Tuesday, September 26, 2006


AP photo -- Elaine Thompson

[posted in full Sun 8 Oct ~1:34p]

In 25 words or less: Weird things would have to happen to break a 15-game losing streak against Oakland, and happen they did.

This one featured Esteban Loaiza going up against Cesar Jimenez. The latter was making his first start in the big leagues. Cha Seung Baek was placed on the 60-day disabled list with right forearm tendinitis, and Jorge Campillo, a tad over one year departed from elbow tendon replacement surgery, came up to take his roster spot. Other than increasing their win total by exactly one, all the Mariners could hope for with a win was to throw a temporary monkeywrench into the division-clinching plans of the Oakland Athletics. A loss in this game would make it a losing streak of three for the Mariners. A win would get them to 76 on the year, one short of what I expected for the Mariners back in spring training. But how instrumental would the newbie Jimenez be in the hunt for win number 76?

Jason Kendall hit a sinking liner to a running Snelling in rightcenter. Bobby Kielty worked an 0-2 count full before driving a ball right at Ichiro, who moved back and had the ball go into and out of the outer webbing of his glove, going to the wall for a double. Milton Bradley watched as Jimenez buried the second pitch in front of the plate and it got away from Johjima, moving Kielty to third. Bradley fell behind 0-2 and watched Bradley golf a 1-2 pitch eight rows into the seats in leftfield.
Frank Thomas lined the second pitch into the rightcenter gap, where Snelling camped under the ball, but there was miscommunication as Snelling crouched down as Ichiro caught the ball and was taken out at the legs by Snelling. Jay Payton was ahead 2-0 and couldn't check his swing on a full-count breaking ball down and in. Jimenez threw 22 pitches.

Ichiro stung a single up the middle. Adrian Beltre fouled off three 2-2 pitches but lined the fourth to the rightfield track. Kenji Johjima popped to Bradley in somewhat deep rightcenter. Raul Ibañez popped the seocnd pitch to Kendall reaching over a railing behind the plate and to the left side. Loaiza threw 16 pitches.

Eric Chavez rolled up the middle, and Lopez moved over with a backhand and leaping spin-throw to first. Nick Swisher popped the second pitch to Johjima behind the plate. Mark Ellis flew out to Ichiro in rightcenter. Jimenez threw nine pitches and had 31 through two.

Richie Sexson obliterated the second pitch eight rows into the seats in rightcenter.
Ben Broussard fell behind 0-2 and foul-tipped a 2-2 change into Kendall's glove. Jose Lopez bounced an 0-2 pitch high to third. Chris Snelling whiffed on an 0-2 pitch. Loaiza threw 15 pitches and had 31 through two.

Marco Scutaro took an 0-2 fastball over the inside corner. Kendall bounced the second pitch to short. Kielty looped the first pitch into shallow right for a single. Bradley bounced a 1-1 pitch off his right shoulder and kept running to first (foul), then drilled a 2-2 pitch into shallow center for a single, moving Kielty to second. Thomas blistered an 0-2 change into center for a single, scoring Kielty and moving Bradley to second.
Payton fell behind 0-2 and took a 2-2 pitch in the dirt away that escaped Johjima and moving Bradley and Thomas to third and second. Payton worked an 0-2 count full and bounced to Lopez in shallow rightfield, where he threw to first for the out. Jimenez threw 21 pitches and had 52 through three.

Yuniesky Betancourt drilled a 2-2 pitch past Chavez and down the leftfield line, ringing it off the angled wall in front of the stands in foul ground for a double. Ichiro pushed a 1-2 pitch through the left side for a single, moving Betancourt to third. Beltre bulleted a 2-0 pitch up the middle, where Scutaro gloved the ball on a dive, then shoveled the ball with the glove to second, and Ellis managed to get Beltre at first for the amazing 6-4-3 double play as Betancourt scored.
Johjima ripped a full-count pitch to left that Kielty tried to spear on the run, but it got over him and bounced to the wall for a double. Ibañez punched a 2-2 pitch up the middle for a single, and Payton's throw home looked to have beaten Johjima to the plate, but he just barely got under the tag of Kendall, who didn't block the plate. Ibañez took second on the throw.
Sexson fell behind 0-2 and lasered a 1-2 outside pitch to right that was hit too hard to score Ibañez, who moved only to third on the single. Broussard took a full-count pitch*** for strike three. Loaiza threw 37 pitches and had 68 through three.

Chavez grounded a 1-2 pitch to short. Swisher broke his bat but singled a 3-1 pitch into centerfield anyway. Ellis grounded a 2-0 pitch down the leftfield line for a double to move Swisher to third. ***Scutaro took a 3-1 pitch inside to load the bases. Kendall knocked the second pitch near the rightfield corner for a double to score Swisher and Ellis and move Scutaro to third.
Kielty bounced the second pitch high in front of the plate, where Johjima got it and threw to first as the runners held. Bradley grounded hard to short on the first pitch.

