Thursday, August 24, 2006


Reuters photo -- Robert Sorbo

In 25 words or less: I know we've got to give him time to mature, but Felix has been really tough for me to watch this year.

This one featured Chien-Ming Wang going up against Felix Hernandez. The Mariners were trying to put together their first winning streak since the home sweep against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, which ended on August 9th. Of course, a loss would send them to a futility string of 12 losses in 13 games. Worse yet, the pitching matchup for the third and final game of the series (the next night) was pitting Randy Johnson up against Jarrod Washburn, almost surely a loss. So, this game basically dictated whether the Mariners would come away from the series with a win. Of course, Wang has owned the Mariners in the past. Sinkerballers aren't friendly to the Mariner bats, though they usually end up in fairly quick losses, so they don't waste too much of your night when you're watching the sheer offensive incompetence of it all. Yes, it's back to business as usual in Marinerland. The results are mostly the same, but at least the personnel now are younger and hopefully can learn from their mistakes and come back next year and be youthfully grand. We as Mariner fans have to have dreams.

Johnny Damon rolled a 1-2 pitch to second. Derek Jeter rolled the first pitch to second. Bobby Abreu hit a hard grounder through the mound and into center on a 3-1 pitch. Jason Giambi was ahead 3-0 and walked on a 3-1 pitch barely inside to move Abreu to second. Jorge Posada worked a 1-2 count for a walk to load the bases. Pitching coach Rafael Chaves came to the mound for a visit. Robinson Cano bounced a 2-2 low fastball up the middle, scoring Abreu and Giambi.
Melky Cabrera fell behind 0-2 and bounced a 1-2 pitch to second. Hernandez threw 32 pitches.

Ichiro rolled the first pitch to second. Chris Snelling worked a 1-2 count full before shooting a grounder through the right side for a single. Adrian Beltre whiffed on a 1-2 fastball. Richie Sexson bounced the second pitch to short. Wang threw 15 pitches.

Craig Wilson whiffed on an 0-2 curve down and away. Nick Green lined the second pitch into center for a single. Damon was down 0-2 and lined a 1-2 pitch into right, where Snelling made a dive for it but was short and trapped it as Damon had the single and Green moved to second. Jeter bounced to short to start a 6-4-3 double play. Hernandez threw 13 pitches and had 45 through two.

Raul Ibañez worked an 0-2 count full before flying out near the leftfield corner. Jose Lopez bounced an 0-2 pitch to second. Ben Broussard grounded a 1-2 pitch hard to second. Wang threw 13 pitches and had 28 through two.

Abreu drilled the second pitch off the side of the mound, but Lopez was able to field it from the outfield grass behind second base and throw in time to first. Giambi whiffed on a 2-2 curve. Posada took an 0-2 curve barely off the plate, but whiffed on the next pitch, an inside curve. Hernandez threw 11 pitches and had 56 through three.

Yuniesky Betancourt bounced a 2-2 pitch to short. Rene Rivera got ahead 2-0 but whiffed on a 2-2 slider on the outside corner. Ichiro whiffed horribly on a 1-2 pitch in the dirt. Wang threw 14 pitches and had 42 through three.

Cano walked on four pitches. Cabrera broke his bat on the second pitch, lining a single into center to move Cano to second. Wilson whiffed on an 0-2 curve down and away. Green slapped a first-pitch breaking ball into right for a single to load the bases, though Snelling came up throwing and nearly got Cabrera at second, but Betancourt had his foot barely taken off the bag. Damon drilled the first pitch into right for a single to score Cano and Cabrera. Snelling's throw back to the infield one-hopped Beltre and got away, enabling Damon to move to second as Green had already taken third.
Jeter tapped the second pitch to short, where Betancourt threw straight home and Rivera blocked the plate on Green, who was tagged out as Damon moved to third. Abreu walked on four pitches to load the bases. Giambi spanked a 1-2 pitch down the rightfield line to score Damon and Jeter, then a fan just past the tarp in foul ground down the rightfield line grabbed it and play was called dead. Giambi had the ground-rule double.
Posada fell behind 0-2 and grounded a 1-2 pitch up the middle and off the glove of a diving Lopez for a single to score Abreu and move Giambi to third.

