Sunday, August 14, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Angels - BROOM! HERE COMES THE BROOM! Ready or not, we strike out a lot...

During the first inning of today's game, the scoreboards kept freezing up and the sound system would go out and we'd just hear a set of three beeps over the stadium PA. Beep, beep, beep. Beep, beep, beep.

"We apologize for the periodic tests of our fire alarm system. Please stay in your seats. If this were an emergency, we would inform you to evacuate."

We better hope there's never a real fire at Safeco, because I don't think our bullpen has ever succeeded in putting one out.

Anyway, I'd watched John Lackey warming up, and he seemed a little offbalance. When the game started, my friend asked: "Who do you think will win today?" and I replied, "Well... Lackey's going to get 8 strikeouts, but he isn't going to get the win. Meche isn't going to last 6 innings. The Mariners will probably lose due to having a DH who's batting .048."

"He's batting WHAT? Why is he DHing?"

"Uhh, don't ask. I might start crying."

Somehow, the Mariners managed to get up 3-0 in the first inning. It mostly involved three straight singles by Ichiro, Willie, and Raul, and one of those obnoxious along-the-line-into-the-LF-corner doubles by Beltre. However, there was a brief conference to the mound after that double, which probably went something like:

Bud Black: Hey, dude. Remember how I said I'd buy you a dozen Krispy Kremes after the game?
John Lackey: Yeah. I really like the powdered ones, you know. It's the best kind to eat with a white uniform like this. You should see when Shields gets glaze all over--
Bud Black: Krispy Kreme starts with a K. And until you start making with the K's and producing some donuts in the score column, I ain't buying you crap!
John Lackey: Well, shit.

So then he struck out Reed and Betancourt, and I said, "2 down, 6 to go."

The second and third innings were largely uneventful, aside from Scott Spiezio actually getting on base in the 2nd (He walked. Don't get your hopes up.), and Chone Figgins stealing second in the 3rd, but getting called out. It's hard to tell how the inning would have gone down otherwise, although then Gil Meche catching a Vlad line drive and getting him out at first to end the inning wouldn't have been as dramatic, that's for sure.

Hey, how do you know a player is really a regular on the team? They have one of those "kid interviews you in the dugout" videos. Today we got to know Matt Thornton a little better. His favorite players when he was growing up were the Tigers of the 80's -- Trammell, Gibby, etc. His favorite moment with the Mariners was Ichiro breaking the record. And his favorite food is sushi.

Hey, how do you know Casey Kotchman is a freak? The kid's gotten 7 hits in 35 at bats this year. 3 of those hits were singles and 4 of those hits were home runs. He's been walked more times (8) than he has hits. He's struck out once. His line for this year so far is .200/.349/.543. We had just been commenting on how he had 5 hits all year with 3 for home runs, when he managed to send a pitch 415 feet into row 38 or so of the right field seats. The funniest part was that Ichiro didn't even bother moving as the ball flew out there -- he just stood and watched it sail out.

The score was still 3-1 Mariners when they entered the fourth inning. Unfortunately, that's when everything fell apart. Adam Kennedy led off with a single,. Figgins walked. Cabrera singled. Erstad sacrificed. (3-2). Meche sat down in the dugout. Mateo came out, and did something fairly uncharacteristic for him: he gave up back-to-back home runs.

I suppose it wasn't too surprising that Vlad pounded a home run into section 150; if anything, it was surprising that it was only 372 feet and barely got out of the first few rows of seats. It was vaguely surprising that Bengie Molina pounded a home run 402 feet immediately afterwards, landing right behind the Nikon sign in left-center field. Fortunately, with the score 6-3 and the bases cleared, the rest of the inning passed without any further damage.

While we're at it, will someone please explain to me why Adam Kennedy, who is now batting .329, is 9th in the lineup? Is this one of those riddles like "What is the sound of one bat clapping?" or "Why is Scott Spiezio DHing?", or is it just that the Angels have such a great lineup there's no reason to move him higher?

The Mariners struck back in their half of the 5th; Ichiro got on base by an error -- oops, I mean, Ichiro got an infield single when Orlando Cabrera failed his Barehanded Fielding roll. Ichiro stole second, and this time Willie actually did the whole hit and run thing properly -- that is, Willie hit the ball, and Ichiro actually made it all the way home. (6-4). Willie, although nowhere as fast as Ichiro, also decided to steal second, and succeeded. However, while Ibanez moved him to third, Lackey was trying to make sure he kept his pattern of getting 2 strikeouts every odd-numbered inning, and since the inning had started with Torrealba striking out, it ended with Sexson striking out. "That's 6 of 8!" I said.

