Thursday, July 20, 2006


AP photo -- Kathy Willens

[posted in full Sat ~8:49a]

In 25 words or less: If you're wondering how to make a 3-2 game last three hours and eight minutes, find a recording of this game.

This one featured Gil Meche going up against Randy Johnson. Alex Rodriguez came into the game 6-for-17 with three homers and six RBIs against Meche. The Mariners hoped to escape the Bronx with a win. They'd already lost the series. They hoped to get their second win after the All-Star break; they came into the game with a 1-4 record after the break. A win wouldn't be a small task, however, with Randy Johnson on the mound. The good thing was that the Mariners had their best pitcher (right now) going in the game. I never thought I'd say that about Meche, but that is currently the case, which speaks more to how badly the rest of the rotation has underperformed more than anything.

Ichiro served the second pitch over the head of Rodriguez and toward the leftfield corner for a single. Adrian Beltre liend the second pitch past Damon and to the centerfield wall, scoring Ichiro.
Jose Lopez waved at an 0-2 fastball up and away, and Beltre was gunned down at third as the hit-and-run went horribly awry. Raul Ibañez tapped back to the mound on an 0-2 pitch. Johnson threw 11 pitches.

Johnny Damon foul-tipped an 0-2 outside pitch into Rivera's glove behind the plate. Melky Cabrera whiffed on a letter-high 0-2 fastball. Derek Jeter bounced to short on the first pitch. Meche threw seven pitches.

Richie Sexson whiffed on an 0-2 slider down over the inside corner. Eduardo Perez grounded out to third. Yuniesky Betancourt popped a high 0-2 pitch to second. Johnson threw ten pitches and had 21 through two.

Jason Giambi was up 3-1 before fouling off three pitches with a full count, then whiffing on a fastball away (ninth pitch of the at-bat). Alex Rodriguez broke his bat on a second-pitch flyout to center. Andy Phillips bounced the first pitch to third. Meche threw 12 pitches and had 19 through two.

Rene Rivera whiffed on a 1-2 pitch up and away. Adam Jones was down 0-2 before whiffing on a 2-2 pitch. Ichiro poked a 2-0 pitch up the middle for a single. Beltre watched as Ichiro took second base on a 1-1 pitch without drawing a throw from Stinnett. Beltre was up 3-1 before whiffing on a full-count fastball up and away. Johnson threw 20 pitches and had 41 through three.

Aaron Guiel popped to Jones on the centerfield track, who showed some progress in getting to further-hit balls. Nick Green fell behind 0-2 before looping a 1-2 pitch into shallow right that was caught on the run by Ichiro. Kelly Stinnett whiffed on a 2-2 breaking ball out of the zone. Meche threw 12 pitches and had 31 through three.

Lopez popped the first pitch high to Phillips to the right of the mound. Ibañez looped the second pitch to Green just off the dirt behind second. Sexson was up 2-0 before lofting a fly ball that got just over the wall in rightcenter.
Perez worked a 1-2 count for a walk. Betancourt knocked the first pitch off the side of the mound and into center for a single, moving Perez to second. Rivera was down 0-2 before flying out to fairly deep center on a 1-2 pitch. Johnson threw 18 pitches and had 59 through four.

Damon looped a 2-2 pitch into shallow left that was speared on the run by Betancourt moving way over from short, and it was featured on SportsCenter later in the night in the Top Plays segment. Cabrera fell behind 0-2 count full before popping a changeup high to Betancourt drifting back into shallow center (nine-pitch at-bat). Jeter whiffing over a 2-2 fastball off the plate outside and losing his bat in the process as it flew toward the third-base dugout. Meche threw 19 pitches and had 50 through four.

Jones took a 2-2 slider down over the inside corner. Ichiro tapped the first pitch back to the mound. At this point, the YES (or as I call it, NO) crew of Michael Kay, Jim Kaat, and John Flaherty talked about the role of umpires behind the plate, and the issue of umpires putting hands on the backs of catchers came up, and Flaherty brought up Brian O'Nora, who apparently puts a little lean onto the hand, which I can't imagine if I was a catcher. Beltre punched a 2-2 pitch for a line drive right to Green at second. Johnson threw 12 pitches and had 71 through five.

Giambi grounded to Sexson behind the bag at first, who tossed to a covering Meche at first. Rodriguez looped a fly ball that dropped just inside the rightfield line barely past the tarp, and it bounced into the crowd for a ground-rule double, breaking up the perfect game after 13 outs. Phillips took a full-count curve over the outer half. Guiel fouled off a 3-0 pitch (he was green-lit?) before flying out to center on a 3-1 pitch. Meche threw 18 pitches and had 68 through five.

Lopez fought off an 0-2 pitch up in the zone and rolled it through the left side for a single. Ibañez worked a 1-2 count full before whiffing on a full-count pitch down and away, and Lopez was gunned down at second by Stinnett, whose throw nearly took off Johnson's head at the mound. Sexson whiffed on a 2-2 offspeed pitch. Johnson threw 17 pitches and had 88 through six.

Green walked an 0-2 count for a walk (nine pitches). Stinnett lined the second pitch over Betancourt and into left for a single, moving Green to second. Damon fouled off six pitches after having two strikes on him before finally flying out to left (eleventh pitch of the at-bat). Cabrera popped the first pitch to Betancourt moving back into shallow center. Jeter smacked a full-count pitch past Lopez and into center for a single, scoring Green and moving Stinnett to third.
Giambi took a 1-2 pitch in the dirt, but Jeter stole second on the pitch. Giambi ended up grounding to Sexson behind the bag at first on a full count. Meche threw 36 pitches and had 104 through six.

The Yankee trainers came out to the mound before the first pitch was thrown, but Johnson shook them off. Perez was ahead 2-0 but ended up whiffing on a 2-2 high fastball. Betancourt fell behind 0-2 and ended up flying out to left on a 2-2 ptich. Rivera fell behind 0-2 and bounced a 1-2 pitch to short, but Jeter threw wide of first (error) and Phillips' tag attempt was eluded by Rivera coming down the line at first. Jones rolled the second pitch to short for a 6-4 force on Rivera at second. Johnson threw 17 pitches and had 105 through seven.

Willie Bloomquist came in to play centerfield for Jones. Rodriguez bounced a 2-2 pitch to the mound that went off of Meche's glove in self-defense, but it slowed down the ball when it got to Betancourt, who had no play. Phillips roped the second pitch to the track in rightcenter and to the wall for a double, scoring Rodriguez. The relay home was beaten by Rodriguez, whose left leg got to the plate before Rivera even got the ball, though Rivera thought he had the plate blocked and was miffed at Mike Reilly behind the plate, who got the full brunt of Mike Hargrove the night before, who came out to argue but wasn't tossed this time. As this was happening, Andy Fletcher at third waved the play dead as Phillips was trying to scoot over to third, and Fletcher had him sent back to second, which sent Phillips into a state of bewilderment and third-base coach Larry Bowa into a state of ultra-Bowafication, thought not to the extent of an ejection.

George Sherrill came in for Meche. Miguel Cairo, hitting for Guiel, bunted the second pitch lightly to the left side, where Rivera got to it and threw to first, moving Phillips to third.

Mark Lowe came in for Sherrill. Bernie Williams (a 7-for-33 career pinch-hitter), hitting for Green, whiffed on an 0-2 slider. Stinnett (Jorge Posada was sent to the on-deck circle as a decoy) flew out to the rightfield track on the first pitch.

Meche's line: 6 innings, 2 runs, 5 hits, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts, 112 pitches (75 strikes)
Sherrill's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 2 pitches (1 strike)
Lowe's line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 4 pitches (4 strikes)

Ichiro nubbed the first pitch along the first-base side nopt far from the plate where Stinnett pounced on it and threw to first, but Ichiro legged it out for a single. Beltre whiffed on a 1-2 fastball up and away. Lopez watched as Ichiro broke for second on a 1-2 pitch and drew a throw from a standing-up Stinnett that bounced past Cairo at second and into center, allowing Ichiro to move to third (stolen base for Ichiro, error for Stinnett). Lopez took the next pitch off the top of the left foot and went to first after Hargrove and trainer Rick Griffin attended to his condition as the Yankees' bullpen phones appeared to have lost connection momentarily. Ibañez flew out to medium-depth leftfield, but Cabrera's throw was quite up the first-base line, so Ichiro scored easily.
Joe Torre came to the mound and left Johnson in the game. Sexson got ahead 2-0 before whiffing on a 2-2 fastball.

