Mariners Musings

Musings about, um... well, the Seattle Mariners as well as a love affair with this game baseball. By Peter J. White

Saturday, September 06, 2003

Almost forgot...

I suppose now's as good a time as any a certain George Carlin routine, comparing baseball to that, um, other sport. Whaddya call it? If you've never seen it, well, reading it barely does it justice.

Then there's Thomas Boswell's 99 reasons why baseball is better than that other thing. One might call it dated. Another might say it's classic.

And that's all I have to say about that, um, other sport. Whatever you call it.
|| Peter @ 9/06/2003

The hunt for blue October

NY Yankees   84 56  --

Oakland 84 58 1.0

Boston 83 58 1.5

Seattle 82 60 3.0
|| Peter @ 9/06/2003

"I want you to hit me as hard as you can."

Here's what the boys o' Prospectus had to say about Eric DuBose this past winter:
Once upon a time, DuBose was a high-ranking starting pitcher prospect in the Oakland organization. Then he hurt his arm. He made a solid landing in Bowie, developed a good chageup to make up for the bite his fastball lost after surgery, and got a September call-up. This year [2002], at least, lefties hit him better than right-handers did, so he may not be good LOOGY material (to borrown John Sickels's label for Lefty One-Out Guys).

LOOGY material? In six starts this year, he's looking like a pretty fine addition to the O's starting rotation. In those six starts, DuBose has two outstanding ones (both against the Mariners offense that's lost at sea), three strong efforts and one poor one (6 ER in 2.1 innings against the Yankees on 8/24). Here's a run down of the game scores: 62 (vs. KC), 59 (vs. Boston), 47 (vs. Tampa Bay), 20 (NY) and 71 (Seattle). That's some decent competition. He's not exactly been pitching against the Indians, Tigers or, um, the Orioles. So make that 16 innings, 8 hits, 3 ER, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts against the Mariners. At least he doesn't pitch for Oakland.

BP mentioned DuBose's reverse split last year. This he right-handers hit him .200/.288/.316 and lefties .216/.286/.294. That's pretty neglible, but in only 40 innings, it's not that meaningful. Now as a team, the Mariners hit right-handed pitching .269/.340/.408 and left-handers .286/.361/.430, so that fact that historically DuBose's splits make him look more like a right-hander definitely shows up against the Mariners.

How are your association skills?

Jose Lima
Darrell May
Kris Wilson
Mark Mulder
John Thomson
Joaquin Benoit
Bartolo Colon
Jake Westbrook
Billy Traber
Mark Hendrickson (twice)
Kelvim Escobar
Pedro Martinez (twice)
Josh Towers
Jeff Suppan
Derek Lowe
Dan Waechter
Jorge Sosa
Eric DuBose

Quick, what do all of these names have in common?


All are starting pitchers that have logged wins against the Mariners since the All-Star break. Pretty elite list, eh? By my count, that's 9 rookies, 3 shutouts and 8 games that the Mariners scored only one run.
|| Peter @ 9/06/2003

The hunt for blue October

NY Yankees   84 55  --

Oakland 84 57 1.0

Boston 82 58 2.5

Seattle 82 59 3.0
|| Peter @ 9/06/2003

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Top 3 play October baseball

NY Yankees   84 54  --

Oakland 83 57 2.0

Boston 81 58 3.5

Seattle 81 59 4.0
|| Peter @ 9/04/2003

Choose your adventure

Tuesday evening. It's the bottom of the 8th inning. Mariners lead the Rays, 7-5. Heralded catching prospect Pete LaForest leads off. Fireballer Rafael Soriano fans him on 3 pitches, making LaForest look as green as his two days of major league experience allow. One down. Hacktastic Carl Crawford comes to the plate. Soriano fodder. Crawford immediately falls behind 0-2 and fouls off a couple more before popping out to third. Two down. Next up Julio Lugo. Lugo watches the first two balls out of the strike zone. Maybe Soriano thinks he can bait another freeswinger. He watches strike one. He fouls of the next pitch. 2-2. Another foul. Soriano misses for ball 3. Full count. After two more fouls, the 9-pitch battle ends with a free pass to Julio Lugo. The tying run steps into the batter's box in the form of the Rays' most formidable weapon, left-handed Aubrey Huff. In case you've been under a rock, making like Rip Van Winkle the last six months, Huff has established himself as one the top right fielder's in the Americian League. He's hitting .318/.372/.561. If you missed the morning papers, that's his name scattered throughout the AL Top Ten in average, slugging, home runs, RBI and OPS. He hits lefties .318/.349/.477. He hits righties .318/.385/.609. Same average. Less on base. Considerably less power. Mariners' pitchers must record 4 remaining outs to close the game. The A's have already won. The Red Sox have won. Losing costs a game in both the division race and the Wild Card. Simply put, it's not an option. Choose one of the following options:

Pitcher #1 against left handed batters - .162/.205/.257, 0.84 G/F (in 74 AB)
Pitcher #2 against left handed batters - .215/.252/.298, 1.32 G/F (in 121 AB)
Pitcher #3 against left handed batters - .258/.311/.344, 1.23 G/F (in 93 AB)

Made your choice?

If you chose Pitcher #1, you chose the right-handed rookie, and Rafael Soriano stays in the game to finish the inning.

If you chose Pitcher #2, you chose the "Closer," albeit Shigetoshi Hasegawa is an atypical Closer. In 3 of his 14 saves, Shiggy has been called upon to record 4 or more outs. In 16 of his 55 appearances, he's pitched more than one inning. Just 4 outs, and the game can be won.

If you chose Pitcher #3, you, like Bob Melvin, chose the veteran left-handed specialist Arthur Rhodes. The first pitch Aubrey Huff sends screaming to the right centerfield bleachers, and the game is tied. Don't worry, though. The M's pulled it out in extra innings.

