Saturday, May 14, 2005
This is what ESPN.com's Jayson Stark had to say in his "Positive Trends" piece yesterday. One of the positive trends this season that Stark has seen is the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen:
"We're not sure how many average American baseball fans could identify Derrick Turnbow, Matt Wise, Mike Adams and Jorge de la Rosa – even if they all sat next to them in the box seats. But those four gentlemen happen to be four of the most prominent relievers in the most surprising bullpen on our planet.
The four of them make less money combined ($1.315 million) than Ron Villone. And three of them were acquired by the Brewers as either minor-league free agents (Turnbow and Wise) or (in Adams' case) signed as an undrafted college player."
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The four of them make less money combined ($1.315 million) than Ron Villone
Let that thought sink in your head while reading the following line from Villone tonight:
0.1 IP, 2 H, 3 ER
Damon ground out
Ortiz hit by pitch
Those 3 earned runs were Villone's when Trot Nixon hit a grand slam off of J.J. Putz in the top of the 7th inning.
I've never been a Ron Villone fan in the first place. There isn't a reason in the world why the Mariners decided to give Villone a 2-year deal. Too bad that the M's are stuck with him for the forseeable future.
Red Sox at Mariners, 7:05 Pacific (FSN Northwest, MLB.TV)
Wade Miller (0-0, 3.60 ERA) vs Ryan Franklin (2-4, 4.50 ERA)
The football scores have run their course.
Let's get back to baseball, fellas.
In 25 words or less: Much like Wednesday afternoon in the Bronx, the bats showed up. Unlike that game, the pitching held the lead. Eventually.
This one featured Jeremi Gonzalez and Joel Piñeiro. For purposes of clarity, Jeremi Gonzalez will heretofore (in this recap) be referred to with his last name, whereas Wiki Gonzalez will be referred to with his first (as annoying as that will get). Sports and Bremertonians will heretofore be referred to as "The Company." Okay, I'm kidding about that.
For anyone watching the FSNNW telecast of this game, the crane-cam rules even more than it did on the Sonic telecasts. They brought the super slow-motion over from the Sonic broadcasts as well. Ron Fairly made it a point to mention that the technology for such a camera was developed by NASA. More enjoyably, during Sonic broadcasts, Kevin Calabro eventually settled on the name of "X-mo" for the super slo-mo camera.
Short side note -- I'm not sure if anyone was fortunate enough to hear it, but earlier in the day, Softy on KJR had devised a ratings ploy for Fridays with a theme of '80s guests, I guess sort of like a where-are-they-now thing. What I heard Friday was the first "episode," I guess, and they had Darnell Coles on the segment. What a great talk-show guest he was, and surprisingly so. He still keeps pretty good tabs on the Mariners, and he'll actually be doing a couple of ESPN games this season, though more on the college level than the big-league level. He's putting his kids through college (a daughter goes to the U of South Florida), and he's still real tight with Harold Reynolds. Three cheers for Darnell Coles. Upcoming guests in the coming weeks include a bunch of Seahawks like Jacob Green, Joe Nash, and John L. Williams.
Okay, game stuff.
Piñeiro had mild trouble, but got through unscathed. Johnny Damon flew out to Ichiro. Trot Nixon had a 2-0 count and ripped a 2-2 pitch to rightfield for a single. Manny Ramirez popped a shallow fly to centerfield, and Jeremy Reed looked like he might have a chance to catch it on the fly. Instead, he short-hopped it, but threw to Bret Boone at second in time for the odd 8-4 fielder's choice. David Ortiz had the hitters' counts, eventually taking a full-count breaking ball low and away for a walk. Kevin Millar grounded an 0-2 pitch deep into the hole at short. Wilson Valdez knocked it down, and he threw straight home to Wiki Gonzalez. Ramirez had wandered too far off the bag at third, and Wiki threw to Adrian Beltre, who tagged Ramirez (6-2-5 putout). The last two outs of the inning were recorded on very weird plays indeed. Piñeiro threw 21 pitches.
What's this? Scoring first? Huh? Ichiro ripped his 2-0 pitch to Millar, who thought Gonzalez would be covering the bag a bit sooner. Instead, Millar got into a footrace with Ichiro to the first-base bag, and that didn't work out so well for him. It was a single for Ichiro though, who stole second (his 11th steal of the season) on the 1-1 pitch to Randy Winn. Winn hit his 3-1 pitch right to Millar, who stepped on the bag as Ichiro moved over to third. Adrian Beltre then hit a hard grounder up the middle to score Ichiro.
»» MARINERS 1, RED SOX 0
Beltre took second on a 2-1 dirtball with Richie Sexson at the plate in a show of very alert baserunning. Sexson had the hitters' counts and eventually took ball four low and away. Raul Ibañez flew out on the first pitch to Damon in leftcenter, but Beltre tagged up and went to third since Damon has no arm. Bret Boone took a 3-1 breaking ball low and away, prompting Boston pitching coach Dave Wallace to come to the mound. That didn't help a bit, as Jeremy Reed spanked the first pitch he saw through the hole on the right side. Beltre easily scored, and thanks to the relay throw home being bobbled by the cutoff man, Sexson scored as well.
»» MARINERS 3, RED SOX 0
Wiki Gonzalez fouled off an 0-2 pitch before hitting a fister on his hands, tapping one to the third-base side of the mound. Gonzalez threw 29 pitches.
Piñeiro responded with a 1-2-3 inning. So far, so good, except with some count trouble. Jason Varitek had a 3-0 count, eventually grounding near the middle -- this was the play where Boone backhanded the ball, spun, and threw just barely in time to Sexson at first. Edgar Renteria had a 3-0 count as well, grounding the full-count pitch to Beltre. Bill Mueller flew out to left to end the inning. Piñeiro threw 16 pitches.
The bats let up a bit. Wilson Valdez had a 2-0 count, later flying out to Millar in foul territory in front of the tarp. Ichiro had a 2-0 and later flew out to Ramirez in the gap in leftcenter. Winn stuck a single through the left side. Beltre got down 0-2 and later hacked and missed on a 2-2 slider low and away. Gonzalez threw 16 pitches.
Uh-oh. Mark Bellhorn golfed a too-high 2-0 pitch just over Ichiro trying to make another one of those catches above the wall.
»» MARINERS 3, RED SOX 1
Damon singled the second pitch up the middle. Nixon tapped one in front of the plate, and Wiki pounced on it, throwing to first. Piñeiro beaned Ramirez in a 2-0 pitch bound for the left elbow or bicep. Ortiz drilled a hard single up the middle, and Reed overran the ball in centerfield (error). Damon scored, Ortiz got credit for the single, and runners stood on second and third.
»» MARINERS 3, RED SOX 2
It looked like it might get easier when Millar tapped the first pitch to Piñeiro coming off the mound. Varitek was put on base intentionally so the Mariners could face Renteria. He had a 2-0 count before roping the 2-1 pitch down the leftfield line. Beltre knocked it down before it could get too far down the line, probably saving a double and a run or two. Ramirez scored on the play.
»» RED SOX 3, MARINERS 3
Mueller tagged a single to rightfield to score Ortiz. Varitek tried to score as well, but Ichiro came up throwing and had him out by about 20 feet. Varitek tried to dance out of the way of the tag, but there's apparently no escape from Wiki. Piñeiro threw 22 pitches.
»» RED SOX 4, MARINERS 3
The Mariners got the lead back in an unexpected way. Sexson crushed the second pitch to the hitters' backdrop beyond the centerfield wall. They said it was a 410-foot blast, but it looked more like 425 or so. Nonetheless, it's double-digit home runs for Sexson on the 13th of May.
»» RED SOX 4, MARINERS 4
Ibañez worked a 1-2 count full and put a lick on the ball, sending it over the wall in the gap in rightcenter. Yes, it's true! Back-to-back homers.
»» MARINERS 5, RED SOX 4
Boone hit a hard groundout to third. Reed fouled off an 0-2 pitch before singling over the second baseman for his second hit of the night. Wiki then hit into what seemed like the slowest double play ever. Mueller had to back up and make a long throw to second, and it seemed to take an eternity for the ball to get back to first, but it still beat Wiki. Ugh. Gonzalez threw 22 pitches.
Piñeiro would not survive the inning. Bellhorn drew a leadoff walk. Damon hit a 2-0 pitch to Sexson's right, and he made a diving stop, then went to his left, took a dive, and tagged the bag with his glove. He gets up very quickly for a tall guy, that Sexson. Nixon bopped the second pitch over the wall in rightfield to take the lead from the Mariners.
»» RED SOX 6, MARINERS 5
Ramirez got a hanging curve, but lined it right into Beltre's glove. Ortiz took a 3-1 fastball outside for a walk, prompting a visit from Bryan Price. Millar hit a grounder to Valdez at short, who didn't get the glove down all the way, and the ball went through and bounced off his foot, high into the air (error).
Mike Hargrove had seen enough. Julio Mateo came in for Piñeiro. He got behind Varitek 2-0 to start, but battled back and eventually got a groundout to first. He threw seven pitches.
Piñeiro's line: 3 2/3 innings, 6 runs, 8 hits, 4 walks, 0 strikeouts, 81 pitches (41 strikes)
Gonzalez wouldn't survive the inning. Valdez tried to bunt his way aboard, but Mueller sniffed it out. Ichiro fouled off four pitches with two strikes on him, singling through the hole on the left side on the ninth pitch of the at-bat. Winn hit a broken-bat parachute single to rightfield to move Ichiro to third.
John Halama came in for Gonzalez. He threw one pitch to Beltre, and it was kinda high. Beltre absolutely walloped the pitch, hitting the top of the scoreboard above the Mariner bullpen. It was one of the biggest shots I've seen over there, and it was measured at 440 feet. Congratulations to Beltre on his first homer in front of the home fans.
»» MARINERS 8, RED SOX 6
Sexson got down 0-2 and eventually took a pitch over the inside corner. Ibañez got down 0-2 as well, eventually flying out to Renteria on the infield grass. Halama threw 11 pitches.
Gonzalez' line: 3 1/3 innings, 7 runs, 9 hits, 2 walks, 1 strikeout, 79 pitches (49 strikes)
The inning was ready to start at 8:53p, surely shaping out to be a long game. Renteria got down 0-2 and eventually whiffed. Mueller hit a pitch down the first-base line, and it went off the bag and high into the air. Sexson came down with it, but there was no play. Bellhorn flew out to centerfield on the first pitch. Damon flew out on the first pitch near the leftfield line, where it was caught by Valdez. Mateo threw 10 pitches.
What's this? More runs? Boone had a 3-1 count, fouled off three pitches, then doubled past the glove of Ramirez, who didn't take the wisest route to the ball. Reed was nailed in the left wrist on the first pitch. Wiki got a high first pitch, and sent it into the corner in rightfield to score Boone and move Reed to third.
»» MARINERS 9, RED SOX 6
Valdez flew out to Nixon on the rightfield line. Nixon nearly collided with Bellhorn on the play. The runners held. Ichiro was intentionally walked. Winn doubled into the gap in rightcenter, clearing the bases.
»» MARINERS 12, RED SOX 6
Beltre hit a high fly down the leftfield line, but he'd gotten under it as Ramirez made the catch. Sexson was intentionally walked before Ibañez was victim to a diving catch by Nixon. Halama threw 28 pitches.
