M’s notebook

  • Tuesday, April 25, 2006 9:00pm
  • Sports

Today’s game

Opponent: Chicago White Sox

When: 7:05 p.m.

Where: Safeco Field

TV: FSN (cable)

Radio: KOMO (1000 AM)

Probable starters: Seattle left-hander Jarrod Washburn (1-3, 4.05 earned run average) vs. left-hander Mark Buehrle (3-0, 1.93).

Steals by the numbers

There’s a reason Willie Bloomquist has 17 straight steals and the best stolen-base percentage in baseball, and it’s not just because he runs fast.

It’s a matter of simple math.

Bloomquist knows how fast he runs from first to second – 3.2 seconds – and he factors that against how fast the pitcher throws to the plate and the catcher to second base.

When Bloomquist was inserted as a pinch runner with the score tied 3-3 in the 11th inning Monday, he did the math and knew he could steal.

With pitcher Brandon McCarthy’s delivery time to the plate at 1.5 seconds and catcher A.J. Pierzynski no better than 1.9 seconds to second base, Bloomquist’s chances not only were good, they were automatic.

“By the math, I’m stealing,” he said. “They can’t throw me out.”

And what if the numbers don’t add up to his running time between first and second?

“I don’t go,” he said. “Or, I have to pick an offspeed pitch to run on.”

Bloomquist’s 17 straight steals, going back to last season, are the best current streak in the major leagues. He has stolen on 37 of 42 attempts in his career, an 88.1 percent success rate that puts him ahead of Carlos Beltran’s 87.9 percent (211 for 240) among active players.

Monday, Bloomquist helped the Mariners beat the White Sox. Pinch-running for Carl Everett in the 11th, Bloomquist stole second and scored when Yuniesky Betancourt grounded a single into left field.

“One of the best things about Willie, other than his speed, is that he’s got guts,” manager Mike Hargrove said. “You can’t be afraid to fail and I haven’t seen Willie back off in two years.”

Johjima returns: Hargrove poked fun Tuesday at the furor – especially among the Japanese media – created when Kenji Johjima didn’t start Monday for the second straight game.

“I wore sunglasses so you couldn’t tell if I’m telling the truth,” Hargrove told reporters in the dugout before his daily briefing.

On Monday, Hargrove said his catcher had a sore left thumb, although Johjima told both Hargrove and the media that he felt fine.

Japanese reporters were skeptical, some speculating that starting pitcher Jamie Moyer had asked that backup Rene Rivera catch him instead of Johjima. The M’s said that wasn’t the case.

“Let’s not make a mountain out of a molehill,” Hargrove said. “He’ll be back tomorrow.”

On Tuesday, Johjima was back, catching Mariners starter Joel Pineiro.

Of note: Entering Tuesday’s game, Mariners outfielders Jeremy Reed and Ichiro Suzuki each had three outfield assists, tying them with Chicago’s Jermaine Dye and Tampa Bay’s Russell Branyon for the league lead. … The Mariners’ Rafael Soriano and the Devil Rays’ Dan Miceli shared the league lead by stranding all nine runners they had inherited this season. … Pitching matchups for the weekend series at Baltimore are Gil Meche vs. Daniel Cabrera on Friday; Felix Hernandez vs. Bruce Chen on Saturday; and Jamie Moyer vs. Rodrigo Lopez on Sunday. … The Seattle Pacific University women’s soccer team, which finished second in the NCAA Division II national tournament, was honored before Tuesday’s game.

Kirby Arnold, Herald Writer

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