Tuesday, July 25, 2006


AP photo -- John Froschauer

In 25 words or less: When you spot Joel Piñeiro a four-run lead early, it gives him more room for error, and he'll use that room to varying degrees.

This one featured Casey Janssen going up against Joel Piñeiro. For hopefully the final time, Willie Bloomquist started at second base again for Jose Lopez, who was in Venezuela for the birth of his son. Vernon Wells was scratched from the lineup, which is good for the Mariners but incredibly bad for my fantasy team. The Mariners hoped to win their third straight and fourth in five games, easily their best stretch since the latter half of June that had all of that interleague play and that jazz. Also, I have a confession to make -- I really like the fronts of those Blue Jay road uniforms. There might be a couple people out there who have read my rants about uniforms and stuff and know how particular I am about them. The font and the way the word Toronto is styled on the fronts of their road tops is great. However, I never dug the whole "Jays" thing, as in doing away with the word Blue. Also, as nice as the fronts are, the number font on the back is a little odd. Going back in time, I had no problem with the uniforms Toronto wore when they repeated as world champs, and I think those uniforms, had they kept them, would hold up today. Then they tried to mix red as another color on the uniform (Clemens era), and I liked it much less. Did I mention I'm weird? I could probably write a couple paragraphs on why I hate the Texas Rangers' Alex-and-after era of uniforms (in a rare case in sports, their alternate tops work the best).

Reed Johnson laced a base hit down the leftfield line for what looked to be a double but it was hit pretty hard and Ibañez one-hopped a throw to Bloomquist at second, and Johnson was beat by about four feet with the throw, though replay showed that Johnson pulled his left arm out of the way of Bloomquist's tag and reached around with the right arm to touch second base. Frank Catalanotto took first two pitches for strikes and whiffed on the third, a high fastball. Lyle Overbay drove the second pitch off the track and over the wall into the Mariners' bullpen in leftcenter for a ground-rule double. Troy Glaus got ahead 3-1 before whiffing on a full-count fastball up and in. Piñeiro threw 16 pitches.

Ichiro was ahead 2-0 but chopped to third on a 2-2 pitch. Willie Bloomquist rolled out to second. Adrian Beltre chopped the first pitch high over the mound to McDonald at short. Janssen threw nine pitches.

Gregg Zaun whiffed on a 2-2 low breaking ball away. Bengie Molina doubled (really) off the base of the wall in right on an 0-2 pitch. Eric Hinske grounded to first, moving Molina to third. Aaron Hill worked a 1-2 count fulll before failing to check his swing on a breaking ball down and away (nine pitches). Piñeiro threw 21 pitches and had 37 through two.

Raul Ibañez was ahead 3-1 before walking on a low full-count pitch. Richie Sexson had the hitters' counts before walking on a full-count pitch. Carl Everett tried bunting the second pitch and Ron Fairly wondered what the heck he was doing. Everett was down 0-2 as a result and ended up getting jammed on a 1-2 pitch and looped a single into shallow right, loading the bases as Ibañez didn't get a great read on the ball. Kenji Johjima spanked the first pitch into shallow rightcenter for a single, scoring Ibañez and Sexson and moving Everett to third (he beat a relay throw). Pitching coach Brad Arnsberg came to the mound for a visit.
Yuniesky Betancourt took an 0-2 pitch in the dirt away that went off Molina's glove and to the backstop, scoring Everett and moving Johjima to second.
Betancourt worked an 0-2 count full before whiffing on a pitch up and in. Adam Jones drilled an 0-2 pitch into leftcenter for a single, scoring Johjima easily for his second Major League RBI.
Ichiro watched Jones nearly get picked off before seeing a pitch. Ichiro saw the first pitch before Jones was nearly picked off again. Ichiro fell behind 0-2 before looping a 2-2 pitch into very shallow center, but Johnson sprinted a long way and made a great diving catch as Jones was around second base and Johnson one-hopped a lazy throw to first for the double play. Janssen threw 36 pitches and had 45 through two.

