Saturday, April 23, 2005


Indians at Mariners, 6:05 p.m. Pacific (KSTW and MLB.TV)

Cliff Lee (1-0, 4.76 ERA) vs Aaron Sele (1-1, 6.19 ERA)

Crisp lf .270
Belliard 2b .269
Martinez c .220
Hafner dh .288
Blake rf .250
Broussard 1b .208
Boone 3b .127
Sizemore cf .232
Peralta ss .212

Ichiro rf .353
Winn lf .300
Beltre 3b .242
Sexson 1b .200
Boone 2b .292
Ibanez dh .279
Wilson c .214
Reed cf .255
Bloomquist ss .250

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GAME 1 - Kings at Supersonics, 7:30 p.m. (FSN Northwest, ESPN)

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Here's our 2005 NFL Draft Day One running post, in case you've been out and about all day long. I've been watching the draft all day. I'm in Arkansas, where there isn't a whole heck of a lot to do. Trust me.

It's a busy day in Seattle sports. Box is open.

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2005 NFL DRAFT --- DAY ONE 4/23/05 


NFL.com 2005 NFL Draft Tracker

The News Tribune's Mike Sando 2005 NFL Draft Day Blog (live at Seahawks headquarters)

(FINAL UPDATE AT 8:05 p.m. Pacific)




---Seahawks trade their 1st round choice (#23) to Oakland for 1st round choice (#26) and 4th round choice (#105).


#26 (from Oakland)
C Chris Spencer, Ole Miss (6'3", 310)
---Chris Spencer passed up his senior year at Ole Miss to enter the NFL Draft. It looks like it has paid off for him, since the Seahawks selected him in the 1st round.

I had pegged LSU's Ben Wilkerson as the center the Seahawks would pick in this draft. I missed that one. If you were to ask anybody who knows anything about the Seahawks, I don't think many people would have said that the 'Hawks would select Chris Spencer in the first round. But this is where we are at.

What about Spencer's ability on the field? He's 6'3, 310 pounds. Earned honorable mention All-SEC honors in 2004. In 2003, Ole Miss ranked first overall in the SEC in scoring (34.0 ppg), passing (286.0 ypg), and total offense (433.2 ypg). Spencer also played guard in Oxford, but is expected to be the replacement for Robbie Tobeck.

I'll give Tim Ruskell the benefit of the doubt. Sure, Dan Cody is still on the board. But I have a feeling that the Seahawks wanted to trade up to possibly get David Pollack or Erasmus James, to no avail. There's a method to Ruskell's madness. Don't panic, Seahawks fans. This is a deep draft. The Seahawks will get the players they need.

TRADE (2ND ROUND) (thanks to Mike Sando)
---Seahawks trade 3 choices (2nd round #54, 4th round #121 and #126) to Carolina for 2nd round choice (#45).

#45 (from Carolina) MLB Lofa Tatupu, USC(5'11", 226 lbs)
---If there's one thing to be said about Tim Ruskell's strategy so far, it's that he's very unconventional. Unconventional in the sense that the Seahawks have drafted two guys that weren't on many fans' radars coming into this weekend, at least when it came to the first two rounds.

Lofa Tatupu is 5'11", 226 pounds. He comes from USC, a school that was won the last two national championships. In 2004, Tatupu was a first-team All-Pac 10 selection and earned USC's co-Most Inspirational Award. He led the Trojans in 2004 with 104 tackles, including six sacks, two fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles, and three interceptions.

The last two years, the Seahawks have come up big in the second round. Ken Hamlin was a second round pick in 2003 and Michael Boulware went in the second round last year (2004). Can Tatupu keep the second round momentum going?

#85 QB David Greene, Georgia (6'3", 231 lbs, left-handed)
---This is all you need to know about quarterback David Greene.

Set the SEC career mark for passing yards (11,528 yards)

Set the NCAA career mark for most wins by a quarterback (42 wins)

Started every game at Georgia in his 4-year career

Greene is a winner. Look for him to be the backup to Matt Hasselbeck in 2005. As ESPN's Chris Mortensen said, Greene will do well in Mike Holmgren's West Coast Offense. There is a benefit to living in SEC country, folks: I've seen Greene play on plenty of occasions. Kudos to the Seahawks for picking up Greene.

#98 OLB LeRoy Hill, Clemson (6'1", 224 lbs)
---Since the Seahawks released Anthony Simmons, they had to find another Clemson guy to replace him.

All kidding aside, LeRoy Hill was the 2004 ACC Defensive Player of the Year at Clemson, where he had 106 tackles and 8 sacks for the Tigers. During his career in Death Valley, Hill recorded 311 tackles and 16 sacks.

Hill played middle linebacker at Clemson, but scouts have said that he will likely play on the outside in the pros. But we won't know exactly where Hill will play until defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes sees him in action this summer in Cheney.

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Today was a very interesting day for the Seahawks organization. Certainly it was for the fans as well. But that's to be expected. This weekend is special because each team gets an opportunity to bring in new players. Some of them pan out and some of them don't pan out. That's the beauty of the NFL Draft.

My advice to you, the Seahawks fan, is to relax. All 4 picks today by the Seahawks serve a purpose. Chris Spencer will take over for Robbie Tobeck. Lofa Tatupu will bring a ton of energy to a linebacking corps that needs it. David Greene may be the most underrated quarterback in this draft. LeRoy Hill can flat out play.

Am I the Seahawk Optimist? No. I just choose to not go too overboard on draft weekend. When these players step on to the field, that's when we'll know if these guys are NFL-caliber or not. Paper is paper.

We'll be back tomorrow with another NFL Draft running post. The Seahawks have 5 picks tomorrow (barring any trades). Tomorrow can't some soon enough.

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Friday, April 22, 2005


Indians 6, Mariners 1
AP photo -- Elaine Thompson

[actually posted Sat ~2:03a]

In 25 words or less: Zzzzzzzzzzzz. Huh? Oh, the game. Pretty much the same as the night before, except Meche sucked WAY more than Franklin did.

This game featured two pitchers coming off recent injuries, CC Sabathia for Cleveland, and Gil Meche for Seattle.

Ichiro received the commissioner's Historic Achievement Award before the game in honor of his 262-hit season last year, and he addressed the Seattle fans in English for the first time. This of course is different from past short phrases such as "duuude," "I hit singles in mine...all the time!" and "you gotta hit 'em where they ain't!"

Unfortunately, that was the best moment of the night.

Shortly before I go on here, I'd just like to show you this. It's been sitting on the back burner for a while now, but we figured we'd finally unveil it. A link to the sidebar will be forthcoming. The work for that stuff was done on a pretty sporadic basis. I guess the bottom line is, if anyone goes to a sporting event in Seattle and takes a picture of themselves wearing any of that stuff, we'll feel truly honored.

But enough of that, here's the game.

Grade: F
Meche had the infamous Big Inning (I didn't want to use "notorious" there), and the game was over in the first inning. Coco Crisp mashed the first pitch of the game down the leftfield line for a double before FSNNW could even get the feed back from commercial. Alex Cora bunted on the first pitch down the third-base line and Meche collided with Adrian Beltre, who was trying to field the ball. Beltre had no play after that. Victor Martinez, who lit up the Mariners last July, flew out to Randy Winn in leftcenter. Travis Hafner fouled off two pitches with an 0-2 count and ripped a single through Meche's legs and into centerfield, scoring Crisp.
Casey Blake punched a 2-2 pitch through the hole on the left side, scoring Cora, and digging the hole ever deeper.
Ben Broussard hit his first pitch into the gap in leftcenter, but Randy Winn caught it, and the relay to the infield almost nailed Blake too far off of first. Then Meche grooved a 2-0 pitch to Ron Belliard, who tagged it to the seats inside the rightfield line.
Jose Hernandez, who is hitting eighth in this Cleveland lineup (it's a surprise to me, anyway) lined out to leftcenter to end the hellaciously bad inning. Meche threw 24 pitches. This inning reminded me of the first game I ever went to at Safeco Field, on a stormy day in 1999. It was a day that included a brawl against the Yankees. Yes, in one of the weird instances where I didn't get there two hours before the game, Jeff Fassero spotted the Yankees a five-run lead before I even sat down.

Grade: C-
If you want me to spoil this for you now, Sabathia didn't pitch much worse than Harden the night before. Ichiro ripped a 2-0 pitch right to the first baseman. Randy Winn grounded out to second. Adrian Beltre walked on four pitches, but there were two out. Richie Sexson chased an 0-2 breaking ball low and away, out of the zone. Is it just me or does Richie have an 0-2 count every time I turn around? Sabathia threw 14 pitches in the inning.

Grade: C-
Meche continued his nonsharpitude, but somehow escaped devastation in this inning. He had an 0-2 count on Grady Sizemore before walking him. Crisp blooped his first pitch into shallow centerfield for a single. Boone stopped drifting back for it when he knew it was over his head, and Bloomquist didn't have much of a chance to catch it. Going full speed toward the ball, Bloomquist overran it after it hit the ground, allowing Sizemore to scoot over to third (error on Bloomquist). Luckily, Cora bounced one back to the mound, and Sizemore went too far off the bag at third and was caught between third and home. Predictably, Crisp went to second. Martinez looped his first pitch to shallow leftfield, and it looked like it might drop until Winn got under it. Meche got ahead 0-2 on Hafner and whiffed on a head-high fastball. Meche threw 20 pitches, and I was amazed he got through this inning unscathed. Of course, he had already been scathed enough in the game.

Grade: B-
The Mariners would score! Oddly, Sabathia got 0-2 counts on his first two hitters, but they both singled. Bret Boone hit one off Sabathia's leg and into rightfield, and Raul Ibanez tipped one through the right side as well to put runners on the corners. Willie Bloomquist, playing in this game because he has an okay career split against Sabathia and Jeremy Reed's not righthanded, hit his second pitch just short of the track in rightfield, a sacrifice fly deep enough to score Boone.
Ibanez stole second on the full-count pitch to Olivo thanks to a high throw. Olivo swung through the fastball for a strikeout, and the inning was prolonged thanks only to the high throw by Victor Martinez. Then Wilson Valdez swung through an 0-2 pitch in the dirt to end the inning. Sabathia threw 22 pitches.

Grade: C
Meche escaped more disaster. Blake had the juicy 2-0 and 3-1 counts before walking with a full count. Blake took off for second on the 1-0 pitch to Broussard, and Olivo caught the outside pitch and threw somewhat wide to second, but Valdez came down with the ball in his glove and tagged Blake in the chest as he slid past. Meche went to 3-0 on Broussard, who was still at the plate. Broussard flew out on a full count to Valdez at short. Meche had an 0-2 count on Belliard and walked him (ugh). Hernandez bounced out to Boone to end the inning. Meche threw 21 pitches in the inning and was at 67 through only three innings.

Grade: C
More of nothing. Ichiro chopped a high one to the first baseman on a 2-0 pitch. Winn doubled hard down the leftfield line. Beltre hit one hard back to the mound, but Sabathia held Winn at second and threw easily to first. Sexson was jammed on his 1-1 pitch and grounded it to third. Sabathia threw 13 pitches in the inning and was at 49 through three.

Grade: A
Meche's best inning of the night. Sizemore flew out to center on the first pitch. Crisp flew out to left on the second pitch. Meche froze Cora on a 1-2 breaking ball over the outside corner. Meche threw seven pitches, but was still high at 74 through four.

