Thursday, August 17, 2006
In 25 words or less: The Mariners are one candle short of a sweet sixteen against Oakland. Also, Ichiro wasn't quite the final out this time.
This one featured Gil Meche going up against Dan Haren. Earlier in the day, the news came down that Joel Piñeiro was moved to the bullpen, Jake Woods was promoted to the starting rotation, Greg Dobbs was optioned to Tacoma, and lefty Eric O'Flaherty, all of 21 years old, was called up to the big squad. The Mariners were trying to avoid their longest losing streak of the season. The Mariners had two seven-game losing streaks in 2005. They had a seven-game losing-streak as well as the nine-gamer that took them into the All-Star break in 2004. The Mariners came into the game with a 4-9 record in August with 13 games to play. Year by year, the Mariners had the following records this decade: 11-17 in 2000, 20-9 in 2001, 13-15 in 2002, 14-15 in 2003, 12-16 in 2004, and 11-17 in 2005. As you can see, they've only had one winning August in the decade, and the only time that happened was with the crazy-good team of the 2001 regular season. So, it ends up that the Mariners experience the Dog Days of August annually, though it really doesn't have to be that way. It just is.
Ichiro got a hold of the second pitch, driving it into deep center, but Kotsay ran roughly a mile and caught it on the run in front of the track, crashing into the wall afterward. Jose Lopez bounced a 2-2 pitch to first. Adrian Beltre smacked the 1-2 pitch over Scutaro at short and into left for a single. Raul Ibañez drilled a single into right, moving Beltre to second. Eduardo Perez grounded a 3-1 pitch hard to Chavez behind the bag at third, who took it to the bag for the force on Beltre. Haren threw 19 pitches.
Jason Kendall took a 2-2 pitch way inside and Meche reacted somewhat adversely to it, perhaps frustrated. Kendall rolled the next pitch up the middle past the reach of Betancourt for a full-count single. Mark Kotsay popped high to left. Milton Bradley popped the first pitch to Beltre near the third-base coaches' box. Frank Thomas took a pitch in the dirt that bounced and went off his left upper arm, rolling away and enabling Kendall to move to second. Thomas whiffed on a wicked curve down and away. Meche threw 18 pitches.
Ben Broussard whiffed on a 1-2 breaking ball down and in. Kenji Johjima stroked the first pitch in front of Payton in left for a single. Yuniesky Betancourt reached for a 1-2 pitch and popped to shallow center. Willie Bloomquist looped a 2-2 pitch in shallow right just between Ellis and Bradley for a single, moving Johjima to second, who was nearly caught overrunning second by Bradley. Ichiro reached for a low 0-2 pitch and slapped a fly ball to Payton in left. Haren threw 18 pitches and had 37 through two.
Eric Chavez spanked a 3-1 pitch through the right side for a single. Jay Payton popped to Bloomquist on the run in shallow leftcenter. Nick Swisher walked on four pitches to move Chavez to second. Marco Scutaro bounced to the left side, where Beltre blocked Chavez from reaching third and tagged him (Swisher moved to second). Mark Ellis cranked a 2-0 pitch somewhere behind the cameraman beyond the leftfield wall.
»» ATHLETICS 3, MARINERS 0
Kendall reached away and dropped a single along the line in shallow right. Kotsay was ahead 2-0 before bouncing to second on a 2-2 pitch. Meche threw 28 pitches and had 46 through two.
Lopez bounced the second pitch to short. Beltre whiffed on a 1-2 slider down and away. Ibañez took a 2-2 fastball over the outside corner. Haren threw 13 pitches and had 50 through three.
Bradley had a 3-0 count go full but walked on the seventh pitch. Thomas couldn't hold up on the first pitch and the ball got away from Johjima, who was screened by Thomas walking backward, so Johjima wasn't able to get off a throw to second. Thomas took a 1-2 fastball over the inside corner, and Thomas took mild umbrage with the call by Marty Foster behind the plate. Chavez chopped a 1-2 pitch high to the mound, moving Bradley to second. Payton whiffed on a 1-2 curve low and away and quite violently tossed his helmet and bat away afterward. Meche threw 21 pitches and had 67 through three.
