Saturday, June 04, 2005

THE PUMP 6/4/05 

Devil Rays at Mariners, 7:05 Pacific (FSN Northwest, MLB.TV)

Scott Kazmir (2-4, 3.82 ERA) vs Joel Pineiro (2-3, 6.66 ERA)

Tonight is Class of 2005 Night at Safeco Field.

When the Mariners first started the senior class night in 2000, I organized a group of over 100 Bremerton High students. It's undisputedly one of my favorite memories from high school. Even though the M's lost that night to James Baldwin and the White Sox 2-1, it was still a great night.

It's just too bad that 5 years later, the high school seniors have to watch a mediocre product on the Safeco Field diamond. It didn't have to be this way.

Notice Joel Pineiro's ERA? Feel free to crank up Iron Maiden's "Number Of The Beast".

I'll try to stay awake tonight during the game.

"Try to" being a key phrase.

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(This will be linked to the sidebar under "Specialty Stuff, Baseball")

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Friday, June 03, 2005

THE PUMP 6/3/05 

Devil Rays at Mariners, 7:05 Pacific (FSN Northwest, MLB.TV)

Casey Fossum (2-3, 3.82 ERA) vs Aaron Sele (4-4, 4.24 ERA)


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Expedia image

Yeah, my game wraps and other posting on this site are/is probably going to be on hold for at least a few days. I've punched my ticket out of Bremerton, folks. Trust me, it's a good thing.

Needless to say, Jeremy will run the ship until I get settled and get a connection over there and stuff, and he'll do a good job. He did fly solo with this weblog for six weeks in the Mariners' magnificent summer of last season. I'd missed everything -- Aurilia and Olerud getting cut, the Garcia trade, the 0-9 road trip going into the All-Star break, the whole lot.

All told, I'll try to get back to this as soon as I possibly can. Why? I like doing this. I'll most likely go nuts if I'm without this whole blogging thing for a prolonged amount of time, and it definitely happened last summer. It's the most constructive addiction I have, and even the constructive part is debatable, but it's fun.

When my posting resumes, look forward to my new series of posts entitled, "Recruiting Bonanza -- My Summer With the June Jones Caravan."

Or better yet, don't. That won't be happening.

Thank you, readers. I'll see you soon.

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The Final Jeopardy category is write anything.

A letter. A word. A number.


This is an open thread. Anything (within reason) goes.

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Hey, I just now get to this two months later.

If you were here in March, you may remember my posts on the 2005 NCAA Tournament, with updates throughout each day of the tournament. The 2004-2005 season of college basketball was a lot of fun, considering that Bremerton native Marvin Williams was the best freshman in America at North Carolina. In a few weeks, he will be a Top 5 pick in the NBA Draft. Damn.

March 13 --- Jeremy's thoughts on Selection Sunday

March 16 --- Jeremy's official bracket

March 17 --- First round coverage of the tournament

March 18 --- First round coverage

March 19 --- Second round coverage

March 20 --- Second round coverage

March 21 --- Jeremy's thoughts on the first weekend of the tournament

March 24 --- Sweet Sixteen coverage

March 25 --- Sweet Sixteen coverage

(Jeremy's take on Duke losing to Michigan State)

March 26 --- Elite Eight coverage

March 27 --- (Jeremy's take on Marvin Williams going to the Final Four)

April 2 --- Final Four open thread (Jeremy in Los Angeles, David posted the thread)

April 4 --- North Carolina wins the National Championship

College basketball is fantastic, baby.

(Don't use this as a "anything goes" comment thread, I'll post a open thread soon)

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Thursday, June 02, 2005


It's now official as the Seattle Seahawks have released WR Koren Robinson and CB Bobby Taylor.

Robinson all but ended his Seahawks tenure when news of his DUI arrest surfaced yesterday. He spent 4 seasons in Seattle, but could never live up to the potential that was heaped on him when he was the 9th pick overall in the 2001 NFL Draft.

Taylor came to Seattle in 2004 from the Philadelphia Eagles. He played in just 9 games due to a knee injury. If he can prove that he's healthy, he will find a home somewhere in the league.

In other Seahawks news, free agent linebacker Peter Boulware is scheduled to visit the team headquarters in Kirkland tomorrow. With the release of Robinson and Taylor, the chances of Boulware coming to Seattle just increased. Stay tuned.

Best of luck to Koren and Bobby. More importantly for Koren though, he needs to get his life in order. That has to be more important than his football career right now.

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David linked the following site to the sidebar over the holiday weekend, with good reason. What site am I talking about?

It's The Writers, a site run by Eric Mirlis, who has worked for the New York Islanders and the NBA. He's currently a freelance statistician who has freelanced for FOX's NFL coverage, NBC's Athens Olympic coverage, YES Network, and MSG Network, as well as working for CSTV.com.

The Writers is a site that features various opinions from various sports media personalities, including sportswriters, statisticians, and media relations directors. I'm always reading anything that is of relation to sports journalism, so this site has now been added to my daily list of sites I visit every day.

Personally, the 25th anniversary columns of the Islanders' first Stanley Cup title is worth the visit alone. Then just over a decade later, Mirlis works for the team he loved as a child. That's awesome.

Go check out The Writers. It's well worth your time.

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I've never done a full-blown player ranking post before. But I figured that this would be a good time to do just that. Somebody cares about my opinion when it comes to football, right?

My criteria for the 2005 Sports and Bremertonians NFL Player Rankings:

1) These are my personal rankings.
2) Statistics don't always matter.

I've ranked every position. Top 10 in all positions except the offensive line and fullback. I've ranked the Top 5 in the OL categories (center, guard, tackle). Top 3 for fullbacks.




1) Peyton Manning, IND
49 touchdowns in 2004

2) Tom Brady, NE
Can't argue with 3 Super Bowl titles in 4 seasons as a starter

3) Daunte Culpepper, MIN
4,717 passing yards and 39 touchdowns in 2004

4) Donovan McNabb, PHI
Big 5 finally got to the Super Bowl last season

5) Matt Hasselbeck, SEA
Accurate passer, unquestioned leader of Seahawks offense

6) Brett Favre, GB
I can rank Favre 6th. Why? It’s my list, that’s why!

7) Michael Vick, ATL
When healthy, the Falcons are a legitimate contender

8) Drew Brees, SD
2004 wasn't a fluke for the former Purdue star

9) Jake Delhomme, CAR
Hey Saints fans, Aaron Brooks or Delhomme?

10) Trent Green, KC
It's not all Priest Holmes in Kansas City


1) LaDainian Tomlinson, SD
Most complete running back in football

2) Curtis Martin, NYJ
Possibly the most underrated player of our generation

3) Shaun Alexander, SEA
Mr. Consistency. But Maurice Morris is better, right? Didn’t think so.

4) Corey Dillon, NE
That’s no cancer, baby

5) Priest Holmes, KC
He lives to please fantasy footballers everywhere

6) Willis McGahee, BUF
He wasn’t 100 percent in 2004. Scary.

7) Deuce McAllister, NO
The Deuce will be loose from New Orleans after 2005

8) Edgerrin James, IND
Not the same player he once was, but still a solid back

9) Rudi Johnson, CIN
Very solid piece of a Bengals offense that will be one of the league's best in 2005

10) Jamal Lewis, BAL
Has had a very eventful offseason


1) Mack Strong, SEA
He's a Pro Bowler in my book

2) Tony Richardson, KC
Another vital piece of the high-powered Chiefs offense

3) Fred Beasley, SF
New head coach Mike Nolan will use Beasley more than Dennis Erickson did


1) Marvin Harrison, IND
Not flashy, but he doesn’t have to be

2) Terrell Owens, PHI
Love him or hate him, he comes to play

3) Randy Moss, OAK
Great fit for the Black Hole

4) Hines Ward, PIT
The toughest receiver in football

5) Chad Johnson, CIN
Former Beaver has a Trojan passing to him. Not a bad combination.

6) Muhsin Muhammad, CHI
Rex Grossman will like Mr. Muhammad

7) Torry Holt, STL
He should be higher, but it’s my list

8) Chris Chambers, MIA
Who will throw the ball to him down in South Beach?

9) Derrick Mason, BAL
Best receiver in Ravens history (1996-present) and he hasn't played a game in Baltimore yet

10) Javon Walker, GB
Don't worry Packers fans, he will be play this season


1) Tony Gonzalez, KC
Best tight end of the past 20 years

2) Alge Crumpler, ATL
Great weapon for Vick

3) Antonio Gates, SD
Not just a Golden Flash in the pan

4) Jason Witten, DAL
Jay Novacek for the new millennium

5) Todd Heap, BAL
He would be higher on the list if he could just stay healthy

6) Dallas Clark, IND
The Colts won’t miss Marcus Pollard

7) Randy McMichael, MIA
See Chris Chambers

8) Daniel Graham, NE
He may be Tom Brady's favorite receiver soon

9) Bubba Franks, GB
Solid performer from the U

10) Doug Jolley, NYJ
New offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger can't wait to use the former Raider


1) Kevin Mawae, NYJ
Former Seahawk still getting it done

2) Olin Kreutz, CHI
Just one of many solid linemen from the UW

3) Matt Birk, MIN
Harvard Man

4) Jeff Saturday, IND
Name’s Saturday, plays on Sundays

5) Mike Flanagan, GB
Was missed in 2004 by Brett Favre and co.


1) Steve Hutchinson, SEA
1/2 of the best left side in NFL along with Walter Jones

2) Will Shields, KC
The Chiefs offensive line is the best in NFL

3) Brian Waters, KC
See Shields

4) Alan Faneca, PIT
Man of steel in the Steel City

5) Mike Wahle, CAR
A big loss for Green Bay


1) Walter Jones, SEA
Best offensive lineman in football

2) Jonathan Ogden, BAL
Tall. Very tall.

3) Willie Roaf, KC
Pine Bluff, AR is his hometown (my current hometown)

4) Orlando Pace, STL
Pancake maker

5) Robert Gallery, OAK
Too high? He's going to be a Top 5 tackle very soon.