Halama's line: 1 2/3 innings, 5 runs, 4 hits, 2 walks, 1 strikeout, 39 pitches (22 strikes)
The sixth inning began at 9:14p. Nixon flew out to Winn to lead off. Ramirez had a 2-0 count, which went full. He doubled down the rightfield line and into the corner. Ortiz flew out to shallow left. Millar got down 0-2 before eventually whiffing. Mateo threw 16 pitches.
Halama was replaced with Cla(y) Meredith, promising to bring some rip-roarin' out-of-control submarine action. Boone took a 2-2 pitch in the left ribcage, and for some reason, both benches were warned. Reed hit a 2-0 pitch to the gap in rightcenter, but Nixon made a running catch. The pitching coach visited the mound after a first-pitch ball to Wiki. Two pitches later, Wiklenman tagged a ball off the wall down the leftfield line for a double. Ramirez muffed the ball a bit, enabling Boone to score easily.
»» MARINERS 13, RED SOX 6
Valdez tapped one back to the mound. Ichiro took a 3-1 pitch to the gap in rightcenter, and he legged it out for a triple. Wiki scored easily.
»» MARINERS 14, RED SOX 6
Winn flew out to Mueller to end the inning.
Meredith's line: 1 inning, 2 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 22 pitches (10 strikes)
It would be Mateo's final inning, but it'd be 1-2-3. Mateo got ahead 0-2 on Varitek, who later flew out to Winn along the leftfield line. Renteria got down 0-2, eventually flying out to Reed just short of the track. Mueller flew out to Reed on the first pitch.
Mateo's line: 3 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 44 pitches (30 strikes)
Matt Mantei came in for Meredith. Beltre flew out to center on a 3-1 pitch. Sexson hit a shallow flyout to Nixon, which was one of those 'tweeners that Bellhorn might have thought about catching, but they probably made sure to communicate better on that ball. Ibañez took his 2-0 pitch to the track in rightfield, but it was caught. Disappointing to see the meat of the order go away, sure, but it was the Mariners' first 1-2-3 inning of the night on offense, which is odd in its own right.
Mantei's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 13 pitches (6 strikes)
Ron Villone came in for Mateo, and Dave Hansen inexplicably came in for Beltre at third. Bellhorn got down 0-2 and eventually whiff on a high pitch. Damon took a full-count pitch high for a free pass. Jay Payton came on to pinch hit for Nixon. He bounced a ball off the track in centerfield and over the wall. Ramirez hit an 0-2 pitch high to centerfield, deep enough to score Damon.
»» MARINERS 14, RED SOX 7
Ortiz took a 3-1 pitch outside for a walk, and during his at-bat, Rick Rizzs was being mindless in the booth, saying that Kevin "Mil-LAH" was on deck, and then going off about the accent with Dave Henderson. Ugh. Millar got down 0-2 and eventually whiffed at a pitch up and away.
Villone's line: 1 inning, 1 run, 1 hit, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts, 25 pitches (14 strikes)
Mantei was replaced by Keith Foulke, who was in to get some work. Boone got down 0-2, but eventually walked. Reed whiffed on an inside pitch. Wiki flew out deep into the hole at short to Renteria on the first pitch. Valdez took a 2-2 pitch over the outside corner to end the inning.
Foulke's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 20 pitches (12 strikes)
Villone was replaced by Eddie Guardado, who was in to get some work. Varitek grounded out to third to lead off. Renteria had a 2-0 count, doubling two pitches later down the leftfield line and off the angled wall in front of the seats. Mueller had the hitters' counts and walked on a high pitch. Bellhorn foul-tipped an outside pitch for strike three. Damon hit the first pitch for a slow roller to Boone on the right side. Boone tried to charge and do a glove-shovel thing to Sexson, but the toss was a bit high, and even the tall Sexson had to come off the bag to get it. Payton got down 0-2, and nearly doubled an 0-2 pitch down the leftfield line for a double. He later lined a 1-2 pitch right into Sexson's glove. Ballgame.
Guardado's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 2 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 26 pitches (16 strikes)
Gameball: Julio Mateo.
The Mariners didn't have him in the game Wednesday afternoon because he had put out the Aaron Sele blaze on Tuesday night. This game left Mateo with an ERA of 0.41. That's crazy/nuts good. This bullpen would be a lot worse off without him. Could you imagine having to bring in Matt Thornton where you'd usually bring in Mateo? If you can't, then just remember the game on Wednesday afternoon. Mateo got 10 outs and needed 44 pitches to do so.
Goat: Joel Piñeiro.
Okay, this crap with the starting pitching has seriously got to stop. I'll just deal with Joel right now before I get into the rotation as a whole later. Just a terrible line all the way around for Joel in this one. After having a good start in Oakland on the first of the month, Joel took a step back in Boston, and took a huge step back with this one (Hargrove milked him for seven innings in the front end of that Boston doubleheader). He gave up four walks in his short outing, though one of them was intentional. That was offset when he nailed Manny Ramirez. As for homers by Trot Nixon and Mark Bellhorn, I guess when you hang around Jamie Moyer and Ryan Franklin for long enough, it gets contagious.
Hooray bats!! They got homers out of the 3-4-5 hitters in the lineup, and back-to-back homers for the first time this season. Richie Sexson had only the homer in his 1-for-3 night where he also walked twice. Sexson has 10 homers and 30 RBIs. Adrian Beltre had the cannon shot in his 2-for-5 day with 4 RBIs. Beltre has 4 homers and 23 RBIs. Raul Ibañez' only hit of the night was that solo shot (1-for-5). Bret Boone somehow walked twice. Big hoorah for Jeremy Reed, who was 2-for-4 with a couple of ribs, and Wiki Gonzalez, who defied all odds once again, hitting two doubles and driving in a couple of runs. Seriously, the next time I hear Black Sabbath's "Iron Man," my mind will replace it with "IIIIII AAAAAAAAM WIKLENMAAAAAAAN!!! (sliding/descending guitar chord)"
There's more when it comes to the lineup though. We can't forget the top of the lineup. We can't forget the tablesetters. Ichiro was 3-for-4 (triple, three runs, intentional walk, RBI), Randy Winn was 3-for-5 (double, three runs, three RBIs). Winn didn't get up to the second slot of the lineup until Reed was moved down to the #7 slot, but he's sitting there with an average of .307. Combine that with Ichiro's .352, and you've got people who can get on base for the big guys. It appears now that said big guys are warming up.
Now it looks like I'll complain about the rotation a little more. After Wednesday's game, I posted the pitching lines of all the starting pitchers through the last two runs in the rotation. I still have the Excel chart saved on my computer. At the time, the two turns in the rotation coincidentally started with the first day of May. To make it nice and round, I'm just going to leave Piñeiro's good start in there, and call it a bad month of May. In case you're keeping tabs, the Mariners' starting pitchers this month are averaging the following line per game: 5.12 innings (on a ground ball, .12 innings would probably be right before the ball gets into the infielder's glove), 4.82 runs (4.64 earned), 7.5 hits, 2.3 walks, 2.5 strikeouts, and 88.5 pitches (53.6 strikes). After Moyer's start on Wednesday, the starters in May had a collective ERA of 7.69. After Piñeiro's start in this game, the starting pitchers sit with an ERA of 8.15, and Piñeiro himself has a 7.23 ERA after three May starts. Unfortunately, the strikeout rate we'd like to see out of Gil Meche is instead the ERA of the Mariners' starting rotation this month. Ain't that a shame.
Hey, it looks like I can't take the bottom two-thirds of the lineup and crunch their numbers of ineptitude. In this game, they were a combined 7-for-24 with 4 walks, 3 strikeouts, 8 runs, and 6 RBIs. Take out Wilson Valdez and his requisite 0-for-5, and you've got an even better line for the bottom two-thirds of the lineup.
You know, the great thing about Julio Mateo throwing so well and managing to hold the big lead the offense got for him is this -- I don't have to complain about how less-than-good Ron Villone was or how Eddie Guardado's ninth would have been a Cardiac Ninth if the game was actually close. Of course, I get fully prepared for less-than-spectacular work out of closers when you put them in just to get in some work. I fully remember when they'd do that with Kazuhiro Sasaki. Of course, he also had that weird thing where he'd suck if the situation was anything other than one requiring him to protect a lead. He sucked a few times when he had to hold a tie, I remember that.
Amazingly, the boxscore I'm reading says the game only lasted three hours and 18 minutes, though it seemed a lot longer than that. At least it was an enjoyable 3:18.
Miller. Franklin. Tonight.
Mariners 14, Red Sox 7
Hey, a "football score" that has the Mariners on the winning end of things!
Friday, May 13, 2005
Red Sox at Mariners, 7:05 Pacific (FSN Northwest, MLB.TV)
Jeremi Gonzalez (1-0, 4.22 ERA) vs Joel Pineiro (2-3, 5.66 ERA)
First of all, thanks for keeping the game threads clean. You know who you are.
However, I'm going to post our comments guidelines anyway, just so there is no confusion for the people who use our game threads (or comments boxes in general) for the first time.
SPORTS AND BREMERTONIANS COMMENTS GUIDELINES
---Please post a name. I don't care if it's some fake name like "Willie's Kid". I don't care for the "Anonymous" name at all. Just use a fake name and go with it, if you don't want to use your real name.
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---This isn't an English class, obviously. But I'm sure that the majority of our readers know how to use grammar. I'll leave it at that, because if I went on a long rant about grammar, I'd sound like a hypocrite. Believe me, I'm not a hypocrite.
---Personal attacks aren't okay. But if you want to say that the pitching of Aaron Sele sucks, that's fine. I know I've said that once or twice.
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Alright, I'm done with the guidelines. Again, I only posted them so there is no confusion as to what our guidelines are. We're here to have fun at Sports and Bremertonians. We're also very respectful of our readers' opinions. It's not like David and I are experts here. Some people like to think that they are experts. But in reality, they really aren't.
7 hours until gametime. Hooray for Friday!
(NOTE: The foul originally listed as Jerome James' 5th foul, occurring with 7:18 to go in the third quarter, was actually on Reggie Evans. Don't worry, I was screwed up when James got his fifth foul in the waning minutes of the game, and I thought it was his DQ.)
For the first time in the series, neither team scored 100 points, but did anyone think the Sonics would be the team winning such a game? I flipped to the ESPN guys at halftime saying that if the game was slowed down into halfcourt basketball, the Spurs would win the game. Looks like they bought into the myth of the Sonics being a fast-paced, jumpshooting team. Dig through some of David Locke's P-I articles, and you'll find out that the Sonics played the fourth-slowest pace during the season of any team in the NBA. Remember the home game against Detroit where Jerome James went nuts for the first time? Remember the game at Houston that was a grind-it-out game? Those wins during the season remind me in a way of this one. There are nights when you might not have the offense totally working, there are nights when Ray Allen might be off (hopefully few and far between during the playoffs), and there are nights when the other team's defense is awesome. But what's really beautiful is when the Sonics' defense steps up.
Seattle opened the game on an 11-4 run. Or you could just say the teams traded the first couple baskets and the Sonics reeled off seven straight points. It was capped by a Luke Ridnour three from the right corner with 8:42 left and a Rashard Lewis midrange pull-up jumper with 7:56 remaining. After the requisite San Antonio timeout, the Spurs answered exactly with an 11-4 run of their own to tie it. Though half of the Sonic points in that stretch came on the first of quite a few pick-and-rolls finished with a Jerome James slam, the Spurs got a couple of layups along with a Brent Barry three to tie the game at 15 apiece with 5:48 to go.