Perez blistered the second pitch over a leaping Chavez and into the leftfield corner for a double. Broussard popped high to center as Perez held at second. Johjima reached for the second pitch, bouncing it to short, where Scutaro had the ball come out of his glove and that was enough for Johjima to beat the throw to first as Perez had to hold again at second. ***Betancourt poked a single through the right side to load the bases. Bloomquist whiffed on an 0-2 splitter down and away. Ichiro was up 2-0 but whiffed over a 2-2 splitter down and away. Haren threw 19 pitches and had 69 through four.
Swisher had the hitters' counts before walking on a full-count breaking ball inside. Scutaro worked an 0-2 count full before bouncing to third. Ellis popped to Bloomquist in rightcenter, moving Swisher to third. Kendall had the count 2-1 when Meche started his delivery, caught his right spike on the rubber, and couldn't finish the pitch (balk), scoring Swisher.
»» ATHLETICS 4, MARINERS 0
Kendall rolled the next pitch into center for a single. Kotsay rolled to second on the second pitch. Meche threw 20 pitches and had 87 through four.
Lopez grounded an 0-2 pitch to Chavez near the bag at third. Beltre whiffed on a 2-2 pitch. Ibañez fouled the second pitch off a place where the shin guard wasn't and trainer Rick Griffin came out for a short visit. Ibañez took the next pitch (0-2) over the inside corner. Haren threw 12 pitches and had 81 through five.
Bradley lined the second pitch to center. Thomas worked an 0-2 count full before popping high to shallow center. Chavez rolled out to third. Meche threw 12 pitches and had 99 through five.
Perez was up 2-0 and ended up lining out to left. Broussard worked a 1-2 count full and flew out to Kotsay in leftcenter. Johjima drilled a single into center. Betancourt whiffed on a 1-2 pitch in the dirt. Haren threw 20 pitches and had 101 through six.
Haren's line: 6 innings, 0 runs, 7 hits, 0 walks, 8 strikeouts, 101 pitches (71 strikes)
Payton popped the first pitch lazily to left. Swisher took a 2-2 pitch up and in that nearly hit him but walked on a full-count pitch outside nonetheless and flicked the bat away with mild frustration. Scutaro stuck an 0-2 pitch through the left side for a single to move Swisher to second.
Sean Green came in for Meche. Ellis dropped a bunt on the second pitch near the third-base line and caught Beltre playing back, loading the bases. Pitching coach Rafael Chaves viisted the mound. Kendall rolled the second pitch right to short to start a timely 6-4-3 double play. Green threw four pitches.
Meche's line: 5 1/3 innings, 4 runs, 6 hits, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts, 109 pitches (60 strikes)
Green's line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 4 pitches (3 strikes)
Justin Duchscherer came in for Haren. Bloomquist flew out to center on the second pitch. Ichiro singled up the middle. Lopez popped the first pitch that looked like it would land into the seats along the leftfield line, but it stayed in the field of play and Payton ran over and caught the fly. Beltre popped a 2-2 pitch high to Swisher near the mound. Duchscherer threw 12 pitches.
Duchscherer's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 12 pitches (9 strikes)
Eric O'Flaherty, making his Major League debut and wearing number 59, came in for Green. Kotsay drilled a first-pitch fastball to the rightfield wall for a double, extending his hit streak to 15 games. Bradley grounded to Broussard on the right side, who flipped to a covering O'Flaherty at first, moving Kotsay to third. Chaves came to the mound for a visit. Thomas was intentionally walked and Antonio Perez came in to run for him as half a bank of lights over leftfield. Chavez popped the second pitch high off the track in foul ground on the right side near Broussard. Chavez whiffed on an 0-2 breaking ball away.
