Wednesday, April 11, 2007


AP photo -- Elise Amendola

[initial partial post, not that there's too much more to say about the game since it sucked]

In 25 words or less: This game was out of doubt for about 15 minutes, leaving me wonder whether watching it live or archived was worse.

This one featured Jeff Weaver going up against Josh Beckett in the home opener for the Red Sox. MLB.tv feed was that of NESN on the Boston side, since the game wasn't televised back to Seattle. Jake Woods was called back up from Tacoma and Arthur Rhodes was placed onto the disabled list. The Mariners hadn't played a game to its completion since last Wednesday, so it was anyone's guess as to how the Mariners would come out and play after nearly a week off. Unfortunately for the Mariners, their first game after a long layoff would see them facing Josh Beckett as opposed to some hack pitcher. How would they end up doing? Would there be offense? Would there be decent pitching? Would Adrian Beltre recover from three errors that totally got vaporized from the books after that Cleveland non-game in the snow? Would the Mariners' number-three hitter not go 0-for-4 and totally have a batting average of .067 after the game, making me wonder when some kind of lineup change is going to happen because I don't see him producing in that slot?

Ichiro whiffed badly on a 2-2 fastball high and away. Adrian Beltre popped the second pitch high to Lugo on the fringe of the infield grass. Jose Vidro worked an 0-2 count full before bouncing out to first (3-1 putout). Beckett threw 16 pitches.

Julio Lugo walked on four pitches, signaling a great start for Weaver. Kevin Youkilis had the hitters' counts before singling the other way on a full count into rightfield with Lugo taking off from first, though he only got to second. David Ortiz took the first pitch way down and in, and it was nicely blocked by Johjima behind the plate. Ortiz was ahead 3-0 before poking a 3-1 pitch over Lopez in the hole on the right side for a single to load the bases. Manny Ramirez (obligatory second-most all-time grand slam graphic shown on screen) dumped a 3-1 pitch into shallow center that Ichiro had to play on the shorthop, moving everyone up 90 feet, which means Lugo scored. Ichiro airmailed the throw home, and it really wasn't close to home, but luckily no one advanced further.
JD Drew got ahead 2-0 and popped a full-count pitch to Ichiro on the track near the 420-foot marker in rightcenter, scoring Youkilis from third and moving Ortiz to third (Ramirez remained at first).
Mike Lowell popped weakly behind the bag at first, where Sexson lost the ball in the sun and dropped between Lopez and Sexson, but Sexson grabbed the ball and threw to Betancourt at second to force out Ramirez, who was caught (the fly wasn't really high enough for an infield fly rule call). Jason Varitek had the hitters' counts before walking on a full-count pitch down and in to reload the bases. Coco Crisp had a 3-0 count go full before stinging a double along the rightfield line that went off a fan in the seats and ruled a double. Ortiz and Lowell were ruled to have scored, and Varitek was put on third.
Dustin Pedroia flew out to Ibañez on the leftfield track on a 1-2 pitch to mercifully end the inning. Weaver threw a meager 47 pitches.

It's sure nice to have your hopes for a Mariner win dashed in the very first inning. Just grand.

Raul Ibañez nubbed a 3-1 pitch along the first-base line, where Beckett came over to field it and tag Ibañez running down the line. Richie Sexson fell behind 0-2 and whiffed on a 1-2 belly-high fastball. Jose Guillen grounded to short on the second pitch. Beckett threw 11 pitches and had 27 through two.

Lugo got ahead 3-1 and doubled into the leftfield corner on a full count. Youkilis rolled the second pitch to the base of the wall under the 310-foot marker in leftfield for a double, easily scoring Lugo.
Ortiz fell behind 0-2 and ended up whiffing over a 2-2 tailing fastball over the inside corner, probably his best pitch of the day. Ramirez fell victim to Weaver dropping down sidearmed, flying out to Ibañez on the leftfield line on a 2-2 pitch. Drew simply laid the bat on the first pitch, and it carried and carried over the wall in deep center.
Lowell drove the second pitch, but flew out to Ichiro short of the track in leftcenter.

