Tuesday, July 6, 2010

MARINERS: July 6th vs. Royals, Live Game Log

By: Jacson Bevens

Well, the Mariners have pulled the ol’ bait-and-switch on me. I was scheduled to live-blog the return of Erik Bedard tonight but am instead sitting in front of the TV on a perfectly sunny evening watching Ryan Rowland-Smith pitch against a completely uninteresting lineup. As sure as the ocean is wet and meth is addictive, Bedard has suffered a “setback.“

The good news is that the Royals are throwing reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke, which is like a preview for what it will be like when Cliff Lee is pitching against the M’s later this year.

To Continue...

7:12pm -- RR-S is throwing a ton of strikes. An infield hit and a 4-6-3 double play have him in line for a quick frame. It’s such a cliché, but getting ahead of batters goes just SO far towards a successful start. He’s two-for-two on that front thus far.

7:15 -- Thanks for making me look like a moron, Ryan. Rowland-Smith subsequently falls behind David DeJesus and walks him, extending the inning. Butler grounds out to Lopez to end the inning. There have been a lot of things that have turned out worse than expected for the Mariners this season, but one place where they’ve gotten a better-than-anticipated return is Lopez’ defense at third.

7:19 -- By the way, another former Cy Young winner, Johan Santana, went “Little League All-Star” on the Cincinnati Reds today. He threw a complete game shutout against the NL’s best-hitting team and as if that wasn’t enough, he added a home run of his own. On the 12th(!) pitch of the at bat.

7:24 -- That didn’t take long. Three up, three down for the M’s in the 1st. Greinke now has 30 consecutive scoreless innings against Seattle.

7:27 -- “Hyphen” comes back with a 1-2-3 inning of his own. The panning camera catches a ton of empty seats. I mean, I know that Tueday night isn’t a marquee night for baseball and there aren’t any smoking’ giveaways tonight, but that is hard to look at.

7:30 -- I am so awesome. Dave Neihaus has Jay Buhner in the booth with him and says to Jay, “Greinke reminds me of a pitcher that you’re familiar with from the nineties.”
“David Cone!” I yell to no one.
“Who’s that?” asks Buhner.
“David Cone!” I shriek.
“He’s a guy with a similar delivery, same kind of stuff…” says Dave.
“David Cone!” Thank goodness no one else is home right now.
“…and that is David Cone.”

7:33 -- Meanwhile it only took Greinke the length of that conversation to retire the M’s in order again. There’s not a lot of flash to his game, but he works quickly, throws a ton of first pitch strikes, and just manages to avoid the barrels of bats for long periods of time. I don’t know when he becomes a free agent, but barring injury, the kerfuffle over Greinke will someday be very similar to all the talk about Cliff Lee right now.

7:36 -- Willie Bloomquist is up. If there’s ever been one player that Mariner fans and announcers have loved disproportionately to his talent, Bloomquist has to be near the top. Gotta love the hustle. And while we’re here, just how many former Mariners are on the Royals roster anyway? I can think of five right off the bat: Bloomquist, Yuniesky Betancourt, Jose Guillen, Kanekoa Texiera, Gil Meche… any others? Not a game-changer in the bunch. How on earth does Royals GM Dayton Moore keep his job. It’s not like he claimed these guys from good Mariners teams. And don’t give me the whole “well, he must be at least as good as Zduriencik since the Royals have a better record than the M’s” line of thinking. The Mariners’ situation is nothing like the Royals’ situation and I promise you that the Mariners will win many more games than Kansas City over the next five years.

7:38 -- There have been five half-innings in this game and it’s taken 33 minutes. I’m lovin’ this pace.

7:43 -- Saunders reached on an infield hit and got to second on a throwing error by the Royals second baseman. A Josh Bard groundball gets him to third. This may be the best chance the Mariners get to score a run off of Greinke all night.

7:44 -- SQUEEZE!! Jack Wilson executes the suicide squeeze with a bunt towards first base. Greinke fields it and apparently tweaks his knee in the process. 1-0 Mariners, and they didn’t even get a ball out of the infield. The Mariners probably don’t try that against say, Brian Bannister, but you take one run when you get the chance against a guy like Greinke.

7:52 -- The Rangers are stomping their opponents again, and Vladimir Guerrero, who I admittedly thought was a little over the hill, now has 19 HRs, 72 RBIs, and a .330 batting average. That lineup is just outrageous, and their farm system is stocked. The AL West will be the Rangers’ to lose for the next few years.

7:58 -- Buhner and Blowers are up in the broadcast booth right now, swapping stories about bunting. It’s actually pretty entertaining, but it got me thinking: I wonder if the producers ever check into whether or not the players like each other before putting two or more of them in the booth together. I mean, it sounds like they get along fine, but could you imagine if they didn’t?
Dave: “Bone, you wish you had gotten a chance to play in Safeco?”
Jay: “Absolutely. When I played, all we had was the Kingdome and that turf was pretty hard on you.
Mike (mumbling): “Wasn’t that hard.
Jay: “What’s that, Mike?”
Mike: “Nothin’.”
Jay: “You got something’ to say to me man?”
Mike: “I said I played on turf too, never got hurt half as much as you claimed to.”
Jay: “That’s ‘cuz I actually had the cojones to dive for a ball once in a while, you pansy.”
Mike: “Please, you call those little slides ‘dives?’ You were always too busy on the trainer’s table to notice whether I dove or not.”
Jay: “Listen man, I’m sorry the fans never loved you, but I could hardly blame them. You were as forgettable as last month’s meatloaf. Maybe if you had ever done something in Seattle, people would care who you were.”
Mike: “That’s it! It’s on now!”
Both stand to fight.
Dave: “And a deep fly ball to right center will… fly away. A homerun for Wilson Betemit!”

