Sunday, July 09, 2006


AP Photo -- John Froschauer

[initial partial post]

In 25 words or less: For the Mariners, July before the All-Star break ends up as a Spinal Tap-approved S#!+ Sandwich. Also, Operation:Melt Meche's Arm.

This one featured Nate Robertson going up against Gil Meche. Thursday's off day gave the Mariners flexibility to bump Felix Hernandez from the Sunday start in an effort to keep his innings down this season. There's a possibility that Meche may start the first game after the All-Star break as well. There were a couple of news bits after Saturday's game. One was that Kenji Johjima was going to be allowed to fly home a day early to Japan to see his newly-born third child. The other bit was that little-used lefty off the bench Roberto Petagine was designated for assignment and catcher Luis Oliveros from San Antonio would be called up in his place. On this day, however, the Mariners wore the uniforms of the Seattle Pilots and the Tigers wore uniforms that look slightly older than the ones they usually wear. Much like the Pilots, the Mariners after today will be gone for a while, only this time they'll play again on Friday as opposed to skipping town forever.

Curtis Granderson flew out to center on a 2-2 pitch. Placido Polanco flew out to Bloomquist in rightcenter. Vance Wilson bounced a 1-2 pitch to third. Meche threw 13 pitches.

Ichiro rolled the first pitch to second. Adrian Beltre bounced up the middle to Guillen. Jose Lopez took two strikes and whiffed for a third on an outside pitch. Robertson threw seven pitches.

Magglio Ordoñez flew out to Bloomquist in rightcenter on a 1-2 pitch. Carlos Guillen got ahead 3-0 before whiffing on a full count. Craig Monroe flew out high to left on a full count. Meche threw 17 pitches and had 30 through two.

Raul Ibañez rolled a 2-2 pitch to second. Richie Sexson took a 2-2 pitch for strike three. Eduardo Perez fell behind 0-2 before bouncing to Inge down the line at third on a 1-2 pitch, but that turned out to be foul. Perez bounced the next pitch for a swinging bunt along the third-base line, but Inge had far enough to run that Perez was safe with the single. Willie Bloomquist bounced the second pitch to first. Robertson threw 17 pitches and had 24 through two.

Alexis Gomez popped the second pitch to Betancourt in shallow left. Chris Shelton whiffed on a 2-2 fastball. Brandon Inge worked an 0-2 count for a walk (nine pitches). Granderson fell behind 0-2 and rolled a 1-2 pitch to second. Meche threw 21 pitches and had 51 through three.

Rene Rivera got ahead 2-0 but ended up flying out to Granderson in leftcenter. Yuniesky Betancourt stung a 2-0 pitch over the mound and into center for a single. Ichiro rolled to Polanco plugging the right-side hole as Betancourt moved to second. Beltre popped very high to Wilson in front of the first-base dugout. Robertson threw 14 pitches and had 38 through three.

Polanco grounded a 1-2 pitch hard to a diving Sexson off of first, but Meche had trouble catching Sexson's toss to first and didn't get his foot on the bag in time (single). Wilson fell behind 0-2 and flew out to right on a 1-2 pitch. Ordoñez was down 0-2 and clubbed a thigh-high 1-2 pitch into the back of the Mariners' bullpen, scoring Polanco.
Guillen rolled the second pitch to short. Monroe rolled the second pitch up the middle for a single. Gomez looped a 2-2 pitch into shallow right for a single, moving Monroe to second. Pitching coach Rafael Chaves came to the mound for a visit. Shelton was up 2-0 but whiffed on the next three pitches, the final one being a slider. Meche threw 28 pitches and had 79 through four.

Lopez flew out to center on a 2-0 pitch. Ibañez tapped an 0-2 pitch in front of the plate, fielded by Wilson. Sexson popped very high to right. Robertson threw nine pitches and had 47 through four.

Inge took a 2-2 fastball over the inside corner. Granderson took a 2-2 fastball over the inside corner. Polanco popped the second pitch to Lopez in shallow right. Meche threw 12 pitches and had 91 through five.

Perez stroked the second pitch through the left side for a single. Bloomquist whiffed on the second pitch to muff the hit-and-run, and Perez was dead to rights between first and second. Bloomquist ended up bouncing a 1-2 pitch off the track and over the wall in center for a ground-rule double as Granderson didn't get the best jump on the ball. Rivera crushed the second pitch, depositing it into the Mariners' bullpen to score Bloomquist. Really.
Betancourt flew out to center on the second pitch. Ichiro broke his bat and looped the second pitch to second. Robertson threw 12 pitches and had 59 through five.

Wilson flew out to right. Bill Schonely, voice of the Seattle Pilots and later voice of the Portland Trail Blazers, was in the booth for a visit. Ordoñez got ahead 2-0 and walked on a full count. Guillen bounced a 2-0 pitch to first, where Sexson threw to second for the force, but Guillen beat the back end of the double play. Chaves visited the mound. Monroe watched as Guillen was nearly picked off of first. Monroe ended up whiffing on a 2-2 slider away. Meche threw 19 pitches and had 110 through six. In an odd note, Felix Hernandez was seen warming up in the bullpen during this half inning.

Beltre popped to shallow center on a 1-2 pitch. Lopez popped the first pitch to first. Ibañez fell behind 0-2 and took a 1-2 pitch for strike three. Robertson threw ten pitches and had 69 through six.

Gomez grounded a full-count pitch to Sexson behind the bag at first. Shelton was up 2-0 before whiffing on a 2-2 pitch over the outer half. Inge fell behind 0-2 whiffed on a 2-2 inside pitch that got away from Rivera (2-3 putout).

