Monday, August 14, 2006


AP photo -- Linda Kaye

In 25 words or less: How about the Mariners get swept in Oakland the next three games so we can call it a mercy killing?

This one featured Felix Hernandez going up against Kevin Millwood. Ichiro came into the game with seven hits in his last 55 at-bats. Jose Lopez had the day off with a jammed thumb, and Yuniesky Betancourt was moved up into his place in the second slot in the lineup. Willie Bloomquist took his spot in the field at second. Yup. We know the drill -- the Mariners wanted to avoid a four-game sweep since they already had dropped the first three games of the series. Worse yet, following the game, the Mariners had to fly to Oakland for a three-game set there. After that, four games in Anaheim over the weekend. I say they should just get buried and put everything out of doubt so I don't have to think of putting any true vested interest in the rest of the season. I like meaningful baseball, sure, but this team needs to make up its mind. It's maddening that we're nearly three-fourths of the way through the baseball season, and they still don't have a real identity other than not having one to begin with. Team Inconsistency, I guess.

By the way, since ESPN had the stranglehold on video broadcasts for Sunday night, MLB.tv blacked out the feed for this game, so I went off the radio feed of Dave Niehaus and Rick Rizzs as well as whenever the MLB.com Gameday feature was actually working. The video feed will be on archive later, sure, but would I go back to it for this game? Only if I really needed to. I don't see that happening anytime soon.

Ichiro fell behind 0-2 before lining a 1-2 change into center for a single. Yuniesky Betancourt popped high to Kinsler in shallow right. Adrian Beltre fell behind 0-2 before whiffing on a 1-2 breaking ball in the dirt away. Raul Ibañez smoked a 2-2 pitch past Young up the middle for a single, moving Ichiro to third. Richie Sexson worked an 0-2 count full but whiffed on a slider down over the outside corner. Millwood threw 24 pitches.

Gary Matthews, Jr. fell behind 0-2 before whiffing on a 1-2 breaking ball. Michael Young lined the second pitch to the leftfield corner for a double. Carlos Lee was ahead 3-1 but popped to Ichiro in shallow right on a full count. Mark Teixeira whiffed on a 1-2 curve down and in. Hernandez threw 16 pitches.

Ben Broussard smacked the second pitch over the wall in rightcenter. Stay warm, Ben.
Kenji Johjima lined out to DeRosa making a running catch in rightcenter. Willie Bloomquist tapped a 2-2 pitch back to the mound. Adam Jones shot the second pitch through the left side for a single. Ichiro whiffed on the second pitch, but Jones nabbed second base. Ichiro lined an 0-2 pitch into left for a single to scored Jones, and Lee's throw home got away from Barajas behind the plate, enabling Ichiro to move to second.
Betancourt had his bat explode on the first pitch, popping to Young in shallow left. Millwood threw 16 pitches and had 40 through two.

Hank Blalock nearly whiffed on an 0-2 pitch, but was given a second life on the appeal to the third-base umpire. Blalock ended up whiffing on a 2-2 breaking ball. DeRosa knocked the second pitch into right for a single. Matt Stairs failed to hold up on a 2-2 breaking ball in the dirt. Ian Kinsler took the first pitch in the dirt (wild pitch, though Johjima should have had it), and it went to the backstop to move DeRosa to second. Kinsler walked on four pitches. Rod Barajas got ahead 2-0, which was enough to lure pitching coach Rafael Chaves to the mound. Barajas was up 3-0 and walked on a full-count breaking ball away and in the dirt, loading the bases. Matthews lined a ball off the face of the wall in the leftfield corner, clearing the bases. The relay back to third base nailed Matthews trying to stretch it into a triple, but the damage was done. Hernandez threw 30 pitches and had 46 through two.

Beltre shot a 2-0 pitch through the left side and into left for a single. Ibañez worked a 1-2 count full but lined out to Lee in left. Sexson lined the first pitch into right for a single, moving Beltre to third. Broussard popped a 3-1 pitch to the track in right, scoring Beltre and moving Sexson to second.
Johjima bounced out to third. Millwood threw 19 pitches and had 59 through three.

