Sunday, April 22, 2007


AP photo -- Mark Avery

[initial partial post]

In 25 words or less: This team sucks. I don't need 25 words to say that.

This one featured Jeff Weaver going up against Ervin Santana. Unfortunately, those watching on MLB.tv had to sit through a fair amount of Steve Physioc and Rex Hudler. If anyone out there has seen the Discovery Channel show Stunt Junkies, Hudler looks like a less cool and less tolerable version of stunt guru Perry Barndt. I figured this game would be the final game of a sweep by the Angels, and it appears the Mariners did too, putting Willie Bloomquist into the starting lineup, and he hit second as Mike Hargrove moved Adrian Beltre into the seventh spot. Also, Jamie Burke was in the lineup the day after Kenji Johjima took a foul ball to his calf the night before. After signing a one-year deal worth $8M in the offseason, Weaver was making his third start as a Mariner. In his first two Mariner starts, Weaver had combined for eight innings, giving up 14 runs on 17 hits, walking three and striking out four. He had a ERA of only 15.75 coming into this game. Surely it couldn't get any worse, could it?

Ichiro lofted a 2-2 pitch for a popout to center. Willie Bloomquist fell behind 0-2 and ended up taking a 1-2 fastball straight over the inside corner. Jose Vidro took a 2-2 pitch that bounced off the dirt and hit the plate umpire square above the cup. Vidro worked a 1-2 count full before chopping out high to second. Santana threw 19 pitches.

So far, so good for the Mariner hitters. Vidro at least seems to be working the counts fairly well, though he definitely can't beat out infield choppers. Not that we expected that or anything.

Gary Matthews, Jr. was down 0-2 and spanked a 1-2 pitch past a diving Sexson and into rightfield for what probably should have been a single, but Guillen didn't hustle after the ball, enabling Matthews to stretch it into an easy double. Orlando Cabrera missed a push bunt on the first pitch, fell behind 0-2, then didn't quite crush a 1-2 drop-down pitch (Weaver's sidearm thing seems to be fooling absolutely no one), flying out to left. Vladimir Guerrero chopped high to third on the first pitch. Garret Anderson bounced a 1-2 pitch that went off the first-base bag, and Sexson fielded the ball and tagged the bag. The first-base umpire originally ruled a foul ball, much to Sexson's chagrin, but upon conference with the plate umpire, the first-base umpire's decision was overruled and an out was recorded. Weaver threw 16 pitches.

Well. I didn't think Matthews could get aboard with a leadoff double (nice effort by Guillen on that one) and end the inning stranded on second.

Raul Ibañez whipped the first pitch high off the Toshiba advertisement in rightcenter, and it got away from Matthews a bit, enabling Ibañez to slide into third with a triple. Richie Sexson popped the second pitch high to Aybar moving over to the rightfield line. Jose Guillen (bringing boos from the crowd) popped high to Guerrero on the rightfield line, and Ibañez held at second, deciding not to test Guerrero's strong (but not always accurate) arm, and the throw was a bit up the line. Adrian Beltre reached out on a 1-2 pitch, rolling out to short. Santana threw 10 pitches and had 29 through two.

Again, so far, so good for the Mariner bats. Leadoff triple, so what? Bonus points for MLB.tv changing up the between-innings graphic, though it's the same one as the endgame graphic, so I had to tell myself it wasn't screwed up.

Casey Kotchman worked an 0-2 count full and blistered a line drive into right for a single. Maicer Izturis fell behind 0-2 and ended up grounding a 1-2 pitch to the mound, where Weaver threw to second to a covering Betancourt to get the lead runner, Kotchman (4-6 fielder's choice). Shea Hillenbrand got down 0-2 and watched as Weaver nearly picked Izturis off of first. Hillenbrand ended up poking a 1-2 pitch past Beltre and into left for a single, moving Izturis (who took off with the pitch) to third. Jose Molina popped out high to Ichiro in very shallow center. Erick Aybar nubbed an 0-2 pitch along the third-base side that Beltre charged, but he had absolutely no play as Izturis scored and Hillenbrand moved to second.
Matthews stroked the second pitch into left for another double that looks like a single when it leaves the bat, moving Aybar to third.
Cabrera whiffed on a 2-2 low breaking ball. Weaver threw 32 pitches and had 48 through two.

The good news is that Weaver is getting ahead of nearly every hitter. The bad news is the Angels still managed to rough him up a bit, and Weaver needed a ton of pitches to get out of the inning. How bad is it when the only positive you can take is that the Mariners are only down two runs instead of five or six?

Yuniesky Betancourt flew out to center on a 2-2 pitch. Jamie Burke flew out lazily to right. Ichiro rolled out to short. Santana threw 13 pitches and had 42 through three.

You know, it turns out one way to alleviate the problem of driving in runners in scoring position is to not get any runners aboard to begin with. Splendid job by the Mariners this inning in regards to that.