Grade: C-
It started out okay, but then there was a thud. Boone singled into leftfield on the first pitch. Ibanez had a 3-1 count, but that went full. He bounced into a double play of the 4-3 variety. Bloomquist padded his career numbers against Sabathia by bouncing a full-count pitch over the wall in leftcenter. Then Olivo flew out to Sizemore in leftcenter on the next pitch. Sabathia threw 15 pitches and had thrown 64 through four.

Grade: C-
Meche's swan song predictably was a dreary one. Martinez mashed a 3-1 pitch into the rightfield corner for a double. Hafner had a terrible night after his RBI single in the first at-bat, and he was frozen on a 1-2 breaking ball. Blake walked on a 3-1 pitch. Adrian Beltre tagged runners going to third on the next two plays. After having the two hitters' counts, Broussard grounded one to Beltre, who tagged Martinez. Belliard grounded a 2-2 pitch to Beltre, and Blake was tagged this time to end the inning. The plays were easy tags, and they weren't bang-bang. Beltre could have easily stepped on the bag for at least one of the outs. Meche threw 25 pitches in the inning.

Meche was done stinking up this non-Spike Lee joint. The first inning was a trainwreck that neither Meche nor the Mariners recovered from in the game. He was all over the place.

Meche's line: 5 innings, 5 runs, 7 hits, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts, 99 pitches (59 strikes)

Grade: C-
More of less. Valdez bounced out to second, Ichiro kept the other middle infielder busy with another groundout, and Winn took a 1-1 pitch to the warning track in left. Sabathia threw only eight pitches and had thrown 72 through five.

Grade: C-
The Indians got another one. Julio Mateo came on for Meche. Hernandez popped the first pitch just past the third-base bag on the line, and Beltre came down with it. Then Sizemore was down 0-2 and ended up grinding out a 13-pitch walk. Sizemore fouled off seven pitches after having two strikes on him. Crisp hit a hard grounder that Sexson dove for and stopped. Sexson had a bit of trouble getting a handle of the ball before one-hopping a wide throw to Valdez at second. Valdez caught the throw, but it just barely pulled his foot off the bag, and everyone was safe (Sexson was charged with the error). Then Cora singled his first pitch into rightfield. Ichiro tried to throw home, but it was a little high if it was in time, which I don't think it was. Sizemore scored as a reward for his crazy at-bat.
Then Martinez lined out to centerfield, and Crisp was easily doubled off the bag at second. Mateo threw 18 pitches in the inning.

Grade: C-
The bats must have been in the belfry, because they weren't at the ballpark tonight. Of course, Sabathia had a lot to do with that. Beltre fanned on a 1-2 breaking ball. Sexson hit the second pitch to fairly deep rightfield. Boone swung through a change in the dirt. Sabathia threw 11 pitches in the inning and was at 83 through six.

Grade: A-
Mateo threw a 1-2-3 inning. Hafner had a 2-0 count but fanned. Blake hit a shallow flyout to Ichiro. Broussard flew out to Winn. Mateo threw 13 pitches.

Mateo had an okay outing, burned mostly by the insane Sizemore at-bat and Sexson throwing from his knees.

Mateo's line: 2 innings, 1 run, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 31 pitches (22 strikes)

Grade: C-
It's not easy for me to keep my attention when I get these kinds of games where I pretty much know it's over. Ibanez walked on four pitches, then was erased from the basepaths when Bloomquist grounded into the 5-4 fielder's choice. Olivo flew out to left. Valdez shattered his bat twice in his at-bat, and on the second shatter, he bounced out to third. Sabathia threw 14 pitches.

Congratulations, CC Sabathia! You've shut down the Mariners! He wasn't as dominating as Harden the night before, but he was still very good. He threw two less pitches than Meche and got six more outs.

Sabathia's line: 7 innings, 1 run, 5 hits, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts, 97 pitches (58 strikes)

Grade: B-
Jeff Nelson came in for Mateo and proved he's just about lost his control permanently. Belliard whiffed to lead off, but Nelson then walked Hernandez, who I thought was supposed to strike out a lot. Sizemore singled into centerfield. Crisp was badly fooled and swung at a 1-1 pitch that hit him in the knee. By rule, that's a strike. The runners tried to advance after the ball bounced away from the plate, but by rule the ball is dead once it makes contact with the batter on such an odd play, so the runners were sent back. Crisp flew out to Valdez in shallow left, and Valdez tried to nail Hernandez off the bag at second to no avail. Cora then whiffed on an 0-2 pitch. Nelson threw 21 pitches in the inning.

Nelson's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 21 pitches (13 strikes)

Grade: C-
David Riske came in to do some easy mop-up work for Sabathia. Ichiro lined out to left. Winn grounded out to Belliard at second. Beltre hit an 0-2 pitch to the third baseman. Riske got through the inning in 13 pitches.

Grade: A
JJ Putz came in for Nelson. Martinez grounded up the middle on the first pitch, but Valdez scooped it up and threw him out. Hafner did something other than strike out (which he'd done three times), and flew out to Winn with a full count. Blake hit the first pitch to Beltre. Putz threw nine pitches in a very easy inning.

The Putz line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 9 pitches (6 strikes)

Grade: C-
Sigh. Sexson executed the hurry-up offense and swung at the first pitch, flying out to Broussard down the rightfield line. Boone flew out to left on his third pitch. Ibanez decided to drag out the finish a little longer, getting the two hitters' counts and doubling to the rightfield wall on a 3-1 pitch. Bloomquist got behind 0-2 and grounded a 2-2 pitch to short. Ballgame. Riske threw 14 pitches in the inning.

Riske's line: 2 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 27 pitches (18 strikes)

Gameball: JJ Putz.
Well, I guess the clear-cut favorite would be Boone, but I didn't feel like going with him. Ibanez went 2-for-4 with a walk (and a .279 average) and I almost went with him here, but he did bounce into the one double play. Thus, it's a day for JJ, who learned recently that his wife is expecting twins. Seventeen games into the season, Putz sits with an ERA of 0.00. It's sad when I give a gameball to a guy that threw a nine-pitch inning in garbage time relief, but that's what it's come to. Not that he didn't do a great job, because he did.

Goat: Gil Meche.
Meche's big inning in his last start (Chicago) was the third, and that time he only gave up three runs and the Mariners had the lead going into the inning. This time, he was getting torched from the first pitch of the game, and the Mariners were down five runs before they sent a batter to the plate. Five runs isn't insurmountable or anything, but it is a sizable hole, and it's an even more sizable hole when CC Sabathia is pitching for the other team. I was hoping Meche would at least match his outing last time, which wasn't his sharpest outing but was still decent. Instead, Meche reverted back to the degenerative big-inning Meche, digging a hole much too deep for his team to climb out.

Well, what to say about this game? The Mariners are an Eric Byrnes diving catch away from possibly staring at a three-game losing streak right now. They've had the rotten luck of drawing Barry Zito, Rich Harden, and CC Sabathia three straight nights, and those are three of the better pitchers in the AL (Zito at least was one at one time). So while no one (including me) is pleased that the Mariners' bats have fallen on some hard times as of late, they have had the rotten luck of having to face three great pitchers in a row. Combine that with league adjustments for Richie Sexson (plus the sickness recovery) and Adrian Beltre, and you've got the recipe for offensive doldrums. Man, I can't wait till until those guys start bashing the ball around, though. It's going to be fun.

I could say more about Meche, but yecccchhh. Instead of taking a step forward or even a step laterally from his last start in Chicago, he took an authoritative step back. It reminded me almost of Freddy Garcia getting lit up and throwing 99 pitches in five innings (a typical April Freddy start from a couple years ago), except Meche doesn't let it show in his body language that he's getting rocked like Freddy did.

Man, what an uneventful game. It was eventful for CC Sabathia, but for the Mariners, ugh. All of the events happened before the game. Although Bud Selig moved the Pilots and professional baseball out of Seattle many moons ago, I think it's great that he's flown all the way out here a couple times to recognize Ichiro. For this and for the pure genius behind allowing baseball to take on MLB.tv, I give him credit. THE NFL NEEDS TO DO SOMETHING LIKE MLB.TV. But they won't, I know that.

The weirdest part of the game may have been after Dave Niehaus read off the disclaimer; Dave and Ron started talking about "dissemination" and "disseminating," and that was 30 seconds of airtime that I really didn't need to hear. On the radio side, they had a Frank Howard nostalgia moment, so at least that was half-worthwhile.

Yes, the Mariners have lost two straight for the fourth time this season. As much as I despise mediocrity, this 8-9 record would translate out to 76 or 77 wins, and I had them pegged at 77 at the start of the year, and dang it, I'm sticking to that.

Is it just me, or would Meche just be a terrible name for a hockey goalie? Somehow I think Meche's name would ring like a Mike Wall would.

Lee. Sele. Tonight.

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Indians at Mariners, 7:05 Pacific (FSN Northwest and MLB.TV)

C.C. Sabathia (0-0, 1.59 ERA) vs Gil Meche (1-0, 6.14 ERA)

Scott Spiezio (.083) is off the PUMP until he gets off of the disabled list. I should have made that clear last night, but I didn't. Sorry for the confusion.

As I posted earlier, we're going to have a NFL Draft running post this weekend. So join us here at Sports and B's for the NFL Draft. The draft coverage starts at 9 a.m. Pacific on ESPN. It's a busy Saturday for Seattle sports fans. The NFL Draft, Indians-Mariners, and the Sonics' Game 1 matchup with the Sacramento Kings. Don't worry, we'll fit everything in tomorrow. That's how we do things here. We aren't just a one-sport site. The title says Sports and Bremertonians for a reason.

Since there seems to be a demand for it, we have brought back the infamous towel! Instead of Bob Melvin throwing in the towel this season, it's Mike Hargrove who will do the "honors". Credit to Sportspot poster IcebreakerX for the design of the towel. I added the Sports and B's font (Denmark) for Hargrove's name. COME GET YOUR TOWEL!

The box is open so you might as well use it. Empty boxes are worthless. Full boxes aren't. Fire it up.


Crisp lf .261
Cora ss .281
Martinez c .222
Hafner dh .296
Blake rf .244
Broussard 1b .224
Belliard 2b .265
Hernandez 3b .308
Sizemore cf .222

Ichiro rf .375
Winn lf .304
Beltre 3b .254
Sexson 1b .216
Boone 2b .279
Ibanez dh .259
Bloomquist cf .222
Olivo c .154
Valdez ss .245

Mike Hargrove is already throwing in the towel by starting Willie Bloomquist for the second time in three nights. It's the 6-10 Cleveland Browns against the 8-8 Seattle Seahawks! Catch the fever!

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North Carolina freshman forward and Bremerton native Marvin Williams will enter the 2005 NBA Draft, according to ESPN.com. Juniors Sean May and Raymond Felton also announced that they would enter the draft as well.

Williams averaged over 11 points a game for the Tar Heels, who won their first national championship since 1993 this past season. Because of North Carolina's depth, Williams did not start a single game during the 2004-2005 season.

If he would have entered the NBA Draft out of Bremerton High School, Williams would have probably been a lottery pick. Now that he has a year of college on his resume, he's still a lottery pick, so his stock didn't drop at all.

The 2005 NBA Draft will take place June 28 in New York. Best of luck to Marvin in the NBA. He will be a good one, no doubt about it.

