Saturday, April 07, 2007
Seattle MARINERS (2-1, 0-0 road) at Cleveland INDIANS (2-1, 0-0 home), 10:05a, MLB.tv; 4:05p, CW-11 KSTW/MLB.tv
Jeff Weaver (0-0) vs. CC Sabathia (1-0)
Felix Hernandez (1-0) vs. Brian Slocum (0-0)
Well, the first try of this game got snowed under. Let's hope they can get this one off so their schedule doesn't get too screwed up.
Does it seem like the Mariners haven't played a full game since Wednesday? It's true. I guess the bad thing is that although it doesn't show up in the record books, Horacio Ramirez won't be fresh for another few days, but more importantly for the Indians, Victor Martinez is on the disabled list. That's horribly unfortunate, but from the Mariners' point of view, he won't be driving in 30 runs for the series. The undisputed good thing would be that Adrian Beltre gets three errors vaporized from the books.
Anyway, long day coming up. Let's hope it's a good one.
[edit ~10:08a -- So I wake up to fire off this post really quickly, and I turn the television onto The Weather Channel, of all channels, and find out that the doubleheader's been postponed. Someday, someday, the Mariners might actually play their fourth game of the 2007 season.]
Friday, April 06, 2007
Seattle MARINERS (2-1, 0-0 road) at Cleveland INDIANS (2-1, 0-0 home), 1:05p, MLB.tv
Horacio Ramirez (0-0) vs. Paul Byrd (0-0)
Well, it's the first road game of the season for the Mariners as the schedulemakers figured the Mariners should just have a laundry stop in Seattle to start the season before heading to Cleveland.
Compared to the opening series at home, the Mariners will be playing in temperatures about 20 or 30 degrees cooler in Cleveland. My hope is that it doesn't get as cold as it did in Detroit, where Thursday's Blue Jays/Tigers game was postponed due to the cold. I remember one game a few yaers ago in Detroit where it was bitter cold and Aaron Sele threw one of his best games.
Anyway, this one is the first of four in Cleveland, and I'll be okay with a split since the Indians can actually be good, whereas the Mariners are the Mariners. I think this game would stand the second-best chance of a Mariner win next to the Felix game on Sunday. In other words, I don't see the Mariners beating Jake Westbrook or CC Sabathia. Of course, I thought the Mariners weren't going to win with Joe Blanton starting either, but they did.
In sum, if the Mariners are above .500 after this series, it's cause for mild celebration.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
In 25 words or less: Against Harden, the Mariners found it incredibly, um, difficult to put together any offense. Against Batista, the A's had a field day.
This one featured Victoria, BC's own Rich Harden going up against Miguel Batista. Unlike the night before, the roof was open to start the game. For Opening Day (on archived feed, anyway), MLB.tv left the local commercials on the telecast. Last night, I watched live feed and got no commercials, but with the addition of the soon-to-be-very-hated MLB.tv Arkanoid/Breakout animation commercial break thing. Today, it's one step worse -- no on-screen graphics. Boo. Congratulations to shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, who signed a three-year contract extension with a fourth-year option earlier today. He's come a long way in a relatively short amount of time. It wasn't too long ago when were wondering whether Jose Lopez would pan out at short and we might have actually been entertaining the thought of Mike Morse at short, then we read a little blurb about some Cuban defector who could play shortstop, but I know I figured I'd believe it when I saw it. Thus, with the exception of Jose Lopez, the Mariners' infield defense is locked up for the next couple years.
Before we get on with the game post here, I must say I'm almost looking forward to the nightly I'm-om-a-diet laments of Dave Sims when he has to read off the promo for the All-Star Suite and they start showing footage of the food that's served in the suite.
Jason Kendall was ahead 2-0 before flying out high to Ichiro in rightcenter. Shannon Stewart also started out 2-0 and lined a 2-2 pitch that shorthopped Batista's glove, but he knocked it down and made the play to first, after which Johjima made the obligatory mound visit to make sure everything was okay on Batista. Milton Bradley bunted too strongly on the first pitch, tapping back to the mound for an easy out. Batista threw ten pitches.
The FSNNW in-crowd camera showed a youngster wearing a Shaun Alexander jersey. Not that I need any more anticipation for next season's Seahawks or anything. I've pretty much used the last couple years of Mariner baseball for filler before the NFL season, but I'm hoping this baseball season is more enjoyable and meaningful. I want to feel like my three-hour-per-day investment in the Mariners is paying off.
Ichiro reached a bit down on the second pitch, looping it to Bradley in shallow rightcenter. Adrian Beltre couldn't square up a 1-2 pitch on the outer half, popping up to shallow right. Jose Vidro bounced out to second on the second pitch. Harden threw eight pitches.
The camera to the break showed the view of Elliott Bay from one of the overlooks at Safeco Field. Normally this isn't awe-inspiring, but if you haven't been in the Northwest for nearly two years, it's more so.
Mike Piazza ripped a first-pitch fastball into left for a single. Eric Chavez broke his bat but drilled the first pitch nonetheless, rattling it into the rightfield corner for a double, moving Piazza to third. Nick Swisher took a first pitch that nearly got away from Johjima, after which the latter visited the mound, though probably more so for signals with runners in scoring position. Swisher got ahead 2-0 and watched as a balk was called on the 2-2 pitch, allowing Piazza to cross the plate and Chavez to move to third.
»» ATHLETICS 1, MARINERS 0
Swisher whiffed on a full-count highish cut fastball as Batista did some moderate damage control. Bobby Crosby tapped the second pitch toward the mound and Batista pounced on it, but it was ruled foul. On the next pitch (0-2), Batista brushed Crosby back, but not far enough as it grazed Crosby, putting him on first. Travis Buck worked a 1-2 count for a walk to load the bases. Mark Ellis got a hitter-friendly second pitch over the outer half that went to the wall in leftcenter on a couple of hops for a bases-clearing double.
»» ATHLETICS 4, MARINERS 0
Kendall got ahead 3-1 and threw his bat at a full-count breaking ball away, dumping it into shallow right for a single to move Ellis to third. As Rafael Chaves visited the mound to see what in tarnation was going on with Batista, I must mention that the train whistles were blaring a lot louder and a lot more often during this half-inning. Stewart was ahead 2-0 but took a 2-2 curve over the inner half for strike three (Johjima's target was on the outside corner). Bradley broke his bat on the second pitch, parachuting it into rightcenter for a single to score Ellis and move Kendall to third.
»» ATHLETICS 5, MARINERS 0
Piazza looped the first pitch into shallow right, where Lopez moved back to snowcone the ball and make the catch. Batista's house of horrors consisted of 35 pitches, and he had 45 through two.
In the span of time it took to play out the second inning, Batista could have written a novel about how badly it went. It's a game like this that reminds you to check whether your middle relievers are well rested. Thank goodness the Mariners have an off day after this game so the bullpen will get some rest after this one, no matter what happens.
Raul Ibañez rode an 0-2 pitch to deep center, but Bradley easily ran it down just short of the warning track. Richie Sexson got ahead 2-0, fouled one off, then whiffed over two offspeed pitches. Jose Guillen grounded to short on the first pitch. Harden threw nine pitches for 17 through two.
YES! NIEHAUS TALKED TO CLYDE THE AFLAC DUCK TO START THE THIRD! Granted, there wasn't a semi-unintentional hilarious moment that usually comes with the Niehaus-Clyde introduction, but I always looked forward to this moment in the game.
