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The Mariners
2005-08-29 13:58
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Ten days ago, I wrote that the Yankees were in good shape because they had more games left to play against the teams leading them in the AL East and Wild Card races than they were games behind those teams. At that time the Yanks were four games behind the Red Sox with six left to play against them and a game and a half behind the A's for the Wild Card with three left to play against them.

Since then the Yankees have gone 8-2 while the Red Sox have gone 5-4 and the A's 6-3. As a result, the Yankees have eliminated their Wild Card deficit and carved 2.5 games out of their AL East deficit and still have all nine games left to play against these two rivals.

Meanwhile, two other contenders have entered the Wild Card picture from different directions. Thanks in part to a weekend sweep at the hands of the Devil Rays, the Angels have gone 3-6 over this stretch, yielding the AL West lead to the A's and, in turn, the Wild Card lead to the Yankees, who lead the now second-place Angels by a half game. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Indians have been bouncing in and out of a Wild Card tie with the Yankees, matching them at 8-2 over the past ten days, and currently standing one game behind them, as they were on August 19.

For their part, the Yankees have been doing exactly what they've needed to, taking two of three from the slumping White Sox to finish the punishingly difficult portion of their schedule with a 24-16 (.600) record, then going 6-1 against the Blue Jays and Royals at home.

Tonight the Yankees start a four game series against the Mariners in Seattle, and it would behoove them to win at least three of these games as well, as things will be far more difficult over the twelve games that follow.

After the Yankees leave Seattle, they play those three games against the A's in Oakland. The following weekend they will play three games at home against the Red Sox. And on either side of that Red Sox series they will play a pair of three-game series against the Devil Rays. Remember, the Devil Rays just swept the Angels and are 9-4 against the Yankees this season. The D-Rays are also 27-15 since the All-Star break, a record a half-game better than the Yankees' 27-16 and a game and a half better than the Red Sox's 25-16 over the same period (the A's are 29-13 since the break).

All the more reason to take advantage of the Mariners (who, for comparison's sake, are 16-26 since the All-Star break, 9-15 in August and 3-7 over their last three series). Tonight, Mike Mussina looks to conquer his fifth-inning struggles against Ryan Franklin, who pitched somewhere between very well (quality start) and excellent (shutout) in four of his five July starts, but has given up 19 runs in 15 1/3 innings across three poor starts this month.

Seattle Mariners

2005 Record: 55-74 (.426)
2005 Pythagorean Record: 61-68 (.470)

Manager: Mike Hargrove
General Manager: Bill Bavasi

Ballpark (2004 park factors): Safeco Field (92/93)

Who's replacing whom?

Yuniesky Betancourt replaced Wilson Valdez (released)
Yorvit Torrealba replaced Wiki Gonzalez (minors)
Miguel Ojeda replaced Miguel Oliva (Padres)
Mike Morse replaced Bret Boone (released)
Jamal Strong replaced Randy Winn (Giants)
Felix Hernandez replaced Aaron Sele (released)
Jeff Harris replaced Gil Meche (DL)
George Sherrill replaced Ron Villone (Marlins)

Current Roster:

1B – Richie Sexson
2B – Willie Bloomquist
SS – Yuniesky Betancourt
3B – Adrian Beltre
C – Yorvit Torrealba
RF – Ichiro Suzuki
CF – Jeremy Reed
LF – Raul Ibanez
DH – Greg Dobbs

Bench:

L - Dave Hansen (1B/3B)
R – Miguel Ojeda (C)
R – Mike Morse (IF)
R – Jamal Strong (OF)

Rotation:

R – Felix Hernandez
R – Joel Pineiro
L – Jamie Moyer
R – Ryan Franklin
R – Jeff Harris

Bullpen:

L – Eddie Guardado
R – J.J. Putz
R - Jeff Nelson
L - Matt Thornton
R – Julio Mateo
R – Shigetoshi Hasegawa
L – George Sherrill

60-day DL:

R – Dan Wilson (C)
R - Pokey Reese (IF)
L – Bobby Madritsch
R - Rafael Soriano
R - Scott Atchison
L - Travis Blackley

15-day DL:

R – Gil Meche
R – Jorge Campillo

Typical Line-up

L - Ichiro Suzuki (RF)
R – Willie Bloomquist (2B)
L - Raul Ibaniez (LF)
R - Richie Sexson (1B)
R - Adrian Bletre (3B)
L - Jeremy Reed (CF)
L – Greg Dobbs (DH)
R – Yuniesky Betancourt (SS)
R – Yorvit Torrealba (C)

Comments (85)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2005-08-29 14:06:10
1.   Nick from Washington Heights
Cliff, I might be looking at the wrong game log but I think Ryan Franklin's been awful in August. Sounds like you were describing his July numbers.
2005-08-29 14:15:25
2.   JVarghese81
yeah, I noticed that too - http://tinyurl.com/bdtdo - Lord has he gotten lit up. Let's hope the Yanks capitalize and set the tone early for both the game & the series.
2005-08-29 14:16:28
3.   JVarghese81
Maybe it's because he's off the juice ;)
2005-08-29 16:26:30
4.   Marcus
I don't know what to make of this, but Mark Bellhorn is reportedly going to sign with the Yankees, (not the A's) once he clears waivers:

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/4820784

Now if the Yankees keep Bubba on the roster as the backup outfielder, and have Bellhorn as the backup infielder, does that mean Womack is gone? Please?

As much as Bellhorn strikes out, I'd rather have him than Womack. At least he can hit for power occasionally.

2005-08-29 16:49:39
5.   JeremyM
Bellhorn? Really. Ugh.
2005-08-29 17:03:34
6.   JVarghese81
This ONLY makes sense if Womack is let go. Otherwise, what's the point? Lose Womack & send Escalona down & replace them with Bellhorn.

Bellhorn does have some experience playing pretty much all dfensive positions, with varying results. http://www.baseballprospectus.com/dt/bellhma01.shtml

2005-08-29 17:10:49
7.   marc
Bellhorn? The only thing good about him is he doesn't hit into double plays since he's always striking out or maybe walking. So at least he follows the Hippocratic oath and first does no harm (except to himself)
2005-08-29 17:50:02
8.   Jen
In other news, Wang made a rehab start in Columbus tonight.

3IP 2H 1R 1BB 3SO

2005-08-29 17:52:13
9.   rilkefan
Is the Boston game likely to get rained out?
2005-08-29 18:15:58
10.   randym77
Belhorn? Yech.

Man, I hate these West Coast trips. It's hard for me to stay up that late, since I have to get up for work at the crack of dawn.

2005-08-29 18:40:29
11.   JVarghese81
Hye Cliff,
http://mlb.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/mlb/stats/mlb_individual_stats_player.jsp?playerID=434898

Any relation?

2005-08-29 19:14:00
12.   randym77
Not an auspicious start...
2005-08-29 19:19:30
13.   BklynBomber
I'll take the Moose than takes an inning or two to settle in, then sets down 15 straight — rather than the gem/meltdown version. It shouldn't be long before we start zoning in on Franklin's fastball, either.

Go Yanks!

2005-08-29 19:30:14
14.   Dan-el
i have a bad feeling about this game ...
2005-08-29 19:45:55
15.   Cliff Corcoran
JVarghese81, no relation, read this:

http://bronxbanter.baseballtoaster.com/archives/229517.htm#26

Nick, et al, thanks for catching that error on Franklin. You're right. Four of five good to great starts in July, but three bad ones in August. Fixed it above.

2005-08-29 19:48:38
16.   randym77
Moose is not having a good night. :-P
2005-08-29 19:54:45
17.   Dan-el
Oh god what is Mussina's problem.
2005-08-29 19:55:28
18.   Cliff Corcoran
I know that Moose had been getting hit hard all game, but this third inning looks like the fifth inning from last time. Two things about that:

1) Don't let him give up 8 runs this time.

2) If Moose is gonna tank, the Yankees postseason hopes are in serious trouble.