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We would like to invite everyone to our 2005 NFL Draft running thread this weekend. I'll update the posts with the Seahawks draft picks and other tidbits that are of interest to the readers. I know there are a few people out there who are wondering if there are any Seahawks blogs floating around in the blogosphere. We're one of them. On our sidebar, we have our archive posts on the 2004 Seahawks pegged there and my file on Seahawks president Tim Ruskell is up as well. Feel free to check them out.

It's April and we're talking football like it's the middle of November. That's what a productive offseason and the draft can do for you.

So, we hope you come by and visit Sports and B's this weekend. We'll definitely be on top of all things Seahawk. Somebody has to. It might as well be us.

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Athletics 3, Mariners 0
AP photo -- Ted S. Warren

In 25 words or less: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Huh? Oh, the game. Ryan Franklin made a couple bad pitches, spoiling his solid start. The Mariner bats found runs Harden to come by.

This one featured ex-Mariner draftee Rich Harden of Victoria, BC (both facts were made clear very many times on the FSNNW broadcast), going up against Ryan Franklin of Spiro, OK.

Victoria's a nice town. That 90-minute boat ride from Port Angeles is a rough one, though. Plus, that necessitates actually going through Port Angeles.

Grade: A-
Franklin started off well enough, getting results much like his last two starts. He got ahead 1-2 on Mark Kotsay, though the count went full. Kotsay ended up flying out to Reed in rightcenter. Franklin got ahead of Jason Kendall 1-2 and eventually got a grounder to second. Eric Chavez had himself a 2-0 count, but popped a ball down the leftfield line, which was caught by Wilson Valdez, racing over from short. Franklin threw 14 pitches in the inning.

Grade: C-
There's going to be a lot of C-minuses in the bottom halves of the innings in this here piece. Ichiro lined his second pitch to Kotsay in center, Jeremy Reed whiffed on a fastball, and Adrian Beltre broke his bat on a popup to left. Harden threw nine pitches.

Grade: C-
Franklin was struggling in this inning. He gave Erubiel Durazo the juicy 2-0 and 3-1 counts. Franklin got the second strike to make it a full count before walking Durazo. Scott Hatteberg swung at the first pitch and Beltre caught the high popup in front of the mound. Franklin then gave the same 2-0 and 3-1 counts to Mark Ellis and got burned. Ellis smoked it to the gap in rightcenter, scoring Durazo from first, who was running on the pitch. Ellis ended up with a triple.
Nick Swisher checkswung on his first pitch but made contact, grounding out to Richie Sexson at first. Charles Thomas bounced out to Boone to end the inning on a 4-1 putout. Franklin threw 16 pitches in the inning, but the walk coming around to score proved to be the kicker.

Grade: C-
Harden basically started this game in a groove and rarely got out of it. Richie Sexson fouled off two 0-2 pitches before missing a slider low and away. Bret Boone bounced a 1-2 pitch up the middle, and Ellis had a long way to go to field the ball. He threw high, the ball went into foul territory (somehow no error was ruled anywhere on the play), and Boone broke for second. The catcher Kendall was backing up on the play like all good catchers do in that situation, and he gunned down Boone by roughly a mile. It wasn't even close to being close. Raul Ibanez got the nice 2-0 and 3-1 counts, but hit a high popup to right. Harden threw 14 pitches in the inning.

Grade: C-
Ryan Franklin would be struck by a remnant of 2004. Marco Scutaro fought back from 1-2 to work the count full and then he tagged a ball past Valdez for a single. Franklin then threw a belt-high fastball to Kotsay; he got an inch too much of the plate, and Kotsay took it yard to rightfield, into the fourth row or so of seats out there.
It didn't look much better after the homer either. Franklin started off 2-0 on Kendall, and ended up walking him on a full count. This brought pitching coach Bryan Price out to the mound, predictably. At this point, Franklin had thrown 42 pitches and had three-ball counts on five of the 11 hitters he'd faced. Franklin then got ahead 0-2 on Chavez and eventually got a high flyout to the gap in rightcenter. Durazo grounded his first pitch to Valdez, who started the double play. Franklin threw 19 pitches in the inning.

Grade: C
The Mariner offense decided to mix up the nature of their failure tonight by scattering some baserunners. Randy Winn scorched one on the ground down the rightfield line to lead off, good for a double. Miguel Olivo fell behind in his count and fanned on a low breaking ball. Wilson Valdez got behind 0-2 and later grounded a ball toward the left side which was cut off by Chavez, who nailed Valdez on the run at first (Winn went to second). Ichiro hit his third pitch to Scutaro at short, who looked to have had an easy play, but the ball came out of his glove as he was playing the hop. Replays showed that Winn running in front of Scutaro on the play may have distracted him, and Ichiro was given a hit. Runners were on the corners with two out for Reed. He fouled off a 3-1 pitch before whiffing on a slider down and in. Harden threw 21 pitches in the inning, and got first-pitch strikes on all five batters he faced.

Grade: A
Franklin was about to settle into a groove, but his only crime tonight was that it didn't start in the first inning instead of the 4th. Every hitter took a first-pitch strike. The last two hitters had 0-2 counts. Hatteberg grounded out to Boone, Ellis tapped one back to the mound, and Swisher whiffed on a breaking ball low and away. Franklin threw nine pitches in the inning.

Grade: C-
Beltre got down 0-2 and later hit one off the end of the bat for a flyout to center, though Kotsay had some footwork issues while trying to get a jump on it. Instead of swinging through a pitch low and away to strike out, Sexson watched a fastball down and away, taking a strikeout of the called variety. Boone chopped a ball over the mound which was barehanded by Ellis, who threw to first. Words don't do justice for the nice play that had just occurred, especially my words. Harden threw 16 pitches.

Grade: A-
As mentioned, Franklin was groovin'. He fell behind 2-0 on Thomas to start off, but Thomas flew out to Winn in the leftfield corner. Scutaro shattered his bat on an 0-2 groundout to Boone. Kotsay hit a ball up the middle, and Valdez made a nice play to throw him out from the outfield grass. Franklin threw 10 pitches.

Grade: C-
Mas. Ibanez went down swinging. Winn bounced out to first. Olivo fouled off an 0-2 pitch instead of striking out, then he popped a ball down the rightfield line which Ellis caught in foul territory. Harden threw 14 pitches.

Grade: A
Zeroes were becoming aplenty. Kendall was victim to a sliding catch by Winn in leftfield. Chavez grounded out to second. Durazo hit his second pitch for a high fly ball to Reed in center. Franklin threw only eight pitches, and was at 76 through six.

Grade: C
Harden looked like he might be losing a little bit of sharpness, though the result remained the same. He hung one a bit to Valdez, who ripped it into left for a single. Ichiro hit a hard ground ball, but right to the shortstop for a 6-4-3 double play. How rare is it that I'd wanted somebody to hit the ball soft? In that situation, a softer hit ball would have been beaten out by Ichiro at first. Oh well. Reed took a 3-1 pitch inside for a walk. Beltre then provided the most engaging few minutes for the Mariner offense to that point in the game. He fouled off five straight pitches on an 0-2 count before lining one right to Thomas in left on the 11th pitch (2-2 count) of the at-bat. Harden threw 22 pitches in the inning (half of them to Beltre), and was at 96 through six.

Grade: A-
Franklin was mostly still in the groove. The only blemish here was a two-out single. Hatteberg was down 0-2 before flying out to Reed. Ellis bounced one to short. Swisher lined a single into centerfield to snap Franklin's streak at 13 straight retired Oakland hitters. Thomas hit a grounder to Valdez, who stepped on the bag at second to end the inning, though it looked like he wanted to turn two or something, but had forgotten how many outs there were. Franklin threw 13 pitches and was at 89 through seven.

Grade: C-
Baserunners? What are those? Sexson was nearly one when he stung a ball up the middle. It was probably the hardest-hit ball of the game, and it went right into Harden's glove. Boone checkswung on a pitch, and it dropped in centerfield, with Kotsay diving and trapping it off the hop. Ibanez had a 3-0 count and walked on a full-count pitch to put two runners on and one out. Winn fouled off three pitches before foul-tipping his fourth pitch into Kendall's glove behind the plate. Olivo swung through a fastball away, but at least he fouled off four pitches in the at-bat before that, which is an improvement for him. Harden threw 23 pitches in the inning.

Rich Harden didn't come out for the 8th, but he had already spun a beauty. Barry Zito has been passed as the ace in Oakland if the past two days are any indication. At least the Mariners only have to face Oakland about 19 times or something. There will be more of Harden to go around. Harden's line: 7 innings, 0 runs, 5 hits, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts, 119 pitches (80 strikes).

Grade: B+
Franklin bailed himself out before hitting the showers for good. Scutaro bounced out to short. Franklin walked Kotsay on four pitches, possibly due to what Kotsay did earlier and/or due to losing sharpness and control as a whole. I might have pulled him right then and there, but Mike Hargrove left him in. Three pitches later, Kendall had bounced into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning and the outing.

I know the run support people are going to cry foul again, and they aren't entirely wrong, but come back to me when Franklin isn't going up against a Mark Buehrle or a Rich Harden on their A-games. Sometimes the other pitcher is just going to twirl a gem, and unfortunately for Ryan, he's had it happen in consecutive starts. If there's one good thing, though, it's that he's been consistent. I didn't think this outing was as good as the last two, but it was still good enough to win on a normal day. Not just a normal day when the bats are putting across a couple runs, but a normal day when the other pitcher isn't mixing his pitches and speeds at an exceptional level.

Franklin's line: 8 innings, 3 runs, 4 hits, 3 walks, 1 strikeout, 102 pitches (61 strikes).

Grade: C-
All the good stuff happened with two out, though it was still not much. Ricardo Rincon came in for Harden. He got ahead 0-2 on his first two hitters. Valdez grounded out to Ellis, and Ichiro was thrown out by Chavez, who nicely played the short hop. Reed grounded a base hit through the right side.

Justin Duchscherer was summoned from the Oakland bullpen. Beltre had a nice 3-0 count, but wasn't green-lit; a homer in that situation wouldn't have tied it anyway. On 3-1, he chopped one along the third-base side, and Chavez almost had another putout on a charging throw, but the throw was a bit into the runner, and Hatteberg had to lean a bit to get it. Beltre was safe.

Then Octavio Dotel was brought in to face Sexson. Richie got behind 0-2 right away. He stung his 1-2 pitch pretty well, but it went right to Swisher in rightfield. That pretty much rendered the game over with. Dotel threw four pitches.

Token Oakland bullpen pitching lines...
Rincon: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 10 pitches (9 strikes)
Duchscherer: 0 innings (1 batter), 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 5 pitches (2 strikes)

Grade: C+
Matt Thornton was brought in from the bullpen to face Oakland's lefties. Chavez ripped the first pitch back through the box and into centerfield for a single. Thornton bounced back by getting Durazo to whiff on a pitch low and away. Thornton's 2-0 pitch to Hatteberg went off Olivo's glove for a passed ball. Olivo caught the next pitch, but it was ball four -- a four-pitch walk.

Both Mike Hargrove and I had seen enough of Matt Thornton. He supposedly was brought into the game to get the lefties out, and he lets two of them aboard. I liked the progress he'd made in the last couple appearances before this, but this one reminds us of something closer to the mean or something closer to "out-of-options guy."

Shigetoshi Hasegawa was brought in from the bullpen to put out the mini-fire. Ellis flew out to Winn, and Swisher hit a 3-1 pitch high in the air, and it landed in Beltre's glove in front of the bag at third.

