Thursday, June 23, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Athletics - Baked Zito

I still have not gotten Jason Kendall's autograph.

Worse still, I have not gotten a picture of Jason Kendall at all.

Let me back up a second. I went to the game super-early today, wearing my Pirates Kendall 18 shirt. Hung out on the field watching the A's take batting practice. Chavez signed a bazillion things but stopped a bit before me, as usual, just like Swisher did yesterday. Byrnes, on the other hand, was really funny, he was signing stuff for a ton of people again. I don't have any baseball cards of him, so I got him to sign my ticket, or more like, he scribbled on it. "You playin' today, Byrnes?" I said. "Course I'm playin," he retorted.

Also got Keith Ginter to sign my ticket. He seems like a nice guy.

I went to catch Barry Zito's warmup after that, since he looked like he'd be a fun guy to photograph. He was doing cable pulls and straight arm lifts off of Buckley (#59, whoever he is, I'm assuming bullpen catcher), and then running around playing catch for a while, and then finally warming up in the pen. He has a real fun motion, I think, and it looks almost like he's taking cues from Bronson Arroyo, the way he gets this sort of high kick these days.

The thing is, I figured Kendall would warm up in the pen as well. No dice. But he WAS catching. It's just, he wasn't out on the field at all between when he went into the dugout 10 mins after BP started, and when he had to come out to be leadoff batter an hour later when the game started.


Oh well. Anyway, it was a really awesome game to watch. It really started off as a "duel of the crafty lefties" for quite a while, as it was entirely scoreless for the first 5 innings. The fourth inning was pretty weird, as the A's were up to bat -- Crosby got a triple as the ball was hit towards Ichiro and he jumped for it but missed -- you rarely see that -- and it was almost immediately followed up by Bret Boone making an incredible stop on a Kielty drive up the middle. I mean, when do you see an inning where Ichiro misses a play and Boone looks incredible?

Kendall got on base to lead off the 6th, and he stole second and Rivera made a horrendous throw to second, so Kendall got to third. Chavez doubled him home, straight down the left-field line, a bit later, making it 1-0. Byrnes got a triple in the 7th and was driven home by Johnson, making it 2-0. Richie Sexson hit a super-long home run, 411 feet to center, but it was unfortunately a solo shot, only making it 2-1.

Moyer stayed in for the long haul, making it to the 8th inning again, but they pulled him when he started walking people. Putz actually wasn't terrible, but he did let Kotsay score for 3-1.

The game really started in the 9th inning, honestly. In the top, we saw Putz load the bases and then get out of it with a rare 1-2-3 double play, where the ball was smacked right to him, and he fired it to home to catch Johnson on the force, and Rivera fired it to first to catch Crosby.

The bottom was just a musical chairs of pitchers and hitters. Calero started it by pitching to Richie Sexson, who got a bizarre "infield single" where Crosby first bobbled the ball, then threw it to Johnson who was way off the bag. Calero was pulled for Ricardo Rincon, the treasured lefty, who immediately gave up a hit to lefty Ibanez. Righty Boone bunted Ibanez and Sexson over, and Willie Bloomquist was put in to run for Ibanez for some reason. Lefty Reed struck out, and Lefty Rincon was pulled for Righty "Alphabet Soup" Duchscherer. Righty "Code" Morse was up to bat.

Mike Morse, how do you feel? It's the bottom of the 9th with two outs, runners on second and third, and your team is down 3-1. Any pressure? It's okay, you don't have to let us know.

Why, Marinerdgirl, I feel good enough to bang a single into right field!

Sexson scores. Bloomie scores. While they're scoring, Morse runs to second, and gets there a split second before the throw from Kendall. The crowd goes wild. Duchscherer has infact blown the save, but he doesn't really care because all of those runners and their earnings are credited to the guys in the previous musical chairs. It's now 3-3. and we don't even really care when Dave Hansen pops out to center field.

