004 postseason run. If it weren't for Lowe's three series-clinching victories (ALDS Anaheim, ALCS New York Yankees, World Series St. Louis), the Red Sox Nation might have said "wait til' next year" one more time. Hell, if it weren't for Roberts' stolen base in Game 4 of the ALCS (no, it was NOT the greatest stolen base of all-time), the Red Sox probably would have been swept by the Yankees.
I've made light of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry and how I don't really care too much about it. But I'm not that ignorant to know that yesterday's ring ceremony meant something to the Red Sox organization. One, they received world championship rings. Two, they received their rings when the Yankees were in town. The latter fact may be of more importance to the Red Sox Nation.
One day, I hope to see an overblown ring ceremony in Safeco Field. And to be honest with you, I wouldn't care if a player from that future championship team signed with another team the next season but came to the ceremony wearing a Mariner jersey anyway. If you ask me, I'd much rather see Lowe and Roberts "offend" tradition than hear about steroids anyday of the week. Of course, that's asking too much.
Then again, I'm always asking for too much, aren't I?
THIS OFF-DAY POST BROUGHT TO YOU BY SPIRO'S PIZZA, WHICH IS NOT LOCATED IN RYAN FRANKLIN'S HOMETOWN OF SPIRO, OKLAHOMA.
Yeah, it's yet another loss. Yeah, the magic number is still stuck at one, and they've been stuck there for a week. There are some positives, though. For this game itself, the Sonics suited up only nine players yet again, but were able to hang with a Western playoff team for much of the game, a team that has Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming. Off the floor, Rashard Lewis and Antonio Daniels may be close to coming back, and oh, how the Sonics have missed both of them dearly.
Twenty-seven points were scored in the first quarter. That's by both teams combined. Luke Ridnour sank a three-ball with 5:48 left in the quarter to stake the Sonics out to a 13-6 lead. The Sonics didn't score for the rest of the quarter. Of course, with 5:48 remaining in the quarter, the run-on-the-mill team would be able to rattle off 12 points on the Sonics or something. However, the Rockets used the remaining time to reel off a mere 8-0 run to end the quarter at 14-13. The Sonics missed their final eight shots of the quarter and surrendered three offensive rebounds in the stretch of futility.
The second quarter featured a more usual level of offensive prowess by both teams. Both sides were within a basket of each other for most of the first part of the quarter, though the Rockets were ahead or the score was usually tied. The Sonics used an 8-1 run fueled by Allen and Murray to jump out to a 29-25 lead with 5:33 left in the half, and the Sonics led for much of the latter part of the second quarter. Houston tied it at 29-29, then Vitaly Potapenko sank a couple of free throws before Ridnour canned a three with just over three minutes left in the half to get the Sonics a five-point lead (34-29). Then the Sonics missed six shots and the Rockets reeled off an 8-0 run. Ron Murray sank a three before the half ended, though, to tie the score ata a pathetic 37-37.
Then the third quarter came, or Tracy McGrady went nuts. He scored 17 in the quarter, with his last three shots being three-pointers. He shot 6-for-8 from the field, and hit a couple of free throws. Sadly, the percentage of Houston's points in the quarter that he accounted for was only half. The rest of the Rockets were going off too, and the team hung a 34 on the Sonics for the third quarter. There were also the first signs of the game slipping out of reach for the Sonics, when they had been within reach for much of the first half. The Rockets opened the quarter on a 10-3 run to get a seven-point lead. The Sonics scored baskets on three straight possessions (Allen three, Vitaly layup, and Vitaly three-point play), but were answered twice on the other end by threes (Bobby Sura, David Wesley). From there, the Sonics tried to cut the deficit, but Tracy McGrady was answering on the other end most of the time with a three-ball. The Rockets led by 11 for some stretches of the latter half of the third quarter, which ended with the Rockets up 71-63.
The good news about the start of the fourth quarter was that the Sonics held the Rockets scoreless for about the first five minutes. The bad news was that they could only get seven points over that span, though it cut the score to 71-70 and the Sonics were down by one with 7:24 to go. The Sonics turned the ball over twice during their run and missed four shots, including Nick Collison getting pushed twice off of the slopes of Mount Mutombo (dammit). The Rockets missed seven straight shots and turned the ball over twice in their dry spell. Houston then capped off a 7-2 run with a Jon Barry three (his second stab at a three on that possession) with 5:01 left to pretty much seal the game as Houston led 78-72. Then it just got worse as the Rockets opened up a double-digit lead, and it was all over but the shouting.
