Saturday, April 14, 2007


AP photo -- John Froschauer

[initial partial post]

In 25 words or less: Most of the time, I'm not thinking Jarrod Washburn is going to beat Kevin Millwood. This game was no exception.

This one featured Kevin Millwood going up against Jarrod Washburn. With the Mariners returning to Seattle, there was assurance that the Mariners would actually be playing games. The Mariners came into this game having played five games in the 2007 season. However, the Mariners also had a combined five games postponed due to inclement weather -- the four-game series in Cleveland, and a single game in Boston. How long such a layoff will affect the Mariners remains to be seen. Coming into this game, the only Mariner hitters in the starting lineup hitting above .250 were Jose Guillen (.267) and Kenji Johjima (.286). Granted, the Mariners had only played five games and three of those games were against pitchers who aren't exactly chop liver -- Rich Harden, Josh Beckett, and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Meanwhile, the Mariners' starting rotation isn't in too good a shape in most areas non-Felix. Jarrod Washburn had a not-too-bad first start against Oakland, and his second start would be in this game. Miguel Batista was an abomination in his first start, as was Jeff Weaver. Horacio Ramirez was shaky in his first appearance, though it was snowing and the game was later wiped from the books, so I'll say we're inconclusive on Ramirez.

Jerry Hairston, Jr. fell behind 0-2 and flew out to center on a 2-2 count. Ian Kinsler whiffed over a quite high 2-2 fastball. Michael Young dumped a 2-1 pitch just inside the rightfield line that Guillen probably should have had; it went for a single. Mark Teixeira was ahead 3-1 and ended up grounding out to third. Washburn threw 21 pitches.

Ichiro flew out to Hairston in rightcenter on the second pitch. Adrian Beltre flew out to fairly deep leftcenter. Jose Vidro lined an 0-2 pitch into shallow center that shorthopped Hairston for a single. Raul Ibañez pulled a high-and-inside pitch down the rightfield line and into the corner for a double to move Vidro to third. Richie Sexson whiffed over a full-count breaking ball. Millwood threw 17 pitches.

Sammy Sosa took a 2-2 fastball over the outside corner and walked back to the dugout. Hank Blalock fell behind 0-2 and popped a 1-2 pitch high to Beltre to the left of the mound. Nelson Cruz fell behind 0-2 and popped a 2-2 pitch to the rightfield rolled-up tarp that was run down by Sexson. Washburn threw 15 pitches and had 36 through two.

Jose Guillen popped a 2-2 pitch to short. Kenji Johjima poked an 0-2 pitch up the middle for a single. Yuniesky Betancourt lined the first pitch right to Kinsler at second, who threw to first to double off Johjima. Millwood threw nine pitches and had 26 through two.

Gerald Laird popped a 2-2 pitch high to Lopez moving backward into shallow rightcenter. Matt Kata was down 0-2 and dropped a 1-2 pitch into shallow rightcenter for a single. Hairston walked on four pitches. Kinsler broke his bat, grounding hard to the left side, where Beltre dove for it, had a bit of trouble coming up with it, then threw from a knee to first, but it was a bit wide and late and bounced away from Sexson, allowing Kata to score and Hairston to move to third (ruled a hit).
Young tapped the second pitch back to the mound and Washburn threw wide to second, where Betancourt had to reach across his body while sliding to tag second, causing the throw to first to be late and allowing Hairston to score and Kinsler to move to second.
Teixeira grounded a 2-0 pitch to third. Washburn threw 20 pitches and had 56 through three.

Little did we know at the time how vital the Mariners' failure to turn two double plays would be.

Jose Lopez lined the first pitch to first, where Teixeira climbed the ladder and made a leaping catch. Ichiro whiffed over an 0-2 curve in the dirt. Beltre flew out to the rightfield track on the second pitch. Millwood threw seven pitches and had 33 through three.

Sosa singled to right on the first pitch. Blalock bounced to short, where Betancourt started what should have been a 6-4-3 double play, but apparently Blalock beat the Lopez throw to first. Cruz bounced the second pitch to short for what really was a 6-4-3 double play. Washburn threw six pitches and had 62 through four.

