Sunday, September 03, 2006


AP photo -- Steve Nesius

In 25 words or less: How often do the Mariners win when they have a triple play turned on them and their bullpen gives up more runs than the starter?

This one featured Cha Seung Baek going up against JP Howell. Though it was probably the case last night (I don't know since my MLB.tv feed was Tampa Bay's), and since they're in his neck of the woods, the Mariner television crew had Darnell Coles along with them for some color commentary. The 4:15p Pacific start time also allowed for a longer-than-usual pregame segment, featuring a short chat with Bill Bavasi, who fielded some of Dave Niehaus' questions about the present and the remainder of the season. Somewhat surprisingly, I didn't hear any Rafael Soriano questions, but maybe he's doing that well recovering from the concussion. It was Mascot Night at Tropicana Field as well as Dewayne Staats and Joe Magrane Dual Talking Bobblehead Night (they're the television crew for the Devil Rays). Unfortunately, with a lefty on the mound for Tampa Bay, and with all the work Chris Snelling has been getting, Mike Morse got the start in rightfield. In a related story, the ray tank at the Trop is probably the coolest thing in there.

Ichiro chopped a 2-2 pitch over the mound and legged it out for a single despite the best efforts of a charging Cantu. Jose Lopez walked on a 3-1 pitch up and away. Adrian Beltre reached away and stuck an 0-2 pitch into the rightcenter gap for a single, scoring Ichiro and moving Lopez to third.
Raul Ibañez was ahead 3-1 before taking a full-count pitch for strike three, then Navarro threw to second as Beltre was hung up between first and second and quickly tagged out by Zobrist, who then threw home to get Lopez trying to score from third. Yes, that's your standard 2-6-2 triple play, the second in Devil Ray history. Howell threw 19 pitches.

Rocco Baldelli drove the second pitch, a high fastball (Baek-fast), over the centerfield wall.
Delmon Young bounced to third on the first pitch. Carl Crawford bounced a 2-2 pitch to first, where Sexson made a nice diving stop and underhanded to a covering Baek, who was a bit late to first, but Crawford is also incredibly fast and had the single. Greg Norton took a second-pitch ball that Crawford took second base on, though Johjima's throw definitely had him beat, but Crawford barely slid around Betancourt's tag on what was actually a pretty good call. Even MLB.com's Gameday was juked, flashing a "Caught Stealing" graphic. Mike Hargrove came out to argue and I kinda wish he would have gotten tossed, but he didn't. Norton got ahead 3-1 and walked on a full-count pitch down and in. Ty Wigginton watched a second-pitch ball and Tampa Bay put on the double steal. Johjima gunned down Norton at second as Crawford had a monster jump and easily had third anyway. Wigginton was ahead 3-0 and nearly doubled down the leftfield line on a 3-1 pitch (just foul). Wigginton whiffed on a full-count breaking ball. Baek threw 25 pitches.

Richie Sexson whiffed on an 0-2 breaking ball in the dirt. Eduardo Perez got ahead 3-0 and walked on a full-count pitch down and in. Kenji Johjima popped the second pitch high to Baldelli a couple steps short of the centerfield track. Mike Morse whiffed on an 0-2 breaking ball in the dirt. Howell threw 14 pitches and had 33 through two.

Dioner Navarro bounced a 1-2 pitch to second. Jorge Cantu turned on a 2-0 pitch but ripped it foul. Cantu took the next pitch inside off his jersey. BJ Upton punched a 3-0 pitch through the left side for a single, moving Cantu to second. Pitching coach Rafael Chaves visited the mound. Ben Zobrist hit a sharp line drive that Morse made an attempt for a sliding catch, but he trapped it and threw to the cutoff man Lopez, who threw in time to third to nail Cantu, who was suddenly forced to run to third (9-4-5). Baldelli popped the second pitch to Ichiro in shallow leftcenter. Baek threw 16 pitches and had 41 through two.

Yuniesky Betancourt popped high to shallow center. Ichiro fisted the first pitch into leftcenter for a single. Lopez lined a 2-0 pitch into center for a single to move Ichiro to second. Beltre watched the first pitch as Ichiro stole third, just barely sliding under the tag of Upton. Beltre ripped a too-high change through the left side for a single to score Ichiro and moving Lopez to second.
Ibañez walked on a full-count pitch, loading the bases. Pitching coach Mike Butcher visited the mound. Sexson popped the second pitch to Baldelli a few steps short of the track in center, scoring Lopez from third.
Perez nubbed out to second. Howell threw 23 pitches and had 56 through three.