Chavez popped high to Sexson near the first-base coaches' box in foul ground. Swisher grounded a bit hard to first, and Sexson took the high hop before taking it to the bag. Crosby tapped a ground ball along the third-base line that looked as if it would go foul but bounced fair, that leveled off at a lip of grass in front of the third-base bag, staying fair as Beltre had stayed back on the ball; end result was that Crosby got aboard with an infield single. Buck whiffed over a 2-2 change. Batista's less laborious inning saw him throw 13 pitches for a total of 58 through three.
Kenji Johjima whiffed over a 1-2 breaking ball. Yuniesky Betancourt scorched a liner to the left side, but Chavez moved a step or two to his left and threw his glove up in time to snare it. Jose Lopez hopelessly whiffed on a 2-2 fastball that was riding up and in on him. Harden threw 12 pitches and had 29 through three.
I guess the good news is that the Mariners have gotten Harden to increase his per-inning pitch count in each inning. Of course, they have to ramp it up to a sufficient extent to get into the Oakland bullpen. Going into the fourth, Dave Sims comes into the booth and notes that Harden is perfect through three. Why would it be otherwise?
HEY, THEY GOT US THE FEED WITH THE ON-SCREEN GRAPHICS! YIPPEE!
Ellis flew out high to center on a full count. Kendall rolled a 2-2 pitch to short. Stewart stung the second pitch through the legs of Batista and into center for a single, the second time Stewart hit a ball to the mound. Bradley blistered the second pitch into the rightcenter gap for an easy double that scored Stewart. I think we can officially file Batista's Mariner debut under the term of "crappy."
»» ATHLETICS 6, MARINERS 0
Piazza stood with a 1-2 count as Batista was called for yet another balk, pretty much on the same move as the other balk, moving Bradley to third. Luckily, Piazza took the next pitch, a breaking ball over the inside corner, for strike three. Batista threw 20 pitches and had 78 through four.
Let me pass along my completely unpaid endorsement for Cheez-Its of the white cheddar variety. Them's some good snackin'. Sometimes I just can't put those things down, and that's bad, but that's what makes it so good.
Ichiro served a low-and-away 0-2 change into shallow leftcenter for a vintage Ichiro single, breaking up Harden's perfect game. Beltre fouled off three 2-2 pitches before grounding too hard to short to start a 6-4-3 double play. Vidro mysteriously walked on four pitches. Ibañez dumped a single into leftcenter to move Vidro to second. Sexson took a monster hack to miss the first pitch. Sexson got under a high 0-2 pitch, popping up harmlessly to Ellis on the infield dirt. Harden threw 24 pitches had 53 through four.
You know, optimism is nice and I want the Mariners to do great and all that good stuff, but at this point I've pretty much given up on the Mariners winning this game. How much of a chance do you realistically have when you spot Rich Harden a 5-0 lead in the second inning? That's a tall mountain to climb.
Chavez got under the second pitch, flying out to Lopez, who'd moved back into shallow right. Swisher walked on a 3-1 pitch that was about a foot outside and high. Crosby walloped an offspeed second pitch, roping it into leftcenter for a single to move Swisher to third. Buck fouled a 3-1 pitch off his front foot, bringing him to the ground in moderate pain. Buck took the next pitch for strike three, though Crosby beat a throw to second on the play. Ellis tagged the next pitch into left for a single, scoring Swisher and Crosby easily as the rout was officially on. It's just not going to be good if Batista doesn't find a way to get Ellis out this season.
»» ATHLETICS 8, MARINERS 0
Sean White, making his Major League debut, came in for Batista. Kendall lined the second pitch off of White, but it chopped high to Lopez, who played the carom and threw in time to first. White threw two pitches.
Batista's line: 4 2/3 innings, 8 runs, 10 hits, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts, 94 pitches (58 strikes)
Guillen whiffed on a belt-high 0-2 fastball. Johjima smacked the second pitch, but it only took Bradley to the warning track in center. Betancourt got ahead 2-0, whiffed on a 2-1 change, then had no chance on a 2-2 letter-high fastball at which he waved. Harden threw ten pitches and had 63 through five.
Stewart took a 1-2 pitch off his left forearm and went to first. Bradley took the first pitch in the dirt, and it went off Johjima's glove and away from the plate, moving Stewart to second. Bradley flew out to fairly deep left on the second pitch. Piazza grounded the second pitch behind the bag at third, where Beltre got set in foul ground and threw in time to first, getting Piazza by a step and a half (it helps that Piazza is molasses-slow) as Stewart stayed at second. Chavez had both hitters' counts and took the 3-1 pitch down and in the dirt for a walk. Swisher also had the hitters' counts, but he got the top half of a full-count pitch, putting it into rightfield for a single to score Stewart and move Chavez to third.
»» ATHLETICS 9, MARINERS 0
Marco Scutaro, hitting for Crosby, got ahead 3-1, but grounded back to the mound on a full count. White threw 25 pitches and had a total of 27.
Lopez grounded the first pitch routinely to short, but Scutaro took his eye off the ball on a long hop, and it went off his glove and over him (error), allowing Lopez to reach. Ichiro walked on four pitches, moving Lopez to second. Beltre had the hitters' counts before foul-tipping a full-count pitch into Kendall's glove behind the plate. Vidro bounced the second pitch to second for exactly what Oakland wanted, a tailor-made 4-6-3 double play. Can we please move Vidro out of the three-slot now? I don't want to sit through another week of this before Hargrove wises up and moves him. Harden threw 14 pitches and had 77 through six.
Ben Broussard came in to play first for Sexson. Buck fell behind 0-2 and took a nice 1-2 breaking ball for strike three. Ellis got ahead 2-0 before flying out to fairly deep right. Kendall looped the first pitch and lofted it into the glove of Lopez. White threw ten pitches and had a total of 36.
Ibañez tagged a low liner into center that Bradley let up on once he realized he couldn't make a diving catch; Ibañez stood on first for the single. Broussard bounced the first pitch to Scutaro charging from short, who underhanded to Ellis for the out on Ibañez, but there was no double play as the slide by Ibañez thwarted any such threat, as did the slow speed with which the ball was hit. Guillen swung but was mowed down on a high 2-2 fastball. Johjima was jammed and rolled a 2-2 pitch to short.
Harden's line: 7 innings, 0 runs, 3 hits, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts, 94 pitches (64 strikes)
Willie Bloomquist came in to play center for Ichiro. Stewart smoked a 1-2 pitch through the middle for a single. Bradley whiffed on a first-pitch breaking ball, though it got through Johjima and went to the backstop, moving Stewart to second. Bradley rode a healthy fly ball to deep center, turning Bloomquist around, but he got under it to make the catch as Stewart moved to third. Piazza got way under the first pitch, popping to Johjima near the plate, just in fair territory. Chavez rolled the first pitch to short.
By the way, it's always great when the MLB.com Gameday feature gets stuck, and I'm not talking about the times when the Flash Player add-on makes the application blow up on my computer. I'm talking about the times when it's an inning behind, you refresh it, and the thing's still an inning behind. Right now, it's at the seventh-inning stretch, and it's the middle of the eighth as I type this.
White's line: 3 1/3 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 47 pitches (29 strikes)
Jay Marshall came in for Harden. Betancourt grounded the second pitch into the hole on the left side, but Scutaro ranged over to make the play. Lopez tapped the second pitch a few feet in front of the mound, where Marshall fielded it and made the play to first. Bloomquist chopped the second pitch to second.
Marshall's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 5 pitches (4 strikes)
Jamie Burke came in to catch for Johjima and George Sherrill came in for White. Swisher laced a single into left. Scutaro took a 2-2 fastball over the inside corner for strike three. Buck got ahead 3-0 and walked on a 3-1 pitch. Ellis flew out to right, sufficiently deep to move Swisher to third. Kendall chopped a 1-2 pitch over the middle, where Lopez moved to his right to glove it and make the off-balance throw to first.
