Monday, August 08, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Twins - A Walk To Remember

I think I finally fixed the Blogger template thing that was driving me nuts. Maybe. Maybe comments will work now that I'm playing with Haloscan. Maybe. I'm not sure it matters.

Tonight was a pretty fun game. It was a really nice day out, so I threw a Meche t-shirt on over my work clothes and walked down to the stadium for the BECU family night thing, where I got a pretty good View Reserved seat for only $10.

The pre-game show was bittersweet. A cool thing was seeing Bobby Bowflex out there in his uniform with the guests and whatnot. A sad thing was having a moment of silence for Gene Mauch's death. Ahh.. a fine man, a fine manager, even if most people in Philadelphia still would rather forget that 1964 ever happened.

When they announced the starting lineup, the nice elderly couple next to me both cheered wildly for Ichiro, and for Willie Bloomquist, and then they seemed to lose interest for the rest of it; I guess they're from Bremerton. For me, I was mostly eating dinner, and then I heard "Batting eighth, and playing left field, number 32, Chris Snelling," and nearly choked on my food as I tried to continue chewing and cheer for Snelling at the same time, which was my first step into convincing most of my section that I was a complete weirdo. But more on that later. A moment later, they announced Yorvit Torrealba catching.. and showed Miguel Olivo's picture up on the screen. Whoops.

So, yeah, there was a baseball game. A couple sections down from me was a very large Twins fan section -- you could tell because they had big Circle Me Bert signs, many Twins jerseys, and most importantly, they were cheering for the Twins. They had a lot more to cheer for than we did, at least for an inning or two. The game actually started off with Stewie sending a line drive into Gil Meche, which rebounded to Beltre and got to first in time for the out. Everyone came to see if Meche was okay, but he seemed to be...

...until about two innings later, when Good Meche, who had pitched two perfect innings, decided to go hide behind Evil Meche. I mean, Evil Meche walked the #9 batter twice tonight. That's just inexcusable. Between the walk, and Terry Tiffee (I swear, that guy looks like he's about 16 years old in his player picture, and his name sounds like something straight out of a 50's sitcom) singling, Stewie came up to bat and hit Gil Meche again - that is, for a long double to center. 2-0 Twins, louder cheers from the Batsection. At this point I'd been talking on my cellphone to my friend Nick for about five minutes, so when Little Nicky Punto came to bat and sent another Meche pitch out for a double, I had to explain that "Goddamnit, Nick," wasn't talking to him. Really.

3-0 Twins, and we see up on the screen: Matt Thornton's in the bullpen.

Fortunately, Joe Mauer hits a loooong fly ball to Chris Snelling after that ("Get it, Doyle!" I cry) and then roly-poly Matthew LeCroy (I envy a team that has both of its catchers in a game batting 3rd and 4th, by the way) hits another single to Snelling. Punto's taken off from second long ago, and while Snelling fires the ball in a damn sight better than Randy Winn would have, even without Beltre's cut-off, there's no way it would have made it home in time. And it's a okay, because Beltre throws to Sexson, who throws to Bloomie, and boom! We have a run-down! Except, see, it's more like, we have two Mariners fielders running and one roly-poly greying-haired man thinking, "Oh shit, where'd that ball come from?" 4-0 Twins, inning-ending 7-5-3-4 play.

Our answer? Doyle to the rescue! By the way, his at-bat song is apparently "Down Under" by Men at Work. Cute. Anyway, they start playing the music and I yell "LET'S GO DOYLE!" which earns me even more weird looks from the people around me. Fortunately, Doyle decides to go ahead and blast the ball over the centerfield wall for a nice 418-foot home run. Woooo! The elderly couple next to me asks, "Isn't that boy named Chris Snelling? Why are you calling him Doyle?" and I'm just like "Uhh... it's a long story. It's for good luck, I assure you."