This isn't so much an indictment on Melvin's bullpen usage. It's been a weak point for him. He's made mistakes, but he's gotten better. A little. He is a rookie after all. We'll cut him slack for that.

No, this is an indictment against the myth that is "The Book." You know, the law passed down to Moses on Mt. Sinai that includes such strategic aphorisms as "Thou shalt always bunt with a runner on in a tie game with less than two outs" and "Thou shalt never allow a left-handed batter to see a single pitch from a right-handed pitcher late in a close game." While in a vague generalized sense these are true, there are exceptions. And there are gross exceptions. The Book speaks averages, but the field is littered with outliers. Here is an exception where the Book is wrong.

By these numbers, Rhodes is not the best option to face the leftie thumper. He's not even the second best option. And what does that say about your bullpen when the only left-hander isn't the best option against left-handed hitters? While Soriano's opposing batting line is better, I think Shiggy is the best option in this situation. Soriano puts more balls in the air than on the ground, and a home run is the worst case scenario. A ball on the ground more than likely ends the inning. But if that grounder is a single, or even a run scoring hit that brings the Rays within 1, the next hitter is the right-handed Rocco Baldelli. And Bob has to go back to the pen.

Two outs in the eighth inning of a two-run game in the madness of a September pennant race. This is as high leverage as it gets. This is a job for Best Pitcher in the Bullpen, and not a cursory left-on-left matchup.

I can't fault Bob for doing what he's been trained to do. It's not his fault he was taught wrong. It's not his fault the media judges him by a standard that's wrong. But he chose the safest option, not the smartest option. If Rhodes gives up the homer, the media can say Huff got the best of him. If he leaves in Soriano or puts in Shiggy and Huff launches one, then Melvin has to answer why threw The Book out the window while Karl Ravech and Bobby V make a mockery of it on national TV. It was safe. And it was spineless. It's September, and the Mariners are in the 4-team race for 3 playoff spots. (Did you know the Mariners are just 3 games back of the Yankees for home field advantage?) Every game matters. Every at bat matters. Every strategic advantage is paramount. Safe isn't always best.

But I'll let him tell Arthur he's not the best man for the job. I'll cower safely behind the anonymity of my computer.

Is the Devil Ray series over yet? I nominate last night's 7-0 loss as Most Humiliating Defeat of 2003. A Mariner reached base just 4 times all evening. Doug Waechter threw 9 innings of 2-hit, shutout ball on only 100 pitches to the usually patient Mariners. Sad, sad day in Marinerland. I smelled trouble when I saw the bottom of the lineup was Mabry, Sanchez and Wilson, but it was Sanchez and Wilson who had the two hits.

Now, I could moan and groan about how the Mariners forgot they were actually supposed to bring there bats to the game, and how they continue to suffer with First Pitcher Syndrome (I'm having fits imagining a Rich Harden matchup, and if the A's are shrewd, Justin Duchscherer) but instead I'll put the spotlight on the mound. Here's the starting lineup the M's faced last night followed by their 2003 on-base percentages (after last night's massacre):

Carl Crawford .311
Rocco Baldelli .329
Aubrey Huff .372
Travis Lee .354
Pete LaForest .200 (he just got called up though)
Julio Lugo .319
Marlon Anderson .326
Toby Hall .299
Damian Rolls .297

That's 5 sub-.320's (including the September cup-o-coffee LaForest). That's a lineup that calls out for, cries for, begs for pitching dominance. Don't Crawford and Baldelli have to be the most hacktastic 1-2 guys in baseball? Combined, they have 46 walks and 200 strikeouts. So what does Freddy do? Naturally, he throws 76 pitches in just five innings. He strikes out 8 of his 15 outs, walks one but gives up 5 runs on 7 hits. Crawford, Baldelli and Huff combined to go 8 for 10, scoring 6 runs and driving in 5. And if Freddy's doing that to the Devil Rays in September, I really don't want to see him pitching against the White Sox or Yankees or Barry Bonds in October.

The Rays have no trouble with New Pitcher Syndrome as they bullied recent callup Brian Sweeney for 2 runs on 4 hits and a walk in two innings. It was a brutal night for all the boys in Mariner blue.

So I sit and pray that in a week, a month, six weeks, this will be a long-since forgotten game.
|| Peter @ 9/04/2003

Rockin' Robin

Word on the street is the Dodgers are shopping Robin Ventura. If that's true, then I say, as long as that Dodger hitting virus isn't contagious, and Ventura can be had for a stack of autographed Freddy Garcia baseball cards, what in the unholy name of John Mabry is Pat Gillick waiting for? Must be that Armageddon thing I keep forgetting about.

And while we're ranting on the enigma of Gillick and his bench, just how is that Tyler Houston, baseball's most prolific pinch hitter this season (.448/.484/.586, 4 doubles, 8 RBI in 29 PH AB) finds himself released and not in Mariner blue?

If Ventura and Houston do not find themselves in the visiting dugout in Camden Yards by week's end, there can be no other explanation:

They can't pinch run for Edgar.
|| Peter @ 9/04/2003

Monday, September 01, 2003

Pythagorean Rankings: Week 22

(last weeks rank in parentheses, followed by runs for an against)

1. Seattle (1) 688-545 I'd like to think the Curse of David Spade has run its course. I was beginning to think that maybe Ichiro (.287 OBP in August), Bret Boone (.325), Mike Cameron (.323), Dan Wilson (.281) or Ben Davis (.146) had something to do with the slide. Post season odds: 60%.

