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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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July 30, 2008 7:27 PM

Mariners at Texas Rangers: 07/30 game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

raul0730 015.jpg

Texas did indeed tie it up in the sixth when Kenji Johjima threw a ball into center field on a steal attempt. A leadoff double by David Murphy and an ensuing groundout left a runner at third with one out. Marlon Byrd then grounded out to Willie Bloomquist at shortstop, the runner holding. But Brandon Boggs walked and broke for second on the steal. The throw was high over Jose Lopez's head. No chance there. Chris Davis then flied out to deep left center to end the inning. I can't remember seeing Raul Ibanez make a catch that far over in center.

Seattle loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh. Of course, you can guess what happened next. Ibanez hit a fly ball to medium right field. Bloomquist tagged up from third and tried to score, but was nabbed at the plate by David Murphy. Adrian Beltre then took a called third strike that he did not like very much. So, a wasted opportunity Seven runners left on by the M's tonight.

Batista is now out of the game, somehow making it through six innings with only three runs -- two earned -- allowed. It was a high-wire act. Cesar Jimenez is on.

Had a nice chat pre-game in the press dining area with Andrew Percival, a local guy from the Seattle area now working for the Rangers in their front office and scouting ranks. He interned with the Milwaukee Brewers last season and now has a job in Texas. Says he's getting used to the heat. He's an avid reader of the blog, so we were able to swap some baseball theory about what's gone on in Seattle this season. Educational.

Had another chat, not in the dining room, but on the dugout steps, with J.J. Putz about his outing last night. There are two major things Putz has struggled with all season, both of them related to his rustiness in coming back off injuries. The first is the command of his four-seam fastball. The second is his ability to throw an effective splitter.

Before his latest DL stint, the big issue for Putz was the fastball command problem. He kept falling behind hitters. The splitter becomes useless if hitters know you can't get your fastball over for a strike. Nobody is going to swing at a splitter, which will almost always miss the strike zone, when you aren't spotting the fastball. They'll just let you walk them.

The second problem, the splitter, is what has hampered Putz since he returned from the DL post-All-Star Break. You saw the problems he had in Toronto last Friday. Well, the problems were back again last night. Not so much with the first two hitters who got on. One of them swung at a pitch in the dirt and got a lucky hit. The other one hit an OK pitch. But the double that Ramon Vazquez hit came on another splitter that did not split. And when that happens, the result is a big, flat fastball that gets crushed.

Putz fessed up to this. He admitted his splitter is rusty and that it will take time for it to come back. He's got the final two months of this season to get a feel for it again. Hey, many of you wanted Brandon Morrow to go to Class AAA to start working out in the rotation. You didn't care who the closer was. Well, you're getting a taste of what could happen if Putz is less than 100 percent. Come August, it may not matter. It looks like the M's will go that route in any event.

I'm not saying you were wrong. But I am saying that talking about how games don't matter and how you don't care if the M's lose 99 or 110 games is a lot easier to do than it is to see a gut-wrenching defeat like last night's actually take place. No one wants to see a game play out for eight innings, only to be decided by a closer who can't make pitches. Try doing it three times a week and you could get a sniff at what's in-store for the Mariners the next two months.

For those of you asking me about Josh Fields, please, relax. It's not unusual to wait until after the July 31 trade deadline for teams to turn their focus back towards unsigned draft picks. There are still more than two weeks left to sign Fields. Like Brandon Morrow two summers ago, Fields likely won't pitch in the minors this year so it's not urgent to get his signature down on paper right away.

The M's are all tied up on multiple trade fronts for now. Once those go away, they can turn to other things.

raul0730 004.jpg

Somebody wake Yuni up...please.

7:04 p.m.: Some excellent defense from Raul Ibanez and Willie Bloomquist in the fifth prevented a run from scoring. Batista did not look sharp after the delay, giving up a leadoff single to Jarrod Saltalamacchia on an 0-2 pitch, then a one-out double to the left field corner by Ian Kinsler. But Ibanez did a good job of getting to the ball, fired a strike to cutoff man Bloomquist, then watched him fire a missile home to Kenji Johjima. The catcher did a good job of blocking the plate and applying the tag on the runner as he tried to reach out and touch home. A close play. But the M's got the call.

Seattle did nothing in the sixth, so we're on to the bottom of that frame with the M's ahead 3-2.

6:38 p.m.: Seattle just regained the lead, 3-2, in the fifth on a Jose Lopez single to left that brought Raul Ibanez in to score from second base. Let's see how Miguel Batista handles this. He's thrown 55 pitches over four innings, got a nice catch from Ichiro at the wall in right to spare him another extra-base-hit against, and has been getting slugged on all game.

