Friday, May 26, 2006

Game Report: Mariners vs. Orioles - There's no Wrong Way to Beat an Oriole

This is actually about the game from Wednesday night, where the Mariners won the game 7-4, not to be confused with this afternoon's game, where despite Gil Meche pitching 7 innings, striking out 10, walking 2, with 4 hits, somehow the Mariners out-Halamaed themselves on Rodrigo Lopez and lost 2-0.

See, today's game was in the afternoon, and it was on my 16-game plan, but I couldn't get out of work, so I switched tickets for Wednesday, which worked out well enough. A friend of mine from college just moved to town on Tuesday, and I figured taking him to a Mariners game was a great way to welcome him to Seattle. In the past, I've been to three baseball games I recall with this particular friend, and the home team lost all of them; one was a M's-Rays game in 2004 where the only thing I really remember about the game was Bucky Jacobsen's home run and that it was near the end of the "Ron Villone, Starting Pitcher" experiment. The other two games were in Pittsburgh against the Cardinals, both lost, one spectacularly.

So it goes to figure that this time, we watched the home team win as a former Pirates pitcher imploded, right?

Short version: Jose Lopez reached base when Kevin Millar forgot how to catch a ball in the first and scored on a Sexson single. In the second inning Kris Benson was getting chewed on like a dog toy, as the Mariners strung together a bunch of walks and doubles, as well as a pretty funny fakeout foul dribbler that Melvin Mora watched rolling along, for an eventual total of 6 runs scored as they batted around. The Orioles chipped away at the 7-0 lead a bit as Melvin Mora and Javy Lopez both hit two-run homers off J-Rod the Washburninator to bring it to 7-4, but that was all they got. Sean Green capped off the 6th with a Mora strikeout and then pitched two scoreless innings, and J.J. Putz came in with the intent of making up for his lousy Tuesday outing, and did so, facing only three batters (Markakis, Roberts, Mora) and striking them all out swinging.

Now, what else can I say about this game?

Firstly, I sat close enough to the field to really see some of the players and observed a lot of stuff. For example, Kevin Millar seems to have ADHD. He would run out to first base, take off his hat, put it on lopsided, say hi to anyone who walked by, turn around, wave at people in the stands and make faces at them, then put on his hat correctly, toss around a ball with the infielders, and then put his hat on wrong again, talk to the first-base coach, fix his hair, put his hat on correctly... it was sort of funny, and I should have tallied the number of times Millar adjusted his hat.

Jeff Conine is old. Yeah, I know, he'll be 40 in a month, of course he's old, but he looks it, too. Some ballplayers are pretty old and don't look it (like Steve Finley, or even last year Pat Borders), and some just do (Jamie Moyer).

Jeremy Reed looks pretty good with his hair growing out, I think.

Anyway, um. That error in the first inning by Millar was really a shame, because it was a damn nice stop by Tejada, and I was even about to shout "Nice!" to appreciate what a good play it was, until Millar dropped it and Lopez was safe.

The second inning was crazy on both sides. Washburn loaded the bases with walks, and seemed to have a lot of trouble throwing strikes for a bit there, but got lucky in Patterson popping up foul to third and Matos hitting a bouncing grounder up to Sexson.

But Benson, oh, Benson, what the heck happened to you? It's funny, I felt like I was watching a rerun of Sunday's game; on Sunday I was there to watch Chan Ho Park, who had been pitching pretty well, implode to the tune of 8 Mariners runs in the second inning; this time I watched Kris Benson, who has been pitching pretty well, implode to the tune of 6 Mariners runs in the second inning. It started off innocuously enough with Adrian Beltre grounding out to first, and Johjima walked. Then things started to get crazy. Jeremy Reed dribbled a grounder up the leftfield foul line, and Melvin Mora didn't touch it and just watched it roll, expecting it to go foul. It didn't. So with every fan in Safeco standing up laughing, Reed was safe at first on a "bunt single" and Johjima was on second. Betancourt hit the ball out to left field, and hey, did I mention Jeff Conine is old? Because he didn't quite get to the ball in time, and dove out for it, and whoooosh, he missed and fell over. As Conine sat there confused and Patterson recovered the ball, they called it a double, as Johjima and Reed scored, 3-0.