2. Atlanta (2) 778-629 Cruising to, what, their 50th division crown in a row? And looking scarier now with Greg Maddux coming around: 4.63 ERA the first half, 2.95 the second half. And then there's Mike Hampton: First half 4.85, second half 2.76. Who says they're all offense, no defense? Post season odds: 100%.

3. Oakland (4) 646-529 Miguel Tejada .327/.368/.619 with 8 homers and 25 RBI for August. MVP! MVP! Just kidding. On the flip side, Erubial Durazo hit .186/.310/.330 and Scott Hatteberg .204/.267/.323 for the month. Opponents had a .479 OPS against Tim Hudson in August. Post season odds: 82%.

4. NY Yankees (2) 733-617 Cruising to, what, their 50th division crown in a row? Jose Contreras is another nomination for Biggest Bust of 2003. Come on, $5.5 mil for 35 innings with a 5.09 ERA. An "investment" like that would break any other team. Lucky for the Yanks, Mussina (3.22 ERA), Pettite (4.01) and Clemens (4.01) in Yankee Stadium is all they need in a short series. Post season odds: 97%

5. Boston (5) 821-703 After a month with their new team, Scott Williamson has an ERA of 4.85 in 13 innings, Jeff Suppan 6.08 in 4 starts and Scott Sauerbeck 9.45 in 6.2 innings. So while the venom of Red Sox Nation pours out on Pedro and Manny, it's best aimed elsewhere. Pedro allowed just 10 runs all month, albeit half of them in the most important start against the Yanks. How likely is it Manny gets sick against the Yankees? Post season odds: 60%

6. Houston (7) 660-572 Part of that division that nobody wants to win, the 'Stros went 13-15 in August. Wade Miller posted a 1.69 ERA. They split their last six against LA and San Diego and replay those series on the road this week. Lance Berkman in the second half is hitting .300/.429/.562 but has just 6 homers. Post season odds: 28%.

7. Philadelphia (5) 644-565 A sweep in New York against the hot Trachsel and Glavine helps soothe the pain of a 6-game losing streak, but if the Phils are to wander too far off the Wild Card pace, Larry Bowa should be fired immediately. Abreu (.417), Thome (.405) and Lieberthal (.379) were the only regulars with OBP's over .325 in August. Post season odds: 49%.

8. San Francisco (8) 611-540 Jason Schmidt was nearly unhittable last month with an ERA of 1.27 and 0.91 WHIP with 26 SO to 5 BB. Steady pitching continued with Dustin Hermanson (2.35 ERA) and Sidney Ponson (3.25). After an ERA of 2.64 in the first half, Jerome Williams is at 4.25 for the second. Post season odds: 100%.

9. St. Louis (10) 737-674 The Cards have won 4 series in a row against the Pirates, Phillies, Cubs and Reds. They still have 4 against the Cubs and 6 against the Astros. Woody Williams ERA in the second half is 4.56 and batters are hitting .294 against him. Eight of the Cards' ten regulars posted OPS's over .800 in August, and five of those over .880. Post season odds: 47%.

10. Chicago Sox (13) 663-607 The Sox are 28-15 since the All-Star break. Joe Crede: .225/.277/.348 with 8 homers before the break, .326/.375/.603 with 10 homers since. Paul Konerko: .197/.267/.300 with 5 homers before, .319/.375/.597 with 10 homers since. Frank Thomas is on pace for 45 homers, which will best his previous career high of 43. Post season odds: 57%.

11. Arizona (9) 594-552 The D-Backs don't really want the Wild Card either, as they went 14-14 in August. Shea Hillenbrand hit .200/.219/.330 in August, while Raul Mondesi posted an OBP of .391 as a Snake. Brandon Webb went 1-3 despite a 2.86 ERA. That hurts his award chances. Post season odds: 7%.

12. Florida (12) 628-591 After that blistering 17-7 July, the Fish cooled off in August to 14-14. Four of their last five series have been sweeps: They won two and lost two. While much is being made of losing Mike Lowell for the season, four of the Marlins' starters had OPS's below .700 in August, and Lowell was one of them. They'd better hope Jeff Conine a month late isn't a month too late. Post season odds: 26%.

13. Los Angeles (11) 473-446 Easily the streakiest team in baseball. They won three, then lost four. They've won their last four, the last two shutouts. Wilson Alvarex had a 1.63 ERA in four starts this month. Eric Gagne struck out 34 and walked only 4, or 17.65 K/9. Post season odds: 8%.

14. Anaheim (14) 644-612 Garrett Anderson's career year continues as he's on pace to establish career highs in batting average, on base percentage, slugging, homers and RBI. He's currently 2nd in the AL in batting (.322), 2nd in RBI (113), 5th in slugging (.573), 9th in homers (29) and 10th in OPS (.925).

15. Toronto (15) 757-730 Carlos Delgado now has eight consecutive seasons of 30+ home runs, seven straight years of 100+ RBI and is three walks short of four straight seasons of 100+ walks.

16. Montreal (19) 619-606 The Expos secret weapon for the stretch run? Vlad is back. And with a vengengence: .349/.420/.726 with 10 homers in August. Since the All-Star break Livan Hernandez sports a 1.65 ERA, .208 BAA and has 66 strikeouts to 13 walks. And Javier Vazquez had a 1.15 ERA and .172 BAA for the month. Postseason odds: 2%.

17. Minnesota (17) 660-649 For the month of August, Johan Santana went 5-0 with an ERA of 1.07, 44 strikeouts to 10 walks, and batters hit just .197 off of him. Last year, Torii Hunter had 23 steals in 31 tries (74%) and this year 5 steals in 12 tries (42%). Post season odds: 35%.

18. Chicago Cubs (16) 586-584 The Cubs don't seem to want their division either after dropping series to LA, Houston, St. Louis and Milwaukee over the past two weeks. They have the softer remaining schedule of their NL Central rivals. Since the All-Star break, Carlos Zambrano is 6-1 with a 1.48 ERA and BAA of .216. And he's two years younger than Mark Prior. Post season odds: 34%.

