Sunday, September 10, 2006


AP photo -- Kevin P. Casey

In 25 words or less: If any two Seattle professional teams play on the same day, it seems rarely do both teams win. The Seahawks won before this game started.

This one featured Adam Eaton going up against Felix Hernandez. Felix went with the high socks look today, but I'd personally stay away from that look since Joel Piñeiro does that too. Needless to say, there were many references to Eaton being from Snohomish during the game. The Mariners were trying to win to catapult themselves to four games over .500, somewhere they hadn't been since losing the third game of their holly-jolly 11-game losing streak. Hernandez had some incentive to throw well since it's well-publicized that he's going to be cut out of a couple of starts to end the season in an effort to cut back on his innings, seeing as to how he's never thrown this many innings in a season before, and definitely not at the big-league level. Two starts ago, Felix twirled the masterpiece, a five-hit complete-game shutout against the Angels in which he was a groundball machine. In his last start, Felix ended up with a terrible line of seven runs on ten hits, though he dominated for most of the game and all seven runs scored on the three homers he yielded.

Gary Matthews, Jr. punched the second pitch through the right side for a single. Michael Young tagged the second pitch past Hernandez and up the middle for a single, moving Matthews to second. Mark Teixeira bounced a 2-2 pitch to second that was hit too softly, so it only was a 4-6 fielder's choice as Matthews moved to third. Carlos Lee popped the second pitch to shallow left, and Matthews took off from third on an Ibañez throw, which was a bit late and Rivera was late on the tag anyway, though Matthews went back to touch the plate.
Hank Blalock was ahead 2-0 before taking a 2-2 curve over the outside corner. Hernandez threw 16 pitches.

Ichiro popped the first pitch lazily to left. Chris Snelling fouled off three 0-2 pitches and ended up whiffing on a 1-2 fastball down and in. Yuniesky Betancourt whiffed on an 0-2 fastball way up and in. Eaton threw 11 pitches.

Mark DeRosa fell behind 0-2 and split his bat on a 1-2 slow roller to third that was charged by Bloomquist on the run, and he made the long off-balance throw to first. Matt Stairs foul-tipped a 2-2 curve into Rivera's glove. Ian Kinsler worked a 1-2 count full and nearly doubled down the leftfield line (foul) before shooting a hard single past a diving Betancourt and into left. Gerald Laird took a first-pitch strike and Kinsler easily stole second. Laird slowly rolled the second pitch up the middle and past the mound, but Betancourt cut off Lopez and made the throw to first in time. Hernandez threw 20 pitches and had 36 through two.

Raul Ibañez was up 2-0 and rolled a ball up the middle that Kinsler ranged to his backhand side to get, and threw off balance to first, just barely pulling Teixeira off the bag (single, the throw would have been in time). Richie Sexson was down 0-2 and took a 1-2 pitch for strike three, though he couldn't believe the call as he stared at it for a while. Ben Broussard poked the second pitch up the middle for a single to move Ibañez to second. Lopez hit a full-count hot-shot grounder that was nicely backhanded by Young, who flipped to start a nifty 6-4-3 double play (very nice). Eaton threw 19 pitches and had 30 through two.

Matthews took a 1-2 slider over the outside corner. Young was up 3-1 before grounding out to second on a full count. Teixeira knocked a single into right. Lee fell behind 0-2 and grounded hard to third on a 1-2 pitch. Hernandez threw 20 pitches and had 56 through three.

Rene Rivera served the second pitch into left for a single. Willie Bloomquist was badly jammed on the second pitch, breaking his bat on a slow roller to second that moved Rivera to second. Ichiro was down 0-2 and ended up whiffing over a 1-2 breaking ball in the dirt. Snelling took a 1-1 pitch to the leg. Betancourt grounded the second pitch to short for a force on Snelling (6-4 fielder's choice). Eaton threw 16 pitches and had 46 through three.

Blalock lined out to third. DeRosa was down 0-2 and rolled a 1-2 pitch slowly to short. Stairs fell behind 0-2 and tapped a 2-2 pitch in front to the left side, where Rivera pounced on it, but Stairs barely beat the throw. Kinsler flew out to Snelling in rightcenter on the second pitch. Hernandez threw 16 pitches and had 72 through four.