Weaver's line: 2 innings, 7 runs, 7 hits, 2 walks, 1 strikeout, 70 pitches (38 strikes)

There was obviously a Dunkin' Donuts ad in Japanese on the rotating sign behind the plate. I guess the problem is that if I see a drawing of a styrofoam cup with steam coming from it and it has Japanese characters next to it, I'm thinking it's some sort of ramen/cup o'noodles sort of thing as opposed to the notorious Dunkin' Donuts coffee.

Kenji Johjima roped a Fenway-style single that one-hopped off the track and off the in-wall metal scoreboard in leftfield. Yuiniesky Betancourt dumped a fly ball into the rightfield corner that never got past Drew, but he got a double out of it, moving Johjima to third. Lopez grounded the second pitch to second, scoring Johjima and moving Betancourt to third.
Ichiro took two strikes, fouled off a pitch, then whiffed on a low fastball barely off the plate outside. Beltre was up 2-0 but couldn't get all of a 2-2 pitch, flying out to Crisp in leftcenter. Beckett threw 18 pitches and had 45 through three.

The top of the third featured in-booth guest Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, who was away from the White Sox booth for an Opening Day celebration of the AL pennant-winning 1967 Red Sox team. Luckily, Harrelson proved to be considerably less of an infuriating on-air personality when a guest rather than a play-by-play guy. Oh, and if any Mariner fan didn't think it was over after the first inning, they had to admit it by this point in the ballgame.

Jake Woods came in for Weaver. Varitek got ahead 3-0 and parachuted a 3-1 pitch in front of Ibañez in left for a single. Crisp flew out high to Ichiro in leftcenter. Pedroia had the hitters' counts and walked on a 3-1 pitch down and in (welcome back to the bigs, Woods! You just walked the number-nine hitter!). Lugo poked a 1-2 pitch to Beltre at third, but a wicked hop ate him up and the ball went into leftfield for a single, scoring Varitek (whom the Ibañez throw had hit, error), and Pedroia and Lugo went to third and second, respectively, on the Ibañez error.
Youkilis fell behind 0-2 and stung a 1-2 pitch toward Beltre at third, who knocked it down and had enough time to throw to first to get Youkilis. Ortiz grounded into the shift as Betancourt on the first-base side of the second-base side moved over to field the ball but went to his backside and threw from basically a sitting position to get Ortiz at first. Woods threw 26 pitches.

Proof that Canuck playoff fever has taken over me: while typing this, I've had to correct myself multiple times for typing in "Luongo" instead of "Lugo."

Vidro grounded hard to short on a 2-2 pitch. Ibañez flew out to left on the second pitch. Sexson flew out very high to center on the first pitch. Beckett threw a mere eight pitches and had 53 through four.

Ramirez took a 3-1 fastball away for a walk. Drew grounded a 2-2 pitch to short for what should have been a 6-4-3 double play, but Betancourt played it to his left and sidesaddled it a bit too much, and it bounced away, and everyone was safe (error). Lowell lined the first pitch, bouncing it once off the leftfield track and off the wall/scoreboard for a double to score Ramirez and move Drew to third.
Varitek looped a single into shallow rightcenter, scoring Drew and Lowell. Pitching coach Rafael Chaves made an obligatory visit to the mound.
Crisp badly rolled over on a 2-2 pitch, grounding to third for a 5-4 forceout of Varitek. Pedroia popped the second pitch to Betancourt in very shallow center. Lugo walked on four pitches, moving Crisp to second. Youkilis had a 3-1 count but ended up lining out to right on a full count.

Woods' line: 2 innings, 4 runs (3 earned), 4 hits, 3 walks, 0 strikeouts, 56 pitches (29 strikes)

Three more runs? I'm almost glad I'm watching this later in the night on archived feed, or I'd somehow be more disinterested. Is it bad that out of the four games the Mariners will have played to completion, two of them will have been stinkers?

Guillen fouled off the first pitch, took the second pitch for a strike, and whiffed at a third-pitch fastball. Johjima grounded the second pitch to Lowell past the bag at third. Betancourt rolled the second pitch to short. Beckett threw a paltry seven pitches and had 60 through five.

