Friday, August 18, 2006


AP photo -- Francis Specker

In 25 words or less: Everything's gone bad when Mark Lowe finally gives up a run. Crazy eights overall and the division streak can vote after the next game.

This one featured Jamie Moyer going up against Kelvim Escobar. On gameday, the Mariners sent down Sean Green and activated Chris Snelling from the disabled list. Richie Sexson also took back his usual spot in the lineup, hitting fifth and playing first base, which means he was activated off the bereavement list after his wife had twins, so Mike Morse was sent back to Tacoma. The Mairners hoped to win a game against an AL West team for the first time since June 11th. Kenji Johjima came into the game hitting .377 with runners in scoring position, good for fourth in the AL. The Mariners hoped to avoid what would be a season-long eight-game losing streak, the likes of which hadn't been seen in Seattle since the nine-gamer that the grand ole 2004 team took into the All-Star break with them. Before that, the 2000 team lost eight straight in the truly dog days of August that summer. That team also lost 15 of 18 before their next winning streak. Of course, the 2000 team was light years better than the current team, and they went on a torrid 19-9 tear to finish the season.

Ichiro reached down for an 0-2 pitch and popped lazily to center. Jose Lopez didn't hold up on a 2-2 breaking ball in the dirt and was tagged out by Molina. Adrian Beltre smoked a single over the reach of Izturis and into left, extending his hitting streak to 13 games and his reaching-base streak to 28 games, the longest current streak of such in the Majors. Raul Ibañez had the hitters' counts before popping to left on a 3-1 pitch. Escobar threw 16 pitches.

Chone Figgins grounded the second pitch hard to a drawn-in Beltre at third, who went to a knee and made the throw. Maicer Izturis reached for a 2-2 pitch and popped to Ichiro in shallow rightcenter. Orlando Cabrera popped a 1-2 pitch to Sexson down the rightfield line in foul ground. Moyer threw 11 pitches.

Richie Sexson whiffed on an 0-2 slider down and away. Ben Broussard foul-tipped a 2-2 breaking ball away into Molina's glove behind the plate. Kenji Johjima grounded to the hole on the left side, where Cabrera made the backhand stab and leaping spinning throw in time to first. Escobar threw nine pitches and had 25 through two.

Vladimir Guerrero got way under an 0-2 pitch, popping a mile high to Ibañez in foul ground in the leftfield corner. Robb Quinlan popped the second pitch to Ibañez near the leftfield corner. Garret Anderson lined the first pitch into the rightcenter gap, but he's slow nowadays and only got a single out of it. Tim Salmon took a 2-2 pitch barely off the plate outside and walked on a full-count pitch more outside, moving Anderson to second. Howie Kendrick was up 3-0 and bounced a full-count pitch to Betancourt, who stepped on second trying to get the force at second on Salmon, but the runner had already made it, so Betancourt threw barely in time to first for the out. Plan C involved Sexson throwing home to try to get Anderson, but it was moot. Moyer threw 18 pitches and had 29 through two.

Yuniesky Betancourt grounded the second pitch to short. Willie Bloomquist whiffed on a 1-2 offspeed pitch over the outside corner. Ichiro worked a 1-2 count full and served a single over a leaping Cabrera and into leftcenter. Lopez chopped to short, where Cabrera picked the shorthop and threw to first. Escobar threw 15 pitches and had 40 through three.

Jose Molina popped to Lopez in shallow center. Figgins dumped the second pitch into shallow center for a single. Izturis rolled a single up the middle past a diving Betancourt and into center, moving Figgins to third. Cabrera took an 0-2 pitch off the inside corner before popping the next pitch to Ichiro in rightcenter, who threw home and was cut off about ten feet in front of the plate as Figgins scored and Johjima airmailed a throw to second to try to get Izturis, and Bloomquist nearly had the ball go past him in center, but Izturis stayed at second.
Guerrero was intentionally walked. Quinlan popped the second pitch to Betancourt halfway down the leftfield line. Moyer and Johjima were shown in the dugout shortly after discussing signs through Johjima's interpreter. Moyer threw 18 pitches and had 47 through three.

Beltre popped the second pitch to Quinlan a ways in on the first-base line. Ibañez was down 0-2 and whiffed on a 1-2 breaking ball away. Sexson looped an 0-2 pitch into shallow center for a single. Broussard popped a 2-2 pitch down the leftfield line and Izturis tried to make the over-the-shoulder catch on it, but it went off his glove, giving Broussard the single and moving Sexson to third. Johjima lined out to fairly deep left on an 0-2 pitch. Escobar threw 17 pitches and had 57 through four.

