This may be one of the last times today that I can show you the scoreboard without the Mariners getting thumped on it. The over-under on Miguel Batista’s innings total today? Let’s just say, we had an anthem singer moments ago who may have dragged the Star Spangled Banner out longer than Batista will be able to contain the Detroit Tigers if he pitches like Jarrod Washburn did last night.
12:44 p.m.: Wake up everyone, only one more half-inning to go. It’s still 9-2 for the Tigers. Seattle has done an admirable job the last two nights of holding their opponent to single digits. The Tigers bullpen has had trouble closing these games out against the plucky M’s, but Seattle only trails by seven runs this time. It’s when the Mariners are down by eight or more that they get very dangerous. Not suggesting they’ll go down without a fight, only that my camera is warming up to take the “moment of victory/defeat” shot. Oh and to kwk, in the comments area, yes, I do believe it’s very telling of the character on this team. But thanks for you insights. I’ll make note of them.
As promised, below, here’s the latest road trip video to divert you from yet another travesty of a game. I’ll walk from my hotel in the Renaissance Center, where I showed you that photo from 58 stories up the other day, over to Comerica Park. You’ll get a taste of downtown Detroit in all its splendor. From there, we’ll head inside Comerica Park, walk around the dugout a bit, then go up inside the ballpark for a look around. Hope you enjoy.
12:40 p.m.: It’s get the short relievers some work time as J.J. Putz enters to work the bottom of the eighth. We’ve already seen Sean Green and Brandon Morrow on the hill. Still a 9-2 game, with the last eight M’s hitters going down in order. For Nat, in the comments section, they did not stay behind at the hotel on McLaren’s orders. The way busrides work in the majors is, there are two of them that leave from the team hotel to the ballpark — one early and one late. You take the early bus in if you want to get some pre-game work done, like going over video, taking extra BP in indoor cages, getting some extra infield work in, that type of stuff. You take the late bus when you just want to do the basics, like regular stretching and pre-game BP on the field. When the team doesn’t have a morning BP before an afternoon game, you take the late bus in so you can have your morning coffee at the hotel, work on those crossword puzzles, catch up on some sleep after a late night out, that sort of thing. Obviously, a lot of players didn’t feel they had any extra work to do. Or, they needed more sleep. I’m not here to make excuses for them. Just telling it like it is. Hope you can appreciate that.
12:20 p.m.: Sean Green took over in the sixth inning and gave up two runs on a single by Curtis Granderson, a walk, a double by Magglio Ordonez and a sacrifice fly by Miguel Cabrera. So, crank up the band and let’s get the loser parade started for today, shall we? Here’s a happy number for you. Heading into this series, the Tigers had been 4-for-40 (.100) with runners in scoring position on their last road trip. As of right now, for this series, they are 16-for-30 (.533). We won’t post the M’s totals, for the sake of small children who may be surfing the blog this early. Oh yeah, it’s now 9-2, in case any of you still care about the game.
11:46 a.m.: R.A. Dickey just served up a two-run homer to Matt Joyce that makes it a 7-2 game after five innings. The Mariners loaded the bases with nobody out in the fifth, but came away with just one run as Rauk Ibanez grounded into a double play. Anyone surprised? Dickey came on to pitch the fourth, yielding a single but no runs. I lose the over-under on Miguel Batista. I’d picked 4 2/3 but that was overly generous for his three-inning, 72-pitch effort. Anyone have any great questions you’d like me to ask him post-game? That is, if he shows up. But wait, I forgot, none of you care. So, forget it. Forget the players arriving two hours before a game, taking no BP stuff too. Doesn’t matter. Only what goes on during the game matters, right? Heck of a team we’re seeing here. I’m sure all the scouts on-hand are just racing back to their organizations hoping to copy Seattle’s blueprint.
11:13 a.m.: Miguel Batista just gave the Tigers their run right back, yielding a leadoff double by Miguel Cabrera, a single to Carlos Guillen and a sacrfice fly to Edgar Renteria that makes it 5-1 entering the fourth. The bottom of the third wasn’t Wladimir Balentien’s finest hour in right field. He made a poorly-timed stab at the tough fly ball by Cabrera, appearing somwaht frozen in his tracks at first, then bobbled the Guillen single. Anyone but Cabrera might have scored on that play. The Tigers wisely held him at third. If you saw how slowly he jogged in from third on the sac fly — which wasn’t the deepest — you’d know what I’m talking about.
