Saturday, September 02, 2006


AP photo -- Steve Nesius

[posted in full Sat ~1:12p]

In 25 words or less: Nothing like throwing a good starting pitching performance out the window and losing to another no-name.

This one featured Gil Meche going up against James Shields. The MLB.tv archived feed was the Tampa Bay feed, and they're pretty excited over two things. One thing is the young and fast outfield of Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli, and Delmon Young. The other is Saturday's bobblehead giveaway, but the bobbleheads aren't of players, no, they're of television play-by-play crew Dewayne Staats and Joe Magrane. Their sideline reporter said the giveaway was to the first 11000 fans, and that he was sure they'd sold more tickets than that, and he advised those wanting bobbleheads to get there early. This made me think of some old days in the Kingdome. I remember listening to the games and then seeing the boxscores in the paper the next day and being surprised if the Mariners drew over 10000 fans. Folks, I know it's a bit rough right now, but back then it was rough and no one gave a crap. Although the Mariners haven't done much in the past three years, the franchise has still come a long way.

Ichiro drilled the first pitch into rightfield for a single. Chris Snelling punched an 0-2 pitch through the right side for a single, and Young threw the ball instead of a bat, firing a rope that one-hopped to Upton at third, who barely had to move the glove as he tagged Ichiro's foot before it got the bag at third. Adrian Beltre had the hitters' counts before lining out to left on a 3-1 pitch. Raul Ibañez took a 1-2 pitch in the dirt and to the backstop to move Snelling to second. Ibañez had worked a 1-2 count full before whiffing on a change down and in. Shields threw 15 pitches.

Rocco Baldelli bounced the second pitch to first (3-1 putout). Delmon Young took a 1-2 devil of a curve over the outer half. Carl Crawford popped the second pitch high to left. Meche threw eight pitches.

Richie Sexson bounced a 2-0 pitch to short, where Zobrist bobbled it, put picked it back up and threw in time to first. Ben Broussard was down 0-2 before whiffing on a 1-2 low change. Kenji Johjima blasted the second pitch about 12 rows into the seats in leftcenter. What was hilarious is that on the broadcast, you could hear someone (probably Shields) saying "F$*#" after the ball made contact with the bat.
Jose Lopez lined the first pitch off of Shields, who had the ball go off his foot and into foul ground on the left side as Lopez had the single. Shields shook off attention from the training staff. Yuniesky Betancourt popped high to Zobrist at the second-base bag. Shields threw 14 pitches and had 29 through two.

Greg Norton bounced the first pitch to first. Dioner Navarro was ahead 2-0, broke his bat at the handle while fouling off a full-count pitch, then took Ichiro a few steps short of the track two pitches later. Jorge Cantu worked a 1-2 count full before flying out to foul ground along the rightfield side as Snelling tripped over the bullpen mound making the catch, thankfully avoiding injury. Meche threw 16 pitches and had 24 through two.

Ichiro chopped the second pitch to short, where Zobrist made the quick throw in time to beat the speedy Ichiro. Snelling popped the second pitch high to Zobrist along the leftfield line on the fair side. Beltre had the hitters' counts before whiffing on a breaking ball down and away. Shields threw ten pitches and had 39 through three.

Kevin Witt was down 0-2 before whiffing on a 2-2 breaking ball down and in. BJ Upton bounced to short, and Betancourt had to make a strong throw to get Upton at first. Ben Zobrist grounded a 1-2 pitch to second. Meche threw 16 pitches and had 40 through three.

Ibañez grounded a 2-0 pitch hard to first, where it got past Witt and went into right (error), allowing Ibañez to reach. Sexson was up 3-0 before walking on a 3-1 pitch off the plate away, moving Ibañez to second. Broussard drove the second pitch to Crawford on the leftcenter track, moving Ibañez and Sexson to third and second. Johjima lined the first pitch into Upton's glove at third, then Upton dove to the third-base bag to beat Ichiro for the unassisted double play. Shields threw 11 pitches and had 50 through four.

Baldelli chopped over the mound and into center, good for a single. Young whiffed on three straight pitches, the last being a curve over the outside corner. Crawford whiffed on a 1-2 nasty curve down and in. Norton took the first pitch for a ball as Baldelli took second without a throw. Norton was beaned on the left (back) foot with an 0-2 curve, then Baldelli came around to score on the play, except not since play was dead once the ball hit Norton, so Baldelli went back to second. Navarro failed to check a swing on a 2-2 curve in the dirt. Meche threw 18 pitches and had 58 through four.

Lopez whiffed on a 1-2 low offspeed pitch. Betancourt stroked the second pitch into center for a single. Ichiro popped a 2-0 pitch to shallow left. Snelling nubbed an 0-2 pitch to second. Shields threw 12 pitches and had 62 through five.

Cantu whiffed on a 2-2 slow curve. Witt flew out to Ichiro in shallow center, who called off the usual Betancourt moving way back. Upton was ahead 2-0 and ended up lining a single into center on a full count for Tampa Bay's second hit of the afternoon. Zobrist watched as Upton was nearly picked off of first (he drew a ton of throws in this at-bat), then he took a 2-1 pitch for a ball as Upton took off for second and had it successfully. Zobrist had the hitters' counts before walking on a 3-1 slider down and in. Baldelli poked the first pitch past the mound and into center for a single to score Upton and move Zobrist to second.
Young got ahead 2-0 before drilling a 2-2 curve right into the glove of Lopez. Meche threw 27 pitches and had 85 through five.

