Sunday, April 30, 2006

Game Report: Rainiers vs. Bees - Doubleheader of Doom!

Today I went down to Tacoma to see the Rainiers play the Salt Lake Bees. I was a bit confused; last time I saw them, they were the Salt Lake Stingers. Now they have grey/yellow/black uniforms which remind me of the old Pittsburgh Pirates uniforms, and are pretty snazzy.

Due to the rain yesterday, today was a doubleheader, though with some weird constraints: first off, they were starting the game today at the point where it left off yesterday, in the top of the second inning with runners on first and third; secondly, yesterday's starters would be replaced by today's starters; thirdly, the second game of the doubleheader would only last seven innings.

I got to meet up with the Mariners Morsels guys, and as I see, Marc already has his game report up and Paul has his insane photo album post up. This would probably be because I live further away and I called a friend and went to dinner after sitting through 6 hours of Rainiers baseball, and so I'm finally getting to this stuff now, way past my bedtime.

Game 1, short version: The Bees took a lead early, as Kendry Morales walked twice and scored twice (though one of those walks happened yesterday, he scored both runs today). Jered Weaver pitched innings 2-7 for Salt Lake, and pun intended, he really IS the bee's knees, as he struck out 12 guys in 6 innings and pretty much overwhelmed the Rainiers. Eventually he came out, though, and the Rainiers ripped up the Bee Bullpen for 4 runs in the bottom of the 8th, much of which stemmed from a horrendous 5-3 play that both Casey Smith and Kendry Morales booched; there was also a bizarre rundown and a successful double steal in the fray. Emiliano Fruto came out and nearly decapitated Mike Napoli to start off the 9th inning, but settled down to close out the game and get the save, as the Rainiers won it 4-2.

Game 2, short version: It started about 15-20 minutes after the end of Game 1, but at least this time there was a clean slate. The Rainiers strung together a bunch of singles in the second inning and Asdrubal Cabrera batted into a double play and an RBI. Baek pitched 6 strong innings and didn't let a run go by until Casey Smith hit a double in the 6th and the next two batters bunted him in. In the bottom of the 6th, Mike Morse got plunked in the hip and subsequently scored after singles by Sears and Jones, but Marcus Gwyn struck out the next two guys to leave it at 2-1. Renee Cortez was unable to consistently throw strikes in the 7th inning, and loaded the bases and then walked in the tying run, and Casey Smith hit a sac fly to score Nick Gorneault for the go-ahead run. However, Cortez was not the only pitcher having a slow day, and in the bottom of the 7th, Bohn and Dobbs managed to get themselves positioned at 3rd and 1st, and Hunter Brown grounded out to the pitcher Jason Bulger, who threw the ball to first base and somehow it got away from Dallas McPherson, scoring Bohn and tying the game. As such, it went into "extra innings" -- that is, the 8th inning, where Dallas McPherson, having struck out five times already and probably feeling guilty about that error, launched a home run over the left field wall. Bang. The Rainiers couldn't pick anything up in the bottom of the 8th and lost it 4-3.

view from behind home plate with Asdrubal Cabrera batting
Sitting up front is really cool.

As I mentioned, I got to meet up with the Mariners Morsels guys. I sat with Paul and his wife and son for the first game about halfway up Section C. His son is like 4 years old and spent the whole game yelling "SWING BATTER BATTER BATTER BATTER!" and such. It was cute, but I have to admit if I had paid more than $7 to get into the game, I'd probably want to kill him. Still, it amused most of the people around us. I think Paul should bring his kid to Philly someday, though he'd also have to teach him how to boo.

Paul and his family decided to leave after the first game, but we went and found Marc W, and so I sat with Marc for the second game. Sitting with Marc was really interesting, not just because it was cool to get to talk to him about all kinds of baseball stuff, but also because he had seats up in the home plate box area, like literally three rows back from the foul ball netting. At one point I simply walked up and took some pictures from right inside the screen, like the one above.

Clint Nageotte was sitting across the aisle from us, charting pitches. Francisco Cruceta was sitting in the row in front of him holding a radar gun. I tried to discreetly take a picture of them because I felt a little weird about it, but this is the best I could do. Dustin Moseley and one of the other Salt Lake pitchers were sitting a few rows behind them with their own pitch chart papers and radar guns. I had no idea that pitchers had to do stuff like that on their non-starting days. Paul had given Marc a few 8x10 prints of a picture of Nageotte pitching during the Rainiers' opener, and between the first two innings we went over and got him to sign them. I have to admit, Clint Nageotte is actually pretty cute when he's sitting there in jeans and casual clothes and isn't like, dripping sweat while pitching in a Mariners or Rainiers uniform. Several times during the game when the Rainiers did something cool, I'd cheer and smile and glance around at people and then have to remind myself, you're grinning like an idiot at an MLB pitcher, even if he just looks like another dude in the stands.

A few sections over from us were all the players' wives; Marc said at one point, "See that little kid running down the aisle there? That's Shin-Soo Choo's son." It was just pretty neat. I've been to Cheney a bunch of times, but never sat up so close.

The second game was actually fairly empty and really low-key, too -- at one point during the 5th inning, someone yelled, "IT'S TOO QUIET!"

Jered Weaver is amazing. I wish I'd been sitting way up front to see him pitch. He's got this sort of crazy motion and looks all contorted and stuff, but the Rainiers totally couldn't figure him out for the most part, and when they did get a good smack off him, it was generally nullified by the huge confines of Cheney Stadium, where a home run elsewhere would usually bounce off the high walls for a double here. It's just sad that their bullpen and fielding imploded and lost the game for him. Also, he totally looks like he's trying to mimic his older brother's hairstyle.

Asdrubal Cabrera is a stud. It'll be interesting to see what happens with him this year. His fielding is pretty awesome, and his batting approach is great so far as well; he was the only Rainier to manage a walk off Jered Weaver.

Adam Jones is really interesting to watch develop as an outfielder. He *is* really athletic and can cover a ton of ground; at one point he and Morse converged on a ball that totally should have been Morse's, and yet Jones got to it first, though I think the ball actually hit the wall for a double. His instincts are decent, and will probably get better with time.

Greg Jones, the Bees pitcher, totally reminded me of a throwback sort. He had high socks and for some reason, watching him warm up, I almost felt like I was seeing pictures of an old-time pitcher like Cy Young or someone, in his motion and followthrough. It was weird. He also got beat up by the Rainiers in that first game, but I still found him interesting to watch.

Two Bees managed to get themselves ejected in the games, both for arguing strikeouts. McPherson argued his in the first game and got tossed, though I couldn't see it well enough from up in Section C to tell whether it was a good or bad call. In the second game, Brian Specht argued a called third strike, and sitting close up this time, I think he was actually dead right -- the pitch nearly hit him in the shins, it was pretty low and inside. Specht got ejected, and the manager came out to back him up. Ahhh, minor league umpires -- how we eagerly await your return to the field!

I think the second game would have been a great one for a Win Expectancy graph, mostly due to the last two innings. I'm curious how much McPherson's error vs. McPherson's home run would have scored him eventually, combined with all his strikeouts. Considering that if the play at first was fielded cleanly, Hunter Brown would have been out and the game would have been over, it's got to have some huge effect on the WExp.

I don't get why Aaron Looper is still pitching for us. Well, I suppose I do -- but still, McPherson really crushed that pitch. It was huge.

I couldn't come up with a new Rainiers player to adopt, so I'm still adopting Hunter Brown for this year, and yet, my presence seems to curse him. I suppose maybe I could adopt T.J. Bohn, though I think some other bloggers already have him claimed. I'm not sure. Maybe Scott Youngbauer -- when I adopted Hunter Brown he was hitting a pathetic .148 or so and raised it to a respectable .291/.366/.448 by the end of the year, so maybe if I adopt Scott Youngbauer, he'll take his .125 and raise it to something that doesn't suck.

Anyway, overall, I had a lot of fun. Doubleheaders are neat.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Lazy Saturday; Pittsburgh Pictures; Tacoma ho!

I hate the Orioles, so I haven't really been paying attention to the Mariners games this weekend. Forgive me. I see that Beltre finally hit a home run today, which is encouraging, and he's almost threatening to climb out of the Weight Watchers bin. Unfortunately, King Felix, who alone got me 18 K's for my fantasy team last week, came out of today's game with a win, but a less than impressive showing for five innings with four earned runs, two walks, and only two strikeouts.

I won't be paying attention to tomorrow's game either, as I'm planning to trek down to Tacoma to take in some Rainiers vs. Bees hot stinging action. The game today got rained out, so tomorrow will actually be a doubleheader, where they continue today's game and then play Sunday's game as well. Should be sweet. Positive Paul and his family will be there, and I'll probably end up hanging out with them up in section C. Come say hi if you're there!

Sorry for the short notice; my guess is my next Rainiers game will be in June or July; by then it'll also be time for a trek up to see the Everett Aquasox as well. Fun. I should post a tentative schedule of my baseball trips this year; I'll be heading to Philly and San Francisco this summer for sure, probably Houston, maybe Chicago... and hopefully also Sapporo, Hiroshima, Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka/Kobe. Yes, I'm nuts. I really love travelling, though, and between baseball stadiums to see and friends to visit, I can find lots of places to go.

Speaking of visiting places -- I finally finished cropping and uploading my baseball pictures from my Pittsburgh trip, so check them out! If you don't want to look through all 72 or so of them, I also made a page with what I consider the best nine of them. I got a little fixated on Chris Carpenter and the other Cardinals players, and also took too many of the old guys signing stuff. Ah well.

And speaking of Pittsburgh, can you believe the Pirates are winning the weekend series against the Phillies? Ian Snell beat Brett Myers on Friday night, and Paul Maholm beat Cory Lidle tonight. Wacky. Tomorrow the inconsistent Gavin Floyd faces off against the inconsistent Oliver Perez. Who knows what'll happen. I always feel terrible when two of my "home" teams play each other, though; I never quite know who to cheer for. I feel both happy and sad no matter who wins.

Friday, April 28, 2006

King Cole

The Mariners didn't play today, so instead I followed the Phillies game, which sort of sucked. On the other hand, there was a major bright light in the Phillies farm system today, as Cole Hamels made his AAA debut, having moved up from Single-A Clearwater to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre earlier this week.

Dig this box score.

7 innings pitched. 3 hits. 0 runs. 0 walks. FOURTEEN STRIKEOUTS.

Perhaps we'll be nicknaming him King Cole soon enough. It's a good thing he's not on the Nationals though, as "Nat King Cole" is a name already in use.

