By Shannon Drayer
With back-to-back posts I want to make sure you don’t miss what I put up a couple of hours ago. Today is the 125th anniversary of the publication of “Casey at the Bat.” It just so happens that the great Dave Niehaus made an incredible recording of the poem seven years ago and I have put a link to that on the previous post. It is an absolute treasure.
Another treasure may have been the 13-pitch at-bat that ended in a home run by Raul Ibanez in the Mariners’ 4-2 win over the White Sox.
Down 0-2, it was an all-out battle with John Danks throwing the kitchen sink at Ibanez. It was absolutely remarkable how after starting the at-bat with five straight swings, Ibanez was able to hold back on pitches six, eight, and 11 to get to 3-2.
After falling into an 0-2 hole, Raul Ibanez capped a 13-pitch at-bat with a two-run home run Monday. (AP)
What was he looking for at that that point?
“The ball,” he said with a laugh in his postgame interview on the field. “You really are looking for the ball. You are not trying to do too much. You know you are fighting off some tough pitches but not do too much. Just get the fat part of the bat at that point and go from there.”
That at-bat was pure Ibanez. The battle, the never-give-up. The Mariners are going to need a lot of that if they are going to have any shot at digging themselves out of the hole they have fallen into the last two weeks. That, interestingly enough, was addressed in a team meeting before the game.
Two months into the season and with the toughest part of the schedule behind them, Eric Wedge gave the Mariners an evaluation of where they were and what they needed to do. There was no yelling; this was more of a reality check. The Mariners have been in the majority of the games they have played but they need to finish them, which is what they were able to do tonight with Tom Wilhelmsen on the hill.
Ibanez spoke Sunday of the need for the team to make its own breaks and he created a big break for Wilhelmsen. His two-run home run helped give Wilhelmsen a three-run cushion when he entered the game in the ninth. He would be closing regardless of the score, but coming off a rocky week it no doubt was good to have room for error.
Wilhelmsen needed it. He threw strike one to the first batter he faced but then walked him on a full count. He wasn’t wildly off, but Wedge took no chances and got Carter Capps up in the pen. He wouldn’t be needed as Wilhelmsen struck out the next two batters, gave up a run on a single and then got out of the inning with a fly ball to center. All in all, a good bounce-back.
Some health notes:
As I mentioned here on the blog late last week, Franklin Gutierrez’s rehab assignment was due to come to an end today and there was a chance he would not be activated. That is exactly what happened.
Gutierrez is still not 100 percent and still not able to go back-to-back-to-back in the field. He can petition to get another rehab assignment but cannot do that for another five days per MLB rules. There is no timetable for his return.
Michael Morse took batting practice once again and the hope is he will be back in the lineup by Wednesday. They will keep him out of the outfield to start, so expect to see him a bit at first base.