19. Colorado (18) 727-739 Jay Payton hit .340/.363/.670 with 9 homers and 23 RBI in August. Before the break, Preston Wilson was hitting .307/.366/.583, but since, he's .231/.298/.455.

20. Kansas City (21) 693-712 After a first half of .288/.341/.435, Desi Relaford is slumping to .207/.279/.300 in the second half. Meanwhile, in the first half, Joe Randa hit .248/.304/.414 before the break and .361/.433/.516 since. The Royals used 9 different starters in August alone. If I'm Allard Baird, I'm shopping for a new medical staff. Post season odds: 10%.

21. Baltimore (19) 649-680 Mmm… fall traditions: Back to school, Labor Day barbecues, the scorching A's and the disintegrating Orioles. The O's were 11-20 in August, punctuated by losing streaks of 8 and the now current 8. They've been shutout three times in August. Jason Johnson won just 2 of 6 six starts despite a 2.77 ERA. The team OPS for the month was .686. Thank you, Tony Batista (.599) and Deivi Cruz (.556).

22. Pittsburgh (22) 633-679 They traded Brian Giles and immediately went on a 4-game winning streak, including a pair of shutouts. Then they got blasted by Atlanta for 23 runs in two games. The Pirates had three hitters with at least 25 AB with OPS's over 1.100. Jason Kendall hit .368/.456/.500 for the month with 10 walks and 3 strikeouts.

23. Cleveland (23) 593-657 Yet another uncelebreated middle reliever: David Riske, who in 65 innings has a 2.35 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 9.42 K/9. He struck out 15 in 13+ innings in August.

24. NY Mets (24) 567-652 Jose Reyes hit .355/.405/.514 with 7 steals in 8 tries in August. Meanwhile, aliens inhabited the body of Roger Cedeno as he hit .360/.398/.500. And Tony Clark lead the team with 6 homers in only 43 AB.

25. Milwaukee (27) 608-712 Winners of 12 of their last 13, the Brewers get to play spoiler, as beginning Friday, their season ends with series against the Cubs, Astros, Giants, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Cardinals and Astros. Doug Davis posted a 0.93 ERA in four starts and Danny Kolb had an ERA 0.82 and saved 10 games.

26. Texas (25) 712-837 A-Rod's Bondsian August: .340/.454/.849 with 15 homers, 31 RBI, 21 BB and 5 SB. Viagra Man Rafael Palmeiro tried to keep pace: .347/.421/.683 with 8 homers and 24 RBI.

27. Tampa Bay (26) 599-727 Lou Piniella gets a brutal schedule to end his season: Mariners, A's, Blue Jays, Yankees and Red Sox. As it is, they've won just 2 of their last 11. Jorge Sosa, Chad Gaudin and Jeremi Gonzalez all posted ERA's below 4.00 in August, which is definitely a plus. Meanwhile, Opening Day starter Joe Kennedy posted an ERA of 8.28 in 6 starts. Not a plus.

28. Cincinnati (28) 597-743 Seven Reds saw 50+ at bats in August. Only D'Angelo Jimenez (.804) posted on OPS over .700. Sean Casey hit .245/.292/.306 in August. The Reds used a total of 20 different pitchers in August. Paul Wilson had a 2.29 ERA and John Bale was 2.76. It gets ugly after that.

29. San Diego (29) 564-711 The Brian Giles Era begins: .294/.368/.353 in his first 17 AB. Sean Burroughs had another strong month of .322/.404/.448. He now has a .512 OBP in 35 AB in the leadoff slot.

30. Detroit (30) 474-758 The Tigers join the '62 Mets as the only teams of the modern era to lose 100 before September. They're currently 4 games better than the '16 Athletics, who won only 30 of their first 135 games. Dmitri Young (.991), Carlos Pena (.913) and Craig Monroe (.915) all posted OPS's over .900. Brandon Inge was close, hitting .325/.364/.530 since being recalled. On the 20-loss watch: Maroth needs 1, Bonderman 2 and Cornejo 6.

Seattle at New York
Chicago at Oakland
Florida at San Francisco
St. Louis at Atlanta

AL - Paul Konerko (Chicago Sox) 22 AB, 3 R, 12 H, 3 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 5 BB, .545/.630/1.091, 1.721 OPS
NL - Vlad Guerrero (Montreal) 24 AB, 11 R, 11 H, 1 2B, 5 HR, 12 RIB, 5 BB, 1 SB, .458/.567/1.125, 1.692 OPS

AL - Estaban Loaiza (Chicago Sox) 2-0, 15.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 17 SO, 0.60 ERA
NL - Doug Davis (Milwaukee) 2-0, 17.1 IP, 9 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 SO, 0.00 ERA

AL - Ichiro (Seattle) 29 AB, 4 R, 2 H, 2 BB, .069/.156/.069, .225 OPS
NL - Miguel Cabrera (Florida) 22 AB, 0 H, .000/.000/.000, .000 OPS

AL - Colby Lewis (Texas) 0-1, 1.1 IP, 5 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 1 SO, 47.25 ERA
NL - Jeff D'Amico (Pittsburgh) 0-1, 3 IP, 10 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO, 21.00 ERA
|| Peter @ 9/01/2003

Another in-game diary

Living on the east coast now, I see precious fewer Mariner games than I would like. MLB Extra Innings is a pipedream at the moment. And there’s really no way I can get excited about watching a live baseball game over the net. I spend 40 hours a week staring at my computer screen as it is. Thus, the best part about getting every Oriole game with the local cable package is the few times the Mariners play the Orioles. Friday’s thriller was past my bedtime, and I was kicking myself for not recording it just for that 9th inning. I was all looking forward to Saturday’s afternoon game once I finished work only to find it wasn’t televised at all. What a let down. Well, there’s Sunday’s game. I kept a journal through last week’s game against the Red Sox, and quite frankly, that was the most fun I’d had watching a game on TV. So I thought I’d try it again.

