Sunday, September 17, 2006


AP photo -- Charlie Riedel

[actual post Mon ~8:09a]

In 25 words or less: The Mariners doubled up the Royals on the scoreboard, and that brings to mind the obligatory Sir Mix-A-Lot reference.

This one featured Gil Meche going up against Runelvys Hernandez. One can be a headcase on the mound, the other can fight his catcher in the dugout, though the one behind the plate in this game isn't the same guy. This game went for about two hours until everyone in the Pacific Northwest turned their televisions over to the Cardinals/Seahawks game. I picked up the second half of this game later in the night, which is truly the wonderful thing about MLB.tv. As much as being able to see Mariner footage well after it happens is great, it's too bad we can't get Mariner wins on demand before they happen. You can watch them after they happen, sure, but for now you can only pull up games from 2005 and 2006, and I'm implying a ridiculous telepathic connection thing right now, so I'm completely insane. Anyway, this game saw the Mariners trying to come away with a split in Kansas City. A loss here would make it six losses in eight games, and that's bad. A win would make it five of eight, which is less bad.

Ichiro popped the second pitch high to a charging Costa in rightfield. Adrian Beltre worked an 0-2 count full but rolled out to third. Kenji Johjima tapped a 2-0 pitch to the mound that went off Hernandez' glove but went to Grudzielanek, who threw over with plenty of time. Hernandez threw 12 pitches.

David DeJesus grounded the second pitch hard to a drawn-in Beltre at third. Esteban German whiffed on a 2-2 curve down and off the plate away. Mark Grudzielanek poked a single past the reach of Lopez and into center for a single. Emil Brown put a jolt in the second pitch, which had homerun distance but was foul by about three feet. Brown walked on a 3-1 pitch, moving Grudzielanek to second. Ryan Shealy got ahead 2-0 and Johjima visited the mound. Shealy had the hitters' counts before blistereing a full-count pitch to left, barely missing a homer (it went off the in-play wire mesh fence above the wall), but it went for a double that scored Grudzielanek and Brown.
Shane Costa popped an 0-2 pitch to shallow left. Meche threw 29 pitches.

Raul Ibañez whiffed on a 1-2 fastball. Richie Sexson popped the second pitch to Phillips to the right of the screen behind the plate. Ben Broussard whiffed on a low full-count breaking ball, though he worked the at-bat for 11 pitches. Hernandez threw 17 pitches and had 29 through two.

Angel Berroa slapped the first pitch into right for a single. Joey Gathright pop-bunted the first pitch right to Meche, which is where Ron Fairly mentions his favorite play, which is to let it drop and go for the double play since the infield fly rule won't be called. Paul Phillips fought off the second pitch, pushing it through the right side for a single on a nicely-executed hit-and-run, moving Berroa to third. DeJesus bounced to first, and Sexson blocked him from reaching first as Berroa scored and Phillips moved to second.
German rolled out to short. Meche threw ten pitches and had 39 through two.

Yuniesky Betancourt scorched a double just over the reach of a leaping German and into the leftfield corner for his first hit of the series. Chris Snelling grounded the second pitch to Shealy behind the bag at first to move Betancourt to third. Jose Lopez popped the second pitch to deep rightcenter, far enough to plate Betancourt from third.
Ichiro smoked a single through the right side. Beltre popped a full-count pitch very high to Grudzielanek moving into shallow right. Hernandez threw 19 pitches and had 48 through three.

Grudzielanek had the hitters' counts and rolled a 3-1 pitch past the mound and into center for a single. Brown was down 0-2 and grounded a 1-2 pitch right to Betancourt at short to start an easy 6-4-3 double play. Shealy walked on a 3-1 pitch. Costa punched a single barely over the reach of a leaping Betancourt and into leftcenter for a single to move Shealy to second. Berroa whiffed on an 0-2 curve down over the outside corner. Meche threw 11 pitches and had 59 through three.

Johjima was down 0-2 and popped a 2-2 pitch to Berroa on the leftfield grass. Ibañez blistered a single past a diving Shealy and through the right side for a single. Sexson flew out high to right on a 1-2 pitch. Broussard walked on a low-and-inside full-count pitch, moving Ibañez to second. Betancourt whiffed on a 1-2 pitch. Hernandez threw 23 pitches and had 71 through four.

