Thursday, June 22, 2006


AP photo -- Chris Pizzello

[initial partial post]

In 25 words or less: Watching baseball has slowly become fun again. Enjoy it now while supplies last. This could end very quickly.

This one featured Jarrod Washburn going up against Chad Billingsley. The Mariners were hoping to tie their season long with a five-game winning streak. A win would put them a single game under .500, somewhere they haven't been since they were 6-7 just thirteen games into the season. That was the beginning of a stretch where they lost seven of eight in April and started out the season 9-15. They ended April 11-15. These are slightly happier times, however.

Ichiro gronuded an 0-2 pitch to first. Adrian Beltre walked on a full count. Jose Lopez fouled off four pitches before being robbed of a hit by Saenz at third, who made a diving stop on the hard grounder and threw from a knee to second in time for the force amidst laughter in the Dodger dugout. Raul Ibañez was up 3-0 and watched as Lopez was nearly picked off of first by the catcher Martin. Ibañez ended up walking on a 3-1 pitch. Richie Sexson popped the second pitch to Lofton on the track in center. Billingsley threw 21 pitches.

Rafael Furcal fell behind 0-2 and ended up taking a 1-2 fastball over the outside corner. Kenny Lofton was down 0-2 before taking a 2-2 fastball over the outside corner. Nomar Garciaparra grounded the second pitch to Beltre behind the bag at third. Washburn threw 13 pitches.

Kenji Johjima drove the second pitch and one-hopped it over the leftfield fence for a double just inside the foul pole. Jeremy Reed bunted the first pitch to the left side (which doesn't exactly make sense in the second inning with the pitcher in the hole), where Saenz fielded and threw to first, moving Johjima to third. Yuniesky Betancourt popped the first pitch to Drew in shallow right as Johjima had to hold. Jarrod Washburn was ahead 3-0 before walking on a full-count pitch down and away. Ichiro was ahead 2-0 and took a 2-2 breaking ball that was nearly strike three over the outside corner. Ichiro served a full-count pitch that was caught above the shoestrings by Furcal. Billingsley threw 19 pitches and had 40 through two.

JD Drew flew out high to left on the first pitch. Jeff Kent spanked the first pitch into right for a single. Olmedo Saenz was ahead 2-0 and ended up flying out high to right. Matt Kemp took a 3-1 pitch away for a walk, moving Kent to second. Russell Martin dumped a fly ball into shallow right near the line, easily scoring Kent since they had played Martin to pull. Kemp went to second on the play.
Chad Billingsley took an 0-2 fastball over the outside corner. Washburn threw 18 pitches and had 31 through two.

Beltre smoked a full-count pitch up the middle for a single on the eighth pitch of the at-bat. Lopez popped the first pitch high to Garciaparra near the plate. Ibañez watched as Beltre stole second, then ended up ripping the next pitch through the right side for a single, moving Beltre to third as third-base coach Carlos Garcia pulled out the stop sign at the last minute (Beltre ended up getting periodic attention from trainers in the dugout on his right knee between innings thereafter). Sexson took a 2-2 pitch barely outside before whiffing on the next pitch, and Ibañez was caught between second and first in a rundown, but stayed in it long enough for Beltre to score. Martin was reminded upon entering the dugout that a fake of a throw would have gotten Beltre, who was heading down the line no matter what. Billingsley threw 22 pitches and had 62 through three.

Furcal bounced an 0-2 pitch up the middle, where Betancourt ranged over and threw in time to first. Lofton flew out to shallow leftcenter. Garciaparra lined out to left. Washburn threw 11 pitches and had 42 through three.

Johjima lofted a first-pitch fly ball that hit the leftfield foul pole, though it sure didn't seem like it at first.
Reed smacked an 0-2 pitch up the middle for a single. Betancourt flew out to Drew in fairly deep rightcenter on a full count. Washburn bunted the first pitch hard to the right side, where Garciaparra looked to second but had no play and threw to first, moving Reed to second. Ichiro took a 3-1 pitch away for a walk. Beltre popped a 2-2 pitch to right on the ninth pitch. Billingsley threw 25 pitches and had 87 through four.