Brandon Morrow came in for Woods. Ortiz got ahead 3-1 and walked on a full-count fastball that got away from Morrow to the tune of a few feet outside and to the backstop. Eric Hinske, hitting for Ramirez, walked on four pitches, moving Ortiz to second. Wily Mo Peña, hitting for Drew, took a 3-0 pitch that grazed the inflated uniform of a turning-away Peña, loading the bases. Lowell was down 0-2 and grounded a 1-2 pitch to second to start a 4-6-3 double play, on which Ortiz scored and Hinske moved to third.
Varitek was up 3-1 and ended up going the other way with a full-count pitch, doubling into the leftfield corner to score Hinske easily.
Crisp flew out to Ichiro in rightcenter on the first pitch.

Morrow's line: 1 inning, 2 runs, 1 hit, 2 walks, 0 strikeouts, 27 pitches (11 strikes)

Sheesh, and we thought Morrow was shaky in his first outing back at the Safe. My goodness, what was this game for Morrow? He was all over the place, not that it helped that he'd seen every Mariner pitcher before him in the afternoon completely suck and throw pitches all over the place.

Alex Cora came in to play short for Lugo, Hinske stayed in to play left, and Peña stayed in to play right. Lopez took three straight pitches, all strikes. Ichiro was mowed down, whiffing late at a 2-2 fastball. Beltre got down 0-2 before whiffing on a 1-2 collar-high fastball inside. Beckett threw 12 pitches and had 72 through six.

Jason Ellison came in to play center for Ichiro, Willie Bloomquist came in to play third for Beltre, and Julio Mateo came in for Morrow. Pedroia took the second pitch to the warning track in front of the Boston bullpen (rightfield), but Guillen was able to run all the way back to make the catch. Cora lined out to Sexson at first on the first pitch. Youkilis fell behind 0-2 and boomed a 2-2 pitch that nearly cleared the Monster in left, and he was able to barely beat out a throw from Ibañez to get himself a double. Doug Mirabelli, hitting for Ortiz, fell to 0-2 before waving at a 2-2 breaking ball off the plate and low (the first-base umpire rung him up).

Mateo's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 14 pitches (10 strikes)

Vidro chopped to Cora at short past the edge of the leftfield grass, who planted and threw in time to get Vidro at first. Ibañez bounced a 1-2 pitch to first (3-1 putout). Sexson whiffed on a 2-2 fastball as Beckett retired the final 15 batters he faced.

Beckett's line: 7 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 0 walks, 8 strikeouts, 84 pitches (61 strikes)

Chris Reitsma came in for Mateo. Hinske was ahead 2-0 and ended up with a one-hopper off the leftfield scoreboard for a double (MLB.com shorted the at-bat by one pitch). Peña tapped the first pitch to second, where Lopez held Hinske at bay before throwing to first. Lowell swung on a high full-count pitch, flying out to Ibañez in center, and Ibañez was surprised Hinske took off from third, and his throw home was late. Remy in the booth was surprised they sent Hinske, but whatever, it's inconsequential since Boston had the game in the bag anyway.
Varitek tapped a ball down the third-base line that Reitsma came off the mound to field, fire, and get Varitek at first.

Reitsma's line: 1 inning, 1 run, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 16 pitches (9 strikes)

The semi-uncomfortable conversation between Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy in the booth about Remy looking like Robert Goulet made me wish Will Ferrell was there in his full Goulet garb to do his impression. GOU-let!

Brendan Donnelly came in for Beckett. Guillen took a first-pitch strike, then swung at the next two pitches. On his way to the dugout, Guillen jawed at Donnelly, took off his helmet, then took a couple steps toward the mound, at which point both benches emptied. The incident in the past that may have helped ignite this was that Guillen may have been the guy (when he played for Washington in a Nationals/Angels game) who tipped off Frank Robinson to call time and investigate Donnelly's glove for pine tar. Guillen was tossed from the game by plate umpire Phil Cuzzi at this point. Johjima had a 1-1 count (no inside pitches, and he whiffed horribly over the second pitch) when he was hit in the thigh, at which point Donnelly was tossed by Cuzzi as well.