2005-08-29 19:58:37
19.   yankz
Isn't it embarassing to keep signing Boston's discards...
2005-08-29 19:59:28
20.   randym77
Well, that was Leiter-like.
2005-08-29 20:04:28
21.   marc
this could be a bad night.Muss looks awful though he's only been touched up for two runs. Cleveland and Oakland won and Boston heading for an easy win
2005-08-29 20:12:09
22.   nick
Dosen't Franklin seem like exactly the kind of crappy starter who inexplicably gives the Yanks fits?--or is this phenomenon just a case of selective memory?
2005-08-29 20:13:16
23.   JeremyM
This is the time of year Mussina usually kicks it in gear. This is not good.
2005-08-29 20:14:56
24.   Alvaro Espinoza
Yanks have been shopping in the $0.99 bin all season. But I don't get a potential Bellhorn signing. Womack can be a very valuable PR in a tight game (see Dave Roberts). Yanks will need role players on the bench to compete this post season. Bellhorn doesn't really do anything well except for having a respectable OBP and even that was slumping this year (.328).

This ump stinks but 35 HAS TO battle.

2005-08-29 20:20:56
25.   Dan-el
Wow ... this performance is inexplicable.
2005-08-29 20:21:54
26.   Cliff Corcoran
Well, they kept Moose from giving up 8, but its unfair to Small to bring him in with none out and the bases loaded. I will be shocked, SHOCKED, if the M's don't score a minimum of two runs here.
2005-08-29 20:22:13
27.   randym77
Well, Torre seems to have learned his lesson. He's not going to let Moose give up eight runs this time.

So, when's Wang coming back?

2005-08-29 20:23:09
28.   marc
Now if Small can get out of this with just one or two runs we got a chance
2005-08-29 20:29:08
29.   Cliff Corcoran
Props to Small for getting two DP balls. One was with Ichiro running and one the first base umps just blew, so two outs for the price of four. Great. Two runs in . . . so far.
2005-08-29 20:32:29
30.   yankz
Wow, this blows.
2005-08-29 20:35:53
31.   yankz
Finally.
2005-08-29 20:35:57
32.   randym77
Woo-hoo! I guess yesterday wasn't a fluke. :-D
2005-08-29 20:36:34
33.   yankz
That sounds really...whiny. I'm really glad the Yankees are coming back and I swear I knew Giambi would do it.
2005-08-29 20:36:43
34.   Dan-el
OMG that Giambi homerun was unbelievable.

Mussina's lack of stuff notwithstanding, I think the umpire's calls were really to blame. He was calling such a tight zone that Mussina resorted to his uber-nibbling tendencies.

2005-08-29 20:42:19
35.   Cliff Corcoran
Great. They just hit and ran their way out of two on, none out. That first H&R pitch was ball four, if not the second as well.
2005-08-29 20:44:32
36.   Cliff Corcoran
And that would have driven in both runs. Ouch.
2005-08-29 20:47:29
37.   Cliff Corcoran
Big hit for Cano there.
2005-08-29 21:04:13
38.   Ravenscar
"It is high, it is far, it is..... off the top of the wall."

I know it's been said 100 times, but Sterling is awful. And not only that, he's a bad influence on Susie, who I honestly didn't mind at the start of the season.

By now I feel bad saying how awful Sterling is, it's like kicking a blind dog.

But jesus is he awful.

-thud!-

2005-08-29 21:10:01
39.   Dan-el
YES, Giambino.
2005-08-29 21:10:19
40.   randym77
Holy crap! Giambi's on fire all of a sudden!
2005-08-29 21:10:41
41.   BklynBomber
Tha Geeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaammmmmmmmmbeeeeeeeeeno!
2005-08-29 21:10:43
42.   Cliff Corcoran
WOW.
2005-08-29 21:11:41
43.   Cliff Corcoran
I love this line-up, by the way.
2005-08-29 21:12:03
44.   Jen
Hot Damn!
2005-08-29 21:13:44
45.   Cliff Corcoran
Hargrove stomps out to the mound, barks at Thornton and repeatedly pokes him in the chest with his index finger. Then clearly says "let's go!" and storms off the field.

David Justice: "Now, Hargrove is upset."

Thanks, Dave.

2005-08-29 21:16:52
46.   Schteeve
How the F, does Giambi not win Comeback Player?
2005-08-29 21:20:10
47.   BklynBomber
Cliff, what feed are you getting? I'm getting Fox Sports Northwest on the 'Extra Innings' package here in San Fran.
2005-08-29 21:20:42
48.   Dan-el
They're warming up the Tanyon man ... I predict his arm will fall off in a week.
2005-08-29 21:24:19
49.   rilkefan
Explain to me again why Small isn't starting?
2005-08-29 21:25:23
50.   pmarcig
Well...you could've had Leiter come in to replace Moose.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2005-08-29 21:27:20
51.   Cliff Corcoran
I live in Northern NJ, so I'm watching YES on my local cable provider.