Young tapped a 1-2 pitch back to the mound that went off Baek's glove and changed direction, but Betancourtg still ranged over and adjusted to make the play. Crawford tapped the first pitch to Lopez charging in, who threw quickly to first to barely get Crawford. Joe Maddon came out to argue the call, though not as vociferously as Hargrove's argument from earlier. Norton stroked the second pitch for a single past a diving Lopez and into right. Wigginton lined out to left on the second pitch. Baek threw ten pitches and had 51 through three.

Johjima bounced to third on the first pitch. Morse popped the second pitch lazily to left. Betancourt doubled off the leftfield track and wall on a 2-0 pitch. Ichiro tapped the second pitch to second. Howell threw eight pitches and had 64 through four.

Navarro got ahead 3-0 and popped a full-count pitch in foul ground to Ibañez making a running catch. Cantu bounced the first pitch to the left-side hole, where it went off the heel of Betancourt's glove and Cantu was safe with a single. Upton fell behind 0-2 before looping a 2-2 pitch to Loprz in shallow right. Zobrist bounced out to second. Baek threw 16 pitches and had 67 through four.

Lopez popped the first pitch high to left. Beltre lined out to left on a 1-2 pitch. Ibañez bounced out to second. Howell threw nine pitches and had 73 through five.

Baldelli flew out to fairly deep center. Young bounced out to first (3-1 putout). Crawford hit a can o'corn to center on the first pitch. Baek threw seven pitches and had 74 through five.

Sexson was down 0-2 and whiffed badly on a slow and low 2-2 change. Perez mightily swung at the second pitch and only got part of it, but rolled it past Zobrist at short and into left for a single. Johjima bounced the second pitch to Upton behind the bag at third, who threw to second, but Cantu airmailed Wigginton at first, and Navarro backing up the play threw to second, but Johjima beat it. Morse smoked a line drive destined for the leftfield corner until Upton climbed the ladder at third and speared it. Howell threw 12 pitches and had 85 through six.

Norton was up 2-0 before whiffing on a 2-2 fastball. Wigginton split his bat on the first pitch, grounding out to third as Beltre correctly fielded the ball instead of the bat barrel and made the play to first. Navarro bounced a 2-2 pitch to second. Baek threw 13 pitches and had 87 through six.

Betancourt waved at a breaking ball in the dirt to make it 0-2 and whiffed on the next pitch as well, nearly identical, but with a 2-3 putout involved. Ichiro bounced an 0-2 pitch to second. Lopez lined the second pitch into right for a single.

Shawn Camp came in for Howell. Beltre bounced a 2-0 pitch to a charging Upton at third, who threw high to pull Wigginton off the bag as Beltre was safe at first, but Wigginton threw quickly to second to catch Lopez leaning too far off the bag (4-6).

Howell's line: 6 2/3 innings, 3 runs, 8 hits, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts, 93 pitches (59 strikes)
Camp's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 3 pitches (1 strike)

Cantu fell behind 0-2 and whiffed on a 2-2 fastball. Upton was down 0-2 and took a 1-2 fastball down over the inside corner. Zobrist doubled into the rightfield corner on a 2-0 pitch, snapping a string of ten straight retired hitters for Baek.

Joel Piñeiro came in for Baek. Baldelli fouled a 1-2 pitch that took a bite out of Johjima. Baldelli ended up popping a 2-2 pitch to Beltre near the third-base bag. Piñeiro threw seven pitches.

Baek's line: 6 2/3 innings, 1 run, 6 hits, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts, 102 pitches (68 strikes)

Ruddy Lugo came in for Camp. Ibañez spanked a single into right. Sexson stuck a single just past Cantu at second and into right for a single to move Ibañez to second. Ben Broussard, hitting for Perez, lined a full-count pitch right into the glove of Wigginton at first, who threw straight to second, but Ibañez got back to the bag in time. Johjima slapped a single into shallow right to load the bases. Morse popped a 2-0 pitch just short of the rightfield track to score Ibañez and move Sexson to third.
Betancourt rolled a 2-0 pitch to short.

