Thursday, April 19, 2007


AP photo -- Elaine Thompson

[initial partial post...I could talk about this all night, but 12-hour workdays are a hindrance]

In 25 words or less: It looks like a one-run loss in the boxscore, but it feels a lot worse if you saw the top of the first.

This one featured Carlos Silva going up against Felix Hernandez. Unless you were going to be at the game, this game was appointment television for anyone with even a passing interest in the Mariners. Yes, it was Felix Hernandez on the mound, he of the 0.00 ERA in two starts so far this season, two starts in which he was nearly unhittable. Sure, I knew that Mariner hitters in the past had had trouble with Carlos Silva since he was one of those sinkerballers against whom the Mariner coaching staff would gameplan the "swing early" philosophy, so Silva would have the chance of a 75-pitch complete game. Still, if ever there was a time in which even the best night of Carlos Silva's life could end up with him taking a loss, it was this night, with Felix coming off two incredible starts. The two starts for Felix weren't against chop-liver teams either, with Oakland being a key division rival who always seems to whup Mariner behind, and Boston, who was some thump in their lineup. Enter Minnesota, who has a lineup with the reigning MVP in New West's own Justin Morneau as well as all-badass catcher Joe Mauer, who may end up being the new generation's Rafael Palmeiro, i.e., Guy Who Beats the Crap Out of the Mariners (GWBCOM).

How would Felix fare? Umm...I guess I'll just give him an incomplete for this start. I'm also hoping there's another start very soon for him on the horizon, because right now we have no idea.

Luis Castillo quickly fell behind 0-2 but worked the count full before scorching a line drive toward the leftcenter gap that may have gone for extra bases if not for Ibañez racing over to cut it off and keep Castillo at first. Jason Tyner poked a 1-2 pitch through the right side for a single to move Castillo to second. Joe Mauer walked on a low 3-1 fastball, loading the bases and making me wonder if it wasn't going to be too good a night for Felix. Johjima and pitching coach Rafael Chaves visited the mound. Mike Cuddyer took a first-pitch slider in the dirt a foot outside, and it got past Johjima, scoring Castillo and moving Tyner and Mauer to third and second, respectively.
Cuddyer chopped a 1-2 pitch to second to score Tyner and move Mauer to third. Fans of productive outs cheered this play.
Justin Morneau took a ball to make it 3-1 when Hernandez signaled something to the dugout, bringing out Hargrove and the trainers, and before we knew it, he was on his way to the dugout as everyone's night went to s%*&.

Jake Woods came in for Hernandez. Morneau took the next pitch for a ball low and away, walking as a result (charged to Hernandez). Mike Redmond reached down and away and looped a single into shallow left, scoring Mauer and moving Morneau to second.
Jason Kubel hammered a 3-1 pitch into the leftcenter gap that looked like it might get down, but Ichiro was able to run it down and hold the runners in place, waking up the crowd a bit and helping temper some of the sheer horror from just minutes before. Luis Rodriguez took a low 3-1 pitch in the dirt, loading the bases. Jason Bartlett lined a 1-2 pitch to shallow center, but Ichiro raced in to make the catch just above his shoetops. Woods threw 18 pitches.

Hernandez' line: 1/3 inning, 3 runs, 2 hits, 2 walks, 0 strikeouts, 24 pitches (12 strikes)

Was that not the worst half-inning in recent Mariner history?

Ichiro served a hard line drive right into the glove of Bartlett at short. Adrian Beltre was ahead 3-0 and walked on a full-count pitch down and away. Jose Vidro got too much top half, bouncing into a 4-6-3 double play. Silva threw 13 pitches.

Castillo flew out to left on the first pitch. Tyner took an 0-2 pitch off the right bicep, then took first base. Mauer got ahead 3-0 before walking on a full-count pitch inside. Cuddyer took the first pitch for a ball and the double steal was on, and it was successful as Johjima's throw was high and late to third. Cuddyer got ahead 2-0 before chopping a 2-2 pitch over the mound, where Lopez fielded it, but Tyner was hung up between third and home (after Mauer ran to third) and was run back to third base, which was occupied (4-2 in the books). Morneau blistered the first pitch into rightfield for a single to score Mauer and Cuddyer.
Redmond flew out to right on the first pitch. Woods threw 18 pitches and had 36 total.

I have hockey on television at the same time I'm watching this game, and I have to say, every time I think those Enzyte ads can't get any more insane, they got even more insane. They've easily obliterated any previous double-entendre-per-commercial ratio.

Raul Ibañez rolled out to second. Richie Sexson was up 3-0 but whiffed on a full count. Ben Broussard whiffed badly on a 2-2 pitch that was about a foot outside and low. Silva threw 15 pitches and had 28 through two.

Brad Adam on FSNNW came on the air before the third inning to tell viewers all across the region that Hernandez left the game feeling tightness in his right elbow and that his exit from the game was precautionary. I wish it wasn't an elbow, personally.

