Friday, September 22, 2006


AP photo -- Jeff Roberson

In 25 words or less: For as back-and-forth as this season's been, shutting out the world champions and threatening their playoff hopes is a bit fun.

This one featured Jake Woods going up against Javier Vazquez. A win in this game would take the Mariners to five games under .500, a place they haven't been since the final game of a four-game winning streak about two weeks ago. A win in this game would also make it five wins in seven games. Coming into the game, the Mariners would have had to finish 9-1 in their final ten games for an over-.500 record. They needed an 8-2 finish to get an 81-81 season and a 4-6 finish to make my 77-win preseason prediction look clairvoyant, surely paving the way for me to prognosticate my way to endless riches. Most likely, though, I'll just keep doing this blog thing. In other news, Ryan Feierabend hadn't pitched in a game since last Saturday, and quite frankly, I need my fix. Perhaps with a usual five- or six-inning start by Woods in this game, I'd get that Feierabend outing. Surely the White Sox would muster up some pennant-race jump and tag Mariner pitching, right?

Ichiro whiffed on a knee-high 2-2 pitch over the outside corner. Adrian Beltre flew out to Dye in rightcenter on the second pitch. Kenji Johjima whiffed on a letter-high 0-2 fastball. Vazquez threw 11 pitches.

Pablo Ozuna was down 0-2 before driving a 2-2 pitch into the leftcenter gap and to the wall for a double. Tadahito Iguchi was up 2-0 before whiffing on a full-count fastball over the inner half. Jermaine Dye rolled a 2-2 pitch to second to move Ozuna to third. Jim Thome rolled a 1-2 curveball to where Lopez usually plays second, and Lopez had to charge all the way over from his shifted position to make the play and get the out at first. Woods threw 21 pitches.

Raul Ibañez was ahead 2-0 and whiffed on a full-count breaking ball. Richie Sexson lined a full-count pitch into center for a single. Ben Broussard took a full-count tailing fastball at the knees. Yuniesky Betancourt was down 0-2 before serving a 1-2 pitch into center for a single, moving Sexson to second. Chris Snelling popped a 3-1 pitch to the left side, where it looked like Uribe was going to move over to catch it, but he and Crede had a low-speed collision and the ball dropped between them (error on Uribe), allowing Sexson to score, Betancourt to reach third, and Snelling to get to second.
Lopez took a 1-2 fastball down the pipe. Vazquez threw 33 pitches and had 44 through two.

Paul Konerko got ahead 2-0 and whiffed on a full-count offspeed pitch off the plate outside. Joe Crede was ahead 3-0 but had his bat explode, bouncing a full-count pitch to third. AJ Pierzynski looped the second pitch to shallow leftcenter, where Ibañez attempted the sliding catch, but had it go off the end of his glove and under him (single), but probably would have only trapped it anyway. Juan Uribe flew out to Ibañez near the leftfield line. Woods threw 18 pitches and had 39 through two.

Ichiro was behind 0-2 before popping a 1-2 pitch to Konerko halfway down the first-base line. Beltre whiffed on a 2-2 breaking ball down and in. Johjima whiffed on a 2-2 belt-high fastball over the outside corner. Vazquez threw 18 pitches and had 62 through three.

Brian Anderson got ahead 2-0 and chopped past the mound and a charging Lopez couldn't get a grip on a barehand attempt. Ozuna whiffed on a second-pitch breaking ball, and Johjima gunned straight to Lopez at second, who started a high-speed rundown of Anderson, who was hung out to dry between first and second (2-4-3-6). Ozuna took the next pitch, an 0-2 fastball to the earhole that knocked off his helmet. Both managers were addressed by the umpires. Iguchi had the hitters' counts before bouncing a 3-1 pitch along the right side, where Sexson got it and tagged Iguchi coming down the line, moving Ozuna to second. Dye was up 2-0 before flying out to Ichiro a couple strides short of the track in leftcenter. Woods threw 16 pitches and had 55 through three.