PEEK AT THE BOXSCORE
Ray Allen 18 pts/5 reb/3 ast (7-22 FG, 1-9 3pt, 3-3 free throws, 41 min), Luke Ridnour 12 pts/2 reb/2 ast (4-9 FG, 2-4 3pt, 2-2 free throws, 43 min), Reggie Evans 7 pts/7 reb (3-6 FG, 24 min), Damien Wilkins 3 pts/3 reb/4 ast (1-9 FG, 0-4 3pt, 1-2 free throws, 41 min)
Ron Murray 15 pts/6 reb/4 ast (4-10 FG, 2-3 3pt, 5-6 free throws, 28 min), Vitaly Potapenko 13 pts/7 reb/2 blk (5-12 FG, 3-3 free throws, 33 min), Nick Collison 8 pts/8 reb (3-7 FG, 2-3 free throws, 17 min)
Jerome James Watch
2 pts/2 reb/1 stl/1 blk (1-7 FG, 1 turnover, 5 fouls, 13 min)
shot 28-for-82 (34.1%) from the field, shot 5-for-20 (25%) from downtown, shot 17-for-20 (85%) from the line, were outrebounded 45-40, turned the ball over six times, had seven shots blocked, beat Houston 38-22 in the paint (8-4 on the break)
The Sonics are undermanned, and there's only so much they can do. Rashard Lewis was huge in the Sonics' win in Houston, which was one of the most gritty games I've seen in my life. He also held the job of defending Tracy McGrady in that game, which he didn't do a bad job of doing. Tonight, Damien Wilkins had the job of defending McGrady. I won't rag on Wilkins' defense, and for all we know it might not have mattered because McGrady might have hit all these shots anyway. He finished with 38 and 11.
The Sonics only played eight of their nine suit-ups tonight, and I think the ninth was Mateen Cleaves. The trend in the last two games or so has been foul trouble, and that played a big reason for why Jerome James had very limited minutes. His horrible field goal percentage is also due to some hook shots in the post which were well-earned, but all of them probably went in during that home game against Detroit. Back to the foul trouble, though, the Sonics have one less body (Fortson) and six less fouls to throw at a guy like Yao, who hit 4-for-8 from the field and scored 20 points. That's right, 8 points came from the floor, and the other 12 came from the free-throw line. Granted, some of the fouls are dumb, and some of the fouls are a result of letting him get too deep in the post, but the Sonics are undermanned and can't spread the fouls around, and you don't want to foul out, so maybe you let off a bit; it's bad all around. Also, Fortson could bother some people down there, and this team misses that. They also miss the spark that Antonio Daniels gives them off the bench, but hopefully we don't have to think about that for too much longer.
How about that bench? Murray didn't shoot too horribly, so that's good. Collison got less minutes than I'm used to seeing, though he was quite productive with the minutes. The bench of Vitaly/Murray/Collison accounted for more than half of the Sonics' rebounds. I was surprised at their rebounding numbers for the night, pleasantly.
I think the weirdest stat of the night, though, has to be that the Sonics whacked the Rockets in the paint 38-22. The Sonics never beat anyone in the paint, and they really shouldn't be doing it against a Houston team that has Yao in the paint. That is, unless the Houston team is kicking out to McGrady, who is nailing all the shots he sees on the perimeter.
I'm just hoping and praying that the Sonics can just get ONE more freakin' win. It'll be a weight off my mind, because no team of Nuggets, let alone a team of Nuggets coached by George Karl, should be able to take a division title away from my Sonics, especially with it so close.
I would have asked Jinkies if he can breakdance by spinning on his tail, and whether he can achieve terminal centripetal velocity while doing so.
Monday, April 11, 2005
In 25 words or less: Ryan Franklin was really good. He kept the Rangers at bay until the Mariner bats busted out the big inning.
For Jeremy's shorter and more concise take on the game, scroll down a post or click here.
This day game featured Ryan Franklin in the Bobby Madritsch spot (looks like it'll be Ryan's for a while) and Runelvys Hernandez.
Ichiro singled on the second pitch of the game, extending his hitting streak. Jeremy Reed took two pitches for strikes and whiffed at the third. Adrian Beltre bounced his second pitch to the shortstop for a 6-4-3 double play.
Franklin got David DeJesus to bounce a ball back to him on the second pitch. Ruben Gotay was the victim of Jeremy Reed charging and making a diving catch on the third pitch. Mike Sweeney smacked the first pitch for a double, but he was stranded when Matt Stairs flew out to Randy Winn on his second pitch. Add all of that up, and Franklin threw eight pitches in the first. Unlike some ugly trends we've seen at times this year, this one was a good one, and it would hold up in an even more crazy way than when Carlos Silva threw against the Mariners last week.
