Saturday, April 14, 2007


AP photo -- Elaine Thompson

In 25 words or less: Miguel Batista writes a different storyline altogether for his second Mariner start, a polar opposite of the first.

This one featured Vicente Padilla going up against Miguel Batista. I don't know if something's changed this year or what, but I was able to get this Fox telecast on MLB.tv, which is good because the game going over the air in Hawaii was Houston/Philadelphia. It was also a Jamie Burke day behind the plate as he was catching the day game after Kenji Johjima's night game. I have to give a big hooray to baseball for starting the weekend Fox telecasts earlier than friggin' June. It's something that's been years overdue. Sure, it's Fox baseball coverage, but weekend free-TV baseball telecasts have been woven into the fabric of Americana for decades now, and I know that if I didn't have cable, I'd be ticked that the telecasts didn't start until June. I do remember life without cable -- I waited four weeks to get it when I moved into my current place, and boy, that was rough (I should add I didn't have internet either). Of course, now I'm spoiled and get ticked about things like having to punch four numbers into the remote to get a channel since they threw a bunch of HD channels into the 1000s.

Kenny Lofton punched the second pitch past the mound and into center for a single. Frank Catalanotto flew out to Ibañez in leftcenter on the second pitch. Michael Young fell behind 0-2 and took a 2-2 pitch for strike three, though Lofton was off with the pitch and easily stole second. Mark Teixeira popped very high to Beltre at third. Batista threw 16 pitches.

Ichiro popped up harmlessly to Lofton in shallow center with Kinsler nearly colliding with him on his way from the infield. Adrian Beltre rocked the first pitch for a Safeco Field fly ball, taking Sosa to the track in right. Jose Vidro grounded a 2-2 pitch to Blalock's left for a standard groundout. Padilla threw nine pitches.

Sammy Sosa was down 0-2 and rolled a 2-2 pitch to short. Hank Blalock whiffed on a 2-2 pitch in the dirt. Brad Wilkerson drove a 2-2 pitch to Ibañez in fairly deep leftcenter, who ran it down. Batista threw 15 pitches and had 31 through two.

Sun in Seattle is special. Sun in Hawaii is like the snow in the movie Fargo.

Raul Ibañez poked the ball just out of the reach of an outstretched Kinsler and into center for a single. Richie Sexson didn't get much for contact, popping to center, where Lofton made a sliding catch to hold Ibañez at first. Jose Guillen had both hitters' counts before taking a full-count pitch that sent Lofton a handful of strides short of the centerfield warning track. Yuniesky Betancourt swung at a much-too-high pitch, flying out to Kinsler on the infield grass. Padilla threw 16 pitches and had 25 through two.

Gerald Laird bounced a 3-1 pitch to Beltre behind the bag at third. Ian Kinsler took a low 3-1 pitch for a strike and ended up taking a high full-count breaking ball for a walk. Lofton checkswung at the first pitch but tapped it to the mound, where Batista threw to second, but Betancourt's throw to first couldn't beat the speedy-but-old Lofton. Catalanotto was up 2-0 and called time late with a 2-2 count on which Lofton would have had second base stolen easily. Catalanotto popped a full-count pitch to shallow left, where Ibañez charged in to make the sliding catch. Batista threw 20 pitches and had 51 through three.

Jose Lopez rolled a grounder up the middle for a single. Jamie Burke poked a 2-2 pitch down the rightfield line and into the corner for a double to move Lopez to second. Ichiro took the first pitch in his body armor covering the right elbow, loading the bases with nobody out. Beltre nubbed the second pitch toward the left side, where Blalock couldn't cleanly field it and it bounced away (error), allowing Lopez to score and the bases to remain loaded.
Vidro grounded the first pitch slowly to the right side for what looked like a tailor-made double-play ball, where Kinsler charged it but lost his footing and had the ball go off him and into rightfield (error), scoring Burke and Ichiro and moving Beltre to third.
Ibañez dumped a 2-2 pitch into shallow leftfield, where Wilkerson made a diving and rolling catch (it looked awkward), and Beltre tagged and scored on the play as Vidro stayed at first.
Sexson was ahead 3-1 and walked on an outside full-count pitch. Guillen was jammed on an 0-2 pitch, popping out to Young behind the bag at second. Betancourt got behind 0-2 and whiffed over a 2-2 breaking ball down over the outside corner. Padilla threw 34 pitches and had 59 through three.

