Sunday, June 18, 2006


AP photo -- John Froschauer

[initial partial post]

In 25 words or less: Somebody needs to find out who was pitching for the Mariners in this game, because few would believe it was actually Gil Meche.

This one featured Jason Schmidt going up against Gil Meche. Meche was pushed one day in the rotation due to stiffness in his lower back. While the Fox broadcast (they beamed it to Hawaii) did show the graphic of all the Northwest-inclined players playing in the game, they deserve big ups for showing that Jason Ellison and Willie Bloomquist were teammates at Port Orchard High School, a school which of course doesn't exist. I know I laughed when I saw it, that's for sure. At one point, Thom Brenneman said that Adrian Beltre had been hitting third for most of the season, which is of course false (fifth), but hey, the Fox network guys don't follow this team day to day, so I don't expect them to know absolutely everything. Schmidt had not given up more than two runs in a start since April 21st and had not given up more than five hits in a game since April. The Mariners also hoped to establish an actual winning streak after that whole thing in Oakland where they lost all those games.

Randy Winn worked an 0-2 count for a walk. Omar Vizquel bunted the first pitch to the left side, where Beltre did that charge and barehand to first thing, moving Winn to second. Ray Durham watched as Winn was nearly caught on a spinning pickoff attempt by Meche to Betancourt sneaking behind Winn at second. Durham would whiff on a low 2-2 fastball. Barry Bonds tapped the first pitch back to the mound. Meche threw 13 pitches.

Ichiro fell behind 0-2 and foul-tipped a 1-2 pitch into Alfonzo's glove behind the plate. Adrian Beltre was blown down by a high 0-2 fastball. Jose Lopez had the hitters' counts before popping to Alfonzo behind the plate. Schmidt threw 13 pitches.

Moises Alou popped the first pitch to right. Steve Finley popped a 1-1 pitch barely foul down the leftfield line near the corner where Ibañez attempted a sliding catch. Finley ended up whiffing on the next pitch, a big low curve. Pedro Feliz took a nice 0-2 curve over the plate for strike three. Meche threw eight pitches and had 21 through two.

Raul Ibañez fell behind 0-2 and ripped a 1-2 pitch up the middle for a single. Richie Sexson was ahead 2-0 and got just enough of a 2-2 pitch (belt-high, outer half) to put it into the floral display beyond the centerfield wall. Chalk that one up for number 250 in Sexson's career.
Carl Everett tapped an 0-2 pitch to third. Jeremy Reed dropped the bat head on a 2-0 change, putting it into the fifth row of rightfield seats.
Rene Rivera popped to Ishikawa in foul ground on the right side on the second pitch. Yuniesky Betancourt popped to Ishikawa falling into the camera well on the first-base side. Schmidt threw 21 pitches and had 34 through two.

Travis Ishikawa of Federal Way High School bounced a 2-0 pitch down the first-base line to Sexson. Eliezer Alfonzo was mowed down by an 0-2 fastball. Winn chopped an 0-2 pitch back to the mound. Meche threw 13 pitches and had 31 through three.

Ichiro grounded the first pitch hard to second. Beltre popped a 1-2 pitch short of the track in right. Lopez lashed the second pitch past the reach of Feliz at third for a single. Ibañez rode the second pitch and doubled off the track and wall in rightcenter, scoring Lopez.
Sexson worked a 1-2 count for a walk. Everett had the hitters' counts and ended up tapping the 3-1 pitch to Schmidt along the right side. Schmidt threw 22 pitches and had 56 through three.

Vizquel fell behind 0-2 and flew out to left on a 2-2 pitch. Durham slapped a 2-2 pitch up the middle for a single to break up Meche's no-hit bid. Bonds popped high to Ibañez in leftcenter. Alou got under one, flying out to center. Meche threw 17 pitches and had 48 through four.

Reed flew out to fairly deep center. Rivera whiffed on a 2-2 belly-high fastball. Betancourt rolled an 0-2 pitch to the left side, where it hopped past Feliz and Vizquel had no play. Ichiro was up 3-1 before poking a full-count pitch past a diving Durham at second and into rightfield for a single, moving Betancourt to third. Pitching coach Dave Righetti visited the mound. Beltre whiffed on a high 1-2 pitch. Schmidt threw 24 pitches and had 80 through four.

