Friday, June 30, 2006

Sherrill on the World Cup

Mostly for PDB, this comes from the latest Mariners email detailing the Perez-Cabrera trade, from the "Fan Zone" part:

MM: So rumor has it you have been keeping an eye on the World Cup?
GS: Yeah, when we aren't traveling. The games are on early, so you
can watch them in the clubhouse or the weight room. Some of us
have been kicking a ball around before batting practice.

MM: Who is going to win it all?
GS: Brazil. Hands down. Ronaldo... Ronaldinho... they have the five
best players in the world.

MM: Who could knock them off?
GS: Maybe Argentina if they get past Germany.

MM: Anybody else in the clubhouse following the World Cup?
GS: Jose, Felix, Yuniesky and J.J. are also keeping an eye on it.
I think everyone agrees Brazil is the team to beat, but I've also
heard votes for Italy. Yuniesky says France.

Cabrera traded for Perez

I know, what delightfully common surnames.

Mariners acquire Perez from Indians

As in, Eduardo Perez. 36-year-old lefty-mashing first baseman. I realize that the Broussard-Perez platoon was a thing of beauty, but still.

We traded Asdrubal Cabrera for him. This makes me sad. I really liked Cabrera, and I think he has a lot of talent, even though I know he was blocked by Lopez and Betancourt. I think, like everyone else, my initial reaction is something to the effect of "Great, we needed a guy who can really hit lefties, but didn't we overpay for him, trading one of our best prospects for a guy who immediately becomes the second oldest player on our roster?" It'll take some time to sink in. I think we could have gotten more for Cabrera, but I guess it's a moot point.

Discussion at USS Mariner and at Lookout Landing.

Man, after the Haigwood-for-Castro trade the Phillies made this week, I'm just not sure what to think of anything anymore. I know I'm not a GM, but I feel doubly skunked this week.

Baseball Prospectus has an interesting interview with Adam Jones, if you want to remember that we have some other studs remaining in Tacoma.

Also, rumors say that Jeff Weaver's gonna be replaced by his little brother at long last. I like Jered Weaver. He's a monster.

(EDIT: It's now official. I especially like how the next article down on the Angels page is "Izturis brothers feel no rivalry".)

Deanna Crashes SABR, Part 1

Well, actually, it's fairly unlikely there'll be a part 2. I'd love to try to see Jim Bouton tomorrow, but honestly, I need to finish stuff up at work before I head off to California for the weekend. Speaking of which, if anyone reading this is an A's fan and is going to be at the Coliseum for either Sunday's or Tuesday's game, drop me a line, I'll come sing you something :)

So, tonight at the Elliott Bay Book Company, they were having "a SABR-related talk and signing". I'm not registered for the SABR convention because I couldn't take the time off from work and wasn't sure I'd get my money's worth out of the registration fee if I just ducked in on my lunch break and such. It's not that I'm not a SABR type at heart. Those of you who were around this blog over the winter will remember my obsession with deconstructing old box scores for debunking the Jack Nabors myth or reevaluating Hugh Mulcahy. It's more that I didn't know anyone else who was going, and a lot of the events look like they're committee meetings for the SABR members anyway.

However, I decided to go to the bookstore event because Jonah Keri's moving away next week, and I wanted to get a chance to say goodbye. Overall, it was pretty cool.

Jonah talked a bit about Baseball Between The Numbers, most of which I was familiar with because we covered that book at May's book club meeting. As usual, he plugged the clever titles of the chapters, including everyone's token favorite "Why doesn't Billy Beane's shit work in the postseason?" which was amended to "Big fat guys who walk won't win you playoffs, dumbass."

Mark Armour and Dave Eskenazi talked about this book they'd done about baseball's history in the Northwest called "Rain Check". It apparently talks about various baseball people and events in the area, and has lots of pictures of old ballparks and whatnot.

Jeff Angus read from his book "Management by Baseball", which is about the parallels between business management and baseball management, I think. In particular, he read a few pages about how awful a manager Maury Wills was. While I have to admit being largely unfamiliar with Jeff Angus, his reading was great, as he sarcastically recounted watching Maury Wills have the lumbering Jeff Burroughs try to steal a base, with the lesson being something like "Managers have to be aware of their employees' skill set and use those to solve the problem, and not try to impose their own skill set on the employee." Angus seems to be the master of the almost-but-not-quite-mixed metaphor, with things like "The idea hit me faster than a Randy Johnson fastball" and such.

Rob Neyer was vaguely plugging his Big Book of Baseball Blunders. I thought it was interesting that his book mostly starts at about 1917, when "the White Sox decided to play this guy Chick Gandil, and look what happened two years later?". He too implied that "I could have written an entire book on how awful a manager Maury Wills was, except I only got three pages."

After the guys finished talking about their books, there was some baseball Q&A about pretty much anything from gentrification and new stadiums, to making home plate wider, to Jeff's theories on which Fortune 500 businessmen could be major league managers, to David Cone's 147-pitch outing in the 1995 ALDS, to more Maury Wills bashing. Pretty much everything was interesting, and most of it was amusing as well.

It was a very interesting group of people assembled there; I always find it amusing to be in a room of people who actually know more random crap about baseball than I do. I think I may have been the only person who wasn't actually part of the SABR convention, though. The room was about 95% male and about 60% bearded. I didn't really recognize anyone there, though I'm sure some of the names would have been familiar if I'd caught them, and I wasn't really sure how to introduce myself to people. I did recognize Aaron Gleeman because of the SI picture, but what on earth would I have said to him? "I love your blog, dude. I'm so sorry about your dog."?

I waited in line for a bit afterwards to get Rob Neyer to sign my copy of the "Big Book of Baseball Lineups". I get up to the table and tell him how much I love his writing, and that "...this book is great! The only problem is, why did you put Von Hayes on not ONE but TWO 'All-Bust' lists?" He cracked up. Then he started saying something about how he wasn't sure where he'd originally gotten the idea Von Hayes was quite so awful, and maybe it was just an impression from all the Philly fans booing him, and hey, don't they boo everything?

So what he ended up writing in my book is: "For Deanna - Just for you, I'll excise any references to 'Five-for-One' in the next edition. Yours, Rob Neyer."

I didn't end up buying the other authors' books, and I didn't have my copy of BBTN with me (having loaned it to a friend who asked me one too many times why Jose Lopez shouldn't be sac bunting), so I just went over to wish Jonah goodbye and good luck, and went home.

I got home pretty much RIGHT as the Mariners game was ending. They won it, 3-2, which gives them a whopping 13-2 record in interleague play, which ties them with the Tigers and the Twins. Only Boston's 14-1 is better. It's still crazy, though. And now we're TWO games over .500. TWO! With Jamie Moyer facing Josh Fogg tomorrow! Rock on!

The Phillies also finally stopped their 7-game losing streak, with Ryan Madson shutting out the Orioles in an almost complete-game win (8.2 IP, 1 BB, 7K). I would like to point out that I am solely responsible for this, as I finally dropped him from my fantasy team roster again. Every time I drop him, he suddenly becomes Supermadson. I'm learning one of the lessons of fantasy baseball: If you love a player, set him free. If he starts kicking ass, he was never yours to begin with.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

On winning, and on book club

Two things of note:

1. The Mariners won the game tonight 10-3, which means their record for the season is now 40 wins and 39 losses. Last time I checked, 40 was more than 39, which means that the team has a winning record. OMGWTFVORP.

2. The July 8th book club meeting may not happen at all. Does anyone actually care? Is there anyone out there who could run the meeting for me? Basically, I can't make it that day due to something I committed to back in April, that won't be over until around 6:30-7pm. Josh says he can't make it, and I haven't talked to Gomez yet. Conor's getting married that day (congrats, Conor!), so it's pretty unlikely he'll be there. If someone else has interest in making sure book club happens that day, please let me know.

However, August 5th is going to be the book Fantasyland, by Sam Walker. And I'm about 100 pages into this book, and it is seriously one of the most entertaining books I've read in my entire life. I'm not exaggerating. I laugh aloud at something on just about every page. If you've ever played fantasy baseball, or even if you haven't, this book will totally crack you up. I promise. I'm even thinking I'll have to go against my general principle of not writing a review for a book club book before the meeting, because I want people to understand how completely enjoyable a book this is. Go freaking read it, and come to the August book club and complain about your fantasy team, or complain about how annoying people are when they talk about their fantasy team. Or else.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Well, they will fly 500 miles
And they will fly 500 more
Just to be the team to reach .500
While they're on a west-coast tour

Yes, the Mariners are 39-39. They no longer have a losing record, thanks to being the best team in the NL West.

For the record, though, the AL is beating the NL 117-70 in interleague as of right now. The Mariners, Twins, and White Sox are 11-2 in interleague, Detroit is 12-2, and Boston is 12-1. Only 4 AL teams out of 14 are posting losing records in interleague, whereas only 2 NL teams out of 16 are posting winning records. This is pretty insane.

In case you're wondering, I kept my streak of only catching one inning of the game alive: I got home after walking Greenlake with my housemates and the dogs, just in time for the ninth inning. It was 7-7, Ibanez was coming up to bat with two outs (and apparently Beltre on second), and I joked to the rest: "It's okay, I'm home, they can win now." Within the next three minutes, Ibanez was intentionally walked, Richie snagged that low pitch for a double to score Beltre, and Johjima launched that home run into the left field stands scoring the other three, putting the score at 11-7.

I was pretty dumbfounded, but it was pretty cool.

I was in the midst of telling my housemates what a lefty-masher and speed demon Eric Byrnes is when he got his double off Jake Woods, and I was pointing out that Conor Jackson and I share a birthday as he walked. And as Putz came in to face Gonzalez, they asked why we were bringing in a righty to face a lefty, and I said, "Because Putz is awesome. He's going to get this guy out," and he did.

