Saturday, August 12, 2006


AP photo -- Tony Gutierrez

[posted in full Sun ~3:09a]

In 25 words or less: Screw 'em.

This one featured Gil Meche going up against Kip Wells. The Mariners hoped to get their momentum back from the Tampa Bay sweep and hoped to get back to within one game of .500. Also, the Mariners hoped to get back into a virtual tie with the Rangers. If they lost, though, it make the hole a little deeper in last place for the Mariners, and with the season starting to wind down, the Mariners hoped not to repeat most of their Augusts past, referred to on many occasions as the Dog Days. Unfortunately, Meche lately hasn't been the Meche that was the best pitcher on the staff for about a month -- he'd been reverting back to his old Jekyll/Hyde self, not a good thing considering the overworked bullpen needed the rotation to get deep into some games thanks to a stretch of seventeen straight games without a day off, with fourteen of them coming against division rivals and the last eleven of which were road games. Yes, this game marked the eighth game of what ultimately was a make-or-break stretch in the Mariners' season, and coming into this game, they were 3-4 in said stretch.

Ichiro popped to right on the first pitch. Jose Lopez was down 0-2 before grounding to short on a 1-2 pitch. Adrian Beltre walloped a double off the base of the wall in leftcenter. Raul Ibañez worked a 1-2 count full but whiffed on a breaking ball away. Wells threw 15 pitches.

Gary Matthews, Jr. worked a 1-2 count for a walk. Michael Young walked on a 3-1 pitch inside, moving Matthews to second. Carlos Lee cranked the first pitch to Ichiro on the track in rightcenter, moving Matthews to third. Mark Teixeira walked on four pitches to load the bases. Pitching coach Rafael Chaves visited the mound. Hank Blalock was down 0-2 and bounced a 1-2 pitch to first, where Broussard bounced the throw to second (error) to start what would have been a double play as Matthews scored and the bases remained loaded.
Mark DeRosa dumped a single into shallow right, scoring Young and Teixeira and moving Blalock to third.
Matt Stairs popped a 3-0 pitch to shallow left. Ian Kinsler walked on a 3-1 pitch down and away, loading the bases once again. Rod Barajas bounced the second pitch to the left side past Beltre, but it was backed up by Betancourt, who airmailed the throw to first (error), scoring Blalock and DeRosa and moving Kinsler to third.
Matthews fell behind 0-2 but bounced a 1-2 pitch off of a diving Broussard (who probably should have stayed back at first) and through the right side for a single to score Kinsler and Barajas.
Young lined out to Ichiro near the rightfield track. Meche threw 40 pitches.

Richie Sexson walked on four pitches. Ben Broussard was up 3-0 but bounced a full-count pitch to first, where Teixeira threw to second for the force, but Broussard beat the back end of the double play. Kenji Johjima popped to right. Yuniesky Betancourt fell behind 0-2 but slapped a 1-2 pitch up the middle for a single. Adam Jones whiffed on an 0-2 breaking ball off the plate away. Wells threw 23 pitches and had 38 through two.

Lee was up 3-0 before walking on a full count. Teixeira had the hitters' counts and walked on a full-count pitch inside, moving Lee to second.

Jake Woods came in for Meche. Blalock knocked an 0-2 pitch over Betancourt up the middle on the shift, loading the bases on the single. DeRosa drilled the first pitch to the wall in the rightcenter gap, scoring Lee and Teixeira, but the throw home beat Blalock, who was running about five feet behind Teixeira.
Stairs was down 0-2 but drilled a 2-2 pitch into right for a single, scoring DeRosa.
Kinsler walked on four pitches, moving Stairs to second. Barajas whiffed on a 1-2 pitch. Matthews had the hitters' counts and walked on a high 3-1 pitch. Young flew out to a running Jones in center on the second pitch. Woods threw 24 pitches.

Meche's line: 1 inning, 9 runs (4 earned), 2 hits, 6 walks, 0 strikeouts, 54 pitches (24 strikes)

Ichiro fell behind 0-2 before chopping a 1-2 pitch to second. Lopez was up 2-0 before popping high to right. Beltre reached the centerfield wall on one hop for a double. Ibañez looped the first pitch into center for a single, scoring Beltre.
Sexson drilled a single into center to move Ibañez to second. Wells got a visit from the pitching coach. Broussard popped high to center on the second pitch. Wells threw 20 pitches and had 58 through three.

