Saturday, July 15, 2006


CP photo -- Adrian Wyld

In 25 words or less: Score early, hold on, and keep the evil version of Gil Meche from reappearing. That's a recipe for winning.

This one featured Gil Meche going up against Casey Janssen. Meche hadn't lost since May 30th. Though the move was known over the break, it wasn't made official until today -- Luis Oliveros had his cup of coffee with the big club and was sent down to high-A Inland Empire, which sucks for him because they'd called him up from AA San Antonio. Shin-Soo Choo was sent back to AAA Tacoma. Coming back up to fill the spots were Greg Dobbs and Seattle's first pick in the 2003 draft, Adam Jones, who also plays a mean bass guitar for Tool but in this game would start in centerfield. Upon seeing him in batting practice, Toronto color man Pat Tabler said Jones' speed reminds him of Devon White. Originally listed on the Seattle roster as wearing uniform number 83, which really would be the ultimate initiation, Jones ended up with 25 on his back in Toronto. The Blue Jays came in with the league's highest batting average and was ranked third in the Majors in homers. Ichiro came in hitting .375 in his career against Toronto. The Mariners came in hitting .267 with runners in scoring position, only good for 10th in the American League.

Ichiro punched a 2-2 pitch through the middle for a single. Adrian Beltre dribbled a single through the mound and up the middle, moving Ichiro to second. Jose Lopez reached and scooped a single into shallow right to load the bases (Ichiro held at third). Blue Jay manager John Gibbons (yes, the manager) came to the mound for a visit. Raul Ibañez bounced the first pitch to second, where Adams threw to second for the out, scoring Ichiro and moving Beltre to third.
Richie Sexson grounded the second pitch hard to short, where Hill bobbled the ball, then threw weirdly to Adams at second (error), scoring Beltre and moving Ibañez to third.
Carl Everett dumped a single into shallow left to score Ibañez and move Sexson to second.
Kenji Johjima fell behind 0-2 and ended with a dribbler to short on a 1-2 pitch, moving Sexson to third and Everett to second. Yuniesky Betancourt reached and bounced the second pitch to third. Janssen threw 25 pitches.

Frank Catalanotto popped the second pitch high to leftcenter, testing Jones right away. Gregg Zaun (a catcher hitting second) whiffed on a 2-2 nasty curve down and in. Vernon Wells fell behind 0-2 and took a 1-2 pitch (I'll say tailing fastball) for strike three. Meche threw 13 pitches.

Adam Jones popped high on the first pitch to Adams backing into shallow right. Ichiro batted as a fire alarm went off at Rogers Centre, but the at-bat went on. The alarm was silenced and Ichiro got ahead 3-1 before rolling to second on a full count. Beltre shot an 0-2 pitch up the middle and almost for a single, but Adams got there in time and made the strong throw to first. Janssen threw 11 pitches and had 36 through two.

Troy Glaus looked like he got a lot of a 1-2 pitch, but flew out high to center. Lyle Overbay took two strikes and fouled the next three pitches before shooting a 1-2 pitch up the middle for a single and Toronto's first hit of the game. Shea Hillenbrand lined out to Jones just to the right of center. Eric Hinske popped the first pitch to Betancourt moving back into shallow left. Meche threw 14 pitches and had 27 through two.

Lopez grounded hard to first. Ibañez worked a 1-2 count and walked on a full-count curve barely inside. Sexson bounced the second pitch slowly to the left side, but Glaus came up empty on a barehand attempt and everyone was safe (Ibañez moved to second). Everett was very unfortunately green-lit on 3-0 and flew out to left. Johjima was ahead 3-1 and watched as Zaun tried picking but ended up trying to pick Ibañez off of second, but nearly threw into centerfield. Johjima ended up lining out to left on a full count. Janssen threw 23 pitches and had 59 through three.

Aaron Hill had the hitters' counts and grounded a full-count pitch to Lopez at second, who had it bounce off his left wrist and to his right (error) as Hill got aboard. Russ Adams fell behind 0-2 and Meche threw past Sexson on a pickoff throw on a 1-2 count, enabling Hill to move to second though he probably should have had third on the play. Gibbons came out to argue that Sexson blocked Hill at first before going in pursuit of the errant throw in foul territory. Adams took a devil of a 2-2 curve that probably crossed the plate at the belt. Catalanotto got ahead 3-1 and ended up whiffing over a wicked full-count curve. Zaun got ahead 3-1 but whiffed on a full-count fastball up and away. Meche struck out the side, but needed 26 pitches. He'd thrown 53 through three.