Sherrill's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 20 pitches (12 strikes)
Huston Street came in for Marshall. Beltre worked the count full before whiffing on a slider about four inches off the plate and low. Vidro whiffed over a 2-2 breaking ball. It should be noted that Sims made a Meat Loaf reference during Vidro's at-bat for the fact that two out of three ain't bad. Ibañez popped the 3-1 pitch to Chavez in foul ground to put a merciful end to the game.
Street's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 18 pitches (10 strikes)
Gameball: Sean White.
One of the standbys that I like to use in a game where the Mariners get soundly whipped is to give the gameball to the long reliever that eats up innings and doesn't do too badly doing it. White did exactly that in this game, mopping up Batista's mess in the fifth, and getting it all the way to George Sherrill's first appearance of the season in the ninth. In all, White faced 14 batters and got ten outs. Two of the non-outs were hits, one was a walk, and the other was a hit batsman (Shannon Stewart on a 1-2 pitch to lead off the sixth). Just a gameball for a decent stint with some garbage innings, that's all. Really, that's not bad at all for a Major League debut, and I'll take that considering he did throw a ton of pitches in that sixth inning. Still, I'll watch White's sixth inning five times over before watching Batista's second inning in this game. After watching the second game of this series and seeing Julio Mateo come in and blow a three-run lead, I wondered aloud what the options in the bullpen were when it came to long relief. I got somewhat of an answer in this game. I want to see some more of this guy before I decide whether I think the team can really use him. Let's hope this Rule 5 guy is someone who helps the team rather than someone that's dead weight on Lou Piniella's bench.
Goat: Miguel Batista.
I guess the good news for Batista after this game is that the only way it can get worse is if he gives up ten runs in three innings and gets completely shelled. It doesn't take a wizard to point out that his best innings were his scoreless (first and third), and he got blasted in the second inning. He had no command of his pitches, to say the least, and of course, I took the opportunity to make a gag about the fact that he's written a novel. Sure, Batista has the rest of the season to prove himself, but any Mariner fan couldn't help but sit there with the sobering thought that the guy on the mound was the Mariners' #3 starter, which is almost as scary as the fact that Jarrod Washburn is the #2 starter. Of course, we have to keep in mind that what's better about the rotation this year isn't the fact that Miguel Batista, Horacio Ramirez, and Jeff Weaver are in the rotation, it's the fact that Joel Piñeiro and Gil Meche aren't in the rotation. So remember, fans, each time you see Batista, Ramirez, and Weaver out there, just tell yourself that's it's not Meche or Piñeiro, and everything should be all better.
Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2000 2-1 .667 -- W1
2001 2-1 .667 -- W1
2002 2-1 .667 -- W2
2006 2-1 .667 -- W2
2007 2-1 .667 -- L1
2003 1-2 .333 1 W1
2005 1-2 .333 1 L2
2004 0-3 .000 2 L3
Well, the undefeated season was great while it lasted. Taking two of three against Oakland to start the season is great, and matching the team's win total of last year's season series against the A's is a good thing too. The other way you could rationalize this stomping is that the Mariner arms in the series held them to four runs (all in the second game) in the series, and finally the A's bats got mad and opened up a can. Add it all up and Oakland averaged a little over four runs a game. Meanwhile, the Mariners scored 12 runs in the series to average exactly four runs a game. Four runs a game might get you wins on some nights, and on some nights it won't. With the Mariners' starting pitching, yikes. That said, the Mariners scored four runs in the Felix game and eight in the second game before they ran into the Rich Harden buzzsaw in this game, so maybe there isn't a problem. It's still too early to tell. The good news is that everyone in the starting lineup has a hit this season. The bad news is that Beltre, Vidro, and the bottom third of the lineup aren't hitting that much. Again, it's early, I know.
There really aren't too many things to talk about when it comes to this game. Rich Harden was great, Miguel Batista was bad, roll credits, the end. Harden's contract has a club option for 2009. Why do I bring this up? Barring injury, the Mariners have to face him that many times a season until 2008 or 2009. I was going to say this would mean Harden would price himself out of Oakland's range, but then I remembered the new ballpark was going up in Fremont (the one in California, not Solstice Parade Fremont). I guess in the large scope of things, I wish Bill Bavasi would go and Howard Lincoln would somehow relinquish his post (that's the only way I think the organizational outlook changes), because unless Billy Beane has mo' problems if he has mo' money to work with, the Mariners will be in deep crap for decade when it comes to the AL West division. I just pulled up a page with facts about the new A's park, it will only seat around 30000 to 34000. What does that mean? That means they'll have to have high ticket prices to make up for the 10000 less-than-usual seats, unless they plan to let Beane continue to work with small payrolls.
The Mariners get one travel day and play in the cold in Cleveland tomorrow and on through Sunday. Color me a bit scared of this series. I say a split is passable.
Ramirez. Byrd. Tomorrow.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Oakland ATHLETICS (0-2, 0-2 road) at Seattle MARINERS (2-0, 2-0 home), 7:05p, FSNNW/MLB.tv
Rich Harden (0-0) vs. Miguel Batista (0-0)
My goodness, this could be a sweep. Imagine that. A sweep would be the quickest way to right some of the wrongs caused by losing 15 of 17 against the A's last season. I'm definitely not expecting Miguel Batista to light it up like Felix Hernandez, that's for sure, and hopefully this game isn't quite as semi-frustrating as the one last night. By that I mean I don't want to be watching Mariners' middle relievers blow a three-run lead in the seventh. Not good.
Might three be the magic number?
[posted in full ~11:51p]
In 25 words or less: Any pitching performance that could be considered offensive was quashed by an offense that put eight runs on the board.
This one featured Joe Blanton going up against Jarrod Washburn. With Felix Hernandez having thrown so well the night before, it was hard to temper the excitement 24 hours later, knowing that the four other starters in the Mariners' rotation aren't Felix Hernandez, and that Joe Blanton and Rich Harden were the two remaining Oakland starting pitchers in the series. Still, the thought of a second win was truly alluring. In fact, the Mariners have never won two straight to start the season in this decade. In a smaller scope, a win would equal the Mariners' total win output last season against Oakland, which is sad. The last time the Mariners took a series from the A's was in September of 2005. A second win would only make the Mariners 2-0 on the season, which isn't much, but it's a whole hell of a lot better than starting out 0-2. The roof was closed before the game. The Athletics wore their spring training tops. Okay, they're the alternate jerseys, I just like to call any jersey that's a color other than white or gray a spring training top. Big ups to Marine Sgt. Eddie Wright delivering the ball to the mound for the first pitch. That was good stuff.
Unfortunately, MLB.tv didn't come back to us with another night of Seattle-area commercials, which was sad. Instead, we get the Arkanoid/Breakout "Commercial is in progress" animation. It's only been one day and I'm already sick of it.
Jason Kendall nubbed one off of Washburn and up the middle, where Lopez ranged to his right to make the putout. Shannon Stewart took an 0-2 pitch off the outside corner before popping out high to center on a 2-2 count. Milton Bradley popped a 2-0 pitch down the rightfield line that went just past the reach of Sexson in foul territory, probably one he should have had, though he did have to negotiate the presences of Lopez and Guillen also converging on the ball. Bradley ended up shoveling his full-count pitch into shallow center for a single. Mike Piazza walked on four pitches to move Bradley to second. Eric Chavez whiffed over his second pitch to snap Washburn's streak of balls (who laughed?) at five. Chavez flew out to Ichiro in fairly deep leftcenter on a 2-2 pitch. Washburn threw 23 pitches in an inning that seemingly never ended.