Also, I spent some time tonight finally working on cropping my Pittsburgh trip pictures. They're not quite ready yet (msb, I promise I have a few decent ones of Manny Sanguillen) but in the meantime, here's today's Friday Foto of sorts: PNC Park Field View. This file is huge, still at 2272x1704 pixels, about 1.2 MB, but I'm currently using it as my desktop wallpaper on a 1280x1024 monitor and it looks awesome. It's just a big wide view of PNC Park; I took this one during the bottom of the 9th during the April 19th game, and Jason Isringhausen is pitching to Jason Bay. I may actually bother resizing it to be appropriate wallpaper at some point, if people want.

Also, this is really neat -- if you download Peercast, you can watch Hiroshima Carp and Chunichi Dragons games over the web now, apparently. I'm not entirely sure I understand who's broadcasting it exactly, and it's sort of choppy, but still cool. Peercast Yellow Pages are here and the "stations" are "ALL-IN Carp2006" for the Carp and "D+ Dragons" for the Dragons.

Book Club is only a week away! Have you told all your friends to go read Baseball Between the Numbers and come hang out next Saturday?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

MLB Debuts in the White Sox series

A feature of Tuesday night's blowout game was Bobby Livingston making his MLB debut. I only heard his first batter on the radio, as he struck out Jim Thome, though the rest of his appearance didn't go quite as well. Still, it's exciting.

Last night, we noticed that the home plate umpire looked really young, when he ran out to the mound at one point. It wasn't until reading the game recap at Sports and Bremertonians that I noticed they mentioned it was the MLB home plate debut for Mike Muchlinski, a University of Washington graduate and Ephrata native. He worked at second base on Monday night, apparently.

Here's another article about Muchlinski from last week. I'm amazed; he's barely older than I am.

"With some of the fans, it's almost comical. My favorite was the guy who was yelling at me the whole game. He thought I looked really young," the young-looking Muchlinski said. "So he kept yelling at me, 'What are you, 14, 15? My daughter needs a date to the prom. Let me set you up.' "

Game Report: Mariners vs. White Sox - Crede Clearwater Revival

Seven in the evenin', just about supper time
There goes Jarrod Washburn, he's starting to unwind
Four balls ain't an option, he's strikin' every throw
Willie's out in center, runnin' fast as he can go.

Downtown at Safeco, out by the pier
Willie and the Mojos are playin'
Buy a hot dog, drink a beer.

Right, so I went to tonight's game. Like I said, the Mariners obviously need me to attend their games in order for them to win, and tonight was no different, as they skunked the White Sox, 5-1. I wore my Thome #25 Phillies jersey over my Washburn #56 Angels t-shirt, which was sort of amusing. I really ought to stop buying player-number shirts, shouldn't I?

Short version: Washburn pitched to his spots, let guys hit the ball way up in the air to be caught, and only once did it result in them scoring. The Mariners had a big second inning where they scored three runs off Mark Buehrle, who had a momentary lapse of skill. Ibanez led off with a home run in the 6th inning, and while the "aggressive baserunning" caused Willie Bloomquist to get tagged out like a retard in the 3rd inning, it led to Ibanez going from first to third on a single in the 8th and subsequently scoring. Bloomquist redeemed his moronic early running by making a spectacular diving catch of a low liner by Joe Crede in the 7th inning, which actually saved at least one run if not two, though they did manage to smallball Konerko across for one run after all. Putz had a momentary lapse of control in the 9th inning, but Betancourt brought in a double play and the game ended in a mere two hours and 12 minutes. I was home by 10pm.

big jim, big richie
Big Richie makes even Big Jim look small.

Long version: Wait a minute, I really don't have much to add to the short version. Seriously. It was a really quick game. I went to it expecting it to be quick, but that was more owing to Buehrle, who seems ruthlessly efficient with his pitches, and fairly quick at that -- no long pauses while trying to decide what to throw, etc, just throw, throw, throw. Washburn, to his credit, did a pretty good job of keeping the Sox in check, even striking out Iguchi, Thome, and Konerko consecutively between the first and second innings.

They had this cute video on the big screen of Johjima and Washburn, as part of the Shannon Dreyer "beyond the baselines" series. Apparently both of the guys like to go fishing, and I couldn't really hear the audio too well, but it sounded like they were asking Johjima if he wanted to go to Wisconsin to hang out with Washburn and go fishing. They had a silly competition where both of them were trying to throw a fishing hook into an equipment bag, which Johjima won.

Also, the trivia song was Buddy Holly by Weezer, from 1994. I was surprised to see a 1994 song, because of the strike and all, but the trivia was about which AL Pitcher threw a perfect game in 1994, so that was Kenny Rogers and was easy.

On the other hand, I was sitting next to a guy who knew even more random baseball trivia than I do! He asked me what the last year was that both leagues' batting champs met in the World Series. I had a pretty good guess, and was actually off by two years, but I didn't actually know. That was pretty cool.

Okay, so anyway, for the most part, today's game was pretty routine. It was just quick and over before you knew it, really. In the bottom of the second inning, though, first Richie hit a single to right, then Carl Everett hit a single to right, and Johjima got hit by a pitch on his leg, all without any outs. Beltre unsurprisingly grounded out, but that scored Richie. Then Lopez hit a huuuuuuge double to right field, after hitting a foul ball that was caught by a kid in the row behind me. The double scored Everett and Johjima. Betancourt popped out and Ichiro grounded out to first, but it was still a good inning, putting the Mariners up 3-0.

Willie Bloomquist led off the third inning by hitting the ball out to left center, where it bounced in front of Scott Podsednik. I'm not sure what possessed Willie, but he rounded first, headed for second, then noticed they'd recovered the ball, and stopped 3/5 of the way there and headed back to first, where he slid into the base and was tagged out on a 7-4-3 play, as Podsednik had thrown it to Iguchi to get him at second base originally. That was pretty dumb. Of course, Ibanez hit an "infield single" next, and though Iguchi made a nice stop and had to throw in at a weird angle, it looked like Ibanez should have been out. Thing is, the net result was the same, because if Willie hadn't run like an antelope out of control, Ibanez's grounder would have been a fielder's choice anyway.

As I said, Ibanez led off the 6th with a home run into the White Sox bullpen, bringing the score to 4-0. Everett also got a double that inning by hitting the ball along the right-field line and into the corner, but everyone else played the Pop Fly game out.

As Washburn approached 100 pitches, Konerko led off the 7th inning with a single to left. Dye took a cue from him and also singled to left. At this point, Crede hit the long low fly ball to center that Willie Bloomquist ran and ran and ran and dived and caught, in a play that will be shown on Great Plays By Kitsap Heroes reels for years to come. But to be fair, on a normal Willie day, that's a double for Speedy Crede and two runs scored for the Sox. Konerko did tag up on the play and made it to third, and Uribe hit another ball waaaaaay the hell out to center field, which almost looked like a home run for a minute, but in another play of Bloomquistian proportions, it was caught at the wall for just a sacrifice fly, and Konerko scored. Washburn left and Rafael Soriano came in at this point to manage Chris Widger, who popped out to Betancourt to end the inning. Soriano also struck out Podsednik and Iguchi in the 8th. He's good.

Uribe dropped a grounder from Ibanez in the 8th for an infield single, and it looked like Raul was going to try to steal, which resulted in him actually going from first to third in a hit-and-run sort of deal instead when Sexson hit a single. Everett hit a long fly ball and Raul tagged up to score, making it 5-1.

And that's where it stayed. Putz started off the 9th inning by walking Jim Thome on four straight pitches, and Konerko singled, but then Dye hit a grounder which Betancourt expertly fielded for a 6-4-3 double play. I stood up, and the guys next to me stood up, and everyone else stayed seated, being as it was about 9:05pm and I don't think they realized it was down to possibly the last out of the game. It was probably a good thing anyway, as Joe Crede fouled off a hundred pitches and ended up walking. Uribe tried to do the same thing, only he ended up hitting a fly ball to center field instead, and Willie caught it, and MY OH MY, THE MARINERS WON IT!

Well, or more like, "Whoa, the Mariners won. It's only like 9:15. This is so much cooler than the other night when Eddie served it up."

Weight Watchers:
Adrian Beltre: batting .175, weighs 220
Richie Sexson: batting .224, weighs 235
Juan Uribe: batting .179, weighs 220
Chris Widger: batting .077, weighs 220
Brian Anderson: batting .164, weighs 215

Everett was at .212 before tonight (weighing in at 220) but going 2-for-3 put him up to .232, so he's off the diet temporarily.

I've noticed that the Safeco staff have started playing "All Right Now" by Free after the Mariners win a game. It inevitably always reminds me of the Stanford marching band, but you know, it is a pretty good victory song, and definitely a lot more fun to play than "Louie Louie", that's for sure.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Link Roundups, mostly of the Nippon Ham Fighters

I would talk about last night's White Sox-Mariners game, except that I didn't go, and losing 13-3 looks a lot more like a football score, which is depressing.

On the other hand, perhaps I could spend a sentence mentioning that I still have a crush on Joe Crede. Or not.

Have you all been reading Baseball Between the Numbers? Don't forget, the next book club meeting is on May 6th at 4pm to discuss it! I'll see you all there, right? (I'm finally trying to put up a separate page so you can tell all your friends about book club! It's still a skeleton page but I'll add more to it this week.)

I've had some link roundups in mind as I've collected them in the last week, so I'll unload those for now. Most are NPB-related, aside from a funny post full of quotes on Baseball Prospectus (funny to me because of Byrnes content), and uh, Papelbon's mohawk, which may actually be even weirder than the Mariners hair-dye fad last year.

Today is (well, due to time differences, April 26 was) Kosuke Fukudome's birthday, so the Chunichi Dragons had a Fukudome Day at the Nagoya Dome. In appropriate fashion, Fukudome knocked in the winning run in the 7th inning. No, I don't have English links for either of those yet.

Last week, Tsuyoshi Shinjo announced he plans to retire at the end of the 2006 season. In typical flamboyant Shinjo style, he not only announced it in a post-game hero interview after belting a grand slam, but he also didn't tell anyone beforehand, so it was a shock to even his closest family.

Now, despite how I think Shinjo is a complete nutcase, I know he's been a great asset to the team in the last few years. He's done a ton to help make the Fighters' move to Sapporo a smooth one, both on and off the field, and I hope they can maintain a fanbase without him. I like what Bobby Valentine had to say about him, anyway.

Another interesting Fighters game while I was gone was where lefty rookie Tomoya Yagi pitched ten innings of no-hit baseball and still didn't get the win as he, Hisashi Takeda, and Micheal Nakamura combined for a 12-inning no-hitter against the Hawks. The Fighters didn't push a run ahead until the top of the 12th inning. Man. It's still a great accomplishment for a rookie though, especially against potent hitters like Zuleta, Matsunaka, and even Jolbert Cabrera.