Young was nailed with the first pitch, resulting in warnings for Batista and both benches. Teixeira bounced the second pitch to the right side, where Sexson threw a bit high to a covering Batista, and he had it roll a few feet away, resulting in everyone being safe. Sosa's first pitch got away from Burke behind the plate, but not far enough to advance runners. Sosa popped a 1-2 pitch to Guillen, who made the running catch near the rightfield line, but Young tagged and moved to third (Teixeira remained at first). Blalock slow-rolled the first pitch to second for a textbook 4-6-3 double play. Batista threw nine pitches and had 60 through four.

It's weird how quickly the top of the fourth became ominous and how quickly it was over. Baseball's a weird game sometimes.

Lopez swung at a too-inside first pitch, grounding out to a drawn-in Blalock at third. Burke grounded the second pitch to short. Ichiro bounced a 2-0 pitch through the right side for a single to snap an 0-for-14 slump. Beltre cranked a high 0-2 pitch into the visitors' bullpen in leftcenter, scoring Ichiro.
Vidro golfed the second pitch to left for a flyout. Padilla threw 11 pitches and had 70 through four.

Wilkerson fell behind 0-2 and drove a 2-2 pitch into the third row of rightfield seats.
Laird popped to Ichiro a few strides short of the track in front of the mass of inebriation in leftcenter as the roof began to close over the field at the Safe. Kinsler grounded routinely to short, though Sexson had to make the scoop at first. Lofton worked a 1-2 count full and tapped a ball back to the mound, where Batista got a glove on the ball, but it rolled behind the mound, enabling Lofton to reach first base. Catalanotto watched the second pitch go by as Lofton took off on the second pitch and had second base stolen easily. However, Catalanotto popped out on the next pitch (2-0), taking Guillen to the track in right. Batista threw 22 pitches and had 82 through five.

Ibañez rolled the first pitch up the middle, where Kinsler made a nice backhand play, then threw out Ibañez at first. Sexson walked on a high 3-1 pitch. Guillen got under the second pitch, flying out to Lofton in center as Sexson held at first. Betancourt was ahead 2-0 but later was jammed and popped out to shallow left. Padilla threw 12 pitches and had 82 through five.

Young was down 0-2 and whiffed over a 1-2 breaking ball down and away. Teixeira lined the second pitch that one-hopped in the rightfield corner and went over the wall for a ground-rule double. Sosa rocked the second pitch and did the Sosa hop, but this time it wasn't warning-track power, it was a homer into the third row of rightfield seats, scoring Teixeira.
Blalock got ahead 2-0 and whiffed on a 2-2 pitch down and away. Wilkerson got behind 0-2 and bounced a 2-2 pitch to Lopez on the right side. Batista threw 18 pitches and had 100 through six.

Lopez singled into center on the first pitch. Burke bounced out to short, though Lopez took off with the pitch, so there was only a 6-3 groundout. Ichiro scorched the second pitch for a low liner into right, but Sosa charged and made a sliding catch (of course, Lopez held at second). Beltre took a 2-0 pitch for a ball, and Laird came up throwing from behind the plate and nearly picked Lopez off of second. Beltre walked on a 3-1 pitch down and away. Vidro grounded to the right side, where Teixeira fielded the ball but had to run it to the bag to beat a sliding Vidro since Padilla wasn't running to cover the first-base bag. Padilla threw 15 pitches and had 97 through six.