1) Dwight Freeney, IND
Undisputedly the best part of a so-so Colts defense

2) Julius Peppers, CAR
Cornerstone of very good Panthers defensive line

3) Richard Seymour, NE
Right up there with Freeney as far as best DE’s in the AFC go

4) Jason Taylor, MIA
Pass rushing machine

5) Mike Rucker, CAR
Part of best DE tandem in the NFL (Peppers)

6) Bertrand Berry, ARZ
Anchor of a Cardinals defense that should be better in 2005

7) Simeon Rice, TB
Isn't finished yet

8) Shaun Ellis, NYJ
He, not John Abraham, is the best DE on the Jets roster

9) Trevor Pryce, DEN
Can he stay healthy in 2005?

10) Grant Wistrom, SEA
The Seahawks missed Wistrom in a big way when he was hurt in 2004


1) Kris Jenkins, CAR
Hurt in 2004, but is still the best defensive tackle in the NFL today

2) Marcus Stroud, JAX
Forms best DT tandem in the NFL along with John Henderson

3) Kevin Williams, MIN
Made Chris Hovan expendable

4) La’Roi Glover, DAL
Still productive

5) Shaun Rogers, DET
Best player on a Lions defense that isn’t that bad

6) John Henderson, JAX
See Marcus Stroud

7) Jamal Williams, SD
Solid 3-4 performer

8) Sam Adams, BUF
Immovable object

9) Corey Simon, PHI
He could play with more fire, but is still one of the better DTs out there

10) Rod Coleman, ATL
The Falcons stole him from Oakland last season


1) Ray Lewis, BAL
The best linebacker of our generation

2) James Farrior, PIT
The MVP of a 15-1 Steelers team from a year ago

3) Zach Thomas, MIA
Size doesn’t matter

4) Tedy Bruschi, NE
Will he play in 2005?

5) Keith Brooking, ATL
Most underrated defensive player in the NFL

6) Jonathan Vilma, NYJ

7) Ed Hartwell, ATL
New piece to a Falcons defense that played in the NFC title game last season

8) Al Wilson, DEN
Very hard hitter

9) Brian Urlacher, CHI
His image is more prevalent than his game, at least IMO

10) Donnie Edwards, SD
Big mistake by the Chiefs to let this guy leave town


1) Derrick Brooks, TB
Right up there with Ray Lewis

2) Keith Bulluck, TEN
Leader of the Titans defense

3) Jamie Sharper, SEA
Huge free agent signing by the Seahawks

4) Terrell Suggs, BAL
Could line up at defensive end more often in 2005

5) Takeo Spikes, BUF
Former Bengal not missing Cincinnati one bit

6) Joey Porter, PIT
Emotional player

7) Marcus Washington, WSH
The Redskins defense isn’t the problem in D.C.

8) Brian Simmons, CIN
A key cog of Marvin Lewis’ defense in Cincinnati

9) D.J. Williams, DEN
Breakout star in 2005

10) LaVar Arrington, WSH
He’s not a Top 5 linebacker. Top 10? Yes.


1) Chris McAlister, BAL
Most physical cornerback in the NFL

2) Champ Bailey, DEN
Lives up to the shutdown corner rep

3) Patrick Surtain, KC
A major acquisition for a woeful Chiefs defense

4) Samari Rolle, BAL
If only the Ravens still played the Titans twice a year

5) Antoine Winfield, MIN
One of the bright spots of the Vikings defense

6) Nate Clements, BUF

7) Sam Madison, MIA
Will have to be the main man in a depleted Miami secondary

8) Chris Gamble, CAR
Had 6 INT in 2004, tying Ken Lucas for the NFC INT lead

9) Ken Lucas, CAR
The Panthers opened up their wallets for the former Seahawk

10) Marcus Trufant, SEA
Soon to be a Top 5 corner


1) Ed Reed, BAL
As good as Ray Lewis is, Reed may just be the best player on the Ravens defense

2) Roy Williams, DAL
Horse collar or no horse collar, Williams will remain among the top safeties in the game

3) Rodney Harrison, NE
Unceremoniously dumped by San Diego, who’s laughing now?

4) Donovin Darius, JAX
May be his final season in Jacksonville in 2005

5) Brian Dawkins, PHI
Veteran who's vital to the Eagles defense

6) Tony Parrish, SF
Too bad he plays for the awful 49ers

7) Mike Brown, CHI
Had an injury-plagued 2004 season, but should rebound in 2005

8) Corey Chavous, MIN

9) Tank Williams, TEN
As good as his name

10) Michael Boulware, SEA
Will only get better



1) Adam Vinatieri, NE
Clutch is everything in life

2) Mike Vanderjagt, IND
Idiot kicker?

3) David Akers, PHI
Where’s he from? Louisville!

4) Josh Brown, SEA
He’s money and he knows it

5) Jason Elam, DEN
Altitude, baby

6) Sebastian Janikowski, OAK
Fits right in with the Raiders

7) Jason Hanson, DET
Former Washington State star

8) Matt Stover, BAL
Accurate as they come

9) Jeff Wilkins, STL
Easy 3 points in the Edward Jones Dome

10) Olindo Mare, MIA
He's been around forever, it seems like


1) Shane Lechler, OAK
By far, the best punter in football

2) Todd Sauerbrun, DEN
He’s going to love the Mile High City

3) Craig Hentrich, TEN
Can kick field goals if called upon

4) Hunter Smith, IND
Averaged 45.2 yds/punt in 2004

5) Chris Gardocki, PIT
Unsung hero in the Steel City

6) Mitch Berger, NO
Produced in the Metrodome. Now producing in the Superdome

7) Chris Hanson, JAX
Hang time!

8) Mike Scifres, SD
Did a solid job replacing longtime punter Darren Bennett

9) Jeff Feagles, NYG
Still producing

10) Brad Maynard, CHI
A defense’s best friend

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Agree? Disagree? Use the comments box. Rankings are subjective and are more than likely to spark debate one way or the other. At least I hope it will, anyway.

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Mariners 3, Blue Jays 0
AP photo -- Ted S. Warren

[posted ~11:29a]

In 25 words or less: When Bret Boone drives in the only run of the first seven innings, usually it's not a good thing. Thank goodness for the eighth.

This game featured lefty Gustavo Chacin and his Antoine Carr glasses against Gil Meche.

One day after his Major League debut, I'm already sick of the broadcast crew's overhype of Mike Morse. I'm already dreading Rick Rizzs trying to sugarcoat Morse's first big-league error.

Two other total oddities that I put down in my notes had to do with the very visible chaw can in third-base coach Jeff Newman's pocket when the camera is showing the pitcher with the runner at first in the background, and also with Cub pitcher John Koronka (kuh-RAHN-kuh), who was making his Major League debut while this game was going on. All I could think of had to do with gettin' Koronka'd and, though it's just not-right sounding, Koronka juice. Crunk!

Grade: B-
This could have been Meche's big inning. Orlando Hudson ripped a 2--2 pitch just past Bret Boone's glove and into rightfield for a leadoff single. Frank Catalanotto hit a double-play ball to short, and Mike Morse got the ball to Boone, who then pulled Richie Sexson way off the bag at first with the throw, good for Boone's team-leading 7th error on the season. Catalanotto went to second on the play. Aaron Hill grounded a 2-0 pitch to short. Shea Hillenbrand ripped a pitch down the third-base line, but Adrian Beltre backhanded it and threw to first in time.

Grade: D
This one was frustrating. Ichiro served a 1-1 pitch into leftfield for a single, stretching his hit streak to seven games. Randy Winn, who hit .295 in May, sliced a dinker down the rightfield line, somehow good for a double, moving Ichiro to third. Adrian Beltre, fresh off a .216 May, waved at a ball low and way off the plate outside for strike three. Richie Sexson took a walk to load the bases, then Raul Ibañez rolled one hard, but right to second, and the 4-6-3 double play was underway. Terrible inning.

Grade: A
No trouble for Meche. Eric Hinske flew out to leftfield. Vernon Wells flew out to shallow centerfield. Gregg Zaun flew out to shallow leftfield.

Grade: C-
Nothing doing for the bottom end of the lineup. Bret Boone took a 1-2 pitch barely low and away for what should have been a called strike three, but swung at a pitch high and outside, rolling it to second. Jeremy Reed, coming off a 15-for-32 tear and a .312 May, fisted a ball to Hudson on the outfield grass. Mike Morse flew out to centerfield to end the inning.

Grade: B-
Once again, another inning that threatened to be the big one. Alex Rios got behind 0-2 but mashed the 1-2 pitch barely short of the yellow line on the leftfield wall, good for a double. Russ Adams flew out to rightfield on a high 0-2 pitch. The roof remained open at the Safe despite the rainfall that was persistent. Hudson bounced out to Boone, and Rios went to third. The roof started closing with Catalanotto at the plate. He worked a 1-2 count for a walk. Hill flew out down the rightfield line to Ichiro, who made a very nice running catch, sort of dancing away after the catch to avoid the angle of the seats.

Grade: D+
Again, not good. Pat Borders led off with a first-pitch gapper to the wall in leftcenter, and he coasted in for a double. Ichiro tried a first-pitch surprise bunt down the third-base line, but it went foul. He ended up whiffing on an 0-2 breaking ball. Winn smacked one past the shortstop for a single, sending Borders to third. This was of course a good time for another double-play ball, this time on the first pitch to Beltre, who hit into the 6-4-3 double play. Yes, that's twice in the first three innings for the Mariner bats.

Grade: A-
Meche may have been cruising by this point. Hillenbrand flew out to centerfield. Hinske went from a 2-0 count to lining a 2-2 pitch to Morse's shoetops (lineout). Wells popped high to Sexson.

Grade: B
First blood! Sexson flew out short of the track in rightfield. Ibañez hit the first pitch over Rios in rightfield and to the wall for a double, extending his hit streak to four games. Boone, who came into the at-bat in the middle of a nice 2-for-32 funk, had the hitters' counts and dribbled the full-count pitch up the middle, one that just kept rolling and rolling until it reached the outfield grass, where Hudson dove and got a glove on it, but it went past anyway. Ibañez scored, and the Mariners had the lead.
Boone tried to take second base on the first pitch to Reed, but was out by a mile. Reed whiffed on a 1-2 pitch inside.

