Wednesday, August 09, 2006


AP photo -- Elaine Thompson

In 25 words or less: If only all extra-inning games could be this quick. The starting pitching and the finish were...well, grand.

This one featured Jae Seo going up against Felix Hernandez. Since the beginning of July, Hernandez had gone 2-2 over five starts, giving up 11 earned runs on 26 hits. He struck out 25 hitters and (this is what sticks out for me) walked 17. Mariner fans this year know all too well that the Felix they've seen this year hasn't been the on-fire guy everyone saw last year. Still, first-half Felix didn't really tend to walk this many hitters. Early-season Felix didn't average three walks a game. Most of all, though, the Mariners hoped to put together a winning streak after the horrid Oakland series last weekend. Also on the shoulders of Hernandez was the in-the-toilet performances lately of the starting rotation, who had saddled the bullpen with mucho overtime in recent games. JJ Putz was unavailable for the game on account of having thrown a combined 58 pitches the two nights before in a loss to Oakland and a save situation (win) against the Devil Rays.

Rocco Baldelli was drilled in the left kneecap with an 0-2 fastball. Carl Crawford bounced the first pitch up the middle to Betancourt. Jorge Cantu stung an 0-2 pitch down the leftfield line past a diving Beltre for a double. Travis Lee grounded the second pitch to first. Hernandez threw nine pitches.

Ichiro got down 0-2 and badly whiffed on a change down and away. Jose Lopez hit the second pitch for a line drive that took Branyan to the track in right. Adrian Beltre grounded hard to short on a 3-1 pitch. Seo threw 11 pitches.

Greg Norton whiffed on a 2-2 breaking ball down and in. Dioner Navarro bounced a 2-2 pitch to first. BJ Upton grounded the first pitch hard to first. Hernandez threw 13 pitches and had 22 through two.

Raul Ibañez reached down and pushed the second pitch, bouncing it up the middle and into center for a single. Richie Sexson fell behind 0-2 before lining a 2-2 pitch into the gap in leftcenter for a single that moved Ibañez to second. Ben Broussard whiffed on a high 0-2 fastball. Kenji Johjima popped a sinking 0-2 fly into shallow right. Yuniesky Betancourt popped the second pitch high to Lee halfway down the first-base line in foul ground. Seo threw 17 pitches and had 28 through two.

Russell Branyan was up 2-0 and shot a full-count pitch past a diving Sexson at first and into right for a single. Ben Zobrist fell behind 0-2, fouled a ball off Johjima's right instep, then took a 2-2 pitch that went off Johjima's glove (passed ball) and to the backstop, moving Branyan to second. Zobrist took the next pitch low for a walk. Baldelli whiffed on a low 1-1 fastball and Tampa Bay pulled off a double steal with Branyan beating Johjima's throw to third. Baldelli ended up bouncing a 2-2 pitch up the middle to Betancourt as Branyan scored and Zobrist moved to third.
Crawford popped the second pitch to Betancourt in foul ground down the leftfield line as Branyan held at third. Cantu tapped the second pitch back to the mound. Hernandez threw 23 pitches and had 45 through three.

Willie Bloomquist was down 0-2 and took a 1-2 pitch over the outside corner, or barely off it (called a strike). Ichiro got down 0-2 and bounced a 2-2 pitch to second. Lopez was down 0-2 and bounced a 1-2 pitch to Upton's backhand side, and Upton didn't get the glove down enough (error) and through as Lopez reached. Beltre was up 2-0 whiffed on a 2-2 breaking ball down and in. Seo threw 18 pitches and had 46 through three.

Lee grounded a 2-0 pitch to first. Norton drilled the second pitch into the rightfield corner for a double. Navarro lined out to left. Upton bounced a 2-0 pitch to short. Hernandez threw ten pitches and had 55 through four.

Ibañez flew out to fairly deep right. Sexson popped to Lee in foul ground near first. Broussard nubbed the second pitch to Seo in front of the mound. Seo threw eight pitches and had 54 through four.

Branyan lined out to right on a 2-0 pitch. Zobrist fell behind 0-2 and couldn't check his swing on a 2-2 breaking ball in the dirt (iffy on the checkswing). Baldelli whiffed on a devil curve down and away. Hernandez threw 12 pitches and had 67 through five.

