Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.
April 11, 2008 6:45 PM
Posted by Bob Condotta
MARINERS STRIKE FIRST ---- So it's finally over and the Mariners get the first game of 19 these two teams --- the two expected to vie for the AL West title --- will play this season. While really early, obviously, worth remembering that the Angels swept the Mariners in Anaheim in mid-April last season to set a tone for their domination of Seattle the rest of the season. The Angels won 13 of 19 against Seattle last year.
MARINERS BREAK OUT --- This is now a season-high eight runs for the Mariners coming on the heels of the first shutout of the season yesterday.
THANK YOU GARY MATTHEWS --- He's left five runners on in the last two innings allowing the Mariners to escape a couple jams and keep the lead. That wasn't pretty, but it could have been a lot worse.
MARINERS NOW HAVE 12 ERRORS --- After the back-to-back mishaps by Green and Sexson. No other AL team had more than nine entering the night.
MARINERS ADD A RUN --- Seattle takes 6-4 lead with some help from Gary Matthews, who dove and couldn't stop Ichiro's liner, allowing him to get to second. Ibanez then drove him in with his third extra base hit of the night, one fewer than he had in the first 10 games combined.
HE WAS DUE --- The three "struck out swingings'' on the scoreboard had to be blinding Vladimir Guerrero as he stood in the box that time. He finally broke through with a single up the middle making this one a lot tighter --- 5-4 with Sean Green now on to face Garret Anderson and two runners on.
TIMELY HITTING --- M's have just four hits but havve turned them into five runs tonight. And correction on Weaver --- he threw 102 pitches tonight.
WILKERSON DOUBLES RBI TOTAL --- Brad Wilkerson had just two RBI for the season before getting that little fly to land in center field and drive in two runs for the Mariners and give them a 5-3 lead. That was the 100th and last pitch from Jered Weaver who walked three batters in the inning. Sexson drew a bases-loaded walk to tie the game at 3-3. He has now had 13 full counts this season and has walked seven times and struck out six.
ANGELS TAKE 3-2 LEAD --- The Angels have the lead after Felix just couldn't come up with the ball on a broken bat little blooper off the bat of Casey Kotchman, allowing Garret Anderson to score. The Angels had earlier taken a 2-2 lead on a HR to center by Garry Matthews Jr. Seattle, however, might have caught a break there at the end of the inning as the out by Izturis appeared to be a foul ball.If nothing else they might have wanted Hernandez to throw a few more pitches. He has thrown 94 (57 strikes) and it looks now as if the Mariners bullpen will have to come into play for an inning or two at least.
WHY WOULD YOU WALK A GUY HITTING .069? --- I know Jered Weaver didn't want to do it. Still, one of the coldest hitters in baseball and he walks Johjima on four straight pitches? But he then gets Betancourt to get out of the inning, leaving it 2-1 at the end of five, the Mariners still with just two hits for the night and just five in their last 14 innings.
GOOD INNING FOR FELIX --- The fifth was the first 1-2-3 inning for Hernandez (there was a walk and a caught stealing in the first) and he ended with a 97 MPH fastball to strike out Chone Figgins, his 70th pitch of the night. It's 2-1 Seattle.
RAAUUUUULLLLL --- It's 2-1 after another no-doubt-about-it homer by Ibanez off of Weaver on a 2-1 pitch that appeared to be another fastball, if a little lower. It's the ninth two-HR game of his career --- he's never hit three in a game.
BIG PLAY BY BELTRE --- Hernandez didn't exactly look vulnerable there, but there were two on and one out before Beltre made a fine play on a smash by Maicer Izuris and turned it into an inning-ending double play.Much has been made of Seattle's defensive woes this season but tonight has been good so far, with the Johjima throw and now that. Hernandez has thrown 57 pitches through four innings.
ICHIRO'S FAVORITE TV SHOW IS PRISON BREAK --- That's what it says on the scoreboard right now. Not sure if that's new this year or not. I just remember them always telling us whaat his favorite coffee drink was..
Anyway, it's 1-1 after three and the Mariners have just one hit though they also have struck out just twice, for what that's worth. And the dancing grounds crew is doing a routine to Michael Jackson's Bad, a song I had thankfully forgotten about until now. The crowd seems to like it, however.
MATHIS NOW HAS TWO HRS AGAINST FELIX --- Just checking the stats and see that Mathis is now 3-7 in his career against Hernandez with two home runs. That's as many as any of the rest of the Angels including Guerrero, (who has two in 25 career ABs).
FELIX FINALLY GIVES UP A RUN --- Hernandez had gone the first 17 innings of the season without giving up an earned run before that homer by Jeff Mathis leading off the third inning. Mathis has just seven home runs in his career (though spanning just 240 at-bats).
M'S UP 1-0 THROUGH TWO --- Seattle clinging to a 1-0 lead after two innings as the offense has nothing other than the Ibanez homer. But Felix has been just as tough allowing just a walk (erased on a caught stealing on good throw by Johjima) and a broken-bat single. He has 28 pitches through two innings, 15 strikes.
MARINERS GET ON THE BOARD --- Looked like a big mistake from Jered Weaver there as Raul Ibanez smacked a high fastball deep into the seats in right-center to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead ending the first inning. Considering Felix Hernandez has yet to give up an earned run in 16 innings this season, any lead is a good lead in this game.
PRE-GAME --- Bob Condotta checking in again, filling in for the real baseball guys tonight.
I usually cover UW football and basketball, so if there are some inadvertent references to touchdowns or three-pointers I ask your forgiveness.
As for the game tonight, it's obviously a huge one if you've listened to the Mariners' promos all week --- October intensity in April or whatever.
John McLaren didn't go quite that far beforehand, saying "I can't say it's a do-or-die situation by any means. We just want to play well.''
Obviously he's right. The only time I covered baseball regularly was the Mariners in 1995 (and if you ever got to cover just one team for just one year, that was obviously it), vivid proof of how the start doesn't necessarily indicate the finish.
On the other hand, the big hope with this team was that it would make hay with its easy early schedule while the Angels struggled with two starters out. (Speaking of which, Mike Scioscia said before the game that John Lackey remains on schedule for a return in the first week or two of May while F-Rod may be able to pitch tonight depending on how a pre-game bullpen session went).
So far, no good, as Seattle is 4-6 while the Angels are 6-4. If the Angels get out of here with a lead of three games or more, the Mariners will be left making up ground at a time they hoped to be setting the pace.
I may not check in as prolifcally as Geoff but I'll try to keep this going throughout the game, so stay tuned.