Token lines from the Mariners' pen...
Thornton: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 10 pitches (4 strikes)
Hasegawa: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 8 pitches (4 strikes)

Grade: C-
The Mariners' last gap was in the 8th, and the 9th was just a formality. Boone hit a low fly to Kotsay for the first out. Ibanez saw a 3-0 count and walked two pitches later. Winn gave his 2-1 pitch a decent ride, taking it to the gap in leftcenter, but that was a flyout. Shin-Soo Choo came on to make his Major League debut, wearing the number 54. He was nearly beaned by Dotel in the leg on the first pitch, but Choo bounced out to first on the next pitch. Welcome to the big leagues, Hooch! Is that an applicable nickname? That's a trial run you just read. Anyway, that was the ballgame.

Dotel's line: 1 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 18 pitches (9 strikes)

Gameball: Shigetoshi Hasegawa.
As much as I'm tempted to go with the obvious other pitcher that went in this one, I'll give it to the consistent reliever instead of the consistent starter. In a tale of two guys that sucked horribly in 2004, both Franklin and Hasegawa have consistently done well so far this year. I'm probably putting too much stock into it, but Hasegawa sits here 16 games into the season with an ERA of 1.13. It's safe to say he won't stay this good forever or anything, but let's enjoy it while it lasts. He can't be 2004 bad, and he can't be 2003 insane, but let's hope for something close.

Goat: Miguel Olivo.
This might be beating a dead horse, but good gracious. Wilson Valdez at least got a hit. Richie Sexson at least hit the ball hard twice in his 0-for-4 night, and tonight was his first night back playing first, so I'm thinking he's still got a few days to get back to 100%. I know the competition was stiff tonight, but I've seen Olivo swing at some stupid pitches the last few days. Could it be that the only difference between Dan Wilson and Olivo is that one blocks the ball and the other has an arm? I knew one of them definitely didn't have a bat, but I thought the younger of the two would have at least some semblance of a bat. He's had some decent hits here and there, but that average is horrid right now.

As mentioned, Ryan Franklin made a couple mistakes, and he paid for them. He pitched well enough to win on most nights, but Rich Harden was nuts. I put this loss more on the other guy just throwing a great game more than I do the Seattle bats not producing, though they're not blame-free. The thing is, Harden's going to do this to a number of teams this year, not just the Mariners. At the very least, we can hang our hats on the fact that Ryan Franklin has gotten deep into the game every time out, and with limited walks and limited damage, though he was burned by one of his walks in this one.

I wonder how much longer the Mariners are going to tread water around the .500 mark and resist going on streaks one way or the other. I'd rather tread water than go on a 5-game losing streak, of course, but I'm sure we'll be annoyed at anything other than a winning streak soon enough. Through 16 games, the Mariners have strung together consecutive wins only twice: the three-game sweep in Kansas City and two games before this one against Anaheim and Oakland. There have been consecutive losses three times in the form of two-game losing streaks. One here, one there, two here, two there...maybe if it levels off, every game will end in a tie or something.

I'm thinking of something to put here and I just realized that I was thinking of Matt Thornton for the goat before I put down Olivo and completely forgot about Thornton. The thought isn't lost, though. Thornton was erratic in this game, knocking some of the lustre off his last couple appearances. Maybe he should just be the garbage-time reliever, when the Mariners are down four or more runs.

Richie Sexson's Opening Day performance and his freak flu have bought him probably another week of reprieve before anyone starts ripping him; he's at .216 right now.

I saw Bill Krueger on FSNNW say that Bret Boone was his player of the game, but "screw that," I said. That's why you see Hasegawa's name for the gameball. Of course, I couldn't let Boone get the gameball after that embarrassing baserunning blunder. Boone was running like me out there, for goodness' sake. It was one of those things where I was like, "yeah, he's gonna get there," and then the throw comes over, they switch to the right camera, and I'm left thinking, "how the hell is he not there yet?"

I wish Shin-Soo Choo would have homered in his first at-bat. Then again, Greg Dobbs did that, and he's relegated to bench duty. Reed didn't, and he's a starter. Maybe they can get someone to take the final year of the Ibanez contract? Maybe Winn gets traded eventually and "Doyle" gets to come up, signaling the true onset of the youth movement, along with Felix?

I keep saying it, but I'm highly anticipating the 2006 season for the Mariners. For now, you've got a team that's better than last year, and I've got to believe that help is on the way. I keep telling myself that going from 99 losses to the playoffs in a span of two years is a good turnaround.

Your completely mediocre Seattle Mariners! It only makes me happy in comparison to last year. Does anyone realize how low this team sunk last year? I don't even think I want to believe it. I don't want to believe the run of competitive baseball ended, but it did. Even more sad was that the baseball was competitive, but it didn't win a World Series. I don't feel like going through the whole "116 wins: blessing or curse?" dialogue here, so I'll save it for another time.

This post was aided by the background music of the following albums...
-- Turn On the Bright Lights, Interpol
-- Beyond Good And Evil, The Cult
-- Avantgardedog, Eleven

Sabathia. Meche. Tonight.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005


Athletics at Mariners, 7:05 p.m. Pacific (FSN Northwest, MLB.TV)

Rich Harden (1-0, 0.68 ERA) vs Ryan Franklin (1-1, 2.18 ERA)


M. Kotsay cf .355
J. Kendall c .241
E. Chavez 3b .200
E. Durazo dh .216
S. Hatteberg 1b .268
M. Ellis 2b .333
N. Swisher rf .241
C. Thomas lf .000
M. Scutaro ss .325

I. Suzuki rf .383
J. Reed cf .250
A. Beltre 3b .271
R. Sexson dh .234
B. Boone 2b .263
R. Ibanez 1b .268
R. Winn lf .308
M. Olivo c .167
W. Valdez ss .239

Believe it or not, we have an open thread as well. We just like to call it "The Not-So-Productive Out-Making Box", that's all. If you haven't had a chance yet, here's my take on the 2005 NFL Draft, Seahawks style.

The box is now open. Use it. OKAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!

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I had thought about doing a complete, 7-round NFL mock draft this year.

Then I realized something.

I have a life. Well, somewhat. But I digress.

Instead of wasting my time doing a full mock draft, I've done something that would be of more interest to our readers. It's easy to do a "who are the Seahawks going to pick in the 1st round" post and call it a day. Thing is, we don't do things the conventional way here at Sports and Bremertonians. I figured, how about I go ahead and predict the 10 Seahawks selections? I love talking football in April. Don't you?

Who will call Seattle their new NFL home after this weekend?


#23 DE David Pollack, Georgia
---The Seahawks need a pass rush. Badly. So why not get a guy who has played 4 years in the SEC and has proven to be one of the best defensive players in the country? Pollack is a Top 15 pick, but chances are he won't go that high. Too bad. I hope there are a few general managers stupid enough to pass on Pollack. He's the perfect player for a Tim Ruskell organization.

Let's face it, I want David Pollack. I hope he's there at 23. The guy is a winner. He reminds me of Tedy Bruschi, a tough as nails player who just wins. Remember, Bruschi played DE at Arizona before playing LB in the NFL. I'm not saying that Pollack will be moved to LB, but I'd like his chances if he were to be moved there.

You can't have enough guys who have a winning attitude. It's not about the big time superstars. Exhibit A, the back-to-back world champion New England Patriots.

#54 LB Barrett Ruud, Nebraska
---Similar to Pollack, Barrett Ruud spent 4 years in school. Grant Wistrom can trade stories with the linebacker about the good ol' days in Lincoln. Ruud is the best linebacker available at this point of the draft. If the Seahawks can somehow land Ruud at this point of the draft, they should consider themselves lucky.

#85 C Ben Wilkerson, LSU
---Robbie Tobeck isn't going to be around forever. Is this too high for Wilkerson? I don't think so at all. Wilkerson (6'3" 299 lbs) has the potential to become one of the best centers in the NFL. He was on LSU's co-national championship team in 2003.

#98 RB Ciatrick Fason, Florida
---Somehow, someway, Ciatrick Fason is still on the board at #98.

This is possible Shaun Alexander insurance, should #37 be traded before the 2005 season. But make no mistake, Fason isn't a run-of-the-mill back. He rushed for 1,267 yards and scored 10 touchdowns for the Gators in 2004. I'll be shocked if Fason is still available at #98. I'm just betting that there are a few GMs who are asleep at the wheel.

#121 LB/DE Jeb Huckeba, Arkansas
---Jeb Huckeba played outside linebacker, inside linebacker, and defensive end during his career at Arkansas. He earned All-SEC first-team honors at defensive end in 2004. Huckeba is a player that fits the mold of players that Ruskell is looking for. If anything, there may be a few more folks here in Arkansas who will root for the Seahawks. I'm sure Ken Hamlin can show Mr. Huckeba around Seattle to see the sights and sounds. No word on whether Huckeba would host a rush-hour show on KUBE, however.

#126 OT Calvin Armstrong, Washington State
---A native of Centralia, Wash., Calvin Armstrong was an instrumental part of the Cougars' resurgence in recent years. The Seahawks need a right tackle. At 6'8", 322 lbs, I think Armstrong is just the guy the Seahawks need at that position.

Sidenote about Armstrong: During his junior year of high school, his Centralia Tigers lost to Bremerton in the consolation bracket of the 3A state basketball tournament at the Kingdome. Go Knights! (I like Armstrong, but I just had to bring this tidbit up.)

#159 WR Mark Bradley, Oklahoma
---Mark Bradley is from my current hometown of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Say hello to your new return man, Seahawks fans.


#235 QB/P Danny Wimprine, Memphis
---Danny Wimprine was a four-year starter at quarterback for Memphis. Did you also know that he punted as well? During his career at Memphis, he averaged 38.3 yards a punt in 58 attempts. Seahawks fans may never have had the chance to see Tom Tupa in Seahawks uniform, but if you want a possible Tupa-clone, it could be Danny Wimprine.

#254 LB Roger Cooper, Montana State
---Perish the thought, but I'm actually in favor of having a South Kitsap Wolve on the Seahawks roster.

Roger Cooper is the best athlete to come out of South Kitsap since Benji Olson. Olson is enjoying a solid career with the Tennessee Titans. There's no reason for me to think that Cooper can't have a solid career in the NFL either. Sure, he's going to have to fight his way onto the Seahawks roster this summer, but he's definitely got a chance to do it. You don't sleep on athletes like Cooper, regardless of their school. One thing is for sure, I won't bash Cooper at Sports and Bremertonians. He's a South Kitsap guy I can respect.

--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---

Pass rushing defensive end? David Pollack.

Depth at linebacker? Barrett Ruud.

Replacement for Robbie Tobeck when the time comes? Ben Wilkerson.

Possible Shaun Alexander insurance? Ciatrick Fason.

Hard nosed defensive player? Jeb Huckeba.

Right tackle? Calvin Armstrong.

Kick returner? Mark Bradley.

Punter/3rd string quarterback? Danny Wimprine.

Sleeper? Roger Cooper.

If the Seahawks can select at least one of these players, I'd be a happy camper. It took me a while to do this post. I could only imagine how long a full, 7-round mock draft would take.


Cornerback Andre Dyson, formerly of Tennessee, 5 years, $17.5 million

Wide receiver Jerome Pathon, formerly of New Orleans, terms not disclosed

Linebacker Jamie Sharper is officially a Seahawk and Chad Brown has been released, according to Mike Sando at the Tacoma News Tribune.



