First of all, if you didn’t see it earlier here, you might have seen it here, or maybe here…and if none of those places, then you will see it in probably a bunch of places tomorrow, when the news has some time to circulate. The Mariners are offering makeup tickets to home games for the next 30 days or so. It was mentioned via Mariners Mail, the ROOT Sports NW TV broadcast, and multiple news sources Tweeted and re-Tweeted it just prior to the start of tonight’s game against the Cleveland Indians. This is a lovely gesture. The Sounders have done such things in the past, (their ticket make-up was due to shoddy play, not issues with anything outside the team – but it is still something that is almost unheard of, it seems), and I think it was the best possible move the Ms could have made. I would have been content with them just fixing things so that it doesn’t happen again next year, but this is a step in the right direction, as far as how the Mariners deal with their fans on a more personal level. The momentum from last year shouldn’t stop; the team’s foray into social media was an excellent idea, and has < think, been successful in getting fans to feel a little more like the team cares about the people who pay them to play baseball. The people behind the Mariners are not nameless and faceless, and this is all thanks to their marketing folks making themselves available to the general public. I didn’t know what to expect with this situation, but I think this move speaks volumes, and I commend the folks in charge for making the decision. I will definitely be taking advantage of it.
Tonight’s game was an interesting one, and it did not start off well. Kevin Millwood had a lot of left-handed batters to face, and spent a lot of the first inning pelting the upper outside corner of the strike zone at them, giving up two hits and a run during that time. The second inning was pretty much 1-2-3 for both Millwood and opposing pitcher Justin Masterson, but the third inning was the tipping point for the Mariners, with a two-run homer from John Jaso, then Masterson completely collapsed in the 4th inning, loading up the bases and walking several runs in, including the 25,000th in the history of the team. This game also saw the 50,000th hit in the team’s history (courtesy of Kyle Seager), so keep that in your mental Rolodex for next year’s Mariners Melee trivia at FanFest; because I may forget it by tomorrow. Maybe not tomorrow. By the time I’m 50. So I have a little under 10 years to relive the glory of this game. I’ll try not to abuse it.
The Indians may have given us 6 runs in the 4th, but Cleveland giveth and Cleveland taketh back with a vengeance. The Indians completely battered Millwood, taking back 6 runs of their own in the top of the 5th until the score had shifted back to a one-run game. Millwood was kindly asked to leave the mound after throwing 4 full innings of 9-hit, 7 run, 6 earned run, 83-pitch ball. Erasmo Ramirez replaced him, but all for naught. Ramirez loaded the bases and then gave up the tying run before Charlie Furbush was brought in to replace him with a tied game at 8-8.
Furbush didn’t have a terribly easy top 7th. He gave up a single and a walk, but then as Tom Wilhelmsen started to warm up in the bullpen, Furbush changed his tune and threw some curveballs to get ex-Mariners Casey Kotchman and Jack Hannahan both out swinging before Wilhelmsen took the mound to allow a single RBI to Jason Donald. Michael Brantley grounded out to second, but with one run up and it now being a relievers game, anything could happen.
The Indians brought in a reliever named Joe Smith. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of Joe Smith. He is a side-armer approaching a submarine delivery, so I should remember him. But his name is Joe Smith so maybe not.
In the bottom of the 9th inning, Kyle Seager singled, as did Jesus Montero. Montero’s hit was listed as “ground ball to center fielder Michael Brantley, deflected by shortstop Jason Donald”. Nowhere does it mention that Donald deflected the hopper with his face. Donald was lucky that the ball bounced first, because taking a line drive to the jaw like he did would have definitely resulted in some time spent on the disabled list. After some checking from Cleveland’s medical staff, he got up and was ready to go again, the right lower side of his face red in the cold. Michael Saunders saw many pitches from reliever Chris Perez, then flew out to shallow left field for the second out. Brendan Ryan was our final hope, and took a walk after almost being called out on strikes with a tightly checked swing. John Jaso came up and everyone left in the stands went nuts as the bases loaded up.
John Jaso took a few pitches before flying out to shallow-ish right field, as the noise of the crowd abruptly died. Bummer.
So tonight I did something I’ve been wanting to do for about a week now. Brooks Baseball has scatter charts for pitchers to show location, calls, speed, and other factors for both pitchers and batters. But I’m not great at reading these damn things yet, so I made my own location chart, for Kevin Millwood, with the help of Game Day. It wound up looking like this:
Yes, I’m sure your four-year-old nephew could do this, but I’m still new at the science-y side of the game, so first things, first, right? It’s not 100% accurate, but I’m pretty confident I got most of them on here. Even the pitch that wound up in the dirt in the top of the 1st. Most of Cleveland’s lineup were left handed tonight, so you can see where Millwood spent a lot of time trying to avoid them in the outside upper corner of the strike zone. It’s not scientific by any stretch, but unless I just don’t know where to look, Game Day doesn’t show this view of where all pitches fall – so far as I can tell, once they’re gone there, they’re gone, and all you have is type and speed in the game summary. In any event, this was a fun little thing to do, and it represents part of Kevin Millwood’s four innings tonight.
So that is that. In spite of the loss, this was an entertaining game to watch. Glad I got to do it from the warmth of my house, but thanks to the Mariners makeup game offer, I’ll be out of here and back at the field sooner rather than later. For now, though, 5AM comes awfully early for those of us who are still up at 11. Cheers and goodnight!