Ichiro tapped a 1-2 pitch to a drawn-in Chavez at third. Adrian Beltre got too much under a pitch, flying out to Bradley in fairly deep rightcenter. Jose Vidro bounced up the first-base line to Swisher behind the bag. Blanton threw 11 pitches.
Nick Swisher chopped a 2-2 pitch to Beltre in front of the bag at third, and he threw to first, where Sexson took the throw away from the bag but had Swisher run into the tag. Bobby Kielty had both hitters' counts and walked on a low 3-1 pitch. Bobby Crosby got ahead 3-1 and went the other way, singling a full-count pitch over the glove of Lopez and into rightcenter to move Kielty to third. Mark Ellis flew out deep enough to right to score Kielty from third.
»» ATHLETICS 1, MARINERS 0
Kendall watched with a 1-0 count as Washburn picked Crosby off of first. Washburn threw 25 pitches and had 48 through two.
Raul Ibañez ripped the second pitch right to Swisher, who had it eat him up and bounce away for a single. Richie Sexson worked a 1-2 count full and got the wood out, homering into the first row in rightfield.
»» MARINERS 2, ATHLETICS 1
Jose Guillen whiffed on a high 1-2 fastball. Kenji Johjima stung a ball through the mound that went off of Blanton and rolled back, where Ellis ranged to his right to glove it and make the play. Yuniesky Betancourt was up 3-0 before grounding hard to third, where Chavez got dirty going to his knees to his left to make the grab. Blanton threw 21 pitches and had 32 through two.
Kendall broke his bat on a second-pitch nubber back to the mound. Stewart flew out lazily to center on a 1-2 pitch. Bradley popped an 0-2 pitch in front of the mound, where Sexson called off everyone less vertically inclined and made the catch. Washburn threw nine pitches and had 57 through three.
Jose Lopez rolled to short on the second pitch. Ichiro bounced out to Swisher near the bag at first. Beltre couldn't check his swing on a high 0-2 fastball. Blanton threw nine pitches and had 41 through three.
Piazza got his arms extended on a decent pitch to hit but flew out to left on the second pitch. Chavez whiffed on a highish 1-2 change. Swisher walked on a full count. Kielty was down 0-2 and rolled a 2-2 pitch to Lopez, who went the short way and tossed to Betancourt for the out on Swisher. Washburn threw 18 pitches and had 75 through four.
Vidro rolled a 2-0 pitch to short. Ibañez whiffed on a 1-2 fastball. Sexson took a 3-1 pitch off the plate outside that was called a strike before whiffing on a change off the plate away. Blanton threw 13 pitches and had 54 through four.
Crosby grounded to Sexson, who tossed to a covering Washburn at first. Ellis grounded a full-count pitch routinely to third. Kendall rode a fly ball for which Ichiro had to go a few steps back and to his right before making the catch. Washburn threw 14 pitches and had 89 through five.
Guillen drilled the first pitch, reaching the leftfield wall in front of the manual scoreboard on one bounce for a double. Johjima dumped a pitch into rightfield that Kielty was short for on the dive, and it bounced off him into foul territory in rightfield, allowing Guillen to score from second and Johjima ended up on second at the end of the play.
»» MARINERS 3, ATHLETICS 1
Betancourt tapped the first pitch back to the mound, but Blanton got it and ran at Johjima off of second, eventually recording the out, though Betancourt snuck into second as all this was going on. Lopez popped an 0-2 pitch high to Ellis behind the mound. Ichiro served a 3-1 pitch past the glove side of Crosby and into leftcenter for a single to easily score Betancourt from second.
»» MARINERS 4, ATHLETICS 1
Beltre whiffed on a high 0-2 fastball. Blanton threw 16 pitches and had 70 through five.
Stewart flew out lazily to center. Bradley absolutely unloaded on a belt-high second-pitch fastball, depositing it into the Mariner bullpen.
»» MARINERS 4, ATHLETICS 2
Piazza golfed a 2-2 pitch into shallow left, but Betancourt moved way back and nearly was run into by Ibañez, but Betancourt made the catch. Chavez fell behind 0-2 and took a 1-2 fastball probably six inches off the plate outside that was called a strike. I'll take it. Washburn threw 15 pitches and had 104 through six.
Washburn's line: 6 innings, 2 runs, 3 hits, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts, 104 pitches (62 strikes)
Vidro was ahead 2-0 but nonetheless swung over a 2-2 breaking ball down and in. Ibañez whiffed on a high 1-2 offspeed pitch. Sexson flew out high to right on the second pitch. Blanton threw 11 pitches and had 81 through six.
Julio Mateo came in for Washburn. Swisher stung the second pitch over the right side for a single. Kielty fell behind 0-2 and bounced a 2-2 pitch to the right side that was too close to first base for Lopez to turn two, so he went to first for the easy out as Swisher moved to second. Crosby flew out to right on the second pitch, then Guillen tried to show off his strong arm by throwing to third, and he nearly airmailed everyone, though Betancourt got a glove on it and Beltre had to scurry to run it down. Ellis laced a single into shallow left to score Swisher. This was enough to warrant a visit to the mound for Rafael Chaves.
»» MARINERS 4, ATHLETICS 3
Kendall clubbed a double to the base of the wall in rightcenter to score Ellis, and even more easily after Guillen couldn't come up with the ball cleanly. How does everyone feel about Julio Mateo?
»» ATHLETICS 4, MARINERS 4
Stewart weakly lined an 0-2 pitch to second. What an agonizing inning.
Mateo's line: 1 inning, 2 runs, 3 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 17 pitches (14 strikes)
Blanton came out to warm up, but he was pulled.
Kiko Calero came in for Blanton. Guillen hit a ball nearly off the ground to short that Crosby got to, but his throw pulled Swisher off the bag, though the play went as a single. Johjima got too far under a pitch, popping high to Crosby in shallow center. Betancourt got a hold of a 2-0 pitch, cranking it into the Mariner pen. A power surge from Betancourt! Whod've thunk it?
»» MARINERS 6, ATHLETICS 4
Lopez poked the next pitch into shallow right for a single.
Justin Duchscherer came in for Calero. Ichiro drove the second pitch into the gap in rightcenter, nearly bouncing it into the stands, but it's a good thing it didn't get into the stands, or Ichiro would have only had a double instead of the triple he actually got. Anyway, Lopez scored on the play. Insurance!
»» MARINERS 7, ATHLETICS 4
Beltre flew out to Kielty in somewhat shallow right, but Ichiro took off from third anyway and the throw home was a bit up the line.
»» MARINERS 8, ATHLETICS 4
Vidro bounced the first pitch to Swisher, who played the chop and underhanded to a covering Duchscherer.
Blanton's line: 6 innings, 4 runs, 5 hits, 0 walks, 7 strikeouts, 81 pitches (54 strikes)
Calero's line: 1/3 inning, 3 runs, 3 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 10 pitches (6 strikes)
Duchscherer's line: 2/3 inning, 1 run, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 4 pitches (4 strikes)
Chris Reitsma came in for Mateo. Bradley flew out routinely to center on a 2-2 pitch. Piazza took a 93mph 2-2 pitch over the outer half for strike three. Chavez fell behind 0-2, took a 1-2 pitch just high, and ended up popping to Johjima in foul ground after golfing too much on a changeup.