You could have played a pretty good drinking game with the postgame show on the phrases "haven't been at .500 since..." and "Kenji Johjima's consecutive 2-homerun games".

Felix is up tonight, and I've got a decent plan for ignoring all but one inning of the game tonight too, so they should win this one as well.

(In other random things, I realized I never linked to Miguel Cabrera refusing to be intentionally walked, which is one of the coolest things I've ever seen in my life. I always wondered if someone could pull that off.)

(Also, if you have good karma to dish out, send some to Peter Gammons, who is recovering from surgery for an aneurysm. Get well, PG!)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Baseball is hard

"Baseball's a game. Games are supposed to be fun."
-- Tom Selleck, in Mr. Baseball

I went to the batting cages again last night to work on my swing for softball. Between playing softball out in the WHOPPING 85 DEGREE WEATHER on Sunday for an hour and a half, and working on my swing last night until my arms were ready to fall off, I really get a better appreciation for what ballplayers go through.

It's really easy to criticize them, to say they suck when they don't make a play, or if they strike out, or whatever. And quite frankly, some of them are getting paid more money per plate appearance than I'll make in a year. But still. Sometimes it's really hard to keep it in perspective that even if someone like Mark Teahen, All-Star sucks compared to many other major leaguers, he's still in the top .000001% of the baseball players in the world, just by way of being in the Major Leagues.

I had a really lousy day playing the field on Sunday. It was hot, the sun was shining in our faces. The other team was much better than us; we knew we were the proverbial Royals to their Yankees. And for whatever reason, I couldn't seem to get to grounders in time. It sucked. And worse, I couldn't get my mind out of it. I didn't catch a pop fly because I misjudged it by a few feet and couldn't readjust in time, so I was still mentally kicking myself a minute later when a grounder was hit about ten feet to my left, and I didn't get a good jump on it and it went through. Eventually, I know I was thinking things like "Hey, if they only get two more runs, this inning will end," and such.

Baseball is hard.

My right wrist has a bruise on it because I'm doing something wonky with the follow-through in my swing, and after 150 swings or so, it didn't want to deal with me anymore. Being as I like having control of the fingers on my right hand, I decided to listen to my wrist.

However, I started really getting the timing down of that damn pitching machine after a while. I started pulling the ball well, hitting it far into the netting behind the machines. I'd step into my swing more, swing harder, give myself some more bat speed, stop meekly hitting grounders back to the middle. I loved hearing the thwack of metal on softball as I got some really good contact.

Baseball is fun.

The other day, I was sitting there at work refreshing box scores, waiting for certain game lineups to show up so I'd know who was playing and who wasn't, so I could throw them into the lineup that day on my fantasy team. I decided to take a risk and put in Ryan Freel as my 2B and sit out Tadahito Iguchi, despite that Iguchi was facing lefty Andy Pettitte and Freel was racing righty Jake Westbrook. Iguchi went 0-for-3 with a walk, and Freel went 5-for-5 and scored two runs. Was I brilliant? No, just lucky. A few days later Iguchi got me 2 home runs and 7 RBI in one game, which is actually the new single-game RBI record for a Japanese player in the MLB. And that was even luckier.

Figuring out how baseball players are going to perform is complex.

I realize that softball is not baseball, that I am not an athlete, that managing a fantasy baseball team is nothing like managing or general managing a real team. I know that I don't work on my programming projects at work to the cheers of 40,000 people, and if I screw something up, I only have to face my boss; I'm not going to have to deal with a full stadium shouting, "YOUR CODE SUCKS, DEANNA, GET OFF THE KEYBOARD!"

I guess my point is, despite that I know it's not going to stop me from shouting things like "YOU SUCK, EDDIE!", I've been trying to take a different tack on the game this year, both in writing and in playing, and it's been a lot of fun and really educational. There's a fine balance between how far you can submerge yourself into the game mentally before you start thinking of the players running around like little random-number-generating automata. I wanted to take a step back and put some things into perspective for myself, and I figured I'd let you all in on what I was thinking.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Game Report: Rainiers vs. Beavers - Leone For Third!

I went to the Tacoma Rainiers vs. Portland Beavers game on Friday night. It's now Sunday afternoon and I still don't feel like writing about it. I'm not entirely sure why. But I haven't paid attention to the Mariners all weekend, and my softball team got crushed 33-3 today (at least I scored one of our three runs, after making several huge errors in the field. I felt like Hunter Brown), and I need something to write about, and no, I *don't* feel like writing about stuff like Brett Myers, so.

"Short" version: Someone's really got to teach Jared Wells and Cesar Jimenez how to freaking throw strikes. In the first four innings of the game, those two combined walked THIRTEEN GUYS. I am not making that up. Anyway, amidst a ton of base runners, the Rainiers managed to score 3 runs in the first two innings via a Quiroz GIDP RBI and a sweet double by Adam Jones. Terrmel Sledge (how the hell did he end up on the Beavers, anyway?) blasted a home run over the left-field wall in the 3rd inning to make it 3-1. Several boring innings later, the Beavers eked out another run in the 8th when Sledge doubled, McAnulty grounded out to first, and Knott hit a sac fly. This set the scene for the 9th inning, when Scott Atchison came out to pitch. Justin Leone led off with a single, and advanced to third when Atchison walked both Luke Carlin and Ken Jones. Manny Alexander hit a sac fly out to right, and despite Choo fielding it perfectly and firing the ball in, Leone still tagged up to score. The Rainiers couldn't get a run in their half of the ninth and the game went into extra innings. Nothing much happened in the 10th beyond Hunter Brown's fielding antics. Justin Leone scored another run in the 11th off Atchison; he doubled and was driven in by Carlin's double. Ken Jones singled, Carlin advanced to third, and the only reason Carlin didn't score was that Manny Alexander hit a sac fly ball that went to extremely shallow center field, and Adam Jones charged in for it, catching it slightly behind the second base infield dirt. With the score 4-3 coming into the bottom of the 11th, Jason Anderson took the mound for the Beavers, and after Asdrubal Cabrera grounded out, the Rainiers reeled off a ton of singles to center, starting with Scott Youngbauer and ending in the game-winning RBI by Guillermo Quiroz, and the Rainiers won it 5-4, Atchison getting the blown save and the win. Whee.

Top Ten Reasons the Rainiers game was great:

1. Shin-soo Choo got on base SIX TIMES in SIX PLATE APPEARANCES. Three walks, three hits. Choo's your own adventure.

2. Hunter Brown made a horrendous error in the tenth inning, dropping a pop fly that basically landed right over him; it popped out of his glove. I felt really bad for him, except the play immediately after that, he redeemed himself with a fantastic double play, catching a low liner and and firing it to first to double up the runner who had reached on the error.

3. Brown also walked twice, scored a run, and got caught in one of the funnier rundowns I've seen, after Jeff Clement grounded out to first. It does seem that while carrying the torch for the Hunter Brown Fan Club, I've gotten to see him do some really crazy stuff.

4. Jeff Clement got one hit and another near-hit when he scorched the ball into the shortstop, who happened to make the catch. It was a hell of a drive though. I'm really glad I can watch him play again; was it really only a year ago I went up to Everett to see his first professional game?

5. Justin. Leone. Is. AWESOME. Why the hell aren't the Padres playing him? He was fantastic in the field, starting a double play, catching Choo stealing third, and perfectly charging and fielding a bunt by Asdrubal Cabrera, in a play I'm not even sure Adrian Beltre makes. In the meantime he also hit a single and a double and scored both times, one of which was the tying run which brought the game into extra innings, and the other was the go-ahead run for the Beavers in the 11th.

6. Adam Jones charging that fly ball in the 11th was really good. I think he's getting pretty good out there in the outfield; he's got a great arm and a lot of foot speed. There was a long fly ball by Ken Jones which was caught by Greg Dobbs in left field, but Adam Jones got there in time to back it up as well. Good stuff.

7. Greg Dobbs doesn't suck. He's a much more acceptable outfielder than Mike Morse, for one, and at this game, he walked 4 times and got a single in one of his other plate appearances.

8. Despite the tying run scoring in the 9th off of it, Choo's play on Manny Alexander's sac fly was pretty awesome, very Ichiro-esque, as he caught the ball and immediately FIRED it home. The throw was dead on and even beat Leone to the plate, but Quiroz didn't make the tag. Oh well.

9. Also, Shin-soo Choo's son is the cutest kid ever. When the game got boring, I'd start watching Choo's kid running around the aisles and Choo's wife chasing him down. It got really funny at parts. Once, he even got far enough through the stands to get in the way when Nageotte and Cruceta were charting pitches, and he just looked up at them with this huge grin before getting taken away. It was so damn cute.

10. During the "I Want Candy" thing between the 7th and 8th innings, I got hit in the face with a piece of Cashew Roca. It was pretty good, though.

Top Ten Reasons the Rainiers Game Sucked:

1. NO CHRIS SNELLING :( :( :( :( :( :( :(

2. Those thirteen walks in the first four innings. The 20 walks issued in the game overall. I know walks are just as good as hits when your team gets them, but when the bases keep getting loaded due to walks for both teams, it's just BORING watching bad pitches go across the plate over and over again.

3. NO CHRIS SNELLING :( :( :( :( :( :( :(

4. Getting to see Justin Leone kick butt for another team makes me sad. I realize that my Leone fanship is largely influenced by Jeff, but still. When Leone doubled in the 11th inning down the left field side and Dobbs had to chase after it, I was vaguely reminded of what Jeff put on Dobbs's b-ref page. It's funny, but sad.

5. NO CHRIS SNELLING :( :( :( :( :( :( :(

6. There was this guy sitting behind me who yelled stuff the whole game. Most of the time it was just really annoying, particularly when it'd just be things like "YOU GUYS REALLY ARE A BUNCH OF BEAVERS" or whatever, although there was a funny moment when Atchison had a 3-something count on Ken Jones, and the dude yelled "YOU'RE WALKING HIM??? THIS IDIOT IS BATTING ONE FORTY THREE. ONE FOUR THREE, MAN!"

7. NO CHRIS SNELLING :( :( :( :( :( :( :(

8. I had seats in section O originally, and after about ten minutes there realized I couldn't see a damn thing with all the sunlight. I'm never sitting over there again. We moved infield to shadier seats. Thing is, though, Cheney Stadium is nearly impossible to take good pictures of during evening games because of the way the sun hits it, which is why there's no picture accompanying this entry.

9. NO CHRIS SNELLING :( :( :( :( :( :( :(

10. Freaking Tacoma traffic is annoying as all hell. Would you believe I left Seattle at about 5:15pm, and barely got to the game by 6:55pm? Not only is it a nightmare getting down I-5, but even once you get on route 16 out to the park, it was just completely backed up. Then, you get stuck getting into the Cheney parking lot. I don't think I'm coming down on a Friday ever again. Weekend games, maybe... earlier in the week games, maybe... but not Fridays. Yuck. And in the meantime, they had fireworks after the game -- the game didn't end until 11pm, after all -- which meant that you couldn't get out of the parking lot either, because it was blocked off during the fireworks. So I didn't get home until around 12:45am, which is probably why I didn't write this report until now.

On the other hand, the fireworks were good.

But goddamnit, I never ever seem to get to see Chris Snelling play.

It is sort of funny how the Mariners and Padres were playing each other at the same time their farm teams were playing each other.

Also, this game was my 25th baseball game attended of the year, which means I finished off my first scorecard book. This puts me one week ahead of where I was last year, when I finished off my first scorecard book on July 4th at the Yankees-Orioles game.

We had baseball-shape-frosted cupcakes after our softball game today because it was our shortstop's birthday during the week. I made the requisite Joe Blanton reference, but nobody got it.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Game Report: Aquasox vs. Dust Devils - Fister Act

You know, usually seeing a Mariners game and sitting in the upper decks costs me around $25 in ticket plus food, and about an hour of transit time what with walking there from work and bussing home. Tonight I went up to see Doug Fister, the Mariners' 7th-round draft pick, start for the Everett Aquasox. It worked out something more like this:

1 Aquasox ticket, 6 rows from the field: $10
1 game program, so I know who people are: $2.50
2 hot dogs, after the game: $1
Bus fare to Everett: $2.50
Time spent on buses today: 3 hours
Seeing Doug Fister pitch 5 innings of no-hit ball with 9 strikeouts: PRICELESS

Short version: Doug Fister is AWESOME. The first five innings went insanely fast as he mowed down the Dust Devils lineup to the tune of no walks, 9 K's, and one batter reaching on an error. He left the game with a 1-0 lead after Bryan Sabatella stole two consecutive bases and was driven in on a Kuo Hui Lo "infield single". Unfortunately, that was the only run the Aquasox would score for the evening. Ari Kafka continued the no-hitter in the 6th, but Saydel Beltran basically handed the game to the Dust Devils, serving up a single, a home run, and a double on his first three pitches of the night. In the 8th inning he started off with another three consecutive hits, and then Jose Colon came out to allow them to score, and got himself his own four earned runs in the 9th as well, showing that he could throw a fastball in the low 90's, but that he couldn't throw it for strikes. When the dust finally cleared, no pun intended, the Tri-City team beat the Aquasox 10-1.

Doug Fister
Doug Fister is 6'8". No, really.

Reasons I already love Doug Fister:
1) He's like ninety feet tall
2) He's pretty cute
3) He wears high socks
4) He struck out a bazillion guys
5) His name is great for puns

The Dust Devils led off the game by having Anthony Jackson hit a ground ball that bounced up the middle, and Aquasox shortstop Ogui Diaz basically dropped it for an error. Fister retired the next 15 guys he faced, with 9 strikeouts, 2 fly outs, and 4 groundouts. My only notes for the first five innings of Dust Devils at-bats are things like "Holy crap" and "Nice charge in by Pimentel" and "My god, that inning took less than three minutes".

Andrew Kreidermacher matched Fister for four scoreless innings. The Aquasox got a couple baserunners out there, though. In the first inning, Dickey and Lo grounded out, but the big first baseman Joe White hit the ball good and hard into left field that probably would have been caught or picked up by a major-league outfielder for an out or single, but this turned into a double. Pimentel bounced the ball to the shortstop, who dropped the ball, but Bonilla struck out and left White at third.

Adam Moore hit a nice clean single to center to start off the second inning for the Frogs, but DH Jair Fernandez hit a nice easy grounder up to third which became a double play, and Sabatella also grounded out after that.

More baserunners in the third, as Diaz led off with an infield single to second, where Geoff Strickland stopped the ball but pulled the first baseman off the bag with his throw. Gavin Dickey drew a walk. Kuo-Hui Lo grounded to short, and Dickey was easily out on the force at second, but the speedster Lo ran out the grounder and was safe by a split second at first to prevent the double play. Joe White struck out so hard he threw his bat all the way to the backstop on the swing. Pimentel popped out in a short fly ball to second base, which reminded me of a play I made at softball last week, oddly enough.

Bonilla, Moore, and Fernandez were up and down in the 4th. In the fifth, Sabatella led off with an "infield single" where he hit a short fly ball past second base, and Geoff Strickland ran out and right fielder Victor Ferrante ran in, and neither one of them caught it as Strickland fell over, which also reminded me of a play I made at softball last week. Diaz struck out, but by the time his at-bat was over, Sabatella was on third, having stolen both second and third. Dust Devils catcher Ramon Rodriguez really did make a valiant attempt to throw him out both times, but failed. Dickey popped out to shallow right, and after that Kuo-Hui Lo hit a SCORCHING liner to third base; I'm not sure whether to jeer Daniel Mayora for not managing to actually throw the ball to first, or whether I should be impressed that he made the stop and didn't just flee in terror when the ball was hit on a path to decapitate him. Probably the latter. White grounded out after that, but it was 1-0 Aquasox.

I was all psyched to see Fister pitch the rest of the game, and I wondered how many K's he'd get, but when the top of the 6th was starting, I looked up and the righty on the mound had gotten a little shorter and a lot stockier; it was Ari Kafka. Now, Kafka did technically continue the no-hitter, but he was really not that great. Unlike Fister, who was a veritable strike machine, Kafka threw a ton of bad pitches, high, low, in the dirt, you name it. Rodriguez bounced the ball to short and it was bobbled for an error. The Dust Devils gave up an out by having Steve Boggs sac bunt Rodriguez to second. Jackson walked, and while Mayora was up, Kafka threw a pitch that not only almost hit him in the head, but somehow bounced all the way to the backstop. Moore's quick reaction and feet kept the batters to only take one base, and Strickland popped up to shallow left field. Kuo-Hui Lo charged in to catch the fly ball; it might have been foul, might have been fair, and would have been caught by Yuniesky Betancourt if it had been in Safeco. Either way, he got it, which ended the inning.

The Aquasox went up and down 1-2-3 in their half of the 6th. After the inning, a guy came down and handed out coupons for a free bowl of Ivar's clam chowder to the row I was sitting in. Apparently despite how I never win anything at Safeco, I'm now 2-for-2 at Everett, having won a coupon for a free Quizno's sub when I went to Jeff Clement's debut game last year. Go figure.

Saydel Beltran came out to pitch the top of the 7th inning. He's a lefty who doesn't rhrow particularly hard, and the Tri-City batters had no trouble picking up his stuff. Victor Ferrante smacked his first pitch into left field for a single, and then Josh Banda took the first pitch HE was offered and hit it over the left field wall for a home run, which put the Dust Devils ahead 2-1. Matt Repec took the first pitch HE was thrown and drove it to deep right center field, where it hit the scoreboard and actually knocked out the "2" in the hits column before bouncing onto the field; you could see the scoreboard people scurrying to fix the number back up, only this time with a "3", as Repec had a double. Fortunately, Suarez grounded out and Rodriguez and Boggs popped out, but ugh.

With a 2-1 lead, Kreidermacher left the game and Sean Jarrett came in to pitch the bottom of the 7th. Fernandez popped out and Sabatella grounded out, but Ogui hit a clean single to center. After about seventy thousand pickoff attempts, he stole second base, and then stole third as Dickey drew a walk. Dickey also stole second, sort of, as the catcher didn't try to throw him out. Lo walked anyway which loaded the bases, and that was curtains for Jarrett. Devin Collis, a lefty, came in to pitch, and he wasn't even on the printed roster on the scorecard. He got big lefty hitter Joe White to ground out to second. Might as well get Mariners farmhands used to the whole "not scoring with the bases loaded" trick early, right?

At this point the stadium announced that they were selling hot dogs and sausages at buy-one-get-one-free prices, while supplies lasted.

For whatever reason, Beltran stayed out to pitch the 8th, and he still sucked at it, giving up three consecutive hits yet again. Jackson hit to left, Mayora hit to right, and Strickland almost hit it out of the park in center, doubling in two more runs. Finally, Beltran came out of the game, and Juan Colon came in to pitch. My impression of Juan Colon is that he's got a pretty strong arm, but who cares if you throw a fastball in the low-to-middle 90's if you can't control where it's going? Colon tried to pick Strickland off second and fired the ball into center field, and Strickland took third, making it really easy for Ferrante to drive him in on a single to left. Ferrante stole second, and Banda popped out. Repec hit a nice long drive into the gap, but because it was unclear whether it'd be caught, Ferrante stayed at second in case he'd need to tag up, so by the time the ball was dropped and he started running, Repec himself was almost at second. A strikeout and a groundout later, and the score stood at 5-1.