Ibañez swung oddly and grounded a 1-2 pitch to second. Sexson popped a 1-2 pitch high to Teixeira behind the first-base coaches' box. Broussard turned on a 1-2 pitch and giving some foul homer distance, but whiffed on a fastball on the next pitch. Eaton threw 12 pitches and had 58 through four.

Laird laced a 2-2 pitch into left for a single. Matthews bounced the second pitch to Lopez, who started the 4-6-3 double play. Young whiffed on a 1-2 fastball down over the inside corner. Hernandez threw 12 pitches and had 84 through five.

Lopez was down 0-2 before lacing a 2-2 pitch into center for a single. Rivera bounced the first pitch right to Kinsler, who started a 4-6-3 double play. Bloomquist was up 2-0 and chopped very high to short on a full count, where Young picked off the shorthop and threw to first in time on a great play. Eaton threw 12 pitches and had 70 through five.

Teixeira whiffed on an 0-2 fastball up and away. Lee smacked the second pitch that was slowed down by a diving Betancourt at short, but it leaked through past the infield dirt for a single. Blalock grounded a full-count pitch back to the mound that Hernandez muffed a bit and he had only the play to first as Lee moved to second. DeRosa had the hitters' counts (Rivera visited the mound with a full count) before walking on a breaking ball in the dirt away that moved Lee to third.

Francisco Cruceta, making his Mariner debut (he threw for Cleveland in 2004), came in for Hernandez. Stairs worked a 1-2 count full and walked on a fastball just off the outside corner to load the bases. Kinsler fell behind 0-2 and popped a 2-2 pitch to Lopez backing into shallow right. Cruceta threw 13 pitches.

Hernandez' line: 5 2/3 innings, 1 run, 7 hits, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, 105 pitches (71 strikes)

Ichiro was down 0-2 and drove a 1-2 pitch off the track and wall in rightcenter for a double (ninth pitch of at-bat). Snelling bunted the first pitch in front to Eaton, who threw to first as Ichiro moved to third. Betancourt bounced the second pitch through the left side for a single to score Ichiro.
Ibañez got ahead 3-0 and lined a full-count pitch into right for a single to move Betancourt to third. Pitching coach Mark Connor visited the mound. Sexson rolled the first pitch to short to start a 6-4-3 double play. Eaton threw 19 pitches and had 89 through six.

Laird flew out to Ichiro in rightcenter on a 1-2 pitch. Matthews had the hitters' counts before walking on a 3-1 pitch away. Pitching coach Rafael Chaves visited the mound. Young shot a 2-0 pitch past a diving Bloomquist and into the leftfield corner for a double that scored Matthews.
Teixeira popped high to Betancourt walking onto the leftfield grass. Lee flew out to Snelling a few steps short of the rightfield track.

Cruceta's line: 1 1/3 innings, 1 run, 1 hit, 2 walks, 0 strikeouts, 33 pitches (17 strikes)

Broussard roped a 2-2 inside pitch off the rightfield foul pole.

Wes Littleton came in for Eaton. Lopez grounded out to second. Rivera lined the second pitch to Young at short, who caught it at the shoetops. Bloomquist was up 3-0 and whiffed on a full-count pitch way up and away and to the backstop, though there was some confusion as to whether Bloomquist had fouled it off. He took off for first as the pitch went by, then slowed down as if he'd been told it was foul.

Eaton's line: 6 innings, 2 runs, 8 hits, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts, 94 pitches (70 strikes)
Littleton's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 12 pitches (6 strikes)

Eric O'Flaherty came in for Cruceta. Blalock softly lined a 2-0 pitch through the left side for a single. DeRosa grounded a full-count pitch to third to start a 5-4-3 double play. Stairs popped high to Rivera in front of the third-base dugout.

