Tuesday, April 22, 2008

O's-M's, That's Why You Don't Put Runners On

The game in Seattle starts a string of 17 out of 20 games being on the road. If they can come back after these 20 at .500 then I will be very pleased.

Jeremy Guthrie, looking for his first win, will face Felix Hernandez. Hopefully the O's can get to him this time.

After four fastballs from 94 to 98, Brian Roberts gets a curveball and serves it into center to start the game with a single. And they're talking about Brian Robert's "disruption factor" again. Oh well. Mora gets his bat broken on a 95 mph fastball in on his hands - he grounds weakly to third. Kakes up with Roberts in scoring position.

Approximate Gary Throrne quote: "It's truly amazing the impact the baserunner has on the game." It is amazing - I thought it would be a big difference, but it really, really isn't. It's also amazing how much people talk about it.

Markakis walks (again) to bring Kevin Millar up. Millar bloops one over second to score Brian and send Nick to third. The O's haven't hit a single ball hard at all, yet they have three baserunners and a 1-0 lead. Awww, Felix pulls a Maddux and starts that fastball inside to Luke Scott and has it run back over the inside corner...at 96 mph. Yeah, this kid is gonna be good. What the hell is that?!? Millar gets picked off at first - he gets into a rundown - Kakes takes off for home - the throw goes home - Nick goes back to third - the throw from home to third gets him - the third baseman drops the ball - Nick is safe at third (but is still counted as "caught stealing") - Millar takes second. That's some crazy stuff. It all is for naught as Huff takes a called third strike on the inside corner himself.

Ichiro starts the M's half of the first with a triple over the jumping Nick Markakis in right. Jose Lopez lines out softly to his counterpart at second. Raul Ibanez grounds to Roberts, and Ichiro comes in to score to tie the game. Guthrie falls behind Beltre 3-0, but gets him to fly out to right.

[The guy who played Socrates Poole (from The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., staring Bruce Campbell) is on abc. Looking it up... the show is Boston Legal. Campbell beats Shatner by a little, and campy Wild West beats Boston law firm drama by a lot. So just go check out Brisco, Soc, Lord Bowler, Dixie Cousins, and Comet the wonder-horse.]

Adam Jones shows his quick bat pulling a couple hard fastballs foul, but flies out to right. Ramon Hernandez doubles to left field, and the Pelican moves him to third with a ground out to second. Now that he's stopped hitting (at all) he needs to play some flawless defense to keep his job (which he hasn't been doing). Brian Roberts works a walk and steals second without a throw. Two on with two out and a 2-0 count for Mora. Melvin walks to load the bases, but Markakis is the third lefty to take the tailing fastball for strike three.

Jose Vidro grounds sharply to Millar at first, with Guthrie covering. Richie Sexson ground slowly to third, and Mora does a nice job to recognize that he has plenty of time and doesn't rush his throw. Then he blows Brad Wilkerson away with a high fastball. 1-2-3 inning for Jeremy - he's thrown 23 pitches to Felix's 52. Way to work the count against him this time guys.

A couple of ground outs to the right side by Millar and Scott gives Hernandez two quick outs. Huff strikes out on another pitch inside - this time swinging at a slider down and in. That's 4 K's for Felix, and he is really handling the lefties in the line-up. If I'm a lefty with two strikes, I'm looking inside. Maybe Luke wrote that down in his notebook.

Kenji Johjima works a lead-off walk to start the third for the M's, but Guthrie comes back to strike out Betancourt. Ichiro grounds to Roberts to force the runner at second. With Suzuki on first, Palmer and Thorne are talking about him stealing 80 bases (like his manager suggested he could). Good thing Ichiro himself understands the importance of not getting caught, and is unwilling to run with reckless abandon. Jose Lopez singles up the middle to bring up Seattle's best hitter so far, Raul Ibanez. Ibanez flies out to Jones in center to end the scoring threat.

[Spoon's "My Mathematical Mind" is playing in the background of and Accura commercial. Spoon is an incredibly solid band - none of there albums are among, say, my 30 favorites, but all 5 are very, very good. Hard to finds a band that doesn't have a miss-step in their main catalog.]

Adam Jones showing that quick bat again, pulling a 95 mph fastball sharply into left field - on an 0-2 pitch no less. Unfortunately Jones starts leaning toward second and gets picked off. When you play a rookie (or almost rookie) then you need to expect some rookie (or almost rookie) mistakes. Ramon flies out to center, and there are two down. I'm calling a Pelican home run here. (If I'm right I look like a genius; if I'm wrong then nobody will remember, except that I just brought your attention to it.) Well, he hit it in the air about 330-340 feet. That counts as a HR on the Pelican scale.

Adrian Beltre is out in-front of a change-up as he strikes out on three pitches. Vidro hits one hard, but Markakis is there and makes the catch. Richie Sexson hits it hard to center, but Jones tracks back and makes the grab to end the inning. Sexson is probably telling himself "three years ago that would have gone out." 52 pitches for Guthrie to 72 by Felix, through four.

B-Rob flies out to start the fifth. Mora lines one to center for his first hit of the game. Markakis really has trouble catching up to a good fastball. And he strikes out again - swinging. Then Millar goes down swinging. That's six K's for Felix, and the game is still 1-1.

