Saturday, July 30, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Indians - Plunk Rock

Ugh, I should never leave a game report to the next day. I came home last night but started going through all of my pictures of the game instead of writing about it. That was dumb.

As you can see, part of why I went to this game was that I managed to pick up a super-awesome amazing seat -- I was literally right behind the Diamond Club seats, next to the hallway leading off the field by the opposing dugout. I took a ton of pictures, but most of them aren't anything special, sadly, and even worse, my camera ran out of battery at a really most inopportune moment, but I'll get to that in a minute.

As you can also see, I got local boy David Riske to sign my ticket, and Brandon Phillips, which was kind of cool. They both borrowed my sharpie to sign like ninety kids' gloves, which was kind of funny.

I showed up pretty early and got a Mariners "workout shirt" which is basically just a t-shirt with the M's logo and the Wells Fargo logo on it. I also got to see the booth with the Mariners Wives charity baskets, which was pretty funny. Incase you're wondering, the basket with the Napoleon Dynamite DVD in it was Randy Winn's. Given that Boone was obsessed with the movie and then got DFA'ed/traded, I wonder if it ended up in Winn's basket as another trade foreshadowing?

Most of the baskets were pretty funny -- a lot of them contained players' theme music (though a frightening large amount had Alan Jackson CDs, not just Jeff Nelson's), some DVDs, random autographed items, baseball cards, I think Shiggy's had some wine in it, and Jeff Nelson's had a bottle of Pepsi, and things like that. Jamie Moyer's had a Ferris Bueller's Day Off DVD, I recall. Overall, it was good for a laugh to read all of the content lists.

I also went to try to get pictures of Kevin Millwood warming up, because I will forever have a soft spot in my heart for him after his no-hitter in 2003. I mean, I grew up a Phillies fan, and you have to understand, Phillies don't generally pitch no-hitters, so when they do, it's something we naturally talk about for ages and ages. My mom still talks about Jim Bunning's perfect game on Father's Day in 1964. (Trivia question: is Tracy Stallard actually known for anything other than things like giving up Roger Maris's 61st home run, or being the losing pitcher in Bunning's perfect game?) Terry Mulholland pitched a no-hitter in Philly when I was in high school and people went crazy. I mean, my childhood hero Steve Carlton didn't even throw a no-hitter as far as I know, so... yeah.

And then I watched the game. It was pretty crazy. Grady Sizemore, another local boy hero who had about 20,000 friends attending the game, led off with a 414-foot home run to deep center. Fortunately, on our side, Randy Winn hit a 425-foot home run to even deeper center.

Without too much happening the next two innings, Grady Sizemore led off the fourth inning with a triple to center. Well, more like, he hit a long fly ball to the center field wall, which Jeremy Reed got to... caught... and then hit the wall hard with his shoulder, rebounded off, and fell to the ground, dropping the ball. Grady ran and ran and ran and by the time Ichiro had gotten there to help recover the ball, it was a triple. Not surprisingly, Bloomquist took over for Reed in center an inning or two later.

But, beyond Grady Sizemore's triple, Belliard singled him in after that, and Peralta also singled, and Victor Martinez came up to the plate after that. The guy sitting next to me said something like "Wow, their catcher is batting cleanup. Is that normal? I mean, catchers don't bat cleanup, he must be the only one out there, right?" and I said something like "Well, there's Mike Piazza..." which he nodded assent to, but then I continued "...but Victor Martinez is even better, because he has equal power from both sides of the plate, as a switch hitter."

And then Victor Martinez proved me right by smacking the ball to right field, about two inches out of Ichiro's reach, over the wall, for a three-run homer. 8-1 Indians. Wow.

Okay, so two more innings passed where not much happened (well, that's not entirely true. There was a fun run-down in the 5th when, with Blake on second and Dubois on first, Sizemore singled to Ichiro, who relayed the ball back in; Sexson got it and threw to Beltre at third, since Dubois didn't stop running at second, and didn't notice the ball coming back to the infield, either. Suddenly, Dubois is almost at third, and Beltre is standing in front of him with the ball. "Zoinks!" he mutters, and runs back to second... getting tagged out on the way there. I'm not sure I've seen a 9-3-5 play in a while.

If you're keeping track, by the way, at this point Grady Sizemore had gotten a homer, a walk, a triple, and a single.

See, after Dubois homered in the seventh (and it was a real nice shot, too, 428 feet into the beer garden), Mister "I only need a double for the cycle" Sizemore comes up to bat... and Shiggy plunks him in the side.