However, the day after that, as the Fighters blanked the Hawks 4-0 for a second day straight, Julio Zuleta totally lost it in the 6th inning after being hit by a pitch by the Fighters' veteran pitcher Satoru Kanemura, and charged the mound and beat him up. There's a bunch of pictures of the incident up on Japan Baseball Daily, but all in all, it sounds like the Hawks lost one of their best hitters and the Fighters lost their best pitcher as Zuleta was suspended 10 days and fined and later given a community service sentence as well, and Kanemura was put on the DL while they check out his injuries resulting from the attack. That's just one bad situation all around.

Since this is a Fighters-centric report anyway, I'll mention that Japanball claimed the Mets released Yusaku Iriki, although I am under the impression he is still playing at Norfolk and just was just DFA'ed off the Mets' 40-man roster and passed waivers.

By the way, in non-Fighters news, when I was so happy the injured Takahashi on the Giants was Hisanori instead of Yoshinobu a few weeks back, I apparently jinxed Yoshinobu, who is now out with a strained/bruised oblique, although unlike Spiezio, I think this one is for real. Unfortunately it looks like he'll be out for a few weeks, though reports say he's been hiking and otherwise making sure to stay in shape.

Speaking of name collisions, there was an amusing game the other day when Seibu trampled Rakuten 11-1. That's not the amusing part. The amusing part is that Daisuke Matsuzaka started for Seibu, and rookie Shingo Matsuzaki started for Rakuten. Considering how many people here *already* get Matsuzaka's name wrong, I can only imagine how completely confused they'd be in a Matsuzaka-Matsuzaki pitching matchup.

In another bizarre circumstance, there's actually a good article about the NPB on, although the guy who wrote it is Stephen Ellsesser, who has my dream job; he's an English language sports beat reporter for the Japan Times. Still, kudos to for getting an article from an authoritative source for once, even if it was like two weeks after Kanemoto's consecutive-inning-streak record-breaking game and all that.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Game Report: Mariners vs. White Sox - The Proper Way To Use A Bloomquist

Yes, a mere 18 hours after arriving back in Seattle, I found myself at Safeco Field. What can I say, I'm an addict. Besides, I was right -- the Mariners obviously needed my karma in order to start winning games again.

Short version: Jamie Moyer got off to a rough start, as did the Mariners' fielding, but he settled down to hold the White Sox to 2 runs in 7 innings. Neither Moyer nor Garland were uncorking a bottle of walks today, and earned baserunners were sparse on both sides, but Garland was generous in letting people drink from the home run fountain, and also made the funniest error I've seen in years. Raul Ibanez homered in the 8th to put the Mariners up 3-2, and Eddie Guardado was one pitch away from clinching the save and letting us all go home at 9:30pm, but then served up a home run to Brian Anderson which tied the game. Fortunately, there were only two extra innings, and due to proper use of Wheelie Bloomquist -- as a pinch-runner, base-stealer, and general Pair Of Legs -- the Mariners were able to punch ahead a run in the bottom of the 11th to win the game 4-3.

Jenks and Thornton
Familiar faces: Bobby Jenks and Matt Thornton (and Brandon
McCarthy in back) hanging out in the bullpen.

I was catching up on stuff at work, and didn't actually decide to go to the game for sure until a little after 6pm, so I basically got to the park just in time to take pictures of Jon Garland warming up. He's actually got a pretty good motion for taking photographs, and I got several good ones, but when I spotted Bobby "the tall and wide guy" Jenks and Matt "the tall and wild guy" Thornton hanging out in the bullpen, I knew I had to try to get a decent shot of them. Also, A. J. Pierzynski would be really cute if he wasn't such a jackass.

Anyway, as I said, Jamie Moyer got off to a rough start. Pablo Ozuna led off with a double to left, and after a pop-out by Iguchi, Big Jim Thome batted Ozuna in with a single. Konerko launched what would be the first of the Almost-Homers for the evening when he got Jeremy Reed to run all the way to the centerfield wall to make a catch. Then Pierzynski hit a double to left field, which was the first exhibit of the evening of the Ibanez Left Field Laughers, as he stumbled around like a little lost sheep in the outfield trying to recover the ball. Fortunately, Big Jim is also Slow Jim, and he only made it to third on the double, and Uribe popped out. 1-0 Chicago.

The Mariners tied it up in the bottom of the first when Jose Lopez launched a HUUUUUUGE home run into deep center field. Brian Anderson ran back to the wall and even scaled the wall in a vaguely Ichiro-esque maneuver to try to make the catch, but to no avail. The score was 1-1 as Ibanez singled and Big Richie and Big Carl left him there on first.

The White Sox scored another run in the second inning, in a way which was very embarrassing to the Mariners. First, Rob Mackowiak (Yay! Whack-o-Mack is Back!) reached base on a bobbling error by Adrian Beltre. Jamie Moyer threw a wild pitch and Mackowiak advanced to second. While Anderson was grounding himself out, Mackowiak advanced to third. Ozuna walked, and during Tadahito Iguchi's at-bat, Rene Rivera missed a Moyer pitch, which rolled past him. So Mackowiak took off from third, and Ozuna took off from first. Moyer came in to cover the plate, and Rivera threw the ball to him, only he missed, and so Mackowiak slid in safely, and Ozuna reached second as well while Moyer was recovering the ball. Iguchi struck out after that though, so it was limited to one ugly and unearned run for the inning.

Big Jim and Little Jamie had a sort of funny showdown in the third inning, where Thome pointed his bat out at the field for a couple of seconds, and from my vantage point it almost looked like he and Moyer were either staring each other down, or maybe even trash-talking, I dunno. Anyway, whatever happened is unknown to me, but Jim stepped back into the batters box, and Jamie immediately nearly knocked his head off. Don't mess with the old man, yo.

The music trivia for today was "Raspberry Beret" by Prince, from 1985. I'm sure you all know that the Royals won the World Series that year, right?

Digital Dave Data was pretty tough, though -- his question was: "Who was the first DH for the first Mariners game in 1977?" I have to admit, I had no clue. In case you're wondering, it was Dave Collins.

The Mariners fielded the top of the 5th quite well. Beltre was nearly gutted by an Iguchi line drive but still recovered it, and Lopez fell over trying to pick up a Pierzynski grounder but still made the throw. So obviously this was just to set up the contrast for the spectacular errors Jon Garland made in the bottom of the 5th.

First, Ichiro hit the ball right over Garland's head, and he fell over backwards trying to jump for it, while in the meantime, Iguchi couldn't get it in time to get Ichiro out either. Then, Garland tried to pick Ichiro off first base, except he missed Konerko by a bit and the ball went towards the stands. Even though Ichiro had fallen over trying to get back, he was able to pick himself up and trot to second in the meantime. And right after that came the REAL comedy of errors. I mean, this was one of those Instant Blooper Reel sort of errors. Basically, Lopez hit the ball pretty much straight to Garland, who did what a pitcher normally does in that circumstance -- he paused, planted his feet, and threw the ball to first base. Except there was one tiny problem -- the ball didn't actually go to first base when his arm made a throwing motion. Infact, the ball pretty much fell backwards out of his hand as he went to throw to the bag, and instead of Lopez being an easy out, Lopez was safe at first and Garland was stuck standing there dumbfounded staring at the baseball on the ground, wondering how on earth he'd managed to drop it. Even the scoreboard said it best: "WOW."

They replayed that a couple of times for maximum laugh value, but then Ibanez popped out to third to end the inning. Oh well.

The Mariners put a second run on the board in the 7th, as Betancourt grounded past Uribe into left center. Rivera took a few tries but did manage to sac bunt him to second. Then Ichiro came up, and he hit the ball into left for a single, as Betancourt took off running. Betancourt beat the throw to home plate, but as Ichiro attempted to stretch his single into a double, he got caught in a pretty funny rundown, and was eventually tagged out by Uribe, in what I have marked as a 7-2-4-3-6 play. Lopez popped out to end the inning, but at least another run had scored.

Moyer came out of the game with the score still tied 2-2, and George Sherrill was brought in just to pitch to Jim Thome, who was leading off the 8th. Big Jim hammered his third pitch really way back, and much like most of the other pop flies tonight, this one also looked like a sure homer, but Ibanez got it at the wall. Whew. Rafael Soriano then came in and kept the rest of the inning scoreless.

Jon Garland continued to pitch into the 8th inning, and Raul Ibanez led off for the Mariners, but unlike Big Jim, he actually hammered the pitch way back for an actual home run, although to be fair, if Rob Mackowiak was just a foot taller, he probably would have been able to catch it, as it only landed a row or two back in the stands. Of course, if Rob Mackowiak was a foot taller, he'd be the tallest man in baseball, so it's unlikely he'd be a utility infielder/outfielder.

With the score 3-2, Eddie Guardado came in to close out the 9th. I had a really bad feeling about it. Joe Crede came out to pinch-hit for Alex Cintron, but he hit a high pop up to second. Then Jermaine Dye pinch-hit for Mackowiak, but he struck out. With things down to the last out, and the rookie 9-spot Brian Anderson at bat, things actually looked pretty good, and as the boards flashed "UP ON YOUR FEET!", I stood up like everyone else did, watching the at-bat. And things looked pretty good -- I mean, it was down to 2 strikes, 2 outs -- and then, one pitch away from winning the game, I started suddenly having a bad feeling again in the pit of my stomach, and I stopped packing up my bag and watched. A few seconds later, Brian Anderson lifted a pitch way up -- Raul Ibanez ran back, and back -- and the pitch hit the top of the scoreboard in left field and ricocheted into the stands.


Ozuna singled after that, but was caught stealing for the third out. Unfortunately, the bottom of the 9th inning happened after that. It wasn't supposed to happen! It was 9:30pm, and I wanted to head home to write stuff and sleep, since I'm still jet-lagged, dammit!

