Sunday, May 21, 2006


AP photo -- Jim Bryant

[initial partial post]

In 25 words or less: I'm not sure who the starting pitcher for the Mariners was in this game, but he was darned good.

This one featured Clay Hensley going up against Gil Meche. Hensley of course brings to mind the greatest Yankee ever to don the pinstripes, Hensley Meulens. On the transaction wire, Mike Morse was called up from Tacoma, Julio Mateo was activated from the DL, Emiliano Fruto was sent back to Tacoma, and you figured it had to happen sometime, but Matt Lawton was designated for assignment.

Dave Roberts took an 0-2 curve over the inside corner. Mike Cameron fell behind 0-2 and whiffed on a 1-2 pitch as the "Batting Order" graphic was freeze-framed on the MLB.tv feed for the last five pitches of the at-bat. Brian Giles popped the first pitch to Lopez. Meche threw 11 pitches.

Ichiro took the batters' box amid the Mariners' batting order graphic showing over the first two pitches. He was ahead 3-0 and couldn't quite beat out a grounder to short. Jose Lopez got behind 0-2 and poked an outside 1-2 pitch into rightfield for a single. Raul Ibañez whiffed over a 1-2 low breaking ball. Richie Sexson grounded deep into the hole at short for a 6-4 force on Lopez at second. Hensley threw 19 pitches.

Mike Piazza rolled a slightly hanging 0-2 breaking ball into center for a single. Khalil Greene split his bat on a soft liner into shallow center that Lopez ranged over to catch, and somehow he threw in time to first to double off Piazza, but Piazza on his way back lunged to get to the bag and spiked Sexson's right foot. Sexson stayed in the game. Adrian Gonzalez fell behind 0-2 before bouncing to Beltre who barehanded from behind the bag at third on a 2-2 pitch. Meche threw 13 pitches and had 24 through two.

Carl Everett popped a 1-2 pitch to fairly deep center. Adrian Beltre rolled an 0-2 pitch to second. Kenji Johjima popped the second pitch high to left. Hensley nine pitches and had 28 through two.

Vinny Castilla flew out to left on a 2-2 pitch. Josh Barfield rolled out to short. Josh Bard fell behind 0-2 and rolled a 2-2 pitch to second. Meche threw 14 pitches and had 38 through three.

Jeremy Reed drove an 0-2 pitch into the gap in rightcenter as Giles dropped and bobbled the ball upon nearly colliding with Cameron as Reed went all the way to third with the triple. Yuniesky Betancourt rolled the first pitch to second, scoring Reed.
Ichiro whiffed badly on a 1-2 sinker in the dirt and the MLB.tv camera was the elevated rightfield camera. Lopez had the hitters' counts before whiffing badly on a breaking ball off the plate outside. Hensley threw 15 pitches and had 43 through three.

Roberts popped high to Lopez on the outfield grass. Cameron was inadvertently nubbed a 2-0 pitch in front of the plate and Johjima threw in time to first. Giles rolled the second pitch to second. Meche threw eight pitches and had 46 through four.

Ibañez drilled a line drive into leftcenter and over Cameron into the throng of inebriated fans beyond the wall for a double. Sexson popped the first pitch high to center as Ibañez held. Everett dumped the first pitch into shallow leftcenter for a 'tweener single to move Ibañez to third. Beltre rolled over and chopped the second pitch to third, driving in Ibañez and moving Everett to second.
Johjima was ahead 2-0 before lining a 2-2 pitch into the visitors' bullpen to the right of the manual scoreboard. I like surprises.
Reed grounded hard to first. Hensley threw 14 pitches and had 57 through four.

Piazza rolled softly along the third-base line where Beltre charged pretty far to gun out Piazza at first, which is amazing even considering how slow Piazza is. Greene whiffed on a 1-2 breaking ball. Gonzalez was ahead 3-0 before whiffing over a full-count change down over the outside corner, the eighth pitch of the at-bat. Meche threw 16 pitches and had 62 through five.

Betancourt rolled a 2-2 pitch up the middle for a single. Ichiro hit a low lineout to left. Lopez popped a 1-2 pitch near the leftfield corner, where Roberts went back for it but had it go over his head and off the wall, scoring Betancourt. Lopez got to third with the triple.
Ibañez grounded hard to first, but Gonzalez went home right away and Lopez was called out, though replay showed he was never tagged and got the left hand in there. Ibañez reached on the play. Sexson bounced a 2-2 pitch to short for a 6-4 force on Ibañez. Hensley threw 23 pitches and had 80 through five.

Castilla took a 2-2 curve over the outer half. Barfield flew out to right on a 1-2 pitch. Bard took a 1-2 curve over the outside corner as half the Mariners on the field started to walk away, but it wasn't a strike after all. Bard finally whiffed on the seventh pitch of the at-bat with a full count. Meche threw 16 pitches and had 78 through six.

Everett flew out to center on the first pitch. Beltre fell behind 0-2 before bouncing the 2-2 pitch to short. Johjima drove the second pitch down the leftfield line, but Roberts came down with it near the line in the corner. Hensley threw eight pitches and had 88 through six.

Roberts whiffed on a 2-2 low curve. Cameron worked a 1-2 count for the first Padre walk of the night, snapping Meche's streak of fifteen straight hitters retired by Meche. Giles had the hitters' counts before smacking a full-count pitch past Lopez' reach into center for a single, moving Cameron to third, as he'd takenoff with the pitch. Pitching coach Rafel Chaves came to the mound for a visit. Piazza grounded to Betancourt at short, who shoveled with the glove to Lopez to start a 6-4-3 double play. Meche threw 21 pitches and had 99 through seven.