The Spurs' run was broken by the second pick-and-roll play from Ray Allen to Jerome James that finished in a powerful slam with 5:29 to play in the quarter. At this point, both teams had made good on their last five shot attempts. Antonio Daniels blew a layup and Nick Collison grabbed the rebound. He was fouled and split a pair of free throws to tie the game at 19-19 with 3:06 left in the first.
Though it didn't seem like it at the time, things got a bit out of hand. Danny Fortson got the offensive board on the second Collison free throw, which was missed. Reggie Evans couldn't catch Fortson's pass to him, and it went out of bounds. Tony Parker drove into the lane and made a beautiful bounce pass from the baseline to Radoslav (I'm not calling him "Rasho") Nesterovic for an easy layup to give the Spurs the 21-19 lead. Collison blew a layup on one Sonic possession, and Daniels missed a three before the Spurs showed some nice ball movement and Manu Ginobili sank a three from the left side to give the Spurs a 24-19 lead. Fortson was called for an illegal screen, ho hum. Ginobili lost a ball out of bounds with 54.4 ticks remaining after having been pressured by Damien Wilkins. On the other end, Fortson put back a Wilkins missed shot, and then Fortson plowed a driving Ginobili on the other end. A flagrant foul was called, and though I was watching the Calabro/Ehlo crew and they are partial, they're usually good with these kind of assessments -- that wasn't a flagrant foul. I didn't think Danny went for the head. Anyway, it was a two-shot flagrant, which I still think is crap because that wasn't a Ron Artest-type foul, but oh well. Ginobili hit those free throws, then Robert Horry beat the quarter buzzer with a three.
I guess the point with that big paragraph was this -- the Spurs closed the first quarter on a 10-2 run for a 29-21 lead, but it really didn't seem like the Sonics were out of it. I'm not sure if it was the home crowd, or if it was because Parker and Ginobili weren't lighting it up...something about this game seemed within reach.
Within the first minute of the second quarter, Danny Fortson and Jerome James both drew their third personal fouls. That of course means more minutes for Nick Collison and Vitaly Potapenko. Daniels found Collison with a nice pass under the basket for an easy layup with 10 minutes to play in the first half (31-25). Parker hit a long jumper and hit a tough shot inside to get the Spurs their largest lead of the night, 35-25 with 8:49 to go before halftime. The Spurs were beating the Sonics 20-10 in the paint.
The Sonics then put together a 10-2 run to get to within two, 39-37 with 4:40 to go. It began with Vitaly Potapenko batting a rebound under the basket after Lewis missed a three; the ball went off a Spur (probably Duncan) and into the basket (7:49). The San Antonio offense stagnated on the other end, as Vitaly draped Duncan with the shot clock running down, and it eventually expired. With 6:42 to go, Allen drove to the basket and was fouled hard by Nazr Mohammed. The crowd thought that if Fortson's foul on Ginobili was flagrant, this one had to be as well. Officials didn't see it that way. Glenn Robinson shoved Lewis into the referee on the inbound, though, and that drew a technical foul. Allen missed the T shot, snapping a streak of 45 straight made free throws. Lewis then hit his free throws. Also part of the run was Allen's pull-up baseline jumper from the left side with 6:06 to play -- his first field goal of the night. A Daniels stepback jumper from the left side capped the run, and the Sonics were down by the 39-37 margin I opened the paragraph with.
With three minutes to go in the half, the Sonics were shooting 35%, and the Spurs were shooting 54%. Amazingly, Duncan went to the line at the 2:54 mark, and those were the Spurs' first free-throw attempts of the quarter. The Sonics got down by six points, then put together a 6-0 mini-run, capped by an Allen transition three and a couple of Daniels free throws, tying the game at 47 apiece with 52.8 seconds left.
The Sonics trailed 51-49 at halftime. Though Allen had his way with Bowen in Game 2, it appeared that the presumably better ankle wasn't helping Allen in his plight against Bowen in this game. The Sonics only committed four turnovers in the first half, helping keep them in the game despite the disappearance of Allen. Another thing that helped was the free-throw gap -- the Spurs were shooting 6-for-7 from the line at half, while the Sonics were shooting 19-for-23. I don't have to tell you that's a 13-point difference at the line alone.
Consecutive possessions ending with an Allen pull-up jumper from the right elbow and an Allen midrange stepback jumper got the Sonics their first lead (53-51, 11:06) since there was 4:14 left in the first quarter. Of course, that lead doesn't last long when Barry and Bowen hit back-to-back threes. With 8:53 to go, Jerome James put a spin move on Mohammed, but was called for an offensive foul, his fourth personal on the night. Reggie Evans was bowled over by Duncan and called for the foul. Too bad Duncan didn't hit the ensuing free throws. After a crazy loose-ball sequence, the Spurs regained possession (Seattle should have gotten the ball) and Mohammed was fouled on the low block by Evans. Not long after, the Sonics retook the lead with an Allen shot from the right elbow, making it 61-60 with 6:32 to go.
After a basket by the Spurs, James finished off a pick-and-roll with Allen for a thunderous jam to retake the lead once again (63-62, 5:57). The Sonics got a hustle play not long after: Ridnour tipped out an offensive board to Allen beyond the perimeter, who dribbled to the free-throw line and stuck a jumper to take the lead back again (65-64, 5:09). After back-to-back San Antonio threes (Horry wide open, Ginobili), the Sonics got the lead back with a couple of dunks -- Allen dumped to a trailing Collison, and Evans finished off a break with Allen to make it 71-70 with three minutes to play.
Evans fouled Parker not long after, and the former went to the locker room for what was later revealed as a bruised back. Parker stepped to the line and missed both his free throws. Fortson grabbed the board and flattened Bowen on the other end, and it's basically a rule that Fortson's gotta flatten at least one opposing player per game. Fortson made good not long after, making a power move on Duncan and hitting a layup to get the Sonics another lead, 73-71 with 1:44 remaining.
Daniels was tripped up by Horry, and contact had been made with his sore knee (the one with fibromylagia, if I spelled that right). He was down on the floor for a few seconds, and walked off with a limp. As Sonic fans would find out later, thank goodness he stayed. Collison hit a turnaround hook with 46.1 seconds to go for another lead (75-74), but Duncan split a pair of free throws to tie it at 75, and that score held up for the end of the quarter.
To open the fourth quarter, Daniels stumbled into the lane and hit a reverse layup to break the tie once again (77-75, 11:42). Daniels did another crazy drive to the basket again, and rolled around on the floor after the whistle. Amazingly, the free throws he sank afterward (79-79, 9:46) were the first Sonic free-throw attempts of the second half. Duncan hit a running hook that bounced on the rim to break the tie, but the Sonics got the lead soon after. How? Why, a James slam off a pick-and-roll, of course. This time Ridnour fed him, and Duncan hacked James on the dunk, ending with a three-point play and a Sonic lead (82-81, 8:34).
That dunk by James (again, 8:34) was the second basket the Sonics hit from the field during the fourth quarter. When was the next basket? That came with 5:01 to play. What was it? Ridnour to James for a slam off a pick-and-roll, and a hack by Duncan. James missed the free throw that time, though, and the Spurs led 85-84. I'll warn you now -- the Sonics only hit one basket for the rest of the game, which had just over five minutes left to play.
Allen drove and made a jump-pass to nobody in particular, and Parker ran the other way, all alone before Daniels fouled him (I was surprised they didn't call a clear-path foul). That put the Sonics over the limit with 4:01 remaining. Parker responded by missing both free throws. Rashard Lewis limped off the floor with a toe injury with 3:34 to play. Daniels tied the game at 88 apiece with a couple free throws after being plowed by Duncan in backcourt. Horry missed a three. On the other end, Collison had the ball down low, had a shot blocked by Duncan, stayed with it, and laid it in.
Collison's basket put the Sonics up 90-88 with 2:33 to go. Duncan rumbled to the basket on the next possession and was fouled by James, which I thought was his 6th (remember, these are my game notes, so one of James' early fouls must have gone to someone else). That was Jerome's 5th, and Duncan toed the line and split a pair of free throws. Daniels took the ball on the other end of the floor, where he was fouled -- Ginobili tried to fight over the top of a James screen and did the mother of all flops, taking a phantom elbow to the face, and lying down on the floor for about twenty seconds. He didn't get the whistle to blow on Daniels, so what made him think the 20 fake seconds of writhing in pain on the floor was going to do it? Anyway, Daniels hit his free throws to make it 92-89 with 1:59 to go.
Ginobili tried to fight through a double team and actually did get some contact to the face this time from James, for what was definitely his sixth foul, coming with 1:46 to go. Ginobili split the free throws, and the Sonics still led 92-90. The Sonics wore down the shot clock on the other end, but the possession ended with a very long Daniels jumper (just inside the arc) that missed. Duncan had a short shot from the right side hit the side of the glass as Vitaly stood his ground. Allen had a shot blocked by Duncan on the other end, and a loose-ball scramble ensued. Replays showed that Vitaly tipped the ball off of Bowen before it went out of bounds, but the ball was awarded to the Spurs with 44.8 seconds left.
Horry fired a three-pointer and missed, but Ginobili scooped up the rebound and was fouled by Daniels. Ginobili split the pair of free throws to cut the Sonics lead to 92-91 with 29.3 seconds remaining.
The Sonics called timeout, and before the inbound, Allen and Bowen were jawing at each other. The possession had Daniels wearing down the clock before handing off to Allen. Potapenko came out high to try to screen Bowen from Allen, but that didn't work on multiple tries. Allen forced up a tough fading shot from the left baseline which missed, but luckily bounced high off the base of the rim, killing a second or so before Horry grabbed the rebound and called timeout.
On the final possession, the ball found Duncan on the right elbow, who had Potapenko on him. Time drew down, Duncan put up an 8-footer or so, and it was short off the front rim. Collison grabbed the rebound, and it was over.
PEEK AT THE BOXSCORE
Ray Allen 20 pts/7 reb/7 ast (6-23 FG, 1-8 3pt, 7-9 free throws, 42 min), Rashard Lewis 12 pts/10 reb (3-10 FG, 0-3 3pt, 6-6 free throws, 36 min), Luke Ridnour 9 pts/3 reb/5 ast/2 stl (4-10 FG, 1-3 3pt, 42 min), Reggie Evans 2 pts/6 reb (1-3 FG, 15 min)
Antonio Daniels 18 pts/8 reb/3 ast (3-9 FG, 12-12 free throws, 34 min), Nick Collison 10 pts/6 reb (4-6 FG, 2-4 free throws, 18 min), Danny Fortson 4 pts/2 reb (2-2 FG, 6 min), Vitaly Potapenko 2 pts/3 reb (1-3 FG, 10 min), Damien Wilkins 0 pts/1 stl (0-3 FG, 13 min)
Jerome James Watch
15 pts/3 reb/1 stl/2 blk (7-7 FG, 1-2 free throws, 1 turnover, fouled out with 1:46 to go, 24 min)
shot 31-for-76 (40.8%) from the field, shot 2-for-16 (12.5%) from downtown, shot 28-for-33 (84.8%) from the line, outrebounded Spurs 48-37, were beaten 42-38 in the paint, won 9-8 on the break and 15-13 on second chances, bench outscored San Antonio bench 34-33 (outrebounded them 19-12)
I was sitting there through a decent part of the fourth quarter thinking there was a good chance the Sonics could lose this game. They had many reasons to, not the least of which was the fact that Ray Allen didn't score in the final 17:08 of the game. I'm definitely not saying that you could have had Ron Murray out there and gotten the same result (Murray wouldn't have gone 7-for-9 from the line), but Allen wasn't the fourth-quarter dynamo in this game that he's fancied himself to be during the regular season. You can't do it every time out, sure, but these are the playoffs. Also, though I do know the Sonics play a slow pace of basketball when they're clicking on all cylinders (though a much higher-scoring brand), I figured this pace would accommodate the Spurs better as well, though not a death blow as some of the national press might have thought. The Spurs had a couple of trips to the line where they missed both free throws altogether, and they had many more where they split the pair of free throws. For the record, the Spurs shot 19-for-34 (55.9%) from the line. The Sonics' shooting percentage is above, and Daniels was perfect from the line.