At this point, I looked at my phone, and noticed that a friend of mine had sent me an IM, saying "what's up?" We had a conversation that went something like this during the bottom of the ninth, as Cliff Politte took over for Garland:
Him: what's up?
Me: Eddie SUCKS
Him: yup :)
Him: You at the game now?
Him: Poor Eddie, you could see him on TV as he said DAMMMITTTTT
Me: I was all ready to go down to get the bus. DAMN YOU EDDIE
[at this point, Jeremy Reed hit an extremely long fly ball to right field]
Him: awww, not quite long enough
Him: at least Eddie didn't walk four guys this time
[at this point, Betancourt struck out]
Me: whooooosh
Me: true
Me: I'm going to be stuck here all night
Me: I hope Johjima bats and hits a homer
Me: they can't have a Johjima vs. Iguchi hawks battle without, well, Johjima
Him: bah
[at this point, Rivera, who was not pinch hit for, flew out to center, ending the inning]

The stands kept clearing out, which was sort of amusing, and I moved up to the front row of my section as I saw Putz come out and take care of business -- he struck out Iguchi, Thome hit another almost-homer that died on the warning track in Reed's glove, and while Konerko buzzed a single past Beltre, Pierzynski struck out (or, as we called it, the AJ vs. JJ battle).

However, the Mariners failed to do much in their half of the inning. Neal Cotts came out to do the lefty thing, and Ichiro grounded out to Crede, Jose Lopez hit a flyball to center, and Ibanez, who was already 3-for-4 with an HR for the evening, struck out swooshing.

I was a little nonplussed about Mateo coming out in the 11th, since the last game I saw him in was the one where he forgot where the strike zone was and walked approximately 42 batters in one inning. It seems he's recovered from his mild case of Steve Blass syndrome though, and this time he came out for a 1-2-3 inning, getting Uribe and Crede and Dye all to pop out.

Sexson lined out right to Crede who was positioned perfectly for it, and then Everett got a single. My IM conversation continued, as they put Willie Bloomquist in to pinch-run for him:
Him: whee, hit
Me: Oh, hey, look, for once bloomquist is coming out at the right time
[and even though every single person in the stadium knew it was coming, Willie stole second, sliding in headfirst ahead of the throw]
Him: now just need one more hit
Me: Reed, maybe. Beltre sucks too
Me: oh MAN
[as Beltre popped out to shallow center]
Him: go Reed!
Him: hahaha
[as they intentionally walked Jeremy Reed]
Him: pinch hitter! please!
Me: they're letting betancourt bat, wow
Him: this IS the Mariners, you know
Me: I guess that's better than putting in Petagine as a shortstop
Him: risk it for the win
Him: yay! go betancourt!
[as Yuniesky Betancourt managed to hit a single into left field and Willie Bloomquist scored and the Mariners won it, oh my GOD, THE MARINERS WON IT!]
Me: now THAT is the proper use of a Bloomquist, yo
Me: okay, it's late, I am totally going to make like a Willie and head for home

Which is exactly what I did. Holy crap, I'm tired.

Monday, April 24, 2006

I'm baaaaaaaack

Well, I'm back in Seattle. I didn't finish reading Baseball Between the Numbers yet, but I did end up sitting in the middle of the University of South Florida baseball team on the PIT->PHL leg of my trip home today -- I was connecting to go to Seattle, they were connecting to go back to Tampa. Apparently they lost their series over the weekend to the University of Pittsburgh team and weren't too happy about it. Still, they were pretty funny to listen to.

I'll have my Pirates/etc pictures up sometime early this week, hopefully. I guess it depends on how many White Sox games I try to make it to, really. It appears that in the ten games that happened while I was out of town and ignoring the Mariners, they only managed to win two of them, so maybe they need my karma back.

Also -- I haven't been reading ANY blogs in the last week, and I'll try to catch up, but if you actually need me to know something specific, email me, because there's a pretty good chance I won't see it.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Game Report: Pirates vs. Cardinals - Two-hit punk

I'm really busy this week, so despite how I really like to transcribe my game notes, I'm just going to try to write this one relatively quickly. This is about the game on Wednesday afternoon, which the Pirates lost 4-0 as Chris Carpenter shut them out on two hits.

I went down to the game with yet another friend I needed to catch up with, and this time we got bagels from Bruegger's in Market Square, rather than getting food at the park. I came up with the brilliant idea that the Pirates should market the Jason Bay-gel much like the Mariners have Ichirolls.

Before the game, they had Jim Rooker, Rick Reuschel, and Manny Sanguillen signing stuff out in the walkway behind the outfield. That was pretty cool, even if a lot of the people there didn't actually know who the guys were. Jim Rooker was letting kids try on his 1979 World Series ring and was pretty nice, Rick Reuschel looked vaguely bored sitting in the middle, and Manny Sanguillen was laughing and chatting with everyone who came by. I got one each of the signed picture cards they had, and got Manny to sign my ticket as well. It's neat that they have the old-timer guys around to just hang out and chat with fans like this, and despite how a guy was like "this is the cutoff for getting stuff signed," the three guys stayed out there signing stuff pretty much until the line was completely gone and the game started.

I took a ton of pictures, which I'll post when I get home from Seattle. In addition to the guys signing, I also took a ton of warmup shots of Chris Carpenter in the bullpen which I hope came out, and a few of Victor Santos as well.

Anyway, the game itself was pretty quick -- it started at 12:35 and was seriously over at about 2:45pm. Carpenter had a no-hitter going into the 6th, when Paulino looped a ball into left field for a single. An inning later, Freddy Sanchez hit a single to right, and that was it for the Pirates' offense, a few walks and just two hits.

To be fair, Santos pitched six innings and only gave up two hits himself -- unfortunately, they were both home runs. Jim Edmonds hit this GIGANTIC shot during his first at-bat -- it sailed so far I actually thought it would leave the park, but it ricocheted off the top of the upper railing behind the centerfield seats and actually fell back into the park. I wrote it down as a 450-foot shot, but I honestly have no clue. It was HUGE. David Eckstein got up in the third inning and hit a home run, but this one barely cleared the left field wall, going about 2-3 rows into the stands, about 330 feet. The wall is so low and Jason Bay is so awesome that he may have even had a shot at it if it was only a foot or two shorter.

(There was a funny moment in the first inning where Pujols was up to bat and he hit what looked like a perfect loop single to left field, and I was like "I hate Pujols." A second later, Jason Bay caught it. "But I love Jason Bay.")

Oh, I got to see Spieeeeeezio playing again. In the first inning he fouled a ball into someone's lunch and food went flying everywhere. It was pretty funny. The funniest part is, the ball bounced away from that person to someone else, and the ushers came in to help clean up the mess -- and people were like "hey, give them back the ball, dammit!"

Pretty awesome 4-6-3 play in the 4th inning, too, where it looked like a single up the middle, but Castillo ran in to snag the ball, and then flipped it to Freddy Sanchez covering second -- he jumped up in the air to get the flip, but landed on the bag to tag it for the force-out on Pujols, and then whipped the ball to first base and Craig Wilson stretched to get it, but it was in time to nag Jim Edmonds.

My friend finally managed to get the Yuengling guy to stop and sell him a beer in the 5th inning. This was exciting enough to write it down in my notes, being as the Pirates weren't doing much that was worth writing down.

Chris Carpenter, while at bat in the 8th inning, struck out but the ball got away from the catcher. He just stood there looking confused for a minute, then realized, "Oh crap! I can run!", and started running, but the ball was recovered in time to get him. Pretty much anyone else would have made it to the base, I think.

The Cardinals added two runs to make it 4-0 in the top of the 9th off Roberto Hernandez, who is getting sort of old and fat looking. An Eckstein single, a Pujols intentional walk, and a huge double by Edmonds contributed to the scoring. Edmonds himself got tagged off second in a weird 6-4 fielder's choice from Encarnacion a bit later, though Encarnacion himself almost ended up advancing from first to score with bad fielding, as he stole second, then Paulino threw the ball way over Castillo's head at second. Duffy eventually recovered the ball in center field, and threw towards third, but it also missed Mike Edwards, who was playing third instead of Joe Randa. So eventually the ball was recovered by Hernandez out by the dugout, and fortunately Encarnacion stayed at third as Taguchi grounded out to end the inning. It was vaguely irrelevant as Isringhausen mowed down the Pirates in the 9th yet again.

It's been such a beautiful week in Pittsburgh so far -- I've gone to three baseball games with gloriously good weather, and had the luck to walk around and visit a ton of people around here, and today Spring Carnival started at CMU, so I'm really having a blast. Unfortunately, it's supposed to thunderstorm the rest of the weekend. Yippee. I'll be back in Seattle on Sunday night, but I don't foresee any huge updates here until then, unless I end up with significant downtime or a big need to whine about Eddie Guardado blowing games, either of which could happen.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Game Report: Pirates vs. Cardinals - Marquis Mark

Last night I went back to PNC Park to hang out with an old friend of mine who might be moving to Seattle soon. So, the good part is, I had a blast at the game catching up with him and talking up how great Seattle is and all, but the bad part is, I didn't really pay exceptionally close attention to the game at times. I mean, sure, I kept score, but I have a remarkably sparse page of notes to accompany it.

We got there at about 6:30 and were able to get seats about 20 rows behind home plate, as usual. I took some pictures of the Cardinals warming up (I don't actually have photo editing stuff on this laptop, so I'll just post some pictures when I get back to Seattle if any of them came out), and Scott Rolen and So Taguchi even were signing stuff on the way back to the dugout, but I didn't bother running up to bug them. I almost hoped I'd catch Scott Spiezio warming up so I could yell something like "YOU SUCK, SANDFROG!" but he wasn't out there. Yet.

Anyway, we watched as the Cardinals beat the Pirates 2-1, in what was a much closer game than we were expecting. Paul Maholm, another one of the young lefties in the Pirates' rotation, was starting for the Pirates, and Jason Marquis, one of my favorite NL pitchers, was starting for the Cardinals. I like Jason Marquis because he's a pitcher who can actually hit -- and since I live in an AL town now, that feels like an even more rare and wonderful thing. Like any lefty hitter, though, he does hit righty pitchers better, and he had some trouble hitting against Maholm.

Some context for the game might include Sunday's game where the Cardinals beat the Reds 8-7. In addition to it being Bronson Arroyo's first game where he wasn't Superman -- he went 5 innings and gave up 5 runs, and also didn't hit a home run himself this time -- it was also notable that Albert Pujols got home runs in three consecutive at-bats, which is just insane, including the 9th inning where Jason Marquis had come up to pinch-hit and got a single, and so Pujols's homer there scored the game-winning runs.

Anyway, the reason this is important is because in the first inning of the Monday game against the Pirates, the Cardinals started off with a similar bang. Taguchi got an infield single when Jack Wilson couldn't quite get a stop on the ball, and immediately after that, Pujols hit another home run into deep center field -- I'm guessing it went about 440 feet, into the shrubbery which spells out "Pirates" beyond the centerfield wall. So 3 batters into the game, the Cards were up 2-0, and Pujols had homered in four consecutive at-bats over two days.