Vidro worked an 0-2 count for a walk (amazingly). Ibañez was down 0-2 before flying out to shallow left on a 1-2 pitch. Sexson popped to Cruz near the rightfield line on a 2-2 count. Guillen bounced to third on the second pitch for a 5-4 force of Vidro at second. Millwood threw 18 pitches and had 51 through four.

Laird was down 0-2 and whiffed over a 1-2 breaking ball. Kata grounded the first pitch to Beltre a step away from the bag at third. Hairston stung an 0-2 pitch through the right side for a single. Kinsler took full advantage of Washburn's high pitch and flyball out fetish, crushing a high 2-0 pitch over the manual scoreboard in leftfield.
Young dropped a single into shallow center. Pitching coach Rafael Chaves visited the mound. Teixeira popped a 2-0 pitch to Sexson in front of the first-base camera well. Washburn threw 19 pitches and had 81 through five.

Johjima smoked the first pitch into left for a single. Betancourt tagged the second pitch up the middle for a single, moving Johjima to second. Lopez was down 0-2 and grounded a 1-2 pitch hard to third to start a 5-4-3 double play. Ichiro had the hitters' counts and walked on a 3-1 pitch inside. Beltre popped the second pitch to Cruz near the rightfield line. Millwood 14 pitches and had 65 through five.

Sosa tapped a 1-2 pitch to the mound. Blalock couldn't check his swing on a 2-2 pitch away. Cruz grounded a 3-1 pitch to short. Washburn threw 18 pitches and had 99 through six.

Okay, it happened again -- did anyone else out there have problems with MLB.tv completely missing the first hitter when coming back after a commercial break? I think two of Sosa's at-bats were completely missed when MLB.tv came back from a break. Hopefully they do realize that people shell out good money to see these games and the least we can ask for is to see the game feed that people in the teams' markets see.

Washburn's line: 6 innings, 4 runs (3 earned), 7 hits, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts, 99 pitches (61 strikes)

Vidro popped an 0-2 pitch to Hairston in leftcenter. Ibañez chopped a 1-2 pitch over the mound, and Kinsler ranged over to try to glove it to Young for a throw to first, but Young couldn't cleanly come up with it and it was probably a foolish idea anyway, and it was definitely a single. Sexson blistered the first pitch past Cruz and to the wall in rightcenter for a double and the relay throw home was a bit into the runner, though Laird nearly reached back and tagged Ibañez as he went by, but Ibañez barely beat the throw.
Guillen flew out to shallow center. Johjima was nicked by a 1-1 pitch that traveled a bit too far inside. Betancourt dribbled the second pitch to short, and Betancourt couldn't quite beat the throw to first. Millwood threw 17 pitches and had 82 through six.

Millwood's line: 6 innings, 1 run, 7 hits, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts, 82 pitches (56 strikes)

Julio Mateo came in for Washburn. Laird took an 0-2 pitch to the leftcenter track, where Ichiro ran it down. Kata served a 2-2 pitch into shallow center for a single. Hairston took Ibañez one step away from the leftfield wall, but it ended in a flyout. Kinsler worked a 1-2 count for a walk to move Kata to second. Young fell behind 0-2 and whiffed over a 2-2 breaking ball. Mateo threw 24 pitches.

Joaquin Benoit came in for Millwood. Lopez chopped the second pitch over a leaping Kinsler and into right for a single. Ichiro got behind 0-2 and whiffed badly over a 1-2 breaking ball down and away. Beltre put good wood on the second pitch, cranking it to deep center for a double to score Lopez. Benoit got a mound visit from the pitching coach.
Vidro whiffed over a 1-2 breaking ball down over the outer half. Ibañez grounded hard to second on the first pitch.

Benoit's line: 1 inning, 1 run, 2 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 13 pitches (10 strikes)

Teixeira flew out to fairly deep right on an 0-2 pitch. Sosa put a jolt into the first pitch and did somewhat of a Sosa Hop, but it was merely warning track power as Ibañez was able to make the catch in left.

George Sherrill came in for Mateo. Blalock grounded the second pitch hard to first, where Sexson dove to his left to make the play and slid in time into the bag at first, somewhat precariously as Blalock ran past.