Young rode the first pitch all the way to Jones just in front of the centerfield wall. Lee was up 2-0 and popped to Jones in deep rightcenter on a 2-2 pitch. Teixeira grounded the second pitch to first. Hernandez threw eight pitches and had 54 through three.

Bloomquist hit the first pitch fair down the rightfield line and off the angled stands, holding him to a single. Jones fell behind 0-2 and whiffed on a 1-2 high fastball. Ichiro bounced to short to nearly start a 6-4-3 double play, but Young took a while getting the ball out of his glove, and Kinsler's throw went off the dugout railing but not into the dugout, so Bloomquist was out but Ichiro had to hold at first. Betancourt lined out to lee in left. Millwood threw 12 pitches and had 71 through four.

Blalock couldn't hold up on an 0-2 pitch and was rung up on the appeal. DeRosa was down 0-2 and whiffed on a 2-2 pitch. Stairs chopped a 2-2 pitch back to the mound. Hernandez threw 13 pitches and had 67 through four.

Beltre cranked a 1-2 pitch to Matthews leaping up against the wall in front of the Mariner bullpen in leftcenter. Ibañez popped the second pitch to a sprinting Matthews in shallow center. Sexson was ahead 2-0 before whiffing on a 2-2 pitch. Millwood threw 12 pitches and had 83 through five.

Kinsler lined the second pitch into rightcenter for a single. Barajas took a 1-2 breaking ball over the inside corner. Matthews was up 2-0 and took a low 2-2 pitch as Kinsler stole second. Matthews walked on a full-count pitch away. Young cranked the second pitch off the wall in rightcenter, scoring Kinsler and Matthews, and Young came all the way around to third for a triple.
Lee bounced a 2-2 pitch past a drawn-in Beltre at third and into left, scoring Young easily.
Teixeira was up 2-0 but whiffed on a 2-2 fastball. Blalock was up 3-1 before popping to right on a full count. Hernandez threw 32 pitches and had 99 through five.

Broussard popped the second pitch to left. Johjima grounded hard to short on the second pitch. Bloomquist was ahead 2-0 but grounded hard to first on a full count. Millwood threw ten pitches and had 93 through six.

Millwood's line: 6 innings, 3 runs, 8 hits, 0 walks, 4 strikeouts, 93 pitches (63 strikes)

DeRosa grounded the first pitch to third. Stairs rode a deep fly ball to center, where Jones camped under the ball at the wall and had it go off his glove and off the wall as Stairs coasted into second. Kinsler chopped a 2-2 pitch to short as Betancourt quickly charged and threw as move Stairs to third. Barajas was down 0-2 and took a 1-2 pitch low and away in the dirt and to the backstop, scoring Stairs.
Barajas walked on a full-count pitch outside.

Sean Green came in for Hernandez. Matthews bounced the first pitch to Bloomquist behind the second-base bag, who tossed to Betancourt covering second for the force. Green threw one pitch.

Hernandez' line: 5 2/3 innings, 7 runs (6 earned), 6 hits, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts, 117 pitches (70 strikes)

Wes Littleton came in for Millwood. Jones grounded a 2-0 pitch to a charging Young at short. Ichiro popped an 0-2 pitch to Young, who moved into shallow leftcenter and made the over-the-shoulder catch. Betancourt grounded the second pitch to third. Littleton threw eight pitches.

Young grounded the second pitch to short. Lee drilled the first pitch into the rightfield corner for a double. Teixeira took a pitch, and Lee (really) took off for third, but Beltre had the throw from Johjima go off his glove and into left (Johjima got the error), enabling Lee to score from third.
Teixeira fell behind 0-2 and took a 2-2 pitch over the outside corner. Blalock walloped a 2-2 pitch into the gap in leftcenter for a double. DeRosa was down 0-2 and popped a 2-2 pitch to Betancourt down the leftfield line. Green threw 22 pitches and had 23 total.

Beltre was jammed and broke his bat on a grounder to second.

CJ Wilson came in for Littleton. Ibañez was up 2-0 before bouncing a 2-2 pitch to first. Sexson walked on a 3-1 pitch. Eduardo Perez, hitting for Broussard, lined out right to second on the second pitch.