The Pirates didn't threaten much -- infact, for the first seven innings, only two Pirates even reached base. Jason Bay walked in the first inning, and Chris Duffy got an "infield single" in the 3rd which could have easily been ruled an error, as he hit it up the right side of the infield, and Jason Marquis reached down to grab it while running towards first, but it went through his glove so to speak, and so Marquis ran to cover the bag and Pujols ran in to try to recover the ball, and he got it, but not in time to get Duffy at first. I'm not sure whether that'd be called an error most places anyway. Aside from that, and from Jason Bay nearly killing David Eckstein with a flying bat in the 4th, and a really questionable call in the 6th when it looked like Luna had thrown the ball high enough to get Pujols off the bag and Jack Wilson should have been safe but was called out anyway... that's about it for the first seven innings of Pirate "batting".

Jason Marquis was pitching quite well and really hitting his spots, and although he didn't strike out many guys (his final line for the evening was 8 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 2 K), he pretty much owned the Pirates lineup. In the eighth inning, Jose Castillo (!) hit a huge ground rule double to right center field, one of those big bouncy hits which bounced into the stands (and for some reason was thrown back). The catcher Ronny Paulino was playing in his third MLB game ever, having just been called up from Indianapolis to replace Ryan Doumit, who went on the DL with a strained hamstring. And Paulino grounded out. However, Nate McLouth came up to pinch-hit for Saloman Torres, who was pitching at that point, and McLouth hit a huge single to center field and Castillo scored! Wheeeee! That made the score 2-1 Cardinals, but Chris Duffy flied out to center after that to end the inning.

Now, to be fair, the Cardinals didn't actually score a run after the first inning either, being as I just mentioned it was 2-1 in the eighth. Also, despite the Cardinals lineup being mostly right-handed, Paul Maholm did a pretty good job disposing of them, as did Torres and Gonzo (and Gonzo is also an LHP. Hell, half the Pirates pitching staff are left-handed). The only time it was really close was in the 5th inning, where Taguchi hit an infield single after Eckstein popped out. Since Pujols had already hit a homer and a double, Maholm nibbled at the corners until Pujols walked, and I can't blame him. Rolen hit a liner to left field, and Jason Bay caught it, and nearly caught Taguchi back at second as well, since neither Taguchi nor Pujols had tagged up. Encarnacion was then hit by a pitch, which loaded the bases, and Yadier Molina was up to bat. Molina's at-bat took an eternity, I swear. It went to a full count, and then this one pitch came way inside -- infact, Maholm was pitching guys way inside most of the day -- and we could have sworn it hit Molina, but apparently it didn't. That was good, because hitting him would have brought in a run. A bit later he grounded out to third to end the inning.

Gonzo took out the Cardinals in their half of the 9th, and despite Jack Wilson leading off the Pirates' 9th with a double, Jason Isringhausen annhilated the next three guys, striking out Jason Bay and Jeromy Burnitz and getting Craig Wilson to ground out to second. Bay and Burnitz got a lot of called strikes which totally did not look like strikes to us -- all over the frame of the zone, some high, some low, lots inside, but oh well. The game was over and the Cardinals won it 2-1.

It was really a pretty close game all things considered -- last year, when I went to a Monday night Cardinals-Pirates game in April, it was 2-1 Cards going into the 9th inning, and it was 11-1 Cards coming out of the 9th inning. Infact, the friend I went to this game with had also been in our group at that Cards game last year. So I joked how funny it'd be if they repeated that performance, but fortunately, they didn't.

Scott Spiezio came out to pinch-hit for Jason Marquis in the 9th inning, and I was like "Yay!! I was hoping I'd get to see Scott Spiezio strike out today!!" And sure enough, THREE PITCHES LATER, he struck out. At least it's one bright spot in the day to remember how great it is that Spiezio is no longer playing for the Mariners.

Jason Bay made some really nice plays during the game, though. In the 7th, when Taguchi got on base via a Jack Wilson error (man, the guy had two infield singles to short, and one error shortstop -- by the way, Taguchi is FAST, especially for a 36-year-old guy, I almost think he's faster than Ichiro these days), Scott Rolen followed it with a single to left which barely landed a few feet in front of Jason Bay. Taguchi rounded second and headed for third, and Jason Bay absolutely nailed him at the bag. It was sweet. Then in the 8th, Skip Schumaker hit a fly ball way out into right field, and it looked sure to land for a single or double, but Jason Bay ran to get it and got the ball, falling over into a somersault, but when he came up, he still had the ball, and it was an out! I must say, it's really not hard to be a huge Jason Bay fan -- he's just a great guy.

Anyway, I'm heading down to PNC again tomorrow afternoon for another Pirates-Cardinals game, and that'll be it for baseball games this trip. Still, it's been fun getting to hang out in PNC and catch up with old friends. Chris Carpenter is starting for the Cards tomorrow though, which means it could be a pretty painful game to watch.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Game Report: Pirates vs. Cubs - Jason Bay Bobblehead Night

34,264 fans were on hand last night at PNC Park to see the Jason Bay and the Pirates win 2-1 behind the excellent pitching of one very cute young pitcher named Zach Duke. Okay, well, maybe 20k were there for that, and the other 14k were there to get Jason Bay bobbleheads and drink beer. I'm not sure.

Seeing a game at PNC Park on a nice day is one of the true joys of being a baseball fan. It's just a really nice place with a really nice view of downtown and really good seats, most of which are available due to the lack of interest of Pittsburghers in anything besides football (and, of course, half the people there were wearing Steelers jerseys, and maybe a quarter were wearing Pirates shirts). I mean, we ordered tickets about 3 hours before the game and got seats by the third-base side that would have cost $55 each in Seattle, and they were $24 each instead. Also, PNC has an incredible selection of food -- I could smell the buffalo wings from the Quaker Steak and Lube that the people next to us were eating, and the cheese fries from the people in the row ahead, along with Primanti Bros' cheesesteaks, and Mrs. T's Pierogies, and other things I associate primarily with Pittsburgh and people drinking beer.

Anyway, the game was pretty entertaining. I went with my best friend, who is not a baseball geek at all, but who has gone to games with me in the past, and he's really good at picking up knowledge, so I just sat there rambling off stuff about what was going on. Like in the second inning when Angel Pagan (that's pah-GAHN to you, sir) was on first and had taken a huge lead, I said "He's going to steal." and Carl said, "Well, why doesn't the pitcher just pretend to pitch and tag him off, then?" and I started explaining the balk rule and pitchouts, and how if they step towards home they have to throw to the catcher and then the catcher can throw out the stealer, and not two seconds later, Pagan took off, Duke threw, and catcher Humberto Cota nailed him at second. I couldn't have scripted it better myself.

Infact, there were several times during the evening where I'd have just explained a play and then a minute or two later it'd happen on the field (like the unassisted double play at first when they hit a liner to the first baseman, who gets the batter out, and also tags the bag before the runner at first can get back. Not two minutes later, Jason Bay walked, and then Jeromy Burnitz hit a liner right to Derrek Lee, and boom). It was pretty cool.

Anyway, in the second inning, Craig Wilson, who scored both runs for the Pirates in the game, led off by walking. He "stole" second during Joe Randa's at-bat, by which I mean he broke for second and should have been out by a mile, only Barrett's throw went over Cedeno's head into shallow center instead. Castillo grounded out, advancing Wilson to third, and then Cota hit into what should have been a 6-3 to end the inning, but again, the throw went over Derrek Lee's head and he jumped off the bag, so Cota was safe at first on the error, and Craig Wilson scored, no RBI though. The PNC scorers seemed to be very lax about what was actually an error in general, but they got this call right, at least. Zach Duke struck out to end the inning, but the Pirates were up 1-0.

They had a trivia segment where a fan had to guess who a player was based on three clues. The first one she got was "He was the 2005 South Texas pitcher of the year." So she giggles like "Zach Duke?" No, not Zach Duke. "He has appeared in 118 major league games and only had one plate appearance." "Umm... Oliver Perez?" Er, no. "His nickname is 'Gonzo'". "OH! Mike Gonzalez!" Yes. Very good. The funny part is, I would have probably guessed Zach Duke after the first one too, but knowing Perez is a starter, it's pretty obvious he'd have come to bat a lot more than just once in all those years. Oh well.

The Cubs were actually kept scoreless by Zach Duke for the first six innings, though some of it had to do with some great plays made in the field. Michael Barrett hit what looked like a sure home run, but Chris Duffy broke for it as soon as the ball was hit, and ran back, back, back to the wall, and caught it just inches short of running into the bullpen screen. Zach Duke even leaped for a grounder off Juan Pierre and got it in time, as well as fielding an earlier bunt by Pierre. (Pierre's line for the day: K, B1-3, 1-3, 1-3. Heh.) And Joe Randa made an excellent snag of a Derrek Lee shot and threw to first in time as well. Given how many errors the Cubs made (credited and uncredited), it was really nice to see the Pirates fielding so well.

It's also good to be at a stadium to see the gags they put on the board. Instead of the hydro race, they have the Pierogie race, which ends with four people dressed up in Pierogie costumes running out onto the field and racing to the dugout. And in their version of "Ask the Pirates", the question of the day was: "Do you play the cowbell?" which had some pretty funny answers, mostly along the lines of Johnny Grabow saying "No, but we need more cowbell," and Zach Duke going "I tried, but I suck... you always need more cowbell though!" and Sean Casey going "I hear that Craig Wilson plays a real mean cowbell." It was pretty funny. There were other silly pop culture references abound in various parts of the game, including how one of the Pirates had, as their "name painting", a picture of a Liger, even with the note "Bred for its strength in magic..."

But I digress. Jason Bay got on base four times for the day, without actually getting a hit -- he was walked three times and hit by a pitch once. In the third inning, after the HBP, Jerome Williams tried to pick him off yet again, and threw way over Derrek Lee's head, so he ran to second. Then Jeromy Burnitz hit a pretty hard single to Aramis Ramirez, who didn't quite stop the ball in time for the throw, so it was called an infield single. Jason Bay got to third, and probably could have broken for home, but he stalled. I'm actually not sure whether or not he would have made it home had he tried, but there were two outs and Craig Wilson watched a called third strike go by to end the inning after that anyway. If it had been the Mariners with their new "aggressive" baserunning, he totally would have run.

And on the subject of the difference between scorers at various parks -- the Pirates led off the 4th inning by having Joe Randa hit a "double"; remember I said the PNC scorers were very lax about errors? On this play, Randa hit the ball into shallow right field by the foul line, but fair. The right fielder, the second baseman, and the first baseman all ran out there to try to catch it. The second (first?) baseman lunged and almost got it, but dropped it. Randa had rounded first, so rather than heading back he went for second, and he might have been out if the ball had actually been thrown to the shortstop who was covering second, only the ball went way wide off his glove and the left fielder got it in time for Randa to stay at second. I was starting to write down the play as E3, when the board says "DOUBLE". So Carl's like, "Um, I know I don't know much about baseball, but didn't they just make an error?" and I replied, "*AN* error? They just made about *THREE*!"

Well, anyway.

Craig Wilson led off the 6th inning with an awesome triple. It looked like a homer at first, then it was obvious it wouldn't clear the RF wall, but it bounced high enough off it to confuse the hell out of Freddie Bynum, who had come in to replace Angel Pagan, who went limping off the field after failing to run out a close 6-3 play in the 5th inning. So by the time Bynum got the ball back in, Wilson was at third. It was very cool. Randa hit a long fly ball to right field and Wilson tagged up and scored to make it 2-0 Pirates. Castillo actually got a single after that, but then got caught stealing by about two miles. Seriously.

The Pirates' gags for the at-bat photoshoppings are that they do the players' paintings in the first time around the order, they do these buccaneer headshots for the second time around, and the third time around they were doing bobbleheads of the players (not sure if it was for Jason Bay Bobblehead Night or if they just do them all the time). The fourth time they had these cartoonish versions of the players -- Jason Bay's had him holding a magic sword and casting a spell, for example, though most just had the players with bats or whatnot.

Anyway, I was surprised Zach Duke went back out to pitch the 7th inning, as he was up to about 90-something pitches. Now, at this point I actually went to get food, since being about 3 hours off my normal schedule, I became hungry pretty late, so I didn't see what happened to Aramis Ramirez, except that by the time I saw Barrett fly out to right, Ramirez was standing on second, and the game wrapup says he got a double, so oh well. Bynum struck out after that, but unfortunately after that Matt Murton got a single and scored Ramirez. (I'd like to pause for one second and say that Matt Murton looks like one hell of a ballplayer. I don't think I'd heard of him before, but he apparently got traded to Chicago as part of the Nomar trade? A former first-round draft pick by the Red Sox from the whole Georgia Tech stronghold? I think I'll keep my eye on this kid from now on.) Cedeno singled after that, but fortunately Todd Walker, who pinch-hit, grounded towards first base and Zach Duke managed to get out there in time to cover it and end the inning.

I'm so totally used to hearing "Louie Louie" after the 7th inning stretch (they play it at every single game at Safeco, as it's the state song of Washington or something) that it was sort of refreshing to watch the Eat-n-Park smiley face bounce over the lyrics to Take Me Out To The Ballgame, and then hear them play "Saturday Night". I wonder if they play different songs at every game or not. Wouldn't that be nice for a change?

Not much to say about the 8th and 9th innings. Freddy Sanchez pinch-hit for Zach Duke in the 7th and swung so hard at a ball that he fell over on his ass, which is something I rarely see in real life, though I see it in the Jikkyou Powerful Pro Yakyuu videogame all the time. And honestly, Jack Wilson and Chris Duffy were really pretty awful at the plate. I wondered how Jason Bay could be batting .341 with 2 HR and only have 5 RBI so far, until I realized that the guys ahead of him simply weren't getting on base, although Jack Wilson's been getting a couple homers out of the 2-spot, so maybe he's ninjaing Bay's RBIs. I dunno.

Mike "Gonzo" Gonzalez came out to "Boom!", a song I primarily associate with Bret Boone. I guess it's okay for a pitcher to have a song like that -- "Ready or not, I strike out a lot (of batters)!" Anyway, he got a 1-2-3 ninth inning for the save, and OH MY GOD, THE PIRATES WIN IT!

The sad part is, I joked that I'd have to come to the games all week to make sure they kept winning, and I didn't go to today's (Sunday), and of course, they lost.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Friday's roundup, from across the country!

So, here I am in beautiful sunny Pittsburgh. For whatever reason, US Airways routed me from Seattle to Pittsburgh through North Carolina. I was disappointed that there was no Chick-Fil-A in the airport there.

Anyway, for the ride, I invested in an old reliable travel aid: a box of Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies. When you fall asleep in mid-air reading Baseball Between the Numbers, and you wake up all bleary and cramped and your mouth is dry and your eyes are dry and you're thinking, wait, what if Rickey Henderson DID have Pete Incaviglia's legs?, and you just had a bizarre dream where baseball players started stealing knees on the black market and caused a new meaning of "roll a joint", well, in these cases there's no better cure-all than a good chocolate chip cookie. Yes, sir, when you are way up in the sky, a cookie will really hit the spot.

My point is, the Phillies went to Colorado for the weekend, and while they were way up in the mile high city last night, they got a lot of cookies. I mean, they REALLY hit the sweet spot. 10 runs, 16 hits -- heck, even Ryan Madson was 3-for-3 with a walk. Chase Utley was the big cookie monster, hitting two home runs and a double, with 5 RBI. Rowand, Utley, Lieby and Madson were the guys to rack up 3 hits each, while Rowand and Burrell also racked up home runs. Only J-Roll and David Bell went hitless. It was, indeed, a masterful slaughter of the Colorado squad. Ryan Madson, in addition to being a hitting machine, went 7 innings and gave up only 3 earned runs, no homers, for the win. I suppose this is what you'd expect though, given that "Colorado Rockies" anagrams to "Coors Cookie Lard".

The Mariners game at Fenway was a tough 2-1 loss for Jamie Moyer, which is a shame as it's probably one of the best outings he's ever had at Fenway, going 6 innings, walking 3, striking out 8, and only giving up 2 runs. Unfortunately, Curt Schilling was even better, going 8 innings, striking out 7, walking none, and only giving up one run. Still, it could have been a lot worse. In a fit of irony, the guys giving Moyer the most trouble were at the bottom of the lineup, not the heart of the lineup, although leadoff man Kevin Youkilis, the Greek God of Overused Moneyball Jokes, had this one at-bat where he fouled off about ninety pitches in a row and made it impossible for Moyer to throw him a strike and so he eventually walked.

Tom Glavine also had a pretty good outing for the Mets against the Brewers, going six innings, striking out *11*, walking one and giving up one unearned run, as the Mets did eventually prevail 4-3.

In other things around the web, here's the best Lew Ford article ever, from Bat-Girl. "I'll be looking for this article. What are you going to put in there about the computer stuff?" [Lew Ford] asked. "You have to remember: I don't take the big one on every trip. You have to make sure to put that in there."

It's good to know he gave up on World of Warcraft, at least. That makes Lew Ford a much better man than many of my friends.

It's a given that I almost always check B-R's baseball birthdays for any given day, and that at work I have a Ballparks calendar. Yesterday, April 14, is a curious day for this. You see, the first baseball birthday I *ever* learned was April 14th -- Pete Rose. When I was a little kid, he wore uniform number 14 for the Phillies, and my mom explained to me that the 14th was his birthday. I think I knew Pete Rose's birthday before I knew my brother's birthday. But, anyway.

The Ballparks calendar generally gives first preference to HoFers. Now, there are no HoFers with April 14th birthdays yet, as Pete Rose is unlikely to ever become one -- but there's another guy with a birthday on the 14th who is a pretty obvious shoe-in -- Greg Maddux celebrated his 40th birthday. And he won his 320th game on Wednesday, and most of the game wrapup article features asking his teammates, "Can you see yourself pitching when you're 40?" I suppose Mariners fans have an odd perspective on this, given that Jamie Moyer went 21-7 at the age of 40. Maddux and Moyer both were drafted by the Cubs in 1984 (2nd and 6th rounds respectively), made their debuts during the 1986 season, and are both skinny guys who rely more on control than power. You have to wonder what they might have replied if you'd seen them both sitting on a Cubs bench in the late 80's and asked, "Can you see yourself pitching when you're 40?"

Apparently Tom Hanks was in Japan promoting the movie "The Da Vinci Code", and stopped by Chiba Marine Stadium to see a Marines game and say hi to Bobby Valentine Unfortunately, it was the game that the Marines lost 13-0 to Rakuten, but still. Bobby Valentine has some neat pictures on his blog with him and Tom Hanks and some Marines staff.

Bobby's blog also had these cute pictures of the Lotte players getting their WBC medals a few days ago. For those unfamiliar with the team and since he didn't label them, the 8 pictures are, in order, of: Hiroyuki Kobayashi, Naoyuki Shimizu, Yasuhiko Yabuta, Souichi Fujita, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Tomoya Satozaki, Toshiaki Imae, and Shunsuke Watanabe. I guess they've got to have something to revel in while the team's getting off to a crazy slow start, although they did manage to impressively hammer Nishiguchi and the Seibu Lions 14-5 yesterday, scoring all 14 of those runs in the last three innings, 7 of them in the 9th ining. Crazy. Maybe they've finally had it with sucking and are going to stop.

Friday, April 14, 2006

And Betancourt pitches to Betancourt...

I'm in a bit of a time crunch and heading to Pittsburgh on a red-eye flight in about 20 hours, and I'll be there for a little more than a week. I expect to update a bit when I'm there -- and I'll be going to a game or two at PNC Park, for sure -- but I'm just warning in advance that I'll be sporadic (or dead, if I get trampled by crazy yinzers seeking Jason Bay bobbleheads). I acquired a copy of Baseball Between The Numbers to satisfy all of my reading needs while on planes and in airports, so when I get back I'll be totally psyched for book club! (Don't forget. May 6th.)

The Mariners won 9-5 today, bringing them back to .500. Today, the only Mariners player with an at-bat and no hits was Beltre. Ichiro and Jose Lopez even hit home runs. The Indians have so many guys starting with B at the bottom of their lineup (Broussard, Belliard, Boone, Blake) that they could give the Astros a run for their money.

Weight Watchers:
Beltre: Batting .143, weight listed at 220
Everett: Batting .125, weight listed at 220

Oh, yeah, and King Felix pitched. I felt sort of bad because when people were making pre-game predictions on Lookout Landing, I almost wanted to suggest that Felix was going to have another bad outing -- I'd rather expect the worst and then be pleasantly surprised when the best happens -- but sadly, it's what happened anyway. It sounds like his velocity was off pretty early in the game, and the Indians were figuring out to just take a lot of his pitches. Oh well, I have high hopes for Zach Duke to start kicking butt and taking names soon too. Young pitchers are so exciting, aren't they? However, tomorrow the M's game will be between two old pitchers -- Jamie Moyer vs. Curt Schilling. In Boston. It should be pretty entertaining.

The Phillies-Braves game today was pretty funny too. Kyle Davies, speaking of young pitchers getting off to slow starts, had one of the roughest starts to a game I've seen in a while -- J-Roll led off and homered, Aaron Rowand doubled, Bobby Abreu homered, Pat Burrell singled, and Chase Utley homered. And this was all before the Phillies even registered the first out of the ballgame! Even David Bell singled as the Phillies batted around the order during that first inning. Despite Ryan Franklin's best attempt to give the game back to the Braves later on, the Phillies still prevailed 7-6. Maybe he just wanted to narrow the score to the point where Tom Gordon could actually pick up a save. I dunno.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The new XBox game - Meche Assault

Much like in the movie The Dark Crystal, somehow the three suns have united in the skies, and my three "home" teams of the Mariners, Pirates, and Phillies, all won today. It's pretty amazing, isn't it?

Despite the Meche Assault by the Indians' lineup (4 innings, 5 runs, 4 walks, 1 strikeout? Hello?), Paul Byrd was even worse -- as it were, a Byrd on the mound was worth two bases on the field. Or three, sometimes, even. Danny Graves, who has an awful lot of hair, got through one or two innings okay, and then in the 6th, the Mariners decided to give him a haircut. Betancourt singled, Ichiro singled, Ibanez was intentionally walked to get to Big Swingin' Richie. Richie's getting a little frustrating these days with his tendency to strike out with lots of guys on base, but you gotta admit, when he hits that ball, he really hits it, and a grand slam is always exciting, isn't it? Fortunately, Sexson's slam balanced out the four runs the bullpen gave up later, as the Mariners won the game 11-9. I'd like you to take a very close look at that box score by the way, and tell me if you notice anything weird about the numbers under the H on the Mariners' side. Oh, very good! You noticed that there's only one zero, and it's next to Carl Everett!

Weight Watchers:
Sexson: Batting .235, weight listed at 235
Beltre: Batting .156, weight listed at 220
Everett: Batting .100, weight listed at 220

Fortunately, Ichiro went 3-for-4 with a walk and 4 runs scored, which put his average at .237 -- he really doesn't need to go on a diet, y'know?

Over in Atlanta, the Phillies finally managed to win their second game, 7-5 over the Braves. Lidle wasn't too bad, going 6 innings with 3 runs, walking none and striking out 7, giving up a homer to Brian McCann (who I recently added to my fantasy team, so I don't feel too bad about it). The guys finally found their bats, with Pat the Bat and Aaron Rowand both homering, and even Lieby smashed a double in the second inning which scored half the team and got them the lead, which they kept. Ryan Franklin pitched an inning and didn't suck, too.

(As I'm writing this I'm watching the Eagles-Fighters game over the 'net and Ogasawara just hit a foul ball that was not only nearly a home run, it nearly sailed straight out of Miyagi Fullcast Stadium, hitting a billboard up above the rightfield stands. To be fair though, Yasuhiro Ichiba really is one hell of a pitcher, and watching him and Yu Darvish pitch is pretty cool.)

For the second day straight, both guys named Wilson on the Pirates managed to hit home runs as the Pirates beat the Dodgers 9-5. Craig Wilson is really being a pain in the butt to the Pirates, isn't he? They want to bench him so badly, but a guy hitting .350/.409/1.000 with 4 home runs in 22 plate appearances isn't really the sort you want to bench, right? Man. It's not like we know any other teams who keep decent hitters sitting on the bench all day, though.

Anyway, now Florida sits alone in the "Has yet to win a second game in 2006" boat. Yay.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Double, double, toil and trouble

The Mariners continued their losing streak today in Cleveland. I tuned in during the 5th inning when it looked like they were going to be no-hit, but then Johjima hit a double. Whew.

Strangely enough, there were eight doubles hit during this game -- four by the Mariners (Johjima's, two for Yuniesky Betancourt, and one for Petagine), and four for the Indians (Blake, Boone, Martinez, and Peralta).

Washburn seemed pretty efficient with his pitches at that point, too -- I think he had thrown about 40 in 4 innings, which was much better than The Other Day Eddie throwing 40 pitches in one inning. Unfortunately, right about when I tuned in was right about when he gave up back-to-back home runs to Jhonny Peralta and Travis Hafner. Whooosh.

By the way, we have two guys in the Mariners lineup right now who are batting lower than their listed body weights -- Beltre's .148 and Everett's .115 -- Ichiro only escapes it with his .176 because he's listed as weighing 170. I'm also not counting Borchard, listed as weighing 230 and currently batting .222 because he's had one-fourth the at-bats of the rest of the staff.

Contrariwise, Petagine would have to weigh half a ton to be batting less than his body weight. So far, Petagine's been in 3 games, had 3 plate appearances, 1 walk, 2 hits, 1 homer, 1 double, for a 1.000/1.000/3.000 line so far. You gotta love this guy. And more importantly, you gotta play this guy.

However, the 8 doubles in the Mariners game doesn't beat the 7 home runs in the Reds-Cubs game today, which the Reds won 9-2. The wind must have really been blowing out at Wrigley Field, as Michael Barrett hit one for the Cubs, and for the Reds Adam Dunn launched two homers, and there was one each for Edwin Encarnacion, Austin Kearns, Ken Griffey Jr... and Bronson Arroyo. If you're keeping track, that's two games Arroyo has been in this year, where he's made 5 plate appearances, walked once, and gotten two hits, both of which were home runs, for a .500/.600/2.000 line. Also, Griffey has only homered twice this year so far, and both times were during the same game as Arroyo.

Now, the funny part is, you may say: "Ah, that's no big deal, Arroyo's been hitting those home runs in hitters' parks." So, I'll give you that, the parks have been helping his hitting. But shouldn't the parks then be hindering his pitching, as well? The even more crazy thing to me is that he's started and won two games, and in 13.2 innings hasn't given up a walk yet, has struck out 11, has an ERA of 1.98... it's pretty impressive no matter how you look at it. I don't know how long he can make it last, but it is really entertaining to read about.

The Pirates actually decided to go ahead and win a game today with a homerun-pumped comeback. Four homers were launched by Pirates players, 2 by players who have the last name Wilson. I was debating finding a seat in PNC Park when I arrive in Pittsburgh this weekend, and refusing to leave until they won a game, but maybe I won't have to do that. As it is, this leaves only the Phillies and the Marlins in the category of "MLB Teams which have yet to win a second game in 2006".

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Phillies-Braves Game Rap

I ended up staying late at work because we were sort of trapped in the office due to the protest downtown, so I watched the Phillies-Braves game over Gameday. It was really reminiscent of Mariners games, as you can see -- a case of plenty of hits, not enough runs scored, plus the patented late-inning Franklin gopher ball. Anyway, for today's game summary, I am channelling Jimmy Rollins:

Wassup Phillies hey, it's J-Roll from the Bay,
Now gatha' round suckas, I got somethin' ta say.
In case ya ain't heard, I'm sittin' on third,
I wanna come home, but ya gimme the bird.
We gettin' on base but the runs ain't scorin',
I'm talkin' ta Chase 'cause he out there snorin',
We losin' last week, now we here in Atlanta,
We stealin' the sacks like a present from Santa,
We get two guys on, but then swingin' an' strike,
Yo Bobby an' Burly, Dellucci an' Mike.
We need some R to the B to the I, can ya hit 'em?
If they ain't gonna do it then we might as well sit 'em.
Hey brotha Bell, ya givin' em hell?
On a day where we slumpin', ya doin' real well.
Yo Rowan' and Ryan, I know you guys tryin'.
We left yas on base like the laundry out dryin'.
And Brett had it rough but he gave us a chance,
Tomorrow we brothas will go out and dance.
We get us support for our man Cory Lidle
And then bust a wrap on American Idol

Monday, April 10, 2006

Happy First Birthday, Marinerds

I can't believe it's been exactly a year now that I've been writing this thing. So rather than talking more about how awesome the A's were this weekend and how lousy the Mariners were, I figure I'll talk about how awesome the blogosphere is and how much fun the last year has been overall.

I'm not sure exactly where the story starts on how Marinerds came to exist. I used to write about baseball stuff fairly often on my normal web journal, to the point that a lot of my friends were getting sick of me talking about baseball so much. Then in December 2004, I went to a USS Mariner pizza feed, and a bunch of us were standing around talking about the state of the blogosphere and whatnot. I don't remember who else was in that particular circle except Dave Cameron and Moira Koskey, although I think Conor Glassey was as well. I'd only been reading USSM for a couple months at that point and didn't know who a lot of people were.

Anyway, Moira said she'd been thinking of starting a blog because the Mariners didn't have any female bloggers, and Dave said something along the lines of "Hey, if some women decided they wanted to write a Mariners blog, we would TOTALLY love that. It would be really cool."

So, fast-forward to the spring, after my contract job out in Kirkland was up, and I had a lot of time on my job-hunting hands to either stay up all night watching Japanese baseball games, or just go down to Safeco a lot, and write things and read a lot and whatnot. I figured, what the heck, I'd separate out the baseball stuff from my normal web stuff so it'd stop driving my friends crazy.

I had a few vague ideas for blog names - I couldn't decide whether to go with something that evoked "female blogger" or with something that evoked "complete and utter dork". I got singled out a lot for being a giiiiiiiirl back when I was a computer science major in college, and it got old after a while. So instead, I thought up a few silly geeky blog names, and amazingly my first choice of "Marinerds" wasn't taken on blogspot, so I just went with that. (It's probably a good thing I didn't choose the female blogger aspect. I was thinking of being "Miss Swinganda".)

Since I didn't know whether I'd actually stick with writing it, I didn't really make a big deal out of it like "OMG CHECK OUT MY NEW BLOG!!1!1!!one" or anything. I did continue being a general smartass on the Mariners and Phillies blogs, only now I had an actual URL to link to my name with my comments. Somewhere along the line, I guess people started actually clicking on my name to see what the hell a "Marinerd" was, and for some reason, some of them even actually started coming here regularly to read my random goofy game reports and humor pieces and song parodies and whatnot.

The postseason happened. The offseason happened. Somehow I still managed to keep writing almost every day. And now we're back to the start of the season, and who knows what this year will bring?

Anyway, pardon me while I have a Dan Wilson moment and acknowledge a few people:

  • The USS Mariner crew for being the best damn bloggers in town and just a group of awesome guys. I can't even begin to express how much they've been a help and an inspiration to the blogging experience. I've learned so much about baseball and writing and baseball writing from them. Simply put, this blog would not exist if not for USSM.

  • The Lookout Landing guys for opening my brain to a lot of stuff like Win Expectancy charts. I learned over the last year that it's pretty hard to write witty game reports after just the games I attend, and Jeff writes 'em every day. The man's crazy.