Rob Mackowiak came in to play leftfield for Ozuna. Ibañez tapped a 1-2 pitch back to the mound. Sexson whiffed on a 2-2 offspeed pitch down and away. Broussard slapped the second pitch near the track in leftfield for a base hit, but he tried stretching it into a double and was unsuccessful as the throw from Mackowiak got him (7-4). Vazquez threw 11 pitches and had 73 through four.

Thome rolled out to where Lopez would usually be playing second, but Betancourt fielded the ball there on the shift. Konerko tapped past the mound, and Lopez ranged to his backhand side behind the bag at second and managed to get enough on the throw for the out at first on Konerko. Crede lined off of Woods, who knocked it down and threw it to first in plenty of time. Woods threw 12 pitches and had 67 through four.

Betancourt bounced the second pitch to short. Snelling fell behind 0-2 and took a 2-2 breaking ball over the outside corner. Lopez whiffed on a 1-2 breaking ball in the dirt. Vazquez threw 11 pitches and had 84 through five.

Pierzynski hit a weak low-lining pop to Betancourt at short on the second pitch. Uribe drove the second pitch to left, bouncing and rolling a double to the wall. Anderson scorched the second pitch right into Sexson's glove at first. Mackowiak whiffed on a high 2-2 breaking ball. Woods threw 11 pitches and had 78 through five.

Ichiro dumped the second pitch into shallow rightcenter for a single. Beltre grounded hard to second on the first pitch for an easy 4-6-3 double play. Johjima was ahead 3-1 but flew out high to short on a full count. Vazquez threw nine pitches and had 93 through six.

Iguchi fell behind 0-2 and whiffed on a 2-2 breaking ball down and away. Dye grounded to short on the second pitch. Thome looped a single in front of Snelling in right, and it took a weird hop over his right shoulder and past for a double. Konerko got ahead 2-0 and bounced along the third-base line to Beltre. Woods threw 16 pitches and had 94 through six.

Ibañez blasted a homer four rows into the seats in rightcenter.
Sexson got ahead 2-0 but bounced out to short. Broussard fell behind 0-2 and whiffed on a 1-2 low breaking ball. Betancourt broke his bat on a 2-0 pitch, grounding to Crede behind the bag at third. Vazquez threw 15 pitches and had 108 through seven.

Crede was behind 0-2 and bounced a 1-2 pitch to second. Pierzynski flew out to fairly deep center on the second pitch. Uribe lined out to left on the first pitch.

Woods' line: 7 innings, 0 runs, 5 hits, 0 walks, 4 strikeouts, 104 pitches (63 strikes)

Snelling couldn't check his swing on an 0-2 pitch down and away. Lopez poked a single into shallow right on the first pitch. Ichiro grounded hard to first, where Konerko threw somewhat high to second, and Uribe was a bit above the neighborhood, so the neighborhood play didn't fly and everyone was safe (Lopez to second). Beltre lashed a single through the left side to load the bases. Pitching coach Don Cooper visited the mound. Johjima walked on a full-count fastball away that forced Lopez across.

Neal Cotts came in for Vazquez. Ibañez punched a single through the right side (with the aid of Johjima screening Konerko from the ball), scoring Ichiro and Beltre and moving Johjima to third.

Mike MacDougal came in for Cotts. Sexson bounced a 2-0 pitch to short to start an easy 6-4-3 double play. MacDougal threw three pitches.

Vazquez' line: 7 1/3 innings, 5 runs (3 earned), 7 hits, 1 walk, 12 strikeouts, 125 pitches (82 strikes)
Cotts' line: 0 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 3 pitches (2 strikes)
MacDougal's line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 3 pitches (1 strike)

Joel Piñeiro came in for Woods and TJ Bohn came in to play rightfield. Jerry Owens, hitting for Anderson, tapped an 0-2 pitch back to the mound. Mackowiak bounced to second on the second pitch. Iguchi bounced a full-count pitch back to the mound. Piñeiro threw 11 pitches.