Drew whiffed on a 2-2 slider away. Kent grounded a full-count pitch to Beltre behind the bag at third. Saenz fell behind 0-2 and rolled a 1-2 pitch up the middle for a single. Kemp broke his bat on the second pitch and singled into shallow left, moving Saenz to second. Martin's bat split in half on the first pitch to him, and he bounced to short for a 6-4 fielder's choice. Washburn threw 18 pitches and had 60 through four.

Lopez was ahead 3-0 but bounced the 3-1 pitch to short. Ibañez bounced the second pitch to second. Sexson bounced a 2-0 pitch to short.

Billingsley's line: 5 innings, 2 runs, 5 hits, 4 walks, 1 strikeout, 97 pitches (58 strikes)

Jose Cruz, Jr., hitting for Billingsley, shot a 1-2 pitch to third, where Beltre backhanded it and it went up in the air, but Beltre got it out of the air and threw in time to first. Furcal fell behind 0-2 and whiffed on a 1-2 breaking ball in the dirt. Lofton flew out to shallow right. Washburn threw 12 pitches and had 72 through five.

Joe Beimel came in for Billingsley. Johjima flew out to Drew on the rightcenter track on the second pitch. Reed chopped to Beimel along the right side. Betancourt was down 0-2 and bounced a 1-2 pitch to third.

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

Garciaparra drilled the second pitch into leftcenter for a single. Drew popped a high pitch to Reed in shallow rightcenter. Kent whiffed on a 1-2 fastball. Saenz crushed a 2-0 belt-high piped meatball over the wall in leftcenter.
Kemp rolled a single through the hole on the left side. Martin walked on four pitches, moving Kemp to second. Ramon Martinez, hitting for Beimel, fell behind 0-2 and rocked the 2-2 pitch to the wall in leftcenter, scoring Kemp and Martin. Why didn't Hargrove pull Washburn after the homer?
Furcal rolled out to second.

Washburn's line: 6 innings, 5 runs, 8 hits, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts, 100 pitches (62 strikes)

Jonathan Broxton came in for Beimel. Carl Everett, hitting for Washburn, was ahead 3-0 and crushed a full-count pitch twelve rows into the leftfield bleachers.
Ichiro looped the second pitch into left for a single. Beltre watched as Ichiro nabbed second on the 2-0 pitch. Beltre rolled a 2-2 pitch through the left side for a single, moving Ichiro to third.

Danys Baez came in for Broxton and Cesar Izturis came in to play short for Furcal. Lopez popped the first pitch to center, easily scoring Ichiro from third.
Ibañez popped a 2-0 pitch to Lofton in deep leftcenter. Sexson tapped to the mound and off of Baez' glove, moving Beltre to second. Johjima popped an 0-2 pitch that Kemp took a first step in on, and he had to go back quickly and reach up for the catch (Kemp's been a bit of a leftfield zoo in the series). Baez threw ten pitches.

Broxton's line: 0 innings, 2 runs, 3 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 14 pitches (9 strikes)

Julio Mateo came in for Washburn and Rene Rivera came in to catch for Johjima. Lofton chopped the second pitch high to first, but Sexson is tall. Garciaparra popped an 0-2 pitch to Betancourt on the infield grass. Drew looped an 0-2 fly to Ichiro in shallow right. Mateo threw eight pitches.

Mateo's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 8 pitches (8 strikes)

Reed ripped an 0-2 pitch over the wall in center. Damn.
Betancourt flew out to shallow right on a 3-1 pitch. Rivera shot the first pitch through the mound and into center for a single. Ichiro got ahead 2-0 and grounded a full-count pitch hard to short with Rivera running and Izturis made a diving stop and flipped to second, but Rivera was already there. Beltre poked an 0-2 pitch to the corner in left for a double, scoring Rivera as well as Ichiro from first (he got his hand on the plate just before the Martin tag). Dodger manager Grady Little came out to argue with the plate umpire.
Lopez poked a 2-0 pitch to left for a single, scoring Beltre, messed-up right knee and all in part thanks to the Kemp zoo in left. Lopez went to second on the throw.

Hong-Chih Kuo came in for Baez. Ibañez took a 1-2 fastball over the outside corner. Sexson was intentionally walked. Mike Morse, hitting for Mateo, walked on a full-count pitch inside, loading the bases. Reed couldn't hold a 1-2 checkswing on a high pitch, but he'd already done his job in the inning. Kuo threw 18 pitches.