The 10th inning is a little too close for comfort. Matt Thornton is brought in for about five seconds to let Chavez get a single, and then Mateo comes in. Kielty sac bunts to get Chavez into scoring position, and then they have Hatteberg pinch-hit for Ginter (smart choice against a tough righty like Mateo. It's a real day for the Platoon Network), but Mateo intentionally walks Hatty. It's a close call for a second when Byrnes moves up Chavez and Hatty, but Ronnie The Bear comes in and gets Johnson to pop out and it's all good. Well, except the part where Duchscherer, pissed at himself for blowing the save, strikes out Ichiro and Winn and gets Beltre to ground out to close the 10th.

Ronnie The Bear almost strikes out the entire side in the 11th, getting both Scutaro and Kendall ("K is for Kendall and that's good enough for me! Kendall, Kendall Kendall... starts with a C!") Kotsay sends a line drive right to Villone, who catches it for the inning out. Whooosh. Unfortunately the Mariners batters also spend the 11th inning striking out, so we're still tied at 3-3.

The twelfth inning had some of the absolute wrongest baseball I've ever seen played. Guardado comes in to pitch for the good guys. Chavez, who really wants to go home and see American Idol, gets on base with a single, hoping someone will score him so the game will end. Kielty moves him along with a grounder to short, and then he steals third (nobody, including Pat Borders, seemed to notice, though). "Excellent!" thinks Mark Ellis, who is hitting for Hatteberg due to the Platoon Principle. "I'll just go on an' hit a nice big sac fly so he can score!" Except, well, he walks. Eric Byrnes comes up to bat and Chavez yells, "Hey Byrnes, score me and you can come over and watch American Idol with me after the game." Byrnes thinks this is a GREAT idea and smacks a ball into right field. Ichiro can't get to it, and Chavez scores, whoosh. However, because it's Ichiro, *only* Chavez scores, and Byrnes stops at second, Ellis stops at third, the score stops at 4-3. Johnson pops out for the end of the inning.

"YOU SUCK, EDDIE!" I yell. I feel like, despite knowing he's our best pen pitcher right now, I've still seen him blow too many games like this. It always seems like it's Moyer starts, too.

Morse, hero of the 9th, is the first guy up in the 12th. He promptly strikes out, dropping his average back down to a piddly .397 or so.

Then PAT BORDERS! is up to bat. Borders gets a single! Go grampy go grampy go grampy go! Woo!

Ichiro is up to bat next. Ichiro grounds into a 1-4-3 double play. and the game is over.

Wait a minute, no he doesn't. Ichiro hits the ball to Ryan Glynn, the pitcher, who throws it to second base to nab Borders. Somehow, Bobby Crosby is caught sleeping, and he misses the catch. Borders reaches safely. Ichiro reaches safely. Whoa! I'll take an FC 1-6 E6 for 200, Alex.

Well, now we have runners on first and second with one out instead of a lost game. Cool. What do you think about it, Randy Winn? Howsabout a single, huh? All your friends are doing it! Whoa! Randy hits the ball to left, where Byrnes gets it but fumbles the ball a bit before he throws it in, and is not in time to catch Pat Borders as he runs across the plate. 4-4. It's not over yet.

Beltre, all we need is a single. It's Ichiro on second, you know. He could score if you hit the ball pretty much anywhere. No... dude, that was a pretty big swing. Ack, so was that! Ack! What are you doing! Why are you striking out? Aiiiiee... if Richie strikes out too and ends this inning like this, I'm going home. I swear.

Richie hits the ball to left field. Eric Byrnes *really* wants to go home and watch American Idol, you know, so he gets the ball, makes a throw to the plate, but thinks "I'm not really gonna catch Ichiro, am I?", as he sees Ichiro beat the ball there by a few seconds.

And that's the game, and I am out of here.

Well, except to whine about the stupid mechanics of the win-loss system that make it such that a pitcher can get a blown save AND a win for a game. Eddie, you're a good guy and I'm glad we have you, but you don't deserve today's win, I'm sorry. Honestly, Jamie deserves it, and I feel bad for the guy. I hope he reaches 200 this year. You wouldn't think it'd be so hard...

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