Saturday, October 07, 2006
What is there to say about Buck O'Neil that hasn't already been said? He was a wonderful man, a joy to be around, or in my case since I never met him, he was an absolute joy to listen to.
I knew this day was going to come when we'd all have to say goodbye to Buck, but I seriously was hoping he'd live forever.
Everyone is better off for having anything to do with Buck O'Neil, and he will be sorely missed.
Here's the speech he gave last June in Cooperstown.
The schedulemakers were incredibly warm and kind to the Canucks, giving them nine of the first 11 games of the 2006-2007 season on the road. The stretch also freatures three back-to-back sets, and this was the tail end of a back-to-back to start the season. Coming off a great win on opening night in Detroit, the Canucks hoped to pull another one out in Columbus against the Blue Jackets. Columbus had the Sedins' great linemate from last year, Anson Carter. They also have the great Rick Nash. Of importance to hockey fans in Vancouver, the Blue Jackets have former Vancouver Giant Gilbert Brule, who helped captivate a hockey-starved city of Vancouver when the NHL sat out the 2004-2005 season. How would these new-look Canucks look on night two?
A Duvie Westcott blast from the right point was deflected over Roberto Luongo and into the net by Mark Hartigan. Alexandre Burrows was a bit tardy getting to Westcott on the play, who was wide open for the slapshot.
»» 1, COLUMBUS, powerplay, Mark Hartigan 1 (Duvie Westcott, Ron Hainsey) 1:46
Shots were ten apiece in the period. The Canucks were 0-for-1 on the power play and Columbus was 1-for-2.
David Vyborny had the puck on the goal line to Luongo's left, and he centered the puck off of Willie Mitchell and into the net behind Luongo.
»» 2, COLUMBUS, powerplay, David Vyborny 1 (Hartigan, Rick Nash) 17:13
Vancouver badly outshot Columbus 16-6 in the period (26-16 overall). They again were 0-for-1 (0-for-2) on the power play while Columbus was 1-for-3 (2-for-5).
Brendan Morrison passed from the right faceoff dot to Alexandre Burrows along the boards on the right side. Burrows then passed to Sami Salo at the right point, who flung a wrister toward the net that deflected off of Morrison in front and got past Pascale LeClaire.
»» 3, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Brendan Morrison 1 (Sami Salo, Alexandre Burrows) 11:48
Markus Naslund worked hard behind the net to wrestle the puck away from Ron Hainsey. Naslund moved out from behind the net to LeClaire's left, where he centered the puck on a backhanded pass and found Daniel Sedin camped out in front. Daniel put the puck through on LeClaire's wide-open stick side.
»» 4, VANCOUVER, Daniel Sedin 1 (Markus Naslund, Henrik Sedin) 17:49
Vancouver again badly outshot the Blue Jackets, this time by a 15-4 margin (41-20 overall). Vancouver was 1-for-2 on the power play while Columbus didn't have a power play in the period.
Off a faceoff, Daniel Sedin tipped the puck along the left-wing boards and along the end boards, where Henrik Sedin worked for the puck and went behind the net, then came out to try a wraparound attempt. The shot was stopped, but Daniel was right there to pound the rebound through on the stick side.
»» 5, VANCOUVER, D Sedin 2 (H Sedin) 0:31
Vancouver outshot Columbus 3-0 in the period (44-20 total). Neither team had a power play, so Vancouver finished 1-for-4 and Columbus was 2-for-5. Luongo stopped 18 shots for the game.
Three stars -- (1) D Sedin, (2) Columbus' Pascale Leclaire, (3) Columbus' Mark Hartigan
D Sedin 2-0-2
H Sedin 0-2-2
The Canucks didn't have it going in the first period. They did for most of the second period up until they started taking penalties in the final minutes of the second period. They worked and worked until they finally got one through on Pascale LeClaire, and that was the start of some good things.
In the faceoff circle, the Canucks won 28 of 61 draws (46%). Brendan Morrison won seven of 13, Ryan Kesler won five of 14, Tommi Santala won five of seven, Henrik Sedin won ten of 20, and Jan Bulis won one of four. Daniel Sedin and Matt Cooke led the Canucks with five shots apiece while Mattias Ohlund and Markus Naslund had four each. Ohlund, Cooke, Josh Green, and Santala delivered a pair of hits apiece. Willie Mitchell and Naslund blocked a pair of shots each.
