Sunday, October 01, 2006


AP photo -- John Froschauer

[posted in full Sun 8 Oct ~4:19p]

In 25 words or less: The Mariners exceeded my expectations this year by exactly one win. That's cause for mild celebration.

This one featured Robinson Tejeda going up against Jake Woods. This was Ron Fairly's final game as a Mariner broadcaster, and he threw out the ceremonial first pitch. It was Kids Appreciation Day, but more importantly, it was closing day. With this game having absolutely no playoff implications, players would immediately take a bunch of different planes to a bunch of different locations after the game. For MLB.tv viewers, this means the final day of between-innings Tom Petty advertisements that always get hilariously cut off by the return of the ballpark feed. The final day also means the last time we'll see all of the late-season call-ups all together for a while, and it leaves us to an offseason of just who exactly might have played their way onto next year's Opening Day roster, though the Mariners have all of next spring training to figure that out too.

Ian Kinsler flew out to shallow center. Mark DeRosa grounded out to Betancourt ranging to his left on the first pitch. Michael Young waved at an 0-2 change away. Woods threw seven pitches.

Ichiro turned on a 2-2 high fastball, putting it into the first row of rightfield seats with very much arc on the fly ball.
Adrian Beltre got ahead 2-0 and whiffed on a full-count fastball over the inside corner. Kenji Johjima rolled out to short. Raul Ibañez got a bit under the second pitch, flying out to Hairston in leftcenter. Tejeda threw 17 pitches.

Mark Teixeira rolled a 2-2 pitch slowly to second, where Betancourt ranged over to get it, but be double-clutched (error, but it was later taken away), which was enough for Teixeira to be safe. Rod Barajas grounded the second pitch to Betancourt on the left side, who threw to second to start what would have been a double play, but the throw to first from Lopez sailed over everything, moving Barajas to second (Teixeira was out).
Jerry Hairston, Jr. whiffed on a 2-2 inside slider. Miguel Ojeda took a 1-2 letter-high strike down the pipe. Woods threw 16 pitches and had 23 total.

Richie Sexson unloaded on the first pitch, sending it off of the first row of seats in the elevated leftfield bleachers.
Ben Broussard ripped the first pitch into leftcenter and rolled it to the Nikon advertisement for a double. Jose Lopez looped the first pitch into shallow right as Kinsler ranged all the way back to catch it on the fly, and he threw back to second to double off Broussard, who was halfway to third. Chris Snelling one-hopped hard to second. Tejeda threw seven pitches and had 23 through two.

Nelson Cruz bounced the second pitch back to the mound. Joaquin Arias, the guy who the Rangers took instead of Robinson Cano in the Alex Rodriguez trade, drove an 0-2 pitch to rightcenter, where Ichiro reached but couldn't catch up to it, though that might have been an issue of unfamiliarity with Snelling's range as it fell for a double. Kinsler cranked a fly ball into the visitors' bullpen.
DeRosa worked a 1-2 count full and grounded out to short. Young nubbed the second pitch to first (3-1 putout). Woods threw 19 pitches and had 42 through three.

Betancourt ripped a 2-0 pitch for a double off the track and wall in left. Ichiro rolled the second pitch slowly to short as Betancourt moved to third. Beltre hit a first-pitch bullet through the left side for a single, scoring Betancourt.
Johjima was ahead 2-0 and grounded very hard to Arias at third, who dropped it to lose a double-play possibility, but he threw to first to get Johjima as Beltre moved to second. Ibañez popped the first pitch very high to Arias near the mound. Tejeda threw 11 pitches and had 34 through three.

Teixeira lashed the first pitch into shallow left for a single, and Gerald Laird came in to run for him. Barajas grounded a 1-2 pitch hard to third to start a 5-4-3 double play even as Lopez had double-clutched before throwing to first. Hairston was down 0-2 and foul-tipped a down-and-away 1-2 pitch into Johjima's glove. Woods threw ten pitches and had 52 through four.

Sexson grounded the second pitch to third. Broussard grounded hard to first on a 2-2 pitch. Lopez popped lazily to Hairston in shallow rightcenter. Tejeda threw ten pitches and had 44 through four.

Ojeda got ahead 2-0 and lined out to center on a 2-2 pitch. Cruz rolled a 1-2 pitch through to center for a single. Arias rolled a 2-2 pitch to a charging Betancourt, who shoveled it over to second for the force on Cruz as Arias reached. Kinsler laced a 1-2 pitch into center for a single to move Arias to second. DeRosa got ahead 2-0 before whiffing on a full-count fastball over the outside corner. Woods threw 26 pitches and had 78 through five.

Snelling walked on a 3-1 pitch down and in. Betancourt flew out high to left on the first pitch. Ichiro stung a 3-1 pitch through the right side for a single that moved Snelling to third (he'd taken off with the pitch). Beltre foul-tipped an 0-2 pitch into Ojeda's glove. Johjima was ahead 2-0 and looped out to second.