Bottom of the 8th. Bonilla doubled with one out. Moore singled. Fernandez erased them both with a double play, his second GIDP of the evening. Perhaps having your slow-footed catchers DH and bat together in the lineup may not be the best idea?

Now the hot dog offer was upped, or maybe downed, to hot dogs and sausages for a dollar each, while supplies lasted. Given the attendance of 2470, most of which was one elementary school, and gone by that point, it seemed likely supplies would last a while.

Remember what I said about Colon having a great fastball with no control? The board was showing it at 91-92mph, but the first thing he did in the top of the 9th was walk Steven Boggs on four straight pitches. At least it took him six pitches to walk Anthony Jackson. Mayora squared to bunt, and Colon still didn't field the ball in time; by the time he got to it, he looked around at all the bases and couldn't decide where to throw it, and all the runners were safe. At that point I think he'd thrown like 9 balls and 3 strikes, and he added a horrendous wild pitch which scored Boggs. Strickland struck out for the first out of the inning. Ferrante grounded the ball back to the mound, and this time Colon threw the ball past the first baseman (apparently he doesn't even have great control while fielding); while they were recovering it from the foul territory by right field, Jackson scored easily and even Mayora came around from second to score. Ferrante himself made it all the way to third.

Finally they took out Colon, and brought in Jose Suriel, another lefty. Banda immediately hit the ball deep into the hole, and shortstop Diaz got it and threw to first but not in time, so Ferrante scored. To add to the carnage, Repec hit a long fly ball to center for a double, and Banda got to third, scoring on a Suarez groundout after that. Rodriguez hit a grounder deep into the hole too, but this time Diaz was ready for it and fired it to first for the out.

The score was 10-1 going into the bottom of the 9th. Simon Ferrer came out to pitch for the Dust Devils. He had a sort of Japanese-ish motion with a slight hitch in it, which would maybe be for disrupting timing, except he threw slower than Jamie Moyer does. Sabatella got a nice hit to left field, but ended up getting tagged out by a mile at second trying to stretch it into a double. See, Dave Myers is not only the Aquasox manager, he's also the third base coach half the time. Anyway, Diaz walked, but Dickey struck out, and then Lo just grounded weakly to short, and the ball was tossed to second for the force-out, and that was that.

I'm not sure why I bothered transcribing my scorecard, aside from that I direly disagree with the game log as it's noted on -- there are several things that I see there that I'm pretty sure are dead wrong. For example, they don't even have Sean Jarrett out there pitching on their version of the game. Ridiculous.

I should note that the two Aquasox position players I was most impressed by (obviously, the player I was most impressed by was Doug Fister) were Kuo-Hui Lo and Adam Moore. I think Moore did a great job handling the pitchers and recovering from some of those godawful wild pitches and whatnot. Lo has some amazing speed and a good arm, and I like his swing. Dickey also has pretty good speed and a decent arm.

Anyway, if you read this far, you get to be rewarded with another picture of Doug Fister!

Doug Fister
Doug Fister kicks. He also kicks ass.

After the game, I had about 20 minutes to kill before my bus would show up, so I wandered back to the concessions, and not only did they still have dollar hot dogs, when I asked for one, they gave me two for a dollar instead. Yum. While I was walking from concessions to get out of the stadium, munching on a hot dog, I rounded a corner and almost literally was knocked over by two Aquasox players. Minor league games are such fun that way.

And now, it's REALLY past my bedtime, and I need to get up tomorrow so I can drive in to work so I can drive to Tacoma afterwards and see the Rainiers! Yay! I get to see Chris Snelling! Jeff Clement! Hunter Brown! And even a nice side dish of Justin Leone!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Beltre and the B-Squad

The Dodgers put up a whole bunch of pitchers whose names start in B yesterday, and Beltre bashed them all:

Billingsley: 1-2, with a walk and a single
Broxton: 1-1 with a single
Baez: 1-1 with a double, 2 RBI

And in more of that typical "Jeremy Reed kicks ass in South California" stuff, he blasted a home run.

I was having dinner with some friends, and the score was 5-2 Dodgers when we got to the restaurant, where I sat facing the wrong way from the TV, and in my now typical-Mariners-fan pessimism, figured their undefeated interleague run was coming to an end. An hour later, one of my friends is like, "Do you really have a pitcher named Putz?"

I sort of nod. And then I realize what she just said. I reply, "We do, but is he actually pitching? We're winning the game now?"

She says, "Yeah, it's 8-5 Mariners. How did you know?"

I turn around and nearly snap my neck, just in time to see Ethier strike out. A few minutes later, Lofton lines out and the game's over. Ahh, the Mariners, best team in the NL West.

There were some other fun performances yesterday. You all know I'm a huge Nick Swisher fan, so when he swish-hit -- I mean, switch-hit -- two home runs yesterday from both sides of the plate, and scored all three of the A's runs as they beat the Rockies 3-2, I was pretty happy.

The Cardinals seem to be trying to set some new records for "Most runs given up in a series", between Tuesday's 20-6 loss to the White Sox and last night's 13-7. Jason Marquis took the hit in last night's game, giving up all 13 runs, all earned, in the first five innings. Retrosheet's Top Performances page tells us that the most earned runs given up by one pitcher in a game that they have is 16, by Orlie Weaver, on July 29, 1911. Most of the high-run games are in the earlier parts of the century, though David Wells apparently gave up 13 runs in 4.1 innings in the early 90's, too.

Jayson Stark put up an All-Run-Through-A-Wall Team, which is a pretty amusing read. I think he needs to add Travis Ishikawa to it.

Unless there's weather issues or other emergencies, I'm heading up to see the Aquasox tonight and down to see the Rainiers tomorrow, which should be fun. Jeff Clement is done with his post-surgery rehab and they called him up to Tacoma for a bit, which is exciting. I was hoping to be there for his first Rainiers game as I was for his first Aquasox game, but this is close enough.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Back, back, back to the track, track, track

Tonight I went to the Lynnwood Funtasia to try out their batting cages. The verdict? They're not bad. The price is right - $1 for one "game", which is 18 pitches or so, or $5 for 6 "games", and I think the rates get even better from there. The catch? There's 8 cages or so, but only 2 of them had slow-pitch softball. I had to wait for a while to actually get to do anything, and eventually politely asked a group if I could take turns with them. Also, the pitches were sort of inconsistent at times and I found myself moving my feet too much to chase pitches. At least I could find a batting helmet that fit me there, unlike when I tried the cages at Bullwinkle's down in Tukwila and I had to readjust the helmet every three swings. I had a pretty fun time overall. Hitting is awesome.

On the drive back, I heard an inning of the Mariners-Dodgers game. It went something like this: "Adrian Beltre just loves playing back here in Dodger Stadium. He's already homered and doubled. And there he goes again... J. D. Drew is going back, back to the warning track, but it's over! Err... no, he made the catch. Okay. Here's Raul Ibanez. He's hit the ball into deep right field! J. D. Drew is going back, back, back to the warning track... and he makes the catch. Two outs, and Richie Sexson is up. He hits the ball to deep right field! J. D. Drew is going back, back, back to the warning track, to the wall.. goodbye baseball! Richie has hit his 12th home run of the year! And here's Kenji Johjima. He hits the ball to deep right field! J. D. Drew is going back, to the warning track, to the wall, he can't get there in time. Johjima has a double..."

At first I wondered if I'd tuned into the wrong station and was hearing a skipping record that was programmed to just keep saying, "J. D. Drew is going back, back, back to the warning track..."

In the end, the Mariners clobbered the Dodgers 9-4, which is a fine way to start off the series, if you ask me.

Happy Dickie Thon's Birthday!

So, today, a great thing has happened:

My HACKING MASS team broke into the top 10 percent of all teams! Wheeeee!

The amusing part, though, to me, was this bizarre coincidence of events, given the name of my HM team:

Yes. My wonderful Von Hayes Fan Club is tied with the Steve Jeltz All-Stars. On Dickie Thon's birthday, even.

I guess it's a lot funnier if you went to a whole bunch of Phillies games back in 1989. I mean, what a year that was. The team was terrible, but who cared? Darren Daulton became our full-time catcher, and we traded for both John Kruk and Lenny Dykstra that mid-season. Schmitty retired (the last time I ever got to see Mike Schmidt play was at my birthday game that year, actually) and Von Hayes made his only ever All-Star appearance (and got a hit)! And Dickie Thon was our shortstop. And Steve Jeltz was our Willie Bloomquist.

In 1989, Randy Johnson came to Seattle. And last night, the Phillies beat him with the Yankees. I got home from work in time to watch the last few innings. It was good stuff, a very tight game. And Larry Bowa still doesn't know when to shut the hell up.

Monday, June 19, 2006

A sweep at the wheel

Mariners 5, Giants 1

Barry Bonds got struck out twice by one of the only guys left in the major leagues older than he is, on the way to a Mariners sweep. At the same time, my softball team was getting clobbered 18-2 because only three of us could actually run, which was a bit of a problem. I still had fun, though.

Last night, I picked up a copy of Fantasyland, so that's the August book club book. I want to read it. So do you. We can all hang out and talk about the book and rant about our own fantasy baseball experiences. It'll be a blast. And since it's after an A's game and I have Nick Swisher on my fantasy team, I promise not to gloat too much when he hits like seven home runs that day.