The middle of the lineup failed to do anything, much less get a ball past the infielders. Richie Sexson was caught looking, Bret Boone flew out to the second baseman, and Raul Ibanez bounced out to first. Ho hum. Hernandez needed 15 pitches to do this.
I'm only nicking Franklin for the two-out single here. Emil Brown bounced out on one pitch, Terrence Long bounced out on his second pitch, Angel Berroa got a base hit on his second pitch, and John Buck created Hurricane Buck, which really would be a cool-sounding name for a hurricane, though hopefully Hurricane Buck wouldn't damage homes and lives, because that'd be bad. The Royals had the very limited damage, and Franklin threw eight pitches.
Why the low grade? If you get a leadoff single (Randy Winn) and you get anything other than an out from Wilson Valdez (1-out walk), you should score in the inning. Olivo flew out between Winn and Valdez, then Winn tried to nab third on the first pitch to Ichiro. (NOTE: the game logs differ, and I'm not sure which one is right). Come on...it's ICHIRO at the damn plate with one out. How often do we associate Ichiro with the sacrifice fly? If Winn wasn't nabbed at third, that's what it would have been. How often do we associate Ichiro with something hit on the ground that finds a hole? I'd have to say pretty often, more often than the former situation. My point? Randy Winn's gonna score from second base anyway if Ichiro makes the kind of contact we're used to seeing him make. I'm not used to hoping that Ichiro can hit a fly ball deep enough to score somebody. Hit a ball with eyes. Anyway, Ichiro bounced into a fielder's choice to end the inning, and if Winn got to third safely on the steal, at least the Royals' infield would have had to hustle to try to beat Ichiro at first (double play) so Winn wouldn't score. If Winn stays at second, then he takes third on the double play. Now I'm just babbling. Hernandez needed 15 pitches in the inning.
(NOTE Tue ~11:42a -- Reader Brock says Winn stole second during the Valdez at-bat, so my reaction is kind of, shall we say, irrelevant. I guess the more shocking thing is that I would have believed it if he indeed stole third with Ichiro at the plate. I'd like to add that I only bail to the game logs when I miss parts of games, and this part was one of them.)
Franklin threw first-pitch balls to the first two hitters (the first ball of the inning was the first ball Franklin threw in the game, on the 17th pitch), but no two-ball counts. He got a flyout from Tony "I Wish I Still Played For Atlanta" Graffanino and David "Don't You Dare Call Me 'Of Jesus'" DeJesus. Like the second, Franklin allowed a two-out single, this time to Ruben Gotay, probably miffed about getting robbed by Reed in the first. Gotay would get back into the doghouse, though. He actually fell for Franklin's pickoff move (surely you've seen it at least 30 times per Franklin start), which means we'll see Spiroman pick off his next runner sometime in late August. Franklin threw eight pitches in the inning.
I hate the phrase "manufacturing runs" almost as much as Jeremy hates the "Ryan Franklin doesn't get run support" myth. Thankfully, the Mariners didn't throw down any bunts in the inning, an occurrence which usually lends itself well to my hated phrase. Reed drew a leadoff walk. Beltre flew out to right. Sexson got a base hit to left to keep things interesting. Then Boone poked a 3-1 pitch to left as well, putting up a crooked number (Reed scored) in a game that was zipping along. Runners were on at first and second.
»» MARINERS 1, ROYALS 0
Ibanez got behind 0-2 in the count and never took a ball, fouling off one pitch before grounding out and moving the runners. That brought Randy Winn to the plate. I like having Winn up in these situations because I like the way he can slap the ball and I'm confident in his ability to make contact. He made contact here, but with the rightfielder's glove on the fly. Hernandez threw 22 pitches in the inning.
Mike Sweeney tried to bunt for a base hit to start the inning, which would have me ticked off if I were a Royal fan. He ended up flying out to Reed. Matt Stairs of New Brunswick (yeah, I used to read the backs of baseball cards) put up a fight against Franklin, a nine-pitch at-bat ending with ball four. But then Franklin got Emil Brown and Long to fly out on the next two pitches. Franklin threw 14 pitches.
Again, I will keep stressing that if Wilson Valdez gets on base, he must be driven in because it's a bonus if he doesn't get out. Olivo whiffed to start the inning before Valdez singled. Unfortunately, Ichiro rolled another ball to the shortstop, wiping off Valdez. Reed bounced out to first on the first pitch. Hernandez threw 14 pitches in the inning.
