Monday, June 12, 2006


AP photo -- Ric Francis

[initial partial post]

In 25 words or less: If you saw this one, you're glad you did, and if you didn't, you're kicking yourself. Felix was absolutely dealing.

This one featured Felix Hernandez going up against Jeff Weaver. Raul Ibañez came in 13-for-31 against Weaver with 2 doubles and a homer. A win here would give the Mariners nine wins in eleven games. Needless to say, that's by far the Mariners' best stretch of the season. A win would put the Mariners three games under .500, where they haven't been since they were 12-15 after their game on May 1st, an 8-2 win at the Metrodome. The last time they were two games over .500? After the game on April 19th, a 9-6 win against the Rangers where they came back from being down 6-1 and Carl Everett walked off righthanded in the ninth. The point is, the Mariners haven't been this high in the water in quite a while.

Ichiro punched a single through the right side. Adrian Beltre flew out to Anderson in leftcenter on the second pitch. Jose Lopez fell behind 0-2 and whiffed on a 1-2 fastball away. Raul Ibañez whiffed on a 2-2 breaking ball down and away. Weaver threw 17 pitches.

Chone Figgins punched the second pitch past Sexson along the rightfield line, where Ichiro went over to field it, but had it hit his foot (his first error of the year), and Figgins scooted to second. Orlando Cabrera took the first pitch and it went off R Rivera's glove and off the wrist of plate umpire Brian O'Nora, enabling Figgins to move to third. Cabrera singled a 2-0 pitch through the left side, scoring Figgins.
Vladimir Guerrero popped a ball along the rightfield line, where Lopez raced over and made the sliding catch (the defense was played to pull). Garret Anderson didn't have a pitch thrown to him when Hernandez got an alert to step off and ran at Cabrera off of first, and they got him into a rundown to erase him from the bases. Anderson bounced out to first. Hernandez threw 11 pitches.

Richie Sexson was jammed and flew out to center. Carl Everett whiffed on a 1-2 pitch. Jeremy Reed crushed a 2-0 pitch over the wall in rightfield between the rightfield bleachers and the seats just inside the line (probably where they store the cage for batting practice).
Rene Rivera exhibited some warning-track power, riding a 1-2 pitch to a running Anderson on the track in leftcenter. Weaver threw 15 pitches and had 32 through two.

Kendry Morales drove a 1-2 pitch to deep left, but Ibañez made an over-the-shoulder catch just short of the track. Juan Rivera lined the second pitch right to Betancourt at short. Dallas McPherson grounded an 0-2 pitch to first. Hernandez threw 11 pitches and had 22 through two.

Yuniesky Betancourt lined out to second. Ichiro chopped to first on a 3-1 pitch. Beltre flew out short of the rightfield track on a full count. Weaver threw 16 pitches and had 48 through three.

Jose Molina whiffed on a 2-2 breaking ball outside that got away from R Rivera (2-3 putout). Adam Kennedy grounded a 1-2 pitch to second. Figgins took an 0-2 fastball over the inner half. Hernandez threw 16 pitches and had 38 through three.

Lopez tapped a 2-2 pitch that went off of Weaver and ricocheted toward short, where Cabrera had no play. Ibañez whiffed on a 2-1 pitch and Molina nearly picked Lopez off of first, and replay showed he was probably out. Nonetheless, Ibañez ended up grounding to second on a full count as Lopez made it to second since he took off with the pitch. Sexson took a 1-2 pitch outside that Weaver really wanted, and he stood there in front of the mound for a second in silent protest. Sexson whiffed on an offspeed pitch over the outside corner on the next pitch. Everett flew out to Cabrera in shallow center. Weaver threw 20 pitches and had 68 through four.

Cabrera whiffed on a 1-2 curve. Guerrero bounced the second pitch to short. Anderson popped the first pitch to left. Hernandez threw seven pitches and had 45 through four.