Padilla's line: 6 innings, 6 runs (4 earned), 6 hits, 3 walks, 1 strikeout, 97 pitches (58 strikes)

Laird was up 3-1 but ended up grounding a full-count pitch hard to third, where Beltre took it in the chest and threw in time to first. This is where Eric Karros delivered the unsettling news that Beltre doesn't wear a cup in the field. Karros a few seconds later said, "his tools are unparalleled." Kinsler got ahead 3-1 but ended up taking a full-count pitch over the outside corner for strike three.

George Sherrill came in for Batista. Lofton worked a 1-2 count full and popped out to left. Sherrill threw seven pitches.

Well, I think it's fair to say Batista rebounded from his abhorrent previous start.

Batista's line: 6 2/3 innings, 3 runs, 5 hits, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, 112 pitches (66 strikes)
Sherrill's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 7 pitches (4 strikes)

CJ Wilson came in for Padilla. Ibañez took a 1-2 breaking ball down over the outer half. Sexson had a 3-0 count and took a full-count pitch inside. Guillen smoked the second pitch high to rightfield, where Sosa went back for it, but it barely got over the fence for Guillen's first homer as a Mariner, scoring Sexson.
Betancourt grounded the first pitch to Young in the hole on the left side, who made the play to first. Lopez tapped the second pitch out in front, where Wilson came out to field it, but his throw to first pulled Teixeira off the bag (error), and Teixeira couldn't get his foot down quite in time. Burke bounced the second pitch to third for a 5-4 force of Lopez at second. Wilson threw 18 pitches.

Wilson's line: 1 inning, 2 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 18 pitches (10 strikes)

Jason Ellison came in to play right for Guillen. Matt Kata came in to hit for Catalanotto. Mike Hargrove then came to the mound with the hook.

Chris Reitsma came in for Sherrill. Kata fell behind 0-2 and whiffed on a 2-2 change away. Young was down 0-2 and whiffed on a 2-2 pitch. Teixeira was ahead 3-1 and walked on a full-count pitch away. Sosa got too much top-half, grounding to short for a 6-4 forceout of Teixeira at second. Reitsma threw 20 pitches.

Reitsma's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 20 pitches (11 strikes)

Scott Feldman came in for Wilson. Ichiro popped the first pitch to Lofton in shallow leftcenter. Beltre rolled a 2-0 pitch under a diving Young into leftcenter for a single. Vidro lined out to shallow left on the first pitch. As the Fox crew went to Ken Rosenthal for some Ichiro-related rumors, a graphic popped up on the screen with the title of "Honey Nut Ichiros," which is both ingenious and a reach. Ibañez popped out to shallow left. Feldman threw nine pitches.

Feldman's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 9 pitches (5 strikes)

Brandon Morrow came in for Reitsma. Blalock parachuted a single into shallow center. Wilkerson bunted on the first pitch to try and get aboard, but it went foul. Wilkerson was up 3-1 foul-tipped a full-count 94mph fastball into Burke's glove behind the plate. Laird took a 2-2 pitch down over the outside corner on the tenth pitch of the at-bat. Kinsler was ahead 3-1 and whiffed on a full-count fastball.

Morrow's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts, 25 pitches (16 strikes)

Gameball: Miguel Batista.
After his first start, it would have been pretty hard for Batista to do much worse. This was his second start, another one against a division rival, and he actually looked like a half-competent pitcher out there. I would have settled for Batista getting into the sixth and giving up four runs, but he did better than that here, getting into the seventh and giving up three runs. He gave up eight groundouts against seven flyouts, though two fly balls did leave the field of play. Two home runs could be a lot worse if there were a bunch of people on base, but he only walked one batter and gave up five hits, so the damage was minimal. With this start, Batista shaved 6.69 runs off his ERA, bringing it down to a pedestrian 8.74 after two outings as a Mariner. Will this be the best start he has as a Mariner? I hope it isn't, though part of me wants to say it might be. I'm hoping this is merely a solid Batista outing, maybe an 8.5 on a 10 scale. I haven't watched enough Miguel Batista outings to know what a vintage Batista outing is, but if it's like this one, it's not too bad. He obviously wasn't too flashy, but he got the job done -- I'll settle for that after five years of no Mariners in the playoffs.