Jimenez' line: 4 inings, 5 runs, 8 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 74 pitches (45 strikes)

Lopez worked an 0-2 count full before driving the ninth pitch to fairly deep left for a flyout. Snelling got ahead 2-0 and grounded hard to Swisher behind the bag at first. Betancourt flew out high to Bradley in rightcenter on the first pitch. Loaiza threw 15 pitches and had 83 through four.

Travis Chick came in for Jimenez. Thomas worked a 1-2 count full and foul-tipped an inside fastball into Johjima's glove. Payton got ahead 3-0 before walking on a 3-1 low fastball. Chavez singled into right on the first pitch, moving Payton to third. Swisher took a full-count fastball down and in to load the bases. Ellis fell behind 0-2 and smacked a 1-2 pitch past Beltre and into the leftfield corner for a double, scoring Payton and Chavez and moving Swisher to third.
Scutaro worked a 1-2 count for a walk, loading the bases. Mike Hargrove came out to the mound and gave Chick a stern talking-to. Kendall worked a 1-2 count for a walk, scoring Swisher and keeping the bases loaded.

Francisco Cruceta came in for Chick. Mark Kotsay, hitting for Kielty, lined the second pitch into rightfield for a single to score Ellis and keep the bases loaded.
Bradley whiffed on an 0-2 change, lost his grip, and flung the bat past first base. Thomas reached down and hit a sinking liner on the second pitch, but Ichiro caught it on the run in shallow leftcenter. Cruceta threw seven pitches.

Chick's line: 1/3 inning, 4 runs, 2 hits, 4 walks, 1 strikeout, 38 pitches (18 strikes)

Kotsay stayed in to play center as Payton moved over to left. Ichiro stroked the second pitch into center for a single. Beltre fell behind 0-2 and whiffed on a 1-2 fastball up and away. Johjima flew out high to left on the second pitch. Ibañez bashed the first pitch into the rightfield seats just inside the foul pole.
Sexson bounced the first pitch to short.

Loaiza's line: 5 innings, 5 runs, 9 hits, 0 walks, 4 strikeouts, 93 pitches (66 strikes)

Payton fell behind 0-2 and popped a 1-2 pitch to Johjima in foul ground on the right side. Chavez whiffed on an 0-2 breaking ball low and away. Swisher rolled slowly off of Cruceta, and the ball rolled to Lopez, who threw to first. Cruceta threw 11 pitches and had 18 total.

Joe Kennedy came in for Loaiza. Broussard bounced out to second. Lopez took an 0-2 pitch over the inside corner. Mike Morse, hitting for Snelling, knocked a 2-0 pitch into shallow right for a single. Betancourt flew out to Kotsay in deep centerfield on the second pitch.

Morse stayed in to play rightfield. Ellis got ahead 2-0 before flying out to Ichiro on the centerfield track. Scutaro spanked the second pitch into center for a single. Kendall got ahead 3-0 and slapped a 3-1 pitch through the right side for a single on a perfect hit-and-run that moved Ellis to third. Kotsay bounced to first to start a 3-6-3 double play. Cruceta threw 12 pitches and had 30 total.

Ichiro dumped the first pitch in front of Bradley in right, who came up short on the sliding catch attempt, and it bounced past him to the wall, enabling Ichiro to get a triple, his 48th as a Mariner, tying Harold Reynolds' franchise record. Beltre took a 2-2 pitch over the inside corner. Johjima bounced the first pitch slowly to third, scoring Ichiro.
Ibañez chopped the second pitch along the right side, where Kennedy moved over quickly to field the ball, but he never had it, but still slid toward first, and Ibañez had to hop over him and had to dive back to the bag before Swisher tagged him after picking up the ball (single).

Justin Duchscherer came in for Kennedy. Sexson reached down and chipped an 0-2 pitch into center for a single, moving Ibañez to second. Broussard flew out right to Payton in left on a 1-2 pitch. Duchscherer threw seven pitches.

Kennedy's line: 1 2/3 innings, 1 run, 3 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 21 pitches (15 strikes)

Bradley looped a 2-2 pitch to Sexson in foul ground along the rightfield line. Thomas got ahead 2-0 before walking on a full-count low breaking ball. Payton flew out to the leftfield track on a 1-2 pitch.

George Sherrill came in for Cruceta. Chavez grounded out to second.

Cruceta's line: 3 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 3 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 48 pitches (31 strikes)
Sherrill's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 3 pitches (2 strikes)

Lopez flew out to right. Greg Dobbs, hitting for Morse, fell behind 0-2 and cracked a 2-2 pitch into the gap in rightcenter for a double. Betancourt flew out to Kotsay in deep center as Dobbs held at second. Ichiro whiffed on an 0-2 low breaking ball. Duchscherer threw 17 pitches and had 24 total.