Reed drove a 2-2 pitch off the wall in leftcenter for a double. R Rivera grounded the first pitch into the hole at short, where Cabrera booted it and corraled it, but had no play. Betancourt bunted a 1-2 pitch out in front where Weaver looked to third and tried to gather to throw to first, but muffed the transfer (error) and the bases were now loaded. Ichiro tapped a 1-1 pitch up the middle that went off of Weaver's glove and behind the mound, scoring Reed and keeping the bases loaded.
Beltre dropped the first pitch into shallow left for a single, scoring R Rivera and Betancourt and moving Ichiro to second. Pitching coach Bud Black came to the mound for a visit.
Lopez popped the second pitch to Kennedy in shallow right. Ibañez flew out to Anderson near the track in left on a 2-2 pitch, and the runners held again. Sexson flew out near the rightfield corner on the first pitch. Weaver threw 22 pitches and had 90 through five.

Morales popped the first pitch to shallow right. J Rivera whiffed on an 0-2 pitch inside. McPherson whiffed at a 1-2 breaking ball in the dirt. Hernandez threw eight pitches and had 53 through five.

Everett was down 0-2 and shoveled a 2-2 pitch into shallow center for a single. Reed took the second pitch to the track in left. R Rivera worked an 0-2 count for a walk, moving Everett to second. Betancourt foul-tipped a 1-2 curve into Molina's glove.

JC Romero came in for Weaver. Ichiro was ahead 3-1 before flying out to Anderson in shallow left on a full count.

Weaver's line: 5 2/3 innings, 4 runs (2 earned), 7 hits, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, 108 pitches (69 strikes)
Romero's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 7 pitches (4 strikes)

Molina took a second-pitch strike for which he took umbrage with the plate umpire. Molina grounded the 0-2 pitch to short. Kennedy popped the second pitch to center. Figgins got ahead 2-0 and ended up flying out to center. Hernandez threw nine pitches and had 62 through six.

Hector Carrasco came in for Romero. Beltre flew out very high to the leftfield line to Anderson on the first pitch. Lopez grounded to third, where McPherson got the ball behind the bag, but his momentum took him away too much and Lopez beat out the throw. Ibañez took an 0-2 pitch that got past Molina (passed ball) and to the backstop, moving Lopez to second. Ibañez ended up cranking a 1-2 pitch about five rows above the out-of-town scoreboard in right, scoring Lopez.
Sexson whiffed on an 0-2 breaking ball. Everett whiffed on an 0-2 breaking ball. Carrasco threw 16 pitches.

Cabrera rocked the first pitch off the track and wall in leftcenter, snapping Hernandez' streak of 17 straight retired hitters, and the first hit since Cabrera's hit in the first inning. Guerrero hit a first-pitch curve off the end of the bat, taking Reed to the track in center, but Cabrera tagged and went to third. Anderson popped the second pitch to shallow left, and Ibañez came up throwing, and the play ended up a whole lot closer than I thought it'd be, though Cabrera was called safe. R Rivera had the plate blocked, but not before Cabrera had slid under him and to the plate.
Morales flew out high to Beltre on the infield on the first pitch. Hernandez threw five pitches and had 67 through seven.

Reed was hit in the jersey with a 1-2 pitch, not the first brushback-like pitch he took in the at-bat. Black visited the mound again. R Rivera bounced an 0-2 pitch to first, moving Reed to second. Betancourt took an 0-2 fastball over the outer half. Ichiro was intentionally walked. Beltre flew out to Kennedy in shallow right on the second pitch.

Carrasco's line: 2 innings, 2 runs, 2 hits, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, 32 pitches (23 strikes)

J Rivera worked a 1-2 count full before taking heat down the pipe. McPherson worked a 1-2 count full before whiffing on a massive curve. Mike Napoli, hitting for Molina, was down 0-2 and took a 1-2 curve over the inner half. Hernandez threw 17 pitches and had 84 through eight.

Scot Shields came in for Carrasco and Napoli came in to catch. Lopez took the first pitch to the wall in leftcenter for a double. Ibañez tapped the second pitch back to the mound, and Shields looked Lopez back to second before throwing to first. Sexson bounced the second pitch to first (3-1 putout), moving Lopez to third. Everett lined the second pitch to first.