Michael Reghi and Jim Palmer are the play-by-play for the Orioles. Reghi irritates me. He’s a Baltimore man through and through and maybe I just can’t get over the one-sided broadcast that’s not for my team. But also he really has no personality. He comes across glossy and fake. And I just can’t get anybody that gets excited about Deivi Cruz. That’s beyond me. Jim Palmer, on the other hand, really impressed me throughout this game. He was insightful; he was intelligent; and he was low-key. Most ex-player broadcasters I’ve listened to seem to revel in their vast expanse of encyclopedic baseball knowledge and never miss an opportunity to boast of their insider status (i.e., McCarver, Morgan). And I guarantee you, you’ll never hear Joe Morgan relay an anecdote like Palmer’s of witnessing Bret Boone in the clubhouse, bat in hand, wearing nothing but a T-shirt and blonde wig. Bob Melvin: “I hope you’re not taking batting practice like that.” By far, the highlight of the broadcast.

Top of the First
Brian Roberts leads off. Moyer’s first pitch is low. Ball 1. Roberts fouls off the next pitch. Moyer nips the outside corner for strike 2, and baits Roberts swinging for strike 3. DH (!) Deivi Cruz (is his bat really that valuable, Grover?) shows bunt, and then hits a one-hopper right into Moyer’s glove for the second out. Pretty boy Luis Matos hits in the 3-hole for the O’s today. Moyer catches the outside corner for strike 1, and then backs Matos off the plate with ball 1. Matos lifts a shallow fly to center that Cammie chases down.

Bottom of the First
Jason Johnson gets a low outside strike to Ichiro, who takes an empty cut at strike 2. The next pitch strays way outside for ball 2. Ichiro swings and misses on one low and away for the strikeout. Rey Sanchez takes a low inside strike. The next one is high for ball 1. A high tight fastball at the hands, and Rey can’t lay off it. He chops the next pitch into the hole on the left side, but third baseman Tony Batista crosses in front of shortstop Jose Morban who can’t find the ball in his glove, and Rey’s safe at first on an infield single. Next, Johnson gets a low inside strike to Edgar. A breaking ball catches the inside corner for a strike. Edgar fouls off an outside pitch. A fastball outside misses away. Inside ball 2. Johnson again goes up and in, and Edgar makes it a full count. Edgar smokes it up the middle. Roberts gets to the ball but is too late to force out Sanchez. He could have stood on the bag another 10 seconds and still thrown out Edgar. Was Edgar even out of the box? Boonie watches strike 1. Outside ball 1. He cuts at a low fastball and then at one about a foot higher to end the inning.

Top of the Second
Moyer bounces ball 1 to Jeff Conine. Misses low again, ball 2. Another low ball 3. He catches the low inside corner for a strike. Conine grounds the next pitch up the middle and Sanchez easily picks it to his left. Moyer tosses a low outside strike on Jay Gibbons. Gibbons rips the next pitch foul down the left field line. Moyer misses just low and outside. Wilson sets up inside and Gibbons flies to right. Moyer throws a high breaking ball to Tony Batista. Another breaking ball misses low. Next Jame works a fastball down the middle for a strike. Batista fouls off an inside pitch, but an outside change fools him swinging.

Bottom of the Second
Carlos Guillen bats in the 5-hole today bumping Olerud to 6 and Cammie 7. Pretty radical by Melvin standards. On Johnson’s first pitch, Guillen checks his swing. Johnson goes low outside, and Guillen slashes an opposite field single to left. Johnson works again low to Olerud, ball 1. Olerud chases one in the dirt as Guillen steals second. Mr. Glass’ first steal of the year. He was previous 0 for 4 in steal attempts. Olerud fouls off an outside pitch. Another low breaking pitch gets Olerud swinging. Johnson throws a high breaking ball that just gets the plate to Cammie. Outside for ball 1. Cammie grounds to second, and Guillen moves to third. Johnson throws low to McLemore for ball 1. Fordyce sets up outside and Johnson misses. Then he misses low and inside 3-0. Fordyce sets up outside but Johnson goes down the middle for strike 1. The next pitch catches the outside corner for strike 2. Mac grounds weakly to second ending the inning.

Top of the Third
Moyer misses outside to Brook Fordyce. He misses again low, ball 2. He catches the outside corner for a called strike. Fordyce grounds it near the third base bag to Guillen. One out. Moyer misses for ball one to Larry Bigbie. Ball two. Low and outside. Again low and outside but catches the corner for strike 1. Same location for another called strike. Up and in and Bigbie breaks his bat as Guillen throws him out. Jose Morban shows bunt and watches a strike. Moyer’s Wile W. Coyote 80 mph fastball misses inside. Morban chases a ball outside the strike zone. Moyer tries the same location again, but Morban lays off. He fouls off another outside pitch. Moyer comes inside and Morban pulls it tight down the line. From behind the bag, Guillen reminds us all why he’s no natural third baseman and throws it way. It’s an infield hit and Morban takes second on the error. Moyer takes a called strike to Roberts. Then he misses high and outside. Roberts chases a change out of the strike zone. Wilson sets him up inside and Roberts fouls it off. Moyer misses low in the dirt. Now that was close high outside. Full count. Roberts slashes the outside pitch into right field and Ichiro back pedals to just in front of the warning track to make the catch.