Reitsma's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 15 pitches (9 strikes)
Alan Embree came in for Duchscherer. Ibañez tapped a 3-1 pitch back to the mound for an easy 1-3 putout. It was at this point that Brandon Morrow started throwing in the pen, possibly to come in with a four-run lead or more. Sexson popped a 2-2 pitch to Ellis in very shallow right. Guillen popped a 1-2 pitch to Swisher in foul ground, who backpedaled and made the catch in front of the rolled-up tarp before falling onto it. Embree threw 14 pitches.
Embree's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 14 pitches (8 strikes)
Jason Ellison came in for Guillen to play right, and Brandon Morrow, making his Major League debut, came in for Reitsma. Swisher walked on four pitches. Kielty spanked a 2-2 pitch over the left side for a single, moving Swisher to second. Chaves visited the mound. Crosby got ahead 2-0 but ended up flying out to Lopez backing into shallow rightcenter as the runners held. Ellis took a first-pitch fastball a couple feet outside that nearly evaded Johjima. Ellis put a good jolt into a fly ball, getting it to Ichiro in fairly deep leftcenter, enough to move Swisher to third (luckily the park is big and the air is thick). Kendall watched a first-pitch ball as Kielty scooted to second on indifference. Kendall rolled a 1-2 pitch to second to end Morrow's Major League debut.
Morrow's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts, 21 pitches (10 strikes)
It was more of a banner night for Yuniesky Betancourt and Brandon Morrow, so I'll give the gameball to Ichiro, who had a multi-hit game that wasn't going to grab a lot of headlines. Of course, I realize full well that this gives me a chance to talk at length about Ichiro, so off I go. Ever since Mike Cameron left, I thought Ichiro should have been moved to center. Randy Winn was a solid leftfielder, no question, but it only took about three games into the 2004 season (a slew of doubles in the gaps) for everyone to realize how much ground Mike Cameron covered (in combination with his predecessor, they spoiled Seattle fans with great centerfield play for over a decade). I got into an argument with a guy in the Richie Sexson autograph line at the 2005 FanFest over Ichiro's placement in the outfield, with the other guy taking Ichiro in rightfield (put the best arm there) and me taking Ichiro in center (covers the most ground). Of course, the Mariners found a way for both this year, since Jose Guillen has always had a rocket of an arm. Onto something somewhat related, my snap judgment on the Ichiro contract situation is to let him walk since the team's done nothing (sans 2001) with him. On the other hand, I ask myself where the Mariners (especially with current management) would get another leadoff hitter worth any salt. The Mariners had years of lackluster leadoff hitting before Ichiro came along. Maybe Ichiro can walk and Adam Jones can set the world on fire or something. I just know they'd have to throw a ton of money at Ichiro, and there are still holes on this team.
Goat: Julio Mateo.
Who remembers old Mateo? Who remembers 6th or 7th inning, shutdown Mateo? Yes, those were the days. Now, it's no telling what you're going to get, just that the ratio of good to bad won't be anywhere near what you might want or expect out of a pitcher in this role. Here, Mateo was brought into the seventh to protect a three-run lead and hopefully bridge the gap from Washburn to someone in the back end of the pen or directly to JJ Putz himself. Instead, Mariner fans bore witness to 21 pitches of pure agony. A root canal may be been more preferable than watching what unfolded in the top of the seventh. Luckily for Mateo, the Mariner bats also got stretched along with the fans after the top half of the inning. I'd have to do a pretty thorough check through the archives to find out whether or not I've ever given the goat to the winning pitcher. I guess it wouldn't be so bad if Mateo wasn't what he was three or four years ago if they had long relief options other than Sean White or a Arthur Rhodes with the tank much closer to E than it used to be. I'm just not too enthused about the long relief situation on this team, especially given that four of the five pitchers in the starting rotation aren't named Felix Hernandez.
Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2007 2-0 1.000 -- W2
2000 1-1 .500 -- W1
2001 1-1 .500 -- L1
2002 1-1 .500 -- W1
2005 1-1 .500 -- L1
2006 1-1 .500 -- W1
2003 0-2 .000 1 L2
2004 0-2 .000 1 L2
I guess the most surprising thing for me is that no team this decade has started out winning their first two games, not even the 2001 team. Of course, that 2001 team got off to a 20-4 start, but 2-0 is at least good for a series win. Against Oakland. The A's are a team against whom the Mariners have been historically horrid for just about every year I can remember other than 2001 and maybe a couple years surrounding it. I remember being back at my parents' house one midweek summer afternoon when Dennis Eckersley came into the game to close and the Mariners were just hopeless. There was nothing they could do, the game was in the bag. In this game, I figured once Mateo blew the three-run lead, the A's bullpen would hold Seattle down and scratch out a couple of runs for the win.
The bottom of the seventh inning was the eventful one, needless to say. Jose Guillen got aboard on the throw that pulled Swisher off the bag at first, so the inning started innocently enough. Then after Kenji Johjima blew the bunt, Mike Hargrove put on the hit-and-run, which I think is a bit flawed. Johjima has a pretty good tendency to pull the ball. With the hit-and-run on and a righty at the plate, you want someone that can ground the ball through the hole on the right side. To me, this is doubly bad in the hands of Johjima because he pulls the ball, and if you get a ground ball, the most it'd do would be to freeze that runner at second, but if it's hit too hard, it's a ground-ball double play. Johjima flew out, of course, and Guillen ended up having enough time to scurry along back to first base.
Right after Johjima blew the hit-and-run, of course, Yuniesky Betancourt got a fastball up in the zone and turned on it to all but win the game. Sure, he hit eight homers last year, but you see a homer like that and wonder how much he might have in him this season. It also makes me wonder...if Betancourt matches the numbers he had last season, I don't think there's any way he stays in the eighth slot all year. For instance, until Jose Vidro unsucks, I think the lineup is going to get shuffled or tweaked, and maybe you might see Betancourt moved up in the lineup. I just have a feeling he'd be better utilized in a spot other than eighth. While we're on the topic of lineups, moving Jose Lopez to the third slot last season was great for Adrian Beltre, sure, but boy, was it bad for Lopez, who underwent a half-season-long power outage.
Brandon Morrow made his Major League debut, and 'twas a jittery one. Quite the adventure, it was. He threw 11 balls and ten strikes, but the first four of those balls were to the first hitter, possibly the leftover work of the now-infamous Vegas Club Sandwich. You know how people saw Justin Verlander the first time and said he throws an "easy" 101mph, then you see him and pretty much confirm it for yourself? To me, Morrow looks like he throws an easy 94-96mph. I think if he stays up for more than a month and a half, then that'll just smack at the desperation that management has toward making the playoffs. If Morrow gets lit up in two straight appearances, I'll be intrigued to see what kind of stance Hargrove takes. Morrow's going to take his lumps, and hopefully the fact that it'll be on the Major League level won't shake his confidence too much. Or maybe they just decide to ride him out for a year like they did with Felix and put on the kid gloves in terms of innings. I just get the feeling that I'd rather hear of him tearing it up in West Tenn (weird not saying San Antonio anymore) or Tacoma before hearing that he's struggling in the bigs.
I guess two other tidbits I want to mention are that Washburn stretched it out when I wouldn't think he would, and the Mariner bats managed to throw eight runs onto the board.
-- Jarrod Washburn had thrown 48 pitches through two innings, and it seemed at the time he'd be lucky to get out of the fifth inning before the bullpen would have to take over. Still, he managed to get through six innings with what doesn't look like too bad of a line, other than the walks. It looks like six innings of three-hit ball, but if you take the walks into consideration, the outing is a bit less attractive. It's early in the season, but since it's Mike Hargrove managing this team, I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that two straight starting pitchers have both broken 100 pitches in their starts. I guess I'm too used to the first two turns through the rotation being done with pitch counts in the 90s or so before letting it loose.