Beltre was ahead 2-0 but whiffed on a full-count breaking ball down and in. Ibañez reached a bit on a 2-2 pitch and grounded out to second. Sexson reached and bounced out to third, though Witt had to pick Upton's shorthopping throw. Shields threw 19 pitches and had 81 through six.

Crawford rolled the second pitch to Lopez in the hole on the right side. Norton swung at a highish slow 0-2 curve and bounced out to first. Navarro flew out to center on the first pitch. Meche threw six pitches and had 91 through six.

Broussard flew out to center on the second pitch. Johjima hit a low liner to right that was caught on the run by Young. Lopez was down 0-2 and grounded a 2-2 pitch to third, where Upton made a shorthop throw to first (error), but Witt couldn't dig it out at first. Betancourt bounced the first pitch to short, and Zobrist went to Cantu at second for the force on Lopez.

Shields' line: 7 innings, 1 run, 5 hits, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, 94 pitches (59 strikes)

Cantu fell behind 0-2 and foul-tipped a 1-2 fastball into Johjima's glove behind the plate. Witt was ahead 3-0 but whiffed on a full-count curve. Upton bounced the first pitch to short. Meche threw 13 pitches and had 104 through seven.

Dan Miceli came in for Shields and Travis Lee came in to play first. Ichiro shot a 3-1 pitch hard to second, where Cantu knocked it down and threw in time to first. Snelling worked a 1-2 count full before flying out to center. Beltre flew out to center on the second pitch.

Miceli's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 15 pitches (9 strikes)

Zobrist drove a fly ball toward the leftcenter gap that Ichiro successfully ran down. Baldelli nubbed to the right side, where Meche thought he might go after it, but he gave way for the charging, planting (one foot), and throwing Beltre, who of course got the out on his patented play. Young grounded to second on the second pitch.

Meche's line: 8 innings, 1 run, 3 hits, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts, 111 pitches (73 strikes)

Seth McClung came in for Miceli. Ibañez worked an 0-2 count full, but didn't end up whiffing for the strikeout until the tenth pitch of the at-bat, a high fastball. Sexson got ahead 2-0 and ended up popping a full-count pitch high to Navarro near the screen behind the plate. Broussard walked on a 3-1 pitch away. Johjima bounced an 0-2 pitch to short, and Zobrist went to Cantu at second for the force.

McClung's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 24 pitches (14 strikes)

George Sherrill came in for Meche. Crawford whiffed on a 1-2 fastball. Norton popped the second pitch high to Lopez on the outfield turf. Navarro worked an 0-2 count for a walk, needing nine pitches to do so.

Jon Huber came in for Sherrill. Cantu stroked a base hit over a leaping Lopez and into right to move Navarro to third.

Eric O'Flaherty came in for Huber. Josh Paul came in to run for Navarro. Ty Wigginton, fresh off the disabled list and hitting for Lee, lined a single into left, moving Cantu to second but easily scoring Paul.

Sherrill's line: 2/3 inning, 1 run, 0 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 15 pitches (9 strikes)
Huber's line: 0 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 3 pitches (2 strikes)
O'Flaherty's line: 0 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 3 pitches (2 strikes)

Gameball: Gil Meche.
This was his second great start in a row. Jumble the two starts together (the other was in the Soriano game) and Meche has a line of 15 innings, 3 runs, 8 hits, 2 walks, 15 strikeouts, and 218 pitches (148 strikes). More importantly, that leads to an ERA of 1.80. It might be the case that two months after it left us, Good Gil Meche might be reappearing to finish out the season. This might be good in that we might see watchable and enjoyable baseball when he takes the mound, but the double-edged sword might include the Mariners thinking they should hold onto him for next season, which would just not be good. What would be nice, though, is if it served as a showcase for potential suitors. Unlike Joel Piñeiro, who will never be the guy the Mariners were refusing to let go via trades when the team was good, I think Meche can be fairly good again, but I don't think it can happen in Seattle. I think that's due to a combination of his health, the fact that he's turning 28 in about a week, and because sometimes on the mound, he just gets mentally shaken more than the average pitcher, or at least that's what shows up as a result. I know I certainly remember a couple times when Meche has faltered after an error in the field.

Goat: Raul Ibañez.
I guess you could say he's in a bit of a mini-slump. Ibañez is 0-for-10 going back to his homer in the third inning of the middle game of the series against the Angels (the Soriano game). He has struck out in four of those at-bats. He finished with a .296 average for the month of August, his third-best month in those terms behind April (.301) and June (.326). His .378 August on-base percentage is second to only his June number (.414). Somewhat surprisingly, though, his .459 slugging percentage is the lowest of any month this season not named May (.421). He hit six doubles and five homers in that month. He hit four doubles and four homers in August. He had 16 less at-bats in August than May, accounting for some of the mathematical difference in the slugging numbers. Everyone knew Ibañez wouldn't continue the torrid pace he had leading up to the All-Star break. He was at 20 homers going into the break and has hit only six since. He hasn't been too consistent of a slugger, but in terms of plain batting average, he's still been the most consistent hitter as he's hovered in the .270s and .280s for most of the season.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 96-38 .716 -- W2
2002 79-55 .590 17 W1
2003 77-57 .575 19 L2
2000 72-62 .537 24 L2
2006 63-71 .470 33 L2
2005 57-77 .425 39 L1
2004 51-83 .381 45 L3

Baek. Howell. Tonight.

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