Gathright fell behind 0-2 and took a 2-2 curve over the outside corner. Phillips lined the first pitch into rightcenter and rolled it past Ichiro and toward the wall for a double. DeJesus was nicked on the right elbow with an 0-2 curve. Around this point, the AFLAC Trivia Question sparked a fun discussion between Dave Niehaus and Ron Fairly different methods of stealing signs. German dug out a hanging 2-2 curve, putting it into center for a single to score Phillips and move DeJesus to second.
Grudzielanek grounded the second pitch to Beltre at third, who stopped for a second and froze DeJesus in front of him, but then threw to Lopez at second, who tagged the bag and dropped the ball as he was preparing to make the throw (5-4 putout). The play ended with DeJesus and Grudzielanek on third and first. Brown tapped a 3-1 pitch back to the mound. Meche threw 21 pitches and had 80 through four.

Snelling served a 2-2 pitch into center for a single. Lopez flew out to shallow center on the first pitch. Ichiro took a 2-2 pitch on the right calf/shin, moving Snelling to second and bringing trainer Rick Griffin out of the dugout. Ichiro stayed in the game after a short test trot. Beltre knocked the first pitch into shallow left for a single to load the bases. Johjima took the second pitch off the body armor on his left elbow, forcing Snelling across.
Ibañez whiffed on a 2-2 breaking ball up and away. Sexson bounced a 2-2 pitch (eight pitch of the at-bat) up the middle for a single to score Ichiro and Beltre.

Todd Wellemeyer came in for Hernandez. Broussard was down 0-2 and took a 1-2 pitch that went off Phillips' shin guard and away (wild pitch), moving Johjima and Sexson to third and Sexson. Broussard grounded a 2-2 pitch to the right-side hole that nearly ate up Grudzielanek, but he gathered himself and got the out at first. Wellemeyer threw four pitches.

Hernandez' line: 4 2/3 innings, 4 runs, 6 hits, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts, 101 pitches (66 strikes)

Shealy was down 0-2 and nubbed a 2-2 curve to short. Costa stroked the first pitch into the rightfield corner for a double. Berroa lasered the second pitch into Sexson's glove at first. Gathright whiffed on a 2-1 pitch and Costa took off from second and Johjima threw behind Betancourt instead of to second (where he was going), and the ball went into center, allowing Costa to run all the way home.
Gathright bounced to the right side, where Meche got the ball and blocked Gathright from getting to first. Meche threw 15 pitches and had 95 through five.

Betancourt shot the second pitch that nearly took Wellemeyer out at the legs, but it merely went into center for a single. Snelling flew out to DeJesus in leftcenter on the first pitch. Lopez punched the second pitch through the right side for a single to move Betancourt to third. Ichiro was down 0-2 before rolling a 1-2 pitch to the left-side hole, where Berroa tossed to Grudzielanek at second for the out, but Lopez took out Grudzielanek with the slide, so no double play as Betancourt scored.
Beltre took a 1-1 pitch in the dirt and to the backstop that moved Ichiro to second. Beltre took a 3-1 pitch down and away. Johjima whiffed on an 0-2 offspeed pitch that hung a bit.

Wellemeyer's line: 1 1/3 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 23 pitches (15 strikes)

Phillips checkswung and nubbed the second pitch back to the mound. DeJesus worked an 0-2 count full before flying out to Ichiro in rightcenter. German was ahead 2-0 but ended up lining out to right on a full count.

Meche's line: 6 innings, 5 runs (4 earned), 9 hits, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts, 109 pitches (67 strikes)

Jimmy Gobble came in for Wellemeyer. Ibañez slapped the first pitch into the leftfield corner for a double. Sexson whiffed on a full-count offspeed pitch away. Eduardo Perez was announced as the pinch-hitter for Broussard.

Joel Peralta came in for Gobble. Perez scooped a single itno center to score Ibañez.
Betancourt flew out to center on an 0-2 pitch as Gathright pumpfaked Perez back to first. Snelling fell behind 0-2 and rode a 2-2 pitch that just kept carrying and ended up over the centerfield wall.
Lopez grounded the second pitch through the mound, where it fired to Grudzielanek, who then threw to first.