A ridiculous between-innings delay has now gone on past five minutes as the grounds crew works to repair the dirt area to the left of home plate. We're not sure exactly what held things up. They kept bringing in extra dirt in buckets. We'll see what impact that has on Batista.

6:01 p.m.: Well, Miguel Batista just gave back both runs after Seattle had taken a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Josh Hamilton hammered the second pitch from Batista in the bottom of the frame and sent it into the second deck in right field. Two batters later, Brandon Boggs sent one over the right field wall to tie it. Only a nice, running catch by Raul Ibanez, who slammed into the wall in left center, prevented another run or two from scoring.

Kenji Johjima doubled in the top of the inning and scored on a single by Willie Bloomquist. Ichiro then reached on an infield single -- barely though, as Ramon Vazquez barehanded the ball and nearly threw him out, When's the last time that happened to ichiro on a ball up the third base line? He seems to have lost a step going to first base. Several scouts have commented on this in recent weeks. Jeremy Reed then singled to give Seattle the two-run lead that Batista quickly gave right back.

You may have seen that near disastrous pickoff throw by Johjima in the bottom of the inning. It was a strong throw to second, but second baseman Jose Lopez seemed to be daydreaming on the play and didn't break for the ball until it was nearly too late. Had to make a circus grab to keep it from going into center field. He was either asleep or something got lost in translation between the pair. They'll have to go over their signs.

5:25 p.m.: Just getting underway here on a downright cool night in Arlington. The gametime temperature was only 90 degrees, so don't be surprised if some of my photos have shots of folks in wool sweaters.

Ichiro led the game off with a walk and Raul Ibanez had a one out single. But Adrian Beltre popped out foul (no, it doesn't count as a line drive, sorry) and Jose Lopez grounded into a fielder's choice. Same old, same old. Miguel Batista retired the side in order, so we're scoreless after one. Now, it's started raining in the second inning. Nice.

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Posted by Go Pilots

5:39 PM, Jul 30, 2008

Well this texas series our offense has looked good. Lahair seems to be hitting ok and Ichiro looks back to form. Makes me excited for next year, maybe?

Posted by cesame

5:43 PM, Jul 30, 2008

Aumont signed on the very last day before the deadline to sign draft picks IIRC. This is just routine. Alvarez and the Pirates aren't even close to signing last I heard, so don't feel bad about Fields.

Fields will be a Mariner. It's probably actually smart not to let him pitch anyways since he has already logged as many innings this year as he did last year. I'm not sure if the stats I'm looking at include the playoffs so it's possible he could have already passed last year's total # of innings pitched.

Really no point in pushing him much this year. He'll be on his way to being a Mariner next year.

Posted by John

5:44 PM, Jul 30, 2008

Batista and Silva have been the most reliable pitchers Seattle has had this season.
Drum roll please ...

Posted by Dana

5:46 PM, Jul 30, 2008

I notice that Yuni is on the bench tonight. Anything to do with the missed bunt last night?

Posted by John

5:46 PM, Jul 30, 2008

I was actually typing that I would bet my Griffey jersey that Batista would give up at least one run this inning.
Didn't have time to get it posted before Hamilton launched the bomb.

Posted by John

5:48 PM, Jul 30, 2008

Old reliable.

Posted by Chopper58

5:53 PM, Jul 30, 2008

Maybe Riggleman and Lee are trying to get extra exposure for our bullpen before the deadline by starting Silva and Batista back to back.

Seriously though, our bull pen is going to be taxed. Corcoron yesterday, who today?

Jiminez, Green for the 101st straight day

Posted by John

6:02 PM, Jul 30, 2008

Does it matter?
This is one of those games where the offense will settle down (quit scoring) and Texas will pound whoever Seattle throws out there. I say let Batista stand out there for 140 pitches and get blitzed. Save the bullpen and let Batista take one for the team. He hasn't done anything else to earn his paycheck, so this is as good a way as any.

Posted by BrianL

6:11 PM, Jul 30, 2008

Lost a step, or is the hamstring still bugging him?

Posted by bobbus451

6:13 PM, Jul 30, 2008

Julio "One-man crime wave" Mateo has been arrested in New Mexico for counterfeiting. Cue Bavasi's Mateo re-acquisition in 3...2...1...Um, wait....
/End Threadjack

Posted by Eddie

6:45 PM, Jul 30, 2008

I hope we don't score any more runs. Every time that we do Bad-tista gives them back up!