Tejeda's line: 5 innings, 3 runs, 6 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 63 pitches (39 strikes)

Young was ahead 3-1 before bouncing a full-count pitch to a charging Betancourt, who ranged up the middle to his left to field it, but he hot-potatoed it for a single (difficult play). Laird whiffed on an 0-2 fastball down over the outside corner. Barajas lined a 2-0 pitch right to Beltre at third. Hairston rung the second pitch through the left side for a single, moving Young to second. Ojeda flew out to left on the first pitch.

Woods' line: 6 innings, 2 runs, 8 hits, 0 walks, 6 strikeouts, 94 pitches (66 strikes)

John Rheinecker came in for Tejeda. Ibañez fouled the first pitch hard off his right instep and tumbled to the ground. Ibañez tapped the next pitch to first. Sexson was ahead 3-1 and whiffed on a full-count pitch down and in. Broussard grounded to first.

Rheinecker's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 11 pitches (7 strikes)

Jon Huber came in for Woods and Willie Bloomquist came in to play rightfield. Cruz grounded to second on the second pitch. Arias singled into shallow centerfield on the second pitch. Kinsler flew out to left. DeRosa was down 0-2 when the Mariners called a pitchout at the right time, easily getting Arias trying to steal second. Huber threw 12 pitches.

Josh Rupe came in for Rheinecker. Lopez chopped a 2-2 pitch to the left side, where Arias made the play to first. Bloomquist grounded to second on the second pitch. Betancourt got ahead 2-0 and rolled out to third. Rupe threw 11 pitches.

Rupe's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 11 pitches (7 strikes)

DeRosa flew out to Bloomquist near the rightfield corner on the first pitch. Young lined the first pitch softly to short. Laird chopped a 1-2 pitch very high behind the mound, where Betancourt tried timing his charge and barehanding and throwing, and he nearly got Laird at first on what would have been an incredible play. Barajas had the hitters' counts and popped to Broussard in front of the Mariner dugout.

Huber's line: 2 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 24 pitches (17 strikes)

Frank Francisco came in for Rupe. Ichiro was up 2-0 and whiffed on a 2-2 breaking ball in the dirt over the outside corner. Beltre whiffed over a low 1-2 breaking ball. Johjima fell behind 0-2 before lining a 1-2 pitch into right for a single, his 147th hit of the year, a new American League record for hits by a rookie catcher, which holds weight depending on what you think the definition of "rookie" is.

CJ Wilson came in for Francisco. Ibañez bounced to first, where Barajas stepped on the bag for the out.

Francisco's line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 13 pitches (9 strikes)
Wilson's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 3 pitches (2 strikes)

JJ Putz came in for Huber. Hairston whiffed on a 1-2 fastball up and away. Ojeda whiffed on an 0-2 fastball down the pipe. Cruz fouled off three 2-2 pitches before foul-tipping the fourth into Johjima's glove.

Putz' line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts, 18 pitches (15 strikes)

Gameball: Jon Huber.
A decent spring training should land this guy a spot in the Mariner bullpen in 2007. Huber and his wicked slider got him what is surely a long look in the eyes of Mike Hargrove, Rafael Chaves, and Bill Bavasi in terms of a righthanded back-end guy in the bullpen. If Rafael Soriano takes a hack at the starting rotation next year, and if Mark Lowe does the game, someone's going to have to get those outs in place of those two, and I'm all for the thought of having Huber doing exactly that. He only struck out 11 and walked six, which is surprising considering the number of swings and misses he was getting from that slider of his. What's also a bit refreshing is that he's not a complete Jarrod Washburn type (hopefully he ends up as nothing of the sort), since he's gotten 23 groundouts and 16 flyouts for a nice ratio of 1.56. While we only got to see 16 appearances out of Huber after the call-up, I'm quite anxious to see how he pans out next season. He'll end up putting up zeroes for some level of the organization, I'm just not sure whether that'll be the big club or not, though I want it to be.

Goat: Raul Ibañez.
This isn't a post meant to drag down Ibañez after what is by far his greatest season. It's just meant to point out that he had a very uneventful day, going 0-for-4. Still, let's go over his incredible numbers. He played 159 games. He went 181-for-626 for an average of .289, which is his fourth-best season mark. He hit 33 doubles (tied for second-best), five triples (tied for second-best), and 33 homers (career high). He drove in 123 runs, smashing his previous best by 20 RBIs. He walked 65 times and struck out 115 times (both career highs). He had an on-base percentage of .353 (tied for second-best) and a slugging percentage of .516 (second-highest). He turned 34 years old during the season and turned in the best season of his career. We can't possibly expect anything this good in 2007 from Ibañez, but I'll just settle for consistency. If consistency somehow nets him a 40-homer season, though, I don't know what I'll do. That would be nothing short of absolute nuttiness. Enjoy the offseason, Raul, you've earned it.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 116-46 .716 -- L1
2002 93-69 .574 23 L2
2003 93-69 .574 23 W3
2000 91-71 .562 25 W2
2006 78-84 .481 38 W2
2005 69-93 .426 47 L2
2004 63-99 .389 53 L2

Some Oakland pitcher. Some Mariner pitcher. April 2nd.

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