Antonio Daniels is almost surely going to cash in somewhere else next year for what he's done this year, but man, what a year this guy has had. He's probably going to hate himself around age 50 or 60 when his body exacts revenge on him for all the crazy drives to the basket he does, but rarely have I seen a crazy point guard like this that will sacrifice his body, fall to the floor or get pounded, and then manage to hit both free throws. Repeatedly. More importantly, with Allen not hitting his shots and with Lewis not hitting/not taking shots (though getting a double-double), someone off that bench had to step up, and it was Daniels. He had a great line off the bench, and since the Sonic defense was able to keep the score low, they weren't getting screwed for not having Vladimir Radmanovic popping in that extra ten or so points.
It's games like this one where I look at the boxscore, remember that Daniels did well, and then I look and see that Ridnour was on the floor for 42 minutes, though it didn't seem like it. That's a lot of time with a three-guard lineup, assuming that Allen is out there (given his minutes, he was). Obviously without Radmanovic, the Sonics can't trot that huge lineup of point guard/Lewis/Radmanovic/Collison/Fortson out there, but it kinda reminds you sometimes how versatile this team can be, even with only Jerome James (and maybe Vitaly) as the only guy that could be considered a true center. Back to Ridnour, though, Coach McMillan must have been liking his defense if he was out on the floor that long. I guess his offense wasn't too bad either, and that 5:1 assist-to-turnover ratio isn't too shabby either.
Again, who thought the Sonics would win a physical game with the Spurs? The Sonics made sure that the easy layups were few and far between, and it appeared they were going to use their fouls -- after all, they've got 30 fouls to use between Jerome James, Reggie Evans, Nick Collison, Vitaly Potapenko, and Danny Fortson. In this game, 20 of them were used, six of them by James. Given the result of the fouling, in which the Spurs wouldn't hit their free throws, the strategy is fool-proof in hindsight. Of course, only time will tell how long the Hack-A-Spur defense would work, because all of a sudden they could just start hitting their free throws again, though Duncan would be the least likely to stroke a bunch from the line in a row. As Vitaly would say, the Sonics laid the vood on the Spurs in the paint.
I know the Spurs were more concerned with the Sonics' shooters and everything, but that pick-and-roll play finishing with a dunk by James...that worked five times. I'll go out on a limb and say that James won't be flushing that many pick-and-rolls on Sunday. Frankly, it's great seeing him go to the rack and pack it like that. It's a great contrast to seeing Reggie Evans grab an offensive board and pump-fake about five times under the basket before going up, or Evans missing a dunk.
Well, folks, we've got a series. I'm just glad to see the Sonics get one, but this was a very nice win. I'm hoping they can build on it, but if the Sonics only end up getting this one win, it was at least a good win and a great game. And man, that KeyArena crowd was nuts. On multiple occasions, Kevin Calabro said it almost felt like the old Barn. Were there a couple of profane crowd chants in there? I could have swore I heard "BUUUULL-SH#&" once or twice during the game.
I asked Jinkies if he ever sneaks into the players' luggage and then scares them in their hotel rooms after games. His reply: "I am not wearing anything of course. I am a cat."
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Spurs at SuperSonics, 7:30p, ESPN/FSNNW
Will the Sonics force a Game 5? Will the Sonics face elimination on their home floor come Sunday? I'm not betting on much more than what I've just mentioned, but hey, the games have still got to be played.
By the way, it's bad enough that Nate McMillan didn't win the Coach of the Year award, it's even more of a shaft that he finished THIRD. Of course, it might keep his price down so that he has more of a chance it stay in Seattle, but still, it's just crap. Mike D'Antoni isn't Coach of the year if Steve Nash doesn't come to town, and there's no way it happens if Stephon Marbury stays in Phoenix either. D'Antoni may have instituted the crazy fast-paced running style of the Suns, but Nate McMillan had to devise a complete identity with the same exact set of guys, and his only additional parts were Danny Fortson and Nick Collison coming off an injury. They're not starters.
But yeah, there's a game tonight. Hooray for the pre-emptive post time which I'm actually posting at 2:25p.
Here at Sports and Bremertonians, instead of giving you statues without bats, we're going to give you a post on the music of 1995. We know that some of you may have gone to college during the mid-1990s, so this may be a way to remember those good times. This could be a post for the readers in their early 20s who were in junior high in 1995. Or quite frankly, this could be a post that diehard music fans just love to eat up.
Out of my current album collection, I own 11 albums from 1995 (7 on CD, 4 on tape):
Alice In Chains "Alice In Chains"
---Favorite songs: "Head Creeps", "Over Now", "God Am"
---Favorite songs: "7 Words", "Bored", "Nosebleed"
Everclear "Sparkle and Fade"
---Favorite songs: "Heartspark Dollarsign", "Strawberry", "Electra Made Me Blind"
Filter "Short Bus"
---Favorite songs: "Hey Man, Nice Shot", "Dose"
Foo Fighters "Foo Fighters"
---Favorite songs: "Alone + Easy Target", "I'll Stick Around", "Big Me", "This Is A Call"
Green Day "Insomniac"
---Favorite songs: "Walking Contradiction", "Brain Stew/Jaded", "Geek Stink Breath", "Stuck With Me"
---Favorite songs: "Israel's Son", "Shade", "Findaway"
Smashing Pumpkins "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness"
---Favorite songs: "Muzzle", "Zero", "Bullet With Butterfly Wings", "Here Is No Why"
Sugar Ray "Lemonade & Brownies"
---Favorite song: "Mean Machine" (I'm a bigger fan of the cover than I am of the album)
Van Halen "Balance"
---Favorite songs: "Seventh Seal", "Amsterdam", "Don't Tell Me (What Love Can Do)"
There were plenty of songs from 1995 that I loved, but do not currently own on their respective albums:
U2 "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me"
Spacehog "In The Meantime"
Red Hot Chili Peppers "My Friends"
Collective Soul "December"
Gin Blossoms "Til I Hear It From You"
Soul Asylum "Misery"
Green Day "J.A.R."
Toad The Wet Sprocket "Good Intentions"
Presidents of the United States of America "Lump"
Adam Ant "Wonderful"
Dr. Dre "Keep Their Heads Ringin'"
Adam Sandler "The Chanukah Song"
My criteria for music lists like these: Do not include a song from the previous year. For example, do not include Live "Lightning Crashes" on a 1995 list. It was released in 1994 on the "Throwing Copper" album. Yes, it was a big hit in the early part of 1995. But it was still a song from 1994.
Now it's your turn to look back at the year in music of 1995. Don't worry, we're not going to produce a 30-minute infomercial on the music of 1995 and put it on late-night TV. We figured we might as well do it here, on a much cheaper budget. Besides, Skee-Lo is not available to host the show.
I understand that I left some obvious choices out of this post. But there's a reason for that. The music that I listed were songs/albums that I appreciated from 1995. I don't appreciate Alanis Morissette "You Oughta Know" as much as someone else does, okay?
The music of 1995. It just continues. My Oh My!
THIS OFF-DAY POST BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE MUSIC OF THE 1995 SEATTLE MARINERS THEMSELVES.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
In 25 words or less: If this game didn't infuriate you, I don't know what else could possibly do it. Mariners Baseball: What A Show!
NOTE: Also see Jeremy's top-notch recap, right below this post if you're not in the archive.
This one featured Jamie Moyer and Carl Pavano. Yogi Berra turns 80 tomorrow, and his birthday was observed at the stadium, and he threw out the first pitch. Remember, if Yogi hands you some cash, it's just as good as money.
The big inning returns! Ichiro got behind 0-2 but two pitches later, he hit a roller down the first-base line. Tino Martinez went to play it, but Pavano was a bit late getting to the bag, and that was more than enough time for Ichiro to beat out any throw. Randy Winn hit a hard grounder to Alex Rodriguez at third, who had to wait for Rey Sanchez to move to and cover second base. Rodriguez airmailed Sanchez and the ball went into rightfield. Ichiro went to third, and Winn was at first. Adrian Beltre foul-tipped a 1-2 pitch for strike three, or so the plate umpire thought. Replays showed that catcher Jorge Posada short-hopped the ball and trapped it. Manager Mike Hargrove came out to argue, and asked for the opinion of the second-base umpire, but was never able to get one. Then Richie Sexson stuck the third pitch over the wall in rightfield.
»» MARINERS 3, YANKEES 0
Raul Ibañez worked a 1-2 count full, then ripped a pitch up the middle for a single. Bret Boone then reached Monument Park in leftcenter on a 1-1 pitch.
»» MARINERS 5, YANKEES 0
Jeremy Reed singled hard up the middle to snap an 0-for-11 streak, then stole second without a throw on the first pitch to Miguel Olivo. Olivo whiffed at one pitch, fouled off two more, then whiffed at the fourth. Ditto for Wilson Valdez. Pavano threw 34 pitches.
Sure as sh#&, they gave it all back. Derek Jeter lined a single to rightfield on the second pitch of the inning. Tony Womack rolled one to the right side for a double-play ball. Boone underhanded to Valdez, who didn't catch the ball at all, let alone throw the ball to first. Thus, there were two on with nobody out instead of two out and nobody on with Gary Sheffield at the plate. Right after the error, I had the feeling this inning might go to crap. I thought the Yankees would at least get those two runners across. The Yankees pulled a double steal on the 2-1 pitch to Sheffield, again with no throw. Sheffield walked on the 3-1 pitch to make the double steal a little bit moot. Then Hideki Matsui rocked one into the gap in leftcenter to clear the bases.
»» MARINERS 5, YANKEES 3
Alex Rodriguez stung a 2-0 pitch into leftfield, and it was hit too hard to score Matsui, who stayed at third on the single. Tino Martinez had a 2-0 count, but then decided to break up the monotony by whiffing on a 2-2 pitch in the dirt. Jorge Posada then smoked a single to leftfield and Matsui crawled in using a seal walk.
»» MARINERS 5, YANKEES 4
Bernie Williams joined the hit parade as well, singling into leftfield. Rodriguez was coming toward the plate on the play, but Winn had already bobbled the ball a bit before making a throw, which was way up the line and went past Olivo (Moyer backed up on the play, as should any pitcher). There went the five-run lead!
»» MARINERS 5, YANKEES 5
Rey Sanchez mercifully ended it, grounding a ball to Valdez, who stepped on second and threw to first for the double play. Moyer threw 34 pitches.
The offense had a small bit of a hangover. Ichiro hit a high fly to right. Winn dumped a single into centerfield. Beltre smacked a 1-1 laser over Womack's glove in leftfield for a double. Sexson looked at a strike, whiffed for another, and then whiffed at a low breaking ball for the third. Ibañez grounded out to second to end the inning. Pavano threw 14 pitches.