Anderson slapped a 1-2 pitch into the leftfield corner, and somehow he stretched it all the way out to a triple since Ibañez more than likely had him played to pull. Salmon whiffed on a full-count pitch down and in. Kendrick popped high to left, and Ibañez was a bit deep and couldn't get enough on the throw as Anderson scored.
Molina broke his bat and poked the second pitch for a slow liner that Lopez caught in very shallow right. Moyer threw 15 pitches and had 62 through four.

Betancourt laid the wood on an outside pitch but flew out to a running Anderson on the track in leftcenter. Bloomquist popped the second pitch to Anderson a couple steps short of the leftfield track. Ichiro fell behind 0-2 and whiffed on a low 1-2 fastball. Escobar threw ten pitches and had 67 through five.

Figgins was down 0-2 and bounced a 1-2 pitch just past Betancourt, who ran over barely missed getting a glove on it. Izturis watched a 2-0 pitch as Figgins stole second thanks in part to a bouncing throw from Johjima. Izturis was up 2-0 but whiffed on a 2-2 breaking ball in the dirt. Cabrera took a 1-2 pitch as Johjima gunned down Figgins by five feet trying to steal third. Cabrera popped high to right on a full count. Moyer threw 16 pitches and had 78 through five.

Lopez chopped a ball along the third-base foul line that hit the grass cut in foul ground and came back fair, and Izturis, Escobar, and Molina all had no play as Lopez had the single. Beltre absolutely drilled a 1-2 pitch, but lined out to Anderson in left. Ibañez took a bouncing 0-2 pitch as Lopez stole second. Ibañez was down 0-2 and whiffed on a 1-2 splitter down and away. Sexson got ahead 3-0 before walking on a 3-1 pitch away. Broussard popped the second pitch to Cabrera along the leftfield line. Escobar threw 16 pitches and had 87 through six.

Guerrero took a 3-1 pitch up and away for a walk. Quinlan rolled a 1-2 pitch to a diving Beltre on the left side, who had the ball come out of his glove while he was prone on the dirt, and he had no play afterward as Guerrero moved to second. Anderson bounced the first pitch to Sexson behind the bag at first, who wheeled to throw to second right away and received the throw from second as well for the 3-6-3 double play. Salmon was down 0-2 and grounded a 1-2 pitch to Beltre near the bag at third. Moyer threw 14 pitches and had 92 through six.

Johjima drove an outside second pitch to the wall in rightcenter for a double. Betancourt shot the second pitch into right for a single, moving Johjima to third. Bloomquist bounced the second pitch to short for an easy 6-4-3 double play as Johjima scored.
Ichiro was down 0-2 and popped to left on a 1-2 pitch.

Escobar's line: 7 innings, 1 run, 7 hits, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts, 97 pitches (70 strikes)

Kendrick fell behind 0-2 and whiffed on a 1-2 change away. Molina popped the second pitch to Bloomquist in fairly deep center. Figgins hit a line drive that nearly left the yard but instead banked off the wall in left, just to the left of the bullpens for a double.

Mark Lowe came in for Moyer. Izturis was down 0-2 and took a 1-2 pitch off the right tricep. Cabrera got ahead 3-1 but took a full-count fastball away to load the bases. Pitching coach Rafael Chaves visited the mound. Guerrero laid the bat on a low-and-away second pitch, doubling to the wall in rightcenter to clear the bases. Welcome to the club, Mark Lowe, you now have a Major League ERA.
Quinlan walked on a full-count pitch down and away.

George Sherrill came in for Lowe. Anderson popped the second pitch high to center.

Moyer's line: 6 2/3 innings, 3 runs, 7 hits, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts, 102 pitches (65 strikes)
Lowe's line: 0 innings, 2 runs, 1 hit, 2 walks, 0 strikeouts, 18 pitches (8 strikes)
Sherrill's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 2 pitches (2 strikes)

Scot Shields came in for Escobar. Lopez took a 2-2 pitch in the dirt that bounced up and got Molina flush in the left shoulder, and he needed a minute to walk it off and get a visit from the trainer. Lopez ended up getting under a full-count pitch, popping to left. Beltre rolled over an outside 3-1 pitch, bouncing to short where Cabrera showed off and completely unnecessarily barehanded the ball and threw in time to first. Ibañez bounced to short, where Cabrera picked the shorthop to the backhand side and threw to first. Shields threw 17 pitches.

