Saturday, May 07, 2005
The first game will be at 9 a.m. Pacific, while the second game will start at 2 p.m.
FIRST GAME: Joel Pineiro (2-2, 5.14 ERA) vs Jeremi Gonzalez (0-0, 5.40 ERA)
SECOND GAME: Ryan Franklin (1-4, 4.74 ERA) vs Wade Miller (first start)
Don't worry, we'll have the PUMP tomorrow. For the second game, we'll have an updated PUMP for your pleasure.
Since there's no ballgame today, do something useful with your time.
In 25 words or less: The Red Sox teed off on Jamie Moyer and quickly put this one out of doubt.
This one featured Jamie Moyer and Matt Clement. Richie Sexson was back home with wife Kerry for the birth of their newborn son, given the name Gavin Richmond Sexson. I bet he'll be a basketball player.
As usual, the duck stayed on the pond. Ichiro's fly to left was caught by Manny Ramirez on the run in the corner. Randy Winn doubled down the leftfield line and into the corner. Adrian Beltre sent Trot Nixon to the warning track in rightfield. Raul Ibañez had a 2-0 count, but ended up rolling one to second with the count full. Clement threw 16 pitches.
Boy, did this game start out deceiving. Mark Bellhorn hit the second pitch back to Moyer. Moyer got ahead 0-2 on Trot Nixon, and caught him looking. Manny Ramirez grounded one to Beltre at third on the first pitch. Moyer threw seven pitches in the 1-2-3 inning. Here's a hint: it was his best inning of the night.
Slightly higher grade for this inning because I don't expect the bottom of the lineup to do anything with a runner on second and one out. Bret Boone couldn't check his swing on a 1-2 dirtball. Jeremy Reed doubled to the gap in rightcenter, in front of the bullpen. Greg Dobbs tapped a ball back to the mound, and Clement could have had Reed going to third, but chose to go to first instead, not that it matters with this offense lately. Miguel Olivo, who came into the game on an 0-for-14 tear, whiffed on a slider low and away. Sometimes I'm led to believe that this team as a whole just forgot how to pick up the rotation on a slider or something. Clement threw 16 pitches.
Geeeeeeeeeeeeet ready; all nine Boston hitters were about to come to the plate. Dave Niehaus made it a point to mention that David Ortiz hadn't hit a ball off the Green Monster until he did so to lead off this inning, good for a double. Kevin Millar grounded a ball to Wilson Valdez at short before the carnage resumed. Jason Varitek hit a slow roller along the third-base line, but Beltre was playing back and had no play (single), and Ortiz scooted to third on the play. Jay Payton worked a walk from a 1-2 count to load the bases. Bill Mueller reached on a 1-2 pitch low and outside, and parachuted it down the rightfield line to score Ortiz and Varitek, and send Payton to third.
»» RED SOX 2, MARINERS 0
Ramon Vazquez hit one by Ibañez at first and into rightfield for a single, good to plate Payton and put Mueller on second.
»» RED SOX 3, MARINERS 0
Bellhorn lined out to Reed in center. Nixon apparently was beaned on a 1-2 pitch, though it was hard to tell if it really hit anything, and it might have hit the bat, which of course would have been a foul. It didn't matter soon enough since Ramirez bounced out to short to end the inning. Moyer threw 36 pitches.
More frustration. Wilson Valdez fouled off an 0-2 pitch before swinging through a pitch way off the plate. Ichiro bounced one to Millar off the first-base bag, but Ichiro beat Clement (trying to cover) to the bag for a single. With the count 1-1 on Winn, Ichiro was badly gunned down at second, not even getting to the bag; it looked to me like he slid about five feet too early as well. Winn was beaned in the leg on the next pitch. Beltre, hitless in 20 straight at-bats to this point, creamed a single to left, which was at least somewhat encouraging. Ibañez foul-tipped a full-count pitch into the catcher's glove. Clement threw 22 pitches.
The game effectively ended in this inning. Ortiz led off with a rainmaker of a deep fly ball which wrapped around the Pesky pole in rightfield, though I'm sure it's much easier to tell in person than on television. Anyway, that's a solo shot from f.k.a. David Arias.
»» RED SOX 4, MARINERS 0
Millar had the hitters' counts and walked. Varitek hacked and missed a low 0-2 pitch. Payton hit a ball back to the mound that went off Moyer's leg and high into the air; Moyer couldn't immediately locate it, and everybody was safe. Mueller hit the second pitch into the leftfield corner, and Millar and Payton scored.
»» RED SOX 6, MARINERS 0
Vazquez grounded out to Boone at second. Moyer started Bellhorn out 3-0 before walking him on 3-1.
If someone was going to stop this Mariner losing streak on this night, it wasn't going to be Jamie Moyer.
Matt Thornton came in for Moyer. Thornton's first pitch went into the dirt and past Olivo, allowing Bellhorn to move to second. Nixon eventually put a very high fly ball into Ichiro's glove to end the inning. Thornton threw five pitches.
Moyer's line: 2 2/3 innings, 6 runs, 7 hits, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts, 72 pitches (45 strikes)
There's only one way to respond to Boston doubling its lead in a half-inning. Boone flew out to center. Reed smoked a ball right into Clement's glove. Dobbs whiffed on an 0-2 dirtball. Hoorah! Clement threw eight pitches.
The Red Sox still had a case of the runs. Ramirez walked to lead off the inning. Ortiz flew out high to Reed in centerfield. Millar singled to center. Varitek blooped a shallow single to rightfield to load the bases. Thornton stepped up and walked Payton on a 3-1 pitch.
»» RED SOX 7, MARINERS 0
Mueller had a 2-0 count, but two pitches later he hit a broken-bat fly, and Ichiro caught it on the run toward the rightfield line. Ichiro was shallow, so the Millar held at third. Vazquez grounded out to Ibañez to end the inning. Thornton threw 30 pitches.
Offense? Capitalizing off a mistake? Imagine that. Olivo grounded to short, and should have grounded out, but Vazquez airmailed the throw into the first-base dugout. Valdez hit a ball up the middle, but Bellhorn got it and threw him out. Ichiro hit the first pitch to Payton in centerfield, and Olivo was able to tag up and beat the throw home to dent the deficit just a tiny bit.
»» RED SOX 7, MARINERS 1
Winn had a semi-epic at-bat (you have to reach a bit for this game), fouling off three pitches with two strikes. He nearly got a double down the rightfield line out of the deal. Instead, he flew out to Mueller down the leftfield line. Clement threw 15 pitches and was at 77 through five.
Oddly, Thornton struck out the side. Bellhorn got ahead 2-0 but whiffed on 2-2. Nixon dropped a shallow single into center before Thornton got ahead 0-2 on Ramirez and Ortiz and got them both looking on 1-2. Ramirez gazed at a pitch over the inside corner, whereas Ortiz checkswung on a pitch down and over the outside corner.
Thornton's line: 2 1/3 innings, 1 run, 3 hits, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts, 53 pitches (31 strikes)
The meat's expired. Beltre had a frustrating at-bat, swinging at a 1-1 breaking ball low and away, then fouling off a 2-2 pitch that seemed destined toward his back shoulder. He rolled out to short. Ibañez whiffed on an 0-2 dirtball, and Boone grounded out to short. Clement threw 14 pitches and had thrown 91 through six.
Julio Mateo came in for Matt Thornton. Millar flew out just short of the track in centerfield. Varitek grounded out to Boone, and Payton flew out to Reed to end the inning. Mateo threw 11 pitches.
Baserunners? Reed singled over Bellhorn's head and into rightfield. Dobbs flew out to leftfield on the first pitch. Olivo got the hitters' counts and walked on 3-1. Valdez got ahead 2-0 and grounded a 2-2 pitch to short, beating out a double play in the process (6-4 fielder's choice). With runners on the corners and two out, Ichiro chopped the 2-0 pitch back to the mound.
Clement's line: 7 innings, 1 run (unearned), 5 hits, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts, 107 pitches (72 strikes)
This Mateo guy is good. Mueller bounced out to Boone, Vazquez whiffed on a breaking ball, and Bellhorn whiffed on a low pitch as the Fenway crowd got so bored they were doing the Wave, which has me at a loss for words.
Mateo's line: 2 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 27 pitches (20 strikes)
Alan Embree came in for Clement. Winn bounced out to first. Beltre lined out to Payton in centerfield. Ibañez got down 0-2 and wound up looking at a pitch over the inside corner.
Embree's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 15 pitches (10 strikes)
JJ Putz came in for Mateo, and went 0-2 on all three hitters. Nixon watched a pitch over the outside corner. Ramirez grounded out to Ibañez at first. Ortiz hung in for a couple more pitches before foul-tipping a 2-2 pitch into Olivo's glove.
Putz' line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 11 pitches (9 strikes)
Blaine Neal came in for Embree. Boone poked the second pitch of the inning into center for a single. Reed took a 3-1 pitch inside for a free pass. Dobbs fouled off four pitches with two strikes before hitting a soft single to rightfield, loading the bases. Dave Hansen came in to pinch hit, and he flew out to Ramirez, which scored Boone.
»» RED SOX 7, MARINERS 2
Bloomquist came in to pinch hit and flew out to rightfield on the second pitch. Ichiro hit a hard grounder to second. Ballgame.
Neal's line: 1 inning, 1 run, 2 hits, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 21 pitches (14 strikes)
Gameball: Julio Mateo.
I think I have a tendency to lean toward long relief when it comes to picking gameballs for these clobberfest games. Jeremy Reed was very deserving by going 2-for-3 with a walk and hitting the ball hard in all three official at-bats (the out was the laser into Clement's glove). Mateo, however, threw a couple of 1-2-3 innings, though it was garbage time by that point. It's early, yes, and the team has lost six straight, but Mateo's sitting here with an ERA of 0.59. If they'd move out of the idiocy that is the use of Ron Villone as a situational lefty, Villone/Mateo might be a decent multi-inning combo setup for Guardado or something. Or alternate Hasegawa with either one of those guys every once in a while. Hasegawa has that thing where he gets lefties out pretty well, so maybe you could be nuts and throw him as the situational pseudo-lefty if Villone goes long, who knows. I'm thinking out loud here, but I'm sure you're used to that.
Goat: Jamie Moyer.