Joel Piñeiro came in for Hernandez. Cano grounded a 2-0 pitch to short. Piñeiro threw three pitches.

Hernandez' line: 3 2/3 innings, 7 runs, 9 hits, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts, 82 pitches (48 strikes)

Snelling flew out to left. Beltre whiffed on a 1-2 pitch way down and away. Sexson drove the first pitch and bounced it off the track and wall in rightcenter. Ibañez poped high to shallow left. Wang threw 12 pitches and had 54 through four.

Cabrera rolled a 3-1 pitch to second. Wilson smoked a single into left. Green popped the second pitch high to left. Damon flew out to Snelling in rightcenter on a 1-2 pitch. Piñeiro threw 16 pitches and had 19 total.

Lopez chopped the first pitch up the middle to Jeter moving behind the bag at second, but Jeter had some trouble with the transfer and had no play. Broussard hit a hard grounder on the second pitch right to Jeter at short to start a 6-4-3 double play. Betancourt smacked the second pitch, sending a low liner right into the glove of Abreu in right. Wang threw five pitches and had 59 through five.

Jeter bounced the first pitch to short. Abreu was up 3-1 before walking on a full-count curve up and away. Giambi watched Rivera whiff with his glove on a pitch as it rolled to the backstop (passed ball), enabling Abreu to move to second. Giambi walked on a full-count curve down and in. Posada whiffed on a 1-2 low change. Cano bounced the first pitch to first (3-1 putout). Piñeiro threw 18 pitches and had 37 total.

Rivera bounced the second pitch to second. Ichiro bounced the second pitch to second as well. Snelling whiffed on a full-count sinker down and in. Wang threw ten pitches and had 69 through six.

Cabrera bounced the first pitch to second. Wilson popped to Betancourt in shallow center on the second pitch. Green lined the first pitch through the left side for a single. Damon popped a 3-1 pitch high to short. Piñeiro threw nine pitches and had 46 total.

Willie Bloomquist, hitting for Beltre for what hopefully isn't an injury, popped the second pitch to second. Sexson pounded a 2-2 pitch to Green at third, who made a nice backhand stop to a knee on the grounder, but hurried his throw to first and threw it into the runner and into foul ground (single and error), moving Sexson to second. Ibañez bounced a 2-0 pitch to Wilson behind the bag at first as Sexson moved to third. Lopez chopped a 2-0 pitch over the mound and Cano got the ball at the second-base bag and threw to first, and it looked to be in time, but the umpires gave the Mariners a break as Lopez was called safe and Sexson scored.
Broussard poked the second pitch into center for a single, moving Lopez to second. Betancourt dumped a single in front of a charging Damon in shallow center, scoring Lopez and moving Broussard to second. Pitching coach Ron Guidry visited the mound.
Kenji Johjima, hitting for Rivera, grounded the second pitch to Jeter in the left-side hole, who threw to second for the force on Betancourt. Wang threw 21 pitches and had 90 through seven.

Wang's line: 7 innings, 2 runs, 7 hits, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts, 90 pitches (57 strikes)

Johjima stayed in the game to catch and Bloomquist stayed in to play third. Jeter slapped the second pitch into right for a single. Abreu bounced a 1-2 pitch to the wall in right for a double, moving Jeter to third. Giambi was intentionally walked to load the bases. Posada popped an 0-2 pitch to Ibañez in left as Jeter tagged and scored. The Ibañez throw to third kept Abreu from advancing to third.
Cano slapped the second pitch into the leftfield corner for a double to score Abreu and move Giambi to third. Chaves visited the mound.
Cabrera was intentionally walked to load the bases. Wilson whiffed on an 0-2 breaking ball down and away. Green fell behind 0-2 and took a 1-2 breaking ball over the inner half for strike three. Piñeiro threw 26 pitches and had 72 total.