Thornton actually put in a pretty decent inning and a half, although him making it out of the 7th inning unscalded could mostly be owed first to Ichiro for making an amazing running catch, all the way from the Washington Mutual logo to the stands beyond the foul line. There was also a great moment when, after Vlad and Casey The Kid had pulled off a double steal to take second and third, Juan Rivera grounded the ball to Adrian Beltre, who fired it home. Casey was already on his way to third, and Vlad started running, only to have Yorvit Torrealba run up the line and give him a good ol' football-style tackle.

Though Lackey entered the bottom of the 7th having only thrown around 90 pitches, it was to be the end of the road for him. Torrealba smacked a pretty good double, and Ichiro drove him in with a single. At that point, with the tying run on base, Lackey was pulled for Brendan Donnelly. Let me tell you, the amount of cheering in the stadium when Willie Bloomquist came up against Donnelly was deafening, and of course Willie reacted to it by hitting a nice high foul for Darin Erstad to catch. Ichiro watched Ibanez take a few pitches and then decided, "This shit is retarded," and stole second. Molina overthrew to second, but Ichiro was still on the ground from sliding into the base, so he didn't get any further. Sadly, the next pitch seemed to bounce right into Molina's face, and he fell over, so Ichiro ran to third base while they recovered the ball. Molina didn't look too happy, but he stayed out there after a little while getting checked by the trainers. Donnelly got Ibanez to ground to the mound, when he wound around, he found his throw unsound. It went a bit to the left of Erstad, enough to pull him off the base, and in the meantime Ichiro scored and Ibanez was safe at first. (This would, oddly, be the second time this weekend we saw an Angels pitcher make an error throwing to first on a 1-3 play.) However, with Sexson up, Ibanez tried to steal for some unknown reason (probably the same reason that Spiezio was DHing), and was out by quite a bit. Ugh. Well, still, they tied the game, which was good.

Lackey's line: 6.1 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 7K. At least this time it was a different pitcher's error which caused the run to score, so it makes sense for it to be unearned. Note that Lackey, who leads the Angels starters in both strikeouts AND walks had a great K/BB set. I lost my bet about Lackey getting 8 strikeouts, though.

Now, while I think George Sherrill is really a pretty good pitcher, he kinda screwed up the 8th inning. I mean, he hit Adam Kennedy and I almost thought he was going to get ejected, but he didn't. The real problem was that after he got two outs, what with Figgins sac bunting and Cabrera grounding to him, he couldn't seem to get the right side of the corner when pitching to Erstad. I mean, I thought he had him all the way -- but from my perch in section 334, it's really sort of hard to tell. So unfortunately, after several balls went by that I think many people thought were strikes, Erstad hooks a ball into center and drives in Kennedy. 7-6. Grrrrrrr.

You think that's depressing, though? Oh, let me give you depressing. Depressing is having Reed and Sexson on second and third base with one out, and having Sexson get tagged out on a questionable call at the plate from Betancourt's grounder. Oh, do you want even MORE depressing? How about having runners at first and third, with two outs, and Scott Spiezio up to bat, and MIKE HARGROVE DOESN'T PUT IN A GODDAMN PINCH HITTER.

Earth to Hargrove: Spiezio sucks, and you have just sent us all the message that you don't give a shit about winning the game. You could have put in freaking Jamie Moyer to pinch-hit and we would have at least thought you cared a little bit. Hell, put in Don Baylor for all I care, just don't goddamn leave in Scott Spiezio. Unless, of course, your goal actually IS to hear Beethoven's Prelude and Fugue in Boo Flat.

Aw, screw it. I don't feel like talking about the rest of the game. You can guess what happened when K-Rod came in to pitch the ninth inning for the Angels. Well, you might not guess the part where Dave Hansen struck out so enthusiastically that his bat went flying into the Mariners dugout and nearly hit someone in the head. But you can guess the rest, especially the part where we all left a few minutes later with the score still standing at 7-6 Angels.

Oh, and again Donnelly totally ninjaed the win from the starter, which wouldn't be so bad if he didn't simultaneously pick up a blown save. I still hate that aspect of the rules.

At least the Phillies swept the Padres this weekend and are within .5 game of the NL Wild Card again. It's always good to have a backup home team.

To sum up:
The Angels came to town with the intent of getting revenge on the Mariners for their sweep last month. They were wildly successful. Spiezio sucks. Hargrove sucks. Morse is getting butt cramps from sitting on the bench so much. Having 24 men on your roster for a game is almost as retarded as carrying 13 pitchers. Also, the average attendance for the three games was 39,517 people. Either there are a lot of Angels fans in the area or a lot of Willie fans in the area, and I'm not sure which would frighten me more.

Hernandez vs. Hernandez. Bow down, Royals, to the King, and let's hear it for sweet sixteen.

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