Bottom of the Third
A low breaking ball from Johnson catches the plate against Wilson. Next he swings at a low inside pitch. The slider misses way outside. Again Johnson misses outside. He goes inside and Wilson drives it up the middle for a single. Johnson misses high and outside to Ichiro. Again he goes high and outside. Ichiro fouls off the 2-0 pitch. Johnson catches the inside corner with a breaking ball to even the count. Ichiro fouls off a low inside pitch. Johnson goes outside and Ichiro lifts it to left for the out. Sanchez watches a breaking ball down the middle. Johnson’s fastball misses outside. What in the world are they doing, pitching out with Dan Wilson on first? The pitch flies inside and Sanchez fists a fly ball to center for the second out. Johnson misses high to Edgar. Johnson gets a called strike at the letters. He works the low outside corner for strike 2. Johnson gets Edgar swinging on an inside pitch to end the inning.

Top of the Fourth
Cruz swings and misses on the first pitch. Wilson sets up inside and Cruz pops out to short. Moyer misses outside on the first pitch to Matos. He misses low for ball 2. He then catches the outside corner for a strike. Matos swings and misses to even the count. Moyer just misses the outside corner for a full count. Matos fouls off the next pitch, then misses low for Moyer’s first walk of the afternoon. Moyer catches the low inside corner to Conine. He misses inside as Conine jumps out of the way. After several tosses to first, Jamie wins the cat and mouse game with Matos at first, catching Matos as he broke too early for second. It’s 1-2 to Conine and Boonie chases the pop up into shallow right.

Bottom of the Fourth
Johnson’s fastball misses high to Bret Boone. Foul ball. Johnson misses inside. Boonie watches a breaking ball down the middle. The slider misses low for a full count. The fastball inside fools Boonie as he watches it go by. Guillen watches a strike on the inside corner. Then he watches a breaking ball for strike two. Johnson goes inside and Guillen grounds to first. The Aflac trivia question: Shiggy has an 0.88 ERA, so what’s the lowest ERA for a reliever? Without looking it up, I’m guessing Dennis Eckersley circa 1990. Olerud goes the other way on the first pitch for a single down the left field line. Cameron watches ball 1 inside. He can’t check his swing on a slider in the dirt. He watches ball 2 outside. A breaking ball misses high. Cammie checks his swing this time and earns a walk. Johnson throws another first pitch breaking ball strike to McLemore. A fastball goes outside for a ball. Johnson then paints the low inside corner for a strike. Mac hammers the next pitch to right and Jay Gibbons pulls it from the stands to steal the home run and end the inning.

Top of the Fifth
Last inning’s hero Jay Gibbons watches strike 1, then low ball 1. Moyer misses high just above the letters. He tries an inch lower and evens the count. Gibbons chases vainly for the breaking ball. One out. Moyer misses in the dirt to Batista. Then he misses high. What a weak swing by Batista for strike 1. He lifts the next pitch to Mac in left field for out #2. Aflac trivia question answer: Now the graphic that Reghi and Palmer read says “Dennis Eckersley, 1991, 0.61 ERA.” But now that I double check that, Eck’s ERA in 1991 was 2.96. In 1990 was 0.61. I am good. This leads me to wonder if I can get a job as the Orioles stats guy. I wonder if they pay well. Fordyce watches one outside in the dirt for ball one. He fouls the next one away. Wilson sets up inside but the pitch misses the plate. Fordyce chases an outside pitch to even the count and then taps a weak grounder back to Moyer.

Bottom of the Fifth
Wilson watches one down the middle. Johnson misses low inside. Wilson watches another one low on the plate. He then drives a letter-high pitch to right. Ichiro yet again watches a first pitch breaking strike. Another breaking pitch misses outside. He takes a pitch near the shins for ball 2, and then Ichiro laces a grounder first that Conine gobbles up. Sanchez is late on Johnson’s pitch, a foul down right field line. Ball 1. Johnson misses inside. Rey fouls another outside pitch to even the count. A slider slides away and Sanchez chases it for the strikeout.

Top of the Sixth
Moyer misses low and away to Bigbie. The next pitch is in the dirt for ball 2. Moyer then gets a low strike. Bigbie hits a chopper for the O’s first hit out of the infield. Morban drops an ideal bunt moving Bigbie to scoring position. Roberts watches an outside strike. Moyer works high and tight for a strike at the fists. He again goes high and inside for a ball. Low and outside evens the count. Then he just misses letter-high. Moyer paints the outside corner and Roberts thinks he can walk to first. Home plate umpire Joe West tells him to walk to the dugout. Moyer misses low and outside to Cruz. Cruz takes a cut and misses. Moyer pops him up in foul territory and Olerud has plenty of room to make the catch.

Bottom of the Sixth
Edgar watches a letter-high fastball for a strike. Johnson misses high and outside. Edgar lines the breaking pitch into center for a single. Boone lashes first pitch to right and Edgar chugs all the way to third. First and third. No out. Johnson’s breaking ball misses away high. Guillen lifts the next pitch foul into the stands. Guillen beats Johnson for a base hit to right and Edgar scores, breaking the scoreless tie. In the heads-up play of the game, Jay Gibbons fires to third and nails Boone who wasn’t expecting the throw. Judging from the look on Boonie’s face, I’ve got to wonder if he and third base coach Dave Myers had a failure to communicate. Guillen takes second on the throw. Johnson works the inside corner to Olerud for strike 1. He gets another inside strike. Yet another inside pitch and Olerud fists it to left. Bigbie doesn’t even make throw home as Guillen scores. Now, you could argue that the Boone/Myers fiasco costs the M’s a run, and you’d be right. Johnson misses outside to Cammie 2-0. He misses low for ball 3. Again, he misses low for ball 4, and five straight have reached base. Johnson works the inside corner to Mac for strike 1. Mac watches one right down the middle for strike 2. A breaking ball low and inside and Mac can’t find it for the strikeout. Wilson fouls off the first pitch. Wilson pulls another pitch foul. Johnson throws a low inside fastball for ball 1. Johnson misses low outside to even the count. Dan freezes on a fastball on the outside corner for strike 3.