Schteeve, Giambi is a no-brainer for the award (as is Griffey in the NL). However, the AL Comeback Player of the Year award will be the first indication we get as to how people adjust (or don't adjust) their voting regarding a past steroid users, and that might effect his chances.

2005-08-29 21:27:30
52.   randym77
I think I like Small in his current role. If both your aces are prone to ugly meltdowns, you need a starter in your bullpen.
2005-08-29 21:29:51
53.   pmarcig
Assuming Wang has another rehab start or two and does decently, I would think (hope)Leiter would then become the odd man out. He battles and I love him, but if Wang is effective he's just better. That would give us:

Chacon
Unit
Mussina
Wright
Wang

For the stretch with Leiter and Small spot starting if necessary. That's not so bad. I could go to battle with that.

2005-08-29 21:33:53
54.   Ravenscar
Cliff -

I agree, and I have a hard time believing anyone wants to open that can of worms up. There have been a number of articles this very year that trace Giambi's recent slump to stopping rumored steroid use that is subconsciously - and even consciously - credited for actually STARTING his comeback this year. A vicious cycle.

The stain, the mark is on him, and it will inform how his whole season is viewed, probably for the next 50 years.

That is, if the hurricanes don't wipe out the five boroughs and Bergen County by then, that is. And I don't mean the hockey team.

2005-08-29 21:33:58
55.   Schteeve
Good point Cliff. And I think it's interesting that Palmiero seems to have elicited a more passionate "F-you" from "baseball guys" than Giambi. I think the indignant finger wagging is going to be that guys legacy.
2005-08-29 21:34:23
56.   pmarcig
But Bellhorn...yikes. It seems like just yesterday that I was watching Yanks-Sox games and smiling everytime Bellhorn came up or Embree came in. Now I'll be cringing.

I think Bill Simmons said something to the effect of "it's like watching your ex date another guy, only he doesn't know she has VD".

2005-08-29 21:34:48
57.   Cliff Corcoran
Okay, to jump two steps ahead of ourselves, if you have the rotation pmarcig presents, who's the odd-man out come playoff time?
2005-08-29 21:38:04
58.   Schteeve
Wang or Wright. No way Unit goes to the pen although based on recent merit he might be the guy who deserves it.
2005-08-29 21:38:16
59.   BklynBomber
Thanks, Cliff — on the EI package, there's far too many home feeds for road games this season, not enough YES. I'd turn the sound down and listen to WCBS on GameDay Audio online, but the delay is almost a full at-bat sometimes...
2005-08-29 21:38:24
60.   pmarcig
I was going to go there, but I didn't want to get ahead of myself..:) But it'll be Wang or Wright, who's ever not pitching as well. Unit and Moose get the free verteran (ace) pass regardless. And I am going to predict Chacon will be solid from here on out (knock on wood).
2005-08-29 21:44:02
61.   Cliff Corcoran
Now that one was just over the wall, but I knew it was gone right away. Big insurance run there from Rodriguez.
2005-08-29 21:46:44
62.   randym77
Sweet! I was hoping he'd get at least one in front of this crowd.
2005-08-29 21:46:49
63.   Schteeve
If the Yanks don't make the post season, the past few weeks have been a hell of a tease.
2005-08-29 21:50:14
64.   Nick from Washington Heights
How is the Bellhorn signing a bad thing? Are we really going to miss Escalona? The signing can only mean a reduction in Womack's role and added depth. No complaints here. Cashman is doing a very good job right now.
2005-08-29 21:50:32
65.   Nick from Washington Heights
Lawton!
2005-08-29 21:51:10
66.   randym77
I think I like the new guy.
2005-08-29 21:52:39
67.   BklynBomber
I was just thinking how Lawton was a solid defensive pickup and how we don't really need his bat... and boo-ya! Sweet.
2005-08-29 21:56:06
68.   Cliff Corcoran
Actually, it seems Lawton's much more valuable offensively than in the field. Corner OF with a dead arm vs. solid OBP with pop and speed on the bases.
2005-08-29 22:01:42
69.   BklynBomber
You're probably right overall... I was thinking of his ability to close on in balls in the gap a few steps faster than Bernie.
2005-08-29 22:09:04
70.   marc
OK Mo, no excitement
2005-08-29 22:11:09
71.   Dan-el
Umm some excitement ... why is Escalona playing for A-Rod.
2005-08-29 22:12:57
72.   Cliff Corcoran
I'm with Justice, just Torre resting A-Rod an inning, giving Escalona an inning at third. I'm not concerned.
2005-08-29 22:14:22
73.   KYK
According to mlb.com, Bellhorn has signed with the Yanks. I'd like to think that this is (1) an upgrade over Escalona and (2) keeping him away from the A's.
2005-08-29 22:17:27
74.   Nick from Washington Heights
God, Mariano is good.
2005-08-29 22:18:22
75.   randym77
Good game!

