Sunday, August 27, 2006


AP photo -- Elaine Thompson

In 25 words or less: There have been more than enough lows this season, so enjoy the highs like this one and hope they are more plentiful next season.

This one featured David Wells going up against Gil Meche. The Mariners were trying to extend their winning streak to three games, which would be their first such streak since the sweep against Tampa Bay earlier this month. More impressively, the Mariners dealt losses in consecutive games to the likes of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. If the Mariners were to add David Wells to the mix, that's quite an achievement. Those are three pretty good pitchers of the 1990s right there. Manny Ramirez returned to the Boston lineup and Adrian Beltre returned to the Seattle lineup. It was Seattle Times' Mariner beat writer Bob Finnigan's final game. In the ultimate semi-pipe dream, if the Mariners won this game, they would not only win the series against the Red Sox, but might have a chance for a sweep. I know it's probably bad to be dreaming of a sweep against Boston in a season that's otherwise been mostly crap, but I'm used to it by now since the team hasn't been good in about three and a half seasons.

Coco Crisp bounced the second pitch to Meche in front of the mound. Mark Loretta was down 0-2 before watching a beautiful 1-2 curve over the outside corner. David Ortiz whiffed over a wicked 2-2 curve down over the inside corner. Meche threw 11 pitches.

Ichiro lofted a curve to Crisp a couple steps short of the centerfield track. Jose Lopez rolled a 1-2 curve to short. Adrian Beltre rolled the second pitch to short. Wells threw nine pitches.

Manny Ramirez whiffed on a 2-2 slider over the outside corner at the knees. Mike Lowell knocked a single into center. Eric Hinske whiffed over a 2-2 low change. Javy Lopez whiffed at a 1-2 fastball. Meche threw 19 pitches and had 30 through two.

Raul Ibañez was down 0-2 and couldn't check a swing on a 1-2 fastball up and in. Richie Sexson rolled a 2-0 pitch to short. Eduardo Perez was up 3-1 before taking a full-count fastball down over the outside corner. Wells threw 13 pitches and had 22 through two.

Alex Cora hit an 0-2 pitch to Beltre, who made the backhand play at third and threw in time to first. Gabe Kapler grounded the second pitch for a hard one-hopper to second. Crisp lined a 1-2 inside-corner fastball (target was outside) into the first row of seats beyond the rightfield fence.
Loretta one-hopped the second pitch to third. Meche threw 13 pitches and had 43 through three.

Kenji Johjima grounded the first pitch to short. Yuniesky Betancourt got behind 0-2 before rolling a 1-2 curve to short, where Cora charged and threw on the run to first, but Hinske whiffed on the catch (error), though Betancourt advanced no further. TJ Bohn nearly doubled down the leftfield line (foul) en route to working a 1-2 count full before splitting his bat on a grounder to a charging Cora at short, who quickly threw to Loretta at second for the force on Betancourt, though replays sort of showed that Betancourt was safe. Ichiro grounded the second pitch very hard to first. Wells threw 17 pitches and had 39 through three.

Ortiz popped a 2-0 pitch high to Beltre backing into shallow left. Ramirez bulleted a 2-2 pitch off of Meche's heel, which knocked it down and Meche grabbed it and threw to first. Lowell shot a 2-2 outside curve past a diving Beltre and into the leftfield corner for a double. At this point, Dave Henderson was wondering aloud why Meche was moving away from the hard heat he was throwing through the first trip through the lineup that worked well. Hinske couldn't check his swing on a low 2-2 curve. Meche threw 19 pitches and had 62 through four.

Jose Lopez reached to ground the first pitch to third. Beltre drilled a base hit into rightcenter that Kapler took a weird route to, and it rolled to the wall for a double as Beltre hit the brakes. Ibañez stroked the first pitch up the middle for a single that brought Beltre around third, and Crisp didn't contest Beltre at the plate with a throw, though he could have. Beltre scored.
Sexson popped an 0-2 pitch to deep center and Ibañez tagged and advanced to second. Perez grounded out to third. Wells threw 12 pitches and had 51 through four.

Javy Lopez was down 0-2 and chopped a 2-2 pitch to third. Cora popped a 1-2 pitch to Betancourt in shallow left. Kapler grounded an 0-2 pitch into center past a diving Lopez for a single. Crisp walked on a 3-1 pitch, moving Kapler to second. Loretta looped a 2-2 pitch into shallow center on which Ichiro was just a couple inches short on a sliding catch attempt as Kapler scored and Crisp moved to third.
Ortiz popped to Sexson in foul ground on the warning track on the right side. Meche threw 26 pitches and had 88 through five.

Johjima poked a 2-2 pitch off of the leg of Wells, and it went in front of the mound but was picked up by Wells, who threw to first. Betancourt shot a ball into the rightcenter gap, where it rolled to the wall and Crisp and Kapler had some issues coming up with the ball (Crisp booted it away at one point) and Betancourt hit the brakes at third with a triple. Bohn worked an 0-2 count full before whiffing on a low curve. Ichiro bounced the second pitch to short. Wells threw 17 pitches and had 68 through five.

Ramirez chopped to third on the second pitch. Lowell popped the first pitch to Betancourt in shallow center. Hinske tapped to the right side, where Meche came off the mound to field it and toss to first. Meche threw eight pitches and had 96 through six.

Jose Lopez rolled an 0-2 pitch up the middle for a single. Beltre grounded the first pitch hard to third to start a 5-4-3 double play. Ibañez lined a single into center. Sexson walked on four pitches to move Ibañez to second. Perez was down 0-2 and whiffed on a 1-2 curve low and away. Wells threw 16 pitches and had 84 through six.

Javy Lopez was down 0-2 and took a 1-2 fastball over the inside corner. Cora smoked the first pitch right into the glove of Lopez at second. Kapler grounded a 3-1 pitch up the middle, where Betancourt had to reach and bend to get the ball and made the throw to first in time on a very nice play. Meche threw 11 pitches and had 107 through seven.

Meche's line: 7 innings, 2 runs, 5 hits, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts, 107 pitches (75 strikes)

Johjima rolled out to first. Betancourt laid the barrel on a second-pitch inside-corner fastball, putting it into the first row over the manual scoreboard in left.
Bohn served an 0-2 curve into left for a single, his first Major League hit. Ichiro dumped the second pitch into shallow rightcenter for a single, moving Bohn to second. Jose Lopez bounced the second pitch right to second to start a 4-6-3 double play. Wells threw 13 pitches and had 97 through seven.

Wells' line: 7 innings, 2 runs, 8 hits, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts, 97 pitches (67 strikes)

Rafael Soriano came in for Meche. Crisp was down 0-2 and rolled a 1-2 pitch to short. Loretta popped to deep left on the first pitch.

George Sherrill came in for Soriano. Ortiz bunted the first pitch foul to the left side, trying to combat the shift. Ortiz poked an 0-2 pitch into the leftfield corner for a double, probably past where Beltre would have been on a normal hitter. Ramirez was intentionally walked.

JJ Putz came in for Sherrill. Lowell had the hitters' counts before dumping a single into shallow leftcenter, scoring Ortiz. The throw back to third looked to have Ramirez beat, though Beltre laid the tag on the shoulder of Ramirez, but the ball came out. Nonetheless, third-base umpire Ron Kulpa called Ramirez out. Terry Francona was none too pleased about this and came out to argue. Putz threw six pitches.

Soriano's line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 6 pitches (5 strikes)
Sherrill's line: 0 innings, 1 run, 1 hit, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 7 pitches (3 strikes)

Mike Timlin came in for Wells. Beltre lashed an 0-2 pitch off the outside corner, putting it into the fourth row of seats past the rightfield wall.
Ibañez poked a 2-2 pitch through the left side for a single. Sexson stuck an outside first pitch into right for a single to move Ibañez to third. Ben Broussard, hitting for Perez, drove a fly ball that took Crisp nearly to the track in leftcenter (in front of the mass of inebriation), and Ibañez tagged from third and scored.
Johjima lined out to right on the first pitch, and Sexson was called safe, not because he beat Kapler's throw back to first, but because the throw pulled Hinske's foot barely off the bag. Betancourt flew out to Kapler in deep rightcenter.

Timlin's line: 1 inning, 2 runs, 3 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 14 pitches (11 strikes)

Hinske took a 2-2 blazing fastball down the pipe. Javy Lopez was down 0-2 after fouling off a second pitch that took a bite out of Johjima behind the plate, who needed a couple minutes to get his wits. Javy Lopez whiffed on the next pitch, a fastball above the letters. Cora whiffed on a high 1-2 fastball.

Putz' line: 1 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts, 21 pitches (15 strikes)

Gameball: Yuniesky Betancourt.
He was 2-for-4, and the hits were a triple and a homer. Needless to say, that's a good way to boost your slugging percentage by 13 points in late August. A more surprising note is that the one-out triple in the fifth was his first triple since June 17th against the Giants, a game where the Mariners tagged Jason Schmidt for two homers, six runs, and nine hits in 6 1/3 innings en route to an 8-1 win. Betancourt went 56 games (quick count with the look at the log) without hitting a triple, and that triple in mid-June was his fourth of the season. We know he's terrible at stealing bases for someone with his speed, but I think it's pretty surprising that last year, his first big-league hit was a triple, and he finished with five over the length of that late-season call-up. This game here was his 127th of the season, and he just now got his fifth triple. Would I trade that fact for 43 more points on his batting average, though? Absolutely. More important than the triple in this game, however, was the homer, which tied the game in the seventh and gave the Mariners and the fans some hope, because it all seemed like a bummer at that point. I certainly thought the game was almost in the bag for Boston at that point. Who expects a clutch homer from their eighth hitter? Certainly not anyone who has watched eighth hitters of the Mariners in years past.

Goat: Eduardo Perez.
The other half of the Broussard/Perez platoon drove in what held up as the game-winning run, and that was a very good thing. What's bad is that Perez went 0-for-3 and struck out twice before that happened. Perez has appeared in 26 games as a Mariner and is 10-for-53 (.189) with a double, a homer, and six RBIs, walking nine times and striking out 15 times. I would suppose it's harder for Perez to break out of a slump than it would be for Broussard since the playing time for Perez is heavily dependent on the opposing pitcher being lefthanded. Playing time for Perez is therefore pretty scattered. His last hit was a double in Oakland on the 16th. He's gone hitless since, but has only played in four games. He did have a four-game hit streak from July 31st to August 6th, but followed that up with a four-game hitless streak. It goes without saying that everyone would like to see the Mariners reap dividends from the moves that brought Perez and Broussard over to Seattle. I think those dividends might come, but it'll more likely be from what Broussard does next year.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 93-36 .721 -- W4
2002 77-52 .597 16 L1
2003 76-53 .589 17 L4
2000 71-58 .550 22 W1
2006 60-69 .465 33 W3
2005 55-74 .426 38 W1
2004 49-80 .380 44 W3

Snyder. Baek. Today.

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