Grade: B-
Meche was still doing okay. Zaun hit an 0-2 low liner to Ichiro, who had to drift back toward the track. Rios took a full-count curve high and outside for a walk. Rios also took second base (close play) on the first pitch to Adams, who ended up bouncing out to second. Hudson worked an 0-2 count full, but he flew out near the track to Randy Winn in leftfield.

Grade: C
They wouldn't add to the previous inning. Morse flew out to center on the 3-1 pitch. Borders had a 3-0 count go full before he walked. Ichiro had a 3-0 count, but hit the 3-1 pitch into the hole on the right side, which was plugged up by Hudson (4-6 fielder's choice). Winn nubbed out to second.

Grade: B-
They got out of it. Catalanotto was down 0-2, but later singled past Morse into centerfield. Hill grounded the first pitch to Morse, who started the 6-4-3 double play, with Boone able to finish it off normally this time. Hillenbrand rolled the first pitch up the middle for a single. Hinske flew out high to Reed to end the inning.

Grade: C-
Painfully quiet bats. Things were so bad, they showed a clip from earlier in the day of Rick Rizzs taking batting practice. Beltre flew out to second. Sexson whiffed at a 2-2 pitch low and outside. Ibañez got the hitters' counts and popped to the shortstop in shallow leftcenter.

Grade: B+
Meche would run his course. Wells hit a very high fly to Winn near the leftfield corner. Zaun got down 0-2 and would whiff at a pitch out of the zone. Rios lined a single into centerfield.

Ron Villone came in for Gil Meche, recipient of a standing ovation from the 24815 in attendance at the Safe. Adams took a 1-2 fastball over the outside corner for strike three.

Meche's line: 6 2/3 innings, 0 runs, 5 hits, 2 walks, 1 strikeout, 114 pitches (70 strikes)

Grade: C-
This one was pretty bad too. Boone got the bat on a 2-0 pitch, and it was nicely placed. It was fair along the rightfield line, and Rios dove for the ball even though he was about three feet short of it. The ball went past and Boone ended up on third when it was all over. Reed grounded the first pitch to a drawn-in Hudson (groundout), and Boone had to hold at third. Morse hit the 3-1 pitch for a flyout to Rios, stationed at about medium depth. Boone tagged from third, and Rios threw home. It was bad. Zaun at the plate had enough time to jump up and take the high throw, and then still come back down and tag Boone in time. As far as I'm concerned, this play and the first-pitch caught stealing were two dumbass baserunning plays by Boone in this game. They weren't close.

Grade: B-
One person in particular out of the bullpen would make it interesting. Hudson whiffed on a full count.

Jeff Nelson came in for Villone. Pinch-hitter Reed Johnson connected with an 0-2 slider that got way too much of the zone, and it went for a double into the rightfield corner. Hill popped out along the rightfield line, and that was good, but Hillenbrand walked on four pitches. Iiiiinexcusable.

Matt Thornton came in for Nelson. Hinske hit the second pitch toward the leftfield line, and with Beltre and Winn within proximity, Morse came down with the ball.

Villone's line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 12 pitches (8 strikes)
Nelson's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 9 pitches (5 strikes)
Thornton's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 2 pitches (1 strike)

Grade: A-
My goodness, the Mariners did exactly what they were supposed to do. Borders reached on a pitch low and outside, but looped a single over the shortstop. Ichiro bunted along the left side, and Hillenbrand was able to charge, barehand the ball, and get Ichiro in time (nice play). Winn got behind 0-2 and quickly whiffed. Beltre had a 2-0 count and stung the 2-2 pitch. Beltre's ball ate up Hillenbrand at third, and Borders chugged around to score, beating the wide throw.
Chacin nearly threw to the backstop on the first of the intentional-walk balls to Richie Sexson, who would go to first base without incident. Ibañez lined a 1-1 pitch into centerfield, one-hopping Wells. The ball got past Wells, Beltre csored, and the throw to third to get Sexson wasn't in time.

Justin Speier came in for Chacin. Boone lazily popped up to the second baseman Hudson barely on the outfield grass, which was amazingly clutch.

Chacin's line: 7 2/3 innings, 3 runs, 10 hits, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts, 116 pitches (69 strikes)
Speier's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 2 pitches (1 strike)

Grade: A
Eddie Guardado came in to shut the place down, and it helped that the Blue Jays executed the hurry-up offense. Wells hit a high flyout to Boone on the infield. Zaun grounded the second pitch to Beltre, who dove and threw from one knee to first base, in time. Rios popped high to Boone. Ballgame.

Guardado's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 6 pitches (5 strikes)

Gameball: Pat Borders.
The 42-year-old ancient catcher went 2-for-2 from the #9 slot in the order. With his one walk, he reached base three times. That's the kind of night that the bottom of the lineup needs every night from at least one of those three guys in the bottom third. Someone's got to get on base so that there's ducks on the pond when the lineup turns over. Borders' contribution was also nice because Jeremy Reed cooled off for this game, hanging up an 0-for-3 with a strikeout. The one big knock for me on Borders is that runners don't seem to have trouble stealing on him, and though it's obvious that his arm isn't an Olivo arm, it still makes me uncomfortable to know that a runner breaking toward second has a good chance of getting there safely. Borders scored once, and that was the second run of the game, coming in the 8th, which was a huge insurance run. The other two times, Borders hit the gapper to the wall to lead off the inning and didn't score, and he also was stranded after drawing a one-out walk.

Goat: Jeff Nelson.
He nearly blew this game. That's all I could think about after the top of the 8th inning ended. Giving someone a hittable pitch with an 0-2 count in the eighth inning while trying to protect a 1-0 lead is one thing, but walking someone on three pitches later in the same inning is terrible. Anyway, Nelson needs to get the final two outs of that inning so that nobody has to suffer through the ordeal of seeing Matt Thornton come in during any key situation, this one being two on (go-ahead run on first) and two out in the 8th inning of a one-run game. That was a bit uncomfortable for me, I can tell you that.

A six-hit shutout by the pitching staff is always a good thing. As you can see with the goat entry, I still had something pitchingwise to complain about even given the six-hit shutout. However, Gil Meche avoided the big inning, and while I didn't think he had his sharpest or most explosive stuff, he still managed to get well into the seventh. Ron Villone struck out both batters he faced. Matt Thornton got the only hitter he faced, and that was a big out. Eddie Guardado did his thing (that's nice to say), nailing down save number 15 on the year. The Mariners have 22 total wins.

Choosing a gameball entry was relatively easy considering that four Mariners had two-hit games. Other than Borders, who I chose for the gameball, Randy Winn (2-for-4 with a double), Raul Ibañez (2-for-4 with a double), and Bret Boone (2-for-4 with a triple). I knew thanks to the baserunning mistakes and the error that I wasn't choosing Boone. I'd also given both Winn and Ibañez gameballs recently, so Borders it was.

The two double-play balls in the first three innings was really frustrating, and you could even hear it in Dave Niehaus' voice after Beltre rolled the second one. Still, Beltre did manage to drive in the second run of the game, which was a big run. It was nice to see late runs in general. Needless to say, it was nice to see the Mariners score more runs than the other team, but when do we not wish that?

This win puts the Mariners at 22-30 after 52 games, and gives the Mariners one more game's worth of cushion between them and the pace set by your vaunted 2004 Seattle Mariners. I'm just hoping that somehow and some way that at the end of the season, the Mariners are 14 or so games better than the team of the year before.

Who's next on the Mariners' docket? Three this weekend against Tampa Bay, an off day on Monday, and then a six-game road swing through Miami and the nation's capital. I'm hoping for a series win against the Devil Rays since they're a terrible road team, but I'm not too keen on the possibilities of the road trip. If the Mariners manage to draw both Dontrelle Willis and Livan Hernandez, it might not be nice. Heck, I'm hoping at this point that they can just take a single game out of that Florida series. You do realize we're going to have to see Ryan Franklin figure out a way to pitch to Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Delgado, right? I guess the only good thing about Edgar retiring now is that we don't have to worry about the huge offensive dropoff due to not having him in the lineup. However, the Mariners do have to worry about finding a spot, if any, for Raul Ibañez, whose bat has heated up as of late.

Two straight series wins!

Fossum. Sele. Tomorrow.

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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

THE PUMP 6/1/05 

Blue Jays at Mariners, 7:05 Pacific (FSN Northwest, MLB.TV)

Gustavo Chacin (5-3, 3.34 ERA) vs Gil Meche (4-3, 5.09 ERA)

It's June.

Sadly, it's not June 1997.

It's June 2005 and your Seattle Mariners are going nowhere fast.

The ride isn't over. Hope you're enjoying the ride. At least the ride here, anyway.

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Seattle P-I/Scott Eklund

If this doesn't get Koren Robinson released, I don't know what will.

The Seahawks receiver was charged with DUI and reckless driving on May 6 in Medina, according to The News Tribune's Mike Sando. He pleaded not guilty yesterday and is due back in court on July 18, just days before the Seahawks open training camp in Cheney. Will Robinson be in Cheney? I seriously doubt it at this point.

Robinson spoke to the Seattle media just six days before the DUI incident (4/30):

"I know what I've got to do and they're expecting me to do that. If not, I know the consequences. Either you want to be in the NFL or you don't. And I do. So, I have to do everything I gotta do to stay here."

Koren ran out of second chances a long time ago. The Seahawks can live without Koren. They did so last season for the last half of the season. This season, they have quality depth at the wide receiver position, with the signings of Joe Jurevicius and Jerome Pathon.

Cut his ass, Tim Ruskell.

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Blue Jays 9, Mariners 7
AP photo -- Elaine Thompson

[posted ~1:15p]

In 25 words or less: Know what this game reminded me of? This game (the beginning, at least) -- day after the trade deadline, 2003. Of course, the ramifications were greater then.

This one featured Chad Gaudin, who doesn't look quite as young as he did when he made his Major League debut against the Mariners, and Ryan Franklin. Did you know he's the pride of Spiro, Oklahoma? I'd have never guessed. They really should mention that on the broadcasts more.