Top of the Seventh
Moyer paints the outside corner for strike 1 to Matos. Matos pulls the next inside pitch foul. The breaking pitch outside misses. Matos chases another outside pitch and grounds to Guillen who gives another wide throw but Olerud saves this one and keeps his foot on the bag. Conine chases a breaking ball in the dirt for the first strike. Moyer misses outside. Conine lines the next pitch to center for a single. Gibbons fouls off an outside pitch. Moyer misses low outside to even the count 2-2. Gibbons lifts the next pitch to center and Cammie fights the sun to catch it. That’s 100 pitches for Moyer. He misses outside, but then gets a “fast”ball strike to Batsita. Batista pops up foul but Guillen has room down left field line. God Bless America.

Bottom of the Seventh
Hector Carrasco takes over for Johnson and misses high to Ichiro with his first pitch. Ichiro can’t lay off the junk and swings at a pitch at his ankles. On the next pitch, Bigbie gives chase to the foul but just runs out of room. Carrasco baits him low again. Ichiro swats the next pitch and grounds to second. Sanchez flies out to shallow center on the first pitch. Edgar swings and misses on his first pitch. Carrasco works letter-high and Edgar fouls it off. The next one sails over Edgar’s head. Edgar answers that with a drive to the gap but Gibbons chases it down.

Top of the Eighth
Fordyce rips his first pitch foul. He chases again and strike 2. Moyer goes high and away for a ball. The next one is very close at the knees but a ball. Moyer goes outside and Fordyce fights it off into the seats. Wilson sets up inside and Fordyce fists a fly ball to center for the out. Moyer misses low outside to Bigbie. Who then shoots a single to right. Melvin comes to the mound, but apparently it was just to tell Jamie he’d just saved a bunch of money on his car insurance. Morban watches a called strike and then lifts another fly to center that Cammie fights the sun and makes the catch. Roberts fouls off his first pitch. Moyer misses outside and then misses just low. Roberts rips another foul up and back. He then chases an outside pitch and punches it to right field. That puts runners at first and second, 2 out and Melvin decides Jamie’s afternoon is through and brings in another former Oriole, Armando Benitez. His first pitch misses high to Cruz. Deivi pops the next pitch foul and out of play. Cruz again fouls one on the outside corner. He hits another pop foul. Finally, Cruz can’t catch the Benitez fastball for the strikeout. Michael Reghi informs us at home just how tough it is to strike out Deivi Cruz. Really? Sure enough, about once every 11 strikeouts, best in the lineup, and comparable to Ichiro.

Bottom of the Eighth
Carrasco’s first pitch is down the middle for strike one. He hangs a breaking ball and Boone muscles it past a diving Conine to right. Carrasco throws one high and tight to Guillen for ball one. Guillen swings and a misses. Palmer comments, “Guillen is a younger version of McLemore.” Now that’s an interesting comparison. According to Baseball Reference, Guillen’s best comp through age 26 is Jerry Adair (who just so happens to be the one major leaguer from my hometown Sand Springs, OK, and my little league career was spent on the Jerry Adair fields, but I digress from my digression). In his age 27 season, McLemore hit .246/.308/.294. So maybe that’s not so great a comparison. Carrasco goes inside and in the dirt for ball 2. Guillen chases a change in the dirt for strike two. Carrasco works high for a full count. This just in: The A’s have won their 9th in a row. It’s not fair. They lose Mulder and they run off nine in a row. If the M’s can just maintain until they face off against Oakland, I like their chances against lefties Halama and Lilly. Guillen bounces the next pitch to Batista but Conine can’t hold onto the throw. First and second, no out, so Grover goes to the pen. Leftie Buddy Groom comes in as Olerud shows bunt. (Why?) Palmer explains it screws up Grover’s leftie matchup. It opens first, he explains, so the O’s would be forced to walk the rightie Cameron and even if Hargrove goes to the bullpen, Mac is a switch hitter. I don’t like it. Olerud’s the hottest hitter in the lineup right now (.440/.548/.520). Why take the bat out of his hands and play for just one run? You play for one, you score just one. Watch and see. Ryan misses low. The second pitch Olerud bunts foul. The third time’s a charm for Olerud. Second and third. One out. That’s it for Groom as rightie Kerry Ligtenberg comes in. Grover calls for the free pass to Cammie and the bases are loaded for Mac. (I have to admit, I like the O’s chances here). Ligtenberg misses down and away. He misses low again for ball 2. Mac drills the next pitch just foul outside the first base line and then smokes a line drive up the middle past the diving Morban. Boone scores. Wilson takes a cut and misses. Another swing and a miss. Ligtenberg misses way outside. He next goes inside to even the count 2-2. He works outside again and Wilson wants it but finally lays off it. Ligtenberg lays one right down the middle and Wilson can’t make contact. Grover brings in the 4th pitcher of the inning, leftie B.J. Ryan to face Ichiro (who has 3 hits and 2 homers in 4 at bats this year with the bases loaded). The first pitch is inside for a ball. Strike 1 is at the letters. Ichiro makes contact and Bigbie slides in foul territory to make the catch on the shallow pop.