Kubel flew out to right on the first pitch. Rodriguez flew out routinely to Ichiro in leftcenter. Bartlett hit a soft liner to Ichiro on a 2-0 count. Woods threw seven pitches and had 43 total.

Kenji Johjima looped the second pitch into shallow left for a single to continue his torrid start. Yuniesky Betancourt lined out right into the glove of Castillo at second on the second pitch. Jose Lopez got behind 0-2 and rolled a 2-2 pitch to short, but it was slow enough to keep a double play from being turned as Johjima was forced out at second (6-4) as Lopez reached. Ichiro fell behind 0-2 and flew out to Kubel on the leftfield line on a 1-2 pitch. Silva threw 13 pitches and had 41 through three.

Castillo spanked a groundball single through the left side. Tyner one-hopped the second pitch to Lopez to start an easy 4-6-3 double play. Mauer whiffed on a 2-2 pitch in the dirt. Woods threw ten pitches and had 53 total.

Beltre whiffed badly on an 0-2 pitch about half a foot off the plate outside. Vidro laced the second pitch over Castillo at second and into right for a single. Ibañez worked a 1-2 count full and just got under a pitch (with Vidro taking off), flying out to fairly deep right. Sexson couldn't check his swing on a 2-2 pitch down and away. Silva threw 16 pitches and had 57 through four.

Cuddyer punched a 1-2 pitch into shallow right that just barely got over a diving Sexson (who looked like he may have landed on his left shoulder...that left shoulder), and Cuddyer raced all the way to second (ruled a double) as Broussard ran in to field the ball. Morneau laid the bat on an 0-2 pitch, flying out to left (Ibañez decoyed like he couldn't find the ball, to no avail) as Cuddyer had to scurry back to second after he'd taken off with the pitch. Redmond drilled a line drive to center that had some carry as Ichiro stayed put but then had to leap to make the catch, holding Cuddyer at second. Kubel popped the second pitch to Broussard in shallow right, who called off the right side of the Mariner infield to make the catch. Woods threw 13 pitches and had 66 total.

Broussard singled up the middle on the first pitch. Johjima flew out high to Mauer (calling off Redmond, who quickly had to scurry away) behind the plate on the first pitch. Betancourt bounced the second pitch to short to start what would have been a 6-4-3 double play if not for Betancourt's speed (Broussard was out at second). Lopez bounced to Rodriguez behind the bag at third, who slid to his right to make the play and threw to first, where Morneau made a nice pick, making the play reek of Web Gem. Needless to say, Rodriguez was due up to lead off the next half-inning for the Twins. Silva threw six pitches and had 63 through five.

Rodriguez flew out to Ichiro in shallow center on a 2-0 pitch. Bartlett grounded a 1-2 pitch behind the bag at third, where Beltre went to his right to make yet another play look easy, keeping his feet and slinging the ball across the diamond to get Bartlett at first. Castillo flew out to left on a 2-2 pitch. Woods threw 13 pitches and had 79 total.

Woods' line: 5 2/3 innings, 2 runs, 4 hits, 2 walks, 1 strikeout, 79 pitches (49 strikes)

Ichiro grazed the second pitch nearly off the ground and dumped it into shallow left for a single. Beltre looped a pitch into shallow center that Tyner went after, though he faked catching it and let it drop as Ichiro was just quick enough to get to second in time to beat a possible force play on what was a single. Vidro popped a 3-1 pitch high to left. Ibañez rode the second pitch all the way to the track in center in front of the 405-foot marker, where Tyner hauled it in and Ichiro tagged and moved to third. Sexson took a first-pitch ball, then Ron Gardenhire and the infield met with Silva on the mound. Sexson promptly pulled his hands in and lined the next pitch into the third row of seats to score Ichiro and Beltre.
Broussard tagged a grounder to first (3-1 putout). Silva threw 17 pitches and had 80 through six.

Tyner nubbed back to the mound. Mauer worked a 1-2 count full but lined out to left. Cuddyer popped the first pitch to Johjima in front of the Mariner dugout. Sherrill threw 11 pitches.

Johjima hit a sinking liner on an 0-2 pitch, and it went into left, where Kubel made an attempt on a sliding catch, but it went in and out of Kubel's mitt as Ichiro had the single. Betancourt popped high to second on the first pitch. Lopez lasered a 2-0 pitch through the left side for a single, moving Johjima to second. Immediately, Gardenhire popped up out of the visitors' dugout.

Dennys Reyes came in for Silva. Ichiro punched the second pitch through the left side for a single to load the bases. Gardenhire came to the mound again.

Matt Guerrier came in for Reyes. Beltre whiffed on a 1-2 slider in the dirt away. Vidro scorched a 2-0 liner to the right side, but Morneau leaped and reached above his head to spear it and kill the rally. Guerrier threw seven pitches.