The Herald posted what appears to be the Aquasox roster, and Brandon Morrow isn't on it. I was debating bussing up to Everett for the season opener tonight, but now I'm not so sure. We'll see.

Also, today is the birthday of Lou Gehrig... and Doug Mientkiewicz. I'm not sure there are many other reasons to put those two in the same sentence.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

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

Mariners 8, Giants 1, Ishikawa 2, Railings 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 16, 2006

Game Report: Mariners vs. Giants - No, Mister Bonds, I Expect You To Die

I gotta get up early so I'm not sure how much time I'll spend writing this. Sorry.

Mariners 5, Giants 4, Bonds 718

Short version: It was 5-4 after the third inning of this game, and it was 5-4 after the ninth inning of this game. The Giants hit a ton of home runs. Bonds, Finley and Winn all went yard against King Felix. Noah Lowry only lasted three innings and 71 pitches, giving up a homer to Ichiro, and a whole ton of doubles to the left field corner that a certain fielder couldn't get to. Willie Bloomquist had two pretty sad baserunning blunders. Fortunately, our bullpen held together pretty well with the one-run lead that existed when Felix came out of the game. Oddly, Bonds left nothing to fielders, as he homered, walked twice (once intentional) and struck out twice. JJ Putz struck him out for the final out of the game and the stadium erupted in pandemonium. It was pretty crazy cool.

If I had to guess who David at Sports and Bremertonians would annoint Gameball and Goat of the game, I'd go with Bloomquist for Goat and Putz for Gameball.

Bonds Home Run #10, 462 feet
Felix, meet Barry. Barry, meet Safeco.

I knew the Giants were old, but I didn't realize until just now exactly HOW old. Today's lineup:

Randy Winn - just turned 32 last week
Omar Vizquel - just turned 39 in April
Ray Durham - turns 35 in November
Barry Bonds - turns 42 next month
Moises Alou - turns 40 next month
Steve Finley - turned 41 in March
Pedro Feliz - turned 31 in April
Mark Sweeney - turns 37 in October
Tommy Greene - turned 35 in May

When Randy Winn and Pedro Feliz are your youngsters, that's a problem. Contrast that with the Mariners' lineup:

Ichiro - turns 33 in October
Beltre - turned 27 in April
Lopez - turns 23 in November
Ibanez - turned 34 last week
Sexson - turns 32 this December
Morse - turned 24 in March
Johjima - turned 30 last week
Willie - turns 29 in November
Betancourt - turned 24 in January

Randy Winn would be one of the old guys in our lineup if he were still here. Youth is nice.

Actually, the "Ask the Mariners" question was "Which teammate should be president?" or something like that, and 60% of the team said Jamie Moyer, but only Richie Sexson said the reason I had been thinking: because he's one of the only people on the team OLD ENOUGH to run! We seriously only have 4 guys on the roster who are 35 or older -- Moyer, Guardado, Petagine, and Everett, and the latter two of those turned 35 last week.

The crowds at the stadium were, as expected, pretty interesting. First off, there were like 41k people there. I hear tomorrow's game is nearly sold out. There were plenty of people there in Giants garb and Bonds jerseys, but just as many people who either bought a "Got Juice?" shirt from Jon Wells, or had other offensive Bonds-related t-shirts. I was sitting between two Giants fans and two Mariners fans and in front of an extremely loud but enthusiastic woman who kept wolf-whistling and cheering for Willie Bloomquist, but at least her love for the Mariners was heartfelt. There was an extremely drunk guy a few rows behind us who was just yelling and screaming his head off with random offensive stuff. He either calmed down or got kicked out a few innings in, I'm not sure which. The dude next to me kept calling Bonds "Cheater!", only the way he said it, I kept thinking he was shouting "Jeter!" which didn't make any sense at all.

Brandon Morrow was attending the game, and they even showed him on the big screen, with a big "MARINERS WELCOME BRANDON MORROW!!" to which a few people went "Who?" and an encouragingly high number of people said "Oh, I heard he signed today!". Mrs Heartfelt Loud Fan said, "We signed him today? Who did we sign him from?" "Berkeley."

There was an insane shift going on for Bonds when he was up to bat. Beltre was playing where Betancourt usually does, Betancourt was playing where Lopez does, Richie was playing the line, and Lopez was playing short right field. As I mentioned earlier, it turned out to be irrelevant anyway.

You know, I don't really dislike Willie Bloomquist -- I mostly make fun of him because it's what the cool kids do -- but tonight he really screwed up on the basepaths. In the third inning he got caught in a rundown trying to stretch a single into a double. I guess he figured everyone was doubling to left, why shouldn't he? However, Bonds has a better arm than Randy Winn, so he got caught. And then later on in the 6th inning, Willie hit into a double play, but Ray Durham threw the ball into the seats instead of to the first baseman, so it ended up being a fielder's choice and Willie ended up on second. He took an insane lead, and what's the first thing that happens? BOOM, he gets picked off second. Good going, Willie.

But to be honest, the game really did end on the best note possible. After Putz struck out Durham for the second out of the 9th, I immediately stood up because I always stand up for the last out. And then everyone realized what was going on, and they also all stood up. And it became obvious that Putz was actually going to pitch to Bonds. The crowd got extremely loud, and you couldn't tell who was cheering Putz, cheering Bonds, booing Bonds, or whatnot, and it just kept building. So after a couple of fouls and a few balls -- several of which looked like borderline strikes from our vantage point -- Putz blew a fastball past him, I think it was 97 or 98 mph? And the game ended as Bonds just stood there watching it.

So that was pretty exciting, though I have to admit that for every second of Bonds's last at-bat, I couldn't help but think, "He could tie the game with one swing of the bat if Putz messes this up," but hoping that it wouldn't happen.

Also, Randy Winn still throws like a girl. But I like him anyway.

Jason Schmidt came over to the stands and signed stuff for a ton of people before the game. A lot of people were like "Hey Jay, you're gonna come pitch here next year, right?" And he was like "Hey, who knows, man..." while meanwhile talking to some of his old friends in the stands between signing stuff. The "Hometown Hype" on several of the Giants around here is pretty crazy, though.

Anyway, I'll be at tomorrow's game too, but for now I'm off to sleep.

By The Numbers: Hexed in Oakland since 0x07B9

I made a flippant comment in Jeff's non-recap recap of yesterday's M's-A's game, saying "Did you know that the Mariners have been something like 80-200 when they play in Oakland over the last 30 years?"

Well, out of curiosity I went and dug up the yearly Mariners-A's data from Retrosheet. I'm sure there was an easier way to get this information, but in case you're curious:

Mariners vs. Athletics, 1977-2006
            G     W     L    PCT   RS    RA
Total 405 163 242 .402 1687 1987
Home 199 94 105 .472 905 1001
Away 206 69 137 .335 782 986

Full year-by-year data here.

In short: Yes, the A's own us. But even more telling is how the Mariners have pretty much always been abysmal in Oakland. Even the 2001 Mariners team, which lost like 10 games all year, still only was .500 in Oakland.

But yeah, 69-137 isn't quite 80-200, but it might as well be. We're 6-19 at the Coliseum in the last three years, which would actually project to only 63 wins by the time we lost 200 if we kept losing at this rate.

Bad news!

We have 9 more games left against Oakland this year.

Good news!

6 of them are at home.

Bad news!

Not pending rainouts, injuries, or acts of God, Joe Blanton should get two more starts against us.

Things that make me want to punch a wall

Just to continue the "Good News/Bad News" meme:

Good news!

The Nippon Ham Fighters are finally broadcasting their home games over the internet.

Bad news!

The broadcast is only for people in Japan. ARRRRGGGHHH.

I need to figure out how to set up a proxy to a Japanese IP address, I think, because the Lotte Marines do the same stupid thing.

Anyway, I don't have any real content today. The Mariners got swept this week in Oakland. The Phillies got swept this week by the Mets. I'm going to tonight and tomorrow's Mariners-Giants games, though, so I'll have some game reports, assuming I manage to stay awake for the games; Saturday morning I'm also doing Race for the Cure.

Which, by the way, means that highway 99 will be blocked off downtown Saturday until around 11am, and there'll be around 20,000 people around the stadium areas that morning for the races. So be forewarned if you were planning to show up early for that game. Traffic and parking may be a little bit chaotic.

I guess it's Friday, and I keep forgetting to work with my Phillies pictures, but if you want a Friday Foto, this is my current desktop background: Citizens Bank Park, taken during the second inning of the May 28th game. It's not as good as the picture of PNC Park I took in April that I was using as a desktop background, but it makes me happy nonetheless.

Also, hey, say hi if you see me at either of the Giants-Mariners games -- I'll be wearing Yomiuri Giants jerseys to both because I'm a big dork. Today I've got my Yoshinobu Takahashi #24 jersey, and tomorrow I'll have my Koji Uehara #19 jersey. In theory, those should be pretty unique :)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Song Parody: Haren Tonight

Oakland 7, Mariners 2

When you can't find anything nice to say about your own team, might as well not say anything at all. I think my favorite moments of tonight's game were:

1) Seeing Frank Thomas turn a double into a single (and subsequently the announcers calling him Frank Robinson by accident)
2) Kendall catching a foul ball right out of the hands of the cameraman, who was hamming it up for like five minutes afterwards
3) Swisher's leaping ballet catch off Beltre, not just because it was a great catch but because his grin afterwards was the cutest thing I've ever seen in my entire life.

