Sunday, August 13, 2006


AP photo -- Tony Gutierrez

In 25 words or less: The Mariners don't score until Moyer is gone, but Moyer gives up five runs anyway and digs a hole too deep.

This one featured Jamie Moyer going up against Edinson Volquez. The Mariners have been shut out in six of Moyer's starts this season. If the Mariners wanted a chance to salvage a tie in this series, they would have to come away with a win in this game. Once again, of course, wins against the Rangers are now wins that keep them from getting buried even further into last place in the AL West. If anything's good about the status of the Mariners here in mid-August, it's that the games still have a morsel of meaning as they're being played. They're not completely out of it, they're just pretty much out of it. Baby steps. As I keep saying, I thought .500 was a realistic goal for this team, and if they end up there, then in retrospect, I think the season wouldn't have shaped out too badly. Of course, the thing that's bothersome is that this team has played stretches of very good baseball, but negated them completely with stretches of mind-numbingly horrible and unwatchable baseball. You never know when the next stretch of good or bad baseball is going to happen with these guys.

Ichiro drove a 3-1 pitch but flew out to center. Jose Lopez broke his bat and was jammed on the second pitch, bouncing out to third. Adrian Beltre fell behind 0-2 before lining out to center on a 1-2 pitch. Volquez threw 13 pitches.

Gary Matthews, Jr. bounced to third, where Beltre leaped to try to grab it, but had it go off the top of his glove as he jumped too soon, and it slowly rolled down the leftfield line as Matthews had the double. Michael Young roped a 2-2 pitch into right for a single, scoring Matthews easily.
Carlos Lee fell behind 0-2 before flying out to center on a 1-2 pitch. Mark Teixeira was ahead 2-0 before walking on a high full-count pitch. Mark DeRosa drove a 2-2 pitch and took Jones to the track in center as the runners had to hold. Hank Blalock rolled the first pitch right to Betancourt up the middle (shifted). Moyer threw 24 pitches.

Raul Ibañez bounced right to second. Richie Sexson blistered a 2-0 over Young at short and to the wall in leftcenter for a double. Kenji Johjima popped very high to shallow left. Yuniesky Betancourt walked on four pitches. Willie Bloomquist also walked on four pitches, loading the bases. Adam Jones slapped a ball into the rightfield corner foul that was nearly caught. Jones ended up whiffing on a 1-2 breaking ball in the dirt (eighth pitch of at-bat). Volquez threw 26 pitches and had 39 through two.

Ian Kinsler drilled the first pitch into the leftcenter gap for a double. Gerald Laird was ahead 2-0 and push-bunted near the first-base line, where Moyer got it and tossed to first, moving Kinsler to third. Nelson Cruz got under a pitch and flew out to left, and Ibañez came up throwing, but his throw was a bit up the line and four-hopped to Johjima.
Matthews grounded hard to third on the first pitch. Moyer threw 20 pitches and had 33 through two.

Ichiro grounded out to second. Lopez popped the first pitch lazily to Cruz near the rightfield line. Beltre had the hitters' counts and popped a full-count pitch to Teixeira behind the plate as it started to pour down rain in Arlington. Shortly after, the groundscrew came out and tarp was thrown onto the field. For rain delay programming, it was some footage of the 1996 Rangers' division champion tenth anniversary pregame ceremony, followed by a rerun of FSN's In My Own Words. On the Mariners radio side, Rick Rizzs and Ron Fairly had Bob Finnigan in for a visit. Volquez threw ten pitches and had 49 through three.

After about a 20-minute rain delay, Young rolled out to short. Lee popped to left on a 2-2 pitch. Teixeira got ahead 2-0 and mashed a full-count pitch through the right side for a single. DeRosa bounced the second pitch to third. Moyer threw 17 pitches and had 50 through three.

Ibañez was up 2-0 and hit a hard fly to left, but it was caught by Lee on the leftfield track. Sexson bounced over the mound to Kinsler. Johjima poked a single through the left side. Betancourt drilled a 1-2 pitch through the mound for a single, nearly missing Volquez on the mound and moving Johjima to second. Bloomquist worked an 0-2 count for a walk, loading the bases. Jones was up 2-0 before grounding hard to second. Volquez threw 22 pitches and had 71 through four.

Blalock grounded an 0-2 pitch to third. Kinsler was ahead 2-0 and grounded a full-count pitch to Beltre at third, who stopped it and threw to first. Laird reached for an outside 2-2 pitch and singled into leftcenter. Cruz popped the first pitch to the camera well on the first-base side, and it looked like Sexson didn't reach far enough over the railing and he could have had the out, but it fell foul. Cruz was down 0-2 before whiffing on a 1-2 breaking ball. Moyer threw 19 pitches and had 69 through four.

Ichiro popped high to center. Lopez reached for an outside pitch and rolled out to second. Beltre reached for an outside first pitch and popped to shallow right. Volquez threw eight pitches and had 79 through five.

Matthews drove a homer into the Mariner bullpen in leftcenter, good for 424 feet.
Young was down 0-2 and spanked a full-count pitch into right for a single. Lee bounced the second pitch to short to start a 6-4-3 double play. Teixeira shot a full-count grounder to short that ate up Betancourt and went into shallow left for a single. DeRosa watched a 1-2 pitch as Teixeira nabbed second and singled into left on the next pitch, scoring Teixeira from third.
Blalock popped to center on the second pitch. Moyer threw 25 pitches and had 94 through five.

Ibañez bounced the second pitch to short. Sexson grounded the second pitch hard to short. Johjima reached for a low-and-away 0-2 pitch and poked it into center for a single. Betancourt popped the second pitch to right. Volquez threw nine pitches and had 88 through five.

