Friday, August 11, 2006


AP photo -- Tony Gutierrez

In 25 words or less: Piñeiro shines early, then falls apart with assistance from Mateo. The Mariners are now 4-7 when they have a chance to climb to .500.

This one featured Joel Piñeiro going up against Adam Eaton. The temperature at game time was a mere 102 degrees. The Mariners and Rangers were in a virtual third-place tie in the standings coming into this game, with the Mariners at 56-57 and the Rangers at 57-58. Whoever won this game would be at .500. If the Mariners did something fun and swept the Rangers aside, the Mariners at 59-57 would be up on the 57-61 Rangers, which would be a lead of three games and would do the Mariners wonders in their fight for meaningful September baseball. Of course, the sad part is that the Mariners had to send Piñeiro to the mound to try and extend their winning streak to four games. Opponents hit .312 off Piñeiro coming into the game, good for third-worst (from Piñeiro's perspective, anyway) in the American League. In addition, Piñeiro came in with only one win in seven career starts in Arlington. At the risk of going on another uniform-related rant, I'll just say I hate the Rangers' alternate jerseys, which are the vests. It's mostly because of the number being way down on one side and the T way high on the other. It messes with the balance. The right way to do it is on the White Sox' home jerseys.

Ichiro popped a 3-1 pitch to short. Jose Lopez grounded a 1-2 pitch to Kinsler at second, who knocked it down and threw to first in time. Adrian Beltre ripped an 0-2 pitch right into Blalock's glove at third. Eaton threw 13 pitches.

Gary Matthews, Jr. was ahead 2-0 and lined out to first on a 2-2 pitch. Michael Young popped a 3-1 pitch to first. Carlos Lee grounded to Beltre behind the bag at third. Piñeiro threw 17 pitches.

Raul Ibañez popped an 0-2 pitch to Young in shallow left. Richie Sexson was down 0-2 and took a 1-2 curve over the outside corner. Ben Broussard had a 3-0 count go full before flying out to fairly deep center. Eaton threw 15 pitches and had 28 through two.

Mark Teixeira whiffed on a 2-2 pitch, losing his bat in the process, which flew toward the rotating sign behind the plate. Hank Blalock bounced to Betancourt near the middle with the shift on. Mark DeRosa grounded the second pitch to third. Piñeiro threw ten pitches and had 27 through two.

Kenji Johjima lined out to left on the second pitch. Yuniesky Betancourt scorched the second pitch, but it was speared by Kinsler at second, who made a leaping catch. Adam Jones lined an 0-2 pitch just over the wall for his first Major League home run. Good stuff.
Ichiro lined out to second, but no leap was needed from Kinsler this time, who didn't leave his feet for the catch. Eaton threw ten pitches and had 38 through three.

Matt Stairs grounded the first pitch to first. Ian Kinsler looped a 2-2 pitch just over the reach of a leaping Lopez and into shallow center for a single. Rod Barajas popped a 1-2 pitch to center. Matthews flew out to Betancourt on the infield grass on the second pitch. Piñeiro threw 12 pitches and had 39 through three.

Lopez bounced the second pitch to second and Kinsler's throw pulled Teixeira off the bag a bit, but he was able to get back to it in time. Beltre ripped a 1-2 pitch into left for a single. Ibañez whiffed on a 1-2 breaking ball down and away. Sexson got ahead 2-0 but watched as Beltre was gunned down trying to steal second on a perfect throw by Barajas. Eaton threw 16 pitches and had 54 through four.

Young worked a 1-2 count full and chopped high over Beltre on the left side, and Betancourt tried backing up and making something of the play, and his throw was beaten by a stride and a half at first. Lee worked an 0-2 count for a walk, moving Young to second. Teixeira flew out to Jones in rightcenter, who saw Young was two-thirds of the way to third base and threw to Betancourt covering the bag at second as Young was doubled off. Blalock lined out to Lopez in shallow right on the first pitch with the shift in place once again. Piñeiro threw 16 pitches and had 55 through four.

Sexson bounced the second pitch to short. Broussard was up 2-0 before hitting a high fly to rightcenter that reached the Ranger bullpen for a homer, but not before going off the side of Matthews' glove on what would have been a leaping and homer-robbing catch.
Johjima laced a line drive, but right to Lee in left. Betancourt drove the second pitch to center and got Matthews turned around, but Matthews got his bearings quickly and made the catch just short of the track. Eaton threw 11 pitches and had 65 through five.

DeRosa lined the second pitch into center for a single. Stairs was down 0-2 and just got under a 2-2 pitch, flying out high to right. Kinsler split his bat and bounced a 2-2 pitch to third to start a 5-4-3 double play. Piñeiro threw 12 pitches and had 67 through five.

Jones lined a 2-0 pitch right at Matthews in center. Ichiro fell behind 0-2 and bounced a 1-2 pitch to second. Lopez lined the second pitch into center for a single. Beltre took the first pitch inside, which went off of Barajas' glove (passed ball) and to the backstop, moving Lopez to second. Beltre popped to Teixeira in front of the first-base dugout.

Eaton's line: 6 innings, 2 runs, 4 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 77 pitches (56 strikes)

Barajas lined a 2-2 pitch into center for a single. Matthews walked on four pitches, moving Barajas to second. Young flew out to left on the second pitch. Lee fell behind 0-2 and pulled a 1-2 pitch off of third-base coach Steve Smith before poking the next pitch up the middle to load the bases. Teixeira drove the second pitch and hit the base of the wall in the rightfield corner on the fly, clearing the bases (double).
Blalock grounded to the mound, where Piñeiro reached behind himself after his follow-through, then gloved the ball and threw to first. DeRosa bounced to third, where Beltre tried to tag Teixeira coming down the line, but spun and threw to first instead. Piñeiro threw 24 pitches and had 91 through six.