Ichiro then smacked the ball good into right center; it looked like an almost-home-run, which it was, as it bounced over the FSN Northwest sign for a ground rule double, scoring Betancourt. 4-0. Jose Lopez struck out, and Ibanez walked after Benson tried to pull off a sneaky pickoff of Ichiro at second. A wild pitch put Ibanez and Ichiro on second and third. I wasn't expecting much out of Big Richie, but he made Jeff Conine go running again, hitting the ball along the line past a diving Melvin Mora into the leftfield corner for a double, scoring Ichiro and Ibanez; 6-0. Carl Everett hit a single and Big Richie lumbered home, 7-0. Even Beltre got in on the hitting action and got a single at that point, but Johjima struck out to end the inning, and yet again, I had to push over numbers on my scorecard.

"See, I've seen this before. This is where the Mariners feel all comfy with their huge lead, and then the opposing team chips away at it and gives us all an ulcer," I said as Brian Roberts fouled off about a thousand pitches before finally walking. Mora also watched a few balls go by before smacking a really long fly ball to left field. I was pretty sure it was a home run, but as always, I try to watch the fielders as well as the ball to judge the arc, and Ibanez was still running; he made a grab at it and almost got it at the bullpen wall. Whoosh. 7-2. Washburn bore down a little and got a few groundouts to finish the inning.

Javy Lopez's home run in the 5th was a lot bigger. Rather than watching Ibanez, I was watching the fans sitting in section 151, who were all reaching out for the ball, and I knew at that moment it was a home run, as it went 379 feet into the stands. Mora had singled, so that made it 7-4.

The game stayed at 7-4 for the rest of the game, and there's not much to say about the rest of it, except a few scattered moments. Betancourt made a positively dazzling grab of a Javy Lopez grounder in the 7th, which was followed by Ramon Hernandez splitting his bat in half as he popped the ball to second to end the inning. As the Mariners ran into the stands, this chick in the front row jumped up and down and waved at Jose Lopez for the baseball. He threw it to her, but ended up throwing about three rows back, and the girl pouted at the person who caught it until they gave it to her. It was sort of comical to me, but what do I know? The only ball I've ever been thrown was from Willie Bloomquist.

Everett got himself thrown out trying to steal second. I have to point this out to Hargrove, but dinosaurs don't steal bases very well.

As I mentioned, Putz was absolutely lights-out in the ninth. I mean, Mora and Roberts are no small bats, and he struck out Markakis and those two in quick succession to end the game. Good stuff.

Kurt Birkins looked really young to me, but he also looked really good to me as a pitcher, and looking at his stats is kind of interesting; he's got good peripheral numbers through the minors and he seemed pretty composed on the mound as he went through the Mariners. I don't really know much about the Orioles farm system, but I assume things have to be either really good or really bad if they're doing things like starting John Halama out there.

And speaking of Halama and other former Mariners pitchers having a few good starts, Aaron Sele also won a game on Wednesday, which puts him at 3-0 and a 1.69 ERA. Even the wrap for that game starts off with "No one could have expected this when Aaron Sele took Odalis Perez's spot in the rotation," which I think sums up the situation pretty well.

As far as Kris Benson goes, anyway, a friend of mine had been joking a bit ago about how the Mets had "traded away Kris Benson (6-3, 3.86) and Anna Benson (36-24-34) for Jorge Julio (0-1, 5.31)", but given this atrocious outing and how the Mets now traded Jorge Julio for the Duque Dance, perhaps things are all balanced out.

By the way, in the Mariners favorites, Ichiro did list Sandra Bullock as his favorite actress, which at least sort of explains why he lists Miss Congeniality as his favorite movie. Wait, no it doesn't.

No comments: