Wednesday, September 27, 2006


AP photo -- Elaine Thompson

[posted in full Sun 8 Oct ~2:22p]

In 25 words or less: Now that Oakland has the AL West division title, they just have to find out who will eliminate them in the Division Series.

This one featured Rich Harden going up against Jake Woods. Oakland had a magic number of two heading into this game to clinch the American League West division. The loss by the Angels came first. The green and gold team would merely have to finish off the Mariners to lock up a division title and a playoff spot. Of course, when the formidable competition trying to prevent Oakland form accomplishing such a feat was the great Jake Woods, well...I think you know where I'm going with this. The Mariners would have to do something against Harden to prevent the whole division-clinching thing, and seeing as to how the Mariners never do anything against Harden, the final outcome wasn't in much doubt.

Jason Kendall tapped the second pitch up the middle for a single. Bobby Kielty took an 0-2 fastball across the inside corner. Milton Bradley flung his bat while whiffing at the second pitch, flinging the bat behind the plate. Bradley watched an 0-2 pitch as Kendall easily stole second. Bradley failed to check his swing on a 2-2 fastball just off the outside corner. Frank Thomas ripped a full-count pitch into center for a single, easily scoring Kendall.
Jay Payton shot the first pitch past a diving Betancourt and into center for a single, moving Thomas to second. Eric Chavez bounced an 0-2 pitch to Sexson behind the bag at first. Woods threw 20 pitches.

Willie Bloomquist walked on a high full-count pitch. Jose Lopez popped a full-count pitch to Payton in rightcenter. Adrian Beltre whiffed on a 1-2 breaking ball down and away. Raul Ibañez whiffed on the second pitch as Bloomquist stole second without a throw. Ibañez worked an 0-2 count full before bouncing to Ellis deep in the hole on the right side. Harden threw 23 pitches.

Nick Swisher rocked a 1-2 pitch to the back of the visitors' bullpen in left. If Gameday's not lying to me, Swisher has 34 freakin' homers.
Mark Ellis grounded an 0-2 pitch right to Lopez at second. Marco Scutaro worked an 0-2 count for a walk. Kendall slapped the second pitch into shallow right for a single, moving Scutaro to second. Kielty chopped the first pitch to the mound, where Woods threw to second to force out Kendall and move Scutaro to third. Bradley roped the first pitch ten rows into the rightfield seats.
Thomas worked an 0-2 count full and walked on a tenth-pitch fastball inside. Pitching coach Rafael Chaves visited the mound. Payton lined the second pitch into left for a single, moving Thomas to second. Chavez popped a 2-2 pitch to left. Woods threw 35 pitches and had 55 through two.

Richie Sexson popped an inside second pitch to Ellis in shallow center. Ben Broussard grounded an 0-2 pitch up the middle to Scutaro. Yuniesky Betancourt was up 2-0 and grounded hard to Chavez behind the bag at third. Harden threw ten pitches and had 33 through two.

Swisher tagged the first pitch through the middle for a single. Ellis flew out to center. Scutaro slapped a second pitch past Snelling and to the rightfield wall for a double, moving Swisher to third. Kendall lined out to right on a 2-0 pitch, and Snelling came up throwing, but for some reason Swisher hesitated halfway down the line but kept going, and that was an easy 9-2 putout. Woods threw nine pitches and had 64 through three.

Chris Snelling looped a high first pitch into center for a single. Rene Rivera had the hitters' counts before looping a 3-1 pitch into rightcenter for a single, moving Snelling to second. Bloomquist laid the bat on the ball and hit a low liner to shallow left, and Kielty nearly was able to double Snelling off of second. Lopez flew out to the rightfield track on the second pitch, moving Snelling to third. Beltre took the first pitch off the left side of his ribcage under his left arm, loading the bases, though not before a bit of a staredown to Harden. Harden got a visit from the pitching coach. Ibañez was ahead 3-0 before whiffing on a full-count fastball up and in. Harden threw 19 pitches and had 52 through three.