Willie Bloomquist - in there for Wilkerson - grounds out to second. Johjima follows at up with a single to right-center. Then Betancourt walks to put two on for Ichiro. Jim Palmer is amazed that Ichiro is only 1-11 with runners in scoring position, because he usually hits for a higher average in those situations - no idea about sample size. Ichiro checks his swing, and taps the ball to Guthrie's right. Mora was charging in on the ball, so Guthrie grabs it and races to third to force Johjima - he beats him by a hair. On the next pitch, Ramon tries to pick Ichiro off at first, but ends up throwing the ball into right field. Betancourt runs through a stop-sign at third, but scores anyway to give Seattle a 2-1 lead. Lopez grounds to short to end the inning. Poor Jeremy - it looks like another quality start may not result in a win.

Luke Scott falls behind 1-2 and grounds out to second. The O's bats haven't had much going lately. Aubrey Huff also falls behind 1-2, and he gets another slider down and in and launches it out to right-center. That's Huff's third HR, and it ties the game at 2-2. Adam Jones pops out to short. Ramon Hernandez grounds to Betancourt to end the inning, but Guthrie is off the hook for now. Felix is up to 100 pitches now, so the offense may get a few innings to knock around the M's pen, though closer JJ Putz is back from the DL.

Ibanez goes down swinging on a high change-up. Beltre checks his swing on a ball in the dirt, and immediately points to the first base umpire for an appeal. The home plate ump does so, the the man at first says he went around. Thorne and Palmer comment that they've never seen a player do that before. I have on a number of occasions, though I don't remember any specific hitter who did it. Beltre ends up flying out to right. And another Orioles Trivia Question bites the dust. What AL player has won 2 All-Star game MVPs? That would be Cal Ripken Jr. I guessed Cal, because it was an O's question, so it was either an Orioles or a Mariner. Also, Cal went so often, and I figured he won one later in his career when he didn't really deserve it.

The Pelican pops out, as Felix is out there for the seventh. Former Oriole Arthur Rhodes is warming up in the M's pen. Brian Roberts becomes Hernandez's seventh strike-out victim. Mora hits it hard again, but this time Ichiro is there to make the catch.

Richie Sexson waves at a slider to start the inning with a K. Bloomquist hits one down the first base line, but Kevin Millar makes the diving stop and races to first to get the out. Guthrie gets ahead of Johjima 0-2 and drops down with a fastball out of the zone. I don't know if that change in arm angle was intentional or not. He ends up getting the batter to ground out to second. Guthrie is up near 100 pitches - he's still throwing 93-95, but he threw only 3 fastballs in that inning. There were also 3 change-ups and 6 breaking-balls.

Rhodes is coming in to face Markakis - I don't know if he's happy to see Felix out of there with Arthur in. Apparently yes, as he singles to left field. Markakis takes off, and Millar lines out to short - that's an easy double play. Rhodes then gets Luke Scott swinging to end the inning.

Guthrie is out for the eighth, and Betancourt greats him with a double. Ichiro is up, and he may be bunting. He does try it, but fouls the pitch off. Then he doesn't bunt, and pops out to Ramon Hernandez in foul territory. Lopez lines one hard to center, and Jones makes then catch. Adam then unloads a rocket to the cut-off man to keep the runner at second. Raul Ibanez is going to be intentionally walked to set up the righty-righty match-up. Why not just throw him a couple pitches out of the zone first to see if he'll chase? If not, then walk him. Guthrie falls behind Beltre 3-1, and that's why the intentional walk can be dangerous. The walk loads the bases for Jose Vidro. Man am I glad the M's don't have Frank Thomas or Barry Bonds at DH instead. Guthrie is getting the chance to get himself out of this, and he falls behind Vidro 1-0. Vidro singles to right, and two runs score to make it 4-2. Would they have scored if Ibanez hadn't been walked? Maybe, but they put themselves in a position to give up multiple runs by putting the runner on. Now Sarfate is coming in, but it may be a batter too late. Sarfate strikes Sexson out on a 98 mph fastball to end the rally.

It's JJ Putz time in the ninth. Maybe he'll be rusty from his DL stay. Huff starts things off well with a double. Let's keep it going guys. Adam Jones up as the tying run. Putz sets him down swinging at a fastball up and out of the zone - one out. Ramon Hernandez up with a chance to make up for his error. Nope. He strikes out on three pitches - the third a splitter in the dirt. It's up to the Pelican. Just kidding, it's Jay Payton pinch hitting. Still no lefties on the bench. Every time I say that he gets a hit. You suck Jay Payton - you totally can't hit a home run here. 0-2 to Payton... and he fouls off a pitch at shoulder level. Splitter in the dirt? Yes, but Hay doesn't swing. Then he does, and grounds out to short. They can' even bring Huff in, and the O's lose 4-2. This is a game they should have had - Guthrie pitched well but was left in too long and the O's couldn't take advantage of their opportunities. Also, that pointless error by Ramon really hurt. The Orioles move to 11-9, while the M's are over .500 at 11-10.

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