Goat: Jose Vidro.
If I was eating something or enjoying a beverage during the Fox telecast when Willie Bloomquist introduced the Mariner lineup and intro'd Vidro as a career .300 hitter from both sides of the plate, I'd have spit out the food/drink of the moment as a result, even with that being true. Vidro last hit .300 in 2003, if anyone was wondering. He hit .300 for five straight seasons from 1999-2003. He might pan out with this team, he might not. One thing I do know is that I'm incredibly uncomfortable with the guy batting third. I'd bump him down to fifth, so one through five would be Ichiro/Beltre/Ibañez/Sexson/Vidro/Guillen, etc. It would satisfy Mike Hargrove's lefty/righty thing. One could look at the boxscore today and think I'm full of crap since Beltre went 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs today, but I doubt anyone out there is going to think Beltre will see more good pitches to hit if Vidro is hitting behind him as opposed to Ibañez. If Beltre warmed up and he gets intentionally walked to send a .143-hitting Vidro to the plate, how does that help the Mariners? Yes, I know it's only been seven games and I know Beltre's only hitting .192 himself.

Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 5-2 .714 -- W1
2000 4-3 .571 1 L1
2002 4-3 .571 1 W1
2003 4-3 .571 1 W2
2007 4-3 .571 1 W1
2005 3-4 .429 2 W1
2006 3-4 .429 2 L3
2004 1-6 .143 4 L1

Hey, I've got more time to rant today...

Multi-hit games in this one belonged to Adrian Beltre, who had a homer and a single to balloon his batting average to .192, and Jose Lopez, whose led off both the third and sixth innings with singles. The third inning, of course, ended up being a four-run inning thanks to the Rangers' defensive non-prowess. The Mariners' 8-9-1-2 hitters combined to go 6-for-16 with three RBIs (all Beltre's), one walk, and the quartet scored six of the Mariners' eight runs on the day. The two remaining runs scored on Jose Guillen's homer, which scored Richie Sexson. I don't know if the Rangers had a game plan to not let Sexson beat them or what, but he walked three times in his 0-for-1 game. Of course, if Sexson is walking three times, that means he isn't striking out three times. If he can pound the ball and manage to be more patient, that'd be great for everyone, though that of course depends on who's hitting behind him, and for this game, Guillen did crank the one homer. Also, big congratulations to Jamie Burke on his first Mariner hit, providing almost as much excitement as Rene Rivera has in his entire tenure as a Mariner.

I've already written about Batista above, so now I'll get to the bullpen. George Sherrill, Chris Reitsma, and Brandon Morrow pitched got the last seven outs of the game and gave up only one hit and one walk, striking out five. Reitsma's walk came with two out, so that could have been worse (i.e., leadoff), but two of his three outs came via the strikeout. Morrow gave up a leadoff single, but struck out the next three hitters he faced to end the game. I have to say that although I don't really agree with the fact that Morrow is with the big club right now, I actually like that Hargrove is using him in fairly low-stress situations so his confidence doesn't get shattered if he takes some lumps here and there. The only time he's really gotten touched up this season was in the pasting in Boston, where Jeff Weaver had already let the game get out of hand. Lastly, George Sherrill was going to come out to start the eighth, but Hargrove yanked him. I know Sherrill can go way more than one hitter, but Hargrove decided long ago that Sherrill is his current Paul Assenmacher, so Sherrill's kinda been typecast by his manager. At least he's doing well in the role.

McCarthy. Ramirez. Tomorrow.

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