Johjima grounded to Upton on the left side. Betancourt reached and bounced through Upton but Zobrist was there to back up and throw to first in time. Bloomquist lined out to right on the first pitch. Seo threw seven pitches and had 61 through five.

Crawford popped high to shallow left. Cantu bounced out to short. Lee bounced an 0-2 pitch up the middle and off the mound to Betancourt. Hernandez threw 12 pitches and had 79 through six.

Ichiro dumped a single into shallow rightcenter, dropping it between Baldelli, Branyan, and Cantu. Lopez popped the second pitch to Zobrist backing into shallow left. Beltre was down 0-2 before smacking a 1-2 pitch into left for a single. Ibañez popped the first pitch high to short with the infield fly rule called. Sexson bounced up the middle to short, where Zobrist barely tagged the bag at second in time to force out Beltre. Seo threw 14 pitches and had 75 through six.

Norton bounced a 3-1 pitch to first. Navarro rolled a 1-2 pitch just past Sexson and toward the angled stands down the rightfield line for a double. Upton took the first pitch in the dirt away, and it went toward the backstop, moving Navarro to third. Upton was up 2-0 and bounced hard to third, where Beltre checked Navarro back to third and threw to first for the out. Branyan whiffed on a 2-2 curve down and in. Hernandez threw 18 pitches and had 97 through seven.

Damon Hollins came in to play right for Branyan. Broussard whiffed on an 0-2 pitch in the dirt that got away from Navarro, who got to the ball and threw to first, but it got past Lee and went down the line, allowing Broussard to scoot all the way to second (wild pitch, error on throw). Johjima stuck the second pitch down the leftfield line for a single to score Broussard.
Betancourt bunted an up-and-in first pitch along the first-base line, getting thrown out but moving Johjima to second. Adam Jones came in to run for Johjima. Bloomquist popped the second pitch high to Navarro behind the plate, who bumped into Upton in pursuit of the ball. Ichiro served an 0-2 pitch for a line drive to a diving Zobrist at short. Seo threw 13 pitches and had 88 through seven.

Rene Rivera came in to catch. Zobrist whiffed on an 0-2 breaking ball in the dirt (2-3 putout). Baldelli punched a single through the left side. Pitching coach Rafael Chaves came to the mound for a visit. Crawford popped the second pitch high to Ibañez in left. Cantu took a first-pitch fastball in the dirt away that got away from Rivera behind the plate, allowing Baldelli to move to second. Cantu flew out to Bloomquist in rightcenter.

Hernandez' line: 8 innings, 1 run, 5 hits, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, 111 pitches (68 strikes)

Lopez rolled the first pitch to short, but Zobrist had the ball roll up his glove and arm and never came up with it, allowing Lopez to reach. Beltre walked on four pitches to move Lopez to second, with an appearance of temperamentality from Seo after a 2-0 slider was down and away.

Jon Switzer came in for Seo. Ibañez whiffed at an 0-2 breaking ball in the dirt away.

Shawn Camp came in for Switzer. Sexson popped the second pitch high to right. Broussard bounced out to second. Camp threw five pitches.

Seo's line: 7 innings, 1 run (unearned), 5 hits, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, 93 pitches (64 strikes)
Switzer's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 3 pitches (3 strikes)

George Sherrill came in for Hernandez. Lee whiffed on an 0-2 fastball. Norton foul-tipped an 0-2 outside-corner fastball into Rivera's glove behind the plate. Navarro walked on four pitches.

Julio Mateo (great situation for Mark Lowe** since JJ Putz is burnt) came in for Sherrill. Upton popped high to Betancourt backing into shallow left. Mateo threw two pitches.

Sherrill's line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 12 pitches (8 strikes)

Rivera was behind 0-2 before rolling a 1-2 pitch to short. Betancourt tapped the second pitch back to the mound. Bloomquist popped the first pitch to Cantu moving into shallow right. Camp threw eight pitches and had 13 total.

