W: Mastny (3-1) L: Baek (1-2) S: Borowski (14)
I don’t want to complain about my job: heck, I have a great job. But a great job does not always entail great tasks. On a scale of One to Annoying, let’s just say that you’re happy I don’t deliver your mail.
1) Winning without your best stuff
The end result of C.C. Sabathia’s start was pretty good: although he only finished five innings, he only gave up one run, walked one, and struck out four. However, it also took him 92 pitches, largely because of the eight hits he allowed (two for extra bases, a pair of doubles). In fact, only a nice play by David Dellucci, Josh Barfield, and Victor Martinez (not to mention a sympathetic umpire) kept the damage to one run. With a plunking of Jose Guillen, Sabathia allowed exactly two men to reach base in every inning. The Mariners helped by making three outs on the basepaths, but generally speaking, Sabathia was not sharp.
I suppose there could be some sentiment for sending Sabathia out to pitch the sixth: 92 pitches isn’t onerous, and although his command was off, he was throwing strikes (62, better than a 2:1 ratio of strikes to balls). But I think Eric Wedge (correctly) discerned that this would be pushing Sabathia’s luck: putting a couple guys on base every inning almost always eventually adds up to runs, and given that we were facing Cy Young Baek, it was no guarantee we had a lot to play with.
2) Nice hose!
With Guillen on first in the fifth inning, ex-Tribesman Richie Sexson doubled off the left field wall on the first pitch he saw in the inning. (He kept his eyes closed for the previous four batters.) Dellucci’s relay to Barfield, who had crossed over second to get the throw, was a nice enough throw, although nothing particluarly great.
Barfield spun and threw home to Victor Martinez, who seriously blocked the plate with an outstretched leg and applied the tag to a surprised Guillen, who apparently thought the umpire would blithely apply the rulebook about obstruction to a situation in which it has not been applied in roughly umpty-bazillion years. Like, ever. Catchers block plates. They are never called for obstruction. Let’s move on.
Martinez had already flashed his arm, catching Jose Lopez stealing second in the fourth, and picking Sexson wandering around the first base bag after a strikeout of Adrian Beltre. Sexson’s thought process here was, “Duuuuude,” inferred from his last six thousand thought processes.
3) Mighty Casey at the bat
Casey Blake broke a 1-1 tie in which Baek had outpitched Sabathia with a solo shot to left. It was Blake’s 4th homer of the season, one in which he’s not putting up many extra base hits, so that’s good to see.
More importantly, though, it just seemed like the rest of the offense was more relaxed at the plate (or, perhaps, Baek ran out of gas up around 90 pitches starting the 7th).
4) The old switcheroo
After a pair of singles and a walk, with no one out, you can choose:
Ryan Garko, hitting .320
Josh Barfield, hitting .225
Well, really, you didn’t get to choose, but had you told me that one player would drive in two runs and the other would strike out harmlessly, I would have guessed the opposite of what actually happened: Barfield drove in his 19th and 20th runs of the season, moving him ahead of Blake (19) and just behind Sizemore (21). (I wouldn’t have guessed that right, either: it does not seem like Josh Barfield has 20 RBI.) In fact, it briefly tied him with Sizemore at 20, but Grady hit a sac fly three pitches later.
5) The return of the tightrope
Oldberto Hernandez, after looking so tremendous over the weekend, gave up a double to Yuniesky Betancourt, walked Jose Lopez on four pitches, and allowed Ben Broussard to pinch-hit a single to load the bases. This ended Hernandez’ night: 6 of his 15 pitches were strikes, three of which were watched, one fouled off, and the other two getting turned around into base hits. That’s not a lot of good pitches.
Fortunately, Joe Borowski strode in, allowed an RBI groundout, got Jose Vidro to fly out (but not deep enough to be an obvious run: still, down 5-2, it’s not worth the risk of going, you need three runs, not one), and got Jose Guillen to pull a big breaking pitch into a 6-3 to end the game.
6) The one-inning brigade, or the return of Six Pitch Tom
Here is Tom Mastny’s 6th inning in its entirety:
Beltre: strike (looking), ground out.
Johjima: strike (looking), ground out.
Betancourt: strike (looking), line out.
Six pitches, six strikes, three outs, no balls leaving the infield. That’s pretty efficient, and Mastny was rewarded with his 3rd victory in a serious Vulture Job.
His seventh inning was less good: after a groundout and a K, he gave up a pair of singles to bring in Raffy Betancourt:
Guillen: fly out
Sexson: strike (looking), ball, strike (swinging), strike (swinging)
Beltre: foul out to catcher
Johjima: strike (looking), ball, fly out
Nine pitches, seven strikes, four outs.
Now, I’m getting ahead of myself, but consider a late-season start in which Paul Byrd goes his customary six. Mastny throws the 7th. Betancourt throws the 8th. Borowski throws the 9th. Look, I know it’s not exactly Plunk, Assenmacher, and Mesa, or even Donnelly, Shields, and Rodriguez, but I could see that winning a ballgame. I really could.
7) Credit Where Credit Is Due Dept.
Trot Nixon and Jhonny Peralta each had two hits last night and each scored a run in the 3-run 7th. Nixon is now hitting .286, while Peralta has climbed to .281.
David Dellucci drew a walk. Before you whip out the Kudometer, note that so did Willie Bloomquist, who is hitting .097.
The team only stranded 5 baserunners on the evening, 2 in scoring position. Both Victor Martinez and Casey Blake drove in runs with two outs.
8) Completely False Statement for the Google Search Engine
Mark Shapiro started a petition drive to redraw the boundaries of all Great Lakes so that Canada is the sole owner of all land on both sides of Lakes Ontario, Erie, and Superior. I shouldn’t need to tell you that this statement is completely untrue, but I am, because it is. Fire Eric Wedge.