Hideki Okajima came in for Donnelly, at which point the broadcast booth said that Boston manager Terry Francona had been tossed as well, though he didn't immediately leave the dugout, which was because someone in the press box had bad information as Francona was never actually tossed. Betancourt swung at a high 3-1 pitch, flying out to Peña near the rightfield line. Lopez whiffed on a 1-2 pitch well down and away.

Donnelly's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 5 pitches (4 strikes)
Okajima's line: 2/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 9 pitches (5 strikes)

I almost have to thank whoever incited that Guillen/Donnelly spat, since that was really the only eventful thing to happen since the first two innings since the game hadn't really had anything remotely suspenseful since those first couple innings. At this point, I also wondered who I could possibly nominate for the Gameball.

Ben Broussard came in to play right for Guillen, Jamie Burke came in to catch for Johjima, and JJ Putz came in for Reitsma to get in some work. Crisp was ahead 2-0 and on a 2-2 pitch hit a low liner to shallow left, but Ibañez came in to make a sliding catch. Pedroia rolled a 1-2 pitch to short. Cora rolled a 2-2 pitch to Lopez on the right side, who ranged way to his left to make the play.

Putz' line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 14 pitches (9 strikes)

Mike Timlin came in for Okajima. Ellison tossed away his bat after a 3-0 pitch he thought was ball four, but it was called a strike. On a 3-1 pitch, Ellison parachuted a ball down the rightfield line that dropped between three fielders for a single. Bloomquist watched the second pitch as Ellison took second on indifference. Bloomquist whiffed late at a 2-2 fastball down over the outside corner. Vidro flew out to Crisp in fairly deep center. Ibañez was ahead 3-1 and walked on a full count to delay the inevitable fate of the game. Sexson bashed the second pitch high off the far end (center) of the Monster for a double that scored Ellison and Ibañez.
Broussard dealt a mercy killing to the game, flying out to right (though with warning-track power) on the first pitch.

Timlin's line: 1 inning, 2 runs, 2 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 24 pitches (14 strikes)

Gameball: JJ Putz.
When the guy I pick for the gameball is a guy that merely threw a 1-2-3 ninth with his team down 11 runs, that pretty much lets you know what kind of game it was for the Mariners. I could have picked Richie Sexson, but he did strike out twice and the two RBIs were pretty inconsequential (not that the entire Putz inning wasn't inconsequential). Still, there aren't many places to go for the gameball in this one, especially considering the Mariners only scratched out two hits in Josh Beckett's seven innings (Johjima and Betancourt). Also, my usual gameball fallback in a crap game like this is to pick the middle reliever that eats up the most innings but doesn't give up a ton of runs and give up even more runs to put the game way way out of reach. Sure, I just gave the gameball to Putz since I usually do pick a Mariner player for both the Gameball and Goat paragraphs, but maybe the gameball here should just go to the weather in Boston for not being a complete snowstorm and therefore being suitable to play an actual game to completion. I forgot what that was like.

Goat: Jeff Weaver.
It was as easy to pick a goat for this game as it was hard to select a gameball. Rarely do I let myself pick obvious gameballs, but for the goat, I'll pick whoever, and this time it's all too obvious. Weaver needed all of 47 pitches to get through the first inning, and he was all over the place. The entire Boston starting lineup went to the plate in the first inning, and the Red Sox led by four at the end of the carnage. Weaver wasn't done yet, though, as he also came out for the second inning and gave up three more runs. The bad news about the Mariners having not played a full game since last Wednesday was that the team might come out rusty when they returned to playing again (that could certainly be said for the bats in this game, though Beckett threw a whale of a game). The good news is that the bullpen had more than enough rest to soak up innings after a starting pitching performance such as this, and they'd had enough time to recoup from Miguel Batista's atrocious performance last Wednesday as well.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2000 3-1 .750 -- W3
2001 3-1 .750 -- W2
2002 3-1 .750 -- W3
2006 3-1 .750 -- W3
2003 2-2 .500 1 W2
2005 2-2 .500 1 W1
2007 2-2 .500 1 L2
2004 0-4 .000 2 L4

Hernandez. Matsuzaka. Tonight.

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