Thursday, September 21, 2006


AP photo -- LM Otero

In 25 words or less: 'Twas a good night for Cha Seung Baek and a bad one for Ian Kinsler. Now they're four wins better than last year.

This one featured Cha Seung Baek going up against Robinson Tejeda. The Mariners were trying to win the series in Arlington. A win would also get them their third in four games and their fourth in six games. Coming into the game, the Mariners needed a 10-1 finish to end the season with a winning record, a 9-2 record to end with a .500 record, and a 5-6 record to make my 77-win preseason prediction look good. Ian Kinsler was wired for sound by the Ranger telecast for the game. The Rockettes were at the Ballpark on this night. The Mariners were to play the White Sox in Chicago the next day to start a four-game series. For the second year in a row, I'm almost glad the Mariners aren't in a pennant race because of their travel and semi-crazy schedule. Last year, they were graced with an 11-games-in-11-days road trip in mid-September that took them through Texas, Toronto, and Detroit. This year, it's yet another 11-games-in-11-days jaunt, though not geographically as bad with Kansas City, Texas, and Chicago on the docket. I know Seattle's geographic isolation makes the travel more burdensome than it is with other teams, but do these crazy-long road trips really have to be in mid-September? I think 2005 was the first year of the unbalanced schedule where they spread the intradivisional games out, and if this were still the case, the Mariners wouldn't go further than Texas for the last half of September (or most of April). I'm just going to rue the day when the Mariners are two games out of first place in early September and then have to go on a 12-games-in-12-days trip to the east coast.

Ichiro got ahead 3-1 before stroking a double into centerfield that got to the wall (Matthews was shaded toward leftcenter). Adrian Beltre flew out just short of the rightfield track on the first pitch. Kenji Johjima had the hitters' counts before flying out a step short of the rightfield track on a 3-1 pitch, scoring Ichiro from third.
Raul Ibañez worked an 0-2 count full and lined out to first on a breaking ball. Tejeda threw 19 pitches.

Gary Matthews, Jr. had the hitters' counts and flew out to Ibañez in leftcenter on a 3-1 pitch. Michael Young flew out to pretty deep center. Mark Teixeira walked on a full-count pitch in the dirt that got away from Johjima and rolled to the backstop. Lee had a 3-0 count go full and popped high to Betancourt behind the mound. Baek threw 24 pitches.

Richie Sexson popped an 0-2 pitch to Young moving toward the leftfield line. Ben Broussard flew out to Young in shallow left on the first pitch. Yuniesky Betancourt bounced the second pitch up the middle for a single. Jose Lopez walked on a 3-1 fastball down and away, moving Betancourt to second. Willie Bloomquist walked on an inside 3-1 pitch, loading the bases. Ichiro flew out high to Cruz in rightcenter on the second pitch. Tejeda threw 18 pitches and had 37 through two.

Hank Blalock tapped the second pitch back to the mound. Mark DeRosa looped the second pitch to Lopez in shallow center. Ian Kinsler whipped the second pitch through the left side for a single. Gerald Laird popped to Sexson in foul ground on the right side almost behind the plate. Baek threw nine pitches and had 33 through two.

Beltre flew out high to Teixeira in foul ground behind the bag at first. Johjima bounced gently to the left side, where DeRosa charged from third and decided to put it in his pocket as Johjima came away with the single. Ibañez got ahead 3-0 but whiffed on a high full-count fastball and Johjima was sent back to first after having stolen second because Laird was nailed by the backswing of Ibañez and had no shot at throwing out Johjima. The Texas television crew had a live interview going with manager Buck Showalter during the inning, and Showalter was giving signs at the same time. The crew remarked that Showalter multitasked well, to which Showalter replied it was kind of easy since Johjima wasn't running from first. In a moment of hilarity, Johjima took off on the next pitch. Sexson hit a bullet and one-hopped to the leftfield wall for a double to move Johjima to third. Broussard was ahead 2-0 before grounding to second, where Kinsler was eaten up on a backhand attempt as it went off his glove and into the outfield, scoring Johjima and Sexson.
Betancourt popped to shallow right. Tejeda threw 23 pitches and had 60 through three.

