So, not only are the Mariners getting beaten like a dusty rug over a balcony railing tonight, down 10-1 in the ninth, but it’s happening in front of the smallest crowd in Safeco Field history. There are only 15,818 fans here tonight, beating the previous low by 80 people. While that might be an average turnout in Oakland, or even Cleveland these days, it has to be a concern for the Mariners. The way this team is playing, the crowds stand to get much worse.
Some of you asked why John McLaren would send Miguel Batista back out for the third. I can’t speak for him, but the team is worried that Jarrod Washburn might not make his next start. If that’s the case, Cha Seung Baek would be an option to start in four days. But after Baek was used tonight, I’m not sure that can happen now. I think the team, with the game still 3-0, was trying to squeeze as much as it could out of Batista and hope he could get through a couple of more innings. I don’t think anyone expected him to throw 85 pitches over 2 1/3 frames.
Below, see some crooked numbers on a crooked scoreboard.
8:58 p.m.: Don’ worry, I’m not leaving you to suffer through this by yourselves. Besides, here come the mighty M’s, now trailing just 10-1 after back-to-back doubles by Wladimir Balentien and Ichiro in the fifth — yes, it’s still only the fifth. Well, actually now it’s the top of the sixth. Balentien will have that slugging percentage up there in no time. Guess I was wrong this morning. The way the pitching’s gone three of the past four games, Balentien could put up an OPS of 2.000 and it wouldn’t matter a lick. The good news? Get two grand slams from someone and the M’s will need just one more run to tie things up.
8:18 p.m.: One of the more amazing pitching feats I’d witnessed in a decade of covering baseball came on May 23, 2004, when Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Miguel Batista needed 94 pitches to make it through just three innings at Fenway Park in Boston. Well, he may have just topped that. Batista was pulled from tonight’s game, having thrown 85 pitches in just 2 1/3 innings. I think this is worse, given that it’s Safeco Field and not the Boston bandbox. Anyhow, the Texas Rangers lead 10-0, with David Murphy having taken Batista over the right field wall for a two-run homer in the third.
Want to compare numbers for those two Batista starts? No, you don’t? Too bad. Here they are:
At Fenway four years ago, he allowed six runs (five earned) on seven hits and six walks, losing the game 7-2.
Here tonight, six earned runs allowed on four hits and six walks. Yeah, this was worse.
Cha Seung Baek came in and yielded a two-run single and a mammoth two-run shot into the second deck in right field by Josh Hamilton.
This M’s team is in deep trouble. Angels already won tonight, so unless Seattle scores at least 11 runs these final seven innings, the M’s will be 7 1/2 back.
7:43 p.m.: And as if to fuel the talk from our last post, Richie Sexson, Adrian Beltre and Raul Ibanez all come up snake-eyes with runners in scoring position in that inning. Seattle got the first two runners on, with Ichiro drawing a walk and Jose Lopez hitting a single through the right side. But the M’s promptly let Sidney Ponson off the hook with a soft lineout to shortstop by Ibanez, Beltre talkign a called third strike (Ichiro stealing third on the play) and Sexson grounding out. Let’s see if Batista survives the second inning. He trails 2-0 after one.
7:33 p.m.: Well, that was fun, wasn’t it? Miguel Batista just threw 44 pitches in the first inning and is fortunate to only be down 2-0. Seen the “old” Batista do that plenty of times. Ian Kinsler was the only guy to hit the ball hard, leading off with a double to left. Nobody else had to hit it all that hard, since Batista did the Rangers a favor by walking four guys. Hope the hitters are ready tonight. And the relievers. Got any coffee? We could all be here a while.
7:15 p.m.: Miguel Batista gets set to deal to Ian Kinsler to open tonight’s game. Let’s see if the “new” Batista looks as sharp as he has his past two outings (those not interrupted by injury, anyway). Chatted with Wladimir Balentien pre-game and he told me his promotion and home runs have been the talk of sports news in his native Curacao. His family gives him nightly updates from down there. He expects his mother to fly up and visit him in June or July when she gets time off from her job at a postal substation. Will be sort of an ABC islands special tonight when Balentien steps into the box against Aruba native Sidney Ponson. Find an umpire from Bonnarie and you’ll complete the trifecta.
5 Ian Kinsler 2B
10 Michael Young SS
32 Josh Hamilton CF
21 Milton Bradley DH
7 David Murphy RF
41 Brandon Boggs LF
27 Frank Catalanotto 1B
25 Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
12 Ramon Vasquez 3B
35 Sideny Ponson RHP
51 Ichiro CF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
28 Raul Ibanez LF
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
44 Richie Sexson 1B
9 Jeff Clement DH
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
2 Kenji Johjima C
50 Wladimir Balentien RF
43 Miguel Batista RHP