Duchscherer's line: 1 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 24 pitches (18 strikes)

JJ Putz came in for Sherrill. Swisher popped the second pitch high to Beltre on the left side. Ellis whiffed on an 0-2 fastball up and in. Scutaro bounced a 1-2 pitch to second. Putz threw ten pitches.

Huston Street came in for Duchscherer. Beltre bounced the second pitch off the rightcenter track and over the wall for a double. Johjima whipped the second pitch into left for a single, moving Beltre to third. Ibañez spanked the second pitch through the left side for a single, scoring Beltre and moving Johjima to second. Street got a visit from the pitching coach. Adam Jones came in to run for Johjima.
Sexson lasered the second pitch very hard past Scutaro at short for a single to load the bases. Willie Bloomquist came in to run for Sexson. Broussard fell behind 0-2 and whiffed on a 1-2 breaking ball low and away. Lopez popped the first pitch to the rightfield corner, deep enough to score Jones, draw an ill-advised throw from Bradley, and move Ibañez to third.
Dobbs slapped the second pitch along the leftfield line for a single, scoring Ibañez and moving Bloomquist to second.
Betancourt got ahead 2-0 and bounced right to Chavez, who stepped on the third-base bag to force out Bloomquist.

Street's line: 1 inning, 3 runs, 5 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 19 pitches (13 strikes)

Rene Rivera came in to catch. Kendall was down 0-2 and whiffed on a 1-2 inside fastball. Kotsay whiffed on a 1-2 splitter away. Bradley fell behind 0-2 and whiffed on a 1-2 fastball up and away.

Putz' line: 2 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 4 strikeouts, 23 pitches (18 strikes)

Kiko Calero came in for Street. Ichiro bounced the first pitch to a diving Chavez at third, who dove for the ball and tried throwing quickly to first, but it skipped over and Ichiro beat it out. Beltre bunted the first pitch foul as I said "what the hell?!" at my computer monitor. Beltre showed bunt on the second pitch, a pitchout, then bunted the next pitch foul. Beltre watched with a 1-2 count as a pickoff throw to first hit Ichiro in the back of the right shoulder as he was diving back to the bag. The ball bounced into the camera well in foul ground, moving Ichiro to second. Beltre lined a 1-2 pitch to center, too hard for Ichiro to move to third. It should be noted I was almost screaming at my computer at this point as Dave Henderson had been begging for Beltre to lay down the bunt and ground to the right side, but who wants to see Beltre do that? I want him to hit it hard somewhere. Rivera whiffed on a 2-2 breaking ball away. Ibañez was intentionally walked. Bloomquist stroked a 2-2 hanging breaking ball into leftcenter for a single to score Ichiro. I'll be damned.

Calero's line: 2/3 inning, 1 run, 2 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 20 pitches (11 strikes)

Gameball: Raul Ibañez.
When the Mariners pound out 21 hits in 10 innings against Oakland, that's always a good day and it's a good way to get the frustration out from losing 15 straight games to the same team. It's also good when Ichiro, Ibañez, and Richie Sexson combine to go 13-for-16 with a triple, two homers and five RBIs. Ibañez himself was 4-for-5 with four of those RBIs and drew a walk as well. When most everyone else in the lineup was underperforming earlier in the season, Ibañez was noticed by everybody to be the most consistent hitter in the lineup. While that was mostly true, I didn't think there was any way that the consistency would end up with the kind of numbers that Ibañez has put up this season. He's just been incredible, and I never thought the Mariners were going to see the year out of Ibañez that they've seen this year. I've said it quite a few times, but I've never been so happy to be completely wrong about a player the way I have been with Ibañez. If I'd had my way, the Mariners would have picked up Jose Cruz, Jr. instead that offseason. It would have given them a Gold Glove outfielder, anyway.

Goat: Travis Chick.
Before we try evaluating his performance, we have to establish what the Mariners have gotten with Chick. The Mariners traded Eddie Guardado for him. Guardado was a great closer in Seattle up until the early part of this season, when he lost the closing role and never pitched well enough to get it back. What can you expect in return for a closer who hadn't thrown well in months? I say probably not much. For whatever reason, the Mariner brass decided to bring up Chick as one of the September call-ups. This is the third game he's pitched since ascending to the Majors, and his outings have gone from iffy to bad to worse. This was unquestionably the worst of the three, to the point where yoiu could almost hear it in the tones of the voices of the Mariner broadcast crew. They felt sorry for the guy because he just couldn't throw a strike. Really, that was the reality for the second straight outing. Chick walked five hitters and recorded five outs a week earlier in Texas, but in this game he walked four and only recorded one out. In his last two outings, he's thrown 85 pitches, but only 36 of them have been strikes. Ouch.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 112-45 .713 -- W2
2002 91-66 .580 21 W3
2003 90-67 .573 22 W1
2000 88-69 .561 24 W2
2006 76-81 .484 36 W1
2005 67-90 .427 45 L3
2004 61-96 .389 51 W1

Harden. Woods. Tonight.

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