Guerrero bulleted the second pitch over a leaping Betancourt and into left for a single. Anderson rolled to short, where Betancourt had to go to the backhand to throw to second, and Bloomquist's double pump with the ball enabled Anderson to reach first (6-4 fielder's choice), foiling the double play. Kotchman lined a ball into the gap in leftcenter, where Ibañez made a dive and it went off his glove and to the wall, scoring Anderson, and Kotchman got to third for the triple, though partly because Betancourt tried throwing home instead of to third, where he may have had a play on Kotchman.
Izturis took a 1-2 pitch at the belt over the inside corner. Hillenbrand worked an 0-2 count full before whiffing on a slider over the outside corner. Weaver threw 20 pitches and had 68 through three.

I know Weaver's not getting clobbered right now, but at this pace, I'm not sure if he'll still be on this team when July rolls around. It's never going to be easy with this guy.

Weaver's line: 3 innings, 3 runs, 7 hits, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts, 68 pitches (48 strikes)

Bloomquist reached on a low-and-away pitch, looping it into very shallow right for a single. Vidro took a high pitch, but Bloomquist took off from first and Molina gunned him down at second (close play, I'll give it that). Vidro poked the next pitch off the glove of a diving Aybar at second and into center for a single. Ibañez chopped to second, where Aybar tried tagging Vidro heading to second but whiffed on the tag, then threw high to Kotchman, pulling him off the bag (error), and both runners were safe. Sexson whiffed on a 3-1 fastball (as Hudler waxed poetic about "hair" and "fuzz" on a fastball) and took the next pitch over the plate, though Sexson thought it was low and argued with the plate umpire afterward. Guillen got up 2-0 before popping high to short. Santana threw 21 pitches and had 63 through four.

Sean White came in for Weaver. Molina bounced the second pitch to third. Aybar took the second pitch and kicked his feet from under himself to avoid getting nailed in the leg. Aybar whiffed on a 2-2 inside breaking ball. Matthews got ahead 3-0 but scorched a 3-1 pitch right to Guillen in right, who snared the lineout. White threw 12 pitches.

Beltre obliterated a 3-1 pitch and it landed in the rockery in leftcenter. That was some majestic stuff right there.
Betancourt was down 0-2 and bounced a 1-2 pitch to third. Burke drove the second pitch into the leftcenter gap, rolling it all the way to the wall for a double (huh?). Ichiro whiffed on an 0-2 pitch over the inside corner, pretty much thwarting the rally. Bloomquist whiffed horribly late on the first pitch, and whiffed on an 0-2 inside pitch. Santana threw 17 pitches and had 80 through five.

Another runner on and stranded for the Mariners, so no surprise there. We've piled on Bloomquist in this space before for his performance and his South Kitsapness, though we've done much less of that lately. That said, he looked absolutely hopeless in the at-bat that closed this half-inning. I can remember that happening one other time, against Oakland, I believe (probably Zito).

Cabrera rolled to the hole on the left side, where Betancourt fielded it nicely but threw it over Sexson at first (error), putting Cabrera to second. Guerrero took a 2-1 pitch in the dirt that got away from Burke (passed ball) and went toward the backstop, moving Cabrera to third. Guerrero took a caveman hack, whiffing on the 3-1 pitch, then grounding to short, where Betancourt bobbled the ball (error) but still had a chance on Guerrero at first, but the throw was a tad late as Cabrera scored.
Anderson took the second pitch way inside and to the backstop (wild pitch), moving Guerrero to second. Mike Hargrove, Burke, and the infielders met with White on the mound. It was a longer meeting than usual. Anderson dumped the next pitch (2-0) along the leftfield line for a double, scoring Guerrero.
Kotchman bounced the first pitch to short, where Betancourt fielded and threw cleanly to first, holding Anderson at second. Izturis got ahead 3-0 and watched with a 3-1 count as Betancourt beat Anderson back to the second-base bag on a pickoff play. Izturis grounded a 3-1 pitch to short. White threw 19 pitches and had 31 total.

Passed balls, wild pitches, and errors, oh my! Specifically, maybe Betancourt will be himself once his obligations to that trial come and go. Let's hope so. After starting out so well defensively last year, that's been less of the case this year.

Vidro popped the second pitch to left. Ibañez got ahead 3-0 before taking a 3-1 pitch down for a walk. Sexson drilled the second pitch, but it was a hard grounder that easily started a 6-4-3 double play. Santana threw eight pitches and had 88 through six.

Hillenbrand took a 1-1 pitch off his right thigh and took first base as a result. Molina bounced a 1-2 pitch over the middle, where Betancourt got to it and underhand backhand-flipped to Bloomquist covering second to start a 6-4-3 double play. Aybar was up 3-0 and took a 3-1 pitch inside for a walk. Matthews rolled a grounder deep into the hole on the right side, where Bloomquist spun and threw from shallow rightfield to get Matthews at first on a nice play that even I liked. White threw 15 pitches and had 46 total.

Guillen lasered a 2-0 pitch into left for a single. Beltre whiffed on a 2-2 fastball up and in. Betancourt popped the first pitch high to Kotchman at the first-base coaches' box (foul). Burke took the first pitch off the left elbow and went to first, moving Guillen to second. Ichiro rolled to short on the second pitch. Santana threw 13 pitches and had 101 through seven.