No Canuck came away with a minus rating for the game. Plus-1 skaters were Ohlund, Lukas Krajicek, Sami Salo, Mitchell, and Naslund. Plus-2 skaters were Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin. All other Canuck skaters were even.
The Canucks play nine of their first 11 games on the road. Through two road games to start the season, the Canucks are 2-0. Next comes a date in Denver with the Avalanche on Sunday night.
Friday, October 06, 2006
As the season goes on, the Canucks will figure out more and more about their team. They won't know everything after one night. Still, this one night was in Detroit, and the team had won their last six season openers, which was the longest active streak in the NHL. What they do know after one night isn't surprising -- Roberto Luongo is great. What is surprising was the penalty kill. What's disturbing is how many times that penalty killing was necessitated, but it's still the first game.
A Sami Salo slapshot appeared to deflect off something in front and go over the shoulder of Dominik Hasek. Replays showed that the puck got a deflection off of Markus Naslund's head.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Markus Naslund 1 (Sami Salo, Kevin Bieksa) 19:55
Vancouver outshot Detroit 9-8 in the period. The Canucks were 1-for-2 on the power play while Detroit was 0-for-4.
A turnover in the Detroit zone resulted in Josh Green getting a hard shot from the slot onto Hasek, who made a good stop on the first shot, but didn't cover up, and Trevor Linden was in front to put it through the equipment for his 300th goal as a Canuck.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, Trevor Linden 1 (Josh Green, Tommi Santala) 2:25
On a Vancouver power play, Daniel Sedin led a pass to Henrik Sedin, and Salo moved inside the blue line to take a pass and rip off a snapper that went off of Hasek and into the net. It's probably a shot Hasek wants back.
»» 3, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Salo 1 (Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin) 5:41
Henrik Zetterberg fluttered a puck from the left-wing boards (about hash-mark depth) that sailed through traffic and got through on Roberto Luongo on a bad angle on a goal that he probably wants back.
»» 4, DETROIT, Henrik Zetterberg 1 (Mikael Samuelsson) 15:55
Detroit outshot Vancouver 11-6 in the period (19-15 overall). The Canucks were 1-for-1 on the power play (2-for-3) while Detroit was 0-for-3 (0-for-7).
Detroit outshot Vancouver 9-2 in the period (28-17 total). Vancouver was 0-for-1 (2-for-4) on the power play while Detroit was 0-for-2 (0-for-9). Luongo stopped 27 shots in the game.
Three stars -- (1) Salo, (2) Luongo, (3) Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg
D Sedin 0-1-1
H Sedin 0-1-1
The Canucks spent most of the preseason floundering and trying to figure out who could do what, and in what situations, and what groupings would mesh, etc., and they'll still be working on that as the season goes on since there has been so much turnover personnelwise since last season. The biggest improvement here, and almost a seemingly overnight one, is the improvement of the special teams, which were nothing good during the preseason, even in the final three games as the regulars started getting more playing time. When you hold the league's top power play from the preceding year scoreless on nine power plays, that's stellar. The Canucks finished 2-for-4 on the man advantage themselves. Of course, all of this is gelped by the facvt that Roberto Luongo is now manning the Vancouver net, and he made a number of great saves to keep the game scoreless in the first and keep the Canucks ahead for the final two periods of play. The odd thing is the shot margin, which makes it look like a Minnesota Wild game, but this team should be a ton more exciting than that, and hopefully the shots increase as time goes on. Of course, that had a lot to do with the Canucks taking tons of penalties to put Detroit on the power play.
In the faceoff circle, the Canucks won 24 of 50 draws (48%). Brendan Morrison won five of 12, Alexandre Burrows won one of three, Ryan Kesler won 10 of 22, Tommi Santala won three of four, and Henrik Sedin won four of eight. Sami Salo and Markus Naslund led the team with four shots apiece. Kevin Bieksa, Taylor Pyatt, Kesler, Daniel Sedin, and Santala all dished out a hit apiece. Josh Green notched two takeaways. Willie Mitchell led the squad by blocking four shots, and Mattias Ohlund and Linden blocked a pair each.
On the plus-minus side of things, the plus-skating Canucks were Linden, Rory Fitzpatrick, and Green, all at plus-1. Minus-skating Canucks were Ohlund, Burrows, and Henrik Sedin. All other Canuck skaters were even.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Alain Vigneault was promoted from the Canucks' AHL club, the Manitoba Moose, to take over the bench in Vancouver after Crawford was fired.