Unfortunately, the first three and a half innings might not be too definitive since I was dealing with more pressing matters. You see, there was a torrential downpour here in Bremerton at about 6:30 or so, and it wasn't just a 30-second downpour we're used to. This may have been 10-20 minutes, and we were close enough to some lightning strikes to where you could hear a crackling instead of the rolling thunder. Long story short, the basement flooded. That's a sweeping operation. If anything, Mother Nature saved me from the first few innings. Those first few innings saw the Mariners Gaudin in defeat pretty quickly. You know, that could turn into a really bad Qwest ad.

Grade: F
Here's your game right here. Reed Johnson singled into leftfield on the second pitch of the game. Orlando Hudson tagged a double into centerfield, and one run came home before many people found their seats. Hudson took third on the throw home.
Aaron Hill singled to leftfield, and Hudson came around. Yep, this one was lookin' bad.
Shea Hillenbrand hacked at a 3-0 pitch and tapped back to the mound (ouch). Vernon Wells then crushed his second pitch into the bullpen.
Gregg Zaun singled to keep the hit parade going. Frank Catalanotto got behind 0-2, but would leg out an infield single. Russ Adams grounded to first, and Sexson went to second to force out Catalanotto. Johnson, who led off the inning, grounded out to Beltre at third on the first pitch. Franklin threw only 30 pitches.

Grade: D
Quick turnabout within this inning. Ichiro singled to lead off. Randy Winn drew a four-pitch walk. Adrian Beltre got the hitters' counts and grounded out to second, but the runners moved up. Richie Sexson got behind 0-2 and whiffed on a 2-2 pitch. Raul Ibañez grounded out to short. First two runners on, but nothing comes across. That's frustrating. Gaudin threw 22 pitches.

Grade: A-
Maybe Franklin had rebounded. Hudson got ahead 2-0 but would ground out to Boone. Hill grounded out to short. Hillenbrand grounded out to Beltre. Three groundouts. No homers. Franklin threw 11 pitches.

The bottom of the lineup would take their try. Bret Boone got behind 0-2 and worked the count full before popping up to Hudson. Jeremy Reed singled to leftcenter. Willie Bloomquist popped out to Eric Hinske in foul ground outside of first. Rene Rivera singled an 0-2 pitch into centerfield for his first Major League hit. Ichiro grounded to first to end the inning. Gaudin threw 18 pitches.

Grade: D+
Then Franklin lost his mind. Hinske led off with a single to rightfield. Wells fouled the 1-1 pitch high behind the plate, and Rivera didn't make the catch, which was ruled an error. Two pitches later, Wells reached the bullpen once again.
Zaun got behind 0-2 and whiffed two pitches later. Catalanotto singled to centerfield. Adams rolled a ball to short for a 6-4 fielder's choice. Then Franklin nailed Johnson with a pitch. Franklin was tossed by plate umpire Jim Wolf. Mike Hargrove came out for the obligatory argument, though he didn't get tossed. No sir, Wolf would be sadistic and leave him in the game, forcing him to watch what was going on. It wasn't pretty. Franklin had thrown 18 pitches in the inning.

Julio Mateo came in for Franklin. Hudson flew out to centerfield to end the inning.

Franklin's line: 2 2/3 innings, 7 runs (5 earned), 10 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 59 pitches (41 strikes)

Grade: C-
The bats wouldn't warm up. Winn tapped one back to the mound. Beltre whiffed. Sexson at least gave a fly ball a decent ride to leftfield. Gaudin threw 16 pitches.

Grade: A-
Mateo was about to settle into a groove. Hill flew out to centerfield. Hillenbrand was caught looking. Hinske grounded a 3-1 pitch to Boone. Mateo threw 10 pitches.

Grade: C
Another leadoff runner stranded. Ibañez one-hopped a ball into the stands in rightfield for a ground-rule double. Boone badly waved at an 0-2 pitch outside. Bloomquist groudned out to third to end the inning. Gaudin threw 11 pitches.

Grade: A
Mateo was feeling it. Wells flew out to Reed near the track in leftcenter. Zaun flew out high to Reed. Catalanotto flew out to Reed as well. Mateo threw 11 pitches.

Grade: B-
The offense showed a pulse. Rivera got behind 0-2 and whiffed two pitches later. Ichiro served a single past the second baseman. Winn singled the first pitch through the right side to end Ichiro to third. Beltre drove the first pitch into the gap in leftcenter, and Ichiro and Winn crossed the plate.
Sexson got the hitters' counts before taking a full-count breaking ball barely inside for a walk. Ibañez turned a 2-2 pitch foul before whiffing on a full count; Beltre and Sexson had taken off with that pitch, and Beltre beat the throw to third for a double steal. Boone of course responded by tapping out softly and harmlessly to the mound.

Gaudin's line: 5 innings, 2 runs, 7 hits, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts, 93 pitches (60 strikes)

Grade: A
Mateo was holding up his end of the bargain. Adams flew out high to Ichiro in shallow rightfield. Johnson hit a shallow pop to rightfield, caught by Boone. Mateo threw nine pitches.

Grade: C
Scott Downs came in for Gaudin. Reed whiffed on a low 0-2 pitch. Bloomquist fouled off four pitches with two strikes, then grounded the 10th pitch of the at-bat to short, but Adams threw high to first base, pulling Hinske off the bag. Bloomquist was aboard on the error. Rivera singled the first pitch through the left side. Ichiro rolled a ball off of Downs, and it ended up with Hudson, who stepped on the bag at second for the 1-4 fielder's choice. Runners were on the corners with two out for Winn, who got ahead 2-0, but ended up popping the full-count pitch to Hudson near the second-base bag. Downs threw 25 pitches.

Grade: C
This one wasn't as nice. Hill singled over Boone into rightfield, snapping Mateo's streak of ten straight hitters retired since he'd come in from the bullpen. Hillenbrand crushed his 1-0 pitch to the staircase above the visitors' bullpen in leftfield, a 389-foot shot.
Hinske whiffed on an 0-2 breaking ball. Wells popped one high and foul near the plate, and Sexson came down with it. Zaun got behind 0-2 and whiffed on a 1-2 pitch down and in.

Mateo's line: 4 1/3 innings, 2 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts, 49 pitches (33 strikes)

Grade: C
Again, not much in this one. Beltre took a 3-1 pitch high and outside for a walk. The first pitch to Sexson went off of Zaun's shin guard and to the backstop, and Beltre scurried to second. Ibañez flew out to centerfield, but it was deep enough for Beltre to take third. Mike Morse came in to pinch hit and make his Major League debut. He fouled off an 0-2 before whiffing on a low 2-2 pitch.

Downs' line: 2 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 42 pitches (25 strikes)

Grade: B
Shigetoshi Hasegawa came in for Mateo, but that wasn't the only change. Mike Hargrove made wholesale defensive changes, putting Greg Dobbs in at third and bringing in Dave Hansen to play first. Willie Bloomquist moved to second, and Morse stayed in to play short.
Catalanotto lined a single over Morse and into leftfield. Adams got behind 0-2, eventually flying out to Winn in shallow leftfield. Johnson hit a soft lineout to Morse. Hudson grounded out to first for a 3-1 putout.

Grade: B-
Justin Speier came in for Downs. Reed poked the second pitch down the rightfield line for a double. Bloomquist got behind 0-2, eventually grounding out to second to send Reed to third. Rivera poked the first pitch into leftfield for a single, and Reed came across.
Ichiro got ahead 2-0 and hit the 2-2 offering just inside the bag down the third-base line. Hill stopped the ball, couldn't do much more with it. Winn mashed the first pitch to rightfield to load the bases. Dobbs (not Beltre) flew out softly to rightfield on the first pitch. Hansen waited a bit longer, flying out to rightfield on the second pitch.

Speier's line: 1 inning, 1 run, 4 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 16 pitches (13 strikes)

Grade: B+
Hasegawa would stay in to save the rest of the pen. Hill grounded the first pitch to third. Hillenbrand fouled off a 2-0 pitch and later grounded out to short. Frank Menechino came in to pinch hit and instead got hit in the left tricep. Wells flew out to centerfield on the 0-2 pitch.

Hasegawa's line: 2 innings, 0 runs, 1 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 30 pitches (20 strikes)

Grade: A-
The Mariner newbies would help piece together a decent inning. Scott Schoeneweis (remember when he was decent?) came in for Speier. Ibañez dinked a 'tweener into shallow rightfield for a single. Morse had the hitters' counts and took the 3-1 pitch down and in. Reed smashed one past the first baseman (Morse had to dance around it) and into rightfield for a single to score Ibañez and put Morse on second.
Bloomquist one-hopped the first pitch off the wall in front of the pub, scoring Morse and Reed.

Miguel Batista came in for Schoeneweis. Rivera grounded out to short, and Bloomquist scooted to third. Ichiro grounded out to short, but the Blue Jays went for the sure out, and Bloomquist scored.
With the bases now empty, Winn hit a gapper to leftcenter for a double. Beltre popped the second pitch behind the bag at second, and Adams came down with it. Ballgame.

Schoeneweis' line: 0 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 14 pitches (7 strikes)
Batista's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 7 pitches (6 strikes)

Gameball: Randy Winn.
Lost in the press that will go to Rene Rivera's first three Major League hits (he went 3-for-5) and a 3-for-5 night from Jeremy Reed will be Randy Winn's 3-for-5 night, also with a double. It was a good night all around for Winn and Ichiro, who combined to go 6-for-11. It's no secret that Ichiro ignites this offense, but when you can get Ichiro and Winn clicking, it usually bodes well for the offense. Except for most of this game, of course.

Goat: Ryan Franklin.
I'm having trouble here. Since Franklin was so bad, I don't think you'd be able to call it happy hour in Spiro. Regardless, drinks will probably be at happy-hour prices in the local watering hole(s) for a day or two. Five runs in the first? That's a way to take the air out of the Safe. I've remarked about what I think are the lack of make-the-crowd-noise-deafening acoustics at the Safe, but it's especially worse if the road team tacks on a bunch of runs early. You can hear a pin drop in there even if there's 30000 in the stadium. Anyway, absolutely terrible line out of Franklin. Brutal.

