Mariners Insider Blog

Angels 5, Mariners 1, postgame notes, quotes and thoughts

A quick note on these postgame updates: Because of the earliness of our deadlines for the print edition, I'm going to try and provide these because we get some interesting stuff after the game that I can't fit in my game stories. So I'm going to offer it up here on most games I cover -- that and I don't sleep much.

Here's the boxscore ...

First two things about the game ... Manager Don Wakamatsu pointed to two key turning points in the game ... Wlad Balentien striking out with the bases loaded in the fourth and Roy Corocoran's 0-2 pitch with two outs to Nike Napoli that resulted in a two-run single. The pitch was a fastball that just stayed out over the middle. On 0-2, that ball can't be anywhere near the middle of the plate, which Corcoran would be the first to say, just bad execution.

"Anywhere but up," he told the Everett Herald. "That's just putting it on a tee for him."

Balentien's strikeout was really costly because it looked like Joe Saunders was finally out of his rhythm. He hit Russell Branyan with a pitch to load the bases and was and threw three straight balls after going up 0-2. But if you look at the pitch sequence from, Saunders knew what he was doing, he kept going away, away, knowing that:

1. Wlad doesn't like to swing at that pitch.

2. Wlad isn't going to hit that pitch hard.

3. Wlad is still undisciplined enough to hack at it, which he did.

On 3-2, Saunders pitch was out of the zone, not as bad as a few of the pitches Wlad layed off of, but just out enough for him to not to be able to foul off. Saunders knows Balentien isn't the type of hitter to lay off that pitch yet. And until he does figure it out, Wlad's never going to see the playing time he wants - for any team in baseball. Just look at the pitch sequence from Saunders made it clear where he was going to pitch Balentien in that at-bat. And Wlad simply didn't make the adjustment.

Let's move on to the bit of a baseball history that we got to witness tonight at Safeco Field.

In the fourth inning, Ichiro slapped a hard ground ball through the right side off of Angels starter Joe Saunders. It's a hit we've seen from him hundreds of times. And it was career hit 3,086, moving him past Isao Harimoto, who held the Japanese baseball record 3,085 career hits.

Ichiro was very philosophical when he met with the local English-speaking media.

"Mr. Harimoto in 1995, 14 years ago, told me 'the only guy who could beat my record is you.'" Ichiro said through translator Ken Baron. "Looking back on that now, for him to be able to say that to a player who only had one year under his belt, I am amazed Mr. Harimoto would have that vision."

When asked what was going through his mind when Harimoto told him that at the time, Ichiro responded: "I thought, 'what is this crazy man saying?'"

On what it meant for him to have Harimoto to be in attendance?

"Mr. Harimoto's plan was to go home tomorrow, so if I didn't get the record today, I was worried about what he had to do with his plane ticket, so I had that kind of pressure as well."

Ichiro was supposed to speak with Harimoto at some point after meeting with the media, and when asked what he would say, he responded: "He traveled all the way here from Japan, which is a long distance, so I want to express my thankfulness to him."

Ichiro's never been big on records, and I think the whole chase of this record and the onslaught of Japanese media - which still pales in comparison to the WBC - was a distraction to him and disrupted his obsessive routine. But you could also tell it was something he wanted. No matter what he has said in the past about records in the past, this is an accomplishment that he's proud of.

Let's talk about Chris Jakubauskas' effort against the Angels.

His numbers: 5.1 innings pitched, 5 hits, 2 runs, 3 strikeouts and 0 walks. He was on an 80 pitch limit and ended up throwing 81 with 60 of them strikes. At one point, he'd thrown 35 pitches and 29 were strikes.

"We saw what we saw in spring training," Manager Don Wakamatsu said. "His poise, the quality of his pitches. I think he tired real quick for lack of being stretched out. What impressed me so much was how efficient he was with his pitches and how aggressive he was."

Jakubauskas' game plan was pretty simple.