John McDonald was up 2-0 and ended up looping a 2-2 pitch to Ichiro along the rightfield line. Johnson fell behind 0-2 and spanked an outside 1-2 pitch near the rightfield line for a single. Catalanotto hit a 2-2 pitch for a sinking line drive to left that was caught by a sliding (semi-awkwardly) Ibañez. Overbay grounded the first pitch up the middle for a single, moving Johnson to third. Glaus blistered the second pitch over the reach of a leaping Betancourt at short for a single, scoring Johnson and moving Overbay to second.
Zaun was ahead 3-0 and grounded a 3-1 pitch hard to first. Piñeiro threw 24 pitches and had 61 through three.

Bloomquist bunted the first pitch a bit too hard (or soft) along the left side, where Janssen picked it up and threw to first in time. Beltre was up 2-0 and grounded a 2-2 pitch to third, where Glaus threw to first (throw picked nicely by Overbay). Ibañez flew out high to shallow left on the second pitch. Janssen threw eight pitches and had 53 through three.

Molina popped an 0-2 pitch in Ichiro along the stands in foul ground down the rightfield line. Hinske just destroyed a high-hanging 1-2 breaking ball about fourteen rows or so into the rightfield seats.
Hill grounded hard to third. McDonald had the hitters' counts and walked on a 3-1 pitch down and away. Johnson popped out to right on the second pitch. Piñeiro threw 19 pitches and had 80 through four.

Sexson fell behind 0-2 before reaching down on a below-the-knees 2-2 pitch, bouncing it off the track and over the centerfield wall for a double. Everett grounded the first pitch to second, moving Sexson to third. Johjima had a 1-1 count when Arnsberg visited the mound again. Johjima ended up jumping on a 2-2 pitch, hitting a high-arcing moon shot four rows deep above the manual scoreboard in left just inside the foul pole. Sexson also scored on the play. Johjima was later attended to by the training staff in the dugout after fouling a ball off of a leg during the at-bat.

Brian Tallet came in for Janssen. Betancourt fell behind 0-2 before grounding right to third on a 1-2 pitch. Jones was down 0-2 before whiffing at a sweeping 1-2 breaking ball. Tallet threw eight pitches.

Janssen's line: 3 1/3 innings, 6 runs, 5 hits, 2 walks, 1 strikeout, 65 pitches (41 strikes)

Catalanotto looped a 1-2 pitch to Piñeiro still on the mound. Overbay ripped the second pitch through the mound and into center for a single. Glaus blistered a low fastball for a single into center, moving Overbay to second. Zaun whiffed on a 2-2 change down and away. Molina grounded the first pitch hard to Beltre, who waited for Overbay to move toward him before tagging him for the third out. Piñeiro threw 16 pitches and had 96 through five.

Ichiro chopped the second pitch to third. Bloomquist got ahead 3-1 before popping to Hinske at the sliver of foul dirt in the rightfield corner next to the stands. Beltre popped the second pitch foul to Overbay on the right side. Tallet threw ten pitches and had 18 total.

Hinske got the arms extended on a 1-2 outside pitch, mashing it in front of the hitters' backdrop over the centerfield wall.
Hill rode the second pitch to Jones on the track just to the right of center. McDonald lined the second pitch to center. Johnson fouled off his first four pitches before rolling to third on the fifth.

Piñeiro's line: 6 innings, 3 runs, 10 hits, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, 109 pitches (73 strikes)

Ibañez slapped the second pitch into left for a single into left. Sexson walked on four pitches, moving Ibañez to second. Everett (not Perez against the lefty) fell behind 0-2 before spanking a 1-2 pitch through the left side for a single, scoring Ibañez, though the cutoff throw to the infield got right to Glaus, who was very close to Sexson and tagged him.

Jeremy Accardo came in for Tallet. Johjima got ahead 3-1 and whiffed badly on a full-count pitch, and Everett was out by a mile at second after going on the pitch. Accardo threw seven pitches.

Tallet's line: 2 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeouts, 28 pitches (17 strikes)

George Sherrill came in for Piñeiro. Catalanotto bounced an 0-2 pitch to short. Overbay lined a 1-2 pitch to rightcenter, but Ichiro caught it on the run. Glaus whiffed on a 1-2 pitch. Sherrill threw 12 pitches.

Betancourt grounded hard to second on the first pitch. Jones popped the second pitch high to center. Ichiro scorched a 2-2 pitch, sending a laser beam right into the glove of Hill at second.