Finley popped the second pitch high to Beltre on the left side. Feliz rolled out to short. Ishikawa flew out high to Lopez on the infield grass. Meche threw nine pitches and had 57 through five.

Lopez slapped a 1-2 pitch to a diving Ishikawa at first, who underhanded to Schmidt running to cover, who beat the sliding Lopez to first. Ibañez flew out to shallow right on a 1-2 pitch. Sexson got ahead 3-0 and whiffed at the next three pitches. Schmidt threw 15 pitches and had 95 through five.

Alfonzo bounced an 0-2 pitch to a charging Beltre at third. Winn grounded the second pitch hard to Lopez ranging toward the middle, where he set and threw in time to first. Vizquel popped a 2-2 pitch to Betancourt on the outfield grass. Meche threw ten pitches and had 67 through six.

Everett popped to Durham in shallow center, who nearly had a low-speed collision with Vizquel. Reed whiffed on a 2-2 pitch over the outside corner. Rivera was up 3-1 before flying out to left on a full count. Schmidt threw 15 pitches and had 110 through six.

Durham worked an 0-2 count full before whiffing badly on a low pitch, the tenth pitch of the at-bat. Bonds slapped an outside first pitch toward the corner for a double, the Giants' second hit of the game. Alou drove the second pitch to Reed on the centerfield track. Finley split his bat on a 2-0 pitch, grounding out to first (3-1 putout) as the barrel nearly made it to the first-base bag. Meche threw 16 pitches and had 83 through seven.

Betancourt popped a fly ball on the second pitch and it carried all the way to the wall, where Alou leaped and missed the catch in front of the wall, enabling Betancourt to slide into third with a triple. Ichiro popped the first pitch to Ishikawa getting a railing to the gut on the home side past the first-base dugout on what should have been Alfonzo's ball. Beltre tomahawked a high second-pitch fastball over the reach of Alou in left and over the wall for a ground-rule double, scoring Betancourt.

Kevin Correia came in for Schmidt. Lopez poked the second pitch off the end of his bat (looked like a splinter or two flaked off) and dumped it into shallow right for a single, moving Beltre to third. Ibañez rocketed an 0-2 pitch into the fifth row of rightfield seats.
Sexson was behind 0-2 before chopping to third on a 1-2 pitch. Everett walked on a 3-1 pitch just inside. Reed took the first pitch for a ball and Alfonzo came to the mound for a visit. Reed ended up smacking a second-pitch liner right to Durham.

Schmidt's line: 6 1/3 innings, 6 runs, 9 hits, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts, 115 pitches (74 strikes)
Correia's line: 2/3 inning, 2 runs, 2 hits, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 17 pitches (11 strikes)

Feliz looped the first pitch into shallow center for a single, the Giants' third hit of the game. Ishikawa whiffed on a wicked 0-2 curve. Alfonzo flew out to right on an 0-2 pitch. Winn smacked the first pitch hard to short, where it ate up Betancourt and bounced into left for a single, moving Feliz to second. Jose Vizcaino, hitting for Vizquel, grounded hard to first. Meche threw 13 pitches and had 96 through eight.

Jonathan Sanchez came in for Correia, Jason Ellison came in for Alou, and Vizcaino stayed in to play short. Rivera popped to third. Betancourt walked on a 3-1 pitch outside. Ichiro grounded a 1-2 pitch to a diving Feliz at third, who threw to second for the force on Ichiro. Beltre popped the second pitch high to Winn in rightcenter.

Sanchez' line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 17 pitches (8 strikes)

Roberto Petagine came in for Sexson. Durham raked a letter-high second pitch six rows into the rightfield seats. DAMMIT!
Todd Greene, hitting for Bonds, grounded a 1-2 pitch to a charging Beltre, who threw to first, where Petagine had some issues finding the bag, but did. Ellison grounded a 2-2 pitch that had a wicked hop that was picked by Petagine, who underhanded to a covering Meche. Finley fouled off the second pitch to the rightfield side, where ballgirl Ellen made a nice sliding stop. Finley ended up whiffing on a 1-2 breaking ball away.