Hollins whiffed on an 0-2 pitch over the inner half. Zobrist worked an 0-2 count full before knocking a single into shallow center on the eighth pitch of the at-bat. Baldelli took a first-pitch breaking ball and Rivera nailed Zobrist trying to steal second, who probably got his left hand on the bag before Lopez tagged him. Baldelli whiffed on an 0-2 breaking ball down and away. Mateo threw 14 pitches and had 16 total.

Mateo's line: 1 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 16 pitches (12 strikes)

Ichiro slapped the second pitch past a drawn-in Upton at third, but Crawford came up throwing and nearly got Ichiro, except the throw was high, so Ichiro had the double.

Seth McClung came in for Camp. Lopez bunted to the left side to Upton, who threw to first for the out, moving Ichiro to third. Beltre was intentionally walked. Ibañez was intentionally walked to load the bases. Pitching coach Mike Butcher came to the mound for a visit. Sexson crushed the second pitch to the seats just to the right side of the mass of inebriation beyond the fence in center (left of the hitters' backdrop). That's a slam. Once it left the bat, the game was won since the fly ball was long enough. The fact that it was a homer was moot, but hey, who doesn't like a slam?

Camp's line: 1 2/3 innings, 1 run, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 16 pitches (11 strikes)
McClung's line: 1/3 inning, 3 runs, 1 hit, 2 walks, 0 strikeouts, 13 pitches (3 strikes)

Gameball: Felix Hernandez.
Was this dominant Felix? No. To me, that's seven innings, maybe a walk, and eight strikeouts, maybe two or three runs, six or seven hits. He only struck out five batters in this game, so more people were making contact against him, more dependence on the defense, etc. It's good when the only disturbing thing I can point out with his start is that three of the five hits he gave up were doubles. What was the best thing about what Felix did? Honestly, I didn't think he was going to do it, but he did -- he stepped up where the rest of the rotation didn't and couldn't. On a normal day without the bullpen burnt, Hernandez still goes a solid seven innings, and I would have been fine with that. Mike Hargrove is Hargrove, though, and combined with the fact that JJ Putz was unavailable for the night, the bullpen was a bit out of whack in terms of roles. Though Hargrove didn't have it backfire, there's no way I want to see Julio Mateo trotting out of the bullpen to get one out in a tie game in the ninth inning. I don't know if Hargrove was trying to save Mark Lowe** for the extra innings or what. Maybe he had some bad bullpen sessions I haven't heard about. I know he struggled on Saturday and did throw 39 pitches, but did that really sock him in from being used three days later?

Goat: Ben Broussard.
His first game as a Mariner was great. His homer won the second game of the series at Cleveland the night after Shin-Soo Choo beat Felix Hernandez 1-0. He has played in eight games as a Mariner, starting in five of them. His totals? He's gone 4-for-22 (.182) with the one homer, the one RBI, a walk, and seven strikeouts. I know they've only had him for a week and a half, but so far he's done little more than contribute in the one game in Cleveland. While Eduardo Perez has been with the team since the beginning of July, the full-on platoon has only been in effect since the Cleveland series, which started on July 28th. Throw in the Perez numbers, and the ex-Cleveland platoon has gone 8-for-39 (.205) with a homer, two RBIs, four walks, and 12 strikeouts. Of course I think this is going to get better soon, but it's not exactly what we all expected out of them. I'm sure most fans expected not exactly a tear out of these two guys, but at least some hits here and there to remind us that they've got some warmth in their bats. I'm reminded of the NHL trade deadline in 2003-04, when Todd Bertuzzi did that whole suckerpunch thing and Brian Burke had to quickly restructure the roster. He traded for Martin Rucinsky because of his reputation as a goal scorer, someone who could finish. What happened? Well, look no further than the second line of his 2003-04 numbers. Let's hope the platoon is more Andy Benes down the stretch than Rucinsky.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 81-31 .723 -- W1
2002 69-43 .616 12 L1
2003 69-43 .616 12 W3
2000 66-46 .589 15 W4
2006 55-57 .491 26 W2
2005 49-63 .438 32 W2
2004 42-70 .375 39 W1

Shields. Washburn. Today.

[**typed before I found out the Mariners were hiding Lowe's supposedly nonserious elbow problems and that he may be back for Friday.]

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