So, it’s 6-3 after that Kenji Johjima sacrifice fly in the eighth and a Jose Lopez homer in the ninth. Yes, I’d send Ryan Rowland-Smith back out. He’s at 106 pitches, but l thought he looked very strong in the eighth and this bullpen needs a rest. We’ll see.
Let’s play a game called Guess the Real Attendance. They’ve been announcing 10,000 or so every day for a while here in Oakland even though it’s doubtful there were more than a few thousand in the building. I’m guessing they might go higher than 11,000 tonight, though I can guarantee you there isn’t anything close to that here. I’ll provide some crowd shots for you and let’s try to count.
So, let’s start above. I count about 150 or so fans in the lower deck behind the plate. Give or take a few who might be late arrivals or “in line” at a concessions stand. (There are no lines here. You need fans to form those things).
Now, this next one, above, is a little trickier. It will take some concentration. One, two, three, four…OK, done. I get about 750 fans positioned this side of the foul pole. We have additional camera shots for the bleachers that we’ll get to later.
OK, I was wrong, we don’t have that tiny cluster just to the left of the foul pole. I count about 50 people there from the last shot. So, add that to this photo of suckers. I mean, fans, who bought tickets so they could sit 2,000 feet from the plate. Start counting…OK, that was quick. I got 82, including the folks sitting in the indoor section. You have to squint a bit to see them. I might have missed one or two. But add that to the folks just inside the foul pole and that makes 132 for the right side.
Now for the middle of Mount Davis, what they call the massive outfield bleachers here.
I’ve got 66 there. So, our running total so far is 1,098.
We’re just about done with the outfield. Let’s count these folks tucked in the bleacher half of the left field foul pole now. One, two, three…I’ve got 83 there. And another 41 sprinkled in the upper deck just above them. So, that’s 124. Our running total is now 1,122.
OK now, this gets tricky. Remember, you can’t count the folks behind home plate. We already did that. Just take in everybody from where the dugout begins all the way out to the left field foul pole, then stop. Here we go. One, two, three, six…I mean, four, five…OK, I’ve got 903. Make that 2,025 as a running total so far.
Don’t forget these upper deck folks.
Make it another 14.
Then another seven right here.
So, that brings us to a running total of 2,046.
But hey, I realize my system isn’t quite flawless. I might have missed a few hundred fans in the section just beneath our upper deck perch here. And a few hundred more might have been trapped outside in the parking lot, passing out from the shock of all the open space or perhaps getting into road rage incidents fighting for all the VIP spots about 15 feet from the stadium entrance.
So, just to show that I don’t think I know it all and am as generous as Don Wakamatsu was with Snell in last night’s fifth inning, let’s throw in, for this one time only, an extra 1,500 fans to our count. I know Billy Beane is a numbers guy and don’t want him feeling shortchanged here.
So, that gives us a grand total of…3,546 fans! I’ll tell you what, they’re making the same noise tonight as a crowd of, well, of about 248 to be honest. Actually, they just announced the official attendance as 11,738. Predictable, or what? I think our method of counting is a lot more accurate.
8:58 p.m.: You won’t see that very often. Franklin Gutierrez nearly made one of his highlight reel catches in the seventh inning. But the warning track blast by Nomar Garciaparra tipped off his glove and deflected over the wall, That’s a two-run homer folks. It’s now a 4-3 game, the Mariners in the lead. But hang on. Could be a much closer finish than it should have been.
The Mariners let Clayton Mortensen stick around for seven innings, 100 pitches, which is unreal considering they nearly ran him out of the building by the second or third. They had just two hits off him after the second and swung away into too many quick outs.
8:39 p.m.: Make that 11 in a row retired by Ryan Rowland-Smith, who still has a 4-1 lead as we head to the seventh inning. Rowland-Smith is doing what he does best. He’s letting the hitters make contact, but it’s weak contact. He isn’t trying to strike everybody out. He only has two strikeouts so far and none since the fourth inning. Instead, he’s allowing his fielders to make plays behind him — and they’re making some good ones. including shortstop Jack Wilson on that final out of the sixth.
Ichiro just led off the sixth with a single. So, that’s four to go to reach 2,000.
8:04 p.m.: Ryan Rowland-Smith began doing an Ian Snell impersonation with his big lead in the third inning and it nearly cost him. He yielded a leadoff ground-rule double to Ryan Sweeney, then, after a groundout, an RBI double by Adam Kennedy. That made it a 4-1 game, the M’s still in the lead. It could have gotten worse, but Rajai Davis’s screaming liner went right into the glove of first baseman Rob J…uh. John Vander…no, uh, Mike Carp. Kurt Suzuki then bounced one to Jose Lopez’s right that the second baseman had to range hard to his right for before throwing the runner out. Nice play.
7:44 p.m.: Ran into a media friend from Oakland here in the pressbox just before gametime and asked for a scouting report on pitcher Clayton Mortensen.
“Not very good,” was the answer I got.
Turns out it was bang-on as a scouting assessment. Mortensen got the first two outs of the second inning. then did what not-very-good major league pitchers do. He panicked at the first sign of trouble and stopped throwing strikes, then let a bunch of hitters pull some rip-jobs off him into left field. Seattle scored four runs in that inning and now leads 4-0.
Bill Hall got the rally started with a two-out double to left. Mortensen then walked Mike Carp (looks like Rob Johnson, no?) and Kenji Johjima (!?) back-to-back to load ’em up. Jack Wilson singled up the middle for the first two runs, Ichiro slapped one the other way to left for a third run and Franklin Gutierrez singled to left for the fourth marker. The inning ended with Jose Lopez smoking a liner into the third baseman’s glove.
Ichiro now needs five more hits for 2,000. Mortensen needs five more weeks in AAA.
7:07 p.m.: Ryan Rowland-Smith tries to continue his string of impressive outings against Class AAA call-up Clayton Mortensen, who got rocked by the Royals his first and only major league outing, giving him the interesting line of 0-1, 18.00.