Saturday, September 30, 2006


AP photo -- John Froschauer

[posted in full Sun 8 Oct ~3:58p]

In 25 words or less: The last start for Felix Hernandez was supposed to be five days ago. He was also supposed to only throw six innings in this game.

This one featured Kevin Millwood going up against Felix Hernandez. The roof on Safeco Field was closed for this game. Unlike his start five days earlier against the White Sox, it turns out this start will really be his final start of the season. They're limiting him to six innings in this game. Also, this was a Saturday game, and I'm not in the Seattle area, so that means I'd have to wait to actually watch the game. However, a lot of what's below is off the radio. Forgive me if I don't feel like actually watching a game that's meaningless for both teams. Still, it's fun knowing Hernandez might do some fun things during the course of a game, depending on whether he's living-up-to-potential Felix or struggling-and-growing Felix. Needless to say, Mariner fans were hoping for something more along the lines of the former than the latter for the second-to-last game of the season. Plus, it's always fun to beat the Rangers and shut down their power hitters and whatnot. Of course, it was Millwood starting for the other guys, so it'd be a bit tough.

Gary Matthews, Jr. got ahead 3-1 and whiffed on a full count. Michael Young tapped to Lopez on the right side on a 2-2 pitch. Mark Teixeira flew out to left on the second pitch. Hernandez threw 13 pitches.

Ichiro rode the second pitch toward the gap in leftcenter, but Matthews ran it down. Adrian Beltre nubbed a 2-0 pitch in front of the plate that was easy work for Laird, who made the throw to first. Kenji Johjima flew out to center on the first pitch. Millwood threw six pitches.

Carlos Lee grounded the second pitch to short. Hank Blalock took a 1-2 pitch over the outside corner. Ian Kinsler flew out to center on a 2-0 pitch. Hernandez threw nine pitches and had 22 through two.

Raul Ibañez got ahead 2-0 and took a 2-2 fastball down the pipe. Richie Sexson flew out to deep left on the second pitch. Ben Broussard drilled the first pitch into the leftcenter gap for a double. Jose Lopez got ahead 2-0 but ended up flying out to right. Millwood threw 12 pitches and had 18 total.

Gerald Laird grounded the first pitch to Beltre on the left side. Jerry Hairston, Jr. grounded an 0-2 pitch to Betancourt deep in the left-side hole, but Hairston beat the throw to first. Nelson Cruz took a high 2-2 pitch, and Johjima gunned down Hairston trying to steal second. Cruz popped to Betancourt in shallow left on the next pitch. Hernandez threw ten pitches and had 32 through three.

Chris Snelling fell behind 0-2 and whiffed on a 2-2 fastball over the inside corner. Yuniesky Betancourt whiffed on a 2-2 pitch. Ichiro lined a single into rightfield. Beltre watched a 1-1 high breaking ball as Ichiro stole second. Beltre crushed a full-count fastball to the back fence of the Mariner bullpen in leftcenter.
Johjima flew out to fairly deep center on the second pitch. Millwood threw 24 pitches and had 42 through three.

Matthews fell behind 0-2 and one-hopped to Sexson at first on a 1-2 pitch. Young took a first-pitch slider and landed awkwardly and grimaced afterward, attracting members of the training staff to come to the mound immediately. Hernandez stayed in the game. Young ended up grounding to Beltre on the left side. Teixeira rolled a single up the middle. Lee hit a broken-bat roller on a 2-2 pitch softly to the left side, where Beltre moved over to barehand it and make the throw to first. Hernandez threw 15 pitches and had 47 through four.

Ibañez grounded the second pitch to second. Sexson got ahead 3-1 and roped a full-count pitch off the middle of the centerfield fence to the right of the 405ft marker, his 40th double of the season, making him the sixth Mariner in franchise history to reach that mark. Broussard flew out to shallow right on a 2-0 pitch. Lopez grounded a 2-2 pitch to third. Millwood threw 17 pitches and had 59 through four.

Blalock grounded to second, and the high throw from Lopez was caught by the vertically blessed Sexson. Kinsler lined out to Betancourt on the first pitch. Laird checked his swing on an 0-2 pitch, but it was moot because the pitch itself was a strike. Hernandez threw eight pitches and had 55 through five.

Snelling foul-tipped an 0-2 change into Laird's glove. Betancourt was up 3-0 but foul-tipped a full-count pitch into Laird's glove. Ichiro popped the second pitch to Hairston just on the foul side of the line just behind third base. Millwood threw 11 pitches and had 70 through five.

Hairston grounded a 2-2 pitch to short. Cruz was down 0-2 and chopped a 2-2 pitch high to short, where Betancourt waited for it to come down, and it finally did, but Betancourt lost the ball on the transfer (scored a single). Matthews grounded a 2-0 pitch to second to start a 4-6-3 double play. Hernandez threw 13 pitches and had 68 through six.