Santana's line: 7 innings, 1 run, 6 hits, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, 101 pitches (63 strikes)

With the Mariners in the condition they're in right now, when I see television analysts remark about how great Bartolo Colon was last night (the Baseball Tonight crew did that) or how great Santana was today (Angels' television crew), I just wish someone was there to tell them, "hey, the Angels were facing the Mariners. The Mariners."

Cabrera took an 0-2 pitch in the dirt that came up and bit umpire Danley behind the plate again, this time around the shoulder or neck. Cabrera lined a pitch toward the rightfield corner for a double. Guerrero lasered the second pitch into right for a single as Guillen bobbled it, though it only moved Cabrera to third.

George Sherrill came in for White. Anderson popped out high to center, easily scoring Cabrera from third as Guerrero held at first.
Kotchman lined out to center on the second pitch, taking Ichiro a few strides backward. Izturis popped out high to shallow right on the second pitch. Sherrill threw seven pitches.

White's line: 3 innings, 3 runs (1 earned), 3 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 52 pitches (27 strikes)
Sherrill's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 7 pitches (6 strikes)

Justin Speier came in for Santana. Bloomquist whiffed on a 2-2 hard slider and was visibly frustrated afterward. Vidro popped a 2-2 pitch to Aybar moving way back into shallow right, who ended up diving backward to make the catch. Ibañez walked on a full-count pitch inside. Sexson was down 0-2 and whiffed on a 1-2 pitch down and away. Speier threw 21 pitches.

Speier's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 21 pitches (12 strikes)

Chris Reitsma came in for Sherrill. Hillenbrand grounded hard to third on a full count as Beltre had to gather himself before making the throw. Molina rolled an 0-2 pitch slowly to third, where Beltre spun and threw to first, but he spent a bit too much time spinning as Molina (the catcher) beat it out. Aybar was down 0-2 before nubbing a 2-2 pitch to short, where Betancourt threw to second for a force, but the ball was hit too slowly to finish off the double play (6-4 fielder's choice, Molina out). Matthews got ahead 3-0 but popped a 3-1 pitch to Betancourt just into the outfield grass on the left side. Reitsma threw 22 pitches.

I had to laugh about Physioc warning the Angel fans to watch out for Seattle's comeback prowess in the ninth. Ha.

Reitsma's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 22 pitches (15 strikes)

Dustin Moseley came in for Speier. Guillen got ahead 3-0 but rolled out to short on a full count. Beltre was down 0-2 and chopped a 1-2 pitch high to short, where Cabrera barehanded and threw in time to get Beltre by an eyelash at first (I did react in real time with "BULLSH#+," and my whole neighborhood probably heard it, but they'll have to deal). Betancourt popped a 1-2 pitch high to Guerrero in foul ground down the rightfield line.

Moseley's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 17 pitches (12 strikes)

Gameball: Raul Ibañez.
There weren't many ways to go. I'd already given Sean White a gameball for one of his previous mop-up jobs (probably after Weaver), and none of the Mariner hitters had a multi-hit game. Ibañez only had one hit, and it was a leadoff triple. He was camped out on third base the rest of the inning and didn't score. That was his only hit on a 1-for-2 day, but he also drew two walks, and walks are better than outs. Of course, Richie Sexson struck out twice and went 0-for-4 in the lineup slot behind him, so that didn't help the Mariners' plight. The Mariners have a record of 5-9 right now, and their most consistent hitter of last season is hitting only .259 after this game. Ichiro is at .298 and Jose Vidro is at .276. It's hard to say how much the two-game, two-city road trip earlier in the month affected the Mariners, but the hitting even in its best state can't make up for some of the horrible starting pitching the Mariners have been putting onto the mound. Worse yet, this was the Mariners' sixth straight loss, and if you view Felix Hernandez as the streak-stopper and have no confidence in the other four starters (like I do), this losing streak will be at least 11 games long before it's over.

Goat: Jeff Weaver.
He's going in this spot until he displays conduct that is becoming of a starting pitcher that's worth any salt in the Majors. His combined totals this season: 17 runs on 24 hits over 11 innings. He only went three innings in this start, and his ERA actually decreased from 15.75 to 13.91. Few starting rotations in the Major Leagues have strong fifth starters -- if you get a semi-consistent fifth starter that can have a .500 record and get you a decent amount of innings without embarrassing everyone most of the time, you'll take it. Except for maybe his second start (Minnesota), Weaver is burying his team before they even have a chance to stay close. In the Minnesota start, however, it should be noted that Weaver picked a completely different method of suck, going five deceptively decent innings before having everything come crashing down in the sixth. I bring this up every time, but Weaver was the guy the Mariners should have gone after six years ago, not last offseason. He should have gone straight from Detroit to Seattle and not had the Bronx wreck him mentally, but oh well. Weaver was once a decent starting pitcher.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 11-3 .786 -- W4
2002 11-3 .786 -- W8
2000 8-6 .571 3 L2
2003 8-6 .571 3 W4
2005 7-7 .500 4 W1
2004 6-8 .429 5 W4
2006 6-8 .429 5 L2
2007 5-9 .385 6 L6

Baek. Millwood. Tomorrow.

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