Saturday, September 30, 2006

Game Report: Mariners vs. Rangers - Padilla Padilla Padilla, That's All Folks

Oh god, I have totally wanted to use that as a game report title since reading it on the Dugout. Heh heh.

This weekend's pitching lineup for Texas has the curious quality that all three starters were on the Phillies within the last two years. Kevin Millwood (Saturday) was there until the end of 2004, Vicente Padilla (tonight) and Robinson Tejeda (Sunday) were both starting games for the Phillies in 2005. Thus, these are all guys I'm relatively familiar with, Tejeda less so than the other two, I suppose.

I wore a Phillies hat to today's game to give Jamie Moyer extra karma, but in theory, you could say I was wearing it in honor of the Phillies-Rangers connection. Who knows. It certainly sounds like it helped, as Moyer got the win against the Marlins in a landslide 14-2 game, even getting a hit and scoring a run himself. Fun stuff.

I didn't bother bringing my camera to the stadium tonight -- it's just too dark at 6pm in Seattle now to really get any good shots with my lenses. Instead I showed up and found Conor Glassey and his wife out in the right field seats and just hung out with them for like twenty minutes before the game, since I hadn't seen them in forever. Conor promised me he'd type up the interview he did with my favorite 2006 Mariners draftee, Doug Fister, so you should all get on his case as well.

Anyway, tonight's Mariners game, eh. It featured Ryan Feierabend starting for us against Padilla for the Rangers. I was sort of looking forward to seeing Feierabend; young left-handed pitchers are always fun. He pitched a reasonable five innings, struck out a few people, only got into serious trouble once, in the second inning, when he walked three guys, but fortunately Adrian Beltre made two pretty good plays in a row to keep it scoreless, so it was 3-2 when Feierabend left the game. Unfortunately, Emiliano Fruto came in and gave up three runs in the 6th inning; it was probably an auspicious start to the inning that out of his first 7 pitches, 6 were balls and the other one was hit for a single to right by Rod Barajas. (I send Conor a text message at that point that simply reads: "Barajas." If you read Fantasyland, you'd think that was funny too)

Anyway, by the time Fruto gets off the mound in the 7th it's 5-4 with two runners on, (The Mariners added a run in their half of the 6th after Ichiro got yet another triple -- he's now tripled in three consecutive games, is that a record?) and Jon Huber comes in, and a Betancourt miscue (in theory) allows Carlos Lee to score on a Nelson Cruz fielder's choice. So it's 6-4 when Pineiro takes the mound for the top of the 9th, and I hold my breath as he quickly retires three batters. Raul Ibanez hits his 33rd home run of the year into the walkway behind the right-center wall to get the Mariners another run, but that's where it stands as they lose the game 6-5.

Some notes:
- I haven't seen much of the Rangers this year, so I didn't realize they had a bunch of fun delivery guys in Scott Feldman and Wes Littleton. Always fun to watch sidearmers, in my opinion.

- You know, I picked up Ian Kinsler halfway through the year for my fantasy team, and he's been outstanding for a middle infielder, but I'd never actually seen him play. I like his instincts, his speed, his arm, his pitch judgment, basically everything about him, especially his high socks. It doesn't hurt that he got two hits and a walk in this game, but still. He's no Chase Utley, and is definitely helped by his home park, but I think he's a good kid, one to keep an eye on for sure.

- I'm not sure I've ever been to a game where TWO BALKS happened. Seriously. Padilla balked early on with Ichiro on base, which was mostly a moot point as Adrian Beltre hit the weakest home run in the history of Safeco Field right after that, an opposite-field shot that landed about three millimeters beyond the right-field wall corner and was measured as being 340 feet. I'm usually an incredible judge of fly balls and I thought it was going to be caught at the wall. Oh, right, balks. Feierabend also balked over Kinsler in the 4th, and he did eventually score. That one was weirder -- with Padilla I actually saw him make a fake move, but with Feierabend, it was like, he threw to first base, and the umpire told Kinsler to go to second, and we couldn't figure out why, and then they put up "Balk" on the scoreboard. Hrm.

- In the first inning, when Ben Broussard came up, I said, "Hey, Ben. Can you get a hit? I haven't seen you do anything since I got back from Japan, and --" he hits the ball to right field, and it looks like it's basically just going to fall into Nelson Cruz's glove, except something goes wrong and it falls ON Nelson Cruz instead and Broussard ends up with a double.

- Jose Lopez made a pretty sad blooper-reel error in the 8th, when Carlos Lee grounded the ball to him, and he scooped it off the ground, only he didn't. And then he tried to pick it up again, and still didn't... and a third time, and you'd almost think the ball was crazy-glued to the ground. He did eventually manage to get it to defy gravity, but by the time he threw to first, Lee was already safe.

- Oh, so in the 6th inning I look up at the pitching info board, and it says Padilla's been in for 115 pitches, and I express my disbelief at the situation, then have to explain pitch counts to my friend, and as I'm explaining why you don't leave in pitchers for too long because it abuses their arms and they get tired and become more likely to hit people or give up hits and BAM, Ichiro hits that triple of his I was mentioning earlier.

It was Fan Appreciation Night, which means "we're going to call out a whole bunch of random seat numbers which aren't yours for prizes you most likely don't want anyway, like an autographed Joel Pineiro cap." between the innings instead of the normal gimmicks, with three notable exceptions: they still had dancing groundskeepers, the Extreme Hat Trick, and the goddamn Hydro Races. Now, HERE is the weird part -- before tonight's hydro race, the score was 24-27-27, with the Yellow boat at 24. So I'm like, "Yellow's going to win, hel-LO," except... they didn't. I forget which of the other two won, but apparently they DON'T always finish the season at 27-27-27?

Anyway, between innings they gave away a lot of player-signed stuff, and each inning had an "inning grand prize" which started off with things like an iPod, and eventually became things like a Nintendo DS, a Karaoke machine (complete with a horrendous rendition of "Sweet Caroline"), 2007 Season Tickets, and then a 42" Plasma TV, ending in a trip for 2 to Cancun. Needless to say, I didn't win anything, although someone three rows behind me won an autographed Beltre ball and someone in my seat but one section over won a Broussard autographed jersey. We thought it was sort of funny that people in field seating won "front row seats to a game", though at least they were in row 31 instead of row 1 already. Another wacky thing was seeing seats in the Hit It Here Cafe get picked -- not sure I'd seen that before.
It's late and I'm going back to the park in the afternoon with my camera to hopefully get some good pictures of Kevin Millwood and Felix Hernandez pitching, so to reiterate the title of this post: Padilla, Padilla, Padilla, that's all folks!

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