I just found out Jill Sobule's playing at the Tractor Tavern this Saturday at 7pm, and if I survive the Race for the Cure that morning and the Giants-Mariners game in the afternoon, and am still awake, I'm totally going. On that note, I wrote a song parody about tonight's game to the tune of a Jill Sobule song. No, I still have never been to the Coliseum (though I will be down there over July 4th weekend), so just pretend I'm writing this from the viewpoint of an A's fan who was actually there:

Haren Tonight
To the tune of "Karen by Night" by Jill Sobule

Haren, he's a pitcher for Oakland
He plays for the crowd on 66th Avenue
We come in late from Berkeley on the BART train
Haren's in warmup, right before game time
But we like him, he's fun but approachable
Really cool hair, sort of like Eckersley
We ask him, "Hey, come sign my new baseball hat,"
And Haren, he never declines

So we came to see
Haren tonight
Imagine he must give the batters a fright
With just a ball and a glove by his side
He's starting today, so let's cheer for
Haren tonight

Seventh inning, sitting near the dugout,
I overheard Ken Macha talking on the phone
He said, "Is Halsey there?
Make sure he's warming up
I'm not letting Dan go on alone"
Well, I didn't know what to think
Was he done for the night?
Was the pitch count for Haren a little high?
I sat right there
On the edge of my chair
As he retired the side

And we all saw
Haren tonight
His slider breaks out under the moonlight
It crosses the plate and is called for a strike
Beating out Joel Pineiro,
Haren tonight

Saw him run into the trouble in the top of the first,
He had the bases loaded with nobody out.
But he got a double play and a strikeout,
He was doing all right.
Then he went for six more innings
And surrendered no more runs
He missed a couple bats
And was backed by great defense
He passed a hundred pitches
And they took him out, but all night all we could talk about was
Haren tonight

The next morning, I blog as usual
Haren's start fresh in my memory
I sing with a smile, "Why, that game was swell,
I hope you watched last night."

Haren tonight
Imagine he must give the batters a fright
With just a glove and a ball by his side
We love when he plays so we're cheering
Haren tonight
The slider breaks out under the moonlight
It crosses the plate and is called for a strike
Beating out Joel Pineiro
Cooler than Kiko Calero
I wish they could all be like
Haren tonight

Beating out Joel Pineiro
Not that it's hard to beat Pineiro with the way he sucks now...
Haren tonight

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Athletics 2, Mariners 0

I've been trying to figure out why Joe "Cupcakes" Blanton has become Joe "Cake Walk" Blanton whenever he encounters the Mariners this year, and I just don't really get it. My best guess is that he's covered in an anti-Nintendo aura, and thus can repel the bats of our Nintendo-associated franchise. Swisher claims that they have "three Xbox 360s, a regular Xbox and a PS2" at their house ("they" being Blanton, Swisher, Harden and Huston), with no mention of a Nintendo Gamecube. Now, c'mon, how can four bachelors in a house full of videogames NOT have a Gamecube unless they're cultivating an anti-Nintendo aura in the place? Most of the best party games in the last few years have been 4-player Gamecube games -- Mario Kart, Super Smash Brothers Melee, Super Monkey Ball, etc. Heck, with two out of the four being Moneyball draftees, you'd have to think they'd be into Monkeyball, wouldn't you?

I think what we need to do is figure out where they live and order a few Nintendo DS Lites for the guys, along with a couple super-addictive games. Next thing you know, they'll all be on the DL with sore necks from looking down at the DS screens while playing networked Meteos and Advance Wars. Great plan, isn't it?

I missed most of the game tonight because it was over so quickly. That's the other odd thing about Blanton: not only does he own the Mariners, he does it fast. His three starts against them this year have lasted times of 2:36, 2:28, and today's 2:06, which if you combine them gives you around 7 hours, or the average time for one Gil Meche start. I was out running errands and didn't expect the game to be over at 9:15 when I got home.

As I was driving down the highway listening to the game on the radio, I heard this gem, though: "And now we've got Jason Kendall up to bat. Kendall's just an impossible guy to strike out. He really chokes up on the bat, doesn't have a powerful swing, he just slaps the ball all over the place. There he goes, fouls off the next pitch. Yeah, Kendall doesn't hit home runs, but what an incredible master he is of the strike zone, you know? And the 0-2 pitch... he watches it go by! On the outside corner for called strike three! Jason Kendall has just struck out!"

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Rounding up, rounding down

A few notes about book club:

1. Book Club is next on July 8th at 5pm, before the Tigers game, in case that wasn't clear. I'd be overjoyed if some people actually showed up.
2. There hasn't been an August book selected yet. If you think you'll actually BE at the August book club meeting and would like to suggest a baseball book that you want to read and/or discuss with people, please do so. Otherwise I'm just going to make it Fantasyland because that's what I personally feel like reading.
3. The meeting on August 5th will be at "5pm, or after the Mariners game, whichever comes first", because it's an afternoon game against Oakland. I'll try to come up with a brilliant way we can all meet up for the game and the club and coordinate.

Yesterday was an off day, so I just have a brief (mostly NPB) random roundup:

No Pepper, a baseball webcomic, features a silly Bill Bavasi comic strip this week.

You may remember a few weeks ago Travis Blackley averred that "Clemens is going down" about their upcoming faceoff. Sadly, that was not the case as the Missions were totally owned. On the other hand, Clemens's trip through the minors has some other funny spots, such as him redecorating the Lexington clubhouse. I can just imagine Clemens coming in and dragging half the team staff to Best Buy like, "When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping."

This isn't a link, but I just want to comment on how the Yomiuri Giants and the Yankees have had some wacky similarities this year, what with injuries and with trading and having some totally random guys end up playing with them. Case in point: the Giants now have Kazunari Sanematsu as their backup catcher. Sanematsu's about as close to the definition of "journeyman backup catcher" as you can ever possibly get; his lifetime batting average is .152. Oddly, he was the starting catcher in the first Fighters game I ever attended, so I have a soft spot in my heart for him. I totally didn't notice that he'd gotten traded from the Fighters to the Giants in the offseason, though, so it was bizarre seeing his name in the Giants lineup. Though, it looks like we got Hideki Okajima for him, and he's been a pretty good part of the bullpen this year, so.

Speaking of trades with the Giants, a week or two ago the Giants traded outfielder Shinsuke Yamada to the Carp for utility man Takuya Kimura, to fill more injury spots. That isn't amusing in itself -- what's amusing to me is that I had no idea there was a baseball player named Takuya Kimura. See, one of the most popular TV/movie/music stars in Japan happens to also be named Takuya Kimura, of the musical group and general media epidemic SMAP. Suffice it to say, the singer/actor is a lot better known than the baseball player, who has endured a career sort of like being the Hiroshima Carp's version of Mark McLemore.

Speaking of injuries on the Giants and/or Yankees, yesterday was Hideki Matsui's 32nd birthday.

Shane Spencer hit a grand slam off the generally awesome Fighters rookie Tomoya Yagi when the Fighters and Tigers played last week. Grumble.

And in an Arroyo-esque performance last Friday, Daisuke Matsuzaka not only pitched a complete game four-hit, 14-strikeout win over the Hanshin Tigers, but he also hit a 2-run homer in the eighth inning. The last time Matsuzaka hit a home run at Koshien was in 1998, when he was in the midst of winning the high school tournament with Yokohama High. (Here's a picture of him high-fiving after rounding the bases. Cute.) Matsuzaka hasn't really gotten many at-bats in his career nor played at Koshien much, since the Seibu Lions are in the DH-using Pacific League and the Koshien hometeam Tigers are in the Central League, and interleague play wasn't introduced until 2005.

In case you didn't hear already, Kazuo Matsui was traded to the Rockies for Eli Marrero. The Rockies optioned him to AAA Colorado Springs, which are a pretty terrible team (and who sadly aren't coming back to Tacoma this year, so I won't get to see him play). He was 1-for-4 with a double in his debut with them.

Hideo Nomo was released by the White Sox last week. I think his best bet at this point is to retire, but who knows. In theory, Orix has the rights to him if he comes back to Japan, but he supposedly doesn't want to do that, and they supposedly don't want him anyway.

As usual, no NPB roundup of mine is complete without a link to something Bobby Valentine said in his blog. This week it's about his insight into the Japanese minor league system, which doesn't really exist anyway. I've thought that it's a problem for a while, so it's nice to see someone influential speaking out about it.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Your mom digs the long ball, Part 2

Weekend Roundup - Mariners @ Angels.
Friday: Mariners 4, Angels 1 - Washburninated.
Saturday: Mariners 12, Angels 6 - Ichirollin' wit' da homies.
Sunday: Mariners 6, Angels 2 - Kompletely Felix.
Sunday at Maple Wood: Winner Buys Beer 35, House of Slack 13. Yay softball season! Yay getting stomped! At least I was 1-3 with an RBI.

Jeremy Reed walked into the clubhouse Sunday morning with a big grin on his face.

"Hey guys, can I get you all to do me a favor and sign this bat for me?" he asked, holding out a Sharpie.

"Sure thing, man," said Mike Morse, taking the bat and pen and signing.

"Ya sure, ya betcha," joked Jamie Moyer as he signed the bat.

"Yeah, Jer, whatever you need," Raul Ibanez remarked, signing. "What's it for, anyway?"

"Well," Reed grinned sheepishly, "I've been a good son this weekend, unlike last time -- I remembered to leave tickets for my parents to the games, and I even cleaned up my room when I visited their house. But I realized I didn't have a cool Father's Day present for my dad yet, and I thought he'd like something special like a bat signed by the team."

"Yes, Reed-san!" replied Johjima. "You have become very good son now." He signed the bat.

"Hey, little man," started Richie Sexson as he took the bat. "I don't know how to break it to you, but Father's Day isn't until NEXT weekend."

Jeremy Reed blushed. "Uhh... uhh... I knew that! I just wanted to make sure I got it to him really early!"