Say anything you want about the bats, which are horrible right now, but some of the starting pitching the Mariners have gotten over the last turn in the rotation hasn't been good either. Gil Meche's start was probably the best start in the rotation over the last five games [Edit ~2:05p -- sorry, Joel. Didn't mean to slight your 3-run, 8-inning start in Oakland last Sunday, which was way better than Meche's outing], but Meche still gave up five runs in that one, though he did go eight innings. As for Jamie in this game, I don't even think he got through the second inning before Dave Niehaus and Ron Fairly started making excuses for him -- "this isn't one of Jamie's favorite parks to in which to pitch." You can curse the bats all you want, but how many games can you really expect to win if Jamie Moyer gives up six runs and can't get out of the third inning? Who knows, he might be distraught over Dan Wilson tearing his ACL too. That could be a factor. I know I'd be a little apprehensive if I knew that there'd be a chance that I'd have Wiki Gonzalez back there catching my pitches.
Seriously, I've never been this non-enthralled about watching any sporting events since the Sonics had that last handful of games at the end of the regular season where they were suiting up nine guys because everyone was hurt. You knew that if Ray Allen and Luke Ridnour were the only key cogs on the floor, they were probably going to get trounced every night. Thus, when I was watching those games, I went in hoping they'd maintain some shreds of competitiveness for a while and just maybe get a win, though they probably wouldn't. They'd hang in for maybe most of the first half until reality set in.
Over the last week, the Mariners haven't become completely unwatchable, but they sure have been hard to watch. They've been like clockwork -- starting pitcher gives up a few runs early or gets shelled, offense gets baserunners but barely any of them score. It's also pretty depressing when the bottom of the lineup manages to somehow get on base, and then the order turns over and no one can get those runs across. There have been good times to watch the Mariners, and there have been bad times to watch the Mariners -- this isn't one of the good times.
Congrats to Richie Sexson and wife. Of course, that left the lineup in shambles. Ibanez at first is something I can understand, but Dobbs in the lineup? Can we see if Stan Javier has any sons and if they're too young, can we then give them rapid aging pills so they can take spots on this bench?
In other news for the bats, Adrian Beltre had that nice single to leftfield, so now he's got one hit in his last 22 at-bats. I guess if there's any positive, it's that Beltre has only struck out three times in his last six games, according to what the ESPN BottomLine just told me. Movin' on up! In bad news, Ichiro stranded four runners, and Raul Ibañez struck out three times (hat trick) in his stellar 0-for-4 performance. At least we got error-free play at first base out of it.
Let's see here, the Red Sox don't have Curt Schilling and David Wells right now, but does it really matter for the Mariners at this point? At least the Mariners a chance at revenge in the form of a home series against the Red Sox at the Safe...except the Mariners are beyond horrible at home so far. The Mariners still haven't played the Yankees yet, but hey, they'll get Randy Johnson. I know those two sets against the Yankees are going to be clashes of the titans, but the fact that Randy Johnson, Tino Martinez, and Alex Rodriguez all play for that team now is just too much for my mind to try to comprehend.
Any bets on when this losing streak might stop?
Pineiro. Gonzalez. Today...or tomorrow, if this stormy weather in New England holds up. If it does hold up...
...Franklin. Miller. (Later) tomorrow.
Friday, May 06, 2005
The deal is worth $4 million with Brown getting paid $1.5 million in 2005. Brown was with the Seahawks from 1997 to 2004 before being released on April 21. The New Orleans Saints had also inquired about Brown's services.
This is a big deal for the Patriots, should Brown stay healthy. The Patriots play a 3-4 defense, which is a defense Brown thrived in while he was with Pittsburgh Steelers during the mid-1990s. Tedy Bruschi's status for the 2005 season is up in the air. Scott Pioli and Bill Bellichick obviously figured that they had to add another veteran linebacker if Bruschi isn't able to play. Enter Brown.
From a Seahawks fan's perspective, I wish Brown the best of luck in New England. He was one of the biggest warriors in Seahawks history. I expect Brown to stay healthy in New England and contribute to an already stellar defense. The Patriots defense won't have Romeo Crennel as their coordinator, but don't expect them to drop off too much.
Good luck, Chad.
Since the Mariners aren't trying to win tonight, I'm not trying to do a good post here. I tried to find a photo that would work well in this situation. I figured a photo of Brigitte Nielsen, Anna Nicole Smith, and Flavor Flav would do the trick.
Of course, I'm not trying to do a good post either. But please don't call me the Vince Carter of the Mariner blogosphere. I'm not overrated like Vinsanity is.
Mariners at Red Sox, 4:05 Pacific (FSN Northwest, MLB.TV)
Jamie Moyer (4-0, 3.53 ERA) vs Matt Clement (3-0, 4.00 ERA)
SEATTLE MARINERS (12-16)
Ichiro rf .328
Winn lf .316
Beltre 3b .221
Ibanez 1b .273
Boone 2b .255
Reed cf .250
Dobbs dh .214
Olivo c .149
Valdez ss .214
BOSTON RED SOX (16-12)
Bellhorn 2b .231
Nixon rf .324
Ramirez lf .265
Ortiz dh .257
Millar 1b .245
Varitek c .337
Payton cf .200
Mueller 3b .239
Vazquez ss .242
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"I just needed to re-align" Godsmack "Re-Align"
As you can tell, there are a few changes to the daily game threads.
1) The title is now "THE PUMP", the term we use for our photos that feature the lowest batting averages in the Mariners lineup. We are productive here at Sports and Bremertonians, so that's another reason why I eliminated the "not-so-productive" title.
2) Dan Wilson is on the DL, therefore he's off the PUMP. If you're on the DL, you're not on the PUMP. This is why Scott Spiezio's .083 average isn't up there.
3) For this weekend, we're going with Citgo as our "sponsor". Fitting, because the Mariners are in Boston.
Anyways, the Mariners have lost 5 in a row. Can they end the streak tonight in Boston? We can only hope that Jamie Moyer rebounds from his poor start last weekend in Oakland.
It's time for Miguel Olivo to shine. I've had high hopes for Olivo since he came to Seattle last summer. Is Fenway Park the place where Olivo starts to turn it around? If anything, I just want to take Olivo off the PUMP.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
From today's Seattle Times:
Some fans reported not receiving a bat with their Edgar Martinez statue at Tuesday's game.
The bats were attached in a bag to the back of the statue. A Mariners spokesman said the team will give a bat to those who didn't get one or lost it.
Funny, it seems like a few of the current Mariners seemed to have lost their bats in the first month of the season. Or better yet, they didn't have any bats at all.
What's next? Russ Davis statues with a brick on the left hand instead of a glove?
So now I'm going random. Not that you couldn't just enjoy Jeremy's off-day post directly below this one, but I'm chiming in too.
-- "Lovedrive" is an underrated Scorpions song. So is "Still Loving You."
-- If I eat cheddar cheese that doesn't taste good melted, does that mean I've eaten a bad form of cheddar cheese, or is cheddar just not intended to be melted?
-- Melted mozzarella is way better than string cheese.
-- If the Pistons (horse with green/tealish color) and the Islanders (Gorton's fisherman) realized their logos were so bad that they changed them almost all the way back to the original...do we put the Sonics in the same boat since their uniforms are a lot like their pre-Key duds? Granted, I thought the Sonics' space-needle oval logo served its purpose and did its job; I didn't think it was ugly until they ran the red uniforms out on the floor (Santa suits).
-- I've said it already, but I'm digging the Cubs with no last names on their home uniforms. They look great. There's something of a semi-menacing undercurrent to seeing Mark Prior with just a 22 on his back pitching at Wrigley. Don't try to think about what a "semi-menacing undercurrent" is because I just did, and I can't really decipher it.
-- As cool as the Cubs ripping the last names off their home duds is, the Dodgers ripping the last names off all of their jerseys doesn't work as well. In a different life when someone hires me to teach "Sports Uniform Aesthetics 101," I will tell my class that there's too much empty space on the backs of the Dodgers' uniforms, and that some other type of number font needs to be used, rather than the regular kind used by a dozen or so teams (including the Mariners). If you're gonna take the surnames off, something has to fill a portion of that space. Also, since it's the Dodgers, I'd expect some sort of cool number font to maybe be a little more traditional, who knows.
-- When the White Sox, Rockies, and Twins had no last names on the backs of their home uniforms, they looked great.
-- Are you sick of the uniform blabber yet?
-- I'm not sure what irks me more, that awkward period in 2000 when I was hearing Styx and Bon Jovi played on KISW (I've got no problem with either, but it's stuff I'd rather hear on KZOK), or the fact that the 96.5-FM station in the Seattle area is now "Jack FM," i.e., some faceless radio station that has a dozen or so different stations around the country. Playing what the machine wants.
-- I've loved this special season for the Sonics, and I'm keeping that in mind even though I think the Spurs have this series in six games. Bruce Bowen's gotten into Ray Allen's head during the season, and unless Danny Fortson plows Bowen with a screen, it's going to definitely be a factor. I hope Vladimir Radmanovic goes nuts in at least one game though.
-- I was watching that PrimeTime Live special last night where former American Idol contestant Corey Clark alleged he had an affair with Paula Abdul while he was on the show. I could only think of two things the entire time -- (1) Paula Abdul hit it big in 1989, and that makes me feel incredibly old, and (2) the song that Clark wrote about the whole alleged affair (and the clips were liberally spread across the hour-long story) freakin' SUCKS. I mean, it's great to write what you feel, I guess, but do you ever get the feeling when you're hearing a song that it's forced or awkward?
-- Do kids still play Slug Bug when a new version of the Volkswagen Beetle goes by?
-- Would a random focus group get behind my pipe-dream proposal to have television commercial jingles banned, or have the jingles face the American Idol panel? Ezekiel's Home Furnishing and Appliances is just all right for me, dog...
-- I talked with a friend not too long ago, and we agreed on a broad, yet concise statement -- The Simpsons, though good, is the play-it-safe version of Family Guy. Though a bad comparison, Bart and the gang are kind of like what Leno is to Letterman, except if Leno was pretty good.
-- If you like semi-obscure 80s references like we do, and if you haven't seen Robot Chicken on the Cartoon Network yet, you have to see it. 11:30 late Sunday nights. Claymation and the twisted mind of Seth Green. Why don't we just call it Project Bananarama?!
Okay, I really need to do something else now. It's a beautiful day in the Northwest. Actually, it's a great day for baseball. Or hitting baseballs. Either way.
Meet Tony Parker's girlfriend, Eva Longoria.
R.D. Baker is dead-on about Longoria. If only the Sonics had a big-time Hollywood star in their cheering section. But wait...
The Sonics already have a Hollywood star on the court!
"Basketball is like poetry in motion, cross the guy to the left, take him back to the right, he's fallin back, then just J right in his face. Then you look at him and say, "What?"" --- Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen), "He Got Game"
Sure, the Spurs may have Ms. Longoria in their corner.
But the Sonics have Jesus on their side.