Well, after they took Moose out, anyway...

2005-08-29 22:21:58
76.   nick
great win!

hate to say it but Belhorn might be an upgrade over Cano, at least hitting against lefties...more importantly though his very presence might provoke anti-Moneyball tirades from the broadcast booth...

2005-08-29 22:30:02
77.   Hank
Nice game overall. Giambi continues to roll, Rodríguez reminds the Seattle fans what they're missing, and the bullpen is absolutely lights out. But perhaps the highlight of the game came during the ninth inning as Posada was taking a minute to recover from a foul tip that caught him flush. As he sat in his crouch while the umpire held the game up a bit for him, Posada looked out to the mound and flipped off Rivera. (The FoxSports Northwest cameras were trained on Posada.) I guess he deserved it, since he had thrown the pitch and all. Amusing.
2005-08-29 22:40:46
78.   Schteeve
I thought he was calling for the eephus pitch.
2005-08-29 22:43:16
79.   rabid stan
Rivera throwing an eephus...

That would be a sight.

It might work, eephus is best when it's not expected

2005-08-29 22:43:56
80.   Cliff Corcoran
Rodriguez had a tight groin, that's why he didn't play the ninth. Shouldn't be a problem. Better safe than sorry.
2005-08-29 22:45:19
81.   Dan-el
Yea the reason I worried earlier is because there was something a bit funny about his homerun trot. Hopefully he'll be good to go tomorrow.
2005-08-29 22:47:32
82.   Schteeve
Of all the baseball players I've watched in my lifetime, Mo is far and away the one who has made the biggest impression on me. He's otherworldly.
2005-08-29 22:55:17
83.   tom yf
I hate to draw attention to an already trumped up rivalry, but is anyone else feeling that the Yankees' front office is outdueling the Sox's front office in terms of patching team holes in preparation for the (fingers crossed!) playoffs?
2005-08-29 22:56:45
84.   tom yf
On second thought, we probably had a few more holes to begin with, a mess of our own making.
2005-08-30 04:11:08
85.   singledd
I love it when the Yankees slap me in the face for going to bed early.

The first headline I saw this morning was "Gaimbi's 2 HRs lift Yanks". I was wondering why they still had day old news posted! What a nice surprise.

I wrote in May that Giambi was the difference between a really dangerous lineup or not. I may have been cheer-leading a bit, but having a dangerous guy in the 6 hole really gives us offensive depth. I don't want to bring up the 'clutch' discussion again, but it seems when Giambi homers, we win. Anybody got stats on that?

While the pitching is better then earlier, I think the last 3 weeks have been about timing. We are not scoring tons of runs, but scoring them when we have to. That is the credo of a winning team.

Belhorn will help us, so he is a good pickup. But something tastes very foul when we pick up (yet another) boston castoffs.

In the 'roids thing, Jason was the only one to admit it, be apologetic for it, be humble about both his demise and recovery, and to prove that he is about his talent and work ethic... more then the enhancement. Looking back, considering how far and badly he fell, I don't think I could have written a more satisfying comeback story.

Man..... RJ could really make this thing easier for us, if we could count on a automatic win every 5 games. We have 25 guys, but it we don't make the PS, it will be squarely on his shoulders.

The Twins are done. Oakland has been on an offensive surge that (hopefully) will not last another month. I think Cleveland is our competition for the WC. The Sox continue to play tough, and they have the best schedule of those in the fray, so it may be hard to catch them.

Unless we keep winning, that is.

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