This marked the last game of a 9-18 month of May for the Seattle Mariners. Two of the final three games of the month had terrible starts from Piñeiro and Franklin that were so bad, they were reminiscent of the horrid performances by the rotation in the first half of the month. Franklin's performance left the rotation with a final May 2005 ERA of 5.95. The average start for a Mariner starting pitcher this month: 5.54 innings (5 2/3), 3.85 runs (3.67 earned), 6.5 hits, 2.4 walks, 2.7 strikeouts, 93.7 pitches (56.8 strikes). It's like having five Aaron Seles (though not the one from the last couple starts.

Let's bury the May pitching Excel chart once and for all...
Rotation ERA -- 5.95 (up from 5.68 before Piñeiro's last start)
Individual ERAs -- Moyer 7.88 over five starts, Piñeiro 7.22 (5 starts), Franklin 5.85 (6 starts), Meche 4.94 (5 starts), Sele 3.77 (5 starts)

Worst (and best) per-inning averages for the month...
Runs -- Moyer 0.92 (Sele 0.49)
Hits -- Piñeiro 1.43 (Meche 0.94)
Walks -- Sele 0.49 (Piñeiro 0.38)
Strikeouts -- Moyer 0.38 (Franklin 0.62)
Pitches -- Moyer 18.3 (Sele 15.9)

I guess the one thing I can say is that it's a bad month for starting pitching when Ryan Franklin has the best strikeout rate in your rotation.

Of course, I keep the 2005 vs. 2004 stuff in the same Excel file. This loss kept the Mariners two games better than their 2004 counterparts. They've got tonight and Friday to gain some ground on Team Terrible.

Great. Now I have to talk about the game. As I said, Ryan Franklin put the game out of doubt. The wind was out of the sails and didn't come back until it was much too late. The Mariner bats had trouble after the Blue Jays had been spotted a five-run lead before they even got to the plate. The first inning saw Ichiro and Randy Winn get aboard and not score. They were on first and second with nobody out and moved to second and third on the Beltre groundout, but were left there by Sexson and Ibañez. In the fourth, Ibañez hit a leadoff double and wasn't even moved by the next three hitters. The Russ Adams error in the 6th put Bloomquist on first with one out, and Rene Rivera did his job, though outs occurred when Ichiro and Winn stepped to the plate. In the 7th, Beltre drew a leadoff walk and went to second on the first pitch to Sexson, still with nobody out. He didn't score. In the 8th, Hargrove had already thrown in the towel, so it was Greg Dobbs and Dave Hansen getting a chance with the bases loaded and one out instead of Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson. Of course, the move looks bad in hindsight, but we'd be all over Hargrove if any of those guys got hurt in the final two innings of a game that was out of reach when they were taken out.

As for non-Franklin pitching, Julio Mateo would have been a sure gameball if Hargrove sent someone else out to the mound for the 7th. Mateo had retired ten straight hitters after having arguably his relief outing of the year the night before. Shigetoshi Hasegawa worked the final two innings, with a leadoff single and a beanball being the only tarnishes.

Still, how sad is it when four guys in your lineup can have three hits each and you still can't win the damn game? Ichiro, Winn, Reed, and Rivera all had three-hit games, and Raul Ibañez chipped in with a 2-for-5 night as well. Ichiro of course leads the team with a .321 average. After that, it gets interesting. Ibañez is second with .285, Winn has a .280 mark, but Reed is now up to .279. Is there anyone out there who's not a fan of Reed by now? Crap, I'd be satisfied if he just hit .280 or .290 for the rest of the year.

Richie Sexson went 0-for-3, but at least he drew a walk to get on base once. Bret Boone never reached base in his 0-for-3 night. Moreover in the land of zeroes, Greg Dobbs only got to the plate twice but managed to leave four runners on base to lead the team. In the LOB column in the boxscore, there is the 4 next to Dobbs' name, and there are also six occurrences of the number 3. The team as a whole stranded 14 runners, though this last number should probably have been tacked on a few paragraphs ago.

Yes, folks, let's move on to June. It can't come soon enough. Yo quiero béisbol de competitivo!

Chacin. Meche. Tonight.

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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

THE PUMP 5/31/05 

Blue Jays at Mariners, 7:05 Pacific (FSN Northwest, MLB.TV)

Chad Gaudin (first start of 2005) vs Ryan Franklin (2-6, 4.45 ERA)

Shortstop Wilson Valdez has been designated for assignment.

Goodbye, Exxon. Your contribution to the Pump will never be forgotten.

Don't worry, folks, the Pump will still go on.

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You want to know if I'm ready for football?

A major sign that I'm ready for football: Picking up Pro Football Weekly's 2005 NFL Preview issue...before June.

Since I'm in Arkansas, I don't have a Seahawks cover. On my issue's cover is Houston Texans quarterback David Carr, New Orleans Saints running back Deuce McAllister, and new Dallas Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe. It's a good thing I didn't get a St. Louis Rams cover.

What does PFW have to say about the Seahawks' chances for 2005?

They have the Seahawks winning the NFC West at 10-6. When the schedule first came out, I said this was a 10-6 schedule. Of course, I wouldn't mind 11-5 or 12-4 either.

In their preseason power rankings, the Seahawks are ranked 10th.

PFW:"On the cusp, but "D" a big disappointment from a year ago"

The October 9 game at St. Louis is ranked 6th as far as "Must-See TV" games go. Hopefully I'll be able to go to the Edward Jones Dome in person instead of watching the game on TV.

Left tackle Walter Jones is the only Seahawks player ranked in the Top 50 Player Rankings. I'm so glad the Seahawks re-signed him this offseason.

PFW: "When he's locked in, Jones is the best pass blocker alive."

If there's one player on this current team that is a no-brainer for the Ring Of Honor, it's Jones. How can he not be? It doesn't matter if he didn't go to Cheney the last couple of seasons. He gets it done on the field. I'll take him anyday over Orlando Pace or Jonathan Ogden.

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

Preview magazines are a lot of fun to read. But they're just paper. Paper doesn't decide who wins and who doesn't.

PFW has the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XL, with the Eagles winning it all. This should fire up the New England Patriots a little bit.

June 1 is tomorrow. As far as cuts go for the Seahawks, expect cornerback Bobby Taylor to be cut. That's the only cut I can predict right now. Will former Baltimore Ravens defensive end/linebacker Peter Boulware come to Seattle to join his brother Michael? I'm not getting my hopes up about it. But if he does come to Seattle, the Seahawks defense will be better off.

Hey, it's May 31. I'm talking football. Why the hell not? It's the sport I love talking about the most. That's not a sign of disrespect towards the other sports, mind you. I'm just a football guy, that's all.

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Mariners 4, Blue Jays 3
AP photo -- John Froschauer

In 25 words or less: A game that looked to be a pitchers' duel luckily gave way to the Mariners being able to scratch out some runs and hold on.

This one featured Ted Lilly against Jamie Moyer, still looking for his 131st win as a Mariner to become the winningest pitcher in franchise history. It also didn't feature Miguel Olivo in the dugout, as he was optioned to Tacoma. Rene Rivera was called up from San Antonio to be the backup catcher once again, which of course makes me wonder once again if they just want Ryan Christianson to rot in Tacoma. The big club better give him a look sooner or later while he's healthy.

I should note that here in Bremerton as I was watching the game on FSNNW, every channel came in clear except for FSNNW. It was like I was watching scrambled baseball on HBO for the first three innings of the game. It was fixed by the bottom of the 4th. The top of the 4th was weird though, since there was intermittent four-second airings of static interlaced with one-second teases of the game. Of course, it was later solved and everything was nice thereafter.

Grade: A
Moyer started out nicely. Reed Johnson flew just short of the track in leftfield. Alex Rios (no longer Alexis...I would have done the same thing) grounded out to third. Aaron Hill grounded out to short to end the inning. Moyer threw nine pitches.

Grade: C-
The Mariner bats wouldn't wake up just yet. Ichiro fouled off an 0-2 pitch before bouncing out to short. Randy Winn rolled an 0-2 pitch to short. Adrian Beltre fouled off a 2-0 pitch before harmlessly popping out to first baseman Eric Hinske in foul ground. Lilly threw 11 pitches.

Grade: A
Moyer was in an early groove. Shea Hillenbrand rolled out to second. Vernon Wells fouled off a couple of 1-2 pitches before whiffing at a low changeup. Eric Hinske fell behind 0-2 before hitting a high fly that came down to Willie Bloomquist behind the mound. Moyer threw 16 pitches.

Grade: C
The bats remained in slumber. Richie Sexson got down 0-2 and chased a 1-2 changeup low and outside. Raul Ibañez bounced out to second. Bret Boone took a four-pitch walk. Jeremy Reed rolled the first pitch to second to end the inning. Lilly threw 11 pitches.

Grade: B
Moyer's inning would be a little more dicey. Frank Menechino fouled off a couple of 1-2 pitches before rolling out to short. Gregg Zaun had a 2-0 count degenerate into taking a 2-2 breaking ball over the outside corner. John McDonald worked back from an 0-2 count to line a 2-2 pitch into leftfield for a single, breaking Moyer's streak of retiring the first eight Blue Jays to start the game. McDonald took second on the first pitch to Johnson, who fell behind 0-2 and ended up bouncing out to Bloomquist. Moyer threw 23 pitches.

Grade: C-
One time through the lineup, and nothing had happened. Willie Bloomquist flew out to centerfield on an 0-2 pitch. Pat Borders bunted the first pitch foul, fouled off an 0-2 pitch high and outside, and took a curve over the outside corner. Ichiro chopped one to second to end the inning. Lilly threw nine pitches.

Grade: B
Moyer wasn't cruising like in the first two innings, but still got through okay. Rios popped the 3-1 pitch to Sexson in foul ground. Hill flew out to Winn in leftfield. Hillenbrand worked a 1-2 count for a walk. Wells hit a 3-1 pitch in the air to centerfield, and Reed ran backward and made the catch at the track. Moyer threw 19 pitches.