Top of the Ninth
Shiggy comes in to close the game. He throws a breaking ball strike to Matos. Next he misses low for a ball. He comes with a fastball right down the middle for strike 2, and then misses down low. Matos hits a grounder to Olerud who misses the hop. A very rare E-3. Shiggy throws a rirst pitch breaking ball strike one to Conine. He misses outside and then catches the outside corner for strike two. Conine hits a grounder to the hole at short for a beautiful 6-4-3 double play. Sanchez and Boone have to be the best DP combo in the AL, and according to expected DPs versus actual DPs on BaseballGraphs.com, Boone and Guillen/Sanchez/McLemore are the best. Gibbons hits fly ball to McLemore, who looks suspiciously like Randy Winn, to end the game. It seems someone forgot to mention defensive replacements. Mariners 3. Orioles 0. Three-game sweep.

As my father-in-law, resident of the DC area for 25+ years tells me: “Everybody beats the Orioles.”

Jamie throws his best start since the middle of June: 7.2 innings, 117 pitches, 61% for strikes, 0 runs on 5 hits a walk and 4 strikeouts. He maintains his pace for 20 wins. It’s the Mariners’ major league leading 14th shutout on the season.
|| Peter @ 9/01/2003

Sunday, August 31, 2003

That lovin' feeling (at least for a couple of innings)

Friday night. Orioles lead 2-0. Bottom of the 9th inning. The Red Sox and A's have both already won, meaning the Mariners are 3 outs away from a 3-game deficit for the division and dropping a half game back of the Wild Card. Rookie Eric DuBose takes the mound for the Orioles. He's already set down 12 Mariners in a row. The Mariners haven't seen a runner in scoring position since the 3rd inning ended with Dan Wilson standing on third. He's thrown just 96 pitches through 8 innings, allowing just a hit and a pair of walks. No reason to believe he can't complete the shutout. Orioles pitchers haven't thrown a shutout since May 17 against Tampa Bay. In just his 5th major league start, DuBose has never recorded an out in even the eighth inning before tonight. Ichiro, Cameron, Edgar due up.

Ball 1. Ball 2. Ichiro watches a strike, then laces the next pitch to left. Leadoff man aboard. Next up Mike Cameron. Cammie's 0 for 3 on the night with a strikeout. Ball 1. Ball 2. Cammie fouls off the next pitch. Ball 3. Ball 4. Tying run aboard. No out. Edgar steps to the plate. He can win the game with a single swing.

Grover goes to the pen for closer Jorge Julio. Julio is slightly more effective against righties (.253/.351/.436 versus .273/.385/.434 against lefties), though 5 of his 8 homers have been to righties. As we know, Edgar has no platoon split. Julio's groundball/flyball ratio is 1.15, and the Orioles could use a grounder from the flat-footed Martinez. A double play essentially ends to the game. Bases loaded. One out.

Ball 1. Ball 2. Ball 3. Greenlight 3-0, and Edgar bullets a grounder that squeezes through the middle. Ichiro scores from second. Cammie to third. Runners on the corners. Still no out. McLemore pinch runs for Edgar, now representing the tying run, 270 feet from the end of the game.

First pitch out of the strike zone and McLemore skedaddles to second, robbing the O's that rally-killing double play ball. Winning run 180 feet away. Boonie puts the ball on the ground 38.5% of the time, more often than he puts it in the air. Boonie takes his classic all-or-nothing swing on the second pitch. Nothing. He watches strike 2. Ball 2. Another empty cut. One out.

Carlos Guillen. Though he's hitting just .231/.333/.346 since returning, Grover opts to pass him and replace Julio with leftie B.J. Ryan to pitch to John Olerud. Lefties are only hitting Ryan .185/.292/.222, but more importantly, he keeps the ball on the ground, with twice as many grounders allowed as fly balls, and Olerud has hit into 16 DPs on the year.

Ball 1. Ball 2. The Hawk watches strike 1. He then yanks Ryan's fourth pitch to right center. Cameron scores. McLemore scores. ("Everybody scores!") Game over.

And by the way, Ryan Franklin lasted 113 pitches though 7.1 innings, 65% for strikes, 2 runs on 6 hits, 3 walks and a pair of strikeouts. Those two runs came on solo home runs to Gibbons and Batista, Franklin's 29th and 30th of the year. He and Freddy are now tied for 8th on the Mariner list for most homers allowed in a season. Scott Bankhead holds the distinction of topping that list for his 1987 campaign of 35. I bit he wishes he'd had Franklin's and Garcia's Safeco Field to pitch in rather than the Kingdome.

Saturday afternoon

(courtesy of GameLog)
-Bottom of the 5th inning
-M Cameron flied out to center.
-E Martinez doubled to left.
-B Boone fouled out to catcher.
[Now when's the last time you heard "Two outs, so what"?]
-C Guillen doubled to deep right, E Martinez scored.
-J Olerud walked.
-R Winn walked, C Guillen to third, J Olerud to second.
-R Bauer relieved D Moss.
-R Sanchez singled to center, C Guillen and J Olerud scored, R Winn to third.
-B Davis doubled to deep center, R Winn and R Sanchez scored.
-I Suzuki walked.
-M Cameron safe at first on error by third baseman T Batista, B Davis scored, I Suzuki to third.
-I Suzuki scored, M Cameron to second on wild pitch by R Bauer.
-E Martinez walked.
-B Boone singled to right, M Cameron scored, E Martinez to second.
-C Guillen doubled to left, E Martinez and B Boone scored.
-J Olerud lined out to right.

10 runs, 6 hits, 1 error
Baltimore 1, Seattle 13

At the end of the carnage, that's 10 runs on 6 hits, 4 walks, an error and a wild pitch. Never in my life have I seen something so ugly that was so beautiful.

Boston loses. Oakland wins. Still 2 games back for the division, but leading the Wild Card by half a game.

As frequent emailer and A's fan Steve so thoughtfully reminds me:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken. (Sonnet 116)

|| Peter @ 8/31/2003