Thursday, September 07, 2006


AP photo -- Paul Sancya

[posted in full Fri ~12:06a]

In 25 words or less: It seems rain might be the Mariners' road-field advantage. They probably didn't bank on 3:09 of delay on getaway day, of course.

This one featured Gil Meche going up against Kenny Rogers. Meche was two days away from his 28th birthday. This was one of the all-time best games to watch on MLB.tv. Since neither team had television coverage of the game, the video feed for the game was a semi-fixed overhead camera on the first-base side. The bad thing about it was that it wasn't necessarily on the pitcher and home plate for every pitch. That said, anything I've typed below about pitch location is kinda gleaned off the Tigers' radio crew. Speaking of which, although he's a blatant homer and I abhor his ability to sugarcoat any Mariner-related negativity that may happen on the baseball diamond, one thing I can give to Rick Rizzs is this -- he doesn't use words or phrases like "we," "us," or "our guys" to describe anything Mariner during the course of the game. The Tiger radio crew of Dan Dickerson and Jim Price kicks out a litany of such words, and it's an admitted pet peeve of mine (and Jeremy's) that makes the broadcast nearly unlistenable. One odd thing about the game: Dmitri Young was released afterward. For the second straight game, Yuniesky Betancourt hit third in the lineup, and Adrian Beltre hit eighth. Willie Bloomquist got the obligatory start against the lefthanded starting pitcher. Also, the road-field advantage I mentioned in the 25 Words doesn't include the fly ball where Ichiro slipped and fell. I was just taking the final outcome into account. Two rain delayed games, two wins.

Also, big congrats to Jon Huber on his first win in the bigs.

Ichiro got ahead 2-0 before chopping high to Infante charging in from second. Jose Lopez fell behind 0-2 before grounding a 1-2 pitch to Inge behind the bag at third. Yuniesky Betancourt nubbed out to second. Rogers threw 12 pitches.

Curtis Granderson couldn't check his swing on a 1-2 high fastball. Neifi Perez tapped a 2-0 pitch, grounding to a charging Betancourt. Dmitri Young whiffed on a high 0-2 pitch. Meche threw ten pitches.

Raul Ibañez popped to Inge in foul ground on the third-base side, who had to negotiate the wind and had to dart a bit for the ball. Richie Sexson had the hitters' counts and stroked a 3-1 pitch to the leftfield wall for a double. Eduardo Perez dropped the second pitch into center for a single to score Sexson.
Kenji Johjima chopped the second pitch high and into left for a single to move Perez to second. Adrian Beltre bounced to third, where Inge tagged Perez trying to get to third (Johjima got to second). Willie Bloomquist broke his bat on an 0-2 pitch, bouncing to the left side, where Inge cut the ball off and threw in time to first. Rogers threw 20 pitches and had 32 through two.

Magglio Ordoñez knocked a full-count pitch into right for a single. Craig Monroe grounded the first pitch right to Betancourt to start a 6-4-3 double play. Sean Casey was down 0-2 before flying out to center on a 1-2 pitch. Meche threw 13 pitches and had 23 through two.

Ichiro bounced a 1-2 pitch back to the mound. Lopez bounced the second pitch hard to second. Betancourt tapped to second on the second pitch. Rogers threw nine pitches and had 41 through three.

Omar Infante flew out to Bloomquist near the rightfield corner. Vance Wilson smacked a 2-2 pitch into the second row of seats beyond the rightfield fence.
Brandon Inge poked the first pitch along the rightfield line for a double. Johjima came to the mound for a visit. Granderson got ahead 3-0 and walked on a full-count pitch up and away. Pitching coach Rafael Chaves visited the mound. N Perez worked a 1-2 count for a walk to load the bases. Young popped a 2-0 pitch to Betancourt in shallow center with the infield fly rule called. Ordoñez popped to Sexson in foul ground on the right side. Meche threw 31 pitches and had 54 through three.

Ibañez rung the second pitch into right for a single. Sexson popped the second pitch high to left. E Perez popped the second pitch to shallow center. Johjima bounced right to N Perez at short, who threw to second for a 6-4 force on Ibañez. Rogers threw seven pitches and had 48 through four.

Monroe walked on four pitches. Casey flew out high to Ibañez in shallow center on the second pitch. Infante drove the second pitch into rightcenter, where Bloomquist ran it down. Wilson popped an 0-2 pitch to Bloomquist in shallow right. Meche threw 12 pitches and had 66 through four.