Grade: A
It makes scoring runs a snap. Winn lined a low 0-2 pitch into centerfield for a leadoff single. Beltre hit a hard grounder on the 0-2 pitch that one-hopped Lilly's shin and bounced right to Hinske, who stepped on the bag at first as Winn moved in to second. Sexson took a huge healthy hack at the first pitch, but whiffed. He took another healthy hack at the next pitch, and absolutely clobbered it, a 428-foot shot into the leftfield bleachers about five rows deep and near one of the aisleway openings. Man, do I hope we get a Royal Brougham shot from somebody this year.
Ibañez kept it going, singling through the right side on the first pitch. Boone took a full-count pitch down and in for a walk. Reed stung his second pitch past the third baseman for a single to score Ibañez and move Boone to second...that's some skilled opposite-field hitting right there from Reed. Toronto pitching coach Brad Arnsberg went to the mound to see what the frick was going on with Lilly. I'll tell you what it was: the Mariners had him solved. Ha!
Bloomquist ripped the first pitch right at the shortstop McDonald (lineout), who nearly was able to throw to second and double off Boone. Borders pulled a low-and-outside curve over to McDonald, who threw to third to complete the weird 6-5 fielder's choice. Lilly threw 19 pitches.

Grade: C+
Moyer would stumble a bit with his newfound lead. Hinske smoked a 2-0 pitch through the right side for a single. Menechino hit a slow roller to Beltre at third, and that was enough to kill the possibility of a double play. Beltre did get the out at second, a 5-4 fielder's choice. Zaun had a 2-0 count and later roped a high 2-2 pitch down the leftfield line and toward the corner. Oddly, Menechino stopped at third instead of testing Winn's arm. He would wait until the next pitch, when McDonald flew out to Winn on the first pitch. Even though it was right to Winn, and it wasn't deep, Beltre cut off the throw which, let's face it, was probably too slow or off-line anyway.
Johnson flew out to Borders in front of the first-base dugout. Moyer threw 14 pitches.

Grade: B
They got it back. Ichiro got ahead 2-0 and ended up serving a single into centerfield. Winn took a four-pitch walk. Beltre flew out to centerfield, a few steps short of the track, and Ichiro was able to tag and go to third. Sexson poked the first pitch into centerfield to score Ichiro and move Winn to second.
Ibañez took a 1-2 curve that was just barely low and away. Four seconds later, plate umpire Larry Vanover called it a strike. Talk about a delayed call, sheesh. I'm trying to think of the umpire that's the king of the delayed calls, but I can't place his name right now. All I'm coming up with is Don Denkinger, Terry Tata, and Ken Kaiser, who I think had the forward-punching strike call back in the day.

Vinnie Chulk came in for Lilly. Boone popped the 2-2 pitch into foul ground, where Hillenbrand came down with it.

Lilly's line: 4 2/3 innings, 4 runs, 6 hits, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts, 65 pitches (47 strikes)

Grade: B-
Moyer's final inning would be sketchy. Rios singled to center to lead off. Hill flew out to Winn near the track in leftfield. Hillenbrand flew out to Winn. Wells took a high 3-1 pitch for a walk, bringing the tying run to the batter's box. Hinske grounded down the line to Sexson, who underhanded to Moyer for the out.

Moyer's line: 6 innings, 1 run, 4 hits, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts, 98 pitches (60 strikes)

Grade: C-
The bottom of the lineup did their thing. Reed lined one just short of the track to leftfield, but that went for an out. Bloomquist popped shallow to rightfield, and Rios made a running catch. Borders worked a 1-2 count full, fouling off a couple of two-strike pitches before grounding up the middle to short, and McDonald made a nice play to end the inning.

Grade: C-
Julio Mateo came in for Moyer. Pinch-hitter Orlando Hudson crushed the 1-1 pitch high in the air to rightfield and barely over the rightfield wall for a solo shot.
Zaun flew out to centerfield on the second pitch. McDonald whiffed at a slider low and away. It looked like the homer hand't shaken Mateo. Johnson then smashed his second pitch into the visitors' bullpen beyond the leftfield wall. This had gotten a bit too interesting.
Rios hit one up the middle and through Mateo into centerfield for a single.

JJ Putz came in for Mateo. Rios took second on the first pitch by Putz, which was way outside and found its way to the backstop. Hill was the hitter, and he grounded out to short to end the inning.

Mateo's line: 2/3 inning, 2 runs, 3 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 15 pitches (11 strikes)

Grade: C+
The Mariners would have the most frustrating two-out rally ever. Ichiro bunted the first pitch too hard down the first-base line, but it went foul. He hit the 2-2 pitch quite well to centerfield, and Wells covered some ground, making a nice running snowcone catch. Winn poked a flyout into rightfield. Beltre ripped the 1-2 pitch over the second baseman for a single.

Jason Frasor came in for Chulk. It turns out Frasor's uncle was Rick Rizzs' good buddy on the south side of Chicago. I'll be damned. Nonetheless, Frasor fell behind 3-0 on Sexson and walked him on a full-count pitch that was barely up and in. Ibañez fouled off a 2-0 pitch, then took the 3-1 offering down and in. Suddenly the bases were loaded. Boone took a 2-0 strike over the outside corner at the knees and settled for a high pop to the shortstop on the outfield grass behind the bag at second.

Chulk's line: 2 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 30 pitches (19 strikes)

Grade: B-
Yay for the bullpen getting through it. Hillenbrand whiffed at a 2-0 pitch before lined the next pitch into leftcenter for a single. Wells took a 2-0 pitch over the outside corner before being jammed on a high pitch and flying out to Bloomquist on the grass in leftfield.

Matt Thornton came in for Putz, and I cringed. Hinske flew out to shallow centerfield. Hudson had the hitters' counts and took a full-count pitch just off the outside corner for a walk. Zaun hit a shallow flyout to leftcenter that was a 'tweener, but luckily Winn caught it without a collision.

Putz' line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 11 pitches (6 strikes)
Thornton's line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 12 pitches (7 strikes)

Grade: C-
No insurance from the bottom of the lineup. Reed bunted the first pitch high toward the right side, and a charging Hudson was able to pick it up quickly and make a backhand toss to first just in time. Reed nearly got away with it. Bloomquist bounced out to second, and Borders whiffed at a ball down and in.

Frasor's line: 1 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 2 walks, 1 strikeout, 27 pitches (14 strikes)

Grade: A-
Eddie Guardado came in to nail it down. McDonald took a 1-2 pitch over the outside corner. Johnson waved on an 0-2 pitch way off the plate outside. Rios hit a 2-0 pitch to rightcenter, where Reed made a nice running catch. Ballgame.

Guardado's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 10 pitches (7 strikes)

Gameball: Eddie Guardado.
Maybe it's because the Mariners this month haven't had many chances this month for Eddie Guardado to truly step into his role and perform it, but I can't remember the last time I had to complain about this guy. I think I saw a Greg Bailey sports segment on KING-5 the other day, and he said something along the lines of "the Mariners' most consistent performer has a torn rotator cuff." He's been consistent lately, and luckily for Mariner fans, it's been consistently good. I've said it since I first saw him take the mound with the Mariners last year, I like seeing this guy pitch. I just like the fearlessness that Eddie Guardado and Bobby Madritsch bring to the mound. I wish we could get the latter half too, but that won't happen for a long time. Okay, I guess I'm fearing any future era of JJ Putz as a closer too. I think all closers have to have some quirk about them, and Putz is just too boring. He's not a goggle-wearing freak like an Eric Gagne or a Francisco Rodriguez. He doesn't have a fiery personality like a lot of other closers have as well. I'm babbling.

Goat: Julio Mateo.
I think this might have been the worst game Mateo had thrown all year, at least given the situation. A three-run lead became a lead of just one before he was given the hook. It'll happen from time to time. He gave up homers to a pinch-hitting second baseman and the leadoff hitter. The Mariners learned in more ways that one that the Long Ball makes scoring runs a snap. Mateo's ERA which had been hovering below 1.00 before he made the start for Joel Piñeiro on the 17th, now has an ERA of 3.00. Needless to say, relievers get their numbers skewed pretty quickly early in the season when they give up runs, but still, I think the one start may have thrown him off just a tiny bit.

Big congratulations to Jamie Moyer, who finally became the winningest pitcher in franchise history, now sporting a mark of 131-70 as a Mariner and 197-147 for his entire career. He's three wins away from 200. Not that it'll make him anywhere close to a Hall of Fame candidate or anything like that, but it'll be a big deal for him. I just hope he doesn't get stuck on 199 for as long as he was stuck on 130 or as long as Bret Boone was stuck on 999 RBIs. Also, from the AP wire article, it appears that Adrian Beltre is at 995 career hits, and Ichiro is at 989.

With career win number 197, Jamie Moyer closed a horrible month of May in 2005. He averaged about 4 2/3 innings and 88 pitches per start, and his ERA for the month was a scant 7.88. Of course, it was much higher before the 8-inning outing last time through on the 25th. Hopefully he can use his last two starts as a springboard for an awesome June. This team certainly needs a much better June out of Jamie Moyer to return to competitiveness.

Moyer's outing took the rotation's May ERA down 0.18 from the night before, and they stand at a mark of 5.76. An average start from the rotation this month has been 5.65 innings (5 2/3), 3.73 runs (3.62 earned), 6.3 hits, 2.5 walks, 2.8 strikeouts, and 95 pitches (57.4 strikes).

There wasn't a huge amount of hitting in this one, and it definitely wasn't Sunday in Tampa Bay again. Still, Richie Sexson brought the thunder with that mortar shot. It's nice to have some bashers at the Safe now, it really is. I'd love to know how that would look if I was standing out there in the leftfield bleachers seeing that come off the bat. If I'm watching television, I have a generally good idea over what's leaving the yard and what's not. However, if I'm at the ballpark, I'm out of my comfort zone of watching the games on television, and my crack-of-bat perception gets thrown out the window. Perhaps it's due to not being at the ballpark enough, but if I'm out there in the bleachers and see a fly ball, I'll be thinking, "is that coming back for us?" nearly every time even though 90% of the time it'll be a can of corn. I could just imagine my train of thought for that Sexson homer. "Hey, that one's high. It'll probably just be right to Winn. My, that thing's high, I can barely see it. HOLY CRAP! If only I was two sections over! Dammit!"

Sexson was the only Mariner with a multi-hit game. The other five hits were scattered among the top seven of the lineup, sans Bret Boone, who did manage to walk twice. Boone didn't strike out either, but he did leave five runners on base. Yes, the night after hitting career homer number 250 can be a fickle one. Pat Borders provided a Miguel Olivo-esque night at the plate, striking out twice with an 0-for-4 game, and Willie Bloomquist filled the Wilson Valdez quotient with an 0-for-4 night as well. Both left two runners aboard.

Though it did bring about some nail-chewing, the combination of JJ Putz and Matt Thornton (yes, Matt Thornton) got the ball from a struggling Julio Mateo in the 7th to Eddie Guardado in the 9th with the lead still intact. Granted, I'd like to see the tying run never have to get on base there in the 8th, and I'd also rather not have Matt Thornton issue a walk to put the go-ahead run on first. They didn't find the easiest way to do it, but Mike Hargrove did put Matt Thornton in a pressure situation, and he didn't gut the place this time. Maybe it'll be a confidence boost. If he's a viable lefty option in the pen other than Ron Villone, it'll be a good thing. I'm not banking on it, but it'd be nice.

Win number 21 on the 2005 season helps the Mariners keep a two-game cushion on the 2004 Mariners, who also won their 50th game. Can the 2005 Mariners distance themselves from the joke of 2004? Some wins in the next three games will do just that, since last year's team lost the next three games.

Gaudin. Franklin. Tonight.

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Monday, May 30, 2005

THE PUMP 5/30/05 

Blue Jays at Mariners, 7:05 Pacific (FSN Northwest, MLB.TV)

Ted Lilly (3-4, 7.59 ERA) vs Jamie Moyer (4-2, 5.70 ERA)

Notice anything different?

For the first time since April 18, Miguel Olivo is NOT on the Pump. There's a reason for this. The Mariners have sent Olivo down to Triple-A Tacoma and have brought up catcher Rene Rivera from Double-A San Antonio. In 37 games in 2005, Olivo has hit just .145 with 2 home runs and 14 RBI. Hopefully Miguel can get his swing back down in Tacoma.

So for the foreseeable future, it's 42-year old Pat Borders behind the plate. Great, just great. If the Mariners are into picking up old, washed up catchers, I can think of a few guys they should pick up. Where's Mike LaValliere? Ron Karkovice? Wait, I got it.

How about Mike Engelberg?

He's in his early 40s and he can't be as lazy as Wiki Gonzalez!

Yes, this is what we've come to. Miguel Olivo sent down to Tacoma, 42-year old Pat Borders becoming the everyday catcher. It figures.

Hopefully y'all have had a good Memorial Day. Now prepare to watch 42-year old Pat Borders behind the plate, for eons and eons. I hope it isn't that long. But you just never know with this ballclub.

Lost in all this madness is my piece on Carlos Guillen over at Mariners Roundtable today. Check it out. By the way, Willie Bloomquist is at shortstop tonight.

I hate this organization.

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More than ever, we need to remember the men and women who have sacrificed their lives for this great country of ours. Without these men and women, we wouldn't be able to do what we want to do right now. In other words, we still have our freedom.

Thank you, veterans.

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Mariners 10, Devil Rays 9
AP photo -- Steve Nesius

In 25 words or less: Smile! Jeremy Reed's a Mariner! It's almost enough to make you forget that Joel Piñeiro got taken to the wood shed.

(posted ~12:09p, but oh well)

This one featured Joel Piñeiro against the infamous Doug Waechter, one of the no-name nails in the coffin to the Mariners' 2003 season. That's something I wish I could forget.

Grade: C-
It started out the same ol' way against Waechter. Ichiro popped out lazily to second. Randy Winn and Adrian Beltre both grounded out to short. Waechter threw nine pitches.

Grade: A
Piñeiro matched the Waechter inning quite nicely. Carl Crawford hit a low-lining flyout to leftfield. Nick Green fouled off a couple 1-2 pitches, but eventually whiffed. Aubrey Huff grounded the first pitch to Bret Boone at second. Piñeiro threw 11 pitches.

Grade: B+
This was a surprise. Richie Sexson flew out to centerfield. Raul Ibañez fouled off pitches on 2-0 and 2-2 before taking a change over the plate for strike three. Bret Boone's heckler sounded off as Boone came to the plate. Said Ron Fairly, "there's the ol' leatherlung." Boone mashed the 0-1 pitch over the fence in leftcenter. Said Dave Niehaus about the heckler as the ball traveled out, "that'll shut him up."
Jeremy Reed got the hitters' counts and put a decent poke on the 3-1 pitch. As a matter of fact, it went about a third of the way up the rightfield foul pole. Back-to-back homers? I'll take it, especially with two out.
Willie Bloomquist got ahead 2-0, and eventually was caught looking on a full-count slider that looked kinda high. Waechter threw 22 pitches.

Grade: B+
Piñeiro continued to hold the fort. Travis Lee hit the 2-0 pitch for a high flyout to Winn in leftcenter. Josh Phelps grounded out to second. Jorge Cantu laced the first pitch over Bloomquist at short for a single. Damon Hollins whiffed to end the inning. Piñeiro threw 14 pitches.

Grade: B-
More? Pat Borders fell behind 0-2 on a checkswing that was called a swing, which I thought was bull. He whiffed on the next pitch (0-2). Ichiro grounded one under Lee's glove and down the rightfield line, and he got a triple out of it (I feel like saying this isn't such a big deal anymore). Winn singled past the second baseman on the first pitch, easily scoring Ichiro and giving Winn a five-game hit streak.
Then Winn was nailed on the first pitch to Beltre. His foot was tagged just before it got to the bag. Beltre whiffed on a pitch high and outside. Waechter threw 13 pitches.

Grade: C+
Things got a bit dicey for Piñeiro. Charles Johnson had a 3-1 count and took the full-count pitch low and outside for a walk. Alex Gonzalez grounded a ball to Beltre, who started the 5-4-3 double play. Crawford lined a single into leftfield. He went to second on a first-pitch dirtball to Green, who fisted the next pitch over a drifting-back Bloomquist. Crawford scored. That's a way to squeeze something out of that inning.
Huff grounded a ball to Bloomquist's backhand side, and he threw to Boone for the 6-4 fielder's choice...although it looked a whole lot like Green had beaten the throw there. No meaningful replay was shown, though it depended on whther Green's right foot got to the bag before the left knee. If it did, he was definitely safe. Still, we'll take the call, won't we? Piñeiro threw 17 pitches.

Grade: B
They got it right back. Sexson clocked the first pitch over Hollins' head in centerfield, bouncing it off the track and off the wall for a leadoff double. Ibañez took an 0-2 dirtball before smacking a single into centerfield. Unfortunately, it was hit so hard that Sexson had to hold up at third. Boone hit a slow bouncer to Cantu at third, who threw to second for the forceout. It turns out for once that Boone not hitting the ball hard was a good thing, since the run scored.
Reed got behind 0-2 and eventually grounded to second for a 4-6 fielder's choice. Bloomquist popped the first pitch near the rightfield line, where the second baseman Green ran over and made a nifty over-the-shoulder catch. Waechter threw 17 pitches.

Grade: D
Nothing short of a debacle for Piñeiro. Lee got ahead 2-0 and fished for the 2-1 pitch, knocking it into centerfield to a single. Lee stole second on the first pitch to Phelps. Phelps took a 3-1 curve low and away, but whiffed on a full-count curve down and in. Lee was nearly picked off of second by Piñeiro with the count 1-0 to Cantu, but Lee pulled what Ichiro pulled not too long ago, pulling back one hand on the slide to avoid the tag from the glove. Thus, Lee was safe by yanking the right hand out of the way. Cantu got ahead 3-0 and crushed the 3-1 pitch into leftfield near the corner for a double. Lee scored easily.
Hollins ripped the second pitch off the wall in leftcenter to score Cantu and bring Bryan Price out to the mound to see what the f#@% was going on with Piñeiro, who was elevating his pitches.
Johnson grounded the first pitch to Beltre, so that was a good result after the Price visit. Gonzalez poked a single into leftfield, and it went on one hop to Winn. Said Fairly: "I thought Winn had a chance because Hollin's hadn't gotten to third yet when he got the ball." Alas, the arm of Randy Winn. That's a tie game.
Crawford ripped an 0-1 pitch into rightfield for a single. Ichiro's throw home was cut off in front of the plate by Borders, who threw to second in time to nail Crawford trying to stretch his hit after he hesitated after rounding first. Piñeiro threw 23 pitches.

Grade: C-
The response from the bats was swift as molasses. Borders whiffed on an 0-2 pitch that seemed headed toward somewhere close to his head. Ichiro flew out to second on a 2-0 pitch. Winn whiffed at a dirtball to end the inning. Waechter threw 10 pitches.

Grade: C-
It got much worse before it could get better. Green hit a slow grounder up the middle that went past Piñeiro and found its way into centerfield for a single. Huff hit a low liner to Winn. Lee flew out to rightfield. One runner on first, two outs. Shouldn't be a problem, right? Green stole second (just barely) on the first pitch to Phelps. Phelps hit the next pitch through the hole on the left side, and Winn made a futile throw home, which ended up in front of the plate somewhere.

Shigetoshi Hasegawa came in for Piñeiro. He left a 1-2 pitch a little too high and a little too over the plate, and Cantu made no mistake, covering the pitch and sending it well over the wall in leftfield. Mariner fans everywhere sulked.
Hollins fouled off a 3-1 pitch and eventually flew out to Ichiro.

Piñeiro's line: 4 2/3 innings, 7 runs, 10 hits, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, 75 pitches (45 strikes)

Grade: C
The offense didn't respond. Beltre flew out to the track in rightfield. Sexson just about knocked the cover off the ball, but he needed more elevation since it was just a lineout to Crawford in left. Ibañez singled past the backhand side of the second baseman on an 0-2 pitch. Boone hit a checkswing roller to second to end the inning. Waechter threw 14 pitches.