11:04 a.m.: Seattle got a run across in the third after it looked like they might blow another runner on third, less than two out situations. But with runners at the corners and two out, Raul Ibanez singled down the right field line to bring home Yuniesky Betancourt to make it a 4-1 game. Some daring running by Betancourt that inning after he’d led off with a double. Betancourt took a chance, advancing to third on a groundout to the shortstop. But he caught first baseman Miguel Cabrera a little off guard and Cabrera dropped the ball as he transferred it to his throwing hand and prepared to throw to third. That’s the type of aggressive running the M’s want to see more of from Betancourt.
10:51 a.m.: Miguel Batista is now at 50 pitches after two innings, down 4-0. I had him at 4 2/3 innings in my pressbox over-under. Going to be a challenge for him to make it that deep. Brandon Inge hit a three-run homer to left off Batista that second inning. New left fielder Jeremy Reed made a leaping attempt at the wall and actually had the ball in his glove. But the glove came off, fell on to a covering of some sort in the Mariners bullpen and the ball popped out. Not that it would have been a catch had it stayed in. The rules say the glove actually still has to be on the fielder’s hand.
10:04 a.m.: R. A. Dickey arrived at about 6 a.m. this morning after hopping a 10 p.m. red-eye flight out of SeaTac. Dickey got the call yesterday afternoon, which means the team was going to make this move regardless of what Cha Seung Baek or Washburn did last night. Mariners manager John McLaren confirmed the move had been in the works for some time.
“The thing about him is he’s got versatility,” McLaren said, adding that he likes the way Dickey can bounce back after a long stint and pitch the following day.
Well, yes. We’ve been writing that on this blog since spring training ended. I mean, Baek was a nice guy and all, but never could understand why you’d waste a valuable asset like Dickey’s versatility in Class AAA once the season began and the bullpen had so many early problems. Say, how about that Miguel Cairo?
So, anyway, yes, Jeremy Reed is in left field and Raul Ibanez is the DH. If Reed can produce, I do see him getting more playing time. And if he can keep producing, showing the team he can play every day, then I could see this Ibanez as DH thing becoming more permanent. Let’s face it, Reed didn’t exactly leave the greatest impression the last time he had an everyday job in the majors. Unlike Wladimir Balentien and Jeff Clement, Reed isn’t starting from scratch this time. Let’s be real. There are some heads he’ll likely have to turn and impressions he’ll have to erase before he’s handed an everyday job. My impression anyway. If you’ve got a better idea for why he’s sat the past two days and is now playing on Day 3 — unlike the case with Balentien or Clement when they first came up — you can throw it out there.
McLaren was in a serious mood this morning. He should be. Admits he hasn’t had any fun since last Sunday, when his team last won a game. He’s been trying everything he can. Even with his own coaching staff. They’ve started having daily pre-game meetings, sometimes to go over strategy, sometimes to brainstorm, sometimes just to vent. A lot of that going on I’m sure.
The final team bus arrived here just after 11 a.m. — two hours before gametime — and there were a lot of players on it. No batting practice either. Read into that what you will. At some point, these players are going to have to stop talking about doing things and just get the job done. And somebody’s going to have to get them to do it.
“We just need to start playing clean games,” McLaren said, noting that he hasn’t seen his team do that for three consecutive days in over a month.
“It seems like we plug one hole and another spurts out,” he said. “We’ve got to start playing some clean baseball. This is a grind. And with the expectations we had at first, we all understand that this is unacceptable.”
True, but until the players do something about it, all the words are meaningless.
10:28 a.m.: Miguel Batista just gave up a first-inning run, but at least it was only one. He got the first two hitters out, then yielded a single to left by Gary Sheffield and a double into the right field corner by Magglio Ordonez. Sheffield scored all the way from first on a close play, but umpire Mike Reilly made the correct call. Kenji Johjima had the plate partially blocked, but gave Sheffield the back side and the latter made a terrific slide to avoid the tag. John McLaren argued the call, but he was wrong. Tigers lead 1-0.
10:11 a.m.: By the way, the Mariners just blew a first inning chance after Ichiro reached third base with none out. He’d notched a single, then went to third on a two-base throwing error by Jeremy Bonderman on a pickoff attempt. But Adrian Beltre popped out to second, Jose Lopez lined out to third and Ibanez flied out to left.