Even with his insanely low pitch count going into the inning (38), Franklin had not gotten a 1-2-3 inning. This was the one. Berroa flew out on the first pitch, Buck flew out on his fourth, and Graffanino bounced out on an 0-1 pitch. Franklin threw seven pitches.
The middle of the lineup wasn't playing pile-on just yet, though I'm sure Franklin was dying for them to do that. Beltre bounced out to third, Sexson whiffed, and Boone tapped one back to the mound. Though it was a 1-2-3 inning, Sexson and Boone at least worked the count a bit. Hernandez threw 14 pitches in the inning.
Remember how in the 5th I said Franklin hadn't gotten a 1-2-3 inning before that, and then he did? Here's another one. Flyout (Of Jesus), groundout (Gotay), flyout (Sweeney). Franklin threw 10 pitches (9 strikes) and was up to a mere 55 pitches after six innings.
Positive marks for Olivo doubling with two out, though it was with two out. Still, something from Olivo is better than nothing at all. Ibanez (fly to second), Winn (groundout), and Valdez (fly to center) accounted for the futility in the inning. The last three hitters of the inning were set down on five pitches. Hernandez threw 11 pitches in the inning, and was up to 98 after seven, a pretty good start for this early in the season.
Remember how in the 6th, I said, "[r]emember how in the 5th I said Franklin hadn't gotten a 1-2-3 inning before that, and then he did? Here's another one"? Well, here's another one. Stairs grounded out on his first pitch. Franklin fell behind 3-1 to Brown (only reason it's an A-minus) before getting a groundout, and Long lined out to Winn. Franklin needed eight pitches to get through, and was up to...63 through seven, which is insane.
Then the bats awoke from their slumber, and were out to disprove the notion that Runelvys lives. Ichiro led off with a flyout, but happenings thereafter would be mostly happy. Jeremy Reed doubled to right and almost had a triple out of it. Hernandez got a visit from his pitching coach after his first-pitch ball to Beltre. Then Beltre mashed his second pitch off the US flag to the left of the "We Stand United" sign just below the fountains beyond the leftfield wall. One thing I know this year is that with Sexson and Beltre, the Mariners are going to be a freakin' fun road team with these big bats.
»» MARINERS 3, ROYALS 0
Then Richie Sexson had hacks at 2-0 and 3-1 pitches, but drew a walk.
Though he'd had a pretty good outing up to the Beltre blast and probably had a good outing nonetheless, Hernandez was pulled, and Nate Field came on in relief. Of course, Tony Pena may have wondered afterward about the usage of the word "relief." Field immediately fell behind 2-0 on Boone before he singled. Field was ahead 1-2 on Ibanez, who fouled off three pitches before hitting a grounder to the right side, advancing the runners. Randy Winn was given the empty base so Field could face the diesel of Miguel Olivo. After a first-pitch ball, Hernandez got yet another mound visit. Amazingly, Olivo's diesel was more like Shaq Diesel as he singled into leftfield. Sexson scored easily (from third you would hope so), and Boone was able to slide nicely into home to avoid the Buck tag off the Long throw.
»» MARINERS 5, ROYALS 0
When Sexson scored, the book was closed on Runelvys Hernandez. His only crime today was the one pitch to Adrian Beltre and the fact that he'd pitched on the same day as an on-fire Ryan Franklin. Hernandez' line: 7 1/3 innings, 4 runs, 8 hits, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts, 109 pitches (64 strikes)
Valdez came to face Field and managed to single to center on a 1-2 pitch, plating Winn and putting runners on the corners. Valdez picked up his first RBI as a Mariner. Way to go, Exxon.
»» MARINERS 6, ROYALS 0
Pena was crushing up whole rolls of Rolaids and mixing them with water to make these weird Rolaids shakes, and it still wasn't spelling relief. Pena brought in Jaime Cerda to hopefully get the final out of the inning. Cerda immediately got ahead 0-2 on Ichiro, who took a ball and then hit a ball that Terrence Long dove for, but he was about five feet short. The ball rolled past him toward the wall, clearing the bases (Olivo and Valdez).
»» MARINERS 8, ROYALS 0
The book was closed on Field. His line: 1/3 inning, 4 runs, 3 hits, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 20 pitches (11 strikes)
The nuttiness finally ended when Reed flew out to Long in left. He was the 10th hitter sent to the plate by the Mariners in the inning.