Beltre rocked the first pitch just over the wall in rightcenter.
Johjima got ahead 2-0 before punching a single through the left side on the eleventh pitch of the at-bat (he fouled off seven pitches along the way). Ibañez grounded an 0-2 pitch to second to start a 4-6-3 double play. Sexson flew out to shallow right. Millwood threw 18 pitches and had 88 through six.

Millwood's line: 6 innings, 3 runs, 6 hits, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts, 88 pitches (58 strikes)

Young hit a low liner to Lopez in shallow right on an 0-2 pitch. Teixeira was down 0-2 but walloped a 1-2 pitch over the rightfield wall.
Lee took an 0-2 pitch for strike three. Blalock got ahead 2-0 and checkswung on a 2-2 pitch, but the pitch itself was called a strike.

Hernandez' line: 7 innings, 1 run, 4 hits, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts, 84 pitches (58 strikes)

Ron Mahay came in for Millwood. Broussard got ahead 2-0 and ended up flying out to Lee near the leftfield track. Lopez lined out to center on the second pitch. Willie Bloomquist, hitting for Snelling, flew out to Cruz near the rightfield corner on the first pitch.

Mahay's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 7 pitches (4 strikes)

Joel Piñeiro came in for Hernandez. Kinsler grounded a 1-2 pitch to the hole on the left side, where Betancourt made the backhand and spinning throw, and first-base umpire Mike Muchlinski (of Tacoma) called Kinsler safe, as Sexson did come off the bag, but he also came back down with the tag near Kinsler's pocket before Kinsler got to the bag. The out call was given after Muchlinski conferred with the other umpires in the crew. Buck Showalter came out to argue with plate umpire Angel Hernandez on the logistics of the call. Laird got behind 0-2 and whiffed on a 1-2 pitch. Hairston flew out to a running Ichiro in shallow leftcenter on an 0-2 pitch. Piñeiro threw 11 pitches.

Piñeiro's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 11 pitches (9 strikes)

Nick Masset came in for Mahay. Betancourt popped the second pitch to Matthews in shallow center. Ichiro tapped an 0-2 pitch back to the mound. Beltre whiffed on an 0-2 pitch. Masset threw ten pitches.

Masset's line: 1 inning 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 10 pitches (9 strikes)

JJ Putz came in for Piñeiro. Cruz whiffed on a 1-2 pitch, the 100th strikeout of the season for Putz. Matthews hit a broken-bat line drive into right for a single on the second pitch. Young took the second pitch as Matthews stole second (no indifference was given). Young whiffed on a 1-2 fastball out of the zone. Teixeira foul-tipped a 3-0 pitch and ended up taking a 3-1 pitch away. Lee tapped the second pitch to second.

Putz' line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 17 pitches (10 strikes)

Gameball: Felix Hernandez.
So there we have it. With a final start of seven innings of one-run, four-hit ball and five strikeouts, the sun sets on the first full season in what should be a fabulous career for Hernandez. He once again was a groundball machine, getting ten groundball outs to five flyouts. If it weren't for the Mariners' management looking to limit his innings, Hernandez could have easily gotten through eight innings and possibly into the ninth. Nonetheless, the line we end up with for Felix this year is a record of 12-14 in 31 starts. He threw 191 innings, giving up 105 runs (96 earned) and 195 hits. He walked 60 and struck out 176 for nearly a 3-to-1 ratio, and that's even considering there were some times when his control was just shot. The other end of that is the 23 homers he gave up. His ERA works out to 4.52, but if you take it on a per-start basis, he gives up 3.10 runs per start. His average line per start is 6 innings, 3.4 runs (3.1 earned), 6.3 hits, 1.9 walks, 5.7 strikeouts, and 98.7 pitches. If he shows improvement next season, I say they just sign him to a ten-year contract and be done with it.

Goat: Chris Snelling.
If he was an incredible defensive outfielder with pretty good pop in his bat, I could put up with it, but Snelling struck out waaaaaay too much in his first prolonged stint in the big leagues. If nothing else, he was able to stay healthy enough to play 36 games, and thankfully he was part of the long-awaited move of Ichiro to centerfield. He went 24-for-96 for a .250 average, hitting six doubles, a triple, and three homers. He drove in eight runs. He walked 13 times, which is nice considering he was generally regarded as a pretty patient hitter, but that attribute doesn't hold much water when you see that he struck out 38 times. Yes, that's 38 times in 36 games, easily a shade over one strikeout per game. There were some things we knew about Snelling already, like his no-holds-barred approach to the game, and his general ability to make solid contact. What I didn't think would happen was that he'd stay healthy (first surprise) and that he'd strike out in 38 of 96 at-bats this season. He struck out 39.6% of the time he came to the plate this season.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 116-45 .720 -- W6
2002 93-68 .578 23 L1
2003 92-69 .571 24 W2
2000 90-71 .559 26 W1
2006 77-84 .478 39 W1
2005 69-92 .429 47 L1
2004 63-98 .391 53 L1

Tejeda. Woods. Tomorrow.

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