Sunday, April 10, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Rangers - All Drese-d up

Today's Mariners game was another 7-6 loss to the Rangers. Meche looked decent out there -- well, not great, but at least good -- for about three innings, and then he got ripped to pieces by the Rangers in the fourth. What was really kind of odd about it was the way the fourth inning went, making me wonder if Meche was tipping his pitches or something -- because every player that got a single that inning hit it to the exact same place -- right field. No joke. They were also really working up the pitch counts on him - he had 89 pitches on him when he got pulled with two outs in the fourth. He also either has slowed down his windup, or people were just stealing like crazy on him for no reason.

The Mariners had an awful time of baserunning in the 3rd inning. Winn walked, and then attempted to steal second, but he really didn't get a good jump on it, and was tagged out, in a rundown I wrote down as a 2-4-3-4-3-6 play. Dan Wilson, who was playing today mostly due to it being Dan Wilson Shirt Day, went 2 for 3 overall, starting off with a single after Winn got picked off. Then Willie Baseball followed it up with another single. If you're playing the home game, you may note that Winn would have scored by now if he hadn't been an idiot, as Wilson would have advanced him to second or third, and Willie would have batted him in. The weird part is, with two strikes on Ichiro, and one out, Wilson started running, most likely for a hit-and-run -- except Ichiro struck out (which he, and others, disagreed with; the pitch was really low) and the catcher threw to third to catch Dan Wilson "stealing" for a 2-5 double play, ending the inning. Ugh.

Then let's talk about that Meche-eating fourth inning. For the top of the fourth, Hidalgo popped out. Then Dellucci walked, then Matthews singled to shallow right, then Gonzalez singled to shallow right (nearly hitting Matthews with the ball -- I actually wonder, would he be out if the ball hit him?), scoring Dellucci. Barajas doubled to deep right, scoring Matthews. Dellucci, Matthews, and Gonzalez all went from first to third on Ichiro, which is something that would usually be unheard of, but they almost all got pretty good leads off the bag and were already in a hit-and-run sort of dash. Soriano hit into a 6-3... wait, no he didn't, because Willie Bloomquist ran up to scoop up the ball and missed it, and Gonzalez scored. Blalock popped out to shallow left field, which was actually pretty funny -- Winn ran up to catch it and Barajas actually didn't bother running home. On Randy Winn, who is certainly no Ichiro when it comes to throwing arm. Things could have been good then, and Meche got a 3-2 count on Young... who then proceeded to hit yet another single to right field, scoring the speedy Soriano, who had stolen a base, and the slow Barajas. With the score 5-0, Meche got pulled for Matt Thornton, which made us all go "Oh, great."

Thornton actually pitched relatively well, until he gave up a double to Teixeira in the 7th and a long 416-foot home run to Dellucci two at-bats later. This, sadly, lost him the game, as the Mariners had miraculously managed to come back and get the score to 6-5 by the end of the 5th.

Even their recovery was frought with stupidity, though. Reed led off with a ground rule double that bounced over Matthews's head into the beer garden, and Beltre walked, and then Richie Sexson came up and hit a home run... err... he hit the ball into the front row of section 107, where either a fan knocked it onto the field, or Richard Hidalgo jumped high enough and knocked the ball back onto the field -- I couldn't quite see, but either way, the ball ended up back on the field. Either way, Sexson stopped at second, Reed scored, and Beltre stopped at third. Richie just pointed at the right field wall, and Hargrove came out to argue with the umpires, and there was a pause for about five minutes while people argued, and all the umpires conferred, and it was decided that it was not a home run. Yeesh. After that, Boone and Ibanez both grounded into 6-3 plays, each one scoring a runner. So the net result was the same, except Richie's home run count isn't one higher. The score was 5-3.

In the fifth, Dan Wilson leads off with a single, and Bloomquist bunts into a fielder's choice. Or does he? The throw to second is off, and Wilson is safe, and Bloomquist is safe at first, except the Rangers are somehow never charged with an error. Ichiro hits into a real fielder's choice, as Bloomquist is tagged at second. Jeremy Reed, yet again, is the cause of a bizarre run-scoring play -- he hit what appeared at first to be a low pop fly to Mark Teixeira standing a bit in front of the first-second base line -- but the umpires rule it a fair ball because it apparently bounced in front of the plate first. So Reed gets to first on an "infield single", Dan Wilson scores, and Ichiro gets to second as Teixeira's just standing there holding the ball. Beltre hits a long fly ball to center field which is caught on the warning track; and then Richie Sexson hits a REAL double to right center field which bounces inbetween Matthews and Hidalgo, scoring Ichiro and Reed. 6-5, and nobody cares when Bret Boone flies out to third, even the kids sitting behind me who have been asking all game, "When will Bret Boone come to bat? What did Bret Boone do?" as if he'd managed to not make a bunch of bad plays and go 0 for 4 in his hitting.

Anyway, as I mentioned, Thornton pitched relatively well for him, but not good enough to hold a one-run lead, and the Mariners eventually lose the game 7-6 yet again. There were a few more fun moments in the game, such as Ichiro making a running leaping catch in the outfield, and Jeff Nelson putting in a pretty respectable late-inning appearance, going 1.1 innings, walking 1, striking out 3, and giving up no runs. And even Ronnie The Bear managed to come in for 2 outs and not blow it.

I wondered, after Meche spent a whole bunch of time trying to pick people off first base and failing: what's the official rule on what happens if a runner is hit by a thrown ball? For example, if Meche had just thrown the ball and hit the guy taking a lead off of first, would they be out? Or would they be awarded another base, like when a batter is hit? I should know the answer to this, I suppose, but I don't.

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