Jarrod Washburn nodded. "There's nothing wrong with making sure you have your bases covered early for these things, J-Reed," he said. "But, you know... I believe you still owe your parents a home run for last time. And you have an unsettled score with Jered Weaver's older brother. He's still giving up home runs like there's no tomorrow."

Reed laughed. "You're right, J-Rod," he replied. "But that's harsh, dude. Calling Jeff Weaver that... it's almost as if people were going to call me Mark Reed's older brother, y'know?"

Willie Bloomquist muttered, "What makes you think we don't already?"

Reed turned. "What?"

Bloomquist blinked. "I said, did you get your bat signed by Eddie?"

The score was 1-0 in the top of the second as Jeremy Reed stood in the on-deck circle, crouching with his bat over his shoulder, watching as Jeff Weaver pitched to Carl Everett, imagining these were his pitches to hit. Weaver's really got his stuff today, he thought, as Everett fouled off another pitch.

Reed usually hated to glance into the stands during road games, as there were always a few fans in those home plate seats who had paid tons of money to sit close and were going to make the most of it heckling the opposition. But today it was okay. He could see his mom and dad sitting there, wearing their Mariners jerseys, smiling and giving him a thumbs-up. It was always nice playing in south California, where his friends and relatives could come cheer him on. Good thing the Angels had all righty pitchers too, which meant lots of playing time.

Carl Everett swung and missed for Jeff Weaver's third strikeout of the day, and walked back to the dugout wordlessly. Two out. Jeremy Reed took his bat and walked up to the plate without looking back at the stands.

Jered Weaver's older brother, meet Mark Reed's older brother, he thought, as he grinned slightly and prepared to see what he could get.

First pitch, fastball, a bit outside. Reed laid off it, hoping for something he could really get a good hack at. The second pitch was inside, too far inside. He laid off that too. Ball two. A pause. He stared out, and Weaver wound up. The ball came in towards his bat, and Reed hit it hard.

He ran. The ball sailed out, out, out -- out! A home run! Yessssss!

Circling the bases, he kept his head down, but when he made it home, he looked up. His parents were applauding. Rene Rivera put his hand up for a high-five.

"That one's for you, man," Reed pointed at Felix as he came into the dugout amidst congratulations from his teammates.

"No... es para tu padre," replied Felix, high-fiving back.

"Yeah... your dad digs the long ball," muttered Bloomquist from his end of the bench.

Jeremy Reed caught up with his parents for dinner after the game, where he presented his dad with the baseball bat signed by the team. "Happy Early Father's Day, Dad!" he said as he handed it over.

His dad took the bat. "Hey, this is great. Even better than that home run you got me. This is from the whole team?" he said, examining it, reading the signatures.

"Well, almost everyone," Reed admitted. "Eddie Guardado slept late."

"This is interesting," his dad said. "Someone wrote 'Your son sucks' in really small print off to the side here."

"That's weird," Jeremy said, glancing at it. "I don't know who on the team would do something like that. Maybe they meant Mark." He grinned.

"I don't think so. He was 3-for-4 with a walk today. Scored three runs in a blowout by Peoria."

"Did he hit a home run?"


"Ha! I win! They even hit me with a pitch because I was so good today!"

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Catcher In Their Eye

There's something that's been on my mind a lot in the last few days -- nay, months. Something wonderful, beautiful, amazing, powerful. Something that can bring a smile to my face with a mere two words.

Joe Mauer.

Yeah, I know what you're all thinking. "She only likes Joe Mauer because he's good-looking." Yes, it's true he was and will be the catcher on my All-Cute team for years to come (or until Jeff Clement makes it to the majors), and sure, he's one hell of a fashion model, but no, really, the reason I've had him on my mind a lot lately (besides that he's on my fantasy team) is that he's been a total Mariner-killer this year. Here's a guy already batting .379/.438/.540 overall, and in the 7 games he's played against us, he's gone .548/.600/.871. Hell, in these last three games he went .750/.800/1.167. (From splits.) You couldn't keep him off base any more than you could keep Eddie Guardado away from that extra slice of pizza.

It's not like there haven't been good-hitting catchers in the past; it's not even like there haven't been good-looking good-hitting catchers in the past. (Hello, Mike Piazza.) But the last time a pure catcher won a batting title was 1942, when Ernie Lombardi, a career .306 hitter, put up a wartime .330 average. Joe Torre won a batting title in 1971, but he spent that entire season playing third base.

Obviously, it's not entirely unexpected that catchers find themselves at a disadvantage in terms of winning batting titles. Catchers tend to get rested more often than other players just due to the stress of playing the position, both on their brains and on their knees. Nowadays, an extremely good hitting catcher in the AL will at least be able to DH sometimes to take time off from catching, but in the NL, they either end up playing first or third, or benching it, on their off days. It's been pointed out that Mauer barely qualifies for the batting title in terms of plate appearances, and so far this year he has been the DH in about a sixth of his games. And even if Brian McCann continues to rip the tar out of the ball, there's no way he'll get enough PA to qualify for the NL batting title after his stint on the DL.

And oftentimes, catchers aren't exactly the most fleet of foot; they're not the guys beating out grounders or stealing bases, they're often the guys lumbering towards first hoping their knees hold out. (Cue mental image of Todd Pratt, or Sal Fasano.) When you think of the physical composition of a catcher, you often think of a guy who's going to stand his ground when someone tries to barrel him over at home plate; someone who can use their body to block a pitch in the dirt. Someone named "Pudge", or "Yogi", or "We're Not Selling Jeans Here".

To be fair, though, catchers don't seem to have quite the same leeway they used to for lack of hitting skill; lately it seems like more and more of them are hitting like a Piazza or a Posada and less and less like a Molina or a Molina.

Beyond just being an astoundingly good-hitting catcher, though, there's more to Joe Mauer's value. He was already a local baseball hero around the Twin Cities in high school, and then was the number one draft pick overall in the 2001 draft -- by his hometown team -- and gets to blossom into a major league star practically in his own backyard. I can only imagine what it'd be like if the Mariners had Grady Sizemore, for example. Maybe we'll see how things work out with Matt Tuiasasopo.

I'm actually impressed with the way the Braves manage to draft a lot of good local talent, although I suppose when you're down south, there are a lot more big bigleaguer-producing colleges and high schools around than when you're in the Pacific Northwest. Still, on their 40-man roster they've got Kyle Davies, Jeff Francoeur, Brian McCann, Blaine Boyer, and Josh Burrus all from around Georgia, who grew up watching a strong Braves team. Hell, their number one pick this year, Cody Johnson, grew up in Florida idolizing the Braves.

Anyway, I'm sure there are a lot more cases of young baseball hometown superheroes that I'm not even aware of, but today, I just felt like rambling about Joe Mauer for a little bit. I'd love to see him and Ichiro battling out for the batting crown all along the way this year -- Ichiro broke the 84-year-old single-season hits record; can Mauer be the first catcher to win a batting title in 64 years?

Thursday, June 08, 2006


I invented a new word!

Guardinger, n., gar-DING-er

1. A game-winning home run.
2. A home run off Eddie Guardado.
3. A game-winning home run off Eddie Guardado.


"Carl Everett hit a Guardinger in the eleventy-first inning of tonight's game and the Mariners won, 10-9."

"We knew it wasn't good when Eddie came out serving cookies to the plate. Shortly thereafter, Jason Kubel launched a 404-foot Guardinger into the right-field stands."

Ichiro went 4-for-6 tonight; added with his 4-for-5 last night, that's 8-for-11 on the series so far. Joe Mauer, however, went 2-for-4 tonight, and with his 4-for-4 last night, that's 6-for-8 on the series. Mauer also walked twice and hit some doubles, but not to be outdone, Ichiro hit a home run today. Whooosh. Still, they're the leaders in the MLB batting average race, with Mauer at .371 and Ichiro at .358, and Alex Rios on their heels at .351.

It was definitely a homer-happy day for the Mariners, as they were hit by Ichiro, Big Richie, Betancourt, Ibanez, and of course, Everett. But the Mariners fell short of the home run cycle, only hitting solos, 2-run, and 3-run homers. Mike Cuddyer outdid them all by hitting a grand slam, only to be done in by Everett's Guardinger.

That's just how it goes. If you watched the game, feel free to go contribute to Jeff's caption contest.

As an aside, and this has nothing to do with Guardado or game-winning home runs, but yesterday (Wednesday), in Japan's interleague play, every Pacific League team won. Even Rakuten. I think this has only happened one other time this year, mostly with Rakuten being the limiting factor. One of my friends scored great seats to the Chunichi-Lotte game and promised me pictures, including one he described as "Matt Watson? Who the hell is--*CRACK* HOME RUN"

In other Japanese baseball news, WBC slugger Hitoshi Tamura is probably out for two months with a fractured rib, they note that with Ichiro's 1278 hits in Japan he now has 2500 for his career on both sides of the Pacific, and Chunichi's Kenshin Kawakami nearly pitched a no-hitter on Tuesday against Lotte. Combine that with the 16-0 blowout last night and I swear, my friend pretty much saw the only Dragons-Marines game this week that didn't feature the Dragons totally devouring the Marines. Go figure.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Game Report: Mariners vs. Twins - A Young Guns Duel

You know, young is relative. For perspective, our first-round draft pick Brandon Morrow was born July 26, 1984. Tonight's (actually Tuesday night's; Blogger has been down) Twins starter Francisco Liriano is 9 months older than him, born October 26, 1983. And our Felix Hernandez is almost two years younger, born April 8, 1986. And if you combine them, Liriano and Felix are still 9 months younger than Jamie Moyer (November 18, 1962).

Anyway, my friend Dave had scored some pretty goddamn awesome seats to this game -- 125, Row 10, right behind the on-deck circle, and as such I spent most of the game trying to snap pictures (which all came out crappy) rather than trying to take notes (which all came out unreadable).

