Monday, August 07, 2006


AP photo -- Ted S. Warren

In 25 words or less: The Mariners held a lead through one frame of Oakland offense, and that was as good as it got this weekend.

This one featured Joe Blanton going up against Gil Meche. Raul Ibañez came into the game hitting .190 against Blanton. The Mariners hoped salvage the final game of an already disastrous three-game series to snap a string of 11 straight losses at the hands of their division rivals. They hoped to come away with a victory against Blanton, who had three wins against the Mariners this season coming into this game. There were four possible outcomes of this series -- the Mariners would gain or lose one or three games on Oakland. By losing the first two games of the series, the Mariners put themselves in a precarious position of possibly losing three games in the standings to Oakland and burying themselves in the cellar of the AL West. A win in this game, and the damage is somewhat limited as the net result would have the Mariners losing just one game on the A's.

Jason Kendall rolled a single up the middle and past a diving Betancourt into center for a single. Mark Kotsay whiffed over an 0-2 curve. Milton Bradley bounced an 0-2 pitch right to Lopez to start a 4-6-3 double play. Meche threw ten pitches.

Ichiro drilled the second pitch into the rightfield corner for a double, making his slump look less worse at 3-for-24. Jose Lopez grounded the second pitch hard to first, moving Ichiro to third. Adrian Beltre tapped a 1-2 pitch right back to the mound as Ichiro had to hold at third. Raul Ibañez was down 0-2 and got a steady diet of breaking balls before crushing a low fastball into right for a single, scoring Ichiro.
Richie Sexson had the hitters' counts before blistering a ball into the gap in rightcenter, and Ibañez sped through Carlos Garcia's stop sign at third and scored. It helped that the relay back to the infield was botched.
Ben Broussard pounded the second pitch for a single into left, moving Sexson to second. Kenji Johjima punched an 0-2 breaking ball through the right side for a single, but for some reason Sexson was sent from third and was out by roughly a mile at home on the throw. Sexson came up hobbling after the play as a result of landing a bit hard on his knee. Blanton threw 26 pitches.

Frank Thomas flew out to shallow left on a 2-0 pitch. Eric Chavez was ahead 2-0 and later took a full-count change low and away for a walk. Jay Payton hit a line drive off the top portion of the wall in rightfield for a double (nearly missed a homer), moving Chavez to third. Nick Swisher was jammed and popped an 0-2 pitch high to Beltre on the infield grass. Marco Scutaro was up 2-0 and later bounced out to third on a full count. Meche threw 22 pitches and had 32 through two.

Yuniesky Betancourt popped the first pitch high to first. Adam Jones was down 0-2 and bounced out to third on a 1-2 pitch. Ichiro rolled a 2-2 pitch to Chavez plugging the hole on the left side. Blanton threw ten pitches and had 36 through two.

Mark Ellis took a 1-2 fastball over the inside corner for strike three. Kendall worked a 1-2 count full before walking on a curve. Kotsay was up 2-0 before lining a single to right, moving Kendall to second. Bradley bounced the first pitch to second, moving Kendall and Kotsay to third and second. Thomas blasted a high 0-2 fastball ten rows into the elevated leftfield bleachers in left.
Chavez walked on a full-count pitch away. Pitching coach Rafael Chaves visited the mound. Payton laced a full-count pitch for a line drive into the leftcenter gap, scoring Chavez as Jones muffed the ball on the transfer (double and error, no RBI), moving Payton to second.
Swisher got ahead 2-0 before line-driving a 2-2 to Ibañez on the track in center. Meche threw 38 pitches and had 70 through three.

Lopez singled into left on the second pitch. Beltre whiffed on an 0-2 pitch half a foot off the plate outside for strike three. Ibañez spanked a 2-2 curve through the right side for a single, moving Lopez to second. Sexson popped the first pitch high to Bradley a couple steps short of the track in right, moving Lopez to third. Broussard grounded hard to second. Blanton threw 15 pitches and had 51 through three.

Scutaro popped to Ichiro near the rightfield corner. Ellis was down 0-2 and rolled a 2-2 pitch to short. Kendall was ahead 2-0 and later bounced over the mound to second. Meche threw 12 pitches and had 82 through four.

Johjima fell behind 0-2 and drilled a 1-2 pitch (eighth pitch of the at-bat) into center for a single. Betancourt got behind 0-2 and whiffed on a 1-2 pitch. Jones got ahead 3-0 but popped lazily to center on a 3-1 pitch. Ichiro rolled a 1-2 pitch to short, where Scutaro threw to second for the force on Johjima. Blanton threw 21 pitches and had 72 through four.

Kotsay looped the first pitch into shallow center, but Lopez moved back for the catch. Bradley smoked the first pitch for a hard roller into the rightfield corner for a double. Thomas was ahead 2-0 and pulled a full-count pitch for a single near the line in left, scoring Bradley.
Chavez bounced the second pitch up the middle and Lopez moved over to get it, but it went under his glove and through his legs (error) on what could have been a double play, moving Thomas to second. Payton flew out to Ichiro near the corner in right on the first pitch. Swisher cranked a full-count pitch for a hard single to right, and Thomas scored from second, bad wheels and all, thanks to Ichiro's airmail throw over Johjima. Swisher went to second on the play.
Scutaro inadvertently checkswung at a 2-0 pitch but made contact and rolled to second.

Meche's line: 5 innings, 6 runs (4 earned), 8 hits, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts, 102 pitches (62 strikes)

Lopez bounced out to third. Beltre was up 3-0 before taking a full-count breaking ball over the inner half. Ibañez got ahead 3-0 and walked on a 3-1 pitch inside. Sexson cranked a double off the base of the wall in leftcenter, scoring Ibañez from first.
Broussard went fishing and popped a 1-2 pitch to third. Blanton threw 21 pitches and had 93 through five.

Sean Green came in for Meche. Ellis was up 2-0 and ended up rolling out to second. Kendall was up 2-0 and rolled out to second on a 2-2 pitch. Kotsay lined out to third on a 2-0 pitch. Green threw 12 pitches.

Johjima lined a single into center. Betancourt got ahead 2-0 and later hit a hard line drive, but it was caught on the run by Payton in left. Greg Dobbs, hitting for Jones, fell behind 0-2 and grounded a 1-2 pitch right to second for what wasn't quite a double play as Dobbs beat out the back end on Ellis' slight muff of the ball. Ichiro took the first pitch in the dirt away, and it got away from Kendall, moving Dobbs to second. Ichiro rolled out to second on a 1-2 pitch.

Blanton's line: 6 innings, 3 runs, 10 hits, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, 109 pitches (74 strikes)

Willie Bloomquist came in to play center. Bradley lined a 1-2 pitch to Beltre, who went to a knee to snare the hot shot. Thomas grounded a 1-2 pitch hard to second. Chavez bounced a drive over the wall in leftcenter for a double. Payton lined out to a charging Bloomquist in shallow center on the second pitch. Green threw 15 pitches and had 27 total.

Kiko Calero came in for Blanton, Bobby Kielty came in to play left, Payton moved over to center. Lopez rolled the first pitch to Ellis in the hole on the right side. Beltre fell behind 0-2 and bounced a 2-2 pitch to the right of the mound, where Calero came off to make the play.

Brad Halsey came in for Calero. Ibañez walked on a full-count pitch down and away, the eighth pitch of the at-bat. Sexson took a ball in the dirt that got away from Kendall and moved Ibañez to second. Sexson walked on four pitches. Eduardo Perez was announced as the pinch-hitter for Broussard, and manager Ken Macha came to the mound with the hook.

Justin Duchscherer came in for Halsey. Eduardo Perez, hitting for Broussard, had the hitters' counts and singled the 3-1 pitch past Scutaro at short and into leftcenter, scoring Ibañez and moving Sexson to second.
Johjima fell behind 0-2 and popped a 2-2 pitch to shallow center as Payton had moderate trouble with the sun. Duchscherer threw 12 pitches.

Calero's line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 8 pitches (6 strikes)
Halsey's line: 0 innings, 1 run, 0 hits, 2 walks, 0 strikeouts, 12 pitches (4 strikes)

Swisher drove a little homer about five rows into the stands in rightcenter.
Scutaro one-hopped to third. Ellis rolled to Betancourt in the hole at short, who made the off-balance throw to first. Kendall smacked the second pitch for a single past a diving Beltre and into left. Kielty was up 2-0 and later grounded out to short.