Rafael Soriano came in for Sherrill. Salmon was up 3-0 before whiffing on a full-count pitch away. Kendrick took a full-count fastball over the outside corner. Molina was ahead 2-0 but whiffed on a 2-2 fastball (91mph).

Soriano's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts, 19 pitches (11 strikes)

Sexson stuck a line drive to the rightfield wall near the corner for a double. Broussard popped the second pitch to Cabrera along the leftfield line. Johjima blistered the first pitch for a line drive that shorthopped the leftfield wall for a double to score Sexson.

Francisco Rodriguez came in for Shields. Betancourt bounced the first pitch deep into the hole at short, where Cabrera got to it, but he had too far to run and had no play as Johjima stayed at second. Chris Snelling, hitting for Bloomquist in his first plate appearance of the season, took a 1-2 pitch that bounced over Molina and to the backstop, moving Johjima and Betancourt to third and second. Snelling ended up whiffing on a 2-2 slider. Ichiro, up with two outs in the ninth for the fourth straight game, chopped the second pitch high to the right side, where Rodriguez ran off the mound to field it and ran it to the first-base bag. Thusly, Ichiro has made outs to end three of the last four Mariner losses/games.

Shields' line: 1 1/3 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 23 pitches (14 strikes)
Rodriguez' line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 1 strikeouts, 8 pitches (5 strikes)

Gameball: Jamie Moyer.
Normally I'd shy away from giving a gameball to a starting pitcher if he walked three guys, but the Mariners really needed a starter to get into the seventh or later, and Moyer did exactly that in this game without Mike Hargrove having to extend him to 115 pitches to do it. Moyer got burned when the runner he left on second came around to score, but eventually Mark Lowe was going to give up a run sometime this season, and it happened to be tonight. Lowe had let an inherited runner or two score lately, but he got burned on the same hit that burned Moyer, the bases-clearing double where Vladimir Guerrero reached way down and away to drive the ball to the wall in rightcenter. It's not like Lowe's been the first guy to get lit up by Guerrero or anything. Anyway, Moyer's good start was much needed. In 16 starts so far in August, Mariner starting pitchers have recorded an out in the seventh inning six times. At the same time, they've gone five innings or less seven times. Then you have a Joel Piñeiro who's failed to get out of the fourth inning twice in three tries (earning him a spot in the bullpen) or a Gil Meche who had the key one-inning start in Texas, etc. Oh yeah, Moyer got screwed on run support again. In a total of 25 starts this season, he has given up three earned runs or less 17 times. In those 17 starts, he has a record of 5-7.

Goat: Raul Ibañez.
Since the middle game of the Tampa Bay sweep back in Seattle, Ibañez is 6-for-35 (.171) with one homer, five RBIs, nine total bases, and ten strikeouts. That works out to a slugging percentage of .257 over that span, by the way. In any event, in less than a week and a half, Ibañez has sunk his season average from a nice .276 to a less nice .268. There have been worse individual slides on this Mariner team lately, but if you drag it out to include the first week of August, Ibañez is still only hitting .203 for the month. Keep in mind this was a guy that was hitting .285 with 20 homers and 70 RBIs at the All-Star break. It's been a little more than a month since that, and Ibañez has hit exactly four more homers and driven in 24 runs since. The 24 RBIs isn't a bad thing, but the only four homers is. It could be worse, though. Ibañez could be Jose Lopez, who hasn't homered since June 2nd. Before Hargrove's big lineup tweak on May 30th, Lopez was hitting .286 and slugging .495. He had hit eight homers and driven in 40 runs, which is what got him into the All-Star Game. Since then, he's hit .270 and slugged .357. He's hit 15 doubles and two triples after hitting ten doubles and five triples pre-tweak, but of course the big thing is eight homers pre-tweak and just one after it. He's driven in only 22 runs in 60 games since the tweak. I know he's since been put back in the second slot in the lineup, but I think that pretty much screwed him up, and probably for the rest of the season. I don't know if it heaped too much responsibility onto him or what. Remember when this paragraph was about Ibañez?

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 87-34 .719 -- L1
2002 74-47 .612 13 W1
2003 73-48 .603 14 L1
2000 69-52 .570 18 L5
2006 56-65 .463 31 L8
2005 52-69 .430 35 L2
2004 45-76 .372 42 L3

Hernandez. Weaver. Tonight.

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