Short version: Neither the Twins nor the Mariners are particularly noted for their offense, and it was no different tonight. Mike Morse, who seems to be getting off to another "hot start" this year, knocked in the first Mariners run in the 4th inning with a double. Ichiro batted him in on a single off Liriano's bare hand -- good thing he didn't injure it. Studly Joe Mauer, who would end up being 4-for-4, knocked in the first Twins run in the 5th inning with a double, and Jason Kubel, who scored said run, also hit a solo home run off Teddy Beardado in the 8th. Fortunately, the Mariners scraped across extra runs in the 6th and 7th innings, as Willie Bloomquist did some pretty good baserunning and Raul Ibanez batted in Jose Lopez on a pretty nice double. Felix was actually pitching pretty well, as was Liriano, and I think Felix just got luckier. Either way, it was a fun game to watch, as the Mariners won it 4-2.

Dave and I showed up early and just went to the bullpen, as we'd just missed the end of batting practice, sadly. (I wanted to see if I could get Lew Ford to sign my sudoku book.) However, we did run into Conor Glassey and his dad there, which is always fun, and so we had a while talking about the Twins and the draft and all sorts of fun stuff. And then we got to see Liriano warm up. His motion is awesome, very smooth, barely any kick, it's like, one second he's got the ball, and the next, whoooosh, Joe Mauer's got the ball. I actually saw him throwing a bit when I was at the Metrodome last year, and he's even better now.

Francisco Liriano
"I've got a baseball and an awesome left arm
and I'm not afraid to use them."

(My bullpen shots are not nearly as cool as the Liriano picture on yahoo, sadly.)

Anyway, it was really amazing to watch this game from so close up. Felix struck out the first two batters swinging, which seemed to be a good sign for the night, but then Joe Mauer came up and smacked a single, and Torii Hunter smacked a double, and Mike Cuddyer walked, loading the bases, which was a bad sign for the night. Morneau grounded out to Big Richie though. Whew.

That was really the only jam of the night Felix found himself in. The Twins had a terribly big disparity between the 2-5 batters (Kubel, Mauer, Hunter, Cuddyer) and the 6-1 batters (Morneau, White, Batista, Castro, Castillo; plus I'll count pinch-hitters Tiffee, Rodriguez, and Little Nicky Punto) tonight:

                  AB   R   H  RBI  2B  3B  HR  BB   K  SB/CS    OPS 
2-5 Batters 16 2 9 2 3 0 1 1 4 1/0 1.525
6-1 Batters 20 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 3 0/1 0.195

Seriously, all of the odd-numbered innings seem to have Kubel and Mauer getting hits, and all of the even ones have the bottom of the lineup sucking. It's sort of amusing.

In the third inning, Kubel singled and Mauer doubled, and they were again left on second and third as Hunter grounded out and Cuddyer struck out.

In the fifth inning, Kubel singled with two outs and this time Mauer drove him home with a wicked slice to left field for a double -- Ibanez was playing way to the right of where he normally would, or it probably would have only been a single. Dave commented that it looked like they had put a shift on for Mauer, which isn't unreasonable since he was pulling the ball for the rest of the night. And Hunter struck out to end it.

Due to Morneau getting caught stealing after a walk in the 6th, the next "odd" inning was actually the 8th. Felix had pitched seven strong innings of one-run ball, and so they brought out Eddie Guardado for some reason. The speakers blared the start of "Hell's Bells" but didn't play much of it, so I joked - "They'll play more of the song when he earns it -- by not giving up so many game-ending home runs." Immediately after I said that, Jason Kubel launched a 404-foot home run into the right-field seats. Mauer hit a single, making him 4-for-4 on the evening. So Hargrove decided to just play Musical Bullpen, going through four pitchers in the inning. Mateo came out for Hunter and Cuddyer, getting a strikeout and a single; Sherrill came out for Morneau, getting a strikeout, and Putz got Terry Tiffee (who still looks like a 16-year-old despite being 27) to ground out to end the inning.

But yeah, Felix's line for the evening was 7 IP on exactly 100 pitches, 1 run, 6 hits, 2 walks, and 5 strikeouts. I can live with that

Liriano wasn't quite so lucky, only getting one 1-2-3 inning, though it was ironically out of the 3-4-5 part of our lineup. Go figure. He kept himself out of trouble for the first three innings in general, though.

In the fourth, Johjima came up and hit a clean single to center. Bloomquist bunted him to second, and then Mike Morse came up and drove in Johjima with a double to right which escaped Cuddyer. As that first run of the game scored, they put up the big "MAY THE MORSE BE WITH YOU" thing on the centerfield board, which still makes me giggle, despite how stupid it is. (Hell, I sponsored Morse's b-ref page just to make that dumb joke.) Morse advanced on a wild pitch before Betancourt grounded out, and then Ichiro hit a single which basically bounced right over Liriano, who grabbed for it with his bare left hand, but couldn't get it; by the time the ball was recovered, Morse had scored and Ichiro was safe at first. I think Liriano should just be glad he didn't injure his throwing hand. Ouch.

During Ichiro's at-bat, the crowds were chanting: "I-CHI-RO!"
The crazy loud beer girl was screaming, "BEEEEEEEEEER!"
They kept echoing back and forth -- "ICHIRO!" "BEEER!" "ICHIRO!" "BEEEER!"
I turned to Dave like "Two great tastes that go great together?"

In the 6th inning, Johjima led off by almost hitting a homer into the bullpens, but instead it was just a bounced ground rule double. Willie Bloomquist bounced a grounder to Justin Morneau, who smartly threw the ball to third, catching Johjima in a rundown, eventually having Castro tag him out on the basepath. Bloomquist actually got to second on the play, though, and immediately stole third. When Mike Morse grounded to third, Bloomquist ran home, and it was a really close play at home, but T-Fat's throw was terrible and so Willie was safe, happily marching into the dugout with his head high and his uniform all full of dirt from sliding.

(When Willie came out to the ondeck circle in the 7th, I saw his uniform and held up my camera and sent out brainwaves towards him: "Turn around, Willie! Turn around!" And he did.)

Bloomquist's dirty uniform
Yes, Willie, that off-white looks lovely on you.

You'll notice that Johjima led off three innings, due to Sexson sucking. Infact, the Mariners had the exact opposite lineup split of the Twins in terms of production -- their 6-1 (Johjima, Bloomquist, Morse, Betancourt, Ichiro) were awesome and the 2-5 (Beltre, Lopez, Ibanez, Sexson) were terrible:

                  AB   R   H  RBI  2B  3B  HR  BB   K  SB/CS    OPS 
2-5 Batters 16 1 2 1 1 0 0 2 3 0/0 0.409
6-1 Batters 18 3 8 3 2 0 0 2 2 2/0 1.031

Matt Guerrier came out to pitch the 7th inning for the Twins, and the scoreboard brightly declared: "Has not given up a run against Seattle this year in 6 IP". It wasn't true when they put it up there, and it definitely wasn't true after he walked Lopez and gave up a double to Ibanez which scored Lopez. Right after that, though, Jason Kubel made the Web Gem play of the night when he tracked down a low liner from Richie Sexson and made a diving sliding play to trap the ball backhanded in his glove. It was really a pretty nice play.

Bloomquist's at-bat was pretty funny from another standpoint besides the dirt -- he popped the ball up foul right in front of the screen, and Joe Mauer ran back to get it, but when he caught the ball it bounced out of his glove against the screen and back into his glove. Umpire Larry Poncino, who is rather large, ran back there to follow the play, and he called it a no-catch, shaking the netting like "Ha, nice try, kid".

6.66 on 6/6/6
Catch the ERA on this guy.

Jesse Crain came out to pitch the 8th inning, and when he came out there, he had an ERA of 6.66 -- on 6/6/06, no less. That was pretty funny. Carl Everett came up to pinch-hit and launched his bat into the stands again, before grounding out and dropping Crain's ERA to 6.57.

Putz didn't have much trouble ending the 9th inning. They even have a video clip thing for him now along with the big "CLOSING:TIME" sign on the screen -- I wonder if it's just necessary for every team to have some video montage and big song-and-dance when their closer comes out? I suppose it's designed to keep the fans in the seats until the last out rather than having them all leave early, and to psych out the opposing team a little.

Speaking of Eddie, besides the home run to Kubel, early in the game they ran "Ask the Mariners" and the question was "Who on the team would you want to go on a roadtrip with?" A bunch of guys answered Ibanez (Ichiro said "Because he speaks Japanese"), someone said "Gil Meche, because he doesn't talk very much", and then half the team said "Eddie Guardado". Johjima ended the clip, though, saying in Japanese, "I don't really know yet, but I don't think I would want a ride with Eddie." Zing!

Overall, getting to see two young hyped pitchers like Liriano and Felix pitch close-up was pretty cool. And it was actually a "Young Hotshot" pitching day in general -- Brandon McCarthy got the win for the Sox, Kazmir got the loss for the Devil Rays, Chien-Ming Wang got the win for the Yankees, Kerry Wood and Jake Peavy found themselves on the losing end of contests, and of course, King Cole Hamels got his first win for the Phillies. But the most impressive pitching performance wasn't from a young hotshot, it was from Jason Schmidt, getting a complete-game 16-strikeout win over the Marlins. Yes, it's the Marlins, but still, why did this have to happen the week that I'm matched up against the guy in my fantasy league who has Schmidt on his team? Grrr.

Anyway, Blogger's been having issues all day and night, so I bet by the time I get to actually publish this entry, Wednesday night's game will have started. Sigh. I really should stop being lazy and move the blog over to already.