Beltre flew out to right on a 2-0 pitch. Jim Leyland and Tiger trainers attended to a neck tweak on Rogers or something. Bloomquist foul-tipped a 1-2 pitch into Wilson's glove behind the plate. Ichiro bounced the second pitch to second. Rogers threw nine pitches and had 57 through five.

Inge dumped a second-pitch breaking ball into leftcenter for a single. Granderson broke his bat and scorched the first pitch right into Sexson's glove, then Sexson stepped on first for the out on Inge. N Perez air-bunted the first pitch to the right side, and Sexson charged and made a diving catch and what might have been an infield hit without the catch. A bolt of lightning struck after the inning ended. Meche threw four pitches and had 70 through five.

Lopez knocked the first pitch into right for a single. Betancourt lined the first pitch into center for a single to move Lopez to second. Ibañez banged the second pitch for a long fly to left that went off of Monroe's glove at the wall for a double, scoring Lopez and Betancourt.
Sexson walked on a full count, but ball four bounced away from Wilson and bounced to his right, moving Ibañez to third. Pitching coach Chuck Hernandez visited the mound as rain started to fall in a hard fashion (it continued in an intermittent fashion). E Perez took a 1-2 pitch in the dirt that got away to Wilson's left, but that moved Sexson to second, though Ibañez had to hold at third. E Perez rolled the next pitch (2-2) to short as Ibañez scored and Sexson held at second.
Johjima was down 0-2 and ended up bouncing a 2-2 pitch into the left-side hole, and N Perez made the play to first. Beltre popped high to Casey in foul ground on the right side. Rogers threw 23 pitches and had 80 through six.

Young whiffed on a 1-2 breaking ball. Ordoñez nubbed a 1-2 pitch to the left of the mound, where Meche made the play to first. Monroe popped high to Betancourt just past the infield dirt in shallow center. Meche threw 14 pitches and had 84 through six.

Bloomquist bunted the second pitch in front of the plate, where Wilson pounced on it and threw in time to first. Ichiro bounced out to second. Lopez bopped one into rightcenter, where the ball got down and went to the track for a triple. Betancourt got ahead 3-0 and grounded to third on a 3-1 pitch.

Rogers' line: 7 innings, 4 runs, 8 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 93 pitches (55 strikes)

Casey popped the second pitch to Beltre in foul ground near the leftfield line. Infante grounded to short on a 2-2 pitch as thunder rolled through the area. Wilson bounced the second pitch to a charging Betancourt, who threw low to first, where it was dug out by Sexson. Meche threw nine pitches and had 93 through seven.

Jason Grilli came in for Rogers. Ibañez bounced to first (3-1 putout). Sexson shot a ball just inside the third-base bag and into foul ground for a double that was one of the ground-rule variety after a fan got to the ball and gobbled it up. E Perez flew out to Ordoñez near the rightfield corner on a 1-2 pitch as Sexson tagged and went to third. Johjima bounced the second pitch to third.

Grilli's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 12 pitches (8 strikes)

Inge was ahead 2-0 before cranking a line drive just above the rightfield wall.

George Sherrill came in for Meche. Ivan Rodriguez, hitting for Granderson, dumped a 1-2 pitch into shallow center for a single. N Perez looped the first pitch in front of Ibañez, who was futile on an attempt for a sliding catch as N Perez had the single and Rodriguez moved to second. The rain at this point was coming down very hard.

Sean Green came in for Sherrill as the rain came down hard. Kevin Hooper, hitting for Young, bunted the first pitch in front of the plate to move Rodriguez and N Perez to third and second, and Beltre had a great play to make to get Hooper at first. Ordoñez flew out to Bloomquist in right on the first pitch as Rodriguez held at third. Monroe was up as the rain poured down. Monroe hit a line drive to center, and Ichiro stumbled while coming in and slipped on the wet grass and fell down as the ball rolled to the wall for a double to score Rodriguez and N Perez and tie the game. Mariner trainers attended to Green, who was later revealed to have pulled a lat muscle. Earlier in the season, he had monster back spasms after a game.

Eric O'Flaherty came in for Green as rain and moisture had fogged up the camera as an onslaught of precipitation visited Comerica Park. Three hours and nine minutes later, play resumed. Casey popped the second pitch to Bloomquist on the rightfield track.

Meche's line: 7 innings, 2 runs, 5 hits, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts, 97 pitches (63 strikes)
Sherrill's line: 0 innings, 2 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 7 pitches (6 strikes)
Green's line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 6 pitches (5 strikes)
O'Flaherty's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 2 pitches (2 strikes)

Joel Zumaya came in for Grilli and Brent Clevlen came in to play center. Beltre popped the first pitch to Wilson behind the plate near the screen. Bloomquist waved on an 0-2 fastball. Ichiro sprayed a 1-2 pitch into left for a single. Lopez slapped the second pitch into right for a single, moving Ichiro to second. Betancourt grounded the second pitch to second, where Infante went to second for the force on Lopez. Zumaya threw 12 pitches.