Gobble's line: 1/3 inning, 1 run, 1 hit, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 7 pitches (4 strikes)
Peralta's line: 2/3 inning, 2 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 16 pitches (12 strikes)

Emiliano Fruto came in for Meche. Grudzielanek popped the first pitch to rightcenter, where Ichiro made the catch. Brown had the hitters' counts before rolling a 3-1 pitch out to short. Shealy lined out to Ichiro running toward the track in center.

Fruto's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 9 pitches (5 strikes)

Joselo Diaz came in for Peralta. Ichiro scooted a ball toward the middle that Grudzielanek got to on the backhand side, but it got a piece of his glove and rolled past, but it was scored a single anyway. Beltre popped out to second on the first pitch. Johjima unloaded on the second pitch, homering into a fountain in leftcenter. The Japanese connection scored the runs on this one.
Ibañez had the hitters' counts before rolling out to second on a 3-1 pitch. Sexson punched a full-count pitch off the mound and into center for a single. Perez bounced a full-count pitch to third, and German made a nice charge-and-throw play on the run.

Diaz' line: 1 inning, 2 runs, 3 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 23 pitches (12 strikes)

George Sherrill came in for Fruto and TJ Bohn came in to play rightfield. Costa flew out to Ibañez in foul ground down the leftfield line. Berroa popped to Lopez heading toward the line in right. Gathright worked a 1-2 count full before whiffing on a fastball.

Sherrill's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 10 pitches (6 strikes)

Andrew Sisco came in for Diaz. Betancourt took a 2-2 pitch fastball at the knees that he thought was low. Bohn whiffed on a 1-2 low breaking ball. Lopez flew out to Costa in rightcenter on a 3-1 pitch.

Sisco's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 14 pitches (8 strikes)

Jon Huber came in for Sherrill and Bloomquist came in to play center. Phillips flew out to center. DeJesus took a 2-2 breaking ball over the outer half. German whiffed on an 0-2 breaking ball.

Huber's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 11 pitches (8 strikes)

Gameball: Chris Snelling.
He led off with a single in the fifth and homered in the seventh to make a 6-5 Mariner lead into an 8-5 Mariner lead. The homer was his first since his two-homer game in Seattle against the Angels. The Aussie's batting average is at .300. He's also on base at a .398 clip and has a slugging percentage of .543. He has three homers in the 25 games he's played. There's no way in hell Snelling would ever be healthy enough for 150 games, but if you took that homer rate, he'd end up with 18 homers for a season. He'd also end up with 122 hits, 36 doubles, six triples, and 48 RBIs, 45 walks, and (drum roll) 125 strikeouts. I know him for walks, not strikeouts. If he ended up with 125 strikeouts, well, 125 strikeouts would be blatantly Cameronesque or Sexsonesque. Anyway, if there were any way the Mariners could get 100 to 110 games out of Snelling next season, that would be quite optimal. If he could stay healthy for most of a season, it'd be great for this team. All I can think about is all those at-bats that were spent on Greg Dobbs, and wishing Snelling was up instead.

Goat: Ben Broussard.
Every other starter in the Mariner lineup in this game had a hit. That fact alone means it was a great day for the Mariners at the plate, though Broussard is the odd man out. He wasn't completely bereft of decentness, though, as he managed an 11-pitch strikeout in the second inning, a six-pitch walk in the fourth, and a five-pitch at-bat leading to a groundout in the fifth. The point is, he wasn't pulling the hack-happy stuff that most of the lineup has for the year and that has been drilled into their heads (that whole "aggressiveness" thing). Stuff like his first at-bat are what keeps a starting pitcher from lasting for two or three more hitters, and unfortunately the Mariners haven't been putting too much stock in plate discipline this season. It seems as though it's been working for Kenji Johjima and Yuniesky Betancourt, and it's all that Ichiro knows. However, I don't think hack-happiness isn't quite as compatible with of beneficial to an Adrian Beltre, and as the year's gone on, a Jose Lopez as well.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 106-43 .711 -- L3
2003 86-63 .577 20 L1
2002 85-64 .570 21 W1
2000 83-66 .557 23 W5
2006 71-78 .477 35 W1
2005 64-85 .430 42 L4
2004 56-93 .376 50 L2

Hernandez. Millwood. Monday.

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