Littleton's line: 1 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 11 pitches (7 strikes)
Wilson's line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 13 pitches (7 strikes)

Stairs was up 3-0 but grounded to short on a full count. Kinsler drilled a 2-2 pitch into the leftcenter gap for a single. Barajas bopped the second pitch over Ibañez and off the leftfield wall for a double, moving Kinsler to third.

George Sherrill came in for Green. Matthews got ahead 3-0 and was given ball four intentionally, loading the bases. Young popped a 1-2 pitch high to Ichiro in shallow right. Lee lined a 2-2 pitch into left for a single, scoring Kinsler and Barajas and moving Matthews to second. Jerry Hairston, Jr. came in to run for Lee.
Teixeira popped to Ichiro in rightcenter on the first pitch.

Green's line: 1 2/3 innings, 3 runs, 4 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 38 pitches (26 strikes)
Sherrill's line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 14 pitches (7 strikes)

Rick Bauer came in for Wilson. Johjima roped an 0-2 pitch over the scoreboard/wall in left.
Bloomquist had the hitters' counts and walked. Greg Dobbs, hitting for Jones, was down 0-2 and rattled a 1-2 pitch off the wall, nearly homering to rightcenter, but settling for a triple that scored Bloomquist.
Ichiro lined the first pitch right to Matthews, and Dobbs tagged and scored.
Betancourt bounced out to second on the second pitch. Beltre grounded the second pitch to short.

Bauer's line: 1 inning, 3 runs, 2 hits, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 17 pitches (11 strikes)

Gameball: Ichiro.
He needed this game to make us a little more sane. He's still on pace for 224 hits, so 200 looks entirely possible. He'd only need 38 over the final 53 games. Let's say he had four at-bats in every game for the rest of the season, so that'd be 212 at-bats. What's 38-for-212? Why, it's .179! Yes, using the hypothetical but reasonable number of at-bats I just talked about, Ichiro could hit .179 over the rest of the season and still amass 200 hits. Let's say that's exactly what he did. I just tacked on that 38-for-212 to his season numbers, and he'd end up hitting .281, which quite honestly would be pretty upsetting. That's way worse than the .303 he hit last year. I'm just now realizing that he only hit .303 last year. As it stands at the moment, Ichiro is a .331 career hitter. He's at .324 so far for the season. Ichiro is on pace for 109 runs (fifth-best out of six seasons in the Majors), 224 hits (third-best), 19 doubles (last), eight triples (tied for third), eight homers (tied for third), 51 RBIs (tied for fifth), 285 total bases (fifth), 51 walks (second), 67 strikeouts (second-most), 47 steals (second), and twice caught stealing (best).

Goat: Felix Hernandez.
Five days earlier, Hernandez bailed out the rest of the rotation, going eight innings and giving some rest to a bullpen that sorely needed it. Jarrod Washburn followed up the next night with a decent start, and Joel Piñeiro got into the seventh the next night, but he was tagged for six runs. Gil Meche crapped the bed on Friday night, and Jamie Moyer got through six but was tattooed on Saturday. I hoped that Felix could be the stopper for a second straight start. If you would have told me that he would strike out eight in this game, I'd feel pretty good about it. Unfortunately, he walked four hitters in this game. He's walked four or more hitters in three of his last four starts. He walked 23 hitters in 84 1/3 innings last season, or 2.5 walks per nine innings. This year, he's walked 51 in 142 innings, or 3.2 walks per nine innings. In his past four starts, he's walked 15 hitters in 24 2/3 innings, good for 5.5 per nine innings. By the same token, eight strikeouts in a game is the most he's had since June 11th, i.e., two months ago. It's really perplexing. All of his walks came around to score in this game. He gave up six hits, three of which went for extra bases. He faced 27 hitters, six of which got hits, four of which walked, eight of which struck out, four of which grounded out, four of which flew out, and one of which got aboard on Adam Jones' error on the fly ball.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 84-33 .718 -- W1
2002 72-45 .615 12 W1
2003 71-46 .607 13 W2
2000 69-48 .590 15 L1
2006 56-61 .479 28 L4
2005 50-67 .427 34 W1
2004 44-73 .376 40 W1

Washburn. Zito. Tonight.

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