Meche's line: 7 innings, 2 runs, 4 hits, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts, 126 pitches (80 strikes)

Sexson popped high to Granderson in rightcenter. Perez took a first-pitch strike followed by four straight balls. Bloomquist whiffed on a 1-2 pitch. Rivera roped a single into left, moving Perez to second. Betancourt rolled the second pitch to the left side, where it got under the glove of Inge and it somehow got through Guillen as well, enabling Perez to score. Rivera went to third on the play, but Betancourt was nailed trying to get to second. Robertson threw 19 pitches and had 88 through seven.

Rafael Soriano came in for Meche. Granderson whiffed on an 0-2 pitch. Polanco flew out to right on the second pitch. Wilson took a 2-2 slow slider over the outside corner.

Soriano's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 13 pitches (11 strikes)

Ichiro fell behind 0-2 and rolled a 2-2 pitch up the middle to a charging Polanco. Beltre slapped an 0-2 pitch along the rightfield line for a double, and it was a much easier double once Ordoñez misplayed it in the corner. Lopez looped the second pitch into left for a single, and for some reason Carlos Garcia sent Beltre all the way and Beltre was out by five feet on the relay from Gomez in left, though Wilson tagged Beltre as he went by as opposed to blocking the plate and creating a collision. Lopez went to second on the throw. Ibañez whiffed on an 0-2 breaking ball away.

Robertson's line: 8 innings, 3 runs, 9 hits, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, 101 pitches (71 strikes)

JJ Putz came in for Soriano. Ordoñez grounded hard to Beltre behind the bag at third, who stopped it and had it roll away before picking it up and making a strong throw from the third-base coaches' box in time to first. Guillen popped the second pitch high to Bloomquist in leftcenter. Monroe flew out to the rightfield track on the second pitch.

Putz' line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 7 pitches (5 strikes)

Gameball: Rene Rivera.
With the day game coming after a night game, Rivera pretty much gets the start anyway even without Kenji Johjima flying back to Japan to see his newborn son. Still, rare is the game where Rivera goes 2-for-3 with a two-run homer. His efforts helped the 6-9 hitters in the Seattle lineup combine to go 7-for-11 to drive in and score all three of the Mariners' runs. The 2-for-3 day bumped Rivera's batting average all the way to .196. It's not just that, though. Rivera wasn't tagged for any passed balls, so that's good. Gil Meche worked in deep counts all day, which is what one can derive from his pitch count and the fact that he only walked two people, though he did strike out eight. Of course, Mike Hargrove was insane to bring him into the game for the seventh and even more so for letting Meche finish it. Rivera has started behind the plate for 14 of the Mariners' games this season, and the average line for a starting pitcher in those games is 7 innings, 2.6 runs (2.3 earned), 5.7 hits, 1.9 walks, 5.6 strikeouts, and 106 pitches (69 strikes).

Goat: Raul Ibañez.
The bad news for the Mariners was that the 1-5 hitters in the lineup combined to go 2-for-19. Ibañez chipped in with an 0-for-4 day, striking out twice. It's still been one hell of a first half for Ibañez. He goes into the break hitting .285 with an on-base mark of .352 and he's slugging .538. He's hit 20 homers and driven in 70 runs. His career high for homers is 24 (2002), which barring injury should be broken. Along with the homer mark, he has 73 games to collect 34 RBIs so he can break his career-high RBI mark from 2002 as well (103 RBIs). There were a lot of moves made in that offseason after the 2003 season that soured me on the Mariners, and when they came up empty with Miguel Tejada and threw a bunch of money at Ibañez, I was beside myself. I spent so long hoping that the Ibañez contract would blow up in the face of management, and while it still was too big of a contract at the time, one of the happier days I've had as a Mariner fan these last couple years was the day I admitted I was wrong about Raul Ibañez. This year, he's taken all of my Kansas City-was-a-hitters'-park arguments and shoved them right back into my face. Thanks, Raul. I couldn't be happier.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 64-25 .719 -- L1
2002 56-33 .629 8 W2
2003 56-33 .629 8 L1
2000 52-37 .584 12 L1
2006 43-46 .483 21 W1
2005 39-50 .438 25 L2
2004 33-56 .371 31 L2

Ichiro 57-for-153 (.373), 4 doubles, 2 triples, 5 homers, 16 RBIs, 17 walks, 14 strikeouts
Beltre 44-for-149 (.295), 13 doubles, 2 triples, 5 homers, 21 RBIs, 13 walks, 26 strikeouts
Lopez 38-for-140 (.271), 10 doubles, 2 triples, 1 homer, 18 RBIs, 7 walks, 20 strikeouts
Ibañez 42-for-132 (.318), 7 doubles, 1 triple, 12 homers, 38 RBIs, 16 walks, 25 strikeouts
Sexson 32-for-136 (.235), 5 doubles, 10 homers, 32 RBIs, 13 walks, 31 strikeouts
Everett 18-for-92 (.196), 1 double, 3 homers, 7 RBIs, 7 walks, 23 strikeouts
Johjima 35-for-113 (.310), 8 doubles, 1 triple, 5 homers, 16 RBIs, 5 walks, 8 strikeouts
Reed 21-for-97 (.216), 2 doubles, 1 triple, 4 homers, 7 RBIs, 4 walks, 12 strikeouts
Choo 1-for-11 (.091), 1 double, 4 strikeouts
Betancourt 36-for-124 (.290), 3 doubles, 2 triples, 2 homers, 10 RBIs, 5 walks, 14 strikeouts

Some Mariner pitcher. Some Blue Jay pitcher. Friday.

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