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September 5, 2008 at 11:14 PM

A special night

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So, pinch-hitter Wilson Betemit, of all people, breaks up the no-hitter with two out in the eighth on a run-scoring double over Ichiro’s head in right field. Another year, Ichiro might have gotten a better jump on that ball, but it was smoked. Most outfielders don’t catch that one. Betemit had managed only two plate appearances the last 15 days. But you just never know with no-hitters. And so, a one-hitter over 106 pitches and 7 2/3 innings from Morrow in his debut as a starter. Quick, tell me. Which one of you predicted it?
Morrow leaves the game to a standing ovation, seen below.
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J.J. Putz provides some nervous moments in the ninth, but the M’s hang on for a 3-1 win. A special night indeed.
“The whole bullpen had chills the entire game until he was taken out,” Putz said of Morrow. “It was a treat. It was kind of like Felix last year in Boston.”
That game at Fenway Park saw Felix Hernandez throw a one-hitter over nine innings. But no pitcher had come this close to a no-hitter in their first major league start since Billy Rohr of the Red Sox was an out away from turning the feat against the Yankees back on April 14, 1967.
Do you think Morrow was aware of all this? Of course he was, throughout the game.
“There are six scoreboards staring you in the face,” Morrow said with a smile. “So, it’s hard not to see.”
For those of you getting on Dave Sims for mentioning the no-hitter, please stop. It’s his job to report what’s happening to TV viewers, not cheerlead for Morrow by participating in some ridiculous ritual along with members of the team. Same reason I won’t keep quiet about it. Many of you complain that broadcasters are little more than glorified cheerleaders. One of them decides to do his job and tell you what’s going on and now you’re jumping all over him? I didn’t like it when that happened last year in the Hernandez game at Boston and I don’t approve of it now. When a broadcaster gets so involved with a team that he won’t even tell you what’s happening in front of your eyes, that’s when I lose respect for a broadcaster.
By the way, I just chatted with Shannon Drayer moments ago. She’ll be filling in for Brad Adam on FSN when the team heads off on its next road trip. She’s never done TV before. This isn’t permanent. Adam just can’t make the trip.
Back to the game, when we discussed Morrow throwing a splitter in the previous post, I was wrong. He told me it was always his curveball and that he has not thrown a splitter all year. That’s some nasty curveball, coming in at 86 mph. He also mixed in some sliders and about 15 changeups.
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By the way, he was gassed before giving up the Betemit double.
“If I’d gotten through that eighth, Riggleman was going to have a tough decision,” Morrow said. “I think he would have given me a shot to finish it.”
So does Riggleman.
“If he had gone through that eighth inning and he’s got 105 pitches, we’ve got a real tough decision,” Riggleman said, before adding that: “I wish we’d have been in a position to make that call.”
The Yankees wish they’d stayed in Tampa. They’d have had an easier time with that hurricane heading for South Florida.
“I guess he’s throwing like he was in the bullpen,” Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. “He was just able to do it for a lot longer period of time.”
If you’re an M’s fan, that’s music to your ears. The kind you haven’t been used to hearing this season.

8:58 p.m.: Brandon Morrow takes the mound to start the eighth, his pitch count at 89. I’d venture that the first hit he gives up will be the final batter he faces tonight. But what a ride. Jim Riggleman is chewing his nails in the dugout as we speak, I guarantee you. He’s letting Morrow go past his pitch limit, only two walks allowed to this point. Sean Green is warming up in the bullpen.
8:57 p.m.: Mariners manager Jim Riggleman might become the most unpopular guy in Seattle in a few more minutes. Even more unpopular than Chuck Armstrong these days. That’s because Brandon Morrow has not allowed a hit yet as we enter the seventh inning. Morrow has walked only two batters all night and thrown a total of 77 pitches.
But Morrow is on a pitch count of 90. If he somehow gets through this next inning on, say, 10 pitches without allowing a hit, Riggleman is going to have a potentially very unpopular call to make. Enjoy this while it lasts. It’s been a long season without much for M’s fans to cheer about.
Seattle has a 3-0 lead as we head to the seventh.



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