Accardo's line: 1 2/3 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 15 pitches (9 strikes)

Zaun got ahead 3-0 and walked on a 3-1 pitch. Molina got a hold of a 1-2 pitch, but it went to Jones on the warning track in center. Hinske popped to Ibañez in leftcenter on a 3-1 pitch.

Emiliano Fruto came in for Sherrill. Hill was up 2-0 and popped high on a full count to center. Fruto threw six pitches.

Sherrill's line: 1 2/3 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 26 pitches (16 strikes)

Scott Downs came in for Accardo. Bloomquist grounded to third on the second pitch. Beltre got ahead 2-0 before mashing a 2-2 pitch to the leftfield wall for a double. Ibañez fell behind 0-2 and whiffed on a 2-2 pitch. Sexson took a 2-2 pitch down and in that got away from Molina behind the plate, moving Beltre to third. Sexson worked the 1-2 count full before lining out to Glaus, who made a shoestring catch. Downs threw 20 pitches.

Downs' line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 20 pitches (12 strikes)

Russ Adams, hitting for McDonald, popped an 0-2 pitch to Ichiro, who ran a long way to make the catch near the line. Johnson fell behind 0-2 before driving a 2-2 pitch to the wall in rightcenter just past Ichiro for a double. Pitching coach Rafael Chaves came to the mound for a visit. Catalanotto popped the second pitch to Ibañez in shallow leftcenter. Overbay lined the second pitch to a running Ichiro near the rightfield corner.

Fruto's line: 1 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 22 pitches (17 strikes)

Gameball: Carl Everett.
Jose Lopez and Everett have one thing in common -- May was the best month of the season for both. Lopez hit .289 with three doubles, three triples, and four homers and 25 RBIs in the month. Though this seems like long ago, Everett in the month of May hit .291 with a double and three homers and drove in 11 runs. He had a 30-hit month. That's great and all, but when you consider he's amassed 22 hits in all since (nearly two months), that's not so good. He's hit 22-for-119 (.185) since the month of May. He's hit four homers and driven in nine runs in that span. This game tonight was Everett's 16th multi-hit game of the season. Eight of his multi-hit games came in May. The fact that he got a multi-hit game was pretty much the impetus behind the gameball entry tonight. He had a multi-hit game on the 16th in Toronto, but that was his first since June 15th in Oakland, though interleague play had a lot to do with that. Someone could conceivably make an argument that interleague play messed up Everett, though I wouldn't be rushing to buy such an argument. He was 4-for-26 with two homers and four RBIs in interleague play. If you subtract 4-for-26 from his totals for the year, you get 66-for-258, good for a .256 average. However, he's 9-for-48 (.188) since interleague play ended.

Goat: Ichiro.
I'm bypassing the possibility of bagging on Willie Bloomquist (10-for-60 combined in June and July) hanging up an 0-for-4 and getting on Joel Piñeiro for giving up ten hits in the game and throwing 80 pitches in the first four innings just so I can have more fun with the when-Ichiro-goes-hitless material. The Mariners played their 99th game of the season, and Ichiro has now gone hitless in 22 of those games. The rarity in this game is that the Mariners won despite Ichiro going 0-for-4. In the 22 hitless Ichiro games, the Mariners have a record of 5-17. So, other things have to happen with the team when Ichiro is busy going hitless. For instance, the 3-7 hitters in the Mariner lineup combined to go 7-for-16 with two doubles, a homer, three walks, two strikeouts, and five RBIs. Kenji Johjima was a big part of that with the 2-for-3 night with four RBIs and the homer. Ichiro started the season hitting .177 after 15 games. He went 20-for-46 (.435) to finish with a .287 average for the month of April. After hitting .371 in May and .386 in June, Ichiro is at a pedestrian .299 so far in July. He's lost 11 points off his season average since July 2nd. Since the break (including a seven-game hitting streak), he is 15-for-48, which is a .313 clip, but if you're Ichiro, that's enough to sink your numbers.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 72-27 .727 -- W4
2002 60-39 .606 12 L3
2003 60-39 .606 12 W1
2000 58-41 .586 14 L1
2006 48-51 .485 24 W3
2005 43-56 .434 29 L1
2004 38-61 .384 34 L2

Halladay. Meche. Tonight.

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