The Mariners were Womack'd upside the head. Jeter bounced out to Beltre on the first pitch of the inning. Womack hit a ball that Boone backhanded and stopped, but he couldn't come up with it and throw. Womack stole second on the first pitch to Sheffield, and Olivo couldn't come up with the ball behind the plate, and therefore made no throw. On the 1-1 pitch to Sheffield, Womack took off for third and Olivo had the ball pop out of his glove and hence, no throw. It's kinda hard to flash that throwing arm when you can't come up with the ball. Sheffield hit the 1-2 pitch up the middle, and Boone bobbled it in the outfield, though getting Sheffield at first would have been a tough play anyway. Womack scored easily, and the Yankees had the lead.
»» YANKEES 6, MARINERS 5
It appeared the Yankees weren't done yet, as Matsui singled through the hole on the right side. Rodriguez took a 1-2 pitch over the inside corner to give everyone a small chuckle before they buried their faces in their hands and cried. Martinez worked an 0-2 count full before grounding out to Sexson, who stepped on the bag. Moyer threw 26 pitches and had 60 through two.
Pavano protected his newfound lead with a 1-2-3 inning. Boone whiffed on a 2-2 pitch. Reed whiffed at a high pitch with the same count. Olivo took Sheffield to the warning track in the gap on an 0-2 pitch. Pavano threw 13 pitches and was at 61 through three.
The inning started ominously. Posada hit a ball off the wall in leftcenter, but it bounced right back to Winn, who quickly threw back to second to hold Posada to a single. Williams had a 3-1 count before hitting a full-count pitch off the end of the bat into the leftfield corner for a double. Runners were on second and third with nobody out. Sanchez hit a shallow fly to centerfield, and Valdez was able to reach over his shoulder and make the catch.
So went Jamie Moyer. Matt Thornton came into the game, and Rick Rizzs made sure to note that Thornton was gaining more and more confidence with every outing. Thornton came in with an ERA of 3.95. He proceeded to get a grounder to Boone with the infield up, then Ichiro made a running catch on a fly ball from Womack. Good enough. Thornton threw five pitches.
Moyer's line: 2 1/3 innings, 6 runs (5 earned), 10 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 71 pitches (43 strikes)
The Long Ball makes scoring runs a snap. Valdez flew out to left on 0-2. Ichiro took three balls, then put a lick on the 3-1 pitch, lining it over the fence in rightfield to tie it. The game was getting a bit too weird indeed. This was the Mariners' first three-homer game of the season.
»» YANKEES 6, MARINERS 6
Winn flew out to Matsui on the first pitch. Beltre hit a ball to Rodriguez at third, and it popped out of his glove. He threw to first, but it wasn't in time as a glorious E5 went into the books. Sexson had a 3-1 count and took a full-count pitch in the dirt for a free pass. Ibanez got down 0-2 and got something juicy to hit on 2-2. He put a good hurtin' on the ball, though when it hit the bat, I didn't think it was going to reach the upper deck in rightfield. It did. The Mariners somehow grabbed the lead, and a decent margin to boot. Hey, guess what? That's the Mariners' first four-homer game of the season.
»» MARINERS 9, YANKEES 6
Boone crushed the first pitch to the 399-foot marker in leftcenter over Womack's head (there's a chance Womack could have caught it). Boone had his mind made up that he was going to third, and the cutoff man Jeter ate the ball, though I thought he might have had a play on Boone steaming into third. Anyway, that went for a triple. Unfortunately, there were two out, and Reed grounded out to second on the first pitch. Pavano threw 27 pitches.
Pavano's line: 4 innings, 9 runs (5 earned), 10 hits, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts, 88 pitches (60 strikes)
Here I don't get a TNT Inside the NBA promo for an upcoming showing of the movie Eraser, and I don't get the pleasure that comes from hearing Charles Barkley ripping the movie. Sheffield fouled off four pitches with a full count (including a couple that were close to being doubles down the leftfield line) before walking on a breaking ball up and in. Matsui tapped one to Sexson, who threw to second to get the lead runner. Rodriguez saw three balls, then a strike, then ball four inside. If you think like I do, you had the feeling that Tino was going to park one right here. You didn't care that Tino had an 0-2 count. He took two pitches for balls before lifting off on the 2-2 pitch, reaching that front railing over the fence in rightfield. Matt Thornton was fit to be tied, except literally.
»» YANKEES 9, MARINERS 9
Posada fouled off a 3-1 pitch, and then took a very high ball four. Bryan Price came to the mound to see what the hell was going on. Williams tapped to Thornton off the mound, and he lobbed to first. Sanchez grounded the first pitch to Valdez. Thornton threw a mere 33 pitches.
Paul Quantrill came in for Pavano, making me harken back to Quantrill's Toronto days when the Mariners used to just crush him. Those were the days, though, and that wouldn't happen today. Olivo and Valdez both grounded out to short. Ichiro grounded one toward the third-base line, and Rodriguez made a nice effort running to foul ground and getting off a throw, but it was late, and Ichiro got the infield single. Winn had a 2-0 count and hit a 2-2 grounder up the middle and off Jeter's glove into centerfield. Beltre ended the threat with a grounder back to the mound. Quantrill threw 15 pitches.
Thornton still had some juice left in the tank. Jeter hit the first freakin' pitch of the inning just over the wall in rightcenter to put the Yankees back into the lead.
»» YANKEES 10, MARINERS 9
Womack grounded one up the middle for a single. Womack stole second on the second pitch to Sheffield. That was rendered moot when Sheffield crushed the 1-1 pitch into Monument Park (leftcenter).
»» YANKEES 12, MARINERS 9
Matsui looked at two strikes and whiffed on an inside pitch.
Thornton had to at least go out with one batter's worth of a good note, I guess. Shigetoshi Hasegawa came in for Thornton. I thought that all the game was missing was a brawl, and Hasegawa nailed Rodriguez on the elbow with a 1-2 pitch. Martinez fouled off a 1-2 pitch before grounding a ball to Sexson, who stepped on first and threw to Valdez at short, who tagged out Rodriguez to end the inning. Hasegawa threw nine pitches.
Thornton's line: 2 innings, 6 runs, 4 hits, 3 walks, 1 strikeout, 48 pitches (29 strikes)
The Mariners would respond by going away 1-2-3. Sexson got down 0-2 and eventually grounded out to third. Ibañez got down 0-2 as well, taking a 1-2 pitch tailing back over the plate for strike three. Boone grounded out to Rodriguez, who knocked the ball down, had some trouble picking it up, but still nailed Boone at third to end the inning. Quantrill threw 11 pitches.
Quantrill's line: 2 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 26 pitches (19 strikes)
This inning got a bit sketchy. Posada tapped back to the mound. Williams grounded a ball to Sexson, who had the ball go off his glove as he overran it (error). The Yankees put on the hit-and-run, and Sanchez hit a ball to the right side, but Boone had already broken toward second. Usually such a hit would go into rightfield with no one near it, but Boone nearly got a glove on it before it went into rightfield. Jeter had a 3-0 count that went full. He hit a ball deep down the rightfield line which was originally called as a homer, and Ichiro and a few Mariners immediately had a problem with that, since the ball went to the right of the foul pole by a few feet. After some lobbying, the umpires got the call right, and the runners and Jeter were called back to the field. It didn't get any less weird. Jeter struck out looking, and Olivo snap threw back to Hasegawa, who checked the runner at third and looked to have had Sanchez in a rundown between first and second. He took a little too long to throw the ball, and somehow Sanchez snuck back to first past the Sexson tag, which was late because of the throw. Womack hit a fly ball down the leftfield line, and Winn almost made the same catch that made the highlight reels earlier in the series, except there was no leap this time. Hasegawa threw 16 pitches.
Hasegawa's line: 1 2/3 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 25 pitches (17 strikes)
(Dar)Tanyon Sturtze came in for Quantrill. This is where I express my long-held belief that no team with Tanyon Sturtze on its roster will win a World Series. Hey, his team had a 3-0 series lead on Boston last year and lost it, so maybe I've got something here. Reed had an 0-2 count and ended up rolling one to second. Olivo grounded the second pitch to Rodriguez. Valdez stuck a 3-1 pitch through the hole on the right side for a single. Ichiro got down 0-2 and eventually lined softly to Rodriguez. Sturtze threw 17 pitches.
Jeff Nelson came in for Hasegawa and actually did pretty well, though it took a few pitches. Sheffield was down 0-2 and whiffed on a 1-2 frisbee outside. Matsui got ahead 2-0, but the count went full. He grounded out to Boone. Rodriguez got down 0-2, took two pitches for balls, then whiffed on a frisbee outside. Back in 2000, Rodriguez whiffed on the same pitch as a Mariner at the Safe with the bases loaded, then Edgar came up behind him and hit a grand slam. Good times. Nelson threw 16 pitches.
Nelson's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 16 pitches (10 strikes)
I really get angry when Sturtze is able to shut down my team, since I remember his hack days in Tampa Bay. Winn flew out to leftfield. Beltre grounded out to short. Sexson whiffed on a low breaking ball. Sturtze threw 13 pitches.
Sturtze's line: 2 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 30 pitches (17 strikes)
JJ Putz came in for Nelson. Martinez got down 0-2 before flying out foul to Beltre near the bag at third. Posada hit a 2-2 rainmaker that took about ten seconds to come down just barely over the wall in rightfield.
»» YANKEES 13, MARINERS 9
Williams grounded the first pitch to the right side, and Boone picked the ball off the outfield grass and nailed the slow Williams in time. Sanchez grounded out to Boone to end the inning.
Putz' line: 1 inning, 1 run, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 13 pitches (9 strikes)
Tom Gordon came in for Sturtze, and on the KOMO radio broadcast, some guy from Bremerton (a random Adam) had the misfortune of getting his name drawn for the Home Run Inning contest in a game where the Mariners had already hit four homers. Ibañez worked a 1-2 count full before whiffing on a ball up and away. Boone got down 0-2 and whiffed on a 1-2 breaking ball. At this point, Dave Niehaus said, "it's going to be a loooooong flight home, baby." Reed bounced the 1-1 pitch to the hole on the left side, and it was nicely placed as Jeter had no play and ate it. Greg Dobbs came in to pinch hit for Olivo, and he tapped the first pitch to Tino. Ballgame.
Gordon's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 15 pitches (10 strikes)
Gameball: Jeremy Reed.
Nice to see a multi-hit game out of Jeremy Reed, who had been quiet for a while. He went 2-for-5 and stole a base. I guess I'm a little apprehensive to pick one of the middle third of the lineup, each of whom struck out twice and/or made errors. Ichiro would of course be the too-obvious choice, and Winn could easily be in this spot as well, though he bobbled the one throw when Rodriguez scored, though asking Winn to get a good throw home might be a little too much to ask. I'm just hoping that Reed can warm up a little more so that he can sneak back into that #2 slot in the lineup, and especially if Adrian Beltre gets even warmer, then Reed can see all those juicy pitches and stuff. That's also so Winn can solidify the bottom third of the lineup, which will be a black hole as long as Miguel Olivo and Wilson Valdez are down there.
Goat: Matt Thornton.
There's definitely more than one possible choice for the goat. There's Jamie Moyer, of course, and there's also Wilson Valdez, who opened the floodgates with his crippling error in the first on what should have been a double play. Today, however, I'm going with Matt Thornton, who turned a three-run lead into a three-run deficit in absolutely amazing fashion. Two of his three walks came home to score on the Tino Martinez homer. When the Yankees got the lead back, they weren't waiting for walks, they were just mashing anything that Thornton threw up to the plate. Oh, that ERA that I mentioned? He came in with an ERA of 3.95, and hit the showers with an ERA of 6.89. That's a jump of 42.7%. Matt Thornton's ERA has gone WAY UP!! OH, HEMOGLOBIN!!
