Where to begin describing this one? The Mariners are a weird team, in that they’re mediocre and yet hanging in the race in the American League West, a division that mirrors the futility of last year’s National League West. They don’t score a lot of runs and they don’t hit for power.
Yet Friday night’s outburst of homers accounted for all but one of the nine runs scored in the game between the two teams. Nothing the outstanding young pitchers Felix Hernandez and Noah Lowry could do could contain the opposing hitters.
So for whatever expectations the Giants had from the opener had to come in the second game of the series. Schmidt took his turn against the aforementioned Meche, and forgive San Francisco if they felt a smidge of confidence that they could win this one.
Schmidt had allowed no more than two runs in nine straight starts, dating back to April 28 against the Arizona Diamondbacks and won six games during this period of time. The National League Pitcher of the Month for May, back to back complete games to start May…it all adds up to the Schmidt Giants fans know and love.
Meche on the other hand has put together a good year thus far, flying far under the radar. So far his brilliance Saturday afternoon was quite surprising. He was neither overpowering nor dominant, but he expended little effort to keep the Giants offense quiet over his complete game performance. He retired the side in four separate innings and at sat down seven straight hitters, twice through the lineup.
Intermittent walks and hits allowed broke up his pattern of perfection, and it wasn’t until the later innings that the Giants got a runner past second, or even two base runners in the same inning. He nearly had a shutout, were it not for the location mistake he made against Ray Durham to lead off the ninth inning. Durham deposited the offering into the left field bleachers.
The fans in those seats have seen a lot of action these past few days with Friday’s power display, and Saturday, where Seattle hitters took advantage of Schmidt’s poor performance. Schmidt handled the first three hitters of the day with no problems, recording two strikeouts, including ringing up Ichiro Suzuki on only Suzuki’s 28th strikeout all season. Seattle’s best player didn’t have a chance to do much of anything, and outside of a base hit in the fourth inning was rendered a non-threat for the game.
What Ichiro could not do, his teammates could. Raul Ibanez got things going for the Mariners in the second inning, reaching base on a single. Richie Sexson blasted a ball over the centerfield wall good for two runs, and Jeremy Reed followed suit with a solo home run. In the third inning, Felipe Lopez continued his good play to surprise everyone who hasn’t been watching him (probably meaning most reading this) by collecting a two-out base hit. He scored on an Ibanez double.
Schmidt’s one saving grace was that the scoring occurred in bunches, and in between he handled things well. The fourth inning could have been bad, when he allowed back-to-back singles to Yunieski Betancourt and Ichiro, but he settled down from there. He retired seven hitters in a row before giving up a leadoff triple to Betancourt in the seventh, and that’s when the wheels came off.
Adrian Beltre suddenly remembered he can hit and laced a pitch into left field that bounced over the wall. Betancourt scored, Lopez singled to score Beltre, and Ibanez put the game out of reach with the third Mariners home run of the afternoon.
Eight runs scored with help from three home runs. This from a club that sits near the bottom of the league in home runs hit. Only the Royals and Angels have hit fewer home runs than the Mariners this season in the American League.
The six runs charged to Schmidt’s record are the right-hander’s highest run total of the year, and the most allowed since April 21 in Colorado. Before this game Schmidt had allowed five home runs in 95 innings pitched all season. It was clear that the staff ace did not have his stuff in this contest.
The Mariners tacked on two courtesy of Kevin Correia in relief. The lone bright spot of Giants pitching came from Jonathan Sanchez’s solid eighth inning of work, where he allowed only two base runners on a walk and a fielder’s choice.
What lies ahead for the team is avoiding a sweep at the hands of another poor team, and following the debacle of a series against Pittsburgh last weekend, wins are needed. Badly.
SFDugout.com Player of the Game: Travis Ishikawa made it his personal mission to impress in his first game back home. The big first baseman grew up in Seattle and didn’t do so well at the plate0 for 3. He made up for it by flashing the leather on a pair of plays that qualify as both spectacular and reckless. He flipped over the railing chasing a foul ball and landed in the camera well but came up with the ball. Later in the game he called off catcher Eliezer Alfonzo on a pop up and crashed ribs first into the rail behind the plate. Chalk it up to youthful zeal and resiliency; he was okay on both plays. On a day where the Giants looked completely flat, Ishikawa injected a little enthusiasm into the game.
Game Notes: More Washington connections: Jason Ellison and Mariners outfielder Willie Bloomquist are good friends from back in the day. Not only did they play on the same high school baseball squad, but Ellison lived with Bloomquist’s family on their Washington farm during his high school days…perhaps Seattle was just happy to get home and into interleague play. After getting swept by the Athletics in Oakland earlier in the week, Seattle ran their record to 5-0 in interleague games and has won 12 of its last 13 against NL teams at Safeco Field. ..Barry Bonds did not hit a home run. Now you can go back to your lives as regularly scheduled.
Chris has been a Giants fan since her days in utero. She loves baseball and writes about whatever she can get her hands on…even the Athletics. She's a Bay Area gal through and through. This is her 24th season of fandom and first where she's had the honor to write for the Giants on SFDugout.com. Love/hate mail can be sent to email@example.com, where the love mail gets top priority and the hate mail gets used for kindling.
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