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May 4, 2007 at 4:34 PM

Put a fork in him

Just when you thought the pitching couldn’t get any worse in this game, the Yankees trotted out some poor dude named Colter Bean to relieve Kei Igawa in the fifth inning with an 8-6 lead. Safe to say, it didn’t go well. The Mariners now lead 10-8 and have runners at second and third with none out and a 2-0 count on Jose Lopez. Joe Torre just mercifully pulled Bean, who got booed all through his long walk back to the dugout. Make that 12-8 now because Lopez just singled up the middle off Luis Vizcaiano.
This is great news for Mariners fans. Cha Seung Baek is turning out to be only the third worst pitcher we’ve seen so far and it’s only the fifth inning. Baek lasted just 3 2/3 frames and was charged with seven runs. Igawa struggled through four-plus innings before being pulled and has been charged with eight runs. But like Horacio Ramirez for the Mariners on Friday in Boston, Igawa wears the goat horns tonight. He had a five-run lead and couldn’t hold it longer than a couple of innings. That’s a lot of megabucks squandered on a very ordinary-looking pitcher. What a crazy night this is turning into. What a boost this could be for the Mariners. The Yankees are a depleted-looking bunch and these pitchers are terrible. But they are the Yankees, this is Yankee Stadium and the M’s were down 5-0 with a Class AAA guy on the mound.
Question is, can they hold on?
OK, I’ll repeat the question. Did we mention that this Igawa guy isn’t the second coming of Sandy Koufax? Or Andy Pettitte? Lefty Grove? No, he’s more like that lefty batting practice pitcher right now. A third Seattle homer off Igawa in three innings has made it a 6-6 game. Jose Lopez absolutely tattooed an Igawa offering into the left field seats to tie it. Igawa then threw one up and in on Ichiro to send him sprawling in the dirt. The Mariners were understandably upset and all came off the bench and leaned over the dugout rail shouting at Igawa. Plate umpire Brian Gorman warned both benches. But I’ll tell you what. Cha Seung Baek is at 73 pitches already and just about done. Actually, he was done after the first inning, despite pitching well in a handful of at-bats since. He won’t be in this game much longer no matter what happens now. It will be interesting to see if he heaves one at leadoff hitter Johnny Damon, the second Yankee hitter due up in the bottom of the inning. I know, I know, it’s a tie game. I just wonder, that’s all.
Did we mention that this Kei Igawa guy isn’t the second coming of Sandy Koufax? Just checking. So, it’s now a 5-3 game in the third as a solo homer by Kenji Johjima and a two-run blast by Adrian Beltre have gotten the M’s back in it heading into the bottom of the third. No, they didn’t get five in the second like the Red Sox did last night, but it’s a good start. These Yankees are tired, let’s not forget. Mariano Rivera pitched both games of last night’s doubleheader, so the back-end of New York’s bullpen is suspect.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Cha Seung Baek threw 42 pitches in the first inning and is now at 56 heading into his third frame. He’ll be lucky to make it to the fifth inning. You can’t win games with starters not going the minimum five. Mike Hargrove is crossing his fingers now that Baek can get him through three more frames. The last thing he needs is to burn the bullpen out just two games into this eight-game road trip.
By the way, Hideki Matsui just hit a leadoff solo homer. On a 1-2 pitch at that. This wasn’t a chintzy blast either. It was a no-doubter. Now at 60 pitches and counting for Baek.
The magic has worn off Cha Seung Baek in a big hurry against a Yankees squad that only arrived in New York at 4:30 a.m. after a flight from Texas. Tough to tell the Yanks played a doubleheader last night. They didn’t take batting practice before the game, but obviously got some in off Baek during that first inning and now lead 5-0. Seen this script before, have we? Somehow, I don’t see the Mariners scoring five of their own in the second inning, but hey, at least it’s still early. Yes, Baek caught some bad breaks. A great throw by right fielder Jose Guillen was wasted because Kenji Johjima didn’t do a good enough job of blocking the plate. He was standing right on top of it and needed to be off to the left a little more. Baek also had some bad luck on the bloop single by Melky Cabrera.
But you know what? Two of the three Yankee outs were also on hard-hit balls to the outfield, so Baek did catch some breaks. The telling sign for me was when Baek jumped ahead 0-2 on Cabrera, then saw the next ball absolutely smoked foul down the first base line. A pitcher should not be hanging stuff like that at 0-2. The balls hit off him were blistered. This was no fluke. Not like the M’s five runs on two hits in Boston. The Yanks had six hits that inning and could have done more damage. Sean White is already warming up because Baek should be at about 60 pitches by the time the second inning is done.
Mariners stranded Adrian Beltre after his one-out double in the first. Not the best of starts.



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