Cerda didn't come out for the 9th. His line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit (costly for Field), 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 10 pitches (6 strikes)
Remember how in the 7th, I said, "Remember how in the 6th, I said, "[r]emember how in the 5th I said Franklin hadn't gotten a 1-2-3 inning before that, and then he did? Here's another one"? Well, here's another one"? Well, here's yet another one. Franklin sandwiched a groundout from Buck between flyouts from Berroa and Graffanino. Franklin threw seven pitches, and was at only 70 through eight innings.
Jeremy Affeldt came on to pitch the 9th. Beltre bounced out to leadoff; on radio I believe this was the 4-6-3 putout. Sexson and Boone had 3-1 counts, with Sexson flying out, and Boone reached second when Brown muffed a ball in right. Ibanez got a base hit to move Boone to the other corner, but then Winn bounced into a fielder's choice.
Affeldt wouldn't come out to pitch again. His line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 18 pitches (9 strikeouts)
Remember how in the 8th, I said...okay, I won't do that again, because it doesn't apply this time. DeJesus bounced out to start the inning, but then Gotay walked on four pitches to snap Franklin's string where he'd mowed down 15 straight Royals. The pain train started rolling a bit, as Sweeney singled to make things dicey. Stairs flew out to left. Franklin got ahead of Brown 0-2, but two pitches later he singled to score Gotay and break up the shutout.
»» MARINERS 8, ROYALS 1
At this point, Mike Hargrove's hook can probably be attributed to Franklin's effectiveness instead of whether he had enough to get to the end of the game, because he was only one out away. JJ Putz came on to get the final out. He allowed a single to Long first to scuff some more marks on Franklin's line
»» MARINERS 8, ROYALS 2
Then Putz got Berroa to foul out to Sexson in foul ground, who fell down backwards making the catch. Ballgame.
Franklin's line: 8 2/3 innings, 2 runs, 5 hits, 2 walks, 1 strikeout, 83 pitches (64 strikes)
Putz' line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 11 pitches (8 strikes)
Gameball: Miguel Olivo.
One of these days Wilson Valdez might get one of these if he keeps on getting hits here and there and doesn't mess up on defense, but here's one for Olivo. His 2-for-4 day leaves his average a little less horrible. He also only struck out once. He had the nice two-out, two-run single in the crazy inning.
Goat: Randy Winn.
It's hard to pick a goat when none of the guys in the starting lineup hang up an 0-fer. I'm going with Winn. Why? He stranded the most runners (four). Also, he was nailed trying to nab third base with Ichiro up and one out (though first base was occupied), which I'm still not understanding. He's been nailed twice trying to steal third in a very short span (as I said, the game logs differ, but he was still caught stealing somewhere). It doesn't help if the second-fastest useful baserunner on the team is getting nailed at third. I hope this stops before it gets weird.
After Carlos Silva started against the Mariners, I pointed out that the Mariners had tried their hack-early philosophy before that game, once against Silva before (though to a lesser degree) and once against Tim Hudson last season (extreme example). The thing about those two guys is that they're both sinker-ball pitchers, and the game plan going into those games was to swing early in the count hoping they'd get some decent pitches to hit before getting what I'm guessing are chaseable sinkers deeper in the count. The thing is, Ryan Franklin's a fly-ball pitcher (13 flies, 11 grounders today), and the Royals used the sinker-ball game plan that we've seen the Mariners use against Silva and Hudson. Just thought I'd share that.
Yeah, the obvious pick for a gameball was Franklin, but it's a little too obvious, and that's no fun. It's a shame he couldn't have gotten the complete game, it's a shame he couldn't have gotten the shutout, and it's also a shame that we won't see a string of five starts in a row like this because this one was awesome. Let's face it, there's nowhere for Franklin to go but down from here, unless he throws a complete-game shutout, no-hitter, or perfect game after this. But if Ryan Franklin can be somewhat efficient and get into the 7th every time out, this rotation might be a lot less dead than expected after Madritsch hit the shelf.
Also, hooray for the first Beltre blast of the season. I tipped the burrito I ate earlier to the prospects of many more happy blasts like the one Beltre hit today. Good times (ain't we glad we got 'em).
Lastly, what's up with the Mariners and scoring late? What's up with the Mariners and the big inning?
Very lastly, if there's one trend I'm glad I didn't see continue today, it was the loss of a game in which the go-ahead runs were yielded via the homer.
What to do for tomorrow's stupidly scheduled off day? I'll down an entire bottle of KC Masterpiece barbecue sauce in honor of Franklin's masterpiece today. Okay, maybe not.
Sele. Greinke. Wednesday.
[Edit ~9:13p -- The game logs in the top of the 3rd differ as to when Winn was caught stealing and what base he was trying to swipe.]