They must have brought out Eaton to warm up, but then Bucky Showalter came out with the hook.

CJ Wilson came in for Eaton. Ibañez bounced a 1-2 pitch to short. Sexson whiffed on a 2-2 fastball. Broussard was jammed and tapped out to the left of the mound.

Wilson's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 12 pitches (8 strikes)

Stairs chopped a 2-2 pitch to short. Kinsler smashed the first pitch for a single past Beltre's backhand side at third and into left. Barajas cranked the first pitch to the leftfield corner for a double, moving Kinsler to third. Matthews was intentionally walked to load the bases.

Julio Mateo came in for Piñeiro. Young doubled into the leftfield corner on the first pitch, scoring all three runners. The relay throw home (from Betancourt, who double-clutched and missed a chance to get Matthews at the plate) got past Johjima and went into the dugout, scoring Young. You gotta love these guys!
Lee popped the first pitch into shallow rightcenter, where it eluded Lopez running backward and Ichiro coming in. Teixeira worked a 1-2 count full before walking on a breaking ball low and away (tenth pitch), moving Lee to second. Blalock whipped the second pitch into right for a single to load the bases.

Sean Green came in for Mateo. DeRosa chopped the second pitch to the left side, where the ball hit Teixeira in the back running from second to third (he was called out) and DeRosa was credited with the single. The play was scored 5 unassisted, and the bases were now loaded (Lee was not awarded home plate from third). Stairs was nailed beside the right knee with the second pitch, forcing Lee across.
Kinsler bounced a 1-2 pitch to third, where Beltre ran it to the bag. Green threw nine pitches.

Piñeiro's line: 6 1/3 innings, 6 runs, 8 hits, 3 walks, 1 strikeout, 102 pitches (57 strikes)
Mateo's line: 0 innings, 2 runs, 3 hits, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 15 pitches (9 strikes)

Rick Bauer came in for Wilson. Johjima smacked the second pitch a single past Young at short and into center. Betancourt had the hitters' counts before walking on a 3-1 pitch down and away. Greg Dobbs, hitting for Jones, bounced up the middle to Young, who wasn't led enough to the bag at second and threw to first, moving Johjima and Betancourt to third and second. Ichiro whiffed on an 0-2 breaking ball away, punctuating his 7-for-47 slide. Lopez chopped out to short. Bauer threw 17 pitches.

Willie Bloomquist came in to play center. Barajas flew out to Bloomquist making a running catch in leftcenter. Matthews flew out to left on a 1-2 pitch. Young knocked a 2-2 pitch up the middle for a single. Lee solidly singled to shallow center on the first pitch. Teixeira got ahead 2-0 and rolled to Betancourt up the middle on a full count.

Green's line: 1 2/3 innings, 0 runs, 3 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 28 pitches (17 strikes)

Beltre lined out to right. Ibañez popped to left. Sexson whiffed on a full count.

Bauer's line: 2 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 29 pitches (17 strikes)

Gameball: Adam Jones.
So he gets his first big-league homer, makes a couple decent catches in center, starts a double play when Michael Young comes too far off the second-base bag, and the rest of the team sans Ben Broussard does nothing? Heck yes, I'll give the gameball to Jones. He was lifted for Greg Dobbs in the top of the eighth and didn't get his third at-bat of the game, so he finished 1-for-2. The one out he made was when he lined out to center in the sixth, so he hit everything hard and that's a good thing. He is now 13-for-59 (.220) in the Majors with three doubles, a homer, four RBIs, two walks, 16 strikeouts (yikes), and he's 2-for-3 on steals. He's played in 20 games. In other gameball-worthy news, Ben Broussard freed himself from my goats-until-hitting edict, and he did so with his second homer as a Mariner. He is now hitting 4-for-28 (.143) as a Mariner with two homers, two RBIs, a walk, and seven strikeouts in ten games (nine starts). It'd be good to get Broussard warmed up since the lineup badly needs lefthanded sock that isn't named Raul Ibañez.

Goat: Ichiro.
Broussard got a hit (homer), so he was off the hot seat, freeing it up for Ichiro, who is cooler than cool (ice cold, even). He is 6-for-39 so far in August. Tack on the last three games of July, and Ichiro is 8-for-51 (.157) with three doubles, zero RBIs, two walks, five strikeouts, and not a steal attempt to be found. Steals are kinda hard to attempt without getting on base, and Ichiro has a .154 on-base percentage for August, which is the same as his batting average. After he went 2-for-4 on July 28th, Ichiro was sitting with a .347 batting average. If you want to go further back, he was hitting .359 after the final game of the Colorado series on July 2nd. After this game, he is at .327. He's chopped 20 points off his season average in less than two weeks and 32 points in a little less than six weeks. It's like the complete opposite of a miracle weight-loss diet.
Ichiro has now gone hitless in 27 of the Mariners' 114 games this season. In those games, the Mariners have a record of 7-20, meaning the Mariners have won 35% of the games where Ichiro hangs up a goose egg.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 83-31 .728 -- W3
2002 70-44 .614 13 W1
2003 69-45 .605 14 L2
2000 67-47 .588 16 L1
2006 56-58 .491 27 L1
2005 49-65 .430 34 L2
2004 43-71 .377 40 L1

Meche. Wells. Tonight.

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