Kielty fell behind 0-2 and tapped a 1-2 pitch to third. Bradley walked on a 3-1 pitch up and in. Thomas reached down and pushed a single up the middle to move Bradley to second. Payton took a first-pitch ball and Rivera came out to talk with Woods. Payton punched a 1-2 pitch through the left side for a single to score Bradley and move Thomas to second.
Chavez took an 0-2 pitch barely outside before popping a 1-2 pitch to Bloomquist in shallow rightcenter. Swisher grounded the first pitch to third for a 5-4 force on Payton at second. Woods threw 25 pitches and had 89 through four.

Woods' line: 4 innings, 6 runs, 11 hits, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts, 89 pitches (61 strikes)

Sexson whiffed on an high 0-2 splitter. Broussard was ahead 2-0 and foul-tipped a full-count pitch into Kendall's glove for strike three. Betancourt lined the first pitch into Scutaro's glove at short. Harden threw ten pitches and had 62 through four.

Jorge Campillo came in for Woods. Ellis got ahead 3-1 and rolled a full-count pitch to third. Scutaro whiffed on a big slow 0-2 curve away. Kendall grounded hard to third. Campillo threw 13 pitches.

Snelling whiffed on a 2-2 pitch. Rivera rolled the second pitch to short. Bloomquist drove a full-count pitch to center that got Payton turned around, but he went back and made the catch.

Harden's line: 5 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, 76 pitches (45 strikes)

Kielty rolled to the right side for a 3-1 putout. Bradley flew out to Bloomquist at the track in center on a 3-1 pitch. Thomas flew out high to shallow center on a 2-2 pitch. Campillo threw 14 pitches and had 27 total.

Kirk Saarloos came in for Harden. Lopez fell behind 0-2 and whiffed on a low 2-2 breaking ball. Beltre blasted the first pitch four rows into the elevated leftfield bleachers for the third Mariner hit of the night.
Ibañez worked a 1-2 count full and lined a homer into the first row of seats just to the right of the hitters' backdrop (rightcenter). A fan caught the ball barehanded with the right hand with a beverage in the left, which was truly impressive.
Sexson worked a 1-2 count for a walk.

Joe Kennedy came in for Saarloos. Eduardo Perez, hitting for Broussard, worked a 1-2 count full and grounded hard to Chavez behind the bag at third to start a 5-4-3 double play. Kennedy threw six pitches.

Saarloos' line: 1/3 inning, 2 runs, 2 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 18 pitches (9 strikes)

Payton lined the second pitch into leftcenter and made the turn toward second as Bloomquist came up throwing, but his throw was kind of wide and Payton had the double. Chavez got ahead 3-1 and laced a full-count pitch for a single near the rightfield corner that easily scored Payton.
Swisher worked a 1-2 count full and grounded to first, where Sexson threw to second (3-6) for the force on Chavez, but Swisher beat the back end of the play. Ellis drilled the first pitch into the leftfield corner for a double, moving Swisher to third. Scutaro rode his fourth pitch for a double off the base of the rightfield wall near the corner, scoring Swisher and Ellis.

Emiliano Fruto came in for Campillo. Kendall singled a 2-2 pitch into shallow right, moving Scutaro to third. Kielty flew out to Bloomquist in rightcenter on the first pitch, and Scutaro scored without a throw.
Bradley worked a 1-2 pitch for a walk, moving Kendall to second. Thomas got ahead 2-0 and flew out high to right. Fruto threw 16 pitches.

Campillo's line: 2 1/3 innings, 4 runs, 4 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 46 pitches (28 strikes)

Betancourt stung the first pitch right into the glove of Swisher at first. Mike Morse, hitting for Snelling, popped high to Ellis on the right side. Rivera took an 0-2 pitch over the inside corner. Kennedy threw six pitches and had 12 total.

Kennedy's line: 1 2/3 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 12 pitches (9 strikes)

Payton broke his bat on the first pitch, rolling to short, but Betancourt bobbled it and couldn't make a play (error). Chavez rolled the second pitch to short to start what was nearly a 6-4-3 double play, but Lopez' throw was a bit high, and he'd hesitated a bit before the throw. Swisher whiffed on a 2-2 breaking ball down and in on which he fell to a knee trying to check his swing and get out of the way of the ball. Ellis blistered the second pitch to the leftfield wall near the corner for a double, moving Chavez to third. Scutaro fouled the first pitch back off the chin guard of plate umpire Andy Fletcher's mask. Scutaro took a 3-1 pitch up and in, loading the bases. Kendall lined the first pitch into center for a single, scoring Chavez and Ellis and moving Scutaro to third.
Kielty grounded the first pitch to Sexson for a 3-1 putout.