Boone Logan came in for MacDougal. Eduardo Perez, hitting for Broussard, bounced a 1-2 pitch to the left of the mound, where Logan came off and threw to first as Perez stumbled out of the box and slid headfirst about 20 feet down the line in a moment of pure hilarity. Betancourt took a first-pitch fastball off the right kneecap as he tried to jump away, and the pitch basically took his legs out from under him. Mike Hargrove, Carlos Garcia, and trainer Rick Griffin attended to Betancourt immediately and he walked off the field under his own power, though with a limp. Willie Bloomquist ran for Betancourt. Bohn flew out to leftcenter on the second pitch. Lopez walked on four pitches to move Bloomquist to second. Ichiro had the hitters' counts before walking on a 3-1 pitch to load the bases.

David Riske came in for Logan. Beltre clobbered the first pitch four rows into the seats in leftcenter. Ain't life grand?
Johjima flew out high to center on the second pitch. Riske threw three pitches.

Logan's line: 2/3 inning, 3 runs, 0 hits, 2 walks, 0 strikeouts, 17 pitches (5 strikes)
Riske's line: 1/3 inning, 1 run, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 3 pitches (3 strikes)

Bloomquist stayed in to play short. Ryan Sweeney, hitting for Dye, got ahead 2-0 and ended up rolling to short. Alex Cintron, hitting for Thome, fell behind 0-2 and hit a low liner to the feet of Bloomquist, who moved to the hole and reached down and caught it on the fly on a 1-2 pitch. Ross Gload, hitting for Konerko, whiffed on a 1-2 breaking ball down and in.

Piñeiro's line: 2 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 26 pitches (19 strikes)

Gameball: Jake Woods.
This would qualify as one of the this-may-never-happen-again gameballs, but before I delve more into that, it can't be a good night if you're a fan of the defending champion White Sox. Minnesota and Detroit lost ahead of them on this night and Javier Vazquez got into the eighth and struck out 12 Mariner hitters, but the White Sox were shut out by Woods. The Mariners don't have any Randy Johnsons, Curt Schillings, Roy Halladays, Johan Santanas, or anyone like that (yet). Woods will never be anywhere close to any of those guys. If you're Chicago playing your 153rd game of the season and you need to gain ground in a playoff race and you're getting shut out by a not-always-consistent lefty that was put on waivers by the Angels after last season, well, that can't be good. Meanwhile, with their outings in the last turn through the rotation, Woods and Cha Seung Baek have made some strong cases (for one game, at least) for a shot at next year's rotation, whether I like it or not. In any event, this was Woods' sixth start of the season and he got through seven innings, with his previous long being 5 2/3 innings in his first start.

Goat: Chris Snelling.
Snelling has had his good nights, and he's had his bad nights. I'm just glad he's lasted through a whole 28 games without incident or horrific freak injury. It's by far his longest stint in the Majors after lasting 15 games last season and eight games back in 2002. It's things like the fact that he's lasted this long without injury that I look upon when he has a night like this one, where he was 0-for-3 and struck out twice. Granted, this was a night in which Javier Vazquez piled up 12 strikeouts and everything, but Snelling looked pretty overmatched at the plate. While it could have been the goodness of Vazquez that could have been the cause, it could also be due to any number of conflicting thoughts, such as the aggressive mantra of Jeff Pentland clashing with his tendency to take pitches and work the count. In 12 games in August, he hit .371, but in 16 games so far in September, Snelling is hitting an icky .200. Sadly, his September slugging mark is less than half of his August slugging mark.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 109-44 .712 -- W3
2002 88-65 .575 21 L1
2003 87-66 .569 22 L1
2000 86-67 .562 23 L1
2006 74-79 .484 35 W3
2005 66-87 .431 43 L1
2004 59-94 .386 50 W3

Meche. Contreras. Tonight.

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