Next inning we start chipping away at that 4-1 deficit even more. Raul blasts a double that I'm not sure even Torii would have gotten (and sorry Lew, you're no Torii Hunter). Richie answers it with another double, making it 4-2, and Beltre advances him to third with what looked like a low pop fly to shortstop, except since Bartlett threw it to first and didn't beat Beltre to the bag, and Beltre was ruled safe, I'm assuming the ball hit the ground first off the bat and then bounced out high. (I suppose that is one of the few times where watching on TV is superior to going to the game -- you can actually see, and rewind, to figure out what happened.) Reed knocked in a run with a clean single to center, but then Mike Morse, who had a godawful day against the Twins pitching, hit into a double play. Grr. Well, still, 4-3.

Despite walking a billion people in the 5th, Meche got out of it without another run, and then of all people, Willie Bloomquist saved him from a loss. So this time I cheered for Doyle, but even weirder, I heard a few *other* shouts of "LET'S GO DOYLE!" coming from a few rows behind me... but when I turned around, I couldn't see an obvious yeller. Anyway, Doyle walked, and got to second on Torrealba's at-bat, and then to the utter delight of the elderly couple from Bremerton, Willie Bloomquist hit a nice juicy double, driving in Doyle, and bringing it to a tie game.

So of course, at this point, they bring in Matt Thornton for real. Fortunately, we seem to be getting the Good Matt Thornton today -- the long reliever who does okay as long as nobody gets on base. He pitches two good innings, and then we go through musical chairs a bit in the 8th. Nick Punto walks, Mauer strikes out, and then WHOA NELLY! Jeff Nelson comes in. However, there are two drastically wrong things with Nelly's appearance:

1) He comes out to "America" by Neil Diamond. I never thought I'd say this, but give me Chattahoochee *any* day over that.
2) He seems more preoccupied with not letting Little Nicky Punto steal second than he does with getting Jolly Matt LeCroy out. So as a result, Punto steals *and* he walks LeCroy, and we end Nelly's only batter faced with guys on first and second.

However, now we have George Sherrill to the rescue! Sure, Jones sacrifices Punto to third, but then Sherrill strikes out Lew Ford, a big wide swing and a miss, which is oddly satisfying, and puts us in the bottom of the 8th, where Carlos Silva has still only thrown about 85 pitches after 7 innings, and the only person he's walked was Doyle.

This bodes well, and Ichiro zaps the ball to left for a single. Ol' Willie comes up next and sends the ball to right for a hit-and-run single, after failing to bunt; Ichiro had already taken off about five years before the ball reached the bat, so he's at third before you can say "Terrence Long". At this point, Silva is mercifully taken out, knowing that he'll probably get the loss for letting Slappy and Scrappy get on base. Jesse Crain comes in, and for a little while, things don't look so great for the good guys. Ibanez looks pretty silly blooping a foul ball to Justin Morneau, and Sexson looks pretty silly blooping a pop fly past second base.

However, Crain gets way behind the count on Beltre, and with it being 3-0, he throws an intentional fourth ball to walk him. (Yet this is scored an intentional walk, which makes me wonder -- is an intentional walk four intentional balls, or just any walk where the fourth ball, which actually walked the guy, is intentional? Hmmm.)

Jeremy Reed comes up with the bases loaded, works Crain to a full count, and the ball is pitched, and he watches it go by... the umpire doesn't move, and he walks off to first, and there's the go-ahead run! They show Reed up on the screen standing at first and he's got this big silly grin on his face, and you can just guess what he's thinking: "That's the easiest GWRBI of my career, but I'll take it!"

Morse adds another K to his 0-3 to make it 0-4 for the day, but really, it's okay, because, like, we have Eddie. And Eddie is badass. And Twins are ass-bats. Yeah.

And in a weird twist of justice, George Sherrill gets the win.

After the game, I stopped by the team store. Unsurprising: Winn and Boone merchandise is 50% off. Vaguely surprising: Bucky Jacobsen t-shirts are 50% off; I wonder what that means for his future. Anyway, I bought the June and July issues of Mariners Magazine because they were a dollar each. The lady at the counter said, "Would you like to buy August's issue?" I go "Nah, I'll just wait until it's a buck too," and she replies, sadly, "You know, that's what *everyone* says..."

Tomorrow. Felix. Snelling. Betancourt. Need I say more? See you at the pre-game Kingly Warmup at the bullpen.

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