Welcome to Safeco: M’s Home OpenerApril 14th, 2009 by cstark
I can’t imagine what it must be like to be Ken Griffey Jr. The cheers, the adulation. Griffey just laced a single to right field. The fans rose in unison as he walked to the plate and Junior took his batting helmet off and acknowledged everybody before stepping back into the box.
On a 3-1 count, he ripped a line shot, moving Ronny Cedeno to the third.
Adrian Beltre’s chopper back to the mound gets Cedeno home. Griffey’s out at second on a force out and veteran Mike Sweeney’s the first guy to greet him at the dugout.
Beltre steals second and is left there as Russell Branyan’s called out on strikes.
It’s 1-0 M’s after the first inning.
I’m not going to provide a lot of play-by-play, but I’ll be checking in with some thoughts and observations as the game goes on.
It might look sunny and warm on TV, but it’s chilly in the shade. It was 48 degrees when the first pitch was tossed at 3:42.
4:09: Silva six up six down. Maybe he is worth $12.5 million.
4:15: OK, Bobblheads. The Griffey bobblehead giveaway’s scheduled for Aug. 7.
4:18: Silva’s still perfect through three innings.
4:20: The M’s three AL West championships banners are hanging above the third-deck seats in right field: 1995, 1997 and 2001. Considering the M’s play in a four-team division, the odds are in their favor to hang another one soon. Is this the season? Are we looking at the Miracle M’s — from 101 losses to a division title?
4:23: E-Me. Yuni Betancourt just hit a foul ball that was coming right at me. I shouda ducked, but I stuck my hand out and deflected it. I think I broke my hand. Nah, just kidding. It would have been my third press box catch, but I muffed it. I’ve lost a step.
4:33: Silva loses perfect game, then no-hitter, then shutout. Hit batter, double by Abreu and a fielder’s choice and it’s 1-1.
4:34: Griffey up again. Another standing O. A ground out to second base.
4:50: Silva gets out of bases loaded jam by striking out Howie Kendrick.
4:55: Kinda different without No. 22 (Willie Bloomquist) on the M’s bench. Oh, wait. There is a No. 22. Don Wakamatsu, the new manager, has Willie’s old number. Bloomquist, by the way, is 1-for-10 for the Royals this season, but produced a web gem the other day, making a diving catch in right field.
Willie would fit in with the style of this Seattle team, but don’t think the M’s would have ever paid him $3.1 million for two years. Ronny Cedeno, the M’s new utility guy, makes $822,500.
5:03: M’s lead 2-1 after Endy Chavez’s RBI single in fifth. Silva’s only thrown 71 pitches through five, so he should be in good shape. Did I just type Silva should be in good shape?
5:13: Torii Hunter’s long homer to left — it hit off the stairway behind the Angels’ bullpen — ties it at 2-2 Griffey leads off the bottom of the sixth with a walk and the fans boo. They want Junior to hit.
5:15: Besides Griffey, who are you other all-time favorite Mariners? What’s your all-time Seattle lineup? Off the top of my head, mine would be something like this:
Ichiro Suzuki OF
Edgar Martinez DH
John Olerud 1B
Ken Griffey OF
Jay Buhner OF
Brett Boone 2b
Dan Wilson C
Omar Vizquel SS
Randy Johnson P
5:27: Folks, it’s 2-2 with one out in the top of the seventh, and the Big Buffalo (Carlos Silva) is still pitching. He just threw his 100th pitch. Make that 101 and he’s out of the inning. That, baseball fans, is a quality start.
5:31: If you buy a Mariners’ media guide — they cost $10 — you’ll notice there’s no page for Ken Griffey Jr. You sign after the deadline and that’s what happens. The M’s have inserts, and, no, they won’t be going back to the press to print undated editions. That’s the word from the M’s media relations director Tim Hevly.
5:36: David Aardsma now pitching. He’ll face Chone Figgins to open the eighth inning. This game’s moving right along. Aardsman’s got two saves and hasn’t allowed a run in 3 2/3 innings. You’ve got to tip your hat to Silva. He allowed four hits and walked just one in seven innings. They’ve amended his pitch count to 99. “That’s like a perfect game for Silva,” said the guy next to me.
5:55: Aardsma gets out of a bases loaded jam in the eighth. Griffey, with everyone on their feet, goes down swinging for the second out in the bottom of the eighth. The stage was set for something Griffey magic, but mighty Ken was fooled badly on a changeup from Darren Oliver.
6:02: Oliver fanned Beltre to strike out the side and now it’s on the ninth. Brandon Morrow’s on in relief for Seattle.
6:07: Morrow blows away Mike Napoli with a 99 mph heater and gets Gary Matthews Jr. to fly out to center on a well-hit ball before Erick Aybar singles to right. Figgins walks on four straight pitches, then gets Kendrick out on a groundball.
Morrow has a way of keeping things interesting thus far this season.
6:11: Bottom of the ninth: Time for somebody to get a hero. Branyan, Lopez and Johjima due up.
6:17: Extra innings.
6:30: Roy Corcoran holds the Angels in check in the 11th. He allowed a hit and a walk, but got out of it. Corcoran’s an unsung player. In 2008, he was the Mariners Unsung Hero, according to the Seattle Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. He was 6-2 with three saves and a team-low 3.22 ERA in 72 23 innings.
6:33: Gutierrez doubles to lead off the bottom of the 11th. Betancourt, Chavez and Cedeno coming up. Yuni lays down a beaut sacrifice bunt and pitcher Scott Shields throws it into the outfield.
Seattle wins 3-2. Miracle Mariners?