It's way too "last year," isn't it? Sometimes you get pitching, sometimes you get hitting. But getting both to happen in the same game is key. It hardly ever happened last year. The Mariners have been waiting for two weeks to get the offense on track, and today they did. Conversely, the pitching didn't show up. I've been harping on the starting pitching the last couple turns through the rotation, and today Jamie Moyer had his third crappy start in a row.
Actually, let's go through the last two turns in the rotation.
1 May (OAK): Piñeiro -- 8 innings, 3 runs, 8 hits, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts, 100 pitches (69 strikes)
2 May (Angels): Franklin -- 5 innings, 5 runs, 5 hits, 5 walks, 3 strikeouts, 89 pitches (53 strikes)
3 May: Meche -- 8 innings, 5 runs, 8 hits, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts, 105 pitches (73 strikes)
4 May: Sele -- 4 1/3 innings, 4 runs, 6 hits, 5 walks, 2 strikeouts, 84 pitches (45 strikes)
6 May (BOS): Moyer -- 2 2/3 innings, 6 runs, 7 hits, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts, 72 pitches (45 strikes)
8 May: Piñeiro -- 7 innings, 6 runs, 10 hits, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts, 109 pitches (69 strikes)
8 May: Franklin -- 6 innings, 2 runs, 6 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 97 pitches (61 strikes)
9 May (NYY): Meche -- 6 2/3 innings, 3 runs, 6 hits, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts, 102 pitches (56 strikes)
10 May: Sele -- 2 2/3 innings, 7 runs (6 earned), 8 hits, 2 walks, 0 strikeouts, 64 pitches (35 strikes)
11 May: Moyer -- 2 1/3 innings, 6 runs (5 earned), 10 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 71 pitches (43 strikes)
So, I've decided to be dorky for today's game post and I've plugged this crap into an Excel table. What's the sum of this stuff? 53 innings, 47 runs (45 earned), 74 hits, 21 walks, 27 strikeouts, 893 pitches (549 strikes). Just move a decimal place into all of those if you want a per-game average. What's the starters' combined ERA for this whole mess? Try 7.69.
Looking back at that stretch, I know there's probably only three decent outings out of those ten: the Franklin outing in the Sunday nightcap, the Meche outing the first game of the Yankee series, and the Piñeiro outing where he got the shaft on the first day of May. We know the bats came alive today, and we know that the bats have been getting a lot of the blame lately for being horrific and stagnant. On the other hand, WHAT IN THE HELL ARE YOU GOING TO DO IF YOUR STARTING PITCHERS' ERAs COME OUT TO 7.69?!??!!!?! I know the offense hasn't been doing great, but you'd need a lineup of nine Albert Pujols clones to score eight runs on a nightly basis to make up for the starting rotation's ineffectiveness (putting it politely) during this stretch. On an individual basis, and though the numbers will be hugely skewed, the ERAs are Piñeiro with 5.40, Franklin with 5.73, Meche with 4.90, Sele with 12.86, and Moyer with 19.80. Moyer's ERA over his last two starts is only 0.01 short of my birth year. His current full-season ERA is now sitting at 5.53.
Well, I guess I'll talk about the bats now. Seven of the Mariners' 14 hits went for extra bases. Multi-hit games came from Ichiro (3-for-5), Randy Winn (2-for-5), Raul Ibañez (2-for-5), Bret Boone (2-for-5), and the aforementioned Reed (gameball). Richie Sexson only had the one homer, but it was a three-run shot; he also drew the only walk for the Mariners today. Raul Ibañez had the three-run shot as well which built the lead that Thornton kicked away. Bret Boone had the homer and the triple to boost the ailing slugging percentage a bit. Adrian Beltre had a double as his only hit, but also stranded four. All in all, it was a nice day for the bats, and I loved that they tattooed Carl Pavano. The fact that Pavano and Jaret Wright were two of the biggest catches of the free-agent pitching market of last winter still befuddles me, and I'm glad the Mariners didn't get either, and I don't care if their own rotation is screwed right now. I'm convinced those two guys are one-year wonders.
Ten of 11. That's bad, no question about it. What's the solution? Well, I'm feeling a lot better about the bats than I was five days ago, but I'm still wary and I want to see how it holds up over the next couple of days. With the starting rotation, though...it's a whole different story. It's got to be pretty bad if Larry LaRue comes out with a column headlined, "Blowup leaves Sele’s job teetering." Jeremy echoed such sentiment yesterday. I guess the simple solution to that is...let's get Campy!! New pitchers are fun, but they won't save you money on car insurance.
Gonzalez. Piñeiro. Thursday.
Eli Manning rebounded from a subpar first half to lead the New York Giants to a 13-9 victory over the Seattle Seahawks this afternoon at Yankee Stadium. This was the Giants' first home game in Yankee Stadium since 1973 because their current stadium, Giants Stadium, was in the process of being blown up by two unknown men, who claim to be from a group known as "Sports and Bremertonians" (see page A1).
Manning was 20-for-32 and threw for 267 yards and a touchdown. He had 2 interceptions, all in the first half. But fortunately for the Giants, the Seahawks offense couldn't do anything with them.
As good as Manning was, Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was just as bad. Plagued by the inconsistent play of his wide receivers, mainly Koren Robinson, Hasselbeck was just 12-for-28 for 174 yards and 4 interceptions. In the first half, the Seahawks were in the red zone three times but had to settle for three Josh Brown field goals (46, 47, 55). Unfortunately for the Seahawks, the second half would be worse.
Rookie Charles Frederick returned the opening kickoff in the second half 58 yards to set up the Giants with great field position. Two plays later, Manning connected with Plaxico Burress for the Giants' first touchdown of the game. It was Burress' first touchdown as a Giant since signing as a free agent from Pittsburgh. With the score at 10-9, the Giants defense would take over.
Linebacker Carlos Emmons had a career-high 5 sacks on the day for the Giants. The Seahawks' offensive line was missing right tackle Floyd Womack, who was ill and didn't make the long trip from the West Coast. Shaun Alexander was non-existent on this day, running for only 54 yards. Three of Hasselbeck's four interceptions were made by rookie cornerback Corey Webster, who has been a major surprise for the Giants defense.
The Giants (3-3) are in Oakland next Sunday to take on the Raiders while the Seahawks (2-3) return to Seattle to face the defending world champion New England Patriots.
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
SEA - Josh Brown 46 yd FG
SEA - Josh Brown 47 yd FG
NYG - Jay Feely 40 yd FG
SEA - Josh Brown 55 yd FG
Halftime - Seattle 9, New York Giants 3
NYG - Plaxico Burress 23 yd TD pass from Manning (Feely kick)
NYG - Jay Feely 49 yd FG
Matt Hasselbeck - 12-for-28, 174 yards, 0 touchdowns, 4 interceptions
Shaun Alexander - 22 carries, 54 yards
Jerome Pathon - 5 receptions, 38 yards
Jamie Sharper - 8 tackles, 2 sacks
NEW YORK GIANTS
Eli Manning - 20-for-32, 267 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions
Tiki Barber - 19 carries, 76 yards
Plaxico Burress - 7 receptions, 99 yards, 1 touchdown
Corey Webster - 7 tackles, 3 interceptions
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
Football scores are fun, but only when your team isn't on the losing end of them.
Mariners at Yankees, 10:05 a.m. Pacific (ESPN, MLB.TV)
Jamie Moyer (4-1, 4.70 ERA) vs Carl Pavano (2-2, 4.17 ERA)
For the love of God, win.
When you see the Spurs get the lead to double digits in the first quarter and basically tread water for the rest of the game, you realize there's little wonder that the Spurs only lost one game on their home floor during the season when they led after the first quarter of play. David Locke explained in a pre-series P-I article that the first quarter of the first game of the series in a way could decide the whole series, not just because of the tone it would set, but because of the Spurs' home record when leading after the first quarter. The plan was to have the Sonics stick it to the Spurs in the first quarter of Game 1, and have Vladimir Radmanovic go nuts. Neither happened in Game 1, and only one of the two could have happened in Game 2, and it didn't.
So this is the part where I shuffle through my game notes and see what's postworthy.
The Sonics won the opening tip, so that was a plus. Rashard Lewis missed a midrange jumper on that first possession, the Spurs got the rebound, and Luke Ridnour fouled Tony Parker right away in backcourt. That's bad in a way because I hate when Ridnour makes dumb fouls to finish off fast breaks or when he fouls in backcourt, but we'd soon find out that if Ridnour doesn't foul there, the Spurs run that defensive rebound all the way out for an easy transition layup. Tim Duncan spun to the baseline and hit a short shot for the first basket of the game at the 11:22 mark. Ray Allen was knocked down at the top of the key by Bruce Bowen at the 10:56 mark and hit a couple free throws to tie the game at 2-2. After Seattle made a defensive stop (Brent Barry missed a three and they got the rebound), Reggie Evans sort of made a jump-pass on the other end, except he didn't pass the ball (that's a walk). Duncan missed a short hook on the other end, and the Sonics got the rebound and went the other way. Ridnour dribbled into a jumper from near the top of the key to make it a 4-2 Seattle lead. At the 8:47 mark, Duncan got an offensive board and putback to tie the game at 4-4. The Spurs ran off a break, and Tony Parker blew a layup, but it was cleaned up by Nazr Mohammed. The Spurs led 6-4 with 8:19 to go in the first quarter.
Why did I basically do play-by-play for the entire last paragraph? There were two lead changes and two ties in the entire game, and they were featured in the paragraph above.
Jerome James put back an offensive board at the 6:57 mark to bring the Sonics within two at 8-6, but that's as close as they would get from that point onward. Manu Ginobili answered that with a three-pointer from the left side. Ridnour hit a runner from the right side to make it an 11-8 San Antonio lead before the Spurs broke the game open with a 9-0 run to make it 20-8 at the 3:41 mark. Ginobili finished off a break with a layup, and he hit a three after losing the ball. That was sandwiched by the requisite drives to the glass by Parker. Before Ginobili hit the three that made it 18-8, the Sonics were shooting 3-for-13 from the floor. Both teams scored eight points after San Antonio's run, but the Spurs' baskets are marked in my notes as "2:16 Collison bad pass from under basket, Parker runs all the way to basket for dunk SA 22-10," "1:12 Duncan trails, slams to finish break SA 24-12," "0:47.3 Ginobili all the way to the glass, layup SA 26-14," and "0:00.0 Robinson pulls up midrange to beat buzzer, SA 28-16." Glenn Robinson was pulling up for a buzzer-beater. That's just demoralizing, but so are three fast break baskets to go before the Robinson buzzer shot.
The Spurs led 28-16 after one. The Sonics shot horribly in the first quarter. The radio-only crew (no FSNNW telecasts?!) of Kevin Calabro and Craig Ehlo basically pointed out that the Sonics were sending guys under the basket for offensive boards, but the Spurs would pin the Sonics' bigs under the basket, get the rebounds, and then beat the Sonics' big men down the floor. Make no mistake, Tim Duncan and Nazr Mohammed can beat Jerome James and Reggie Evans down the floor. Anyway, the Spurs would get these rebounds and then run them out into a fast break, eerily reminiscent of a certain team from Phoenix.
Nick Collison was whistled for a foul at the 11:18 mark of the second quarter, going in the books as the 5th Sonic turnover. The Sonics were shooting 6-for-23 at that point. The Sonics called timeout at the 8:13 mark, as the Spurs had gotten their lead to 15 at 35-20 after Mohammed packed Beno Udrih's airball. The Sonics were shooting 8-for-28 from the floor at this point. The Spurs grabbed their largest lead of the night not long after, a 40-22 lead after some Parker free throws.