Reed spanked the first pitch into rightcenter, and somehow legged a double out of it. Betancourt singled over the head of Barfield at second on the first pitch, and Reed came around as Giles' throw home was cut off.

Brian Sweeney, former Mariner, came in for Hensley. Ichiro dropped a single in front of Giles to move Betancourt to third and extend his hit streak to fourteen games. Lopez chopped to third, but Betancourt was hung up between third and home and was eventually tagged out, but Ichiro got to third behind him and Lopez got to second. Ibañez was intentionally walked to load the bases. Sexson chopped off the mound to Barfield up the middle, who underhanded to Greene to start the 4-6-3 double play. Sweeney threw 13 pitches.

Hensley's line: 6 innings, 6 runs, 9 hits, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts, 90 pitches (62 strikes)

Greene drilled a hanging belt-high breaking ball on the second pitch into the visitors' bullpen.
Gonzalez rolled the first pitch to second. Castilla roped the first pitch right at Betancourt, who was knocked to his britches but caught it. Barfield rolled to Lopez ranging to his left, but couldn't fully grasp the ball though he had a long way to go (nonetheless scored an error). Bard drilled the second pitch off the base of the rightfield wall for a double to nearly advance Barfield home, but the same runner that bowled over Johjima and was out the night before decided not to test the arm, which threw a strike home anyway.

Eddie Guardado came in for Meche. Roberts barely held a 2-2 checkswing before fisting a full-count pitch into shallow right for a single to score Barfield and move Bard to third.
Cameron had the hitters' counts before drilling the 3-1 pitch right at Guardado, where it went off the inside of his left leg above the ankle and went to Lopez, who threw to first but it wasn't in time. Bard scored and Roberts went to second.

JJ Putz came in for Guardado, though it wasn't immediately clear to me whether that was because of performance or injury. Giles grounded the second pitch that looked destined to reach centerfield, but Lopez dove to get it and throw in time to first. Putz threw two pitches.

Meche's line: 7 2/3 innings, 3 runs (1 earned), 1 walk, 7 strikeouts, 108 pitches (72 strikes)
Guardado's line: 0 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 13 pitches (7 strikes)

Everett flew out to Cameron in rightcenter on the first pitch. Beltre grounded hard to Castilla behind the bag at third. Johjima walked on a full-count pitch off the plate outside. Reed popped a 2-2 pitch to the track in left. Sweeney threw 19 pitches and had 32 total.

Sweeney's line: 2 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 2 walks, 0 strikeouts, 32 pitches (15 strikes)

Piazza whiffed on an 0-2 fastball up and over the inner half. Greene whiffed on a 1-2 splitter. Gonzalez slapped a 2-2 pitch into leftcenter for a single. Castilla rolled an 0-2 pitch to second.

Putz' line: 1 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 18 pitches (15 strikes)

Gameball: Yuniesky Betancourt.
Ever so quietly, Betancourt has been hitting fairly well, especially for anything the Mariners might need out of the number nine slot in the order. He's never had more than three hitless games in a row this season. Though the errors have come in ever-so-tiny spots after his errorless April, his hitting has been more than solid. Betancourt currently has an eight-game hitting streak going, and he's hitting .321 (9-for-28) during the streak. He homered in the final two games of that series in Anaheim, which of course means he has two more homers than Willie Bloomquist. He has a double thrown in that streak as well, so a third of those nine hits went for extra bases. He's driven in five runs in the nine games and has 18 total RBIs on the year. Betancourt is hitting .267 for the month and .270 for the season. In this game, he singled twice to drive in Jeremy Reed each time the latter got aboard with a hit for extra bases (twice). One of the things that ticked me off when the Mariners got rid of Omar Vizquel many moons ago was that he really didn't start hitting and driving in runs until he was in Cleveland. The Mariners know what they have defensively out of this guy, and I hope they keep him around long enough for his bat to come around.

Goat: Eddie Guardado.
He didn't give up any runs, but I think this outing was really his first step backward ever since losing the closing role. His last five outings really had passed without incident, but this one was a bit iffy. I guess the one thing I could say in his defense was that if he's going to come into a ballgame, it's usually not in a non-save situation with runners on second and third with two down and a five-run lead. That said, he's not in the closing role, so he's not going to get a save situation in the ninth anyway, and the bottom line is that any pitcher you send out there has to just plain get hitters out. Guardado let both of Meche's runners score, but due to the error by Lopez, which I thought was a bit bunk since he had a long way to run to get to the ball, the two runs were unearned and Meche knocked his ERA down by over half a run. Ultimately, though, one could also defend Guardado by saying he got a bit screwed on the checkswing by Roberts, and you could argue that if Guardado lets Cameron's ball through instead of trying to get in front of it, then the inning ends. Catch-22, I guess. Still, a 6-1 game became a 6-3 game with him out there.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 32-12 .727 -- L1
2002 29-15 .659 3 L3
2003 29-15 .659 3 W5
2000 23-21 .523 9 L3
2006 19-25 .432 13 W2
2005 18-26 .409 14 L1
2004 16-28 .364 16 W2

Park. Hernandez. Today.

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