And this is how they all did...
5 Thu: W 3-1 at DET (1-0-0, 2 pts)
6 Fri: W 3-2 (OT) at CLB (2-0-0, 4 pts)
8 Sun: L 3-2 at COL (2-1-0, 4 pts)
10 Tue: L 2-1 (SO) at MIN (2-1-1, 5 pts)
13 Fri: L 6-4 vs. SJ (2-2-1, 5 pts)
16 Mon: W 2-1 vs. EDM (3-2-1, 7 pts)
17 Tue: L 2-1 at EDM (3-3-1, 7 pts)
20 Fri: W 3-2 (OT) at STL (4-3-1, 9 pts)
21 Sat: W 4-3 (OT) at NSH (5-3-1, 11 pts)
23 Mon: L 2-1 at DAL (5-4-1, 11 pts)
25 Wed: W 5-0 at CHI (6-4-1, 13 pts)
27 Fri: W 3-2 (SO) vs. WSH (7-4-1, 15 pts)
31 Tue: L 3-2 vs. NSH (7-5-1, 15 pts)
MONTH of October: 7-5-1, 15 pts (win pct .538, possible 26 pts)
2 Thu: L 5-2 at MIN (7-6-1, 15 pts)
4 Sat: L 3-2 at COL (7-7-1, 15 pts)
6 Mon: W 2-1 vs. DAL (8-7-1, 17 pts)
9 Thu: L 6-0 vs. ANA (8-8-1, 17 pts)
11 Sat: L 3-2 vs. CGY (8-9-1, 17 pts)
14 Tue: L 3-2 vs. DET (8-10-1, 17 pts)
17 Fri: W 4-2 vs. STL (9-10-1, 19 pts)
19 Sun: W 2-1 vs. CHI (10-10-1, 21 pts)
22 Wed: W 4-3 (OT) at DET (11-10-1, 23 pts)
23 Thu: L 6-0 at NSH (11-11-1, 23 pts)
25 Sat: L 4-1 at COL (11-12-1, 23 pts)
28 Tue: W 1-0 vs. CLB (12-12-1, 25 pts)
30 Thu: L 2-1 vs. ANA (12-13-1, 25 pts)
MONTH of November: 5-8-0, 10 pts (win pct .385, possible 26 pts)
2 Sat: W 2-1 vs. COL (13-13-1, 27 pts)
4 Mon: L 4-0 vs. EDM (13-14-1, 27 pts)
8 Fri: W 4-3 (OT) vs. CAR (14-14-1, 29 pts)
9 Sat: L 5-3 at CGY (14-15-1, 29 pts)
12 Tue: W 5-2 vs. PHX (15-15-1, 31 pts)
14 Thu: W 3-1 vs. CGY (16-15-1, 33 pts)
16 Sat: W 2-1 vs. MIN (17-15-1, 35 pts)
19 Tue: L 5-2 at MIN (17-16-1, 35 pts)
21 Thu: L 2-0 at BOS (17-17-1. 35 pts)
22 Fri: L 3-2 at CLB (17-18-1, 35 pts)
26 Tue: W 3-1 at CGY (18-18-1, 37 pts)
27 Wed: W 6-5 (OT) vs. CGY (19-18-1, 39 pts)
30 Sat: W 6-2 at EDM (20-18-1, 41 pts)
MONTH of December: 8-5-0, 16 pts (.615 win pct, possible 26 pts)
2 Tue: W 3-2 at CGY (21-18-1, 43 pts)
3 Wed: W 2-1 (SO) vs. DAL (22-18-1, 45 pts)
5 Fri: W 3-2 (OT) vs. EDM (23-18-1, 47 pts)
7 Sun: W 4-3 (SO) vs. FLA (24-18-1, 49 pts)
11 Thu: L 5-2 vs. MIN (24-19-1, 49 pts)
13 Sat: W 6-1 at TOR (25-19-1, 51 pts)
16 Tue: W 4-0 at MTL (26-19-1, 53 pts)
18 Thu: W 2-1 at OTT (27-19-1, 55 pts)
19 Fri: L 4-3 (SO) at BUF (27-19-2, 56 pts)
26 Fri: L 3-2 (OT) vs. LA (27-19-3, 57 pts)
28 Sun: W 3-1 vs. SJ (28-19-3, 59 pts)
30 Tue: L 3-2 (SO) vs. CLB (28-19-4, 60 pts)
MONTH of January: 8-1-3, 19 pts (.667 win pct, possible 24 pts)
1 Thu: W 5-3 vs. EDM (29-19-4, 62 pts)
3 Sat: L 4-3 at CGY (29-20-4, 62 pts)
6 Tue: W 5-2 at EDM (30-20-4, 64 pts)
7 Wed: L 3-0 vs. CHI (30-21-4, 64 pts)
10 Sat: W 3-2 vs. ATL (31-21-4, 66 pts)
14 Wed: W 3-2 (OT) at MIN (32-21-4, 68 pts)
16 Fri: W 2-1 (SO) at CHI (33-21-4, 70 pts)
18 Sun: W 5-4 vs. COL (34-21-4, 72 pts)
20 Tue: W 3-2 (OT) at ANA (35-21-4, 74 pts)
22 Thu: W 3-2 at LA (36-21-4, 76 pts)
25 Sun: L 2-1 (OT) at DAL (36-21-5, 77 pts)
27 Tue: L 3-1 at STL (36-22-5, 77 pts)
MONTH of February: 8-3-1, 17 pts (.667 win pct, possible 24 pts)
1 Thu: W 4-3 vs. PHX (37-22-5, 79 pts)
4 Sun: W 4-3 (SO) vs. MIN (38-22-5, 81 pts)
6 Tue: W 5-1 vs. TB (39-22-5, 83 pts)