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Rockets 106, SuperSonics 78

Now, come on. Do I have to do this one?

Yes you do, David. Yes, you do.

You'll rue the day you crossed me, anticlimactic finish.

It was bench day to the Toyota Center for the Sonics. Antonio Daniels was placed on the injured list before the preceding game to rest his kneecap. Ray Allen sat for some rest, and the boxscore says he has a strained right ankle. Rashard Lewis sat out to rest the knee tendinitis he's had for most of the year. Danny Fortson rested by coach's decision in the boxscore, but I'm guessing his shoulder is still somewhat strained.

So, the game added up to a whole lot of Damien Wilkins and a whole lot of Ron Murray, in terms of playing time for both. Mateen Cleaves was the reserve with the most minutes, and no one got over 28 minutes other than he and all the aforementioned names.

It only took a few minutes into the game for the Rockets to pull away, and they opened up a lead of nine in the first quarter, and this was before Mike James started breaking down the defense. The Sonics did manage to pull back within two on a 9-1 run spearheaded by Vitaly Potapenko (how often have I said that this year).

James then tore up the hardwood, scoring 11 points in the second quarter as the Rockets easily got their lead out to double digits. Houston scored the first 13 points of the quarter, and carried a 15-0 run over from the previous quarter. Who broke up the run? Mateen Cleaves and Robert Swift. Welcome to the scoresheet, guys. The first half ended with Houston leading 56-38.

The Rockets got their first 20-point lead with a Bobby Sura layup on the first basket of the second half. They had a lead of 20 or more for good when David Wesley nailed the technical free throws after Jerome James was tossed. The Rockets had their first 30-point lead on a Scott Padgett three-ball with just under four minutes remaining in the quarter. The Rockets led 90-57 after three.

Four minutes into the final quarter, the Rockets eventually got their largest lead of 39 points after James hit a three. Robert Swift hit a couple baskets in the quarter. Ron Murray scored seven of his points in the final frame.

Ron Murray 22 pts/2 reb/4 ast (10-25 FG, 2-10 3pt, 41 min), Damien Wilkins 9 pts/7 reb/2 ast (4-10 FG, 0-5 3pt, 44 min), Luke Ridnour 8 pts/2 reb/8 ast (3-6 FG, 2-2 free throws, 24 min), Reggie Evans 0 pts/3 reb (0-2 FG, 24 min)

Vitaly Potapenko 13 pts/2 reb (4-6 FG, 5-7 free throws, 18 min), Robert Swift 10 pts/3 reb/4 blk (4-4 FG, 2-3 free throws, 17 min), Mateen Cleaves 8 pts/3 reb (3-8 FG, 0-2 3pt, 2-2 free throws, 31 min), Nick Collison 6 pts/9 reb (2-9 FG, 2-2 free throws, 28 min)

Jerome James Watch
2 pts/2 reb/1 stl/1 blk (1-2 FG, 1 turnover, 5 fouls, ejection)

shot 31-for-72 (43.1%) from the field, shot 2-for-18 (11.1%) from downtown, shot 14-for-18 (77.8%) from the line, were outrebounded 37-33, were beaten 32-28 in the paint and 20-4 on the break, turned ball over 13 times, bench was outscored 51-37 (but Seattle's bench outrebounded 17-16), won 12-1 on second chance points

Really, there's not much to say about this game in particular. Ron Murray took a billion shots, as he's apt to do, and the Rockets held him to less points than shots taken. Vitaly and Swift got minute-for-minute the best production on the night. They put Swift on Yao for a few minutes, so hopefully that cut his teeth on the NBA for a while. If they ever get that kid on track, it'll be a plus that this franchise hasn't seen in years, surely before I even started watching them back in the mid-90s. He blocked four shots in his 17 minutes, for goodness' sake.

I'd be ticked if I'd paid for tickets for the final game months in advance only to see Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis (hometown guy), and Tracy McGrady all sit out. Buzzkill. The only thing that sucks more than that is the NFL charging full price on tickets for preseason games. If you're a Houston fan and that happened, though, just be glad the team proved to be up to their on-paper talent after the start they had.

Other than this, well, it's back home on Saturday night for a seven-game series with the Sacramento Kings. Despite the late injuries, it's been a special regular-season ride for these Sonics, who greatly surpassed expectations and played a great brand of basketball. Biggest of props to Nate McMillan, who took basically the same team he had last year, with the main difference being no Brent Barry and adding Danny Fortson, and molding it into the jumpshooting, screen-setting halfcourt extravaganza that we've been seeing all year. This is the number one reason I've been anxious to see the Sonics in the playoffs; they've been executing in the halfcourt for the whole season. They haven't been making their living off transition only to have their pace slowed to a crawl in the playoffs. If their are two wins in the schedule this year that I think are most encouraging in terms of playoff-like scenarios, I look to the home win against Detroit, and the win at Houston the first time through.

I would have asked Jinkies if Peja ever fitted him with fake foil championship rings or ankle bracelets in honor of the championship he hasn't gotten yet.

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Mariners 7, Athletics 6
AP photo -- Elaine Thompson

In 25 words or less: The Mariners scored early, blew the lead, and then got the lead for good on a rare clutch pinch hit.

Barry Zito, former wielder of the Curveball O' Death, would face off against Joel Pineiro. Due to Scott Spiezio's placement on the disabled list, Shin-Soo Choo was called up to the Major League roster. Congrats to the young Korean.

Grade: B+
Pineiro got a quick inning to start. He got ahead 0-2 on Mark Kotsay and was able to blow him down on a 1-2 fastball up and in. Conversely, Pineiro fell behind 3-0 on Jason Kendall and walked him two pitches later. Luckily the next two hitters were quick hackers. Eric Chavez popped his first pitch high to Wilson Valdez in shallow leftfield. Erubiel Durazo bounced his first pitch to Boone at second, who spun the 4-6 fielder's choice to end the inning. Pineiro threw 11 pitches.

Grade: A
The (moderately) big inning appeared again. Ichiro didn't have much of a hand in it, though, as he popped one foul down the leftfield line on the first pitch and it was caught by Eric Byrnes. Randy Winn took his 3-1 pitch inside and walked. Adrian Beltre was green-lit on 3-0 and smacked one through the left side for a single. Richie Sexson took a 3-1 pitch way inside for a walk to load the bases. Bret Boone took a 3-0 pitch that was barely a high strike, and then creamed the 3-1 pitch halfway up the black fence in the back of the Oakland bullpen in leftcenter. Yes, 'twas a slam of grand proportions. No delusions of grandeur here.
Raul Ibanez grounded his first pitch to second, and Willie Bloomquist hit a high popup that Mark Ellis caught in front of the bag at second. The Mariners worked Zito for a whopping 25 pitches in the first.

Grade: C-
Oakland almost got all of it back. Scott Hatteberg bounced one to Pineiro's glove side, and Joel took it and ran to the bag. Mark Ellis poked a single into rightcenter. Pineiro fell behind 3-1 on Eric Byrnes but was able to strike him out swinging on a curve. Nick Swisher singled past the glove of Ibanez and into rightfield. Pineiro fell behind 2-0 on Marco Scutaro, the #9 hitter. On the 2-1 pitch, Scutaro hit a ball along the third-base line, and Beltre tried to barehand it or something, but he didn't come up with it. Scutaro was given a hit on the play, and Ellis scored. Runners were on the corners.
The lineup turned over, and Pineiro just about grooved the second pitch to Kotsay, who tattooed it off the FSN Northwest sign in the gap in rightcenter. Swisher and Scutaro scored on the play. Not good.
At least there were already two out. Kendall grounded out to Valdez on his second pitch to end the inning. Pineiro threw 21 pitches in the inning.

Grade: C
This inning gave a tiny bit of false two-out hope. Miguel Olivo hacked and missed on a high pitch. Wilson Valdez tried to bunt his way aboard, rolling one along the first-base line, but Zito pounced on it and threw him out. Ichiro hit an 0-2 pitch under Ellis' glove and into centerfield for a single. Winn got a 2-0 count and hit a well-placed grounder to the left side. Scutaro backhanded the ball and threw toward first, but it three-hopped Hatteberg at first and Winn was safe by a considerable margin. Beltre had a 2-0 count with two on and two out, but he eventually was jammed and could only manage a groundout to short. Zito threw 18 pitches in the inning.

Grade: A-
This was a pretty short inning for Pineiro. Chavez flew out to Ichiro on the second pitch. Four pitches later, Durazo flew out to Winn in leftcenter. Hatteberg got a 2-0 count, but ended up grounding out to Valdez. Easy enough. It was a 1-2-3 inning on 11 pitches for Pineiro.

Grade: C-
Once again, there were scattered baserunners and nobody crossing the plate. Sexson flew out to Hatteberg in foul ground on the first pitch. Boone took a 3-1 pitch low for a walk. Boone stole second on the 1-2 pitch to Ibanez, who ripped a hanging curve on the next pitch into rightfield. Boone was held at third since the ball was hit too hard for him to score. Unfortunately, the upcoming hitters were who they were. Bloomquist was GREEN-LIT (sacrilege) on the 3-0 pitch and fouled it off. He hit the 3-1 pitch to shallow right (not enough for Boone to score), where Swisher caught it. Olivo whiffed on another head-high pitch to end the inning. At least Zito threw 20 pitches.

Grade: A-
This was a pretty quick inning for Joel. Ellis splintered his bat on the second pitch and flew out to Valdez. Byrnes grounded his second pitch to Beltre for a groundout. A hanging curve was served into rightfield by Swisher, but Pineiro came back to get a first-pitch flyout to Ichiro from Scutaro. Pineiro threw only seven pitches in the inning.

Grade: C-
It was an easy inning for Zito, who needed one because his pitch count was quite high. Valdez did his best Olivo impression and swung and missed on a 1-2 pitch high and away. Zito made Ichiro just plain look stupid on a 1-2 breaking ball low and away. It's just a part of Ichiro's swing though; almost all the time he makes contact, and that's great, but when he misses, it just looks horrid and kinda like a corkscrew almost. Ichiro would make up for that at-bat in the 6th inning. Winn flew out to center on his first pitch to end the inning. Zito threw 12 pitches.

Grade: B+
Pineiro put out a small fire in this inning. Kotsay tagged the first pitch into rightfield for a single. Ken Macha put on the hit-and-run, and Kendall grounded one to Valdez, who had only the play at first. Kotsay would be stranded at second. Pineiro got Chavez to whiff on a ball in the dirt (Olivo threw to first), and he got Durazo to bounce a 2-0 pitch over to Ibanez at first, who threw to Pineiro covering. Pineiro threw only eight pitches and was at 60 through five.

Grade: C-
Beltre singled hard past Scutaro at short to lead off. Sexson fanned on a breaking ball low and away. Boone swung at a pitch up and in, and flew out to left. Ibanez flew out to shallow right. Zito threw 15 pitches and was at 90 through five.

Grade: D+
Pineiro was in peril. He had Hatteberg 0-2 but allowed him to single up the middle to lead off the inning. Ellis lined out to Winn in right, and Byrnes flew out to Ichiro. Then Pineiro walked Swisher on four pitches, which was very ill-timed. Pineiro threw a high 1-1 curve to Scutaro, who put it into rightcenter to score Hatteberg and tie the game.
Luckily, there were two outs, and Kotsay popped one into foul territory along the leftfield line toward the outfield. Valdez ran all the way from short to make the catch and end the inning. Pineiro threw 17 pitches and was at 77 through six.