Lee blasted the first pitch inside the leftfield foul pole, twelve rows back or so.
Teixeira was ahead 3-1 but popped to Lopez in shallow center on a full count. Blalock was jammed and popped the second pitch to Lopez in shallow right. DeRosa crushed a homer that was kinda like Lee's, but a bit more to the right.
Stairs lined the first pitch over the reach of Lopez and into right for a single. Kinsler grounded to third on the second pitch. Woods threw 15 pitches and had 39 total.

Johjima roped the second pitch off the chalk near the base of the wall in the leftfield corner for a double. Betancourt beat the second pitch through the left side for a single, pushing Johjima to third. Jones bounced a double into the leftfield corner, scoring Johjima as well as Betancourt, the latter of whom scored from first.
Ichiro bounced an 0-2 pitch up the middle, where Kinsler had the ball go off the top of his glove (error) and into center, scoring Jones. Bucky Showalter and some members of the Texas training staff came to attend to Wells, who twisted an ankle trying to field the ball on the play.

Josh Rupe came in for Wells. Lopez poked the first pitch into right for a single, moving Ichiro to third. Beltre smoked the first pitch up the middle and it knocked off Rupe's glove, but Rupe got a hold of the ball and got Ichiro into a rundown, moving Lopez and Beltre to third and second. Ibañez rocked the first pitch into the Ranger bullpen in rightcenter, tying a career high for homers.
Sexson knocked a 2-0 pitch for a single through the right side. Rupe got a visit from his pitching coach. Broussard took the second pitch, a 93mph sinker, off the outside of his right knee, knocking him to the deck and moving Sexson to second (he stayed in the game). Johjima whiffed on a 1-2 curve up and in. Betancourt took a pitch that nearly hit him in the head. Betancourt was up 2-0 before flying out to shallow right. Rupe threw 17 pitches.

Wells' line: 3 innings, 5 runs, 8 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 69 pitches (45 strikes)

Barajas popped the second pitch to Ichiro near the rightfield track. Matthews lined a 2-2 pitch just over the leftfield wall.
Young hit a soft liner on a full count to Lopez in the hole on the right side, who hot-potatoed it and had it drop (scored as a single). Lee had the hitters' counts before popping on a full count very high to Ibañez in leftcenter. Teixeira flew out high to Lopez in shallow center on a 2-0 pitch. Woods threw 21 pitches and had 60 total.

Jones grounded a 2-2 pitch to Kinsler's backhand side at second. Ichiro lined a single into right for his first hit of the series. Lopez bounced up the middle to Young, who ranged over to throw to first, moving Ichiro to second. Beltre was up 2-0 but bounced out to third on a 2-2 pitch. Rupe threw 17 pitches and had 34 total.

Rupe's line: 2 innings, 2 runs, 4 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 34 pitches (21 strikes)

Blalock mashed 2-2 pitch into center for a single. DeRosa fell back 0-2 and whiffed on a 1-2 low breaking ball. Stairs fell behind 0-2 before driving a full-count pitch deep to center, where Jones got back to the track and made the catch.

Sean Green came in for Woods. Kinsler smacked a ball up the middle that looked to be a single, but Lopez dove for it and tossed to Betancourt running to the bag at second for the force. Green threw four pitches.

Woods' line: 3 2/3 innings, 4 runs, 9 hits, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts, 75 pitches (43 strikes)

Ron Mahay came in for Rupe. Ibañez worked an 0-2 count full but whiffed on a fastball. Sexson bounced an 0-2 pitch into center for a single. Eduardo Perez, hitting for Broussard, grounded right to second to start a 4-6-3 double play.

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

Eduardo Perez stayed in to play first. Barajas was ahead 3-0 before rolling a 3-1 pitch into center for a single. Matthews grounded the second pitch to the right side, where it ate up Perez and went into right for a single, moving Barajas to second. Young bounced the second pitch to short to start a 6-4-3 double play. Lee lined the second pitch right into Perez' glove at first. Green threw 11 pitches and had 15 total.

Wes Littleton came in for Mahay. Johjima chopped the second pitch behind the mound but Littleton moved back to glove the ball and throw to first. Betancourt dodged another inside pitch which this time would have hit him in a leg. Betancourt managed a swinging bunt along the third-base line on which Blalock had no play (single). Jones lined out to short on the second pitch. Ichiro bounced a 2-0 pitch to second. Littleton threw 12 pitches.