O'Flaherty's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 13 pitches (6 strikes)

CJ Wilson came in for Littleton. Ichiro chopped a 1-2 pitch to short, and Young had to double-clutch the throw, so Ichiro ended up being safe with the single. Snelling bunted the first pitch toward the mound, and Wilson turned around and threw to second to get Ichiro, though some thought Young's foot was pulled off the bag by the throw. Nonetheless, Snelling reached on the fielder's choice. Betancourt hit a low liner to rightcenter on the first pitch, but DeRosa made a diving catch to rob Betancourt of the hit. Ibañez took a 1-1 pitch up and away and Laird gunned down to second and got Young running over to cover, and he tagged Snelling for the out.

Wilson's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 10 pitches (7 strikes)

Jon Huber came in for O'Flaherty. Kinsler whiffed on a 2-2 hanging slider inside. Laird walked on a 3-1 fastball off the plate outside. Matthews was up 3-0 and tagged a 3-1 pitch into left for a single to move Laird to second. Chaves visited the mound. Young took an 0-1 pitch for a strike that went off Rivera's glove and got away (passed ball), enabling Laird and Matthews to scoot to third and second. Young shot an 0-2 pitch past a diving and drawn-in Betancourt for a single to score Laird and move Matthews to third.
Teixeira got ahead 2-0 and tapped to second, where Lopez threw straight to first, and they hung Young up between first and second, but didn't get him out quickly enough before Matthews scored.

Huber's line: 1 inning, 2 runs (1 earned), 2 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 24 pitches (13 strikes)

Akinori Otsuka came in for Wilson and Jerry Hairston, Jr. came in to play left. Ibañez flew out to Matthews on the centerfield track on a 2-2 pitch. Sexson lined a single under a diving Blalock at third and through to left for a single. Adam Jones came in to run for Sexson. Broussard lasered the first pitch into rightfield for a single to move Jones to second. Lopez tapped a 1-2 pitch back to the mound to start a 1-6-3 double play to end the game.

Otsuka's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 14 pitches (10 strikes)

Gameball: Ben Broussard.
If Broussard's going to go 3-for-4, he gets an automatic gameball considering just how badly the whole Broussard/Eduardo Perez platoon has underperformed since being put into full operation in Seattle. As great as this three-hit game was, Broussard is still hitting only .231 in his 37 games as a Mariner. One of the few good things about his numbers this season is that he has seven homers in his Seattle tenure and has hit them at a faster rate than he did as a Cleveland Indian earlier this year (13 in 88 games). Needless to say, the other types of hits didn't make the trip back to Seattle with him. Still, one good thing about having Broussard and Perez in Seattle is that Mike Hargrove can get away with either of them playing first base and giving Richie Sexson's beanpole legs some rest by having him DH. It's way better than having Sexson DH and Carl Everett playing first. Yikes. I'm glad that thought doesn't even have to enter my mind with any seriousness anymore. But to end this, Broussard got the three hits and tied the game with a homer, and I didn't even have to give him a perpetual goat ultimatum the night before to make it happen.

Goat: Francisco Cruceta.
I was heavily tempted to pick Chris Snelling or Rene Rivera for this spot. Snelling only got on base when he was hit by a pitch, and Rivera, though he got a hit, did his best Kenji Johjima impersonation and had a key passed ball in the ninth that moved Texas' go-ahead run to third base (and their insurance run to second). It Cruceta's Mariner debut, he gave up a run in the seventh that gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead. He faced seven batters and got four outs, with the non-outs being a double and two walks. I'd like to go on some sort of rant about what I think about Cruceta and how I think he might figure into next year's plans, but based on what I saw today and how he was throwing, well, I'm finding it somewhat inconclusive. In any event, Cruceta is 25 years old, and any passable arm in the youth movement is yet another reason for us to not see Joel Piñeiro on this team next year. Cruceta will go into 2007 as a 25-year-old, but Piñeiro will be 28 years of age, which of course makes him a fogey. Well, he's only that because his upside nowadays is nearly invisible.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 102-40 .718 -- W3
2002 84-58 .592 18 W3
2003 82-60 .577 20 L1
2000 77-65 .542 25 W1
2006 68-74 .479 34 L1
2005 61-81 .430 41 L2
2004 53-89 .373 49 W1

Lilly. Woods. Tomorrow.

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