Silva's line: 6 1/3 innings, 3 runs, 8 hits, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts, 87 pitches (56 strikes)
Reyes' line: 0 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 2 pitches (2 strikes)
Guerrier's line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 7 pitches (4 strikes)

Morneau was down 0-2 and rolled a 1-2 pitch for a broken-bat groundout to third (a bit of a shift was on). Redmond popped to Broussard near the rightfield line on the first pitch. Kubel whiffed on a 1-2 pitch down over the outside corner. Sherrill threw ten pitches and had 21 total.

Sherrill's line: 2 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 21 pitches (15 strikes)

Juan Rincon came in for Guerrier. Ibañez got down 0-2 and put a charge into a 1-2 pitch, but merely flew out to fairly deep leftcenter. Sexson worked a 1-2 count for a walk. Broussard flew out to center on an 0-2 pitch. Johjima lined out to Bartlett at short, who went to a knee to make the catch to his backhand side. Rincon threw 17 pitches.

Rincon's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 17 pitches (11 strikes)

Julio Mateo came in for Sherrill. Rodriguez fell behind 0-2 and got under a 1-2 pitch, flying out to right. Bartlett flew out high to center on the first pitch. Castillo weakly popped the second pitch to Beltre on the infield grass on the left side. Mateo threw

Mateo's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 9 pitches (8 strikes)

Joe Nathan came in for Rincon. Betancourt worked an 0-2 count full before lining a single into shallow center. Lopez tapped the second pitch over the middle, where Castillo fielded and underhanded to Bartlett covering second, who tagged the bag at second, but Lopez beat out the double play (Betancourt was out 4-6). Ichiro got ahead 2-0, bringing Redmond to the mound for a short chat. Ichiro popped a 3-0 pitch (swinging?) high to Castillo on the infield dirt on the right side. Beltre quickly got behind 0-2 and rolled a 1-2 pitch to short, where Bartlett made a diving stop, but bobbled the transfer to his throwing hand, so there was to be no forceout of Lopez at second (ruled a single). Vidro stung a single past Morneau at first, and Lopez scored easily. Both Lopez and third-base Carlos Garcia waved Beltre home after they saw Cuddyer misplay the ball, but Cuddyer hit his relay man, and the ball got home quickly, nailing Beltre by about seven feet. The play really wasn't close at all.

Nathan's line: 1 inning, 1 run, 3 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 24 pitches (15 strikes)

Gameball: Jake Woods.
Given the circumstances, he could have done a whole lot worse. I'd have to believe that if you're in the bullpen and you know Felix Hernandez is starting that day, you're probably thinking the only guys out of the bullpen that might actually have to warm up and appear in the game are maybe George Sherrill and JJ Putz. That's it. Moreover, if you're Jake Woods, the long relief guy/garbagetime guy #2 (Brandon Morrow is #1), you're more than likely thinking you're the absolute last guy that's going to pitch on a day that Felix is on the mound. Woods came into the game and inherited a 3-1 count on Justin Morneau and walked him (Felix was tagged with it), and he was shaky for that inning as well as the second before he settled down and ate up innings through the sixth. For basically being an emergency starter in this game, he did quite well, with the bonus of actually keeping the Mariners in the game, though with the score 5-0 and with what transpired in the top of the first, this game felt psychologically out of reach until Richie Sexson made it 5-3 in the bottom of the sixth. In sum, Woods ate up innings and it could have been a lot worse, and he saved a good portion of the bullpen except for maybe George Sherrill.

Goat: Raul Ibañez.
The Mariners' most consistent hitter of the 2006 season is hitting a mere .205 so far (it's still early), but he went 0-for-4 in this game. He led off innings twice, so he can't be nailed there for not driving in runs. On a more encouraging note, he hit three fly balls that were quite long and probably two of them would have left other more hitter-friendly ballparks. Sure, it's warning-track power or so, but one has to have the feeling that he's close to putting those pitches over the wall. Once that happens, it makes the lineup even more dangerous since the top third tonight was 6-for-14 with a walk and an RBI. Oddly, Ibañez was the only Mariner hitter in the lineup that went hitless on the night. Ibañez should right the ship soon, though. I don't think it'll take too long. If it does, the season is sunk. The season might be sunk anyway (see first inning), but having it happen due to Ibañez doing crappy would be unexpected, I'd have to say. Let's have Ibañez hit 50 homers or something. That'd be dandy, if not just completely unrealistic.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 7-3 .700 -- L1
2002 7-3 .700 -- W4
2000 6-4 .600 1 W1
2005 5-5 .500 2 L1
2006 5-5 .500 2 W2
2007 5-5 .500 2 L2
2003 4-6 .400 3 L3
2004 2-8 .200 5 L1

Santana. Washburn. Today.

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