Saturday, June 17, 2006

Game Report: Mariners vs. Giants - Making a Complete Meche of Things

Mariners 8, Giants 1, Ishikawa 2, Railings 0

The last time Gil Meche threw a complete game was September 12, 2004, which is about two days after I started reading USSM and getting involved in the Mariners blogosphere. I can't decide whether that means it's been a long time between CG's for him, or whether I've been reading USSM for a long time. Either way, it's nice to see Meche pull off something like this, especially on what was supposedly a nationally-broadcast game, in front of a sellout crowd on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

Short version: Gil Meche was fantastic, going the entire game on 112 pitches, with a shutout through 8 innings. His line speaks for itself: 9 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 K. The lone Giants run came on a Ray Durham home run in the 9th inning. As for the Mariners offense, I'm astounded that they smashed up Jason Schmidt like they did. Sexson and Reed (!!) hit home runs in the second inning, Ibanez doubled in a run in the 4th, and Schmidt finally came out in the 7th after a Betancourt triple nearly cleared the wall and a ground rule double for Beltre did bounce over. Kevin Correia came in but wasn't much of a relief, as Lopez singled and then Ibanez homered. As for fielding, the best plays of the day were easily Travis Ishikawa flinging himself into the camera wells twice for foul balls (and coming up with the catch both times). Seriously, check out this series of photos or the video of "Ishikawa catches pop-up" on the Giants wrap of the game.

My stock is in Bonds
I couldn't resist taking a picture of this kid. She was just too cute.

Today actually started for me at about 6am, and I was down at the stadiums by 7:30am, for the Race for the Cure. I was on a team with about ten of my friends (including blogosphere and book club Super Reader Josh Buergel), and half the group ran the 5k, and the other half of us walked it. It's a pretty neat event and I enjoy getting to spend some time walking a couple of miles with my friends to support a good cause. The route starts by going up the off-ramp of Highway 99 by the stadiums, and we walk north on the normally south-bound bottom road, and then walk off and back on in Belltown and head south on the normally north-bound upper road, and get off the on-ramp by the stadiums, and ends in front of the Qwest Field convention center, which was really convenient for going to the Mariners game afterwards.

We were done with the event at about 10:30am, at which point I left a ticket in Will Call for a friend of mine who I was taking to the game as a birthday present, and I went to wait in line to get into the stadium. I barely ever get there before the gates open, so that was sort of cool.

Everyone ran in, and the Mariners were taking batting practice. I had brought my softball glove and waited in the outfield seats to try to get a baseball, but realized there were too many people and that Eddie and J.J. were only going to throw them to little kids, even if I was still wearing my Race For The Cure t-shirt AND my number bib. So I gave up and walked around a bit -- and then I saw that Jamie Moyer was sitting there signing stuff. He literally sat there for about fifteen minutes chatting with people and signing things. So I went over and got out my Sharpie -- and I couldn't find my ticket all of a sudden -- so I handed him my softball glove and got him to sign that! Maybe it'll bring me good luck in our softball game tomorrow.

I utterly failed to get any other Mariners to sign anything, or to catch any baseballs. Felix was actually signing stuff for a bit, but as expected, he got totally overcrowded. The Giants didn't take batting practice, though some of them did go out on the field and tossed around baseballs and ran a little. Lance Niekro came over to sign stuff, but was also really overcrowded, so I didn't really press in. He seems like a really nice guy, but in all honesty, I'm glad he's on the DL right now because otherwise we wouldn't have seen Travis Ishikawa's amazing plays today.

Right, so, to be honest, looking back at my game notes, there's really not that much else to add to the short report of the game. I could mention how I said, "Hey, Meche has a no-hitter going" literally seconds before Ray Durham whacked a grounder up the middle for a single, or I could talk about how despite this being a sellout, the stadium wasn't actually really full until an hour after game time, due to the backup on I-90 resulting from 520 being closed and the Race for the Cure traffic clogging the area. I could note that the Mariners hit for the cycle in the 7th inning -- Lopez singled, Beltre doubled, Betancourt tripled, and Ibanez homered.

But really, the thing I took the most notes on was Travis Ishikawa. I realize that he's just getting a shot at the majors right now because of all the injuries on the team, and it's quite possible he'll end up as an all-field no-hit guy along the line. But, my god, he *looks* like a first baseman. I'd been curious about him since a few months ago, and this was my first time getting to see him play in person. He's really graceful, and most of the standout fielding plays today were his: the second inning camerawell dive, the seventh inning camerawell dive, and the capture-the-flag 3-1 play on Lopez in the fifth.

First, those camera well dives. I mean, I'm usually a pretty good judge of "Can they get to that or not?" on pop fouls, and on both of those, I said "No way." The first one was a definite "no way", and as Ishikawa ran towards the gutter, I fully expected the ball to bounce next to the cameraman. I did NOT expect what happened next -- he reached out to get the ball, got it, and fell over the railing headfirst into a forward flip. I almost worried that he'd have knocked himself unconscious -- but no, he came up still clutching the ball and the out was called.

The second one, off Ichiro, was not only a "No way" ball, but it wasn't even Ishikawa's to get -- if anything, it should have been caught by catcher Eliezer Alfonzo, as it was in the camera well right by the Mariners' on-deck circle. But, somehow Ishikawa got there not only in time to beat Alfonzo, but also in time to actually make the catch, again running hard into a railing to get the ball.

He also made a great stop of a Jose Lopez hard grounder in the fifth, recovering it in time to flip it to Jason Schmidt, who ended up doing a footballesque tag out as Lopez tried to feint around him to get to the bag. It was cool.

Anyway, I'm sure other people found other parts of the game a lot more interesting, especially all those big home runs, and finally a home run by Jeremy Reed that wasn't in Anaheim. And quite frankly, yeah, Meche's performance was awesome, and I did keep noting, "Wow, Meche has gotten through __ innings with only __ pitches. Holy crap!" I realize that the Giants lineup isn't the most potential in the majors or anything, but Meche stepped up and didn't even back down from Big Bad Barry. But for the first time in a long time, the "today's play" tacked on to the end of the Great Plays Video Vault wasn't by a Mariner. It was Ishikawa.

Tomorrow, Jamie Moyer and Jamey Wright meet in an EPIC JAY-MEE BATTLE. Be there or be playing softball at Maple Wood, which is what I'll be up to. Also, don't forget to wish your father a Happy Father's Day.

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