8 Thu: W 4-2 at PHX (40-22-5, 85 pts)
9 Fri: W 2-1 (OT) at SJ (41-22-5, 87 pts)
11 Sun: L 4-2 at ANA (41-23-5, 87 pts)
13 Tue: L 3-2 (OT) vs. MIN (41-23-6, 88 pts)
15 Thu: W 3-2 (OT) vs. STL (42-23-6, 90 pts)
17 Sat: W 4-1 vs. DET (43-23-6, 92 pts)
19 Mon: W 2-1 at EDM (44-23-6, 94 pts)
21 Wed: W 2-0 vs. NSH (45-23-6, 96 pts)
25 Sun: L 5-4 (OT) vs. COL (45-23-7, 97 pts)
27 Tue: W 3-0 at COL (46-23-7, 99 pts)
29 Thu: W 4-2 at LA (47-23-7, 101 pts)
31 Sat: vs. CGY
3 Tue: vs. LA
5 Thu: vs. COL
7 Sat: at SJ
8 Sun: at PHX
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Hockey seasons starts today in a slightly toned-down opening night from the all-30-teams-playing bonanza on the same night last season. I'd gone much too long without hockey, and it was incredibly hard following the Canucks from the east coast in 2005-06, but I tried. My biggest challenge with following them this year will be the amount of overtime I have to work.
Anyway, opening night will be carried this year on the Versus network, formerly known as the Outdoor Life Network. Once they got hockey before last season, it was pretty much a smart move to rename the network something else since the NHL is very rarely played in the out-of-doors, and also since boxing and professional bullriding are also sports that appear to take place in arenas. The opening night games to be televised are the very good rematch of the Eastern Conference Finals last year, Buffalo at Carolina, and the second game, which is merely Dallas at Colorado. They're two teams I don't generally like, but I'll probably watch anyway.
It took a long time to find a Canuck photo in the Photobucket from last year that has players still on the team. There's a ton of pictures in there of Anson Carter, whose crazy season with the Sedin twins last year priced him out of Vancouver. He was signed by Columbus, who wanted an insurance policy in case the brilliant Nikolai Zherdev decided to play in Russia. They signed Carter, but Zherdev ended up signing with Columbus. This re-opened the annual Vancouver question of who skates with the Sedins. Though the opening night lineup is in place, it might take a while to find out who can skate and actually produce alongside the Sedins.
With the NHL's salary cap era in year number two, the player turnover is much more prevalent. The Canucks lost half of their top four defensemen in the offseason before the 2005-06 season (Brent Sopel and Marek Malik) and lost Nolan Baumgartner, Bryan Allen, and most notably Ed Jovanovski (a Canuck since the Pavel Bure trade) off last year's team. A trade for Buffalo defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick as well as a free-agent signing of grade-A pest Willie Mitchell took place to plug the defensive holes. Also, after threatening to make last year's team but ultimately spending another year in junior (and helping the Moncton Wildcats to the Memorial Cup finals), 19-year-old Luc Bourdon is on the roster for the big club to start the season.