Grade: C-
Okay, if Olivo and Valdez get on in the same inning, at least one of them better be crossing the plate. Bloomquist fell behind 0-2 and was eventually victim to a sliding catch by Swisher in foul ground along the rightfield line. Olivo then ripped the first pitch through the hole on the left side for a single. Valdez knocked a 1-2 hanging curve through the left side for another single. Then came the Ichiro at-bat. He fell behind 1-2, took a ball, and then fouled off four straight pitches as Zito was trying to get him to strike out on the pitch low and away as he did in the fourth. Ichiro worked the count full, but grounded out to short. It was a nice battle though. Winn had a 2-0 count to work with, but then eventually was victim to the curve on a full-count pitch. Though nobody scored, Zito threw 26 pitches in the inning, with much thanks to Ichiro.

Zito just threw way too many pitches in the first couple innings, though once he got the feel for the ball, he wasn't overly bad. It'd be better if he'd had a normal first couple innings. Since he's facing the Mariners, though, who cares? Let him suck. His line: 6 innings, 4 runs, 8 hits, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts, 116 pitches (70 strikes).

Grade: B+
Pineiro only gave up a nicely placed ground ball. Kendall grounded out to Beltre. Chavez hit one up the middle, and Valdez tried to make a crazy play on it, diving and trying to throw from the seat of his pants. The wide throw almost made the whole thing backfire, as Ibanez had to dive to stop it. Thanks to Ibanez, though, Valdez will simply be lauded for his effort on the play. Durazo hit a grounder to Beltre, who threw to second for the forceout, then Hatteberg bounced his first pitch to Boone to end the inning.

Pineiro left with the game tied at 4. Nonetheless, the start was a big improvement over his last one. In Chicago, he staked the White Sox out to a 5-0 lead before he left in the sixth. In this game, I guess it's a whole lot different when Juan Uribe isn't in the lineup to drill Pineiro's stuff. His line: 7 innings, 4 runs, 9 hits, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts, 86 pitches (53 strikes).

Grade: A
Huston Street came in for the departed Zito. The way things were going, and the way the Mariners this year tend to put up a big inning and then do nothing for the rest of the game, I didn't expect much from this inning. Beltre poked an 0-2 pitch into centerfield for a leadoff single. Sexson and Boone both whiffed on 1-2 sliders low and away. Ibanez softened the buzzkill by singling his first pitch into leftfield. In a good move, Jeremy Reed was brought off the bench to pinch hit for Bloomquist. Reed got the juicy 3-1 count, but rolled one to Chavez, who charged in from third. It was a quick play, and Chavez threw short to Hatteberg, who had to come off the first-base bag to field the throw. The bases were loaded. Unfortunately, since the Mariners' bench needs Bucky Jacobsen baaaadly, they're left with a bare cupboard. Greg Dobbs came on to pinch hit for Miguel Olivo. Dobbs lined a 1-0 pitch into leftfield which Byrnes dove for and missed. The ball rolled past, the bases were cleared, and Dobbs stood on second with a double.
Valdez fell behind 0-2 and eventually shorthopped Hatteberg with a grounder at first. The latter came up with the ball and stepped on the bag. Street threw 25 pitches.

Street was done for the night. His line: 1 inning, 3 runs, 4 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 25 pitches (19 strikes).

Grade: D+
I would have maybe let Pineiro get an out before pulling him out of the game since his pitch count was fairly low, but oh well. The move especially looks better after seeing how the inning started.

Jeff Nelson came in for Pineiro. He got ahead of Ellis 1-2 but the count went full. Ellis bounced one up the middle and Boone tried to make a crazy play (dive/turn/throw), but it was late. Bobby Kielty came on to pinch hit for Byrnes, worked the count full, and drew a walk. Nelson had allowed the first two hitters to get on base. Luckily, Swisher cooled things down a bit by flying out to left. Then Scutaro, the #9 hitter, dumped the first pitch just past a leaping Boone and into rightfield to load the bases.

I had seen enough, and so had Mike Hargrove, who summoned Ron Villone from the bullpen, who had thrown 1 1/3 innings (21 pitches) the night before. He started Kotsay out 1-2, but then nicked him on the right elbow, though Rick Rizzs thought Kotsay might have done an acting job and the ball might have actually hit the bat. Anyway, that forced a runner in, and I was pretty ticked off at that moment.
Villone then got ahead of Kendall 0-2 and got him to line out softly to Boone later in the at-bat. Villone really played with fire when Chavez came to the plate, giving him 2-0 and 3-1 counts to work with. Villone took advantage of home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi's elongated outside corner to get Chavez to look at the final two pitches for the key strikeout.

Nelson was horrid. It happens. Of course, with Nelson, I'm a bit concerned it might happen more often, since he's getting up there in years and stuff. His line: 1/3 inning, 1 run, 2 hits, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 16 pitches (8 strikes).

Villone wasn't quite as good as the night before, and I really could have done without even coming close to beaning a guy with the bases loaded, but at least he left the game still ahead. His line: 2/3 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 15 pitches (11 strikes)

Grade: C
Justin Duchscherer (Mr. Walk-Off Balk) came on to pitch the 8th for Oakland. He got Ichiro to whiff on a 1-2 pitch down and in. Where were you on the night that Ichiro struck out swinging twice? Winn reached up and smacked a high pitch, doubling into the gap in rightcenter and coming just a couple feet short of a homer. Beltre had a 1-1 count and fouled off four straight pitches (one almost went down the line for a double) before foul-tipping a low and away pitch into the catcher's glove. Instead of whiffing at a pitch low and away, Sexson instead watched his third strike come up and in. He's got a big strike zone, that guy.

Duchscherer was done for the night. His line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts (he struck out the side), 16 pitches (13 strikes).

Grade: C+
Eddie Guardado came in for another installment of the Cardiac Ninth, sponsored by the American Heart Association. Guardado served up a 2-1 pitch that Durazo tagged over the FSNNW sign in rightcenter for a solo shot. That's a way to cut the lead in half.
Guardado then got ahead 0-2 on Hatteberg and got him to hit a low liner to Winn. Ellis flew out to Ichiro on his second pitch. Kielty couldn't quite hold up his swing on a 2-2 pitch. Ballgame.

Does anyone remember when Jose Mesa would go through these heart-thumping saves? The difference here is that Guardado doesn't blow a bunch of them like Mesa did. I guess what I'm trying to say is that although I like Guardado, I miss Kazuhiro Sasaki at the top of his game. I remember the difference between him and his predecessor Mesa at the end of games was like night and day. I know the ending for Sasaki in Seattle was pretty unceremonious, and he's gone and "teamed up" with another woman since, but when sanshin and the Thang were in full force, it was beautiful to watch. Of course, Guardado should hopefully get sharper as the season goes along, so forgive me for a bit of nostalgia there.

Guardado's line: 1 inning, 1 run, 1 hit, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 15 pitches (11 strikes).

Gameball: Adrian Beltre.
How often will Beltre go 3-for-5 and not have any RBIs afterward? I guess it'll happen whenever Ichiro goes 1-for-5, strikes out twice, and doesn't walk. Beltre singled behind Winn in the second, and led off the 5th and 7th with singles. He came close to a double in the 8th for what would have been his fourth hit of the night, but it went foul. Beltre scored the go-ahead run in the 7th on the Dobbs double. It's weird that on a night that Ichiro managed only a two-out single, Beltre was the guy leading off innings with hits and starting rallies. To heck with Ron Villone and Willie Bloomquist, it's Adrian Beltre who is versatile. I seriously can't wait until this guy starts getting the power in his stroke. It'll be fun. Yes, I do realize I've let him off the hook for the barehand play gone bad.

Goat: Jeff Nelson.
If Mike Hargrove didn't hook him at the right time, Nelson could have blown this game. He got the ground ball from his first hitter, so I'll let that slide even though the baserunner got aboard. Walking the next guy is inexcusable, and surely giving up a single to the #9 hitter isn't a good thing. I was so glad Mike Hargrove pulled him when he did. Some nights Nelson might have it, and sometimes he won't and in this game he definitely didn't have it.

You know, I'm going to like it one of these games when the Mariners scatter their scoring a bit. Maybe they'll have two runs here, a couple runs there, one run here and there, and score in about five innings in a ballgame. I like the big innings and everything, but the utter futility in between the offensive innings is offensive in a whole other way. Of course, the other way to look at it lately is that they're getting the runners aboard in the first place, and in the future they'll hopefully more often than not come through with the runners aboard. To clarify, the Mariners get their scoring in bunches, and they also get big chances in other innings as well but fail to tack on runs.

Bret Boone hit the grand slam, and any one of those deserves some props. That was a healthy poke too, to the back fence of the bullpen. I went to about six games back in 2000, and I'd buy centerfield bleacher seats ($5 at the time) and instead of watching the game from up in those seats, I'd just hang out behind the visitors' bullpen the whole time. It just seemed more fun that way, and I'll never get that close to Dave Stewart again. I'm talking the former ballplayer, not the Eurythmics' guitarist.

Other than Beltre, multi-hit nights went to Randy Winn and Raul Ibanez, whose bat has warmed up over the last couple games. Winn almost hit one out late in the game. I'm finally to the point where I can gauge whether Winn is close to hitting one out or not by the way he hits the ball; usually I have trouble doing this with slap hitters. After seeing the ball he hit off the Cafe windows, you'd think I would have picked up on it by now, but I think I've finally got it down. As for Ibanez, even though he was served up a juicy curve, I liked the way he stuck it for a base hit.

As I said earlier, it was a much better start for Pineiro. He had some gas left in the tank, sure, but I think with just coming off of the elbow rehab and being just the second start, it's perfectly okay to cut him off at 86 pitches. He did give up nine hits, and I really could have done without the meatball that Kotsay obliterated, but other than that and the four-pitch walk, it was a solid start. Okay, I guess I could have done without Oakland scoring the half-inning right after the Mariners put up their first four runs, but again, Joel pitched well enough to win in his second start of the year. Not bad. Not stellar, but not bad.

Mariner hitters struck out 11 times in this game. Sexson struck out thrice, though that can be attributed to him being himself and/or being sick. Olivo struck out twice on high pitches, and looked like a fool doing it. Ichiro struck out twice as well, and we probably won't see that again for two months.

HOLY CRAP, Oakland stranded 21 runners in the game.

A winning record! A share of the division lead! Oakland's below .500! Baby steps, kids. Baby steps.

This post was aided by the background music of the Deftones' Around the Fur. Who loves the ~28 minutes of silence (minus the few seconds-long noise midway through the silence) before the hidden track at the end of the disc? I knew you did.

[Add ~1:15a -- The crowd of 24841 for this game was the LOWEST in the history of Safeco Field.]

Harden. Franklin. Tonight.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Athletics at Mariners 7:05 p.m. Pacific (FSN Northwest, ESPN2, MLB.TV)

It's Patrick Duffy's nephew Barry Zito (0-3) on the mound tonight for the A's, while Joel Pineiro (0-1) makes his second start of the season for the Mariners. Step by step, day by day, fresh start...that's enough of that.

Since David has been giving the musical plugs lately, I might as well do one of my own. Here's Collective Soul with "Better Now", off of their current album "Youth". Collective Soul is alive and well. Long live the rock.

