I got to go to tonight's game with Paul from Nice Guys Finish Third and a friend of his. That was pretty cool. Paul is every bit as awesome in person as he is on his blog.
What was uncool was that it was apparently "Girls Night Out", which I wasn't actually aware of until we went in the gates and they handed me a pastel blue Mariners visor and didn't hand one to Paul or Mark. Then, through the course of the game, we were subjected to a whole ton of girly crap. First, a female announcer, which in itself isn't bad, but this one wasn't particularly inspiring, and it just felt weird to me since I think every M's game I've ever been to has had the same announcer. Second, there were these makeup tables at the stadium, with Mary Kay consultants (I think) and manicurists and stuff. DURING THE FREAKING GAME. It's like, "OMG! I think I'll go to Safeco to get a manicure!" Third, there was this "Mariners Makeover" intra-inning thing that they were showing in several installments -- a housewife with seven kids had won a contest for a makeover. So they took her shopping at the team store and picked out some new clothes for her, and took her to a spa, and she got her nails and hair and makeup done, and eventually they showed her at the game in the 7th inning being escorted around by the Mariner Moose, at which point Paul quipped, "She went through that entire thing just to get hit on by a moose?"
Honestly, I feel embarrassed to be female.
And don't even get me started on pink baseball caps.
To be fair, though, the last time I went through a makeover was probably around the same time Terry Mulholland pitched a no-hitter for the Phillies, so maybe I'm just missing out. Who knows.
Short version: Jeremy Bonderman totally owned the Mariners for the first eight innings, limiting them to three hits and no runs, and only in the ninth inning did they finally break up the shutout. The Tigers, on the other hand, got off to a good start and kept adding to their score, little by little. Curtis Granderson walked to lead off the game and scored on an Ordonez single after stealing second. Ordonez himself narrowly missed scoring in the 4th inning when Ichiro thwarted a sac fly attempt by firing the ball home in time. In the fifth, Chris Shelton scored a run after singling and stealing and being sacrificed home, and Craig Monroe hit a huge solo homer in the 7th. The game was at least semi-close up to then at 3-0, but Pineiro fell apart in the 8th. Polanco singled, Pudge Rodriguez singled, and Carlos Freaking Guillen doubled home Polanco; Mateo came out to pitch, but Marcus Thames doubled home Pudge and Guillen. Mark Lowe made his major-league debut for the Mariners having been called up from AA San Antonio this morning, and he had a fun time out there, loading the bases and then coming out of it without letting a run score. As mentioned, the Mariners pushed ahead one run in the 9th with a few singles off a tiring Jeremy Bonderman, so Joel Zumaya came out and showed me that his Coliseum radar readings weren't a fluke as he downed Richie and the game ended with the Mariners losing 6-1.
Honestly, what more do I need to add to that? Let's see.
First off. Mark Lowe was probably the highlight of the game (and I see that mlb.com agrees with me). In the late afternoon I made a comment to the "Lowe up" thread on Lookout Landing basically saying, "Hey, maybe it'll be a blowout so we'll see him pitch." (Un?) fortunately, there was a blowout, so we got to see him pitch. I was excited for him, since you could see him pacing back and forth in the bullpen from about the sixth inning onwards, as if he was like "I can't believe it! I'm in the big leagues! Gee, I want to go out there and pitch!" As described in the mlb.com article, he did go out there and inadvertantly load the bases, though it was all close defensive calls. Shelton's hit up the middle could have theoretically been gotten by Lopez or Betancourt. Inge's ground rule double might have been caught by Jeremy Reed if he was there instead of Shin-soo Choo. Granderson... okay, Granderson got hit by a pitch. After throwing 10 pitches, Mark Lowe had been thrown into the fire.
But what did he do? He struck out Placido Polanco, fielded a Pudge Rodriguez grounder back to the mound and got the force-out at home, and then struck out Magglio Ordonez on a change-up... and then ran into the dugout for the end of the inning and high-fived everyone in sight.
I honestly hadn't paid that much attention to Lowe before tonight, so it was really a pleasant surprise. It's exciting to see a new kid get called up like that, and the entire stadium really was up cheering him on. The first pitch he threw was a strike, and everyone was cheering, and it mostly didn't stop for the entire inning. Even if he gets sent down in a few days, it's got to be exciting to know that he came up and struck out two of the most potent hitters on what's arguably the best team in baseball right now.
Besides Lowe, I'm not sure what I feel like talking about. Craig Monroe's homer was CRUSHED. It went into the left field bleachers, completely skipping over the bullpen. They only called it 399 feet, but still.
Joel Zumaya defies radar guns. I was really interested in seeing whether his 101-103 readings in Oakland were a fluke, but no, he threw four pitches to Richie Sexson, and two were clocked at 99 and two at 100. Wow.
Shin-soo Choo is no Jeremy Reed, but 80% of the time he's adequate enough in center field. It's a little weird to see the way he reacts to the ball at first, almost like he's crouching down to track it and then gets a move on. There were definitely a few plays where a fielder with better range might have gotten to them, but all things considered, Choo wasn't really a liability out there.
Curtis Granderson's got some serious speed too. Though he was vaguely responsible for Carl Everett's "triple" in the 2nd inning, he was also responsible for a spectacular running catch of a Johjima almost-homer in the 8th. I blame the high socks.
Brandon Inge and Chris Shelton also had a high-socks great play in the 4th when Inge snagged a Beltre grounder along the line and in one swift motion fired it to first base. His aim was slightly off, but Shelton somehow managed to lean back into the catch without letting his foot off the bag.
And the real key to the Tigers, by the way, is that manager Jim Leyland also wears high socks. This is why the team is going to go far.
In the 9th inning, there were two outs with runners at first and second and Ibanez was up. He worked his way into a 2-2 count, and I was like, "Okay, Raul, just one more swing of the bat and Jeremy Bonderman can have his complete-game shutout. How do you feel about that?" He immediately singled to center to bring home the Mariners lone run.
Anyway, I need to get to sleep. It was a fun game, and good company. Hopefully I'll get down to Portland one of these days to hang out at a Beavers game with Paul.
And congrats to Conor Glassey, who is getting married today!