Nelson Cruz bounced out to third. Matthews bounced slowly on the first pitch to Lopez charging in from second. Young spanked a 2-2 pitch over Bloomquist and it bounced off the track and wall for a double. Teixeira flew out high to Lopez in shallow right on the first pitch. Baek threw 11 pitches and had 44 through three.

Lopez bounced a 2-2 pitch over the mound, and Young's best effort to charge and throw on the run was futile as Lopez came away with the single. Bloomquist flew out to Matthews in rightcenter in front of the Ranger bullpen on a 2-2 pitch. Ichiro flew out to Matthews in leftcenter on the second pitch. Beltre knocked the second pitch through the left side for a single. Johjima flew out to center on the first pitch. Tejeda threw 18 pitches and had 78 through four.

Lee whiffed on an 0-2 belt-high pitch over the outer half. Blalock rolled the second pitch to Sexson behind the bag at first. DeRosa whiffed on a 1-2 breaking ball. Baek threw nine pitches and had 53 through four.

Ibañez unloaded on the second pitch, depositing it into the first row of seats just to the right of the hitters' backdrop in centerfield.
Sexson worked an 0-2 count full and rolled over on a pitch, grounding out to third. Broussard flew out high to short. Betancourt drove a double that bounced off the track and wall in center, akin to the Ibañez home run in terms of placement, except with warning-track power. Lopez got ahead 2-0 and ended up grounding to Kinsler in the right-side hole, but the Ranger second baseman was shorthopped by the ball as it went off the heel of his glove (error, his second of the game), scoring Betancourt.
Bloomquist split his bat on an 0-2 grounder to short, which Young turned into a 6-4 force of Lopez.

Tejeda's line: 5 innings, 5 runs (2 earned), 8 hits, 2 walks, 1 strikeout, 100 pitches (62 strikes)

Kinsler fouled off three 0-2 pitches before taking the next one, a breaking ball, belt high and over the plate. Laird took a 2-2 fastball off the left side of his chest. Trainers attended to Laird, who stayed in the game. Cruz was down 0-2 and crushed a hanging 1-2 curve eight rows into the leftfield seats above the scoreboard/wall.
Matthews flew out high to center on a 1-2 pitch. Young worked an 0-2 count full but whiffed on a belly-high breaking ball. Baek threw 28 pitches and had 81 through five.

Nick Masset came in for Tejeda. Ichiro rolled the first pitch to short. Beltre served a 3-1 pitch into left for a single. Johjima grounded the first pitch to short to start an easy 6-4-3 double play. Masset threw seven pitches.

Teixeira flew out to Ichiro in shallow center on a 2-2 pitch. Lee whiffed on an 0-2 knee-high breaking ball. Blalock popped an 0-2 pitch very high to Beltre, who had to move out of his shifted position and more toward his regular one before making the catch. Baek threw 12 pitches and had 93 through six.

Ibañez was up 2-0 but ended up rolling a curve to second. Sexson flew out high to right on a 2-0 pitch. Broussard walked on a 3-1 pitch up and away. Betancourt had a swinging bunt toward third on which DeRosa came up empty on a charge-and-barehand attempt and Betancourt legged out the single, moving Broussard to second. Lopez worked a 1-2 count full and looped into shallow center, where it landed between Matthews and Kinsler on some miscommunication, but Matthews picked it up and got Betancourt by five feet at home, though Broussard scored ahead of him. Masset threw 22 pitches and had 29 total.

Masset's line: 2 innings, 1 run, 3 hits, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 29 pitches (14 strikes)

DeRosa grounded the first pitch to Beltre behind the bag at third. Kinsler bounced the second pitch to short. Laird bounced near the third-base line, where Baek came over to field it, but Baek's throw was wide of first and went into foul ground down the rightfield side, enabling Laird to move to second.

Jon Huber came in for Laird. Cruz popped very very high to Beltre coming in near the plate in foul ground on the left side.

Baek's line: 6 2/3 innings, 2 runs, 4 hits, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, 103 pitches (72 strikes)
Huber's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 4 pitches (2 strikes)

Scott Feldman came in for Masset. Bloomquist bunted the first pitch out in front, and Feldman came off the mound to make the play to first. Ichiro was up 2-0 and grounded a 2-2 pitch to second. Beltre grounded hard DeRosa behind the bag at third. Feldman threw 12 pitches.

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

Joel Piñeiro came in for Huber. Matthews whiffed on a low 0-2 breaking ball. Young grounded the second pitch back to the mound, where Piñeiro tried to get his left leg out of the way, but had it go off of him, but right to Sexson, who went to the bag for the out. Teixeira rolled a 1-2 pitch to first (3-1 putout). Piñeiro threw nine pitches.

Ron Mahay came in for Feldman. Johjima rolled to second on the second pitch. Ibañez whiffed on a 1-2 fastball. Sexson was up 3-0 and took a full-count pitch in the dirt. Broussard bounced the first pitch to second. Mahay threw

Mahay's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 14 pitches (9 strikes)

Lee stroked the second pitch near the leftfield corner, reaching the wall on two hops for a double.

George Sherrill came in for Piñeiro. Blalock was up 2-0 before slapping a single to left to score Lee.

JJ Putz came in for Sherrill. DeRosa whiffed on an 0-2 letter-high fastball. Kinsler poked the second pitch into shallow right for a single, moving Blalock to second. Laird whiffed on an 0-2 letter-high fastball. Cruz whiffed on a 1-2 letter-high fastball as Putz struck out the side.

Piñeiro's line: 1 inning, 1 run, 1 hit, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 11 pitches (9 strikes)
Sherrill's line: 0 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 4 pitches (2 strikes)
Putz' line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts, 12 pitches (10 strikes)

Gameball: Cha Seung Baek.
I still contend that I don't want to see him in next year's rotation, but I'll give credit where it's due here. He's had six starts since his call-up about a month ago, and when he's been good, he's been very good. Three of the six starts have been great. Two starts (his first two) were mediocre to below-average, though I'm sure some would argue those starts in his favor, for example, Rick Rizzs would probably say "he did his job, he kept his team in the game," or some built-in excuse like that. Baek walked eight hitters combined in those two games, but he hasn't walked eight hitters total in the four starts since. The only out-and-out horrible start he had was the start before this one, a week ago in Toronto, where he didn't get out of the fourth and gave up six runs on seven hits and walked three. Since Baek obviously isn't getting by with speed or a breaking ball of death like a Felix Hernandez curve, a Mark Lowe slider, a Jon Huber slider, or even a Jamie Moyer change, Baek is having to get by with pinpoint-as-possible control and late movement on his pitches, and that combination here seemed to befuddle the Rangers, whom he seems to do well against as he's had two wins against them this season and had a hand in ending their postseason hopes down the stretch in 2004.

Goat: George Sherrill.
He threw four pitches and allowed an RBI single to the only hitter he faced (Hank Blalock), so he has the highest crap-per-time ratio of the team on this night. It's not that he sucked horribly or something, it's just that sometimes the role Mike Hargrove has him in doesn't allow Sherrill to dig himself out of giving up hits (and possibly getting the goat) if he's only facing one hitter. You could argue Sherrill getting the gameball since the hit he gave up inflated Joel Piñeiro's ERA even further. The only 0-fers in the lineup were Ben Broussard and Willie Bloomquist, but even both of them managed to draw walks, so they weren't completely inept on offense. Those two and Piñeiro were the only other players I had in mind for this particular goating. As for Sherrill, he has an ERA of 3.76 for the season in 38 1/3 innings and 67 games, and he's struck out 42 to go with 24 walks, which isn't quite a 2-to-1 ratio, but he's been very solid this season. He's been great for the bullpen, which hopefully can be depended upon for some jolly sunshine happiness in 2007.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 108-44 .711 -- W2
2002 88-64 .579 20 W4
2003 87-65 .572 21 W1
2000 86-66 .566 22 W8
2006 73-79 .480 35 W2
2005 66-86 .434 42 W1
2004 58-94 .382 50 W2

Woods. Vazquez. Tonight.

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