Meche's line: 9 innings, 1 run, 5 hits, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts, 112 pitches (78 strikes)

Gameball: Gil Meche.
Well. That was certainly unexpected, wasn't it? Maybe he should get back stiffness more often. Meche has won all three of his starts so far in the month of June. He has given up four runs over 21 innings, obviously averaging seven innings per start. His June ERA currently sits at a meager 1.71, which is a bit stellar. He has walked seven and struck out 16, so the K/BB ratio is a tiny bit over 2:1. With a quick look at the game log, it looks like Meche has had two truly bad outings all year. Of course, some of the ones that weren't truly bad were still maddening. He's still walked 38 batters in 14 games, an average of almost three, a number that could stand to be cut down. In addition, Meche has allowed 82 hits in his 85 2/3 innings of work, which is clearly close to a hit every inning. On the other hand, this outing for Meche was probably his third truly great outing of the season, following the 7 2/3 inning start against San Diego (May 20th) and his next start where he struck out ten Orioles in seven innings (May 25th). Anyway, I think he still walks a bit too many people, but if he gets this consistency thing down, then we could have something very unexpected on our hands. I didn't expect it, anyway.

Goat: Rene Rivera.
He went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in this one and therefore had the worst line out of any Mariner hitter. Still, I thought of exempting him from this goat for being behind the plate for Meche's nuttiness. So since I've been wondering about it since the last start by Felix, I decided to go through all the games where Rivera started behind the plate and see how the games unfolded. On April 15th, Joel Piñeiro threw 6 1/3 shutout innings en route to a win. On April 23rd, Hernandez threw seven innings and gave up three runs (one earned), striking out nine Tigers en route to a loss (the Justin Verlander game). On April 24th, Jamie Moyer threw seven innings and gave up two runs (one earned) en route to a no-decision against the White Sox (Brian Anderson homer in the ninth off Eddie Guardado). On April 30th, Moyer threw 6 2/3 innings and gave up three runs en route to a win. On May 4th, Hernandez threw only five innings and gave up four runs, striking out seven of the White Sox en route to a loss to Jose Contreras. On May 10th, Moyer threw eight innings in the 1-0 Tampa Bay game where the only run came home on a balk. On May 25th, Meche threw seven innings, gave up two runs, and struck out ten Orioles in an undeserving loss. On May 28th, Piñeiro had a good start, throwing 6 2/3 innings and giving up three runs (extra-inning loss to the Twins). On June 8th, Piñeiro had a terrible start, giving up seven runs (six earned) in 5 1/3 innings and walking six Twins. On June 11th, Hernandez threw the complete game against the Angels, striking out nine in a four-hitter, giving up one run in a win. In this game, Meche threw a complete game, giving up one win and striking out seven. To recap, Mariner pitchers are 4-5 in twelve starts with Rivera behind the plate. After some number chugging, the average line for a Mariner starter this year with Rivera behind the plate is this: 7 innings, 2.6 runs (2.2 earned), 5.8 hits, 1.7 walks, 5.6 strikeouts, and 104 pitches (69 strikes). They have an ERA of 2.81.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 53-17 .757 -- L1
2003 48-22 .686 5 W4
2002 43-27 .614 10 W2
2000 40-30 .571 13 W3
2006 33-37 .471 20 W2
2005 32-38 .457 21 W1
2004 29-41 .414 24 L3

Ichiro 37-for-77 (.481), 3 doubles, 1 triple, 3 homers, 7 RBIs, 5 walks, 3 strikeouts
Beltre 20-for-74 (.270), 4 doubles, 3 homers, 11 RBIs, 6 walks, 13 strikeouts
Lopez 18-for-71 (.253), 7 doubles, 1 homer, 11 RBIs, 5 walks, 12 strikeouts
Ibañez 21-for-59 (.356), 4 doubles, 1 triple, 6 homers, 21 RBIs, 9 walks, 9 strikeouts
Sexson 13-for-63 (.206), 1 double, 5 homers, 18 RBIs, 7 walks, 16 strikeouts
Everett 12-for-53 (.226), 1 homer, 3 RBIs, 4 walks, 10 strikeouts
Johjima 14-for-53 (.264), 5 doubles, 3 RBIs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts
Reed 10-for-41 (.244), 1 double, 2 homers, 3 RBI, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts
Betancourt 19-for-60 (.317), 3 doubles, 2 triples, 1 homer, 7 RBIs, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts

Wright. Moyer. Today.

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