Julio Mateo came in for O'Flaherty. Payton popped the first pitch to Broussard between the mound and first. Mateo threw one pitch.
O'Flaherty's line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 12 pitches (6 strikes)
Joe Kennedy came in for Duchscherer. Ibañez reached and slapped a 2-2 pitch into left for a single. Perez grounded hard to short, where Scutaro went to a knee to make the backhand stop and backhand flip to get the lead runner, but Perez barely beat out the back end of the double play. Mike Morse, hitting for Broussard, took a 2-2 pitch under his elbows on the inside corner for strike three as his checkswing didn't matter. Johjima grounded an 0-2 pitch to Chavez behind the bag at third.
Kennedy's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 15 pitches (11 strikes)
Morse stayed in the game to play first. Swisher was up 2-0 but whiffed on a 2-2 low breaking ball. Scutaro bounced an 0-2 pitch to second. Ellis was up 2-0 and popped on a full count to left, where Betancourt and Ibañez had some limbs collide and Betancourt came down with the ball as the hat of Ibañez fell to the ground.
Mateo's line: 1 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 17 pitches (12 strikes)
Huston Street came in for Kennedy. Betancourt worked a 1-2 count full and slapped an outside pitch to Swisher behind the bag at first (3-1 putout). Bloomquist lined a 2-2 pitch toward the legs of Swisher at first, who snared the ball. Ichiro, up with two outs in the ninth for a third straight game, dropped a low-and-away second pitch between Kotsay and Bradley in rightcenter for a single. Lopez took the first pitch and Ichiro took second on catcher's indifference. Lopez whiffed on a later pitch as Ichiro went to third on another catcher indifference. Lopez bounced the second pitch to third.
Street's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 18 pitches (12 strikes)
You know, he's actually 7-for-18 (.389) in the last four games (three of them multi-hit games), and that's not so bad. Of course, he started off the month 7-for-49 (.143) with three doubles, which is horrible for anyone, and extremely horrible for Ichiro. Tack on the last couple games in July, and Ichiro had a stretch of 9-for-61 (.148), before which his batting average stood at .347. Now he's hitting .325, a drop of 22 points in a span of just about two weeks. Everyone knows Ichiro's swing looks great when it's hitting the ball and looks absolutely ugly when he misses, but he's had some really icky-looking swings over the last three weeks or so. Ichiro only struck out six times during that slide, though it seems like he struck out about sixty times, but no, it was just a bevy of lazy popups to various parts of the field. In this game, Ichiro should have probably had a double if not for the defensive prowess of one Mark Kotsay, who made the long running catch deep in centerfield. So, that's the difference between a 2-for-5 night and a 3-for-5 night, but none of that makes a difference when the Mariners are facing the A's.
Goat: Gil Meche.
This team is going through starting pitcher after starting pitcher trying to find someone that will put out a good strong solid start to give the bullpen just a slight rest, but it hasn't happened much in the last couple turns through the rotation. The Mariners have used the same five pitchers all year up to now, since they've finally shaken it up and bumped off Joel Piñeiro for Jake Woods. Really, there's another guy who should be demoted or something, and it's Meche. Need I repeat that I still can't believe one of these guys didn't get shipped off or let go at the deadline. The point is, the last time the starting rotation strung together consecutive good starts was August 8th and 9th in the Tampa Bay sweep in Seattle, and those outings were turned in by Felix Hernandez and Jarrod Washburn. Meche's last passable start was at Yankee Stadium on July 19th when he gave up two runs on five hits in six innings. His last seriously good outing was in Seattle on July 9th against Detroit, when he gave up two runs on four hits in seven innings. The starts I just referred to were five and seven before this one.
Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 87-33 .725 -- W4
2002 73-47 .608 14 L1
2003 73-47 .608 14 W2
2000 69-51 .575 18 L4
2006 56-64 .467 31 L7
2005 52-68 .433 35 L1
2004 45-75 .375 42 L2
Moyer. Escobar. Tonight.