Green's line: 3 innings, 1 run, 3 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 42 pitches (26 strikes)

Betancourt slapped a single into shallow right. Bloomquist broke his bat on a bouncing ball to the left side that went off the glove of a diving Chavez, and it deflected past Scutaro backing up, moving Betancourt to second. Ichiro whiffed horribly on an 0-2 breaking ball down and away. Lopez drilled a ball off of Duchscherer's glove, and it deflected away from the mound and toward the basepath between first and second, but Duchscherer had no play after he got to it, and the bases were now loaded.

Huston Street came in for Duchscherer. Beltre fell behind 0-2 and looped a 2-2 pitch for a fly ball into left that dropped in front of Kielty (who got a bad jump on the ball) and behind Scutaro, scoring Betancourt and leaving the bases loaded.
Ibañez grounded the first pitch right to first to start what usually would have been a double play, but Beltre made a hard slide (kind of late too) to take out Scutaro at second, nixing any throw attempt back to first. Bloomquist scored on the play and Ichiro moved to third.
Sexson took a pitch in the dirt that was blocked by Kendall so Ichiro had to hold at third, but Ibañez was able to move to second. Sexson was ahead 3-1 before taking a full-count breaking ball down and over the outside corner. Street threw six pitches.

Duchscherer's line: 2/3 inning, 2 runs, 4 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 24 pitches (16 strikes)

JJ Putz came in for Green. Bradley flew out on the second pitch to Ichiro a couple steps in front of the rightfield track. Thomas got ahead 3-0 and lined a full-count pitch for a single into left. Chavez whiffed on a high full-count fastball. Payton worked a 1-2 count full and singled over Betancourt and into center for a single, moving Thomas to second. Antonio Perez came in to run for Thomas. Chaves visited the mound. Swisher waved through a high 2-2 fastball.

Putz' line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 29 pitches (18 strikes)

Perez bounced out to second. Johjima fell behind 0-2 and rolled a 1-2 pitch to short. Betancourt looped a 2-2 pitch for a fly ball into shallow right that normally would have been caught, but Ellis lost the ball in the sun and it landed a couple feet to his left. Bloomquist took a high 0-2 pitch and Betancourt took off, stealing second on a high throw. Bloomquist whiffed on a 2-2 slider down and away.

Street's line: 1 2/3 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 30 pitches (19 strikes)

Gameball: Raul Ibañez.
For coming into the game hitting so crappily against Joe Blanton, he was able to do his part in turning it around. Ibañez reached base every time he got to the plate. He reached on a fielder's choice in the eighth, which is why his line shows as 2-for-3 in the boxscore. Still, a 2-for-3 day with two RBIs and two walks is quite a day, especially against Oakland considering how crappy it's gone against them. The other thing about Ibañez was that the two hits he had today were only his second and third hits of the month. Sure, it's only been five games in August, but he's 3-for-17 with no extra-base hits. Hopefully this game gets him started on a tear, though, because now that the Mariners crapped the bed against Oakland, they'll need a few guys to click so they can try hammering away at the now-huge deficit in the standings. Also, Ibañez was hitting .286 after the middle game of the Detroit series on July 8th. Almost a month later, he sits at a .274 season average. We all knew going into the season that a lot of things would have to go right for this team to make a run, and Ibañez getting warm is just one of many.

Goat: Gil Meche.
He hasn't recorded an out in the seventh inning in any of his last five starts. Meche has thrown 38 1/3 innings in July and August. The bad news is that it averages to only 5 1/3 innings per start, so the bullpen's getting burned. To think he became the team's most reliable starter is pretty telling about how this rotation is in shambles. He's picked up 0.52 on his ERA since July started as well. It's been five starts since he recorded a win. He's walked a total of ten batters over his last three starts. In all of July and this start, he has an ERA of 5.87. I'm not asking for Meche to go out and be a worldbeater or anything, but I'd take it every time out if he got into the seventh and gave up four runs. That's it. He'd get far enough into the game so the bullpen wouldn't get burned as heavily, and the team would still have a chance to win. The whole burning-the-bullpen thing is a lot more magnified now since the Mariners' schedule has taken a busy turn and they don't have every single Thursday off like they did in July. This game was the third in a stretch of 17 straight without a day off for the Mariners.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 80-30 .727 -- W4
2002 68-42 .618 12 W5
2003 67-43 .609 13 W1
2000 64-46 .582 16 W2
2006 53-57 .482 27 L3
2005 47-63 .427 33 L2
2004 41-69 .373 39 W1

Corcoran. Moyer. Tonight.

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