Johnson's line: 8 innings, 3 runs (2 earned), 7 hits, 1 walk, 11 strikeouts, 129 pitches (89 strikes)

Mark Lowe came out to warm up, but then Hargrove came out and pulled him before he threw to a batter.

Rafael Soriano came in for Lowe. Damon looped an 0-2 pitch to Betancourt moving back into shallow left. Cabrera rolled an 0-2 pitch up the middle, where Betancourt had the ball go off the heel of his glove and off himself (error), allowing Cabrera aboard. After sitting through a hail of pickoff throws directed at Cabrera at first base, Jeter rolled a 2-2 pitch to short, but he got it cleanly this time and shoveled to second for the force on Cabrera, who took out Lopez well enough at second to nullify any chance at a double play. Giambi was ahead 3-1 before whiffing on a full-count fastball over the outer half.

Soriano's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 17 pitches (12 strikes)

Kyle Farnsworth came in for Johnson. Perez bounced the first pitch to the left side, where Farnsworth let it go and Rodriguez made a nice play on the run and threw to first in time, and the throw was dug out by Phillips at first. Betancourt chopped the second pitch over the mound and into center for a single. Rivera rolled the first pitch to short to start a 6-4-3 double play.

Farnsworth's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 4 pitches (3 strikes)

JJ Putz came in for Soriano. Rodriguez was down 0-2 before bouncing to short on a 2-2 pitch as Sexson reached up to pull down the high throw. Phillips flew out to right on the second pitch. Cairo fell behind 0-2 before rolling a 2-2 pitch down the third-base line and Beltre made his usual play (though not barehanded) and his throw was barely beaten at first by Cairo. Williams lined out to fairly deep center on the first pitch.

Putz' line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 17 pitches (12 strikes)

Gameball: Mark Lowe.
He has that calm/cool/collected vibe that reminds me of someone else already in the Mariner bullpen. That someone is Rafael Soriano. Soriano's role in the bullpen right now is fairly defined in that he's pretty much a late-inning/setup guy for JJ Putz. What of Lowe? In the outings he's had so far, Mike Hargrove has led me to believe he might do some longish relief. Not Jake Woods relief or anything like that, because Lowe is already getting more consistent playing time than Woods. What do I think here? It's another reason to find a way to cut Julio Mateo loose. I know he's only been out there a few outings so far, but I'd be more than happy to see this guy be the first arm coming out of the bullpen. Knowing he can get three or five or six outs too isn't a bad thing either. I've also managed to go the whole paragraph thus far without mentioning the magnificent slider of Lowe. It's a good'n. I hope his arm never explodes or anything like that. Hopefully he never suffers the same sorts of injuries that robbed Soriano of basically two seasons.

Goat: Rene Rivera.
You know, I like that when he's back behind the plate, the Seattle starting pitchers do pretty well. I've convinced myself that his role on this club shouldn't just be to catch when Kenji Johjima needs a day off, but to catch whenever Felix Hernandez is on the mound. Why am I convinced of that? His role can't possibly be anything else, can it? Not with a .173 average, that's for sure. What else can he do? He can seem to evade the passed ball, which isn't something Johjima seems to get. In any event, the fact that Rivera is still up with the big club is merely a testament to how crappy the organization depth is at the catcher position. I remember way back when the Mariners picked up Guillermo Quiroz, I certainly thought we'd have seen him up with the big club for at least a week or two or something, maybe shuffle him back and forth to Tacoma. Instead, Quiroz has barely been with the Mariners at all. I wish Jeff Clement could come up soon, really. I also wish for the Mariners to not end up in some sort of scenario where Clement gets traded away, a la Jason Varitek.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 68-27 .716 -- L1
2002 59-36 .621 9 W1
2003 59-36 .621 9 W1
2000 56-39 .589 12 W1
2006 45-50 .474 23 W1
2005 42-53 .442 26 W1
2004 37-58 .389 31 L1

7 innings, 2.6 runs (2.3 earned), 5.8 hits, 1.9 walks, 5.5 strikeouts, 106 pitches (69 strikes)
3.04 ERA

Snyder. Moyer. Tomorrow.

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