8:05 -- Seriously though, Wilson Betemit just took RR-S deep. The Aussie has given up so many home runs this year. Seventeen, to be exact. 1-1.

8:18 -- Jason Kendall is up. When he’s done playing baseball, he should become an extra in action movies and westerns. He has the meanest, ruggedest face in the league. I guess that’s what happens when you insist on catching every game for every team you play for and also come back from one of the most horrific baseball injuries you’ll ever see. Kendall doubles to left and then, I imagine, re-holsters his gun with resolute flourish.

8:24 -- Rowland-Smith is in his first jam. A walk and a hit batter have the bases loaded with two outs for the Royals in the 6th and Betemit coming up. Here comes the pitching coach.

8:26 -- RR-S gets to two strikes on Betemit and all 156 fans in attendance start to get behind him.

8:28 -- Betemit lines a 2-2 pitch off of “Hyphen’s” leg that dribbles out towards short for an RBI single. Between that and the home run, it’s like Wilson Betemit is taking out his anger at his parents for naming him Wilson on Ryan Rowland-Smith. The next batter flies out and we head to the bottom of the 6th with a 2-1 advantage for Kansas City.

8:32 -- I went to get a drink of water during the commercial break and by the time I got back, Greinke had two outs. The kitchen is literally six feet from where I’m sitting. How did he do that?

8:34 -- Through six innings, Greinke has allowed a walk, an infield hit, and an unearned run while striking out seven. He is drinking Seattle’s milkshake right now.

8:43 -- Russell Branyan is up and I just want to say that I enjoy watching him swing the bat. A lot of people were scratching their heads when the Mariners re-signed Branyan a couple of weeks ago, since no one expected them to be buying when they were clearly out of the playoff race but, considering the weak value of the prospects we gave up for him, I can’t help but wonder if this was just Zduriencik’s way of making the last 90 games a little bit more watchable for the fans. I also wonder if you gave Josh Wilson a metal bat, whether or not he could ever hit a ball as high as Branyan does with a wooden one. That would be a fun contest. Especially if you let them switch bats afterwards, just for kicks.

8:52 -- A Lopez single and a walk to Kotchman make things a little sticky for Greinke in the seventh, but he gets Saunders to chase a video-game slider in the dirt to end the threat and the game goes to the 8th, still 2-1 KC.

8:56 -- A lead-off single chases RR-S after 100 pitches. Combined with his last couple of starts, you can’t help but think that he’s getting his confidence back. He’s just had the misfortune of going heads up against two of the best pitchers in the game in his last two outings in Greinke and CC Sabathia, and he’s had to do it with an inferior lineup at his back.

8:59 -- Sean White’s in now. LOVE Sean White. I’m sorry, that’s not true. In fact, there are at least five pitchers in the minors I’d rather see right now than Sean White. What exactly is it that gets Don Wakamatsu so excited about this guy? I get that last year he had a nice low ERA, but that was as fluky as it gets, seeing as all his peripheral numbers were unsustainably beneficial. This year, he has an ERA near 8.00 and the peripherals have all predictably regressed to the mean. He just has nothing going for him. Even his goatee is bad, but Wak keeps putting him out there. Unbelievable.

9:01 -- White immediately allows a hit.

9:04 -- And then induces a double-play. Touché, White.

9:06 -- And then allows a run-scoring single. HE’S NOT A MAJOR LEAGUE PITCHER, WAK!! Betemit now has all three RBIs.

9:08 -- White “ends” the inning by giving up a double, wherein Betemit is thrown out at home. Sean White is a bad TV show that keeps getting re-upped season after season because it just kills with the 65+ women audience.

9:12 -- Greinke’s night is done. Total domination. Some kid named Wood is on in relief.

9:16 -- Here we go. Back-to-back singles by Wilson and Ichiro has the go-ahead run at the plate. You know what’s gross? If the M’s take the lead in this inning and hold it in the 9th, Sean White gets the victory.

9:21 -- A Figgins sac fly makes it a one run game again. A Branyan double has the misfortune of bouncing over the wall, forcing Ichiro to stop at third instead of coming around to tie the game. I love Branyan. For real.

9:23 -- Lopez grounds out to end the inning and the game goes to the 9th, 3-2.

9:31 -- New Mariner David Pauley works a perfect ninth and now the M’s will have to steal a win off of Royals closer Joakim Soria. One of the byproducts of being a bad team that stays bad, like the Royals, is that you’ll invariably end up with some really good players that no one outside of fantasy baseball players ever hear about. Soria is one of those guys. He may be one of the five best closers in baseball right now. It’ll be up to Gutierrez, Kotchman, and Saunders.

9:33 -- Guti lines out to second.

9:34 -- Kotch singles. (Hope!)

9:36 -- Saunders strikes out.

9:40 -- Now, I love Ryan Langerhans as much as the next guy whose heard of him, but he was just overmatched against Soria. Pinch-hitting for Josh Bard, he strikes out to end the game.

This was one of those nights that, despite a fair amount of high-leverage situations, just wasn’t very compelling, especially with Bedard being scratched. This game should’ve meant more to the M’s playoff chances than it did, but as it stands, it doesn’t affect anything. It shouldn’t be this way in the first week of July, but that’s just how it is. At least this way, that loss doesn’t hurt as much. Kind of like being shot in a paralyzed leg.

And on that note, fans, I’m signing out. Enjoy the rest of your evening.

Reach Jacson Bevens at nextseasonsports@gmail.com