Posted by Dana

6:48 PM, Jul 30, 2008

Can somebody help me out here? I can't view or listen to the game here but both ESPN and CNNSI show Bloomquist at SS yet Geoff says "Kenji Johjima doubled in the top of the inning and scored on a single by Yuniesky Betancourt. Ichiro then reached on an infield single --"

Is he watching the same game or are two reporting services wrong?

Posted by BrianL

6:51 PM, Jul 30, 2008

Dana - You're feed is slow. Use's Gameday instead.

Posted by Pirata Morado

7:06 PM, Jul 30, 2008

Geoff's wrong, Willie is playing SS and batting 9th.

Posted by Why oh Why

7:18 PM, Jul 30, 2008

OMG!!! Johjima is painful. Please sit him down now. He will get his money regardless. He is just killing this team in every way. Nice throw.

Posted by Ragarm

7:30 PM, Jul 30, 2008

Hmmm. No trades. No improvements. Still using our two utility players as starters (Bloomquist and Cairo). What a team.

Texas isn't known for it's pitching, Go Pilots. That's why our offense looks good against them. They are known for their bats and that's why we keep losing games to them.

Posted by DTM

7:31 PM, Jul 30, 2008

According to GameCast, the chance of scoring with the bases loaded and no outs is over 89%. Way to buck the odds. Only the M's.

Posted by Ragarm

7:32 PM, Jul 30, 2008

Your Captcha sucks, Geoff. Get it fixed.

Posted by Batter Up!!!

7:40 PM, Jul 30, 2008

Eddie Guardado...

JJ is looking for you Eddie!

Posted by Nick

7:42 PM, Jul 30, 2008

I accidentally posted this on a previous blog...

For the record, Geoff, I like you way better than those guys at ussmariner.

With this horrible season I hope you don't go packing your bags. I'm moving to CA in January and I'd like to still be able to come back here and read your blog.

Posted by Scanman

7:48 PM, Jul 30, 2008

In the 1st inning Victor Diaz hit #22 and drove in RBI’s 84,85,and 86. Lee, are you paying attention?

Posted by Scanman

7:54 PM, Jul 30, 2008

Bottom of the 3rd, Wlad. Balentien hits his 16th with no body on. Lee, are you paying attention?

Posted by Why oh Why

7:55 PM, Jul 30, 2008

Great. Arthur just lowered his trade value. Back to back walks to lefties in a tie game.

Posted by downonstrikes

7:59 PM, Jul 30, 2008

Looks like Arthur Rhodes' trade value plummeted tonight. Load the bases Arthur. Now it's 4 to 3 Rangers. He looks like as hasbeen again. Of course, he blames it on the umpires. No he's showing he's a poor sport on top of everything. We should get a dog bone for him now.

Posted by Scanman

8:02 PM, Jul 30, 2008

Through 4 innings RRS has given up 1 hit and 0 runs. Lee, are you paying attention?

Posted by Nick

8:02 PM, Jul 30, 2008

Wlad. Balentien is not ready for the ML right now. Did you not see him play earlier in the year? Also, Arthur's trade value didn't go down based on today. It is only one outing.

Posted by Pirata Morado

8:04 PM, Jul 30, 2008

Rhodes was robbed not once, but twice, even the Tracker showed it was strike 3 on Davis. Beltré was also struck out on a similar pitch.

I'm glad Rhodes told the ump what he felt, it's time somebody tells the umpires they suck!

Posted by Batter Up!!!

8:04 PM, Jul 30, 2008

Arthur Rhodes...

See ya, thanks for the memories!

Posted by bobbus451

8:06 PM, Jul 30, 2008

I've been away from this blog for about a year. The Baseball IQ around here sure has plummeted.

Posted by Scanman

8:12 PM, Jul 30, 2008

We knew you were back bobbus451

Posted by NB

8:13 PM, Jul 30, 2008

Man if only Arthur would have thought of the team first and looked to the veteran experience of someone like Felix Hernandez to help him keep his head in the game. I guess Arthur still has some growing up to do. No matter how talented you are, you can't do that to your team when they need you.

Posted by Ragarm

8:18 PM, Jul 30, 2008

9th inning, Ichiro gets on with two outs and who gets to come in and pinch hit for Reed? Vidro!!!! So he has the hitters count and hits a little tapper for an out. Game over. Riggleman is the poorest manager ever. Ooops. The M's have had several that may beat him out of that honor. Pinch hit Vidro when the game is on the line? Holy cow pies!!!

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