Kinsler was ahead 2-0 before popping out to Bloomquist in rightcenter. Laird reached the third row in leftcenter on the first pitch.
Cruz reached for a 2-2 pitch and popped to shallow center. Matthews popped the second pitch to Beltre near the third-base coaches' box.

Moyer's line: 6 innings, 5 runs, 10 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 107 pitches (66 strikes)

Bloomquist was ahead 2-0 before popping a 2-2 to Kinsler backing into shallow right. Jones fell behind 0-2 before taking a 94mph 2-2 fastball over the outside corner. Ichiro whiffed on an 0-2 change down and away.

Volquez' line: 7 innings, 0 runs, 4 hits, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts, 104 pitches (63 strikes)

Julio Mateo came in for Moyer. Lee singled to right on an 0-2 pitch. Teixeira was up 3-0 and shot a full-count pitch past Sexson at first for a single, moving Lee to third. DeRosa popped the second pitch to Lopez in shallow center. Blalock took a 2-0 pitch off the outside of his right thigh, loading the bases and resulting in Blalock glaring at Mateo. Kinsler got ahead 2-0, triggering a visit from Chaves. Kinsler ended up popping the next pitch to Sexson in foul ground on the right side.

Mateo's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 19 pitches (11 strikes)

Joaquin Benoit came in for Volquez. Lopez dumped the second pitch into shallow right in front of Cruz, who dove but had to play it off the hop and replace his divot. Beltre was down 0-2 before whiffing on a 1-2 change down and in. Ibañez whiffed on a 2-2 pitch. Sexson had the hitters' counts before walking on a 3-1 pitch down and away. Johjima slowly bounced a 1-2 pitch up the middle that Kinsler dove for but couldn't come up with, giving Johjima the single, then Kinsler threw high to the plate to try and get Lopez, who scored. Johjima went to second and Sexson to third after Benoit didn't back up the plate on the play.
Betancourt smacked a single into center, scoring Sexson and Johjima.

Rick Bauer came in for Benoit. Bloomquist was ahead 3-1 before reaching outside for a full-count pitch and spanking a double into the corner, scoring Betancourt.
Greg Dobbs, hitting for Jones, took an 0-2 breaking ball over the outside corner.

Benoit's line: 2/3 inning, 4 runs, 3 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 24 pitches (14 strikes)
Bauer's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 9 pitches (6 strikes)

Mark Lowe came in for Mateo, Bloomquist moved to center, and Dobbs stayed in to play right. Laird whiffed on a 1-2 pitch. Cruz popped high to shallow center on the second pitch. Matthews walked on a 3-1 pitch away. Young grounded the first pitch hard to short, where Betancourt underhanded to second for the force.

Lowe's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 12 pitches (7 strikes)

Akinori Otsuka came in for Bauer. Ichiro was ahead 2-0 but later tapped back to the mound, where Otsuka threw and basically ran a shorthop drill for Teixeira, who had to pick it for the out. Lopez tapped the first pitch hard to the mound. Beltre pounded a full-count pitch that one-hopped the leftfield wall for a double. Ibañez took a full-count pitch in the dirt for a walk. Sexson lined a 1-2 pitch that couldn't quite find the rightcenter gap as it was run down by Matthews.

Otsuka's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 22 pitches (12 strikes)

Gameball: Yuniesky Betancourt.
Well, he wasn't making any costly errors or anything in this one. Rather, he went 2-for-3 with a walk and a couple of RBIs. He currently is hitting .303 for the season with 17 doubles, four triples, five homers, and 38 RBIs. He's walked 13 times (he's not famous for walking) and he's struck out 35 times (he's not famous for striking out either). He hit ninth in the lineup for most of the season except when Willie Bloomquist had a spot start or Rene Rivera was catching. Now he's hitting predominantly eighth with Adam Jones getting the bulk of the playing time in center. After his 60-game stint with the Mariners to end last season, we knew of Betancourt's ability with the glove, but we still didn't know about his bat. What do we know now? The Mariners have an over-.300 hitter in the bottom third of the lineup, that's what. Combine that with Kenji Johjima hitting (normally) seventh in the lineup with a .297 mark, and what used to be the offensive black hole in Mariner lineups of years past is a black hole no longer, unless you consider the number-nine hitters of late, but I'm willing to give Jones some slack for being new and all.

Goat: Ichiro.
Betancourt crossed the plate once today, but it wasn't on a hit by Ichiro, it was on a hit by Willie Bloomquist, incredibly, after Betancourt hit a two-run single. In what has become one of my go-to recurring numbers this season, the Mariners now have a record of 7-21 when Ichiro goes hitless. That's 28 hitless games out of 116 total games this season, accounting for 24.1% of the Mariners' games. What Ichiro's been doing lately isn't like what was happening to Adrian Beltre right before he started warming up -- Ichiro's not scorching the ball right at people or anything, he's either popping balls in the air or whiffing, and I'm having a hard time telling whether his whiffing is horrible or whether I'm psychologically magnifying it since he's in a slump. He's hitting .323 right now, which of course is much lower than what it once was earlier this season. Remember how bewildered everyone was when Ichiro was at .287 after April? He followed with a .371 May and a .386 June. Then he hit .317 in July, which was somewhat passable since he was purely on fire in June. We're 11 games into July, and Ichiro's hitting .143. Ouch. Even with this, however, he's still on pace for 223 hits.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 83-33 .716 -- L2
2002 71-45 .612 12 L1
2003 70-46 .603 13 W1
2000 69-47 .595 14 W2
2006 56-60 .483 27 L3
2005 49-67 .422 34 L4
2004 43-73 .371 40 L3

Hernandez. Millwood. Tonight.

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