Just about everything is game in the box. Seahawks? Go ahead. Sonics? Sure. Johnny Hates Jazz status as the greatest one-hit wonder band ever? Fine. Do whatever the hell you feel. Have a good meal. Yeah yeah.


M. Kotsay cf .345
J. Kendall c .259
E. Chavez 3b .200
E. Durazo dh .217
S. Hatteberg 1b .275
M. Ellis 2b .324
E. Byrnes lf .211
N. Swisher rf .216
M. Scutaro ss .278

I. Suzuki rf .400
R. Winn lf .292
A. Beltre 3b .241
R. Sexson dh .256
B. Boone 2b .259
R. Ibanez 1b .250
W. Bloomquist cf .333
M. Olivo c .152
W. Valdez ss .238

Yes, Willie Bloomquist is in the lineup tonight.

Here's hoping for an 0-for-4 night from Mr. Bloomquist. WOLF PRIDE MY ASS!

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Mavericks 101, SuperSonics 96

Yeah, there wasn't anything for the Sonics to play for going into this one. The division title had been sewn up, and the Sonics getting homecourt in the first round was decided before the Minnesota game. Thus, it was believed that the Sonics would use this game and the next to rest a few of their players. For example, Antonio Daniels was placed on the injured list before the game, and Robert Swift came off of it. This was mainly to give Daniels some rest from the icky knee cartilage injury he has under his kneecap. Coach McMillan was going to cut Rashard Lewis' minutes a bit, and spell Luke Ridnour and Ray Allen a little more since they've been logging heavy minutes, especially during the Sonics' six-game slide.

The funny thing is, it seems like whenever McMillan plans on rest for people, it never ends up that way. In Rashard's first game back, he was out there for a lot more minutes than originally planned. He wasn't out there quite as long tonight, though he was still out there for more minutes than anticipated. Ray Allen playing 39 minutes and especially Luke Ridnour playing 42 minutes wasn't expected.

Still, there was a game to be played.

The Sonics showed up in the first half, but they didn't play. The first half was an absolute embarrassment.

Seattle actually had a 5-0 lead in the opening minutes after Rashard hit a three and Reggie Evans cashed in a layup. The bad news? That was their largest lead of the game. The other bad news? Dallas went on a 12-0 run after that. How bad was that stretch? The Sonics missed nine straight shots and turned the ball over SIX times. Evans cleaned up a Nick Collison miss with about a minute and a half to go to get the Sonics to within four at 18-14 before Devin Harris sunk a three and Shawn Bradley (yes, THAT Shawn Bradley) hit a layup before the end of the quarter. Dallas led 23-14 after one. The Sonics shot 5-for-21 (23.8%) in the first quarter of play. Jolly.

The carnage would continue. Dallas went on a 14-3 spurt that put the game way out of hand in the latter part of the second quarter. Dallas led by 20 at 47-27 with 2:47 left in the half. The Sonics went into the locker room down 19, 51-32. The Sonics shot 6-for-17 (35.3%) in the quarter, and shot a stellar 11-for-38 (28.9%) in the first half. That's ungodly. I thought the Sonics were playing in Milwaukee again or something.

So it's inexplicable how nuts the Sonics went in the third quarter of play. They shot 14-for-19 (73.7%) in the third quarter. It was borderline insane. Thus, the Sonics were back into a game that they had absolutely no business being in after the first half of play. It was astonishing. Seattle went on a torrid 30-8 run to take THE LEAD at 64-63 with 2:52 left in the quarter. Of course, the Sonics never led after that. Still, that's an incredible run. Ridnour dished off five assists and scored 10 of his points in the third quarter. All of his points in this game were in the second half. Rashard Lewis scored 12 in the quarter. Allen chipped in with 8. Dallas led 74-70 after three.

The Sonics held fairly close in the fourth quarter until Marquis Daniels all but ended it with 4:35 left to put Dallas up 91-82. A small 5-0 run had stretched the Dallas lead from four points to nine, dooming the Sonics, who didn't have time on their side. Dallas led by 10 inside the final minute until the Sonics hit a couple of meaningless baskets.

Ray Allen 21 pts/4 reb/3 ast/2 stl (7-17 FG, 5-11 3pt, 2-2 free throws, 39 min), Rashard Lewis 21 pts/5 reb/2 stl (7-12 FG, 2-3 3pt, 5-5 free throws, 27 min), Luke Ridnour 15 pts/3 reb/8 ast (4-9 FG, 2-3 3pt, 5-5 free throws, 42 min), Reggie Evans 8 pts/9 reb (4-7 FG, 24 min)

Nick Collison 9 pts/9 reb (4-6 FG, 1-4 free throws, 29 min), Damien Wilkins 9 pts/2 ast (3-9 FG, 1-3 3pt, 2-2 free throws, 26 min), Vitaly Potapenko 7 pts/4 reb/2 stl (1-5 FG, 5-6 free throws, 22 min), Ron Murray 4 pts/2 reb (2-5 FG, 0-1 3pt, 11 min), Danny Fortson 0 pts/0 reb (0-0 FG, 2 min)

Jerome James Watch
2 pts/4 reb/3 blk (1-3 FG, 3 turnovers, 4 fouls, 18 min)

shot 33-for-73 (45.2%) from the field, shot 10-for-21 (47.6%) from downtown, shot 20-for-26 (76.9%) from the line, outrebounded Dallas 41-38, were beat 52-40 in the paint and 16-11 on the break, turned ball over 17 times, bench was outscored 47-29 (and outrebounded 20-16)

Well, it's not really anything to get worked up over, and I would have thought the same thing even if the Sonics would have played the last 24 minutes like they did the first 24. I know Dallas was resting their guys as well, but Dirk Nowitzki was on the floor for that big Sonic run in the 38-point third quarter. I'm not saying he's a defensive stalwart or anything, but he couldn't answer back and key a huge run or anything.

Bottom line is, it gets back into full throttle on Saturday with the Sacramento Kings coming to Seattle. What do we know about the Sacramento Kings? If you're Tim Legler, you're handing Sacramento the series based on playoff experience alone, Sonics winning the season series 3-1 be damned. What else do we know? The Kings are a better team without Chris Webber; they don't kick the ball to him on the post and then wait for him to do something with it. Mike Bibby could probably torch Luke Ridnour at will. Peja Stojakovic can be deadly. However, the Kings don't play a whole hell of a lot of defense, and that bodes well for the Sonics. Peja pulled a groin recently. If Vladimir Radmanovic comes back anytime soon, we could have a battle of gimpy three-point shootin' Yugos. The Kings also should get Brad Miller back. What do we know about Brad Miller? Reggie Evans ticked him off earlier this year, so we know Miller hates that kind of play down low.

This game? Who cares? I wish Luke and Ray would have gotten less minutes, but nobody got hurt, and Antonio Daniels got all the rest he needed. I might be ticked if I'm Ron Murray getting only 11 minutes in a game where the starters are supposed to be resting, but oh well. Sheesh, the Sonics were deadly from three. I wish Radmanovic could be a part of this. Soon.

I would have asked Jinkies if Peja has ever put any special playoff catnip under his food bowl.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Mariners 5, Angels 3
AP photo -- Danny Moloshok
In 25 words or less: The bats rose early before falling asleep. Jamie Moyer had to fight through a couple of jams and the bullpen semi-treacherously held the late lead.

This one featured ageless wonder Jamie Moyer going up against Kevin Gregg, who made sure today that he'll be out of the rotation when Kelvim Escobar gets back.

Grade: A
The Mariners were able to jump ahead right away. Ichiro checkswung but held on a full-count pitch low and away for a walk. Gregg threw over to first base four times with Jeremy Reed at the plate before uncorking a wild one in the dirt that snuck past Jose Molina behind the plate. Ichiro scampered to second. Like Ichiro, Reed also worked his count full from 1-2 and walked. Gregg had walked the first two batters of the game and had Adrian Beltre coming to the plate. Beltre hit a nice healthy fly ball to centerfield, but it wasn't deep enough to advance anyone. Richie Sexson took care of that on his first pitch, though, and smashed it out to left-center.
Bret Boone popped a foul ball on 2-1 that Robb Quinlan lost in the sun. Despite the second life in the at-bat, Boone was caught looking. Raul Ibanez was green-lit on 3-0 and fouled it off, as he did with the 3-1 pitch. With a full count, he lofted a ball that Dave Niehaus thought was going to be a simple flyout, but it carried over the wall in leftcenter. The Slide is in the other room; this is the Long Ball.
Then Randy Winn swung, looked, and then whiffed for his strikeout to end the inning. Gregg threw 35 pitches.

Grade: B+
Moyer had a moderately trying inning. Moyer got ahead 0-2, but eventually Darin Erstad doubled off the wall in rightcenter. The next two batters swung at the first pitch. Orlando Cabrera rolled one to short, and Vladimir Guerrero hit a very high fly ball to Randy Winn in left. Moyer fell behind 3-0 to Garret Anderson but somehow fought back to catch him looking on the inside corner. Moyer threw 12 pitches.

Grade: B
The good stuff happened with two out. Miguel Olivo grounded out to short, and Wilson Valdez flew out to Chone Figgins at second. Ichiro was down 0-2, but ended up hitting one up the middle for a single. Ichiro broke for second on the second pitch to Reed, and Molina threw in the dirt to second, and the ball bounced away from Cabrera. Ichiro moved to third on the Molina error. Reed got 2-0 and 3-1 counts before walking. Beltre didn't come through in the first inning with the same two runners on and nobody out, but was able to do so with two out, as he ripped a single into left to score Ichiro and move Reed to third.
Sexson fouled off four pitches in his at-bat before being caught looking at a pitch on the outside corner. Sexson was none too pleased with the call of Jim Runnels behind the plate. Gregg threw 31 pitches and had a whopping 66 through two.

Grade: C+
Moyer was touched up in the inning. Robb Quinlan grounded out to first. Juan Rivera singled a 2-0 pitch into the hole on the left side. Steve Finley took an 0-2 pitch over the inside corner, and was miffed at Runnels behind the plate much like Sexson was. Moyer fell behind 2-0 but worked the count back full before walking Molina. Chone Figgins then doubled down the leftfield line past Beltre to plate Rivera.
Moyer got ahead 0-2 on Erstad and got a ground ball to short. He threw 18 pitches in the inning.

Grade: C
Once again, everything happened with two out. Boone bounced the first pitch into the hole on the left side, but Quinlan made a nice play to first. Ibanez had a 3-1 count and walked on an outside pitch. Gregg fell behind 2-0 on Winn.

...and Mike Scioscia had seen enough of Kevin Gregg. That's too bad since the Mariners had teed off against him.

Chris Bootcheck came in and inherited the 2-0 count on Winn. He immediately threw two balls for the walk. Olivo hit a weak infield fly to Erstad. Valdez tagged a line drive, but right to Anderson in left. Bootcheck threw 12 pitches.

Gregg's line: 2 1/3 innings, 5 runs, 4 hits, 5 walks, 3 strikeouts, 73 pitches (38 strikes). Positively putrid. I loved every second of it.

Grade: A-
This was a quick one for Moyer. Cabrera lined out to Valdez. Moyer fell behind 2-0 to Vlad, but got him to chop one along the third base line, and Moyer picked it up and threw to first. Anderson flew out to Winn on his first pitch. It was a quick six-pitch inning for Moyer.

Grade: C-
Unfortunately, Chris Bootcheck would pitch a quick inning as well. Ichiro grounded out to third on a 2-0 pitch. Reed grounded out to second. Beltre watched the first strike, fouled off a pitch, then whiffed on a ball in the dirt. Bootcheck threw 10 pitches.