Fruto's line: 1 2/3 innings, 2 runs (unearned), 3 hits, 2 walks, 1 strikeout, 34 pitches (19 strikes)

Chad Gaudin came in for Kennedy. At this point, the camera crew pointed out that the manual scoreboard operator had inserted the number 18 upside-down in the hit column for Oakland, but it might as well have been 81 hits. Bloomquist fell behind 0-2 and nubbed a 1-2 pitch to Ellis in the hole on the right side. Lopez flew out to Bradley near the rightfield line on the first pitch. Beltre worked a 1-2 count full before poking a single into leftcenter. Ibañez popped an 0-2 pitch to Payton in leftcenter, who had Kielty ducking under his glove in a near-collision. Gaudin threw 17 pitches.

Eric O'Flaherty came in for Fruto, Greg Dobbs came in to play first, Morse stayed in to play third, TJ Bohn came in to play right, Bloomquist moved over to left, and Adam Jones came in to play center. Dan Johnson, hitting for Bradley, whiffed on a 1-2 breaking ball down and away. Adam Melhuse, hitting for Thomas, punched a 2-0 pitch for a single past Morse and into left. Payton looped the first pitch to Dobbs, who got turned a bit and made the catch near the tarp in foul ground on the right side. Chavez flew out to left on a full count.

O'Flaherty's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 14 pitches (8 strikes)

Dobbs poked the first pitch just inside the third-base bag for a double. Perez lined a hanging 1-2 pitch and flew out to left. Oswaldo Navarro lined the second pitch for a hard single into right, moving Dobbs to third. Morse bounced to third to score Dobbs and move Navarro to second.
Rivera flew out to shallow right on an 0-2 pitch. Onto the field came the entire team of Oakland Athletics, who celebrated in jubilation at their division crown.

Gaudin's line: 2 innings, 1 run, 3 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 34 pitches (19 strikes)

Gameball: Adrian Beltre.
He had a putrid April, hitting .189. He had a better May, hitting .264. Spending the month of June hitting behind Ichiro, he hit .324 for his only hot month of the season. From that point, while he didn't hit .324 for the rest of the season or anything, Beltre's batting average has hovered in the .254-to-.268 range for the last three months of the season. The positive here is obvious -- hopefully the Mariners are getting the Beltre they expected when they signed him. He hit his 22nd homer of the season in this game, which is more than he's had in all but two of his past seasons, one being the crazy 2004, and the other being the 23-homer season he had in 2003. He also drove in his 81st run in this game, more than all but two of the years he had with the Dodgers (the crazy year and an 85-RBI season in 2000), and six less than last year in Seattle with four games left to play. Defensively, the Seahawks for a few years had the best left side in football, and now it appears the Mariners have the best left side in baseball, at least on the infield. Here's hoping for a better year next year for everyone involved.

Goat: Jake Woods.
If this is his final start of the season, I hope it's his final start in a Mariner uniform. I hope this one put the stake through any possibility of him starting for this team in 2007. In what most would probably call his worst start of the season, Woods threw four innings and gave up six runs on 11 hits, walking three and striking out two. Two of the 11 hits were homers. In seven starts since taking over Joel Piñeiro's rotation spot, Woods has given up 19 runs in 36 innings, good for a 4.75 ERA. Although Woods is definitely not a strikeout pitcher, you generally don't like to see that he's walked 14 and struck out 20 in those starts. Even if he did just turn 25 years of age, how high is the upside on Woods? Should these innings probably go to an even younger guy? I'd have to say so. I just don't know if Jake Woods' best every five days is enough for what I want out of the back end of this rotation, especially when I know his best pitching won't always come every time out. For me, he's just completely unimpressive. Just my take.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 113-45 .715 -- W3
2002 92-66 .582 21 W4
2003 90-68 .570 23 L1
2000 89-69 .563 24 W3
2006 76-82 .481 37 L1
2005 67-91 .424 46 L4
2004 62-96 .392 51 W2

Windsor. Meche. Tonight.

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