Lugo's line: 1 inning, 1 run, 3 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 25 pitches (12 strikes)

Willie Bloomquist came in to play rightfield for Morse. Young popped a 1-2 hanging breaking ball into the second row of rightfield seats.

George Sherrill came in for Piñeiro. Crawford reached for a low-and-away pitch, looping it into shallow center for a single. Norton had the hitters' counts before dumping a full-count pitch into shallow right on which Bloomquist was short on his dive (single), though he had a mile to go and Lopez was nowhere close to the play since Crawford had taken off for second with the pitch.

JJ Putz came in for Sherrill. Wigginton bounced the second pitch hard up the middle to Betancourt, who underhanded to Lopez to start the 6-4-3 double play that moved Crawford to third. Navarro popped the second pitch to Betancourt behind the bag at second. Putz threw four pitches.

Piñeiro's line: 1/3 inning, 1 run, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 11 pitches (8 strikes)
Sherrill's line: 0 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 9 pitches (5 strikes)

Jon Switzer came in for Lugo. Ichiro reached and bounced an 0-2 pitch to second. Lopez took the second pitch inside and it hit him just above his right kneecap. Lopez stayed in after some attention from trainer Rick Griffin. Beltre got just under the second pitch, flying out to fairly deep center. Ibañez popped a 2-2 pitch to Crawford on the leftfield track.

Switzer's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 13 pitches (9 strikes)

Cantu took an 0-2 fastball just off the outside corner, then whiffed on a high 1-2 fastball. Upton bounced to third, where Beltre barehanded the ball and threw in time to first. Zobrist had the hitters' counts before clubbing a 3-1 too-high fastball eight rows into the rightfield seats. It's been a while since Putz has done that.
Baldelli flew out to Ichiro a few steps short of the track in center on the first pitch.

Putz' line: 2 innings, 1 run, 1 hit, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 17 pitches (11 strikes)

Gameball: Cha Seung Baek.
I originally had Jose Lopez pegged for this due to his 2-for-3 day with one walk and his modest three-game hitting streak. Ultimately, though, the weight of this-may-never-happen-againness tipped the scales in favor of Baek. Considering how he was throwing in the early going, there was no way he should have gotten into the seventh inning. I didn't think he'd make it out of the sixth, and that was if he threw fairly well. Instead, he threw incredibly well, and/or Tampa Bay just couldn't do anything with him. The beginning part of the game seemed like usual Baek from what I could tell (usual for big-league Baek, anyway), then he really settled into a groove. Not all of his starts are going to be like this one, sure, but if he has more of these for the rest of the season, it can only help him going forward. Frankly, I'd rather not have him be on this team next season, and definitely not as a top-three starter if he does happen to leak into the 2007 rotation. Frankly, ever since I first saw him break the big leagues in 2004, I've been wholly unimpressed with Baek. I've never seen him throw with enough command to help make up for the fact that he doesn't throw hard at all.

Goat: Joel Piñeiro.
He got Rocco Baldelli out with the score 3-1 with two out and a runner on second, so that was good. Then Delmon Young led off the eighth with a homer to chase Piñeiro from the game. Through the great wonders of small sample size and our outright desire to know how bad Piñeiro is so that he doesn't pitch for this team next year, Piñeiro has an ERA of 27.00 for the month of September. In a more realistic assessment of his suckitude, Piñeiro has had an ERA over 5.00 for almost three months (since June 8th). He's had an ERA over 6.00 for about two and a half weeks (since August 15th). In a way, you could argue that the swap of him and Jake Woods was a straight-across one since Piñeiro has been appearing about as often as Woods did earlier in the season. Obviously Piñeiro appeared every five days as a starter, but since his move to the bullpen, he's appeared three times. He appeared eight days after his last start and didn't appear again for another week. However, he did have two days of rest before his appearance in this game. Again, let's just hope he's not with this team next year.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 96-39 .711 -- L1
2002 79-56 .585 17 L1
2003 78-57 .578 18 W1
2000 73-62 .541 23 W1
2006 64-71 .474 32 W1
2005 58-77 .430 38 W1
2004 51-84 .378 45 L4

Hernandez. Stokes. Today.

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