  • David and Jeremy over at Sports and Bremertonians for being the first M's blog that I know of that ever linked to me, back around Stitch'n'Pitch night.

  • The Iron Tech for encouraging me to find my voice, as it were.

  • Conor Glassey, for always reading my blog and running into me at games and telling me I was actually funny and not just on another planet.

  • (Positive) Paul over at Mariners Morsels for photogeeking and putting up with me at Fan Fest, and always sharing the same weird sense of humor and the same appreciation of certain left-handed baseball players.

  • (pdb) Paul at Nice Guys Finish Third for being the other half of the comics page in the metaphorical M's blogosophere newspaper.

  • MSB for her fact-checking and providing endless webpage links I never would have found otherwise, and for being a fellow Jason Kendall fan.

  • Moira, the aforementioned Mariner Housewife, for starting the whole M's blog-chick thing, and being even crazier than me (she named her son after Ichiro, after all)

  • Bat-Girl for setting such a high bar for baseblog chicks to aspire to someday.

  • Phloggers Jason, Greg, Tom and Tom and Tom (and others) for helping me keep up with my beloved Phillies, and giving me a place to drop in as a remote correspondent to Phlogadelphia from time to time. (The Phillies finally won a game today! YAY!)

  • Gary Garland and Michael Westbay for being indispensable sources of Japanese baseball information; also Tokyo Sam for helping me look like less of an idiot when I translate things.

  • Nick, Jeff, Oren, Brian, Josh, Megan, and any other number of friends who have had to put up with me at some games where I was so intent on scoring the game and scribbling notes for my game reports that I'd miss whole conversations like "Yeah. Mmhmm. What? He died? Really?"

  • You. No, seriously, you, the person reading these words right now. I wouldn't be writing them if you weren't reading them. You guys have absolutely no idea how much it makes my day when someone tells me they enjoy reading this blog. So, thanks for everything. Seriously. Hopefully we'll still be here for a Marinerds Second Blogday.

See? Wasn't that better than reading about how the Mariners got owned by the Oakland pitching staff yet again? I thought so, too.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Game Report: Mariners vs. A's - Dan Appreciation Night, Part Two

Last fall, we had Dan Wilson's retirement game on the same night as Fan Appreciation Night, and today, we had the official thing, with all the bells and whistles. 37,904 folks were at the game to celebrate the Dan, the myth, the legend. The ceremony was nice, but the game that followed wasn't, unless you were rooting for the A's.

Short version: It was Felix's 20th birthday today, and the Mariners lost 3-0 to the A's, tagging Jamie Moyer with his first loss at Safeco Field since October 2004. It was generally a low-hitting low-scoring game, with the A's runs coming off a Kotsay homer, a Scutaro double and Chavez single, and a awful Bloomquist dive Kotsay triple and Scutaro groundout. The Mariners offered only one obstacle to a Zito no-hitter when Richie Sexson hit a double deep to center field. Mark Kotsay got the ball and hit the wall and it popped out of his glove, but to his credit, many centerfielders don't even get to that ball. Kotsay's a stud. End of story.

Dan the Man field decoration
Safeco Field was a vision of Danliness.

The Dan Wilson ceremony before the game was wacky. We got the park following book club (brief book club recap in the preceding entry), at about 5:20, and all the "Dan the Man" signs were already gone. The ceremony started at 5:15. There were all sorts of people there -- Dan's family, friends, former coaches, and even former manager Lou Piniella came in, to tell us how when he came here from Cincinnati, he remembered Dan Wilson as a young catcher in camp and advised the Mariners to get him.

One of Dan's daughters recited a poem about how "we miss you when you're away, we love when you're near, we're glad that you're retired so your schedule is clear" or something. It was cute.

Dan himself got up and gave a really long speech, I think it lasted like 15 minutes, though I wasn't counting. Dan Wilson is pretty much the quintessential "good guy", and you can guess what most of his speech went like, thanking all the people who got him to where he is now, etc. To his kids, ("however many there were of you at the time,") he mentioned how "your smiles wipe away ALL of my 0-for-4's", and such.

There was a lot of applause and a couple of tears, I think, and a lot of people with homemade Dan Wilson signs and a lot of Wilson jerseys.

Dan the Man signs
The Dan the Man Fan Clan was out in force tonight.

Anyway, there was also a game. However, this one had even less action than Friday night's game.

Aside from Yuniesky Betancourt almost getting decapitated by a liner from Eric Chavez, the first inning passed entirely uneventfully.

In top of the second inning, Milton Bradley singled with two outs, but then attempted a pretty dumb steal, and Johjima easily threw him out at second. This caused the big board to display the message: "DON'T GO ON JOH".

Big Richie led off for the Mariners with a huge fly ball to straightaway center field, which almost looked like a home run, except Kotsay was tracking it perfectly, and barely caught up with it at the wall. The ball bounced out of his glove and so Richie had a double. He advanced on a wild pitch during Beltre's at-bat which I thought actually hit Beltre's feet -- he was hop-dancing around as if avoiding the ball. But Beltre and Everett struck out and Johjima grounded out to leave Richie on third.

The third inning passed completely uneventfully. The grounds crew did their dance to "Grease Lightning" between the third and fourth innings. The "Ask the Mariners" video question for the day was "What do you think of Dan Wilson?" and pretty much every guy said some combination of the following: "ultimate professional", "class act", "great guy", "nicest guy ever," "very intelligent", etc, except Jarrod Washburn, who would obviously have a different perspective: "I couldn't strike him out!"

After getting around the order, the A's led off the fourth inning by having Mark Kotsay hit a home run into the right field seats. Have I mentioned that Mark Kotsay is a stud? Anyway, not to be outdone, Marco Scutaro followed that up with a hit into deep right field for a double, and advanced to third on a wild pitch through Johjima's feet, though Crosby did strike out. Chavez worked the count to 3-1, and started to walk to first base on the fifth pitch, only to be told it was a strike and to get his ass back to the plate. So instead he hit a clean single to center and Scutaro scored. That was about it for the inning though, on both sides.

More Mariners Favorites!
Sexson - Food to cook: Chicken Parmesan
Beltre - CD: Merengue
Everett - Actress: Angela Bassett
Johjima - Childhood nickname: Joh (gee, big surprise there)
Bloomquist - Food: Clubhouse orange pasta (wtf?)
Betancourt - Ice cream flavor: Strawberry

There was a group holding up Ichiro signs, they had three of them, with "IC" "HI" and "RO", and the "HI" one actually said "HI (mom)", which was sort of funny.

The top of the fifth inning featured Betancourt pulling off a 6-3 double play, snagging a Dan Johnson grounder right by the second base bag to nab a walked Jason Kendall, and then throwing to first to get Johnson as well. The bottom of the fifth inning featured Barry Zito consecutively hitting Johjima in the foot and Willie Bloomquist in the chest, but you know what the Mariners do with two guys on and two outs: choke. Betancourt struck out.

The music trivia song of the day was "Good", by Better than Ezra, from 1995. The first question was stupid: what team was 'good' enough to win the AL West in 1995? Then there were a few other sports questions, and the last one was: "What catcher was 'good' enough to be the Mariners' Opening Day catcher in 1995?" and the three choices were: "A. Dan Wilson B. Dan Wilson C. Dan Wilson".

They also did a Quick Flix of Dan Wilson, and a Noah's Get To Know Us of Dan Wilson, and later in the game, replayed footage of his inside-the-park home runs. They also showed some Dan Wilson old commercials, including my personal favorite, the Jamie Moyer Killer Changeup one. "You gonna hit that?"

Anyway, in the sixth inning, Kotsay led off with a triple to center, which probably wouldn't have been a triple if Willie Bloomquist hadn't made a bad dive for the ball and ended up sprawled out on the field. Scutaro grounded out to short, scoring Kotsay, making the score 3-0 A's. Crosby singled, and Chavez struck out, and Moyer passed 100 pitches, so they took him out and brought out Rafael Soriano. Oddly, the first thing Soriano did was walk the Big Hurt on four straight pitches, not intentionally, but then he struck out Milton Bradley, so it was okay. The Mariners' half was yet another 1-2-3 inning, although Ichiro fouled off about ninety pitches to bring Zito's pitch count above 100, and Zen Master Zito did not return after the 6th.

You know, looking at my notes, there's only three more interesting things that happened during the rest of the game:

1) Kendall was hit by a pitch in the 7th and then stole second. Only he stole second on a pitch-out, so Johjima fired the ball to first, and Kendall broke for second, and somehow when Richie threw the ball to Betancourt, something must have gone awry with the tag, because Kendall was called safe. I'd even started to write down "CS, 2-3-6" but had to cross it out.

2) Also in the 7th, Richie Sexson struck out, but the third strike appeared to bounce in the dirt, and Kendall tagged him out. Sexson started telling the umpire that the third strike was a foul tip - and from the deflection into the dirt, I could certainly believe it - and Hargrove even came out to argue it - but to no avail.

3) Joe Borchard came into the game in the 8th as a pinch-hitter for Betancourt, but hit into a 5-4 fielder's choice which narrowly missed being a 5-4-3 double play. Bloomquist went to short, and Borchard stayed in as the centerfielder.

Huston Street pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the 9th and got his first save of the year.

So anyway, you'll note that only four Mariners reached base. Richie with his double, Johjima getting hit by a pitch, Bloomquist walking and getting hit by a pitch, and Borchard's fielder's choice. So technically, Willie had the highest OBP on the team by reaching base twice.

Jason Kendall has been a mad OBP machine in the last two games. In 7 plate appearances, he reached base 5 times, on 4 walks and 1 HBP, scoring one run and stealing a base. Despite only having 1 hit in 17 plate appearances so far this year, he's got an OBP of .389 -- that's just messed up, isn't it?

Also, the Pirates lost yet AGAIN today, bringing them to 0-6. The Phillies were rained out, so they have a doubleheader tomorrow. I just hope they can win one of the two games, or I'm going to cry. Detroit and Milwaukee, on the other hand, haven't bothered losing any games yet. The Tigers mauled Kevin Millwood to ultimately win the game 7-0 as Chris Shelton, the poor dear, didn't hit any more home runs, just two triples. Milwaukee, on the other hand, carried a 4-4 tied game into the bottom of the 9th, when J.J. Hardy doubled, Jenkins was intentionally walked, and then Carlos Lee centered to Eric Byrnes out in center, who got the ball and threw it so hard he flipped over into a somersault -- but it arrived at the plate too late anyway. You can see a clip of it on the game recap article under "Lee's game winner".

I am totally wiped out, so I'm not going to the game tomorrow. Watch, the Mariners will actually win it.