Grade: B
Hasegawa didn't crumble. He got ahead 0-2 on Johnson and got him to whiff (debatable checkswing call) on the 1-2 pitch. Gonzalez got ahead 3-0 and took a five-pitch walk. On the first pitch, Crawford flew out just short of the track in centerfield, and it was deep enough for Gonzalez to tag and move to second. Green grounded out to third to end the inning.

Hasegawa's line: 1 1/3 innings, 1 run, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 25 pitches (14 strikes)

Grade: B
All hail the bottom third of the Mariner lineup. Reed flew out to leftfield. Bloomquist hit the first pitch, and it was a fly toward the rightfield line. Huff had a long way to go to run to the ball, and he dove for it. The ball was in his glove, but popped out and got by him. Bloomquist ended up with a double. Bordeers fouled off a 1-2 pitch before dinking a single near the leftfield line to score Bloomquist.

Lance Carter was put in, and Waechter was pulled. Ichiro lined out to the shortstop and Winn flew out to left. So much for that rally.

Waechter's line: 6 1/3 innings, 5 runs, 9 hits, 0 walks, 6 strikeouts, 95 pitches (65 strikes)
Carter's line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 6 pitches (4 strikes)

Grade: B
Matt Thornton came in for Hasegawa. He promptly walked Huff on four pitches. Lee grounded a slow roller to Boone, who charged for the ball, tagged Huff on his way to second, then threw to first for the 4-3 double play. Phelps was caught looking to end the inning.

Thornton's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 11 pitches (6 strikes)

Grade: A
Travis Harper came in for Carter. Beltre ripped the second pitch past the mound for a single. Sexson poked the second pitch through the hole on the right side past a diving attempt by Green, good for a single. The tying run came to the batter's box in the form of Ibañez. He fouled off a 1-2 pitch before singing over Green and into rightfield to score Beltre.
Boone laid off a couple of pitches that he's usually swung at this year, walking on a 3-1 pitch outside. The bases were now loaded with nobody out.

Trever Miller came in for Harper. Reed hit a slow bouncer to the right side that nearly hit Boone running from first, but the ball had eyes. It got through the hole and into rightfield, and Sexson and Ibañez scored. My goodness, this game was tied!

Danys Baez came in for Miller. Greg Dobbs came in to pinch hit for Bloomquist. He worked a 1-2 count for a walk in an eight-pitch at-bat. Dave Hansen came in to pinch-hit for Borders. He flew out to centerfield, but it was deep enough for Boone to score, and it was definitely deep enough when Hollins threw to third base instead of home. The Mariners led!
Ichiro flew out in foul territory down the leftfield line. Winn flew out to Crawford in leftcenter.

Harper's line: 0 innings, 4 runs, 3 hits, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 14 pitches (7 strikes)
Miller's line: 0 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 3 pitches (3 strikes)
Baez' line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 14 pitches (9 strikes)

Grade: C-
Get ready for some Bullpen Adventures. Jeff Nelson came in for Thornton, but the results were about equal. Cantu flew out to leftfield. Hollins had the hitters' counts and walked on a full count. Johnson had the hitters' counts and popped one foul way behind first on which Sexson couldn't quite make an over-the-shoulder running catch. Johnson walked on a frisbee up and in.

Ron Villone came in for Nelson. Julio Lugo came on to pinch hit for Alex Sanchez, who never came to the plate to pinch hit for Gonzalez. The second pitch to Lugo was way outside and went off Miguel Olivo's glove and to the backstop. Lugo lined the 1-2 pitch right at Winn, but Winn has no arm, and Hollins of course scored. The Devil Rays had scored the tying run without a hit.
Crawford was nailed in the right shoulder on the first pitch. Green had a 3-0 count and took the five-pitch walk (I thought the 3-1 pitch was a strike, but oh well). Huff hit a soft liner on the first pitch toward short, and replacement shortstop Wilson Valdez ran back and made the catch.

Nelson's line: 1/3 inning, 1 run, 0 hits, 2 walks, 0 strikeouts, 15 pitches (6 strikes)
Villone's line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 11 pitches (5 strikes)

Grade: B
Could the Mariners get the run back? Beltre swung at a pitch low and away and rolled it to second. Sexson fouled off a 2-0 pitch (he just missed cranking it) and took the 3-1 pitch outside for a walk. Sexson took second on a 1-0 dirtball to Ibañez. With the count 2-0, the Devil Rays opted to give Ibañez the open base at first, giving him the intentional walk. Boone grounded an 0-2 pitch to second for a 4-6 fielder's choice. The non-double play was helped by Ibañez, who slid nicely to the bag at second. It's not his fault that the shortstop was in the basepath, but he did thwart the possibility of any good throw to first (and in turn, the end of the inning). Reed one-hopped the rightfield wall on the first pitch, good for a double, and good for the lead as Sexson scored.
With Boone on third, Valdez popped to Lugo behind the bag at second.

McClung's line: 1 inning, 1 run, 1 hit, 2 walks, 0 strikeouts, 18 pitches (9 strikes)

Grade: A
Eddie Guardado came in to slam the door shut. Eduardo Perez came in to pinch-hit for Lee, the #4 hitter. He popped up high to Sexson beside the mound. Phelps lined a ball to Winn in leftfield, who fought the lights or something and ended up with nearly a snowcone grab. Cantu flew out to Reed. Ballgame.

Guardado's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 6 pitches (5 strikes)

Gameball: Raul Ibañez.
The obvious gameball of course is Jeremy Reed, but Raul had quite a day for himself. Though he was caught looking in the second, he singled in the 4th, 6th, and 8th, and was walked intentionally in the 9th. Is it fair to say Raul's bat might be heating up? His batting average is suddenly at .281, second-highest in the lineup to Ichiro's .317. Randy Winn is now sitting at .271.

Goat: Joel Piñeiro.
Remember about three years ago when all of us were really high on this guy? He came up and dazzled us, then treaded water a bit (not the most detailed chronology, I know). Ever since the injury last year, he hasn't been the same. I guess I'll have to make sure that I never ever strain a flexor bundle in my future travails, or else I'll pretty much be screwed, if Joel Piñeiro's fate is any indication. The best thing he showed in his first outing up from "Tacoma" was an ability to dial his fastball up to 93 on occasion. In this game against Tampa Bay...his first couple innings were okay, and the last three were brutal, and the Devil Rays played pinball with him. According to the boxscore I'm looking at, Piñeiro's season ERA is indeed the Number of the Beast. I remember one time I was at the now-defunct (sadly) Drum Garage on 15th NE in north Seattle, and I bought some drum stuff, and the total came out to $6.66. The cashier asked me if I was sure I didn't want to buy anything else, but I didn't, as I didn't have a lot of money left.

That was just exhausting. It was exhausting watching it, it was exhausting taking notes, it was exhausting typing this out. What a topsy-turvy game this was. The Mariners blew a 4-1 lead in the fourth, then the Devil Rays gradually blew their 8-4 lead, followed by the Mariners blowing the 9-8 lead in the 8th before breaking the 9-9 tie in the 9th. I'm sure glad they won it. Losses in games like this leave the bitter taste in one's mouth.

It seems kinda weird that the Mariners scored 10 runs despite hitting only two homers, and they were the back-to-back solo shots by Bret Boone (who drove in a couple of runs and didn't strike out once) and Jeremy Reed. However, they did get three doubles and Ichiro's triple, so the extra-base hits are nice to see. Six of the Mariners' 14 hits went for extra bases.

No Mariners in the starting lineup went hitless. Three Mariners had multi-hit games. Jeremy Reed was undeniably the hitting star, going 3-for-5 with a double and a homer, and driving in four runs. Raul Ibanez had three hits as well (gameball entry). Richie Sexson isn't to go unnoticed, going 2-for-4 with a double, and crossing the plate as three of the Mariners' runs.

The other nice thing, for me, about the offense was the ability to tack on runs here and there. That's how they built that 4-1 lead. Earlier in the season, it seemed that the Mariners wouldn't tack on runs. They'd have one huge inning and have nonexistent bats for the rest of the game. Here, they tacked on some runs here and some runs there. Until the four-run 8th inning, that is. Adrian Beltre started the rally with his only hit of the game, and there weren't any outs until Dave Hansen's sacrifice fly drove in the fourth run of the inning, and the Mariners had the lead. The only disconcerting thing about the inning was that the Mariners sent six batters to the plate and nobody made an out, but the final three hitters all did. Oh well.

The concern, needless to say, lies with Joel Piñeiro. After a decent first two innings, Joel stumbled a bit in the third and just lost it in the fourth and fifth. The most damning thing is what Darnell Coles mentioned on the broadcast -- Piñeiro yielded hits to seven of the final eleven batters he faced. That's Exhibit A of How to Turn a 4-1 Lead Into a 6-4 Deficit. That of course turned into an 8-4 deficit after Shigetoshi Hasegawa hung one to Jorge Cantu. I was hoping Piñeiro would improve on his last start coming up from "Tacoma," but he just plum got tattooed in this one. It's too bad, since he started out with a decent first two innings before everything hit the fan. The speed at which the Mariners lost that lead was some combination of "breakneck," "blinding," and "light."

Now for the obligatory May starting pitching note. Don't worry, everyone, May's almost over. Piñeiro's ERA in five May starts is a paltry 7.22. The entire rotation's ERA in the month of May is now 5.94, a raise of 0.26 from the night before. The average line for a starting pitcher this month: 5.64 innings (5 2/3), 3.84 runs (3.72 earned), 6.4 hits, 2.5 walks, 2.8 strikeouts, 94.9 pitches (57.3 strikes).

As for the 2005 Mariners vs. 2004 Mariners battle, the 2005 Mariners did nicely in taking the final two games of the series against Tampa Bay. Their 20-29 record is now two games better than the pace set by last year's Mariners. Hoorah!

Jeremy Reed's hitting .270! That's good for fourth-highest in the starting lineup, which is both good and bad.

The Mariners return home for three against the Blue Jays and three against the same Devil Rays. If there's one good thing to take heading into this homestand, it's that Roy Halladay threw on Sunday, so the Mariners will miss him. Of course, that leaves the door open for a Josh Towers shutout or the (God forbid) Ted Lilly three-hitter, I'm sure.

Lilly. Moyer. Tonight.

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