Mateo's line: 1 2/3 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 28 pitches (19 strikes)
Sherrill's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 2 pitches (2 strikes)

Akinori Otsuka came in for Benoit. Sexson had the hitters' counts and grounded to Young's backhand side on a full count, and Young made the play to first. Guillen waved at and foul-tipped a 1-2 pitch into Laird's glove behind the plate for strike three. Johjima drilled a 2-1 pitch to the leftfield wall for a double. Betancourt grounded to short on the second pitch.

Otsuka's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 16 pitches (9 strikes)

JJ Putz came in for Sherrill. Cruz was ahead 3-1 but whiffed on full-count heat. Laird flew out to right on the first pitch. Kata worked a 1-2 count full and lined a fastball into the first row of seats in rightfield. If JJ won't give up his runs in save situations, they've got to come from somewhere...
Hairston whiffed on an 0-2 offspeed pitch.

Putz' line: 1 inning, 1 run, 1 hit, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 18 pitches (12 strikes)

Eric Gagne came in for Otsuka. Ben Broussard, hitting for Lopez, was ahead 2-0 and laid the bat out to get a 2-2 change and dropped it into rightcenter for a single. Ichiro got behind 0-2, and Broussard was lifted for pinch-runner Willie Bloomquist. Ichiro whiffed on a 1-2 pitch for his second three-strikeout game of the week (though a nice stat that Dave Sims brought up, it was actually two three-strikeout games, not three). Beltre grounded hard to third to start a 5-4-3 double play.

Gagne's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 13 pitches (9 strikes)

Gameball: Kenji Johjima.
It's early, as I keep saying, but a certain Mariner catcher is hitting .412. This game saw him go 3-for-3 with a double, two singles, and he was hit once by a Kevin Millwood pitch. However, it doesn't say much for the Mariners' night offensively if Johjima gets aboard four times and didn't drive in any runs or come around to score himself. He didn't score despite both Yuniesky Betancourt and Jose Lopez scratching out a hit apiece behind Johjima in the batting order. Again, I must stress that we're only six games into the season, but in the last three games, Johjima is 6-for-8 (.667) with three doubles. Amazingly, he's driven in only one run in this season, but that's more of a damning assessment of the hitters ahead of Johjima. As for Johjima version 2007, I have to say I'm a big fan of less balls not getting blocked as well as Felix Hernandez being completely dominant instead of dominant every once in a while. I remember when catcher was a completely dead offensive position for the Mariners, and now it's a real treat to see it contribute. As for going for the obvious gameball, I'm obviously not banking on Johjima going 3-for-3 very often, and I didn't want to write a paragraph about, gasp!, Julio Mateo.

Goat: Ichiro.
You know and I know and everyone knows that Ichiro's a big part of this offense. When he's in an 0-for-12 stretch, that's not so good. His game log reads almost like night and day -- he went 4-for-10 with a triple, walk, one little strikeout, and a couple of RBIs, but after the Cleveland non-series, he's 0-for-12 with one walk and eight strikeouts. He struck out three times in the Felix/Daisuke game and three times in this game, one that doesn't deserve a name. Ichiro is a fast runner, this we know. That's what makes it worse when he's striking out -- if he's striking out, that means he's making outs without making contact, and that means he can't use his speed to beat out the occasional slow roller for an infield single to plant the seeds for a rally. I know there's no way in hell this keeps up for a prolonged amount of time, and I know Ichiro at some point will get incredibly hot. That said, this is Ichiro's walk year (contractually -- he never walks at the plate), and he'll be a lot easier to let go if he hits more like Brian Hunter like he's done lately instead of Ichiro. The main reason I don't want to think about Ichiro leaving is because this team needed a legitimate leadoff hitter for such a long time before he got here, and it won't take long to feel the pinch after he's gone, if it comes to that.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 4-2 .667 -- L1
2000 4-2 .667 -- W1
2002 3-3 .500 1 L2
2003 3-3 .500 1 W1
2006 3-3 .500 1 L2
2007 3-3 .500 1 L1
2005 2-4 .333 2 L2
2004 1-5 .167 3 W1

Padilla. Batista. Today.

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