-- the Mariner bats put eight runs onto the board the night after they only scratched out four hits (but got four runs). Only two hitters in the lineup went hitless, and they were Jose Vidro and Adrian Beltre. Hitters 7-8-9-1 combined to go 5-for-13 with four RBIs and a combined cycle. Hitters 4-5-6 combined for 4-for-12 with two RBIs, a double, and a homer, but also four strikeouts.
Well, one more win and it's a sweep. Is it realistic? Probably not, and the hope goes away once you realize who's pitching for Oakland tomorrow.
Harden. Batista. Tonight.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Oakland ATHLETICS (0-1, 0-1 road) at Seattle MARINERS (1-0, 1-0 home), 7:05p, CW-11 KSTW/MLB.tv
Joe Blanton (0-0) vs. Jarrod Washburn (0-0)
I remember reading an article about what would be physically different around Safeco Field this year, and the article wound its way around to the different ads that were on the outfield fences and that there was a change or two. I realized after the Opening Day game that since Felix Hernandez got zero flyball outs, the viewers didn't get to see a whole lot of outfield fence. All I noticed is that Washington Mutual doesn't spell out their entire name anymore on their ad. What's cool is that some of the ads, like the Boeing ad, don't seem to be invasive. The aforementioned Boeing ad is pretty basic, just white font with a logo, that's it. Then there are ads like the blinding bright yellow Nikon ad that's in leftcenter. That's gotta go.
Oh, the game. It's the second game of a three-game series, and a Mariner win would (gasp!) get the Mariners a series win, against Oakland, no less. A win in either this game or the next would guarantee the Mariners equal their season-series win mark of last year against the A's. I sat through all 162 games last season, and I still have a hard time fathoming the Mariners going 2-17 against Oakland. I know they've historically sucked against the A's, but even 2-17 is hard to grasp for me.
Enjoy this regular-timed night home game. I know I will since I'll be able to actually watch it live right after I get off of work instead of having to wait for the feed link to pop up in the MLB.tv archive. Great times.
In 25 words or less: It's really too bad Felix Hernandez can only pitch every five days. It really is.
Here it was. Opening Day. Thousands of people in the Puget Sound area taking half-days or full days off from work to get to the ballpark for that 3:35p start. The smell of hot dogs, kettle korn, freshly-cut grass, all that stuff. Opening Day is always a great day to be a baseball fan. The roof was starting to open as everyone in front of a television in the Northwest was starting to get used to the sounds of Dave Sims and Mike Blowers on the FSNNW telecast. As an added bonus, the folks at MLB.tv didn't even block out the local commercials with their own boring text ads; I already bought MLB.tv for the season, what more do they want from me? Anyway, here's the piece for the game that led off Baseball Tonight. In unrelated Opening Day news, I really like what the Reds have done with their letter/number scheme on their home duds. The Dodgers put surnames back onto their road tops, which I don't mind, but they took the white lining off the numbers and the "Los Angeles" on the front, which I think doesn't look quite as good.
This one featured Dan Haren going up against Felix Hernandez.
I'd thought of possible changes to make to the game pieces I'm posting this season, and I don't know if I really thought of anything. I thought at points last year that my pieces were seeming a little robotic when I was typing them up. I guess the only thing I'll try to do is to put more of me into the actual during-game stuff. That's what I'll try to do anyway.
I usually throw photo credits into mouse-over popups on the pictures themselves, but I have to congratulate Ted S. Warren off the AP wire for the coolest Mariners wire photo I've seen in ages. Nice job.
Oddly enough, Sims turned it over to Dave Niehaus as the game started. I thought Niehaus was going to be strictly radio and Sims strictly television, but I guess not. A graphic went up on the screen saying Felix Hernandez is the youngest Opening Day starting pitcher since Dwight Gooden in 1987. Bruce Froemming behind the plate was starting his 32nd straight year of umpiring. Jason Kendall took a nice 2-2 breaking ball over the outside corner. Shannon Stewart fell back 0-2 but grounded hard to third on a 2-2 pitch. Milton Bradley was the victim of about three good breaking balls in his at-bat, unable to check his swing on a 2-2 breaking pitch down and in. The first inning for the youngster had gone swimmingly except for maybe the pitch count. Hernandez threw 17 pitches.
The first thing I noticed is that Dan Haren is wearing a number different from last season, now taking Tim Hudson's old number 15. The second thing is that I'm reminded that I don't know how Haren gets any pitch speed out of his delivery. Nonetheless, Ichiro grounded the second pitch slowly to short. Adrian Beltre got under a 1-2 pitch, lofting it to Bradley in shallow leftcenter. Jose Vidro grounded the second pitch to Ellis, who had to range a bit to his backhand to get to the ball and throw. Haren threw eight pitches.
It appears the feed they've put through MLB.tv has DirecTV promos over the local local commercials. Like that doesn't rub it in to anyone who wishes they'd had MLB Extra Innings but can't due to baseball's bullcrap exclusivity fetish and iron-fisted agenda bent on making people have the Baseball Channel, whenever that comes along. When it comes to stuff like this, I blame George Steinbrenner for starting this whole thing with YES against Cablevision. The NFL followed suit by putting regular-season games on the NFL Network, which is hogwash as well. Now we have Major League Baseball trying to play hardball with iNdemand. I'm on the side of the "why would you want less people to see your product?" bandwagon.
Mike Piazza took an 0-2 mega-fastball at the top of the strike zone for strike three. Eric Chavez grounded a 1-2 pitch to short. Nick Swisher whiffed over a wicked change to make it 1-2, but he was able to eke out a walk on a too-high offspeed pitch. Bobby Crosby watched the second pitch go off Johjima's glove and to the backstop, enabling Swisher to scoot to second, but it was no matter as Crosby grounded to short on the next pitch. Hernandez threw 19 pitches and had 36 through two.
Raul Ibañez flew out high and harmlessly to center. Looks like all home games on FSNNW are in HD this year, but it won't matter to me since I'm watching on MLB.tv, and even if I was back home, I still wouldn't be ready to make that kind of investment for HD. Richie Sexson whiffed on an offspeed pitch inside. Jose Guillen fell back 0-2 but got to a full count before fouling a high offspeed pitch (Niehaus called it a fastball, but we love him) into Kendall's glove behind the plate. Haren threw 14 pitches and had 22 through two.
If you've been away from home for a long time, you're not sick of Emerald Queen Casino ads, even if they're just for Randy Travis, Dionne Warwick, and Blue Öyster Cult shows.
Travis Buck (of Richland, Washington), up for an injured Mark Kotsay, took a nasty 1-2 breaking ball over the inside corner, the fourth looking strikeout for Hernandez out of four overall strikeouts. Mark Ellis nubbed out to second on the second pitch. Kendall whiffed over some unbridled 1-2 gas that was probably low. Hernandez threw 11 pitches and had 47 through three.
Remember, because Jack in the Box says it's okay, you can go cheat with your significant other by seeing someone named Jessica as long as you're not dipping.
Kenji Johjima popped up high to Ellis in very shallow right. Yuniesky Betancourt whiffed and let go of the bat on a 1-1 pitch, forcing third-base coach Carlos Garcia to run for cover. Betancourt exhibited warning-track power on the subsequent 1-2 pitch, a fly ball caught by Stewart in left. Also during the at-bat, some bargaining must have occurred as I noticed Betancourt was wearing number 5, which probably means Vidro bought number 3 off of him (Vidro's longtime number). Jose Lopez popped a 2-0 pitch to basically the same spot as Johjima did to start the inning, which was to Ellis in shallow right, who moved to his left to catch it. Haren threw 11 pitches and had 33 through three.