Teixeira worked an 0-2 count full and reached on a low-and-away pitch, doubling off the top of the wall in rightcenter. Blalock was up 2-0 but grounded to Betancourt up the middle (shifted). DeRosa, a triple away from the cycle at this point, got the hitters' counts and popped out to left. The throw home by Ibañez was on line, but was a bit too short.
Stairs the second pitch popped to Betancourt in shallow left. Green threw 17 pitches and had 32 total.

Lopez popped the second pitch to DeRosa, who made a running catch near the rightfield line. Beltre popped an 0-2 pitch to Kinsler on the outfield grass. Ibañez popped the second pitch to first.

Littleton's line: 2 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 19 pitches (14 strikes)

Kinsler bounced deep in the hole on the left side, where Betancourt ranged over and made the spin and long throw in time on a great play. Barajas looped into shallow center, but Betancourt moved back to reach and make the catch. Matthews flew out to Jones in deep rightcenter. Green threw

Green's line: 3 1/3 innings, 1 run, 3 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 38 pitches (20 strikes)

Akinori Otsuka came in for Littleton and Jerry Hairston, Jr. came in for Matthews. Sexson got under the second pitch, popping high to shallow right. Perez fell behind 0-2 and bounced out to short on a 1-2 pitch. Johjima bounced the first pitch to third.

Otsuka's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 7 pitches (6 strikes)

Gameball: Richie Sexson.
This gameball is one of those "how often is that going to happen?" gameballs. Rare is the day when Sexson goes 3-for-4 with a walk. He got on base four times, for goodness' sake. That's been a rarity, more so this year than in the past, of course. The last time he had three hits in a game was in the middle game of the series in Toronto (July 15th), when he went 3-for-4 with a solo shot and a walk. In related news, he has hit only two homers and driven in eight runs so far in August (ten games). It's too simple of an extrapolation, but let's say two-thirds of the month remain and we can multiply the numbers by three to get his August totals. That'd be six homers and 24 RBIs for August. The 24 RBIs would eclipse his July total of 17, but the six homers would be three less than July. The 24 RBIs would also beat his April and May totals of 15 and 14, but those were horrible months that all Mariner fans would like to forget. The six homers, though low, would be the April and May totals of two and four, but not the eight of June and nine of July. That'd put him at 29 homers going into September, leaving him with a chance to end up with mid-30s for homers at season's end. I can tell you that on Memorial Day, there was no way in hell I saw Sexson ending up with 35 homers or anything close to that, and I'm a big fan of his.

Goat: Gil Meche.
I can't remember if it was last season or earlier this season, but MLB.tv sometimes varies their feed of the games, and not just with which team's television feed they show. Sometimes they show exactly what people are seeing on regular television. Other times they show the plain in-park or DiamondVision feed that has the TV play-by-play but with no commercials, on-screen graphics, or replays that to which the broadcasters might refer (yes, those MLB.tv broadcasts make me incredibly mad). On one of the games of the latter scenario, MLB.tv was late flashing away from the ballpark feed and Dave Niehaus' microphone was still on. Meche had pitched, and there was a fielding error behind him, then he really got into trouble. After Meche finally got the third out, the MLB.tv feed cut away, and the regular broadcast feed I'm sure had gone to break, and that's when Niehaus remarked that bad plays in the field seem to really affect Meche more than the usual pitcher (I forget which game it was, so "usual pitcher" might actually be "anyone"). Meche doesn't even have that excuse for this game, though, since he walked three guys before Ben Broussard made the first error of the first inning. That doesn't mean he should walk another guy and have six more runs score in that inning. I know it sucks to have errors behind you when you're pitching, but it's not like Meche doesn't have the stuff to get strikeouts, because he does. He recorded zero strikeouts in this game, his shortest outing of the year. He walked two more hitters to start the second before getting yanked and then having Jake Woods get burned for the next three games. The sentence I'm currently typing is from when I came back to the paragraph since I remembered that the strike zone was pretty small. Even still, Ranger pitchers walked only one batter the whole night.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 83-32 .722 -- L1
2002 71-44 .617 12 W2
2003 69-46 .600 14 L3
2000 68-47 .591 15 W1
2006 56-59 .487 27 L2
2005 49-66 .426 34 L3
2004 43-72 .374 40 L2

Moyer. Volquez. Tonight.

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