The umpire's thumb goes up immediately, and Shiggy is out, amidst a ton of booing (both from Grady Sizemore's twenty thousand local friends at the game, and from the Mariners fans angry at the tossout). The 7th inning stretch happens, everyone sits down, and then... Kevin Millwood plunks Yuniesky Betancourt in the side.

This time, everybody is up. The fans, the umpires, the players, even, as both dugouts and bullpens clear and everyone runs onto the field. Millwood is tossed. Betancourt is noticeably shocked. I get one shot of the chaos and then MY CAMERA BATTERIES DIE ARRRRRRRRRGH.

Olivo, Ibanez, Beltre, and the other Spanish-speaking Mariners come out and calm down Betancourt. Nobody actually gets into a fight... it's more like, the Umpires and the managers are arguing, and all the players are just out there looking sort of confused. Eventually they all go back to their respective places, and the game continues. Rafael Betancourt (heh) comes out to pitch for Cleveland.

Wiki Gonzalez, who now has the most annoying at-bat music ("Tricky", you know, that "It's trick to rock around it's tricky tricky tricky tricky" song, except they put up "WIKI WIKI WIKI WIKI" on the board) on the team, hits a long fly ball to right field, which is caught by Casey Blake... and then, miraculously, dropped by Casey Blake, so now we have runners on first and second. Obviously everybody is pretty jumpy about this whole plunking business by now, but Ichiro doesn't care; he comes up and smacks the ball into left field, and Betancourt scores. Randy Winn comes up and does the same for Tricky Wiki, but in a bit the inning ends with Beltre and Sexson striking out swinging. Ah well.

Things are pretty tame for the next inning or two, aside from Hargrove deciding to put in Hansen and Spiezio for Beltre and Sexson for some reason. Sadly, Grady Sizemore does get one last at-bat, with two outs in the top of the ninth, but rather than hitting that double he needs for the cycle, he strikes out. It's really a shame, because that would have been awesome -- not only would he have gotten the cycle, but he would have reached base during every plate appearance, plus gotten there on most of the "normal" ways - a single, double, triple, home run, walk, and hit by pitch. Still, being 3-for-4 with a bb and a hb and a home run and two runs scored is, well, pretty damn good. The reporters were interviewing him after the game and a large contingent of people stuck around and were shouting, "GRADY! GRADY! GRADY!" from above the dugout.

Wow, it sounds like the Indians really pulled off a Freddy Garcia trade to get Grady in the first place, now that I look it up.. Bartolo Colon for a bunch of prospects, basically? Dang.

Oh, but I digress. So, Grady strikes out for the third out, and the Mariners are up, or more like, the Mariners are down by a whopping score of 10-3 in the bottom of the ninth. Tricky Wiki singles, and then Ichiro is up to bat, with local boy David Riske pitching. Ichiro gets a taste of Plunk Rock too. It was somewhat scary, because of the angle Ichiro stands at while batting, I could really see the look on his face as he got hit -- and he looked like he was in serious pain. That was really startling, and I'm usually not sitting close enough to see it. Sigh.

Riske got ejected immediately; Ichiro took a while to get back up and head over to first, but he seemed okay after a bit. Arthur Rhodes came in to pitch, and it was sort of funny because I'm not sure whether people knew whether to cheer for him or not. Anyway, the "undervalued Randy Winn" singled the bases loaded, and Raul Ibanez with his blah blah platoon issues lefty pitcher blah blah hit a single to knock two of the runs in. Unfortunately, that was about it for the game, as Hansen and Spiezio both struck out and Willie popped out. I really do wonder why he put most of the bench in the game, aside from the "half of my team may be traded tomorrow" aspect. Hmm.

So, yeah. It was a really entertaining game despite the loss and despite the beanings. And of course, I actually sort of came to watch Kevin Millwood win, so it was good for me in that aspect too.

And of course, I typed up that game report in the time it took me to watch today's game on Gameday. Winn wasn't playing, and my god, Franklin actually got a win, and Ichiro hit two home runs. We must be on some other planet today. I wonder what'll come out of the trade deadline... or maybe I don't. I think what I want to do is write up a separate post on "Kevin Millwood is unluckier than almost any other pitcher in baseball", and "Eric Byrnes must be getting pretty sick of these uniform changes," and "Does the handedness of the closer and the starter have any relevance?" but right now, I should get out of the house.

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