Jon Huber came in for O'Flaherty. Infante broke his bat and bounced the second pitch to third (along with the barrel) that he tried to block with his body, but it bounced away (error) to snap his long errorless streak. Wilson bunted the second pitch in front, where Huber came off the mound to field it and throw to first (Lopez covering), moving Infante to second. Inge was intentionally walked. Clevlen whiffed on a 1-2 slider. N Perez chopped to first (3-1 putout).

Huber's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 15 pitches (8 strikes)

Ibañez worked an 0-2 count for a walk. Sexson ripped a single up the middle and into center to move Ibañez to second. Ben Broussard, hitting for E Perez, broke his bat on a single that was dumped into shallow right to load the bases. Johjima looped the second pitch into rightcenter between Clevlen and Ordoñez for a single that scored Ibañez and kept the bases loaded.
Beltre was down 0-2 and whiffed on a 1-2 breaking ball off the plate away. Chris Snelling, hitting for Bloomquist, foul-tipped an 0-2 fastball into Wilson's glove behind the plate. Ichiro popped a 1-2 pitch near the leftfield corner.

Zumaya's line: 2 innings, 1 run, 5 hits, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, 39 pitches (28 strikes)

JJ Putz came in for Huber. Marcus Thames, hitting for Hooper, was down 0-2 and whiffed on a 1-2 pitch. Ordoñez ripped the first pitch into center for a single. Alexis Gomez came in to run for Ordoñez. Monroe walked on a full-count pitch to move Gomez to second. Casey grounded the first pitch to third to start a 5-4-3 double play.

Putz' line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 12 pitches (7 strikes)

Gameball: Jose Lopez.
One quick look at his game log seems to say that he's warmed up in every category not involving extra-base hits. He had a triple in this game, his first extra-base hit since he doubled on August 15 in Oakland. The familiar stat is that he hasn't homered since June 2nd. That aside, this is supposed to be a gameball paragraph, not one that's meant to rain on the parade of Lopez. He's a fairly torrid 9-for-20 (.450) with three multi-hit games in the month. Aside from the pinch-hit strikeout, he has one hitless game, one two-hit game, and two three-hit games. He's walked twice and struck out twice, so there's no gross disparity to the strikeout side. In one of my favorite standby stats of the season, Lopez was hitting .279 and slugging .484 before Mike Hargrove moved him into the third slot in the lineup on May 30th. At that point, he had hit eight homers and driven in 40 runs. He's hit .280 but has slugged .357 since. That grossly lower slugging mark is due to Lopez hitting one homer since. He's also driven in only 29 runs since that point, 15 of which were in June. Okay, so it didn't evolve into much of a true gameball paragraph. I'll feel better about this if Lopez hits 11 homers and drives in 31 runs for the rest of September because then he'd have a 20-homer 100-RBI season. Until then, all the Robinson Cano lovers have more ammunition against the Lopez backers in the debate for who the best young second baseman in the American League is.

Goat: Adrian Beltre.
He had a solid August. He hit .277 for the month, second only to his fiery .324 June, as were his .342 (.387) on-base and .554 (.611) slugging marks. He hit seven homers in August, his high for any month this year. A rosy picture. He's 2-for-28 (.071) where we stand right now, six games into September. He has four RBIs for the month, and two occurred in the middle game of this series without the help of a hit. He's drawn zero walks, which isn't hard to believe since he's been swinging at everything (eight strikeouts). He has zero extra-base hits in September. If one wants to make the numbers a little more shocking, the final game of August can be used to further pepper the numbers of suck because Beltre was 0-for-4 with a couple of strikeouts in the last game of the home series against Anaheim. Put it all together and in the last seven games, you get 2-for-32 (.063) with no extra-base hits, no walks, four RBIs, and ten strikeouts. I think the most distressing thing at first appearance is that the two hits Beltre had in the last seven games were both in the same game. He's hitless in six of the last seven games.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 99-40 .712 -- L1
2002 81-58 .583 18 L1
2003 81-58 .583 18 L1
2000 75-64 .540 24 L1
2006 66-73 .475 33 W2
2005 60-79 .432 39 L1
2004 52-87 .374 47 W1

Millwood. Baek. Tomorrow.

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