Betancourt popped the second pitch high to Glaus next to the mound. Jones got ahead 3-0 and walked on a 3-1 pitch inside. Ichiro watched during his at-bat as pitching coach Brad Arnsberg visited the mound. Ichiro bounced a 3-1 pitch to short as Hill charged, moving Jones to second. Beltre fell behind 0-2 and poked a 1-2 pitch that looked destined for a single into center, but Hill made a diving catch to rob the Mariners of a run.

Janssen's line: 4 innings, 3 runs (2 earned), 5 hits, 2 walks, 0 strikeouts, 75 pitches (43 strikes)

Wells grounded the first pitch to short, and Betancourt went to a knee and made a strong throw to first. Glaus got ahead 3-1 and took a full-count fastball way inside. Overbay grounded right to short on the second pitch, starting a 6-4-3 double play. Meche threw nine pitches and had 62 through four.

Brian Tallet came in for Janssen. popped high to third, but Glaus muffed the catch, having it go off the heel of his glove (error, Exhibit A of why you should use two hands to catch) as Lopez got all the way to second. Ibañez flew out deep to center on the second pitch, moving Lopez to third. Sexson got ahead 2-0 and was intentionally walked. Everett got ahead 2-0 and popped to shallow right on a full count, where Hinske was called to have caught the ball and then muffed it right before he threw it. Lopez saw the ball hit the ground and thought Hinske had dropped it, and he broke for the plate. Hinske gathered the ball and heeded the calls of teammates to get the ball back in, where a relay to third made it so Lopez was called out because he hadn't tagged up. Tallet threw 15 pitches.

Hillenbrand flew out to Ichiro in rightcenter. Hinske bounced a 2-2 pitch to second. Hill rode a long fly over Jones and off the track and wall in center for a double. Adams slapped a 1-2 high fastball (not a curve) just fair down the leftfield line for a double, scoring Hill.
Catalanotto slapped an 0-2 pitch into shallow left for a single, but Ibañez gunned straight home and one-hopped a throw to Johjima, who tagged Adams trying to score from second. Meche threw 22 pitches and had 84 through five.

Lloyd Moseby joined Jamie Campbell and Pat Tabler in the television booth. Johjima fell behind 0-2 and poked a 2-2 pitch into center for a single.

Shaun Marcum, previously scheduled to start for Toronto on Tuesday, came in for Tallet. Betancourt reached for an 0-2 pitch low and away and popped to first. Jones popped the first pitch to Wells in rightcenter. Ichiro slowly rolled a 2-0 pitch to third and legged out the single. Beltre creamed the second pitch to the LED-looking scoreboard thing in leftcenter to score Johjima and Ichiro.
Lopez fell behind 0-2 and chopped a 1-2 pitch back to the mound.

Tallet's line: 1 inning, 1 run, 1 hit, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 21 pitches (11 strikes)
Marcum's line: 1 inning, 1 run, 2 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 14 pitches (10 strikes)

Zaun got ahead 2-0 and two pitches later clobbered a fastball down and in for a homer into the second deck in right, just inside the foul pole.
Wells blistered the first-pitch fastball away off a facade above the centerfield wall for yet another homer to make the game a little too interesting. Pitching coach Rafael Chaves came to the mound for a visit.
Glaus bailed out Meche by grounding to short on a 3-0 pitch, then came up limping on a foot to the dugout. Overbay lined out to Ibañez on the leftfield track on the first pitch. Hillenbrand popped to Sexson near first.

Meche's line: 6 innings, 3 runs, 6 hits, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, 97 pitches (62 strikes)

Scott Schoeneweis came in for Marcum. Ibañez popped high to shallow right on the second pitch. Sexson popped a 2-2 pitch to Overbay on the foul side of the rightfield line. Everett chopped an 0-2 pitch back to the mound.

Schoeneweis' line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 10 pitches (8 strikes)

George Sherrill came in for Meche. Reed Johnson, hitting for Hinske, fell behind 0-2 and ended up smoking a hanging belt-high 1-2 curve into left for a single. Hill was up 3-0 and walked on a 3-1 pitch, moving Johnson to second. Adams bunted the second pitch back to the mound and Sherrill might have had a play at third (the infield pulled the wheel), but he threw to first for the out as Johnson and Hill moved to third and second.

Rafael Soriano came in for Sherrill. Bengie Molina, hitting for Catalanotto, was down 0-2 before whiffing on a 1-2 high heat. Zaun rolled the second pitch to second. Soriano threw seven pitches.