Shields' line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 7 pitches (6 strikes)

Kennedy rolled an 0-2 pitch to short. Figgins whiffed on an 0-2 curve down and in. Cabrera banged the second pitch up the middle for a single. Guerrero chopped the first pitch to short.

Hernandez' line: 9 innings, 2 runs, 4 hits, 0 walks, 9 strikeouts, 94 pitches (73 strikes)

Gameball: Felix Hernandez.
The first inning started out a bit rocky, and I thought we'd be in for more of the same from him, which would make watching the Angels' feed all the more excruciating since Rex Hudler just refuses to give him his due. Luckily, the "he's gotta his fastball" and other not-so-fast kind of rumors had to trail off after Felix went and retired 17 straight hitters and after Steve Physioc started pointing out such facts. It was just so refreshing to see it go the other way for once -- usually it's the Mariners who are facing some random pitcher that's on his game, then they start swinging at absolutely everything and said pitcher never gets out of the game because his pitch count is horribly low. Today, Felix had the fastball working and the curve working, hitting his spots, etc. It was just magnificent. About the only thing he didn't do was strike out ten guys. That almost takes a back seat to the fact that he didn't walk anybody. The only guy that could really hit him was Orlando Cabrera, who went 3-for-4. Chone Figgins got the only other hit. Of course, one other thing about this outing that I'm sure people have pointed out already -- Rene Rivera was catching, not Kenji Johjima. I know it was a day game after a night game, but if you gotta punt one spot out of nine in the lineup so that Felix can feel more comfortable on the mound, I say you do it. It'd give Rivera some worth on the team and give Johjima a bit more rest, as in every five days instead of six.

Goat: Richie Sexson.
He and Yuniesky Betancourt were the only hitless Mariners in this game. Sexson, however, was 0-for-5 with two strikeouts. On a day like this, somebody still has to be the goat, and he's the clearest one. No monstrous errors or anything like that, no too-brutal at-bats in clutch situations. He had a runner on second in the fourth with one out and struck out. In the fifth, the Mariners had the bases loaded and nobody out before Beltre drove two runs home. At that point, the Mariners had runners on first and second with nobody out, but Lopez, Ibañez, and Sexson all failed to advance anyone. Still, it's games like Saturday that make Sexson worth the while, what with the grand slam and everything. The fact that he's incredibly tall also helps Lopez, Betancourt, and Beltre have all that much more target to throw at when throwing to first. There's a few of those great plays they make when the throws are a bit wide and Sexson has to pick 'em. All told, Sexson is hitting a brutal .207, but he's only eight RBIs behind Jose Lopez, who has 50 for the team lead. What happens when Sexson warms up and hits closer to his usual .250-.260 range?

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 51-14 .785 -- W2
2003 44-21 .677 7 W2
2002 40-25 .615 11 W1
2000 36-29 .554 15 W1
2006 31-34 .477 20 W3
2005 29-36 .446 22 W1
2004 27-38 .415 24 W2

Ichiro 30-for-56 (.536), 3 doubles, 1 triple, 2 homers, 6 RBIs, 4 walks, 2 strikeouts
Beltre 15-for-54 (.278), 2 doubles, 3 homers, 9 RBIs, 4 walks, 10 strikeouts
Lopez 12-for-51 (.235), 7 doubles, 1 homer, 10 RBIs, 5 walks, 10 strikeouts
Ibañez 15-for-39 (.385), 2 doubles, 5 homers, 17 RBIs, 8 walks, 5 strikeouts
Sexson 10-for-47 (.213), 1 double, 4 homers, 15 RBIs, 3 walks, 13 strikeouts
Everett 8-for-38 (.211), 1 homer, 2 RBIs, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts
Johjima 11-for-40 (.275), 4 doubles, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
Reed 9-for-29 (.310), 1 double, 1 homer, 2 RBI, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts
Betancourt 14-for-44 (.318), 2 doubles, 1 triple, 1 homer, 5 RBIs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts

Moyer. Blanton. Tomorrow.

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