Mike Myers came in for Wang. Ichiro bunted the second pitch just near the plate, where Posada pounced on it and threw from the righthanded batters' box to first as Ichiro stood bewildered thinking the ball was foul as plate umpire Tim Timmons called the ball fair immediately and did have a pretty good angle on the play. Mike Hargrove came out to plead a case, and Timmons conferred with his crewmates and the call was reversed (foul ball). Ichiro ended up whiffing on a 2-2 pitch away anyway, making the call reversal somewhat moot. TJ Bohn, hitting for Snelling, turned on a 1-2 pitch and cranked it foul into the upper deck down the leftfield line. He took another ball and whiffed on the next pitch. Bloomquist bounced softly to short on a 3-1 pitch.

Myers' line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 19 pitches (12 strikes)

Damon was ahead 3-0 and popped to center on a full count. Jeter was down 0-2 and grounded hard to third on a 2-2 pitch. Abreu rolled an 0-2 pitch to second.

Piñeiro's line: 5 1/3 innings, 2 runs, 5 hits, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts, 88 pitches (52 strikes)

Octavio Dotel came in for Myers. Sexson drove a 1-2 pitch for a fly ball to the rightfield track, just getting under it. Ibañez walked on a full count. Lopez whiffed on a 1-2 pitch away. Broussard whiffed on a low 0-2 breaking ball.

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

Gameball: Richie Sexson.
Since the coming off of the bereavement list following the birth of his twins, Sexson has gone 8-for-23 (.348) with three doubles, two homers, and five RBIs, walking twice and striking out seven times. This span has raised his season batting average by six points, his on-base percentage by seven points, and his slugging mark by 14 points. He sits right now at a .235 season batting average, which is by no means earth-shattering. Any game where he goes 1-for-4 raises his average. Still, the don't-look-now statistic of the day is that Sexson is hitting .284 so far in the month of August. That mark would be his best hitting month of the season if it held up, and the .360 on-base for August would be his best month in that category as well. His .537 slugging mark so far this month would be second only to the .567 he put up last month. I guess if there is one thing helping his numbers for this month, it'd be the fact that there aren't 12 or so at-bats in there from the series in Oakland, since that's when he was tending to his wife and newborns.

Goat: Felix Hernandez.
Like I said in the open, it's been an ordeal watching Felix pitch, as much as I badly want him to succeed. I knew he'd have some growing pains this year. I know last season when he came up, he set the bar almost impossibly high, and I knew there would be no way he'd be able to keep last year's nuttiness up through all of this season. What I didn't anticipate happening, though, was for that crazy-good version of Felix to hardly ever show up this season. If someone would have walked up to me at the end of last season and told me that after 25 starts in the 2006 season, Felix would have double-digit strikeouts zero times, I would have told them they were on crack. Sure enough, though, that is the case. The number of starts where Felix hasn't walked anyone is one, though that'd be a demonstration of crazy control. The number of starts were Felix has given up two walks or less? Sixteen. In July and August (nine starts combined), Felix is averaging three walks per start, but that's alongside only about five strikeouts per start. Last year, we saw a pitcher with amazing control. I went into this year thinking this was a guy that could carry no-hit stuff out there every five days, and he was a main reason we were all looking forward to this season -- as a matter of fact, I thought he'd be the only worthwhile reason to watch this team. I guess he still might be, but I'm not seeing the dominance from him this season, not that the environment is helping either, what with all the losing going on.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 90-36 .714 -- W1
2003 76-50 .603 14 L1
2002 75-51 .595 15 L2
2000 70-56 .556 20 L1
2006 57-69 .452 33 L1
2005 54-72 .429 36 W1
2004 46-80 .365 44 L4

Johnson. Washburn. Tonight.

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