Then the Sonics went on an 11-2 run to make the game feel like somewhat of a game. The Spurs called timeout at the 4:11 mark mid-run, and KJR studio man David Locke pointed out that the Sonics hadn't strung together three consecutive defensive stops in the game up to that point. The run was finished not long after, as Lewis cleaned up a miss on the break to make it 42-33. Seattle got within eight points twice in the final minutes of the first half, once on a Ray Allen three, and once on a couple of Allen free throws (50-42, 1:02). The Spurs sank four free throws for the final points of the half, and they led 54-42.
The Spurs were shooting 53% at halftime, no doubt aided by a good deal of transition layups. The Sonics shot 38%, hampered by bad shooting, the Spurs' defense, and the general inability to move the ball in any capacity (only five assists). The Sonics shot 53% in the second quarter, but San Antonio was taking away the three-ball, and between that and all the fastbreak stuff, that's why the Sonics began and finished the quarter down 12 points. In the first half, the Sonics hit all nine of their free throw attempts, but were beaten 30-20 in the paint, 12-4 on the break, and 26-15 on the bench.
The Sonics couldn't get close than ten points for most of the third quarter. A Reggie Evans free throw at 7:28 made it 62-52 and Ridnour ran a pick-and-roll with James, who finished with a slam (66-56, 6:22). The only other positive was that Ray Allen had finally warmed up, scoring 14 of 19 Seattle points in one stretch. Calabro and Ehlo were befuddled at one point when Evans had set a solid high screen, and Ron Murray just sat there dribbling behind it instead of taking a shot. Ray Allen drove to the basket and was tripped by Ginobili at the 3:03 mark. Allen hit his free throws, and Seattle was within nine at 72-63.
Perhaps the Sonics were in business down nine with 3:03 left in the third quarter? Well...no. The Spurs went on a 7-2 run to close the quarter. Robert Horry finished a break with a layup, but the Spurs' other points were on free throws as they closed the third quarter leading by a 79-65 margin. The Sonics had gotten back within nine, but ended the quarter down by 14. They had ended each of the first two quarters down by 12.
So the fourth quarter was a combination of the Spurs treading water along with basically a coronation. Collison finished a nice pick-and-roll from Daniels for a three-point play on the first possession of the quarter though, so it's nice to see some of the fundamentals work at times. Perhaps the epitome of the final three quarters came in a stretch from the 10:07 mark to the 7:00 mark of the fourth quarter. At 10:07, Daniels went to the basket for a layup to make it 83-70. Brent Barry kicked the ball out of bounds at one point, and Robinson put up an airball. Three minutes and seven seconds elapsed off the clock before any team scored, and of course if it's that late in the game, that's not to the Sonics' advantage. Over three minutes went past, and the Sonics finally tallied another basket (Lewis pull-up) to make it 83-72. Then of course Duncan hit a midrange jumper right away on the other end to answer that. Another small positive came when Ray Allen drove right at Bruce Bowen, tagging the latter with his fifth foul at the 5:55 mark. It was apparent that the only thing slowing down Ray Allen was his ankle, and definitely not Bowen.
The Sonics went on a 7-0 run to pull to within 10 at 91-81 with 3:18 to go, including five points from Daniels. Allen found James for a dunk to make it 93-83 not long after. The foulfest began with just over a minute left, starting the march to the free-throw line.
PEEK AT THE BOXSCORE
Ray Allen 25 pts/5 reb/2 ast (6-14 FG, 3-7 3pt, 10-10 free throws, 42 min), Rashard Lewis 22 pts/7 reb (8-19 FG, 0-5 3pt, 6-6 free throws, 45 min), Luke Ridnour 6 pts/3 reb/1 ast (3-6 FG, 24 min), Reggie Evans 1 pt/12 reb (0-4 FG, 1-2 free throws, 24 min)
Antonio Daniels 16 pts/6 ast/3 stl (6-11 FG, 1-2 3pt, 3-3 free throws, 33 min), Nick Collison 9 pts/5 reb (4-6 FG, 17 min), Ron Murray 4 pts (2-8 FG, 24 min), Danny Fortson 0 pts/1 blk (0-1 FG, 7 min)
Jerome James Watch
8 pts/7 reb/3 blk (4-9 FG, 0-2 free throws, 1 turnover, 5 fouls, 24 min)
shot 33-for-78 (42.3%) from the floor, shot 4-for-15 (26.7%) from downtown, shot 21-for-24 (87.5%) from the line, outrebounded the Spurs 41-37, were beaten 52-46 in the paint, were beaten 22-8 on the break, were beaten 15-12 on second-chance points, turned ball over 17 times for 22 San Antonio points (11 for 11 points the other way), bench was outscored 43-29 (Ginobili had 28)
Well, really, it's hard to take many positives out of this game. Ray Allen did something I was used to seeing him do during the season, though it usually happened when he was sick or his shot wasn't falling. His ankle was bum, and he got to the free-throw line ten times. I've said many times during the season that I love it when this team gets to the free-throw line because they're a great free-throw shooting team (minus Collison/Evans/Murray). I know San Antonio's got some stellar interior defense, but how in the hell does Luke Ridnour not get to the free-throw line at least once?
As I said earlier, the first quarter did in the Sonics. It might be that the Spurs are that great, and it might be because it's this level of playoff basketball, but you just can't have a bad quarter against the Spurs. Period. Especially not the first quarter.
I sat there after the game watching some of Inside the NBA, which I usually wouldn't do since the Sonics lost, and I don't want to hear a national crew badmouthing my team. I decided to be a sucker for punishment anyway. The first question Ernie Johnson asked Charles Barkley was if Seattle could take anything positive from this game into the next game. I knew what was coming, and Barkley came through. His response: "no." That was the short, blunt answer, but what he said afterward, though obvious, rang true with what I said after Game 1. Barkley said the Sonics need more than two guys (more than Allen and Lewis) to do their scoring. He said Vladimir Radmanovic was the only other guy that might be capable of going off for 20 or 25 off the bench, and he's not in the series. Again, pretty much what I said after Game 1.
Vladimir Radmanovic was the key to so many things. It wasn't just his scoring that the Sonics were looking for, it was the fact that he draws big men out to the perimeter, softening up the middle so that Jerome James/Nick Collison/Danny Fortson/Reggie Evans have one less guy to battle against for a rebound. Now that the Sonics don't have that Nowitzki Lite roaming around the perimeter, the Spurs can put that big guy back in the paint and seal off everyone for defensive rebounds; in this series, the Spurs are turning those rebounds into easy fast-break opportunities. Vladimir Radmanovic for a good deal of the year was the indicator to how well the Sonics were clicking. If he got 18 points off the bench or something and nailed four or five threes, then the Sonics were doing pretty well. If he shot 2-for-11 from the field, the Sonics did horrible. When Vlade got injured, the Sonics won with smoke and mirrors for the first few games in his absence until it finally caught up with the team.
So what's left? Well, I guess you could remember that the Sonics that went to the Finals in 1996 were down 3-0 to the buzzsaw 72-10 Bulls before taking the series to a Game 6. Of course, one remembers the 2-3-2 format in the Finals, so the Sonics would have had Game 6 and Game 7 back in Chicago. The Sonics right now are down 2-0 with a more sensible 2-2-1-1-1 format, so who knows. But yeah, I really don't see too much difference for the rest of the series. The Sonics might pull one out at home, and it should at least be a little closer, but unless Ron Murray (or even Damien Wilkins?!) goes nuts, I really don't see anything happening to take this out to six games or anything.
I asked Jinkies if he would ever ponder swimming in the water next to the Riverwalk. His reply: "Was that supposed to be funny to me? It was not. Take the hike."
In 25 words or less: The Mariners started out in decent shape until Aaron Sele realized he was Aaron Sele (or even Bad Gil Meche). Got Wang?
This one featured Aaron Sele against Chien-Ming Wang of Taiwan. I hope Rick Rizzs eliminates this game from his memory soon so that he doesn't have to keep reminding everyone that it's pronounced WAHNG, as in the same vowel sound as the word "wrong." They must have an intern that's making lewd jokes or something, and ol' Rick must be sick of it. "Stop cursing! Be professional. I'M RICK RIZZS, BITCH!!" Man, I would SO pay Rick Rizzs to say that. See, that's why we need a local sketch comedy like Almost Live! to still be on the air so that there would be an opportunity for Rizzs to step out of the box.
An early lead? It happened. Ichiro hit a 2-0 pitch just inside the bag and down the rightfield line, and he legged a triple out of it. That's a way to lead off a game. Randy Winn bounced out to short on the next pitch, and the Yankees were playing back to concede the run. Why wouldn't they? They knew they were facing Aaron Sele, so no rush.
»»MARINERS 1, YANKEES 0
Adrian Beltre bounced out to short. Richie Sexson worked a walk from a 1-2 count. Raul Ibañez hit a 3-1 pitch to the track in centerfield. Wang threw 19 pitches.
Sele had an okay first inning. Derek Jeter bounced out to Sexson on the first pitch. Tony Womack hit a pitch down the leftfield line, but it caromed off the wall right to Winn, who was able to get to it and hold Womack to a single. Gary Sheffield had a 2-0 count, and later bounced to Beltre at third for a 5-4 fielder's choice. Hideki Matsui took Jeremy Reed to the track in centerfield to end the inning. Sele threw 10 pitches.
Adding to the lead? What team is this? Bret Boone continued his endless pursuit for career RBI number 1000 by tapping to the mound on the first pitch. Jeremy Reed had a 3-0 count and walked on the fifth pitch, which was outside. Miguel Olivo had a 2-0 count, and Reed nabbed second on a 2-2 count when catcher John Flaherty's throw was a bit wide. Olivo broke his bat on a full-count slow roller to Jeter, who barely got Olivo at first. Reed went to third on that play, and scored easily when Wilson Valdez smacked his second pitch over Jeter's head and into leftfield.
»»MARINERS 2, YANKEES 0
Ichiro hacked at the first pitch and looked like he might have had a base hit, but Jeter dove to his glove side to spear the ball, and flipped to second for the force out. Wang threw 17 pitches.
Give it all back! Sele had Alex Rodriguez 0-2 and walked him on a curve low and away, which is always a great start to an inning. Tino Martinez bounced a ball off the track in leftfield and into the stands, good for a double. Bernie Williams hit a 3-1 pitch to Ichiro in rightfield, but it wasn't deep enough to score Alex from third. John Flaherty, who came into the game with a 6-for-14 mark against Sele, hit like he knew it, ripping a single into centerfield to cut the Mariners' lead in half. Tino advanced to third on the play.
»»MARINERS 2, YANKEES 1
Robinson Cano then flew out deep to Reed, and the lead went "poof."
»»YANKEES 2, MARINERS 2
Derek Jeter had a 3-0 count, and smoked the 3-1 pitch through the hole on the right side, and Bryan Price came out to the mound. Womack saved everyone some grief, swinging at the first pitch and popping it along the leftfield foul line, where Winn leaped to snag the ball from a fan in the seats. Sele threw 29 pitches.
Not much happening for the Mariner bats. Winn grounded out to Cano at second. Beltre checked his swing, or so I thought, but the umpire didn't see it that way, and Beltre took a seat. Sexson made something out of what started as a crappy at-bat, working a walk from an 0-2 count. Ibañez grounded out to second to end the inning. Wang threw 19 pitches.