Game 1 in San Antonio, sometime this weekend (TBA)
THIS OFF-DAY POST BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE PALMS CASINO HOTEL IN LAS VEGAS, WHERE THE MALOOF BROTHERS PLAN ON WATCHING GAME 1 OF THE SONICS-SPURS SECOND ROUND SERIES WHILE IN THE COMPANY OF LOTS OF HOT CHICKS. FYI, THE HOT CHICKS ARE TOUGHER THAN THE QUEENS THEMSELVES. NO MORE COWBELL, SAC-TOWN!
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Wiki Gonzalez has been called up from Triple-A Tacoma to take Wilson's spot on the roster. I never thought I would say this, but I would rather have Willie Bloomquist behind the plate than Wiki Gonzalez. Bloomquist is the emergency catcher, FYI.
Gonzalez is a lazy bum dating back to his days in the San Diego Padres organization. The label hasn't escaped him since. However, Gonzalez coming up to the big club does make sense, considering that he would fit right in with this ballclub, who have lost 5 in a row dating back to last Saturday in Oakland. The Mariners are not playing hard right now. So it makes perfect sense to bring up one of the laziest players in all of baseball. Why the hell not?
I'm not looking forward to the Wiki-Z-Boy Era.
In 25 words or less: Pretty much like the night before, and even with the same score, with the added twist of losing some catching depth.
This one featured Paul Byrd (4-0 lifetime against the Mariners coming into the game) against Aaron Sele.
Sele got roughed up early, though his outing progressed more like that of Ryan Franklin two nights before rather than Gil Meche, who lasted eight innings the night before. Darin Erstad flew out to Randy Winn in leftfield. Chone Figgins fouled off a 3-1 pitch before walking. Vladimir Guerrero made quick work of an 0-1 pitch that got too much of the plate (pictured above) and did an impersonation of the Richie Sexson homer in the middle game of the series, putting the ball over the Nikon ad and into the throngs of beer-lovers beyond the fence.
»» ANGELS 2, MARINERS 0
Garret Anderson flew out to Jeremy Reed in centerfield on the first pitch, then Steve Finley gave Winn some more fly ball work, though in foul ground this time. Sele threw 16 pitches.
Business as usual. Ichiro bounced the first pitch to Adam Kennedy at second. Randy Winn waited four pitches to do the same. Adrian Beltre mixed things up, hitting a 1-2 pitch off the end of his bat and rolling it to Erstad at first. Byrd threw 10 pitches.
Sele would be unscathed, though not in the easiest of ways. Orlando Cabrera ripped a single into leftfield. Dallas McPherson had the hitters' counts, but Sele's 3-1 pitch was way outside, and he walked to first base while pitching coach Bryan Price walked out to the mound. Josh Paul couldn't get a bunt down, and then went down swinging. Sele fell behind 2-0 on Adam Kennedy, who lined out right to Winn. Erstad was jammed on his second pitch, grounding out to Bret Boone at second. Sele threw 17 pitches.
They've got some fight in 'em! Richie Sexson fouled off a 3-1 pitch before whiffing. Bret Boone dropped a flare into rightcenter for a single. Raul Ibanez smoked one through the right side and almost nailed Boone. Jeremy Reed hit a popup to left on the first pitch. Dan Wilson singled down the rightfield line, though Guerrero cut it off before it could rattle in the corner, perhaps saving a run in the process. Boone scored.
»» ANGELS 2, MARINERS 1
Wilson Valdez then blooped a single into leftcenter over Cabrera, who was running backwards and was about halfway toward the outfield wall, it seemed like. This scored Ibanez to tie the score.
»» ANGELS 2, MARINERS 2
Ichiro then grounded out to short on the second pitch, and it appears the team-wide hitting slump may now even be affecting him. Byrd threw 18 pitches.
Just as quickly as the Mariners got even, Sele gave it back. Figgins had a 2-0 count and whiffed on a 2-2 curve, but the worries would soon start. Guerrero fouled back a 3-1 pitch before walking on a pitch way outside. Anderson took Ichiro to the track in rightcenter for a long out. Finley fouled off a 3-1 pitch where Guerrero was running. He then drove a single over Boone's head to move Guerrero to third. Two pitches later, Guerrero scored on Cabrera's base hit to centerfield.
»» ANGELS 3, MARINERS 2
McPherson had the hitters' counts. On 3-1, he hit a ball to the right side that got under Boone's diving attempt. Finley scored, and Cabrera went to third.
»» ANGELS 4, MARINERS 2
On an 0-1 pitch to Paul, Wilson somehow gunned down McPherson trying to steal second. Sele threw 27 pitches.
A leadoff hit would go for naught this time. Winn poked one through the hole on the right side for a single before the offense did their thing. Beltre worked a 1-2 count full amidst a couple of foul-offs, eventually flying out foul to Guerrero down the rightfield line. Sexson drove his second pitch to Guerrero as well, who caught it near the wall. The 0-1 pitch to Boone was wild, and Winn advanced to second. He foueld off a couple 2-2 pitches before stinging one right at Anderson in leftfield. Byrd threw 20 pitches.
Sele somehow didn't get burned by the leadoff walk. Paul fouled off a 3-1 pitch before taking his free pass. Kennedy grounded out to Beltre, and Erstad blistered a line drive right at Beltre. Figgins flew out shallow to Ichiro. Sele threw 16 pitches and was at 76 through four.
Some rotten luck. Ibanez got the hitters' counts and lined a single into rightfield on 3-1. Reed tagged a 1-2 pitch right to Erstad at first, who had more than enough time to cover the short distance to the first-base bag to double off Ibanez. Wilson fouled off an 0-2 pitch before hacking at a slider to end the inning. Byrd threw 14 pitches.
Sele would reach the end of his rope. Guerrero hit a deep fly ball to left, off the top of the wall to the left of the manual scoreboard, good for a double. Anderson flew out on the first pitch deep to center, ebavling Guerrero to get to third. Finley was intentionally walked.
Shigetoshi Hasegawa came in for Villone. Cabrera flew out to Ichiro at medium depth in rightfield, and Guerrero came running toward the plate. Ichiro's throw home was a bit up the line, but Wilson was able to get control of it and reach forward to tag Guerrero as he toward the plate. The score remained.
Sele's line: 4 1/3 innings, 4 runs, 6 hits, 5 walks, 2 strikeouts, 84 pitches (45 strikes)
It's just not going well for these bats right now. Valdez hit a ball to rightfield that Guerrero lost in the sun. It went over his head and Valdez scooted to second with a double. Ichiro tried to bunt his way aboard, but it went foul. Then he popped out to McPherson in foul territory. Winn lined the first pitch barely foul down the rightfield line. Winn hit the second pitch hard off Byrd's glove, and Kennedy couldn't come up with it, and it was too late before Cabrera got to it. Valdez went to third on the infield hit. Beltre tapped one back to the mound, and Byrd went to second, though ill-placed throw kept it from being a double play. Dave Niehaus and Rick Rizzs in the booth were befuddled as to why Valdez didn't try to score on the play. Sexson hit a high fly ball to Kennedy to end the inning. Byrd threw 14 pitches and was at 76 through five.
Hasegawa got through the inning unrattled. McPherson flew out to Winn in leftcenter. Paul got the hitters' counts and eventually took a full-count pitch outside. Kennedy tapped one back to the mound for what should have been a double play, but the throw to first by Valdez nailed the baserunner Paul in the thumb, foiling the double play and eventually knocking Paul out of the game. Erstad had the hitters' counts before bouncing one to Boone.
Byrd got 0-2 counts on every hitter in the inning. Unsurprisingly, he only faced three. Boone lined out to Kennedy, and Ibanez took the ground-ball route to Kennedy. Reed went down hacking. Byrd threw 10 pitches and was at 86 through six.
The Mariner bullpen was able to avoid jams. Figgins bunted a ball along the third-base line that never went foul, good for a single.
Jeff Nelson then came on for Hasegawa. Figgins got a huge jump and stole on the first pitch to Guerrero. With the count 3-0, Nelson spun back and was able to get Figgins in a rundown, as he was picked off, 1-4-5-6 in the book. Guerrero whiffed at a slider low and away on 3-1, but then walked on a pitch low and away.
Ron Villone came on for Jeff Nelson. Anderson hit a deep ball off the rightfield wall near the Boeing sign, though he was held to a single. Guerrero moved to third on the play. Finley flew out to Ichiro on 0-2, and it was too shallow for Guerrero to tag up and score. Cabrera hit a ball to the hole on the left side, but Beltre made the out. Villone threw eight pitches.
Hasegawa's line: 1 2/3 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 30 pitches (17 strikes)
Nelson's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 6 pitches (2 strikes)
Paul Byrd would finally leave the game, but it got worse for Mariner fans. Wilson got down 0-2 but twice fouled off 1-2 pitches before lining a single to centerfield. Valdez popped an 0-2 pitch behind the bag at first, and Erstad made the easy catch. Ichiro was victim to a running catch by Anderson, and he nearly nailed Dan Wilson, who lumbered back to first. Upon lumbering, Wilson was eaten up by his slide. More on this shortly.
Jake Woods came in for Byrd. With the count 2-0 on Winn, Rick Griffin came out to check on Wilson at first. Miguel Olivo came in to run for him. Later during the game, it was revealed that Wilson had a sore knee. In the hours after the game, it was revealed that Wilson had torn his ACL. Winn whiffed on a full count to end the inning.
Byrd's line: 6 2/3 innings, 2 runs, 9 hits, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts, 97 pitches (72 strikes)
Woods' line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 7 pitches (4 strikes)
Villone made fairly quick work of the bottom of the Angels' lineup. The first three hitters faced 0-2 counts. McPherson worked his count full and fouled one off befire grounding a two-hopper to Boone. Molina took a pitch barely outside and fouled off a 1-2 pitch before getting the whiff. Villone hung a breaking ball to Kennedy, who singled to leftcenter. Erstad grounded out to Boone to end the inning.
Villone's line: 1 2/3 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 28 pitches (21 strikes)
Brendan Donnelly came in for Woods. Beltre hit a high fly ball to Guerrero. Sexson hit a long single to centerfield on the first pitch. Boone grounded to Cabrera at short for a 6-4 fielder's choice. Ibanez whiffed on a 2-2 pitch that might have been a screwball, according to our esteemed radio crew.
Donnelly's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 11 pitches (8 strikes)
Eddie Guardado came on for Villone to get some work. Figgins worked a walk from a 1-2 count. Guerrero popped a 2-0 pitch to Sexson in foul ground. Figgins stole second on the 0-2 pitch to Anderson, and went to third when Olivo threw low and into centerfield trying to get him. Anderson fouled off a 1-2 pitch before singling into leftcenter.
»» ANGELS 5, MARINERS 2
Anderson went to second on the 0-1 wild pitch to Finley. Finley fouled a 1-2 pitch into the first row of seats, but Sexson was able to lean over and make the catch. The Mariners pitched out on Cabrera before making the walk intentional. McPherson had a 2-0 count, but whiffed on a 2-2 pitch.
Guardado's line: 1 inning, 1 run, 1 hit, 2 walks, 1 strikeout, 28 pitches (14 strikes)
Francisco Rodriguez came in for Donnelly. Reed bunted the second pitch to the mound. Olivo watched a couple of sliders before hopelessly missing on the third. Dave Hansen was officially back on the team, pinch-hitting for Valdez. He bounced a 1-2 pitch to Cabrera at short. Ballgame.
Rodriguez' line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 9 pitches (8 strikes)
Gameball: Dan Wilson.
One for the road. I'll get into a Wilson spiel below, but for this day, he went 2-for-3 and drove in a run. He also put the tag down on Vladimir Guerrero when the Ichiro throw was a bit up the line.
Goat: Aaron Sele.
I'm not going to try to say I told you so or anything, but when the Mariners brought Aaron Sele into spring training, I thought he'd be cranking out more starts like this once he got onto the roster. I thought he'd throw about 80 or 90 pitches and maybe get out of the 5th once in a while. He's had a couple good starts this year, don't get me wrong, but I think those were definitely the top of his game, and we might be seeing more of a gravitation towards the mean.
First and foremost, whenever a guy tears his ACL, it's big news. The fact that it's been one of the stalwarts of the breakthrough era of Mariner baseball makes it a bit sad. I won't deny I've ragged on his hitting and speed since I was in high school, but Dan Wilson has been a large part of any pitching success the Mariners have had in the last decade. He got to the point where he could call a good game by himself behind the plate, and though Miguel Olivo is younger, he definitely hasn't gotten to that point yet since he's still looking to the dugout to see what sign he should throw down. The other thing was the blocking. Aaron Sele knows now and I'm sure he knew the first time around with Seattle that he could throw that curve in the dirt and know it wouldn't get past Dan. Kazuhiro Sasaki probably owes many a save to Dan, and probably is still thankful for all the runners that didn't advance from first to second with two out in a one-run game after he threw the Thang in the dirt. And when Jeff Fassero lost control that last year and couldn't throw a basketball over the plate, Dan had to catch that too.
The point is this -- if that was Dan Wilson's swan song in a Mariner uniform, I've enjoyed what he's done for this pitching staff, this team, and this community. If this was the end, I'm glad he had a great day at the plate, too. It reminded me a lot of Tom Lampkin's final game in a Mariner uniform before he was done for the season. You know, the grand slam against Baltimore.
As for this offense, I'm not sure there's really anything new to say. I know Paul Byrd owns this team, but it's still frustrating to see 10 hits on the board and only two runs come across. Everybody's pressing. I know things will look up, they're entirely much better than all the elements that the team depended on to go right last year. In a related story, how many times are we going to be able to say that Ichiro struck out three times in one game, and went 0-for-4 and stranded four runners the next game? You've got to believe the team's going to at least have a bit more of a chance if/when he warms up at the plate.
So when you think about this team, just remember that they'll return to playing competitive ball again, and there's still the chance of seeing Felix Hernandez and Jose Lopez at the Major League level soon enough. Just remember that this season will still be infinitely more watchable than last year, and remember that even if you know that these 12-16 Mariners are only one game better than the Mariners after 28 games last year.
Of course, what better time than to schedule nothing but the Yankees and Red Sox for nearly two weeks? I've already complained about the Yankees not being in town for a weekend series, but oh well, I guess they replaced that with the Red Sox. Wear your Yankees Suck tee-shirts with pride, because this time it might actually apply based on standings. It's kind of a double-edged sword, though. You might be getting the Yankees and Red Sox when they aren't that good, but that doesn't mean they can't get hot at a moment's notice and find their groove against you. Though it's hockey, I remember the Toronto Maple Leafs were almost ready to fire Pat Quinn and the media in Toronto was all over them, but they had their first good game (part of a very good home-and-home series) in a while, and it was against the Canucks. Then Toronto caught fire and Quinn's job was a lot more safe, and the Leafs got a new lease on their season. I'm not saying the Yankees and Red Sox will get off the launching pad against the Mariners, but there's always that chance.
If I learned one thing from Metallica's Behind the Music episode, it's that Loser's Lunch is bologna on hand. Turkey is way better.
Moyer. Clement. Tomorrow.
Angels at Mariners, 3:35 p.m. Pacific (Radio only in Seattle, MLB.TV)
Paul Byrd (1-3, 5.29 ERA) vs Aaron Sele (2-2, 4.71 ERA)
On April 18 in Anaheim, Aaron Sele allowed 6 runs, including two home runs (Vladimir Guerrero and Darin Erstad). In today's matinee at Safeco Field, can Sele avoid a similar situation? He's going to have to or else the Angels will sweep this series. Today's Fairly Fact has been brought to you by Western Family.
Tomorrow is an off-day as the M's head to Boston and New York. The M's are winless so far in May (0-3). Will the May flowers finally bloom for the Mariners today?
Not only is Queens Of The Stone Age' "In My Head" in my head, Arkansas' own Krisi Ballentine is in my head as well. No, there are no current plans to have Ms. Ballentine do a photoshoot with Sports and Bremertonians. She's a busy girl, you know.
Boxin' up a storm here at Sports and Bremertonians. I don't care if you bitch about Adrian Beltre in the box. But please, be reasonable. REASON! REASON! REASON!
With this victory, the Sonics await the winner of the San Antonio/Denver series, currently led 3-1 by the Spurs. The Sonics have been able to hang with both teams during the season, though much more so with a full lineup of players like they have now. The Sonics were also one of the few teams to win in San Antonio during the regular season. The only thing to fear would be that Bruce Bowen is in Ray Allen's head. The Sonics would need to make sure to not let Bowen have the corner three (that's his only shot), and to minimize the number of times Tim Duncan gets that 15-foot high banker from the left side. That shot's almost a gimmie for him.
Game 5 started out well enough once the Sonics got the ball. Brad Miller of the Kings hit a shot from the left elbow for the first basket of the game, which generally isn't a good sign. The Sonics then scored the next nine points; a Reggie Evans dunk (three-point play) followed by a turnaround hook was sandwiched between Ray Allen's corner three and the crossover move that would be described as an "ankle breaker" on Brad Miller, which is kinda morbid since he'd been coming off the broken fibula. Anyway, the Sonics led 9-2, and Sacramento called timeout with 9:14 to play in the quarter. Evans continued to be relevant with his minutes, scrapping with Kenny Thomas on the floor for a loose ball, and later rolling to the basket for a dunk to put the Sonics up 17-10 with 6:02 to go. Nick Collison's layup off a screen-and-roll with Luke Ridnour (5:16) along with a Reggie Evans free throw put the Sonics up 20-12 with 4:54 remaining. The Kings then reeled off an 11-2 run to take the lead with 2:07 to go, mostly with transition layups and/or dunks, and Peja Stojakovic scored seven points on that run. The Sonics were able to reassume a five-point lead by the end of the quarter, a modest 6-2 run started by a Vladimir Radmanovic three off a screen on the right side. The Sonics led 29-24 after one quarter.
The second quarter eventually started out nicely as well, once they got past where Antonio Daniels got called for charging Corliss Williamson. Daniels nearly had another fast-break chance again, but Williamson and Danny Fortson got tied up in backcourt, and a double foul was called. Once that got out of the way, Daniels hit a long jumper and Ridnour grabbed a Bobby Jackson miss and quickly passed to Daniels, who finished off the break with a layup as the Sonics were on an 8-0 run carrying over from the first quarter, putting them up 33-24, and forcing the Kings to call timeout at the 10:45 mark. The teams traded baskets for a few minutes, then Cuttino Mobley sprained an ankle, leaving the Kings minus one key shooter. Sacramento called a 20-second timeout with 7:11 to go after Mobley hobbled around for a few seconds with the Kings trying to run their offense. Stojakovic hit a three right after the timeout to get the Kings within five at 42-37.
At the exact halfway point of the second quarter, James dunked after putting a spin move on a smaller defender, and the Sonics were up 46-39. Ridnour stripped the ball away and started a break, weaving through defenders at halfcourt, dribbling behind the back and throwing a lefthanded pass across his belly to Rashard Lewis, who slammed it home for a 50-41 Sonic lead with 5:03 left in the half. Ridnour hit a pop from the left elbow at the 4:11 mark to put Seattle up 9, 52-43. The Kings then went on a small 5-0 run, thanks to a Bibby jumpes and a few Stojakovic points. It cut the Seattle lead to four (52-48). Collison dunked to finish a screen-and-roll with Ray Allen to get the lead back to six (54-48), and so did an Allen drive to the glass for a layup with 2:21 remaining (56-50). Though the Sonics had a couple nice plays in the waning minutes (Collison offensive board leading to a Lewis baseline jam, and Collison packing a missed Allen layup) The Kings whittled the lead down to three at half, down only 60-57.
Allen and Lewis led the Sonics with 11 points apiece at halftime. Daniels had 8. Collison and Evans had 7 each.
Then came the storm. After Ray Allen hit a three from the right side on the first possession of the second half, the Kings went on a 7-0 run to take the lead. Stojakovic launched a three and finished a crazy turnover sequence with a fast-break layup to get the Kings a 64-63 lead with 10:16 to go in the quarter. It got worse. The Kings started hitting everything. Jerome James scored the Sonics' only three points the prolongation of the Kings' huge run. Bibby hit a three off a tipped rebound under the basket, Miller hit a perimeter jumper, someone let Maurice Evans hit a corner three, and he also finished a break with a layup and a three-point play since Ridnour made one of those fouls on the break that makes you scratch your head and/or yell at the television. The Kings now led by double-digits, 76-66 at the 8:07 mark, having just gone on a 19-3 tear. Kenny Thomas threw the ball out of bounds on a Sacramento possession with 7:02 left, marking the first Seattle stop of the half.
Seattle never got closer than three points for the rest of the third quarter. Reggie Evans put back a blown Lewis layup for a three-point play to make it 82-79 with 5:02 to go after he flagrant-fouled Bibby a few seconds before that (arm to the head). Allen answered Bibby's drive to the basket with a stepback fadeaway jumper to make it 84-81 (3:56). Off another tipped-out rebound, Bibby ounced in a three-pointer to widen the Kings' lead to eight (91-83, 1:35) before the Sonics went on a 7-2 run to end the quarter, a run dominated by Antonio Daniels. He penetrated and kicked to Danny Fortson, who hit a couple of free throws. He was wiped out by Williamson on an illegal screen, then went straight to the basket and was fouled, and he hit his free throws. Then the quarter ended with Daniels finding Collison low on the right side for an easy basket to make it a 93-90 game, with Sacramento ahead.
The fourth quarter still had to be played. Collison outran everyone down the floor on a break, and Daniels threw a long outlet pass, which Collison finished with a fingerroll layup and a three-point play to tie the score at 95 (9:09). Daniels hit Collison with an alley-oop layup on the next possession to give the Sonics the lead that had escaped them since the opening minutes of the half. After Brad Miller threw a pass out of bounds, Ray Allen pulled up from the left side and sank a shot, putting the finishing touches on a 15-3 Seattle run, and the Sonics led 99-95 with 8:15 left. Allen hit a three from the right side with Maurice Evans all over him to make it 102-97 with 7:31 to go. Stojakovic was fouled by James and hit a couple free throws to make it 102-99 (6:48).
Sacramento got to within two points, though. Brad Miller powered to the rack and abused Radmanovic for a layup, Bibby hit a free throw (but not both), and then drove to the basket for a layup to make it 106-104 with 5:16 remaining in the game. That made it a great time for a 7-0 Rashard Lewis run. Lewis hit a baseline hook from the right side, hit a couple free throws, and nailed a three from the left side to make it 113-104 with 3:28 to go. James grabbed an offensive board and was fouled, sinking a couple of free throws to make it 115-106 (3:01). In what could have been very pivotal, Nick Collison was fouled down low by Brad Miller, and then missed both of his free throws. Even more pivotal, Brad Miller grabbed the rebound of the second free throw and stumbled out of bounds. Daniels hit a couple free throws a few seconds later (119-111, 1:41), but the Kings weren't done yet.
The Kings mounted a 7-1 run in the final two minutes. Mike Bibby hit a jumper and a couple of free throws, and the Kings got a second chance on a possession, and Peja Stojakovic hit a three to make it crazy and also make it 120-118 with 36.5 seconds left in the game.
The Sonics led by only two with 36.5 seconds left. After signaling everyone else away from the ball, Allen worked through Maurice Evans on his way to the basket, as well as Miller and Stojakovic under the basket for a layup to seal the game and the series. Antonio Daniels dove out of bounds for a tipped offensive rebound on the last Sacramento possession. It eventually ended with Bibby missing a three from the right side. Lewis grabbed the rebound and stood on the baseline with the ball raised high in the air with one hand.
PEEK AT THE BOXSCORE
Ray Allen 30 pts/2 reb/6 ast (12-20 FG, 4-6 3pt, 2-2 free throws, 43 min), Rashard Lewis 24 pts/7 reb/4 ast (7-13 FG, 3-5 3pt, 7-8 free throws, 42 min), Luke Ridnour 10 pts/6 reb/6 ast (5-10 FG, 28 min), Reggie Evans 10 pts/5 reb (3-5 FG, 4-5 free throws, 17 min)
Nick Collison 15 pts/9 reb (6-6 FG, 3-7 free throws, 25 min), Antonio Daniels 14 pts/3 reb/8 ast (3-7 FG, 8-8 free throws, 24 min), Vladimir Radmanovic 6 pts/4 reb (2-8 FG, 1-4 3pt, 1-2 free throws, 25 min), Danny Fortson 2 pts (2-2 free throws, 8 min)
Jerome James Watch
11 pts/6 reb (4-6 FG, 3-4 free throws, 1 turnover, 5 fouls, 28 min)
shot 42-for-75 (56%) from the floor, shot 8-for-17 (47.1%) from downtown, shot 30-for-38 (78.9%) from the line, badly outrebounded Sacramento 43-25, turned ball over 14 times for 20 Sacramento points (SAC only 7 for 4), beat Sacramento 46-38 in the paint (lost 16-14 on the break), bench outscored Sacramento bench 37-18 (outrebounded them 17-6)
Jerome James stepped aside a bit, but the Sonics were able to win without another freakish game from the garbage-bag man. Ray Allen didn't go off in this one either, and it turns out 30 points is just another night for him. The great story of the Sonic starters, though, is Rashard Lewis, who hadn't really emerged as a huge factor in the series until the clincher. He had the 7-0 run late in the fourth quarter all to himself, for goodness' sake. That's seven of his 24 right there.
I hope Nick Collison stays in a Sonic uniform for many years, and I hope he (along with Reggie Evans) works on his free throws this offseason. That might be the only real flaw in his game. The non-flaws seem to be his moving without the basketball, setting screens, and always seeming to be in the right places on the floor. He was also great on the glass in this game. I guess it's all part of the high basketball IQ, but man, I hope I get to see many years from this guy. Remember, he did put up a few double-doubles during the regular season.
I was seriously afraid for the Sonics after that third quarter. Mike Bibby and Peja Stojakovic were just shooting the bejeezus out of the ball. I guess the shameful thing for Sacramento is that they shot 51.2% from the floor and scored 118 points altogether, and they still lost. You're not going to win many basketball games by giving up 122 points. On the Sonics' end, they also can't expect to win many games by giving up 118 either, but all they needed was a win. They allowed 33 points in the 2nd quarter and 36 in the 3rd. The Sonics were amazingly consistent with their quarter-to-quarter scoring, though, with 29, 31, 30, and 32.
We saw the emergence of Jerome James in this series and Rashard Lewis got going for the first time, but I don't think the offense will truly be in full swing until Vladimir Radmanovic becomes a factor. I like the way he passes the ball, and he has that ability to pumpfake a three and then dribble to the rack for a dunk. It's weird because it seems like he's barreling along slowly as it happens, but it's actually pretty quick. If they manage to get Radmanovic going, though, this next series could be a whole lot of fun.
You know, this is a special team, and one of the few rewards I've had over the last few months of a jobless state is that I've been able to track this team from game to game. Given the contract status of a big portion of the team, just enjoy what this group of guys is doing. Enjoy that they're a 3rd-seed Western Conference semifinal team that got there despite being picked to finish last in their division. Enjoy that different guys step up to augment Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen every night. Enjoy that they play an exciting brand of basketball.
Enjoy all of it, because next year, the players wearing the green and gold could have entirely different faces. Though I don't want to think about it, even the coach might be prowling the sidelines for a different team.
Just soak this up.
I asked Jinkies if he'd be confused if he went fishing with Peja Stojakovic in the offseason, since Stojakovic shares the same first name as his owner. His reply: "Prrrrrrrrrrski. Prrrrrrrrrrrski. Prrrrrrrrrrrrrrski. Prrrrrrrrrrrrrski."
In 25 words or less: Gil Meche's regular biggish inning was the first. The bats remained in slumber.
This one featured John Lackey going up against Gil Meche.
Meche had that inning again, though by sheer number of runs it isn't one of the biggest. He went to 3-1 on the first batter he faced, Darin Erstad. Erstad singled hard under the glove of Wilson Valdez at short on the full count. Chone Figgins got behind 0-2. With the count 1-2 Meche tried to pick Erstad off of first but threw it past Richie Sexson at first, and it went into foul territory (error) and Erstad scampered to second. Figgins fouled off his next pitch and then mashed a single to leftcenter, scoring Erstad. That was quick.
»» ANGELS 1, MARINERS 0
Vladimir Guerrero helped out a bit, swinging at the first pitch and making rain behind the plate, where Miguel Olivo caught the ball in foul territory. Figgins stole second on the first pitch to Garret Anderson. Olivo got crossed up on the second pitch, also a strike, and the ball went off his glove and to the backstop as Figgins went to third (2 pitches, 180 feet). The Mariners drew the infield in, and Anderson hit the next pitch to the right side, and Figgins went home, beating the throw by Bret Boone by sliding past the Olivo tag.
»» ANGELS 2, MARINERS 0
Steve Finley grounded out to Beltre, who had to make a long throw to third. Orlando Cabrera stung the first pitch into centerfield, and Garret Anderson tried to score (there were two out, after all, so he got out of the gate a little faster). Jeremy Reed threw home from centerfield, and the throw was on time. Olivo never actually caught the ball, trying to make the tag before he caught the ball. He held the ball against his chest with his glove at one point, but ball was never in glove, hence, no tag and no out.
»» ANGELS 3, MARINERS 0
Dallas McPherson hit a high fly to Randy Winn in leftfield to mercifully end the inning. Meche threw 24 pitches.
Lackey had no trouble. Ichiro fouled off an 0-2 pitch before foul-tipping an inside fastball into Jose Molina's glove for strike three. Jeremy Reed flew out to Finley in rightcenter. Adrian Beltre grounded the first pitch to second. Lackey threw eight pitches.
Meche would do better. Jose Molina tried to bunt his way aboard along the third-base line. Beltre made a nice play, barehanded the ball and gunning Molina out at first. Adam Kennedy hit an 0-2 curve off his shoetops into centerfield for a single. Erstad hit a weak pop right to Beltre. Kennedy stole second on the 1-1 pitch to Figgins. After the 1-2 count went full, he fouled off a pitch and whiffed on a low pitch for strike three. Meche threw 16 pitches.
The offense was sudden, but not prolonged. Richie Sexson tagged a pitch to centerfield, over the Nikon advertisement and into the group of beerfans beyond the fence, good for 429 feet, but only one run.
»» ANGELS 3, MARINERS 1
Bret Boone fouled off an 0-2 pitch before fouling another one behind the plate to the first-base side, where Molina caught it. Remember, Boone's seeing the ball as well as he's ever seen in his life. Raul Ibanez hit a hard grounder to first. Randy Winn smashed a ball off Lackey's glove and into centerfield for a single. Miguel Olivo fouled off an 0-2 pitch, turned on a 1-2 breaking ball and pulled it foul, then whiffed on a 2-2 breaking ball low and outside, out of the zone. Lackey threw 22 pitches.
Predictably, Meche would find a bit of a groove. Guerrero flew out to left, Anderson grounded a 1-2 pitch to short, and Finley flew out to Ichiro on the first pitch. Meche threw only six pitches in the 1-2-3 inning.
The offense continued to not do much. Wilson Valdez got down 0-2 and fanned two pitches later. Ichiro bounced out to Kennedy at second. Reed scratched out an infield single, but there were two out, and Beltre flew out to rightfield to end the inning. Lackey threw 18 pitches.
Meche was in a semi-groove. Cabrera got down 0-2 and tapped one back to the mound two pitches later. McPherson lined out to Beltre, though Beltre had to handle the ball like a hot potato for a few seconds before finally getting control of it. Molina flew out to Reed to end the inning. Meche threw nine pitches in the 1-2-3 inning.
Lackey then threw a 1-2-3 inning. Sexson flew out to centerfield. Boone whiffed on a 1-2 pitch (remember, he's seeing the ball well). Ibanez rolled the first pitch to the shortstop. Lackey threw eight pitches.
Meche lumbered along. He fell behind 2-0 on Kennedy, but got a groundout to first two pitches after. Erstad lined a ball to Winn. Meche fell behind 2-0 to Figgins, who made him pay, singling to rightfield. Meche got ahead 0-2 on Guerrero, eventually mowing him down (whiff) on a 2-2 pitch. Meche threw 14 pitches.
The bottom of the lineup did things, but was left stranded. Winn got down 0-2 and ended up grounding out to second. Olivo got down 0-2 and whiffed on the 1-2 pitch, but it was a wild one, getting away from the catcher and enabling Olivo to get on base. Valdez then raked a 2-0 pitch to centerfield to make things interesting. Ichiro then whiffed on a 2-2 pitch. Reed worked a 1-2 count for a walk to load the bases. Beltre fouled off a 1-2 pitch before becoming Hurricane Beltre to end the inning. Lackey threw 30 pitches and was at 86 through five.
Meche appeared to be done scuffling for the night. He fell behind 2-0 to Anderson, but got a foul pop to Beltre. He got ahead 0-2 on Finley, who grounded out to Valdez. Cabrera doubled to left on the first pitch, but Meche got McPherson to foul-tip a 1-2 pitch into Olivo's glove. Meche threw 11 pitches and was at 80 through six.
Lackey got back on track. Sexson gave the ball a good ride, sending it deep to rightfield before Guerrero came down with it. Boone sharply singled an 0-2 pitch into centerfield (maybe he did see the ball well). Ibanez got the hitters' counts before flying out to center. Winn flew out to rightfield on the first pitch to end the inning. Lackey threw 11 pitches and was at 97 through six.
It's too bad Meche couldn't groove for an entire game. Molina swung and missed his 0-2 pitch. Kennedy flew out to Winn. Meche fell behind 2-0 on Erstad, but got the whiff on a full count. Meche threw 12 pitches and had 92 through seven.
The Mariners managed to chase Lackey, but the results were the same. Olivo worked his 1-2 count full before hacking and missing on a pitch low and away. Valdez fouled off three pitches before he missed the fourth. Ichiro doubled into the gap in leftcenter, though there were two out.
Scot Shields came in for Lackey and needed only three pitches to catch Reed looking at a letter-high strike.
Lackey's line: 6 2/3 innings, 1 run, 6 hits, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts, 107 pitches (75 strikes)
Meche regressed again and gave the death knell to the Mariners' hopes for victory in the game, and sadly it was all with two out. Figgins grounded out to Valdez and Guerrero popped one to Boone. Meche got behind 2-0 on Anderson, who later singled to center, then Finley filled the old-guys-hitting-homers quota for the second night in a row, sending one out to rightfield.
»» ANGELS 5, MARINERS 1
Cabrera ended the carnage quickly, flying out to Ichiro.
Meche's line: 8 innings, 5 runs, 8 hits, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts, 105 pitches (73 strikes)
The meat of the order continued to do nothing. Beltre grounded out to third, Sexson grounded out to second, and Boone saw the ball well as he swung through a 2-2 pitch. Shields threw 15 pitches.
Matt Thornton came in for Meche. Strangely, he struck out everyone swinging. McPherson went away on an 0-2 pitch, Molina on 1-2, and Kennedy on 1-2 as well. I'll be damned.
Thornton's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts, 13 pitches (11 strikes)
Offense? Ibanez bounced out to second on 0-2. Winn singled to left. Greg Dobbs hit for Olivo, or more like whiffed on a 1-2 pitch for him. Shin-Soo Choo hit for Valdez. Winn scurried to second (indifference) on the first pitch to Choo. Choo parachuted a single down the leftfield line to score Winn for his first Major League RBI. Way to go, Hooch. Can I call him Hooch?
»» ANGELS 5, MARINERS 2
Ichiro whiffed on a 1-2 pitch. Ballgame.
Shields' line: 2 1/3 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 0 walks, 4 strikeouts, 34 pitches (28 strikes)
Gameball: Matt Thornton.
If he doesn't get a gameball after striking out the side swinging, he'll never get one. The only real obvious choice for the gameball was Randy Winn with the only multi-hit game, going 2-for-4. Richie Sexson had the cannon shot, going 1-for-4.
Goat: Adrian Beltre.
0-for-4 with a strikeout, stranding four, though with a couple decent defensive plays. He's scuffling at the plate, no doubt about it, and his average has plummeted to .229. I thought about Gil Meche for the goat, and that usually crosses my mind when a Mariner pitcher spots the opposing team a few runs before the offense can ever get to the plate. I quickly thought again, however, since the game was 3-1 for just over five innings. Sure, Meche slipped up in his final inning, but the bats had a lot of time to wake up, and once again, they never did. Miguel Olivo was also a strong consideration for the goat, going 0-for-3 with the hat trick (strikeouts).
Ugh, this offense is purely offensive right now. I'm guessing when Beltre and Sexson start raking, the rest of the lineup will follow suit. Right now, we have Beltre hitting .229 with two homers. I saw Brad Adam talk on FSNNW late at night, saying he had talked with Steve Finley, a Dodger teammate of Adrian's last year. Though we haven't seen it yet, Finley says that Beltre apparently is supposed to "smear" the outside pitch to rightcenter and rightfield. As an odd note to the other top-dollar big bopper, Richie Sexson's line of .233 with seven homers and 20 RBIs strikes me as a bit Mike Cameron-esque, and though I don't have the strikeout numbers in front of me, I'll venture to guess they probably follow suit.
Do you think we'll have a chance to see Gil Meche somehow eliminate the big inning from his outings? Maybe when he's in the bullpen before the game, they can have him throw a sim game and be all crappy so that he gets it all out of his system before he takes the mound for real. If it came to it, and if they paid me handsomely, I would gladly stand in the box on both sides of the plate to replicate a Meche pregame sim game where he throws the ball all over the place and hopefully doesn't nail me in the face with a 94mph fastball. For five innings, he held the game at 3-1, waiting for the bats to hopefully wake out of their hibernation, which they never did.
Congratulations to Shin-Soo Choo on his first Major League RBI. Really, we should be congratulating him every time he gets to the plate for an at-bat with the way Mike Hargrove uses the bench. All in all, I hope Hooch (really, can I call him that?) is enjoying the state-of-the-art in-stadium batting facilities they have in the bowels of the Safe. Sure, you can play every day in Tacoma, but that doesn't mean you can take hacks in the cage all the live-long day. I hope he's enjoying his stay in the majors. Side note: it's easy to tell the difference between the written Korean language and other Asian languages like Chinese and Japanese. The Koreans use more circles and ovals in their characters than do the Chinese and Japanese.
Does anyone find a crowd of 29917 a little disappointing for Edgar statue night? Granted, they didn't put it on a weekend, and the fact that the Sonics were in a playoff game across town might have had an impact on the walk-up crowd. Of course, I just looked at the schedule, and the paid attendance did exceed the allotment of Edgar statues (25k), so they'll have to find something else for Gil Meche and Joel Pineiro to package with The Balk.
Well, it's four straight. You know, I know this isn't 2004, and I hate myself for thinking this, but the one thing I hated hearing last year at the start was "it'll turn." They thought they had too many veteran hitters to suck for a prolonged stretch, and they ended up being totally wrong. Beltre and Sexson are scuffling, yes, but Bret Boone (.255) and Raul Ibanez (.263) don't have the league adjustment excuse behind which to hide. Still, Sexson was out with that horrendous flu for a few games and still has managed the 7 dingers and 20 ribs even with the crappy average. Ibanez and Boone have...well, they've definitely been in the lineup.
But hey, it's a transitional year, Mariner fans. Just enjoy competitive baseball again. Well, maybe not for the past four or five days, but trust me, it'll be competitive again this year.
Byrd. Sele. Today.
So, for this afternoon, I'll just post a few pictures that have nothing to do with anything. It beats bitching and moaning about Adrian Beltre's slow start. I know Beltre will come around. Besides, I know better than to panic on May 4.
I wonder if the fish are biting in the California state capital right now...
PUMP's coming later, y'all. It's another 3:35 matinee, in case you had forgotten.
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Angels at Mariners, 7:05 Pacific (KSTW, MLB.TV)
John Lackey (2-1, 5.61 ERA) vs Gil Meche (2-1, 5.27 ERA)
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Game 5, Western Conference 1st round
Kings at Sonics, 7:30 Pacific (FSN, TNT)
(Sonics lead 3-1)
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That Ichiro guy, he's pretty damn good.
In 25 words or less: The Mariners didn't have to worry about stranding a bunch of runners because they barely had any. Also, Ryan Franklin was all over the place.
This one featured Jarrod Washburn going up against Ryan Franklin. Also, non-final pitch counts are approximate. Game notes, people.
Franklin had a decent first inning. Darin Erstad swung through a high fastball. Orlando Cabrera took Ichiro to the track in rightfield on the first pitch. Vladimir Guerrero took a 3-1 pitch high and outside for a walk. Garret Anderson hit an 0-2 pitch to the hole on the right side, but Bret Boone made a diving stab and threw to first, where Richie Sexson picked the short-hop throw in time. Franklin threw 13 pitches in the inning.
The Mariners got one of their few chances of the night. Ichiro softly poked an 0-2 pitch into centerfield for a single. Randy Winn walked on four pitches. Adrian Beltre hit popped a soft liner to Adam Kennedy at second, who tried to flip back to Cabrera at second to double off Ichiro, but he threw it at Cabrera's feet and it went into leftfield. Ichiro scurried to third. Richie Sexson worked an 0-2 count full, and though he took a very close 2-2 pitch, he got burned on the full-count pitch up and in. Winn had taken off for second, and Jose Molina threw to get him, but the throw was dropped by Kennedy. Winn got in a rundown between first and second (I'll guess he wasn't close to nabbing second base), but he didn't get into it long enough for Ichiro to score, as the Angel infielders sniffed out the Ichiro-going-home thing. Washburn threw 20 pitches.
Ryan Franklin start giving ominous signs that he would lose control. Steve Finley got the hitters' counts before walking on a 3-1 pitch low and away. Juan Rivera helped out Franklin as he grounded to Boone for a 4-3 double play. Dallas McPherson was let loose on a 3-0 pitch (fouled) before taking a 3-1 pitch high and outside. Bryan Price visited Franklin at the mound. Jose Molina whiffed on a 1-2 slider low and away to end the inning. Franklin threw 17 pitches.
Washburn got in a bit of a groove. Bret Boone hit a hight fly to short (surprise). Raul Ibanez was down 0-2 and grounded out to third two pitches later. Miguel Olivo flew out to center. Washburn threw 12 pitches in the 1-2-3 inning.
Franklin deceived everyone by having his best inning of the night. He got ahead 0-2 on Adam Kennedy, who foul-tipped a 1-2 low breaking ball into Olivo's glove for the strikeout. Erstad was victim to a diving stab by Sexson, who flipped to a covering Franklin for the out at first. Cabrera hit a high fly to Winn in left to end the inning. Franklin threw nine pitches in the 1-2-3 inning.
Washburn was grooving at this point. Jeremy Reed tapped a ball back to Washburn. Wilson Valdez swung through some 1-2 letter-high cheese outside. Ichiro hit a roller to short to end the inning. Washburn threw 13 pitches in the 1-2-3 inning.
Franklin's control problems finally cost him. Guerrero rolled out to short. Anderson had a 2-0 count, though it went full. He took a pitch too far inside and walked to first. Finley had a 2-0 count as well. With the count 2-2, Finley fouled off four pitches before reaching down and golfing a curveball about ten rows back into the rightfield seats to snap his 0-for-14 slump. In a sick twist, it was the Angels' first hit of the game.
»» ANGELS 2, MARINERS 0
Rivera grounded out to Beltre at third. McPherson doubled an 0-2 pitch just below the 405-foot marker in centerfield. Franklin went 3-0 on Molina before the count went full. Molina took a pitch that was barely high for a walk. Price came out to the mound again. Kennedy bounced a 2-0 pitch to Boone to end the inning. Franklin threw a mere 38 pitches in the inning and was at 77 through four.
Washburn would scuffle a bit, but the end result was the same. Winn grounded a ball to Kennedy, who slid on his knees, but couldn't come up with the ball. Winn was credited with a single. Beltre chopped the first pitch to third for a groundout, and Winn advanced to second on the play. Sexson mashed a full-count slider foul into the leftfield stands down the leftfield line. He took a pitch down and in for a walk. Boone hit a flyout just short of the track in leftfield. Ibanez bounced out to second for a 4-6 fielder's choice to end the inning. Washburn threw 18 pitches.
Franklin would get burned again, and the Angels did it in a hack-happy way. Franklin got ahead 0-2 on Erstad, who grounded out to Sexson two pitches later (3-1 putout). Franklin beaned Cabrera on the first pitch. Incidentally, the next three batters put the first pitch into play. Guerrero flew out to Sexson near the bag at first, which wasn't bad. Anderson got a pitch up over the plate, and made mincemeat of it, clubbing it deep into the seats in rightfield.
»» ANGELS 4, MARINERS 0
Finley doubled the next pitch down the leftfield line. Rivera ripped his second pitch through the hole on the left side. Winn came up throwing, and the throw was in time (imagine that), but Olivo tried to make the tag on Finley before he had the ball.
»» ANGELS 5, MARINERS 0
Price went out to the mound again, and it seemed he'd probably beaten a path from the first-base dugout. McPherson bounced out to second to mercifully end the inning. Since the Angels were hack happy, Franklin was demolished in only 12 pitches.
Franklin's line: 5 innings, 5 runs, 5 hits, 5 walks, 3 strikeouts, 89 pitches (53 strikes)
Washburn got back into a groove. Olivo hacked at a very low 1-2 pitch and missed. Reed bounced out to short. Valdez had a 2-0 count, but whiffed three pitches later. Washburn threw 11 pitches in the 1-2-3 inning.
Julio Mateo came in for Franklin. Molina flew out to Ichiro in foul territory by the stands along the rightfield line on the first pitch. Kennedy had a 2-0 count, but foul-tipped a 2-2 inside slider into Olivo's glove. With the crowd fully bored and doing The Wave, Erstad tapped one back to the mound to end the 1-2-3 inning. Mateo threw nine pitches.
The Mariners had another chance, sort of. Ichiro grounded out to short to lead off, then Winn doubled down the leftfield line. Beltre fouled off an 0-2 pitch before chopping a ball to short. The groundout advanced Winn to third. Sexson grounded a ball to the hole on the right side, where Kennedy made a diving stop and threw him out to end the inning. Washburn threw 14 pitches and was at 88 through six.
This inning was good for Mateo, but great for Ichiro and the fans. Mateo beaned Cabrera on the right wrist on an 0-2 pitch, and that wasn't so good. Guerrero whiffed at an 0-2 pitch, and that was good. Mateo threw a 1-1 pitch waaaay outside to Anderson; it went to the backstop and Cabrera advanced to second. On the next pitch, Anderson put a charge on a ball, sending it deep to rightfield. It looked to be a homer that would land in that metal-grate walkway between the seats and the wall. Ichiro gave chase...he leapt, put one foot on the wall, put his bare hand on the top of the wall, reached up with the glove, and HE CAUGHT THE FREAKIN' BALL. On a night where absolutely nothing was going on with the Mariner bats, at least there was something that was worth the price of admission. A spike imprint rested on the letter S in the Washington Mutual advertisement after the catch. Finley flew out to Reed on the first pitch to end the inning. Mateo threw 10 pitches.
Mateo's line: 2 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 20 pitches (14 strikes)
Washburn wasn't through doing his thing. Boone grounded out to third on the first pitch. Ibanez fanned on a pitch low and away. Olivo bounced to short on an 0-2 pitch. Washburn threw 10 pitches and was at 98 through seven.
JJ Putz came in for Mateo and delivered a 1-2-3 inning. Rivera whiffed on a 3-1 pitch and developed pain in his left thumb. He fouled off a full-count pitch before flying out to Reed. McPherson whiffed on a high pitch, and Molina lined right to Winn on the second pitch to end the inning. Putz threw 14 pitches.
Putz' line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 14 pitches (9 strikes)
Washburn would finally get to the end of his rope. Reed hit a slow roller to short. Valdez grounded out to third. Ichiro had a 3-0 count and took a 3-1 pitch low and away for a walk. Winn hit a fly down the rightfield line that Guerrero didn't quite want to dive for, and it bounced under his glove and into the stands for a ground-rule double.
Brendan Donnelly came in for Washburn. He needed only four pitches to retire Beltre, who took a 2-1 pitch to the track in centerfield.
Washburn's line: 7 2/3 innings, 0 runs, 4 hits, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts, 116 pitches (76 strikes)
Jeff Nelson came in for JJ Putz. It would end up as Nelson's least important 1-2-3 inning of the season. Kennedy hit a soft liner to Valdez on the outfield grass. Erstad had a 2-0 count, but ended up flying out to Reed. Nelson got ahead 0-2 on Cabrera but ended up flying out to almost the same place Kennedy did to Valdez.
Nelson's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 12 pitches (7 strikes)
Donnelly mopped up. Sexson flew out to right. Boone clubbed the first pitch just barely to the left of the foul pole, which would have been a homer, and would have been good for career RBI #1000. Instead, Boone ended up swinging and missing on a splitter in the dirt. Ibanez had a 3-0 count and took the 3-1 pitch low and away for a walk. Shin-Soo Choo got his second at-bat of his call-up. He fouled off a high 3-1 pitch, then fouled off another before splintering his bat on a popup to Kennedy at second. Ballgame.
Donnelly's line: 1 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 24 pitches (14 strikes)
Gameball: Randy Winn.
3-for-3 with a walk. He had 75% of the Mariners' hits, and one of them was a double. He's batting a quiet .300. Shhh, don't tell anyone.
Goat: Ryan Franklin.
If you're on the no-run-support bandwagon, don't come to me after a game where Franklin walks five guys and gives up five runs. How many starting pitchers these days are good, yet can get by with an ERA of 5.00? I'm not saying Franklin has an ERA of 5, it's just that you've just got to sniff out a bad start from a good one. Sometimes Ryan Franklin has bad starts, and it won't matter if he gets no run support because he gives up a bunch of runs. This five-run outing wasn't as bad as some of his bad outings, but you've got to factor in the opposition too. Jarrod Washburn is no slouch. Mark Buehrle is no slouch. Sometimes you just get matched up against a good pitcher and the margin of error is small.
Well, there's going to be games like this, nights like this. It happens. Sometimes an opposing pitcher just befuddles an entire team. This was one of those nights. Nights where either you just admire what the other pitcher is doing, or at least how he's setting up the hitters and stuff (nuts-and-bolts stuff), or you're just bored out of your mind waiting for something exciting to happen.
That's when Ichiro took care of the boredom and made this game at least somewhat worth the time investment that everyone at home and at the game had put in. I was watching it unfold, and I saw him go up, and I was thinking "nice try" as he came back down. Then he threw the ball back to the infield. What?!?! Huh?!! Did that just happen?
It did happen. An awakening of bats, however, did not happen and wasn't close to happening. The Mariners had three runners in scoring position with less than two out. Not a lot of offense. Actually, Ichiro and Randy Winn were the only ones with hits. Tally up the rest of the lineup, and you've got a sparkling 0-for-24 night from everyone else.
TWO games below .500? Call me crazy, but my money would be on the Mariners winning the next two games. Of course, if they kept doing that, it'd jeopardize my preseason 77-85 prediction, so I guess I'm kind of torn toward the whole thing. See, my whole preseason prediction was made so I could gauge my expectation level of this season in accordance to it. So when they're 12-14, I don't think it's too bad. If they're 12-24, it's time to be a little ticked.
Lackey. Meche. Tonight.
Monday, May 02, 2005
Angels at Mariners, 7:05 Pacific (FSN Northwest, MLB.TV)
Jarrod Washburn (1-0, 3.38 ERA) vs Ryan Franklin (1-3, 4.09)
ANAHEIM (CA) ANGELS (14-11)
Erstad 1b .275
Cabrera ss .250
Guerrero rf .347
Anderson lf .300
Finley cf .149
Rivera dh .235
McPherson 3b .200
J. Molina c .206
Kennedy 2b .000
SEATTLE MARINERS (12-13)
Ichiro rf .346
Winn lf .276
Beltre 3b .248
Sexson 1b .241
Boone 2b .266
Ibanez dh .284
Olivo c .167
Reed cf .268
Valdez ss .200
The Mariners return to Safeco Field for a brief 3-game homestand against the Anaheim (CA) Angels. L.A. Baseball, my ass.
I picked up the new Queens of the Stone Age album this past weekend, "Lullabies To Paralyze". Since there are a few readers here, I have a gift for y'all. You can listen to the full album at Myspace.com. QOTSA hasn't let me down yet. Yes, this is the "Hear The Music, Feel The Music" pick of the day. Hell, it may be the pick of the week. "Lullabies To Paralyze" is the perfect album to be listening to while studying for finals.
Short-form review: I'm playing the hell out of "I Never Came" and "Burn The Witch".
Long-form review: I may have one once finals are done and over with. Who knows.
Six hours until gametime. Ray Allen has game.
The Heat wore their red jerseys, so I guess the Sonics figured they could go yellow. It worked, so I'm not complaining.
The game sure didn't come anywhere near as easily as the final score might indicate. You figured Ray Allen had to go off at least once in the playoffs, though, and he certainly lived up to that potential.
The first half was almost a carbon copy of the first half of Game 3. The Sonics would play okay, have a lapse or two, and then Sacramento would negate any run the Sonics might have made.
The one thing I noticed throughout the first quarter of play was that any tipped balls or tipped rebounds never ended up in Seattle hands. The teams traded baskets for the first portion of the first quarter until the Kings put together a 9-0 run, ending with Peja Stojakovic sticking a jumper off a screen with 1:23 to go. Though Stojakovic got rolling in the first half for the first time in the series, the run made it seem eerily like Game 3. Danny Fortson finished off a screen-and-roll to bring the Sonics within six (26-20) with 7.5 seconds remaining. Mike Bibby ran the ball the other way and pulled up to sink a long three with 1.3 seconds left. Worse yet, Vladimir Radmanovic fell asleep in backcourt on the inbound pass, and Stojakovic intercepted it and hit a midrange jumper to beat the buzzer. The Kings had scored five very quick points, and a six point lead seems a lot more surmountable than an 11-point lead. The Kings had ended the quarter on a 16-4 run. The Sonics once again weren't sealing off the paint too well, but they were leaving Brad Miller open on the perimeter too much, and he sank three jumpers. The Sonics shot 8-for-18 in the first quarter, but the Kings shot 13-for-26.
The Sonics would make a run in the second quarter, only to leave the quarter with a bigger deficit than they began with. Stojakovic blew all the way to the glass for a layup on the first possession of the quarter, setting the tone for the first part of the quarter. Antonio Daniels drove and kicked to Fortson for a layup on the other end, but the Kings would score the next eight points, capped off by Corliss (taunted in some circles as "Scoreless") Williamson dunking on a fast break and cleaning up a missed shot. The Kings were suddenly up by 19 (41-22) with 9:50 to play in the half, and they were leading 11-0 on second-chance points. The Sonics would eventually play faster, though smarter. Allen had a fingerroll layup and was fouled. He hit a three after Sacramento missed a shot on the other end. He cut to the basket for a layup after Jerome James had grabbed the offensive board. He threw an alley-oop pass to Radmanovic. He found James to finish off a fast break with a dunk and a three-point play. These plays and a few others got the Sonics to within four at 43-39 with 6:30 left in the half.
Seattle would get within three points three more times in the remainder of the half. Allen found James cutting to the basket again for another dunk (47-44, 4:51), Radmanovic found Allen under the basket for an easy layup (49-46, 4:23), and Allen hit another layup down low after flashing a spin move (51-48, 4:00). Then the Kings took a 12-4 run into the final minute of the half. Rashard Lewis made a sloppy crosscourt pass with 56 seconds remaining which was the Sonics' 11th turnover of the half. Ray Allen had 19 points at halftime.
Sacramento led 68-56 at halftime. The Kings had taken 52 shots, whereas the Sonics only got off 35. In a telling stat, the Kings were pounding the Sonics 10-3 on the offensive glass. Worse yet, the Sonics had scored 36 points in the second quarter. They allowed quarters of 31 and 37, however, and that indicates some porous defense.
The Sonics were able to chip away at the lead in the third quarter, and it helped that they scored the first six points of the half. James passed out of a double-team to Ridnour, whose midrange pop was the first basket of the half. Allen hit a midrange jumper off a James pick, and James was fouled down low and hit his free throws. Rashard Lewis had a baseline jam (highlight reel) with 6:41 left to bring the Sonics within five (73-68). Then came a weird turnover sequence, ending in Allen hitting a layup to bring the Sonics within five again (75-70, 5:45). Earlier in the quarter, the Allen/Bibby sequence happened where Allen turned the ball over and tapped it away from Bibby not long after (this got onto the highlight reels). Allen hit a three to beat the shot clock and got the Sonics to within TWO points at 75-73 with 3:11 to go. The Sonics were within ONE after Radmanovic hit a three on the right side with 2:10 to go, and the Kings' lead was only 77-76. The quarter ended with the Kings up 84-80. The Sonics came close, but never had the lead in the quarter. The nicest thing, though, was that they scored 28 points and held the Kings to just 12. Amazing.
Allen curled off a screen to hit a midrange shot, the first basket of the quarter, which got the Sonics within two at 84-82. James hit a jumphook in the key to get the Sonics within one at 88-87 with 10:06 remaining. Nick Collison drew a key charge on Miller, and Allen hit a three on the other end to get the Sonics their first lead since early in the first quarter, 90-88 with 9:19 to go. Kevin Calabro on the local broadcast exclaimed that Allen was "hearing signals from other planets!" Allen went to the glass for another layup at the 8:33 mark, then Collison drew yet another charge, this one on Williamson. On the other end, the Sonics scurried to find a shot as the clock ran down, and Daniels beat the shot clock with a three from the right side, though he couldn't complete the four-point play after Bibby fouled him. Still, the Sonics led 95-88, capping off a 13-0 Seattle run. At 6:15, Collison was part of a double screen and rolled to the basket for a layup and was fouled, finishing off the three-point play; the Sonics led 98-90.
After James spun and hit a fallaway jumper (really) with 5:08 to go, the Kings scored the next four points (Cuttino Mobley midrange, Thomas second-chance layup) to get to within five at 100-95, though Collison drew yet another charge (Bibby) before the baskets. Coach McMillan called timeout. On the Kings' first possession after the timeout, they missed their first shot, and the ball found its way to the perimeter. Bibby apparently didn't know the shot had hit rim, so he launched a very deep three with 22 left on the shot clock, and it missed. Sacramento was called for a loose-ball foul on the rebound. Lewis was hacked on a layup attempt on the other end and hit his free throws (102-96). Miller was hacked on a putback attempt, but hit only one free throw, bringing the Kings within five at 102-97.
The Kings never got closer. Daniels hit a runner from the top of the key with 1:32 to go. Bibby hit only one free throw (his only point of the half) after a Daniels reach-in to make it 104-98. On the Sonics' next possession, Mobley tipped the ball (Lewis had it) out of bounds, and the Sonics were low on shot-clock time and had to inbound the ball. Enter Ray Allen, roving beyond the perimeter, from the left, then to the right, jumping a split-second before Brad Miller and nailing the Dagger three with 1:02 remaining, shocking the Arco Arena crowd and putting the Sonics up 107-98.
Sacramento was pretty much dead at this point, as Bibby drove to the basket and was fouled by James (58.8 seconds remaining), but missed both free throws. From there, it was a foulfest, enabling the Sonics to end the game on an 13-5 run. Count it as 13-3 if you don't want to count Mobley's meaningless jumper on the final King possession.
PEEK AT THE BOXSCORE
Ray Allen 45 pts/4 reb/6 ast/4 stl/2 blk (17-28 FG, 6-14 3pt, 5-5 free throws, 45 min), Rashard Lewis 19 pts/8 reb/3 ast (4-12 FG, 0-4 3pt, 11-12 free throws, 43 min), Luke Ridnour 8 pts/4 ast (2-5 FG, 0-2 3pt, 4-4 free throws, 30 min), Reggie Evans 0 pts/4 reb (0-2 FG, 18 min)
Vladimir Radmanovic 8 pts/4 reb (3-5 FG, 2-3 3pt, 21 min), Antonio Daniels 7 pts/6 ast (2-5 FG, 1-2 3pt, 2-3 free throws, 21 min), Danny Fortson 6 pts (2-2 FG, 2-2 free throws, 8 min), Nick Collison 5 pts/6 reb (2-3 FG, 20 min)
Jerome James Watch
17 pts/8 reb/2 ast/4 blk (7-11 FG, 3-3 free throws, 2 turnovers, 5 fouls, 34 min)
shot 39-for-73 (53.4%) from the field, shot 9-for-25 (36%) from downtown, shot 28-for-30 (93.3%) from the line, turned the ball over 16 times (18 Sacramento points), were outrebounded 39-37, bench outscored Kings' bench 26-16 (outrebounded them 12-6)
In related news, Ray Allen outscored Mike Bibby 26-1 in the second half. What a freakin' night from Ray Allen. Threes, layups, everything. Simply incredible.
Dare we say it was a consistent night from Jerome James? He didn't establish a career high in points for the fourth game in a row, but he was still great. There's nothing like Jerome James coming out to the arc for a screen to generate something on offense when the shot clock is running down and nobody's open for a pass.
How about those quality minutes from Nick Collison down the stretch? Three charges? I have no idea how this team is going to look next year, but we do know Luke Ridnour, Vladimir Radmanovic, Robert Swift (hey, he did break double figures in the final game of the season), and Nick Collison will be around, and I have a feeling we're really going to like Nick Collison for the next few years in Seattle. He brings a lot to the table, and he got some very valuable experience down the stretch in this game.
The Marquee Matchup for two games in a row on FSNNW was Rashard Lewis and Peja Stojakovic. Stojakovic finally hit some shots, going 10-for-18 and scoring 27 (6 in the second half). Lewis went only 4-for-12. He did manage to go 11-for-12 from the line, though, making him a factor on offense and signaling that he was aggressive attacking the basket.
Seriously, though. What a great win. They were down 19 in the first half and kept plugging away. The Sonics had the script of Game 3 in the first half, but rewrote it entirely in the second half. They allowed 68 points in the first half, but cranked up the defense and allowed only 34 points in the second half, the Kings' lowest-scoring second half of the year.
Well, we've seen what happened with a past incarnation of the Sonics against an 8th-seeded Denver team many moons ago, but one has to figure that the Sonics are in a good position here with a 3-1 series lead and Game 5 (and God forbid, if necessary, a Game 7) back in Seattle.
VICTORY FOR SONICS! O-KAY!
I asked Jinkies what kind of bag Sacramento fans should wear over their heads (with holes cut out for eyes and breathing, of course) after a loss like this -- paper or plastic? His response: "NO I did not steal and kill your parakeet. I think you accuse me just because I am now famous. How dare your face!"