Sims came back into the booth. Stewart drilled the second pitch past a diving Betancourt and into left for a single. Bradley grounded the first pitch hard off of Hernandez' glove and to Lopez, who went to his knees to stop the ball before backhand-tossing it over to Betancourt to start what went in the books as a 1-4-6-3 double play. Piazza bounced to third on the second pitch. Talk about a quick inning. Hernandez threw five pitches and had 52 through four.
I hope Niehaus has something to say about Clyde the AFLAC duck chasing out the wannabe AFLAC sheep. I hope less Niehaus on TV doesn't mean we don't get to see his great moments talking to Clyde.
Oh no! Sims introduced the AFLAC Trivia Question! It's not Niehaus!
Ichiro waved over a second-pitch breaking ball and eventually flying out to Stewart in leftcenter on a 2-2 count. Beltre blooped the second pitch into shallow center that was caught by Ellis, who nearly had the centerfielder Bradley plow into him on the play. Vidro stung a 2-0 pitch through Haren and up the middle for a single for the Mariners' first hit of the season. Ibañez bounced an 0-2 pitch to the right side, where Haren gloved it on his way to the first-base bag. Haren threw 14 pitches and had 47 through four.
I'm seeing an ad for Qwest high-speed internet over the MLB.tv feed here. Just for the record, the cable counterpart here in Hawaii is Oceanic Time Warner Cable. The Qwest (DSL/phone) counterpart in Hawaii is...Verizon. If it seems weird, it is. I thought Verizon just did wireless stuff, but not here, apparently.
The roof began to close at the Safe. Chavez whiffed over a 2-2 change. Swisher (Sims noted Swisher is from the Ohio State University) grounded hard to first on a 2-2 pitch. New to the roof-closure phenomenon, Sims noted it'd be closed for the rest of the game, though he's unaware of the fact since it's policy that once the roof is closed, it stays closed (I think it's still a dumb rule, but whatever). Crosby defenselessly whiffed over an 0-2 heater that was quite high. Hernandez threw 13 pitches and had 65 through five.
Oh man, a Chris Myers Interview episode with George Karl? Wouldn't that cause something like an egotistic supernova? Would the set, studio, and videocameras all explode as a result?
Sexson routinely grounded a 2-2 pitch to short, but Crosby had it go under his glove and into left (error), enabling Sexson to reach first base. Guillen bounced to the left side, where Chavez had to charge to get Guillen at first as Sexson moved over to second. Johjima whiffed badly over the second pitch en route to an eventual hard groundout to third on a 1-2 pitch as Sexson held at second. Betancourt took two strikes, fouled off two more pitches, then flew out to Buck along the rightfield line. Haren threw 18 pitches and had 65 through five.
Buck blistered a second-pitch fastball off the base off the wall in center for a double, the first ball in the air hit off Hernandez all day. Ellis bunted the first pitch in front for a sacrifice (huh? What team is this?), so score it 2-3 to move Buck to third. Kendall checked his swing on a 1-2 breaking ball down and away before coming up empty on a full swing on the next pitch, a hard one up and in. Bradley whiffed over an 0-2 filthy breaking ball in the dirt (Johjima threw to first to finish the putout). Was that clutch or was that clutch? Hernandez threw 11 pitches and had 76 through six.
Lopez stung the second pitch right to third, but Chavez was able to stop it and make the play to first. Ichiro tapped a ball in front of the plate that rolled on the grassy side of the third-base line and stayed fair; just call it Ichiro's first hit of the season, a single. Beltre sorta tomahawked the first pitch into shallow left for a single to move Ichiro to second. Vidro tapped the second pitch back to the mound, where Haren threw to Crosby covering second, but the ball went off Crosby's glove and into rightfield, loading the bases (E6, fielder's choice). Ibañez rode his second pitch pretty well, but didn't quite reach the warning track in right with the resultant fly ball, but it was more than enough to score Ichiro and move Beltre to third.
»» MARINERS 1, ATHLETICS 0
Sexson crushed a hanging pitch down the middle over the centerfield fence in front of the hitters' backdrop. Sims' call? "GOODBYE!" I wonder if that's here to stay or if that's a work in progress. Either way, it's something different from Rizzs, and we don't have to hear Henderson or Valle afterward.
»» MARINERS 4, ATHLETICS 0
Guillen worked a 1-2 count for a walk. Johjima fouled an 0-2 pitch to the backstop and Haren lost his footing on his front foot, falling over it. The trainers came out and Haren threw some warmup pitches, staying out to finish the inning. Johjima took two more balls in the dirt before popping a 2-2 breaking ball to left.
Haren's line: 6 innings, 4 runs (unearned), 4 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 91 pitches (61 strikes)
Bradley worked a 1-2 count for a walk (I thought the 2-2 pitch caught the inside corner). Piazza looked at the first two pitches for strikes and grounded the next one to third, where Beltre charged and threw to second to force out Bradley, but Lopez had trouble getting the ball out of his glove, and Bradley had slid into the play as well, so Piazza reached base. Chavez came to the plate and Sims noted of the fact that Chavez has won six straight AL Gold Gloves, and if that doesn't prove that the Gold Glove has too much to do with offense, nothing does. Jeff Cirillo once and Adrian Beltre at least once out of the last two years should have gotten that award, but hey, the Gold Glove is what it is. Chavez tapped a 2-2 breaking ball up the middle for a single to move Piazza to second. Swisher took two pitches to get down 0-2 and whiffed at dead red on the next pitch. Crosby took a 1-2 fastball over the outside corner to get himself out of another jam. Hernandez threw 21 pitches and had 97 through seven.
Banner Bank is a fairly local bank in western Washington. A tip if you're coming to Hawaii: there are no nationwide banks in Hawaii, everything is local. Not even Bank of America is out here.
Jay Witasick came in for Haren. Betancourt swing at the first pitch and didn't quite get warning-track power this time as Stewart made the catch just short of the track in left. Lopez bounced a 3-1 pitch to short. Ichiro took one of those horrible swings over an 0-2 inside breaking ball in the dirt, a swing that looks just hopeless like he's blatantly fooled. Anyway, Kendall threw to first. Witasick threw nine pitches.
Buck took an 0-2 change on the outer half that wasn't called for strike three, but Buck foul-tipped the next pitch (breaking ball) into Johjima's glove for strike three. Ellis grounded hard to Beltre's glove side, and he made a nice play to come up with it and throw to first. Kendall grounded fairly hard right to Betancourt at short, but he plain bobbled it, hopefully one of few errors to be tagged to Betancourt over the course of the season. Stewart grounded to Betancourt, who had it this time and threw to Lopez covering second for the out on Kendall.
Hernandez' line: 8 innings, 0 runs, 3 hits, 2 walks, 12 strikeouts, 111 pitches (77 strikes)
Beltre took a 3-1 pitch down and away for a walk. Vidro grounded a 1-2 pitch to second to start a tailor-made 4-6-3 double play.
Jay Marshall came in for Witasick. Ibañez fouled two pitches off of himself over the course of the at-bat before grounding to Swisher past the bag at first on a full count.
Witasick's line: 1 2/3 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 18 pitches (11 strikes)
Marshall's line: 1/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 9 pitches (6 strikes)
Jason Ellison came in to play right for Guillen. JJ Putz came in for Hernandez. Bradley got ahead 2-0 and ended up cranking a fastball that was three feet short of a homer over the wall in rightcenter. Piazza nubbed the second pitch to Beltre, who charged, got set, and threw out the not-fast Piazza at first. Chavez chopped the first pitch over the middle, where Betancourt moved over to make the play as Bradley scooted to third. Swisher flew out lazily to shallow center to end it.
Putz' line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 10 pitches (6 strikes)
Gameball: Felix Hernandez.
I guess the only problem with coming out on Opening Day and having a start like this is that we might be a little let down if he comes back in his next start and gives up four runs and throws 106 pitches and gets into the seventh. Is it still a good outing? More than likely, but this might have set the bar a little high. On the other hand, I know I feel a lot better about the team than I did 24 hours before the game. That's before I look at the probable pitchers for the rest of the series and realize that Jarrod Washburn and Miguel Batista are going up against Joe Blanton and Rich Harden, respectively. Then I don't feel so good. Taking that into account, it's that much better that Hernandez had this kind of start because the bullpen (save Putz) just got a day of rest. Granted, there's an off day after the series, but every little bit helps. Hernandez had thrown 97 pitches after seven innings. Some schools of thought and a voice in my gut might say pull him. Of course, many factors would go toward leaving him in as well. Say you pull him, you could say he's young, it's April, he's got the whole season to go. I might have let him throw to a couple batters in the eighth, then pull him and get him an ovation from the crowd. If Mike Hargrove had pulled him there, though, that would have raised questions not only with the fans, but also with Felix regarding how serious Hargrove was about pulling off the kid gloves when it comes to handling Hernandez. Of course, the main factor to leaving Felix in the game was that absolutely nobody was touching him. He was on fire. Twelve groundball outs plus twelve strikeouts equals 24 outs, which also equals eight innings, exactly the amount Hernandez threw.
Goat: Yuniesky Betancourt.
I don't have a lot of places to go with this since the offense as a whole only had four hits, so there were a lot of goose eggs in the hit column in the boxscore. Betancourt had an error in the field, so I have to tag him here. It was a pretty routine ball that he had go past him, though it didn't figure in the scope of the game. Still, he didn't get any hits, and I have to put someone here. Maybe the number switch has to do with it. Since becoming a Mariner, Betancourt was worn 46, 3, and now 5 on his back. He tripled in his first Major League at-bat wearing 46, and he hit .289 last year wearing 3. The last time anything good happened to a Mariner wearing number 5 was the last time John Olerud (hey, Deanna sponsors that page) was still hitting, so that's 2002. We saw how well number 5 treated Adrian Beltre in his first year with the Mariners. Needless to say, all this numerical stuff is stuff only I think about, so none of it matters, I'm just weird. In related news, it didn't matter whether he was wearing 9 or 7 as a Mariner, Jeff Cirillo still hit like Jeff Cirillo.
Yr W-L Pct GB Stk
2001 1-0 1.000 -- W1
2005 1-0 1.000 -- W1
2007 1-0 1.000 -- W1
2000 0-1 .000 1 L1
2002 0-1 .000 1 L1
2003 0-1 .000 1 L1
2004 0-1 .000 1 L1
2006 0-1 .000 1 L1
Two things are for sure. One is that the Mariners are halfway to equaling their 2006 season win total against Oakland, and they can't possibly be swept by Oakland in the season series. That might not seem big, but it is. If Oakland won this game, we'd be sitting here wondering when in tarnation this team was ever going to be the A's, and worse yet, we'd be pinning the hopes of a Mariner win on Jarrod Washburn and Miguel Batista, who are being put up against Joe Blanton and Rich Harden in their starts. If you ask me, Blanton and Harden are better than Haren, thus decreasing the Mariners' chances to win. The point is, I think if the Mariners didn't win this opener, they had a good chance of being swept. I'm not calling Haren chop liver by any means, and if it wasn't for Crosby's miscues in the field, what happens to this game then? The score's 4-0, but the Mariners still only scratched out four hits. I guess the good news is that the Mariners didn't lose because of a lack of offense. Richie Sexson came up with the timely hit du jour, and that definitely helped.
In that last paragraph, I never got to the second thing. The second thing is that the Mariners can't possibly get off to an 0-? start since they won the first game. Surely none of us forget how it went just three short years ago. An Opening Day loss became a sweep, then more losses started piling up, and before you knew it, the team was 0-5, then ended up losing eight of their first ten. I don't know what I'm trying to say here, maybe something a long the lines of a win on Opening Day being important not just because of what has happened (hey, they won a game!), but because of what can't happen as a result (Mariners never beat Oakland this season or Mariners end season with 0-162 record). There's only so much positive spin I can put on one game out of 162 games, and it's not like this is Daytona on the NASCAR circuit -- Opening Day isn't baseball's Super Bowl. Not to sound too cliché here, but another thing is that one win now counts the same as one win in August or September, they're not weighted differently or anything. Only the pressure to get the wins changes.
I took care of the pitching (Felix) in the gameball paragraph, so I guess now it's time to talk hitting. There wasn't a lot of it on either side in this game as both sides had four hits apiece. What helped the Mariners were the timing of the hits, namely Richie Sexson's homer, as well as the Bobby Crosby error that enabled such a thing to take place. Okay, that and the pitch that Dan Haren kinda hung to Sexson so he could in turn hit it out. Sexson having long arms also helps. Like I said earlier, what happens if Crosby doesn't make that error? Do the Mariners scratch out a run in this game at all? Let's just be thankful the chain of events turned out the way it did. If the Mariners were going to get any runs, I'd have to say it was going to be in this game. The Mariners have to hope Joe Blanton pitches like he's young or not quite into the swing of things yet and they'd have to hope for Rich Harden to be unusually wild or get up with his pitches. They could try to chain Harden to a fence by the Tuba Man and force him to face the music (pardon the pun) all day, but Harden's probably got a contingent from Victoria that would prevent that from happening. Canadian style. I could talk bad about the Mariners' offense, sure, but it's only been one night. I'd have to give them an incomplete. No letter grades. Yet.
Blanton. Washburn. Tonight.
Monday, April 02, 2007
Oakland ATHLETICS (0-0) at Seattle MARINERS (0-0), 3:35p, FSNNW/MLB.tv
Dan Haren (0-0) vs. Felix Hernandez (0-0)
Folks, it's here. Opening day. I can't believe it's already here.
The Sunday moves that finalized the roster included a trade of Travis Blackley to the Giants for Jason Ellison, doubling the South Kitsap contingent on the Mariners' roster, something that doesn't miff me like it used to, but that doesn't mean it doesn't bewilder me. In short, it leaves Rey Ordoñez off the team. I don't know if I'd have been able to live with Ordoñez actually being on the Opening Day roster, and I'm glad I don't have to deal with that thought. Jamie Burke looks to have made the roster as the backup catcher, so at least it's not Rene Rivera.
Then there's the eternal Brandon Morrow debate. I'm really not in favor of having him brought to the big club this soon, and I'm trying to look for positives in this. The only one I could think of is that if his arm or shoulder explodes, it'll be at the big-league level unlike so many of the Mariners' young arms of recent years who have their arms blow out in the minors and never get to show their full potential in the Majors (in Ryan Anderson's case, he never made it to the Majors). Of course, that's a stretch. I think there are too many negatives to outweigh the positives. Something I just thought of is that it would start his Major League service-time clock.
Anyway, it goes without saying, but there is only one Opening Day every year. If the Mariners win, they'll have already guaranteed they won't be swept in the 2007 season series with Oakland. Baby steps.
Lastly, I'll update the all-time numbers page some time around when I jot up the game piece.
Enjoy the season, everyone.