I was just reminded of the one Calvin and Hobbes strip where Calvin imagined putting a penny on a railroad track and having the train derail and go airborne (of course, it was just an awesome visual embellishment by Bill Watterson and Calvin was actually playing with his toys). That's what happened to the Mariners in this inning, anyway. He threw strike one to Sheffield and then threw four straight balls, giving him a free pass. Then two very nice defensive plays followed. Matsui crushed a ball into the gap in rightcenter that should have been a double, but Ichiro caught it on the run. What some people may not realize until they think about it is that a lot of other outfielders would have to dive with full extension to get to these balls that Ichiro gets to on the run. Or they don't get to them at all. Anyway, the next play saw Jeremy Reed robbing Rodriguez of a hit with a diving catch in rightcenter. Sheffield stole second on the first pitch to Martinez, who then mashed a pitch out to rightfield. Stop me if you've heard this before. I think at this point I was hoping that Sele wouldn't make it out of the inning. Call it the evil in me.
»»YANKEES 4, MARINERS 2
Williams got a base hit to rightfield on the first pitch. Flaherty smoked a ball toward the gap in leftcenter, but Reed wouldn't make a crazy play this time, as he dove and missed. Williams scored from first. Don't think about that for too long. Flaherty's numbers against Sele got even crazier, as he was now batting 8-for-16 lifetime against the ex-Cougar.
»»YANKEES 5, MARINERS 2
Cano then ripped a pitch down the leftfield line, and Flaherty crossed the plate.
»»YANKEES 6, MARINERS 2
Aaron Sele was done. Julio Mateo came in, though I thought this would have been a good time for a Matt Thornton appearance. Jeter had an 0-2 count and later grounded a ball to Beltre, who had bobbled the ball at first, and afterward tried to get Cano hung up between second and third. He threw to Boone, or rather, he threw very wide of Boone and into rightfield. Jeter found himself on second after that, and Cano found himself back in the dugout because he'd scored.
»»YANKEES 7, MARINERS 2
Womack grounded out to Boone to mercifully end the inning (11 pitches by Mateo). In a way, it's too bad it didn't end the game too. Though it wouldn't apply, you know how some youth leagues have a ten-run mercy rule? It's games like this Mariners/Yankees tilt where I wish there was some wicked derived math quotient wherein the threshold of in-game mercy would be decided. If you have Aaron Sele down five runs against the Yankees in the Bronx, then the game would stop.
Sele's line: 2 2/3 innings, 7 runs (6 earned), 8 hits, 2 walks, 0 strikeouts, 64 pitches (35 strikes)
Wang would settle into a groove thanks to his newfound lead. Boone got down 0-2 and later popped out to Jeter near the leftfield line. Reed grounded out to second. Olivo had a 3-0 count, but flew out to Cano on the rightfield grass on the fifth pitch to end the inning. Wang threw 11 pitches.
Mateo had little trouble. Sheffield flew out high to Beltre along the leftfield foul line. Matsui hit a high fly to Boone on the rightfield grass. Rodriguez walked on four pitches, which definitely wasn't good. Martinez tapped a ball along the first-base line, and Mateo fielded it, throwing to first to end the inning. Mateo threw 14 pitches.
You could almost swear that Wang was exacting revenge on us all for Jeremy's Wang Chung reference in the Pump post for this game. Valdez hit a hard grounder to Tino. Ichiro bounced a 2-0 pitch to Cano. Winn whiffed on a pitch outside, though the catcher had to throw to first to complete the putout. Wang threw 12 pitches and was at 78 through five.
Mateo was starting to find a bit of a groove. Williams bounced a ball off Mateo's glove that Boone came up with, a 1-4-3 putout. Flaherty got down 0-2 and later flew out to Winn on a running catch in the gap. Cano hit one into the same gap as well, and it appeared one of Reed or Winn was close enough to having it, but it dropped and rolled to the wall, and Cano stood on second with a double. Jeter hit the first pitch short of the track in right. Mateo threw 14 pitches.
Wang would pick up his defense. Beltre lined the first pitch barely foul down the rightfield line. Later, he bounced a ball to third. Rodriguez charged, but the ball went off the heel of his glove, then off his knee for an error. Sexson took Sheffield to the track in rightfield. Ibañez took Matsui just short of the track in leftcenter. Boone hit a grounder to Jeter's left, and he made a backhand flip to second, but it wasn't in time to get Sexson. Reed foul-tipped a 2-2 pitch low and away into the catcher's glove to end the inning. Wang threw 14 pitches and was at 92 through six.
Mateo rounded out his appearance without much trouble. Womack got down 0-2 and later grounded right to Sexson. Sheffield smoked the second pitch he saw through the hole on the left side for a single. Matsui flew out in foul ground to Beltre on the first pitch. Rodriguez hit a ball behind the bag at second, Valdez threw, and the throw looked to be in time, but Sexson plum dropped it (error). Martinez got down 0-2 and later grounded out to Boone, who went way to his right and then came across his body to nail Martinez at first. Of course, he probably could have went the easy route and forced out Rodriguez at second. Oh well.
Mateo's line: 3 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 3 hits, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 54 pitches (36 strikes)
Wang was dealing at this point, though he was throwing against the Mariners. Olivo grounded out to third on the first pitch. Valdez grounded the 3-1 pitch out to second, and Ichiro flew out to left on the first pitch. It was an easy 1-2-3 inning for Wang on seven pitches, and he had thrown 99 through seven.
JJ Putz came in for Mateo. Williams flew out to left. Flaherty looped a weak pop fly to Beltre because he was facing someone that wasn't named Sele. Cano hit the 0-2 pitch to Sexson, who made a diving stab and tossed to a covering Putz. A short outing for Putz, but he never got behind in the count.
Putz' line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 7 pitches (6 strikes)
The Mariners would attempt to save some face. Winn grounded out to second. Beltre ripped a pitch into centerfield for a single.
That spelled the end of Wang's outing as Tom Gordon was brought into the game. Sexson grounded to third, and Rodriguez started the 5-4 fielder's choice. Ibañez had the hitters' counts and eventually walked. Boone finally did something, mashing one off the wall in the gap in rightcenter, scoring Sexson and Ibañez, good for career RBIs #1000 and #1001.
»»YANKEES 7, MARINERS 4
Of course, it had to end quickly, and Reed tapped the first pitch to the mound to end the inning.
Wang's line: 7 1/3 innings, 3 runs, 4 hits, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts, 108 pitches (62 strikes)
Gordon's line: 2/3 innings, 1 run, 1 hit, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 14 pitches (8 strikes)
Shigetoshi Hasegawa came in for Putz. Jeter looked at three strikes and sat down. Womack singled to centerfield. Sheffield flew out to Reed, and Matsui watched an 0-2 strike go by.
Hasegawa's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 11 pitches (9 strikes)
Mariano Rivera came in to close it out. Dave Hansen came on to pinch hit for Olivo, and he whiffed. Greg Dobbs came on to hit for Valdez. He singled to rightfield on the 11th pitch. Ichiro then flew out, and Winn tapped the first pitch he saw back to the mound. Ballgame.
Rivera's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 20 pitches (13 strikes)
Gameball: Julio Mateo.
Yeah, he's becoming a gameball favorite of mine. I don't just automatically go to the long relief guy every time there's a loss like this, but it does kinda help that Mateo's sitting here with an ERA of 0.48. When he finished his outing in this game, I was sitting there wondering if they should yank Sele from the rotation and put Mateo in there, but that'd be bad. That'd be too much of a twist, and there's Jorge Campillo or Felix Hernandez and any number of guys in the minors that have been groomed as starters. Plus, that'd just tear the bullpen to shreds.
Goat: Aaron Sele.
Who else could it be? He blew the lead in the second inning, and put it well out of reach in the third. He was absolutely awful. The sick thing was that I knew the downward spiral wasn't going to stop after Tino hit the homer. He still had three more runs to give up. As Beltre threw the ball into rightfield and the seventh run scored, I was sitting there hoping it was Sele's run (Mateo was in at that point), and it was, but it wasn't earned. Fiddlesticks. I get evil sometimes.
One look at the boxscore tells you that the Mariners had only one hitter with a multi-hit game, and it was Bret Boone, oddly enough. He made a five-run game a three-run game and finally got the 1000th career RBI, as well as the 1001st. That's pretty much the only cause for any sort of celebration after this one, unless you were hoping Aaron Sele would implode once he gave up the first couple runs (you were later made very happy).
A later look at the boxscore, or maybe even the same look, would show that in addition to Mateo's 0.48 ERA, the bullpen guys that came in are also in crazy territory. Putz is sitting at 0.87, and Hasegawa is at 1.20. If the bullpen's good, then most of the time they're not blowing leads, though there haven't been that many leads to blow in the last couple weeks. If you ask me, the starting pitching is as much to blame as the lack of hitting. When the level of progress can be measured in the fact that the Mariners got two solid/decent starts in a row from Ryan Franklin and Gil Meche on Sunday and Monday, it's not good. Aaron Sele put the lustre back in the rotation by throwing this pile into the mix. Jamie Moyer's been horrible the last two times he's taken the mound. Joel Piñeiro was brutal as well. Meche had the eight-inning, five run start before Monday's outing. Ryan Franklin got roughed up in a 5-0 loss against the Angels in Seattle before throwing his okay start on Sunday. As much as it's fun to curse the hitting, and blame the failure on them, isn't it somewhat disconcerting to see the winds taken out of the sails early and knowing you're down a couple runs right away? If the hitters are pressing as it is, the fact that they're behind so much, and behind early can't help things.
That's not to say there weren't some hitting stars for the Mariners in this game. Randy Winn managed a nice 0-for-5 day, with a strikeout and a stranded runner to boot. Richie Sexson was 0-for-2 and stranded a couple, yet drew a couple of walks. Raul Ibañez was 0-for-3 with a walk, and he stranded three. Jeremy Reed was an 0-for-3 with a walk and strikeout, and he stranded a quarter-dozen as well. Then there was the requisite Miguel Olivo sighting (0-for-3, stranding one). I'd put Wilson Valdez here, but he actually got a hit. Put all these guys together (the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th hitters in the lineup), and you get 0-for-16 with 10 stranded runners.
Shift the focus to the bottom two-thirds of the lineup (that'd include Boone, who had a decent game at the plate, and exclude the pinch-hitting Dobbs), and you get a combined 3-for-18 with a strikeout and three RBIs (two for Boone, one for Valdez). This also brings forth an interesting question: how long can you consider yourself an honest-to-goodness Major League Baseball team if your starting catcher is hitting .133? Just thought I'd ask. I know they had Miguel Olivo go throw ball-blocking hell in spring training, but did anybody teach him how to hit again? I hope they didn't just put him alone in a batting cage with Dan Wilson or something, because that wouldn't have helped anybody. They'd probably just talk about going to Detroit and seeing the newer, slimmer, mind-bending Ivan Rodriguez (who by the way, if you haven't seen yet, you won't think it's him with an over-the-field camera. You'll need his mug).
Nine of ten! Yeah! Good to know that's what the "1-9" figure means under the "L10" column in the standings when I look in the paper. Yes, it's a great stretch for the Mariners. Seven straight losses, a win, and two more losses. Look at it this way: two of the last three games were competitive, and you could actually say the Mariners had a chance to win. This game I just talked about here, well, it was competitive for about two and a half innings before reality set in. If you dig that deep of a hole, you can't expect this offense (in the state they're in right now) to come back and win that ballgame. You just can't.
Moyer. Pavano. Today.