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Seattle Mariners

It goes without saying that the Yankees are in prime position to suffer something of a lull after their spectacular five game sweep of the Red Sox. After the season’s most invigorating, but also most exhausting series, the Yankees had to travel out to the west coast, where jet lag and the lack of a travel day are sure to have some effect. What’s more, not only are the Yankees coming off a season-defining sweep of the Sox at Fenway, a series which in and of itself tied their longest winning streak of the season (they’ve now won five in a row five times, but have yet to make it six on any of those occasions), but the Mariners are coming off a season-long eleven-game losing streak, all at the hands of their three division rivals. One would think something’s got to give.

To make things even more interesting, tonight’s pitching match-up features two rookie righthanders. One, the Yankees Jeffrey Karstens, who will be making his major league debut, and the other, Korean-born Cha Seung Baek, who will be pitching in the majors for the first time since a cup of coffee in 2004.

Baek was roughed up in all but one of his five major league starts in 2004 and had a terrible year with triple-A Tacoma last year, due largely to his allowing 147 hits in 113 2/3 innings and 1.5 home runs per nine innings. All those runners (a 1.61 WHIP despite decent control) and long balls lead to a 6.41 ERA. In 24 starts for Tacoma this year, the 26-year-old Baek fixed both problems, allowing just 133 hits in 147 innings (1.16 WHIP) and cutting his homer rate by a third. The result has been a 3.00 ERA and a 12-4 record. Safeco Park should help further depress that homer rate, while the URP factor (Unfamiliar Rookie Pitcher) could stymie a worn-out Yankee offense that scored 49 runs in Boston.

As for Karstens, at just 23 he’s encouragingly ahead of schedule, having sped through the Yankee minor league system after being drafted out of Texas Tech University. Not that Karstens is a top level prospect by any stretch of the imagination. As he’s moved up the ladder, his hit and homer rates and ERAs have steadily increased. That said, his strike out rate and K/BB ratio have also steadily improved. Last year, Karstens struck out nearly 8 men per nine innings while walking 2.24, good for a 3.5 K/BB, an impressive mark for a 22-year-old at double-A. He started this year in Columbus but struggled mightily, but dominated on his return to Trenton (6-0, 2.31 ERA, 74 IP, 54 H, 4 HR, 14 BB, 67 K). That earned him a return trip to triple-A in mid-July. His first two starts back in Columbus were average, but then he ran of a string of four one-run outings compiling this aggregate line: 27 IP, 20 H, 4 R (3 ER), 1 HR, 5 BB, 19 K, 0.93 WHIP, 1.00 ERA, 4-0.

While it might be true that the Yankees are rushing Karstens into his first major league start, doing so on the basis of just four admittedly excellent triple-A starts, it’s also true that Karstens is only starting tonight because of the rotation shuffling brought on by Mike Mussina’s tweaked groin (Jaret Wright, who pitched in relief on Saturday, is taking Moose’s turn on Friday, Karstens is taking Wright’s turn tonight), and that the team is much better off seeing what it has in Karstens then wasting a roster spot on the likes of Sidney Ponson. Oh, and for those concerned about his young arm this late in the season, Karstens threw 169 innings last year and is at a mere 146 thus far in 2006.

Seattle Mariners

2006 Record: 56-68 (.452)
2006 Pythagorean Record: 59-65 (.472)

Manager: Mike Hargrove
General Manager: Bill Bavasi

Home Ballpark (2005 Park Factors): Safeco Park (99/99)

Who’s Replacing Whom?

  • Ben Broussard replaced Carl Everett
  • Chris Snelling (DL) replaced Greg Dobbs (minors)
  • Cha Seung Baek replaced Jamie Moyer in the rotation
  • Eric O’Flaherty (minors) replaced Emiliano Fruto (minors)
  • Sean Green (DL) replaced Mark Lowe (DL)

Current Roster:

1B – Richie Sexson (R)
2B – Jose Lopez (R)
SS – Yuniesky Betancourt (R)
3B – Adrian Beltre (R)
C – Kenji Johjima (R)
RF – Ichiro Suzuki (L)
CF – Willie Bloomquist (R)
LF – Raul Ibañez (L)
DH – Ben Broussard (L)


R – Eduardo Perez (1B)
R – Adam Jones (OF)
L – Chris Snelling (OF)
R – Rene Rivera (C)


R – Felix Hernandez
L – Jarrod Washburn
R – Joel Pineiro
R – Cha Seung Baek
R – Gil Meche


R – J.J. Putz
R – Rafael Soriano
L – George Sherrill
R – Julio Mateo
L – Jake Woods
L – Eric O’Flaherty
R – Sean Green

15-day DL: R – Mark Lowe
60-day DL: L – Jeremy Reed

Typical Lineup:

L – Ichiro Suzuki (RF)
R – Jose Lopez (2B)
R – Adrian Beltre (3B)
L – Raul Ibañez (LF)
R – Richie Sexson (1B)
L – Ben Broussard (DH)
R – Kenji Johjima (C)
R – Yuniesky Betancourt (SS)
R – Willie Bloomquist (CF)

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver