Friday, May 13, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Red Sox -- A Tale of Two Hitties

Let me tell you all a story.

Occasionally these two kids meet up in the neighborhood. One of them we'll call Russell; he's the most popular kid in school, bright, good-looking, stylish, strong, has a line of groupies a mile long. Then there's this other kid we'll call Marvin, who used to be popular, but has since started slipping in terms of grades and everything else, and he also hasn't seemed to grow as tall and as handsome as his old pal Russell.

One day they get into a fight. Everyone gathers to watch. They all bet on Russell of course, since he's bigger, stronger, and more talented at fighting.

But what happens? Marvin gets in some good jabs early on. Russell trips over his feet and falls over. They spar for a while, and eventually Russell accidentally leaves a big opening and Marvin socks him a good one. Fight goes to the little guy.

That, my friends, is what watching tonight's Mariners-Red Sox game was like. The Red Sox tripped over their own feet in the first inning when Manny Ramirez hit a long fly to center field. He ran to first, not knowing or caring whether it touched the ground, but it actually bounced before Jeremy Reed got his hands on it, so when Trot Nixon ran to tag back first, they were confronted with this problem of having two guys on first. And a batter or two later, when Kevin Millar hit a ball to shortstop and Valdez flubbed it, Manny tried to run home from second -- but Valdez had recovered the ball and threw home, beating Manny by a mile -- he tried to run back to third, and was tagged out, for a confusing inning-ending 6-2-5 play.

Then the little guys stepped up and hit for three runs, bringing the score to 3-0 Mariners, where it stayed until the third inning, when Mark Bellhorn led off with a home run. Ichiro tried for another "The Catch", but it was just beyond his reach in the rightfield seats. We figured that wasn't so bad, except that three out of the next four guys managed to get on base and also score runs. Ichiro had a nice throw off Mueller's single to right field to catch Varitek at the plate, but the damage was done for a 4-3 Red Sox lead.

However, the Mariners refused to be upstaged, and Richie Sexson led off the bottom of the third with a 410-foot shot into the centerfield beer garden. Not to be outdone, Raul Ibanez followed it with a 391-foot home run into the section 103 seats. The rest of the inning was unproductive, but the tide was turned again, 5-4 Mariners.

Bellhorn led off the fourth inning by being walked, which wouldn't have been so bad if Trot Nixon, also wanting to get his very own Long Ball (As advertised, "It works in any game! And it makes scoring runs a snap!"), hadn't hammered a 383-foot home run almost to the exact same place Ibanez hit his to. 6-5 Red Sox.

I should note that Richie Sexson made a great slide into first base during that inning... except that he did so after doing a dive to stop Johnny Damon's grounder between first and second. He was lying flat on the ground, and when you're a big 6'8" guy, getting up and running back to first base is not that easy in 2 seconds, so he kinda half-crawled there and slid into the bag, beating Damon by a fraction of a second for the out.

Anyway, a good slugfest is never a good slugfest without a good kick in the stomach, which is exactly what the Mariners served up in the bottom of the fourth. After Jeremi Gonzalez let Ichiro and Winn get on base, Terry Francona finally had enough and pulled him out for John Halama. We'd all been wondering when Adrian Beltre would finally do some of that patented "swung on and beltre'd" stuff we'd been hoping for this year, and oh man, he hit John Halama's first pitch for a 440-foot three-run home run that ricocheted off the display board in left-center into the bullpen. Holy smokes, it was Beltremendous! (I swear, I didn't make up that word, they did.) That made it 8-6 Mariners.

To secure a nicer lead and John Halama's future as a AAA pitcher, they banged three doubles and four runs off him in the fifth inning as well, making the score 12-6 Mariners.

At this point Brian and I noted some odd things about the game:

5 innings had passed. Between both sides:

5 home runs had been hit.
3 strikeouts had happened.
2 errors had been made.
5 normal walks had happened.
3 intentional walks had happened.
2 batters were hit by pitches (and a third would occur in the sixth inning.)

It was just... odd.

Anyway, the rest of the game passed uneventfully for the most part. Cla Meredith pitched an inning in there, and he got beaten up, but it was cool to see another sidearm pitcher that isn't Mike Myers. (I had seen Meredith warming up in the bullpen and was like "Hey, it's Myers... wait, no, this guy is right-handed sidearm, who can THAT be?")

When the dust settled, the final score was 14-7 Mariners.

I have this bad feeling that the 14 runs the Mariners scored today will be it for them scoring this weekend, though.

Oh! And of course I took some pictures during batting practice. (There were like, ninety billion other Red Sox fans there so it was impossible to actually try to talk to any of the players, but I did watch the warmups anyway...)

Bronson Arroyo no longer has cornrows!
Mike Timlin and Cla Meredith warming up
John Halama warms up
Manny Ramirez walks in from the outfield
David Ortiz pretends to be a first baseman
Kevin Millar signs baseballs for people
Johnny Damon returns to the dugout

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