Grade: C
Moyer was touched up again, but before that, he caught Quinlan looking and got a high flyout to Boone from Rivera. Then Moyer fell behind 2-0 and Finley went down and got one, depositing it into the seats in right. I think that pitcher-hitter matchup added up to 148 years or however old those two are combined.
Moyer threw a first pitch strike to Molina after the home run, but followed up with three straight balls for the walk. Figgins swung at the first pitch and chopped one in front of the plate, where Olivo picked it up and threw him out. Moyer threw 18 ptiches in the inning.

Grade: C-
It was another futile inning for the Mariner bats. Sexson watched a strike, then whiffed at the next two pitches. Boone put a 3-1 pitch through the hole on the right side for a single. Ibanez got a hack at a 2-0 pitch, but didn't quite give it a good-enough ride to center. Winn knocked a base hit into center before Olivo bounced one to Cabrera at short, who threw to second for the fielder's choice. Bootcheck threw 17 pitches.

Grade: C
Moyer was touched up once again, though a little less surprisingly this time. Erstad took Reed to the track in center, and Reed made a leaping catch, though the leap was probably unnecessary. The sun was bright out there today. Cabrera cranked out a 10-pitch at-bat, fouling off four pitches with a full count before flying out to Ichiro. This may have taken some fuel out of Moyer, just in time to pitch to Vlad, who took a ball at about mid-shin height and put a sand wedge to it. The Angel bullpen beyond the fence in leftcenter was the recipient of an airborne baseball.
Anderson popped out to shallow right which was caught by Ichiro to end the inning. Moyer threw 19 pitches in the inning, 10 to Cabrera. He had 73 through five.

Grade: D+
Again, futile Mariner offense. Valdez rolled a ball to Cabrera at short, who bobbled it and couldn't make a play (error). I'm a firm believer that every time Valdez gets on base, he's got to score. Such wasn't the case in this inning. Ichiro bounced one to Figgins at second, who missed the tag on the passing Valdez before throwing to first to get Ichiro. Figgins vehemently thought that he made the tag on Valdez. Nonetheless, the Mariners had a runner on second and one out. Reed then flew out to Cabrera in shallow left. That's when Bootcheck walked Beltre on four pitches and got the hook. He had thrown 15 pitches in the inning.

Esteban Yan came in for Bootcheck. If Sexson wasn't due up for the Mariners at this point, I was wishing they could bring Mark McLemore back to pinch hit just this one time after their fun run-ins of the past. I've always been waiting for Yan-McLemore II. Nonetheless, Yan fell behind 2-0 on Sexson, but eventually got him to bounce to Cabrera for a fielder's choice. Yan threw four pitches.

Bootcheck's line of very solid long relief: 3 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 52 pitches (32 strikes). He held the fort and enabled the Angels to pull a little closer in the game.

Grade: C-
The team as a whole gets a C-minus, but Moyer alone would get probably a B-minus. Quinlan grounded out to Valdez on the first pitch. Moyer fell behind 2-0 on Rivera, but got a 3-1 ground ball to short. Valdez knocked the ball down and threw high to first, pulling Ibanez off the bag (error). Moyer got a ground ball from Finley, this one going to second. In an attempt to turn the double play, Boone threw to second. Correction: he threw wide of second and into leftfield, where Beltre backed up the throw. Errors on consecutive plays. Don't worry, kids, the infield defense will get their bearings soon enough. Moyer's defense obviously wasn't getting it done, so he did the unthinkable -- he struck out the final two hitters. Molina whiffed at all three of his pitches. Rivera stole third uncontested on the 1-2 pitch to Figgins. After a 2-2 pitch that was barely outside, Moyer got Figgins to whiff on the full count, ending the inning. Moyer threw 19 pitches in the inning.

After that extremely turbulent inning, Moyer was done for the day. Sure, Old Man Finley and Vlad went yard on him, but he had to finish with a flourish after the misdeeds of Valdez and Boone. He left the game in line for his third win of the year in three starts. His line: 6 innings, 3 runs, 5 hits, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts, 92 pitches (57 strikes).

Grade: C-
More of nothing from the Mariner offense. At least Yan doesn't pull down the headband on his caps inside-out anymore like he did with the Devil Rays. Boone had a 2-0 count, but bounced out in a 3-1 putout. Ibanez bounced out to third. Winn put a jolt into a 1-0 pitch, but hit it barely foul down the rightfield line. He grounded out to short on the next pitch. Yan threw 19 pitches.

Grade: B-
JJ Putz came in for Moyer. He immediately fell behind 3-0 on Erstad. He threw the next two for strikes, then Erstad got the bat off his shoulder and fouled one off. Putz froze Erstad on a pitch over the inside corner as the crowd groaned in unison. Putz fell behind 2-0 on Cabrera to make things dicey again, but Cabrera ended up tapping a ball along the third-base line. Putz barehanded it and threw to first in time. Guerrero grounded a ball to the right side, and Boone tried to slide to get it, but couldn't get a glove on it. That went for a single.

Ron Villone came on for JJ Putz to face the lefty Garret Anderson, who dropped one into shallow left that Winn couldn't quite get to. Luckily, Villone got Quinlan to fly out to Ichiro to end the cliffhanger of an inning.

Putz's line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 13 pitches (7 strikes). He was shaky. Wobbly, even. He was like a backup Guardado out there.

Grade: D
Well, this one was frustrating. Olivo coaxed a walk out of Yan. Valdez bunted his first pitch along the first-base line and was tagged by Erstad as Olivo advanced to second. Ichiro was given four wide ones. Reed singled sharply into leftfield, loading the bases with one out. Yesterday, the Mariners had the bases loaded and one out with Winn and Olivo coming to the plate, who didn't get the ball out of the infield. Today, the Mariners had Beltre and Sexson coming to the plate. Beltre fell behind 0-2. He worked the count 2-2 and fouled one off before whiffing for the third strike. Sexson followed it up by whiffing on another 2-2 pitch. It's contagious! Where's Jay Buhner?! He probably had a hand in this. Yan threw 25 pitches in the inning, but was none worse for the wear, it seemed.

Yan didn't come out for the 9th, since the Angels didn't want any more drama, even if it was shutout drama. His line: 2 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts (those last two), 44 pitches (25 strikes).

Grade: A-
Villone put out a small fire. Rivera led off with a single to leftcenter. Finley bounced a high chopper to first, and Ibanez threw to Villone covering for what wasn't the easiest 3-1 putout. Villone then set Molina and Figgins down swinging. Boy, that bottom of the Angel lineup sure likes to strike out (see the 6th inning).

The Mariners would have a Guardado-friendly situation in the 9th, so Villone was done. His line: 1 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 21 pitches (15 strikes).

Grade: D+
Scot Shields came on to pitch in place of Esteban Yan. He only faced three batters. Boone tapped an 0-2 pitch back to Shields, who easily threw him out. Ibanez tagged his 0-1 pitch into the gap in leftcenter for a double. The problem was, Ibanez had his mind made up that he was going for three. "YOU BETTER GET DOWN!" screamed Dave Niehaus. It wasn't close. Ibanez was gunned down at third. It sure would have been nice to play add-on and get at least one more run for Guardado, or more than that for whoever else would pitch. Winn flew out to center to end the inning.

Shields' line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 12 pitches (9 strikes).

Grade: B
Eddie Guardado came in to close it out. He got ahead 1-2 on Erstad, but the count went full to turn up the heat. Erstad ended up grounding out to Beltre at third. Cabrera also grounded out to third, and the Mariners were one out from victory. Then Vlad just had to drill one into left for a single. At least Villone got the first two out before he had to face Vlad. Anderson took a huge hack at his first pitch, and hit the next one to Ibanez behind the bag, and he ran to step on it. Ballgame.

Guardado's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 17 pitches (12 strikes).
Gameball: Ron Villone.
Probably a controversial choice here, but let me explain. What you see in the boxscore is that he gave up two hits in 1 1/3 innings. The first one was especially inopportune because it was the first pitch he threw out of the bullpen, and it put two on and two out in the 7th. You may be wondering, why Villone? He threw strike one on the first pitch to all six batters he faced. For all the crap I've given him about the much-overrated phrase "effectively wild," I guess I feel like I should just be giving him a break for once. I considered Guardado for the gameball as well. Though it was a little shaky to start, Guardado only gave up the two-out single instead of having to get out of a bases-loaded jam or anything morbid like that.

Goat: Bret Boone.
Boone went 1-for-5 and struck out once. The only reason he didn't strand anybody was because he led off three innings and Sexson homered in front of him in the first. He was the second hitter in the inning when he singled (5th, after Sexson whiffed). Other than that, I guess you could say I'm ticked at him for the defensive issues. From the radio broadcast, Boone shouldn't have slid to get the Guerrero hit in the 7th, and would have had Guerrero at first had he come up with it cleanly. Of course, the big gaffe was when he threw wide of Valdez trying to turn the double play in the 6th, the inning before. Luckily for Boone, the #8 and #9 hitters were coming to the plate, and Moyer buckled down to get both of them swinging. With Moyer getting higher into the pitch count, if the bases load up at that point, then I'm really irate at Boone. There was an error on the play before that, for goodness' sake. So yeah, that's how I feel about making four outs and giving away two or three on the defensive end. I guess that's enough for me to look the other way when I see that Adrian Beltre stranded five runners. No goat for him. Sexson hit the three-run shot, so I'll look away from his seven stranded runners as well. The dude still isn't all the way back either.

They didn't score late this time, though one of the other early trends of the season was sort of holding up -- the big inning. I guess four innings may or may not be big, but bear with me here. The point is, when the Mariners get these types of innings, the bats don't do anything in the rest of the game. Of course, it might be somewhat different these past two games -- it seems in past games they wouldn't even get hits, but these last two games they've been getting the runners and stranding them. Even more weird was that (from my memory of the radio broadcast) Sexson came into the game with a .455 average with runners in scoring position. He made good on that once today, at least.

Here's a somewhat encouraging thing -- I don't think Jamie Moyer has had a vintage Moyer start yet this season, but he's 3-0 after three starts. I'll take it. Moyer gets big props for picking up after his brutal middle infield defense in the 6th, which pretty much saved the game. In other news, Randy Johnson lost to the Devil Rays tonight. Ha.

One important thing when facing the Angels' lineup is to limit the baserunners in front of Vladimir Guerrero. In his five at-bats, he only had one of them in which there was a runner on base, and that was in the first (Erstad leadoff double). His wedge-shot homer was a solo shot. Aaron Sele walked Erstad to lead off the 3rd yesterday before yielding his Guerrero mortar shot. One run is better than two.

Both bullpens threw shutout ball in this one. The Mariner pen's line: 3 innings, 0 runs, 5 hits, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts, 51 pitches (34 strikes). The Angel pen: 6 2/3 innings, 0 runs, 4 hits, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts, 108 pitches (66 strikes). If I'm an Angel fan, Chris Bootcheck gets my gameball. No question.

Your Seattle Mariners...back at .500! It's better than last year!

This post was aided by the background music of...
-- Reign In Blood, Slayer
-- Does This Look Infected?, Sum 41

To anyone who read this far and waited a few hours in anticipation, I give you this: it's Vonzell Solomon's competition to lose.

Zito. Pineiro. Tomorrow.

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