The Mariners played their 2nd game of the regular season, losing 4-1 to the Athletics.
Before the game, Mike Carp was put on the disabled list, injured diving for a ball out in left field (he looked decent in left field in the game) on opening day. This opened room for Carlos Peguero to be put back on the roster. In game 2, the Mariners started Chone Figgins in left field and gave Kyle Seager the start at 3rd base.
The A’s starting pitcher Bartolo Colon threw mainly fastballs in the first inning, getting Figgins to fly-out, Dustin Ackley to strike out (after he fouled off a bunch of pitches), and Ichiro to ground out (on a nice play by Jemile Weeks).
Jason Vargas started for the Mariners and started the first inning by throwing a lot of strikes, and got 2 swing and misses in the first two hitters, one with a splitter and one with a fastball. After giving up a line drive hit to Cliff Pennington, he broke the bat of Coco Crisp on an inside fastball with some cut action and struck out Johnny Gomes looking on basically the same pitch.
Justin Smoak started the 2nd by lining the first pitch, a low fastball, hard to right-center. Yeonis Cespedes ran it down easily, but he did hit it hard. Jesus Montero then struck out looking on an outside fastball, an at-bat that took all of 3 pitches. Seager’s first at-bat was a quick ground-out to first on a pitch that looked pretty good to hit. Colon’s 2nd inning lasted all of 7 pitches. Vargas then got Suzuki and Cespedes to ground-out on borderline pitches, and then Smoak made a nice play on a Josh Reddick line drive to make it an easy inning for Vargas.
Colon had some real good movement on his pitches, and it was hard for anyone to really make good contact. Nothing was in the middle of the plate and it took 12 pitches to get through the bottom of the order in the 3rd (nothing left the infield), and Colon was perfect through 3. Vargas in the 3rd didn’t have as sharp control, but got all 3 outs to the left side of the infield. It took Colon just 35 pitches to get through 4 innings, and he was perfect through 12 hitters. Figgins hit a ball hard, but Josh Donaldson made a nice play on the ball that was hit right to him. Ackley had a worthless 1 pitch foul out at-bat, and Ichiro struck out looking on 3 pitches on a nasty 2-seamer. Vargas gave up two pretty deep fly-balls to Pennington and Crisp in the bottom of the 4th, but both were turned into outs by Michael Saunders (they weren’t difficult plays). Even though he missed his spot, he struck out Johnny Gomes swinging. Colon started the 5th with 2 straight weak ground-balls. Jemile Weeks made a good play on the first one, while Jesus Montero’s ground-ball got through the right side. It was Montero’s 1st hit in the 4 games in Japan. Kyle Seager drove a ball almost to the wall, but it was caught. Olivo then got his first hit of the season with a ground-ball through the middle, even though he was having big problems with the breaking ball. Michael Saunders was the first one to draw a walk in the series, but it was in the 5th inning of the 2nd game! Since the first one went 11 innings, it means we went almost 16 innings without seeing a walk. Is this more the hitters or the pitchers? While there has been some quality pitching in the first two games, the overall hitting and approach at the plate has been terrible for both teams. Brendan Ryan grounded out to short with the bases loaded and 2 outs.
Kurt Suzuki drove the ball to the wall (on a good pitch by Vargas) to lead off the 6th but Ichiro Suzuki caught it on a pretty routine play. Vargas got his 3rd strikeout on a nasty change-up low that Cespedes chased, then gave up a double to right to Josh Reddick. It looked like he was going to be able to jam him with the pitch, but Reddick pulled it, even though he looked bad earlier in the at-bat. Vargas got out of it by getting Donaldson to ground-out to 3rd. Figgins had another 3 pitch strikeout, and Ackley did not look like Dustin Ackley, with another 1 pitch infield fly-out. Ichiro was then absolutely fooled on a change-up and then flew out on a long at-bat. Jemile Weeks was the first walk for the A’s in the series, but then was caught stealing the very next pitch on a decent throw by Olivo. Justin Smoak hit a homer to lead-off the 7th on a pitch on the outside part of the plate. The homer was a liner that just got into the seats. Montero quickly popped out to short on the first pitch after the Mariners took the lead. After hitting a hard foul, Seager was fooled on two straight 2 seamers that broke back over the plate and he was only able to look at them. After Olivo grounded out, Vargas walked Coco Crisp to lead off the bottom of the 7th. He then got Johnny Gomes out, and was taken out. This move was really surprising since Vargas had only thrown 85 pitches. His command and control wasn’t as sharp as it had been, but I was still surprised that they took him out, and it proved fatal to the Mariners chances of winning the game.
Shawn Kelley was brought in, and showed a nice slider early on with questionable fastball command. He got Kurt Suzuki to ground into a fielder’s choice, but then hung a slider right down the middle to Yeonis Cespedes to give the A’s the lead.
Kelley was replaced by George Sherrill, who quickly gave up a home run on a breaking pitch to Josh Reddick. Sherrill’s home run allowed is notable, since he gave up just 1 HR to the 81 lefties he faced last season. Then after giving up 2 straight singles, he was relieved by Steve Delabar who struck out Jemile Weeks to finally end the inning. Following a Michael Saunders strikeout, the Mariners did nothing in the bottom of the 8th. Delabar got the first two outs of the 8th quickly (one on a deep fly-ball), but then gave up a homer to Johnny Gomes on a hanging breaking ball. After he got Kurt Suzuki to strikeout, Grant Balfour came in to pitch the 9th for the A’s. Despite having some control issues, he made Ackley look bad with a high fastball, got Ichiro and Smoak to ground-out to end the game.
The Mariners walked just once in the 20 innings against the A’s. In all, they saw just 99 pitches on Thursday, an absurdly low number (only 4 guys reached base in all). Obviously the bats will have to do much better than they have in the two games so far if they plan on competing in the American League.
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Favorite general sports moment: The Texas versus USC college football national championship comes to mind, as does Gary Matthews Jr. catch on July 1st 2006.
Favorite Seattle Sports Moment: King Felix throwing a perfect game against the Rays
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