"They are pretty patient team, but if your around the plate a lot they tend to get aggressive," he said. "Tonight they weren't really hacking so I was trying to throw ball down the middle first pitch and if they started to hack I was going to make an adjustment."

Jakubauskas knew he was on a pitch count but that didn't make coming out of the game any easier.

"As a starter you never want to come out, especially when it's your guys out there (on base), Jakubauskas said. "But they had set the number and I hit the number and you gotta do what your manager tells you to do. I have all the faith in the world in the guys behind me and unfortunately we let it get away from us tonight, we'll pick it up again tomorrow."

Much has been made about Jakubauskas winding road to the Mariners, his failure as a college first baseman because of a lost swing, his transition to pitcher in four seasons of the independent leagues, working odd jobs like concrete surfacing and giving baseball lessons in the offseasons of those years to starting against the Los Angeles Angels - the team he grew up rooting for in Upland, California.

"I'm sure when I go home tonight and sit down tonight and think back on it, it will hit me," he said. "It seems like a long time ago."

When asked if he had any advice for some of those guys toiling in the independent leagues desperately clinging to the last seams of a baseball dreams, Jakubauskas said: "Just keep throwing. Weird things happen. One of my buddies told me, 'if someone wants to give you a uniform, wear it, because one day's no one's going to want to give you one, and you'll be stuck."

Photos courtesy of Getty and AP

Some other tidbits from the Mariners below


&bull Starter Joe Saunders tossed 7.0 innings in his second consecutive starts. He has tossed at least 6.2 innings in each of his first three starts. In 2008, he tossed at least 6.0 innings in 23 of his 31 starts. Saunders has won four straight decisions against Seattle and the Angels have won 6 of his 8 starts.

&bull Torii Hunter has 5 extra base hits in his last four games, including 3 home runs and 2 doubles. In last four games with an at-bat he is batting .400 (6x15) with three home runs and four RBI. He is 6 RBI away from 800 in his career.

&bull The Angels recorded 3 stolen bases, bringing their season total to 12, having only been caught twice. They are second in the American League, behind Tampa Bay (16). The Angels recorded their season-high 4 stolen bases on April 10th.

&bull Juan Rivera went 2-for-4 with an RBI, recording his fourth multi-hit game of the season and second consecutive. Chone Figgins recorded his first multi-hit effort of the season.

&bull Bobby Abreu went 2-for-5 with a run scored and his first stolen base of the season. He has now hit safely in 7 of his last 9 games, including three straight multi-hit efforts.

&bull Angels Outfielder Vladimir Guerrero is headed home to Anaheim to be examined for a strained right pectoral muscle.


&bull Today's loss snapped the Mariners winning streak at six games, their longest since winning 8 straight (June 23-July 1, 2007. Seattle's longest winning streak in 2008 was 4 games (Aug. 29-Sept. 1).

&bull Pitcher Chris Jakubauskas made his first career major league start, going 5.1 innings, he was unscored upon through his first five innings of work. Both runs allowed scored after he left the game. He finished with 3 strikeouts.

&bull Ichiro Suzuki now holds the record for the most professional hits by a Japanese-born player with 3,086. With a single to right field Ichiro passed Isao Harimoto's record. Harimoto was in attendance for tonight's game.

&bull Endy Chavez went 2-for-4 and extended his hitting streak to 10 games. This is the second longest hitting streak of his career (16 G streak Sept. 10-27 2002). Endy Chavez also recorded his team leading fifth multi-hit game of the season and third consecutive.

&bull Rob Johnson becomes the Mariners regular catcher with Kenji Johjima on the 15-day disabled list for a hamstring injury, his first time on the DL as a Mariner.

&bull Sean White pitched two scoreless innings in his first Major League appearance since Sept. 26, 2007 vs. Cleveland. In 2007, he went 1-1 with a 5.60 ERA (22 ER, 35.1 IP) as a Rule 5 selection.