Baez' line: 1 1/3 innings, 4 runs, 6 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 32 pitches (21 strikes)

Rafael Soriano came in for Mateo. Kent lined the second pitch to short. Izturis ripped a single through the left side. Kemp flew out to Ichiro short of the track in right. Martin popped an 0-2 pitch to Betancourt behind the mound. Soriano threw 11 pitches.

Soriano's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 11 pitches (9 strikes)

Betancourt fell behind 0-2 and whiffed badly on a high 2-2 fastball. Rivera grounded the second pitch deep into the hole at short but was thrown out. Ichiro flew out to center on the second pitch.

Kuo's line: 1 2/3 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts, 28 pitches (15 strikes)

JJ Putz came in for Soriano. Martinez fell behind 0-2 and bounced out to third on a 1-2 pitch. Andre Ethier, hitting for Kuo, whiffed on an 0-2 pitch. Lofton flew out to left on an 0-2 pitch.

Putz' line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 14 pitches (13 strikes)

Gameball: Ichiro.
It turns out he's only hitting .463 and slugging .638 this month. I think this guy's pretty good. His high-water mark averagewise this year is .365, which is where he is currently. He's also got 23 steals on the year already, but it's weird that I get so fixated on his doings at the plate and his throwing arm and all the room he covers in rightfield that I forget he can steal bases. Maybe I don't forget that he can steal bases, I just forget numbers when it comes to how many bases he's stolen. He's stolen 23 bases this season. It seems like nearly every year I sit here at some point when Ichiro is struggling and I start bagging on him for making the rest of the lineup stagnant, and almost every year he's managed to snap out of it and go nuts. The tear he's on now, though, is pretty ridiculous. This is the same guy that had a .177 average after the game on April 18th. Two months later on June 18th, he had a .365 batting average, more than double his mark of two months earlier. Plain and simple -- Ichiro is absolutely nuts.

Goat: Jarrod Washburn.
After being one of the better pitchers in the Mariner rotation for the first two months of the season and getting deep into many games, Washburn has fallen off in June, going 1-2 in four starts and tacking 0.95 onto his ERA, which was 3.89 but is now 4.84 on the season. His ERA in June is 8.02, and he's given up 19 runs in the month. He's thrown 21 1/3 innings this month. Most shocking, however, is that Washburn had only given up five or more runs in a start just once in the first two months of the season (eleven starts). This month, he's given up at least five runs in three of his four starts. In the first two months, Washburn recorded outs in the seventh inning in six of eleven starts. That hasn't happened once for him this month. For Washburn, it's pretty much location, but a big part of his game is based on elevated fastballs, so I don't know how he gets by in the Majors, seriously, and that's even though I've seen it work earlier this season. In any event, the back part of the rotation has been picking up where Washburn has dropped off lately.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 54-19 .740 -- L2
2003 49-24 .671 5 W1
2002 45-28 .625 9 L1
2000 43-30 .589 11 W6
2006 36-37 .493 18 W5
2005 33-40 .452 21 W2
2004 30-43 .411 24 L1

Ichiro 42-for-89 (.472), 3 doubles, 1 triple, 3 homers, 9 RBIs, 8 walks, 5 strikeouts
Beltre 27-for-86 (.314), 6 doubles, 5 homers, 17 RBIs, 9 walks, 13 strikeouts
Lopez 19-for-75 (.253), 7 doubles, 1 homer, 13 RBIs, 5 walks, 12 strikeouts
Ibañez 25-for-71 (.352), 5 doubles, 1 triple, 6 homers, 24 RBIs, 11 walks, 10 strikeouts
Sexson 17-for-73 (.233), 1 double, 6 homers, 20 RBIs, 11 walks, 19 strikeouts
Everett 14-for-59 (.237), 2 homers, 5 RBIs, 4 walks, 12 strikeouts
Johjima 19-for-66 (.288), 7 doubles, 1 homer, 5 RBIs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts
Reed 14-for-54 (.259), 1 double, 3 homers, 4 RBIs, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts
Betancourt 22-for-72 (.306), 3 doubles, 2 triples, 1 homer, 7 RBIs, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts

Hernandez. Lowe. Tonight.

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