But the biggest move for the Canucks was obviously the one that occurred right before draft day. Allen, goalie Alex Auld (last year's team MVP), and Todd Bertuzzi (and the black cloud following him) were traded to Florida for defenseman Lukas Krajicek along with a sixth-round pick and goalie Roberto Luongo, who is sort of good. Good in that he's the number-one goalie Canuck fans have long been wanting. The game of goaltending musical chairs sorted itself out more when fired Canuck coach Marc Crawford got a new job with the Los Angeles Kings and brought Dan Cloutier along for the ride. Somewhere along the way, little-used deadline acquisition Mika Noronen decided he was going to play in Russia. That opened the way for grizzled veteran Wade Flaherty to finally get the shot to break back into the NHL for the first time since the 2001-02 season.
Ultimately, it's still a mystery of where all the scoring is going to come from. Part of what the Canucks were trying to do with the offseason moves was to cut down on all the defensive giveaways that killed them last season and left Alex Auld to stand on his head every night in net. One other thing that killed the team last season was the inability to play 60 good minutes of hockey. There were quite a few games where they'd play 55 or so minutes of great hockey and just throw the game away with the other five minutes (like allowing three goals in two minutes or something), and it was quite infuriating. The team started 8-1-1, but it masked all the imperfections in the team, and it all unraveled after that.
What we do know is that the goaltending is going to be great. Luongo is going to steal some games for this team and keep the Canucks in games they have no right to be close.
All this and I didn't even get to Philly GM Bob Clarke using the rarely-used tactic of the offer sheet to ratchet up the price for Ryan Kesler (the Canucks matched the offer to the tune of $1.9 million), ticking off many GMs across the league. Lou Lamoriello of the Devils also has ruffled feathers recently. The offer sheet hadn't been used in quite a while, but the Lamoriello stuff just points to different loopholes in the new collective bargaining agreement that, though legal, reek when exploited.
Back to the team, though, they finally shook up the core by trading away Bertuzzi and Cloutier (though I could have done without Jovanovski going to Phoenix). They're going to be a different team, and they're going to have to find their identity at some point, and no one knows how long that will take. The start of last season and the downward spiral to its ultimate end (eliminated in Game 81) left a sour taste in the mouths of Canuck fans, and everyone's dying for them to get into the playoffs. Then again, with all the turnover that's occurred in terms of personnel (both players and coaches), getting into the playoffs as an eighth seed might be a great accomplishment for this team, and that's quite a low expectation considering what the fans in Vancouver have been used to over the last handful or so of years.
All in all, this is where my riffing ends, but the new journey begins when actual gameplay starts for the Canucks with game number one out of 82, tomorrow night in Detroit.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
[initial partial post]
I've got notes together and I have a lot to say, but I've got to run and get dinner over here, so I'll just reaffirm what I said in the previous thread...
The game after the bye in Saint Louis is a must-win. If that game was against a non-NFC West team, I might pull back from saying that, but since it's against the Rams, it's a must-win.
They've got two weeks to heal up and figure out who they are as an offense without Shaun Alexander.
...And the defense has arguably played five straight bad quarters of football as well. That is, unless there's a good argument as to whether allowing 64 points in the last five quarters doesn't fall onto the defense.
Seattle SEAHAWKS at Chicago BEARS, 5:15p (NBC)
As they make Pink tell you every week, we've been waiting all day for Sunday night.
Remember that one year where Monday Night Football didn't have Hank Williams, Jr. and they had a bunch of guest singers? That was weird.
Anyway, I don't think I saw anyone pick the Seahawks to win this game, and that's the easy pick to make.
Any rationale related to the Bears' defense I took. Any time I heard the words "Rex Grossman" as a reason for the Bears winning, I wanted to throw my fist through the television screen.
The closest thing I saw to props was the NFL Matchup show, where Merril Hoge said four-wides might actually neutralize what the Chicago defense likes to do.
Still, it's a game against a tough opponent on the road.
I'm not saying this would be an acceptable game to lose, but better this week than two weeks from now at Saint Louis. They have to have that game.
Of course, I really want the Seahawks to put Rex Grossman in his place. I didn't hear a lot of media talking about the Seahawk defense.
Have jolly-good fun watching today and tonight.
[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.
»» MARINERS 1, RANGERS 0
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.
»» MARINERS 2, RANGERS 0
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.
»» RANGERS 2, MARINERS 2
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.
»» MARINERS 3, RANGERS 2
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.