Sherrill's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 11 pitches (6 strikes)

Brandon League came in for Schoeneweis, Johnson stayed in to play left for Catalanotto, and Chad Mottola came in to play right for Hinske. Johjima worked a 1-2 count full but foul-tipped an outside pitch into Molina's glove behind the plate. Betancourt bounced a ball over the mound and it was fielded by Adams, who backhanded in front of the bag at second and threw to first, but Betancourt legged it out. Jones rolled an 0-2 pitch to second to force out Betancourt, but Jones had the throw to first beat and Overbay didn't cleanly field the ball at first. Ichiro watched the second pitch and saw Jones get gunned down at second on his first Major League stolen base attempt. League threw 16 pitches.

Wells got under the first pitch flew out to Jones in deep leftcenter, who called off Ibañez after Ibañez originally called him off. Glaus fell behind 0-2 and whiffed on a 1-2 curve over the outside corner. Overbay ripped a 1-2 pitch down the rightfield line for a double. Hillenbrand fouled off the first three pitches and whiffed on the fourth, a curve (too slow to be a slider) off the plate outside.

Soriano's line: 1 2/3 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walk, 3 strikeouts, 20 pitches (16 strikes)

Ichiro bounced past the mound and to Adams, who charged and threw in time to first. Beltre grounded out to short. Lopez rolled a 1-2 pitch up the middle that Hill ranged way over to get, but then he failed to plant his left foot on the throw and it hit the wall in front of the camera well in foul ground, but it bounced back out quickly and Molina backed up, so Lopez couldn't advance past first. Ibañez rolled the first pitch to second for a 4-6 force on Lopez.

League's line: 2 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 27 pitches (18 strikes)

JJ Putz came in for Soriano. Johnson reached and broke his bat on the second pitch, popping to Lopez in shallow right. Hill was ahead 3-0 but ended up foul-tipping a full-count fastball into Johjima's glove behind the plate. Adams rolled along the first-base line, where Putz ran over to field it and threw to first.

Putz' line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 11 pitches (7 strikes)

Gameball: Rafael Soriano.
He faced six hitters. He got five outs. Three of those were strikeouts. He seemed to be throwing more of a curve than a slider, but it was working just as well. Soriano sliced through the first through sixth hitters in the Toronto lineup, the first being a pinch-hitting Bengie Molina. He faced Vernon Wells, Troy Glaus, Lyle Overbay, and Shea Hillenbrand in the eighth. All that came out of that was a two-out double by Overbay. Them's some results right there. Needless to say, all Mariner fans hope the shoulder soreness that threw the bullpen a bit out of whack from before the break doesn't resurface. Soriano has allowed runs in only eight of his 39 appearances this season. He's walked 13 hitters against 54 strikeouts. That's more than a four-to-one ratio for the strikeouts there. It's kinda weird to imagine this team without him, except you can just remember the Mariners' last two seasons and it'll quickly come to mind just how screwed this team was without Soriano in the back end of the bullpen. Taking into mind how well he's thrown this year, sometimes I forget that 2003 was his last (and first) full season in the Majors.

Goat: George Sherrill.
All the Mariner hitters that were hitless managed to get on base, so it turns out Sherrill has the greatest crap-per-time ratio in this game, but such a thing comes with the territory for the role in which Hargrove has placed him. He came out for the seventh and John Gibbons put in Reed Johnson (righty), who singled for Eric Hinske (lefty). Aaron Hill (righty) walked. Russ Adams was the only lefty Sherrill faced, and he bunted back to Sherrill. So Sherrill got the lefty out, but the situation was a little icky. But the good thing about the Mariner bullpen is that if Sherrill doesn't turn out so well, there's a guy like Soriano behind him to pick him up. Even with this outing, he still didn't give up any runs and now has a 3.38 ERA. He has given up runs in eight of his 39 appearances this season as well, the same amount as Soriano. Of course, Sherrill faces less hitters than Soriano, which is why his ERA is higher than that of the righthanded flamethrower. Still, Sherrill is part of the Mariners' inexpensive but formidable bullpen. It's amazing what you can do when you're not shelling out money to Eddie Guardado, Ron Villone, or Shigetoshi Hasegawa. Sure, I went back more than a year for that, but this used to be a bullpen that had a lot of money put into it.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 65-25 .722 -- W1
2002 57-33 .633 8 W3
2003 56-34 .622 9 L2
2000 53-37 .589 12 W1
2006 44-46 .489 21 W2
2005 40-50 .444 25 W1
2004 34-56 .378 31 W1

Moyer. Halladay. Today.

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