Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.
March 31, 2008 6:33 PM
Posted by Geoff Baker
6:33 p.m.: Texas got a run back in the eighth inning after Erik O'Flaherty hit the first batter, Hank Blalock, with a pitch. O'Flaherty then notched a strikeout and a gorundout, the runner moving to second, but David Murphy singled to center to bring the run home. Mark Lowe came on at that point, getting Gerald Laird to ground into a 6-4 fielder's choice. Seattle leads 5-2 with three outs to go after the M's hit in the eighth.
You can get a look at former Mariner Ben Broussard taking BP earlier today in the video I've posted below. You can also get a look at the crowds massing outside the ballpark, what it looks like to walk up the dugout tunnel and on to the field the way the players do, not to mention the crowds being let into the stadium. Hope you enjoy.
6:21 p.m.: A huge seventh inning by the Mariners has blown this game wide open. Seattle has a 5-1 lead after scoring three in the seventh off Kazuo Fukumori, who recorded only one out on a leadoff grounder by Jose Vidro. Kenji Johjima drew a walk, Yuniesky Betancourt singled, and both advanced on a Fukumori wild pitch. The Rangers opted to walk Ichiro to load the bases. But with Jose Lopez up, another wild pitch brought the third Seattle run home as Johjima scored. Lopez then doubled down the left field line, scoring a pair of runs. Big offensive inning by the M's, all started with the fourth walk of the game drawn by Seattle hitters.
6:00 p.m.: Excellent work by Sean Green in the seventh inning, striking out Ben Broussard (his third whiff of the day) and Ian kinsler to start things off. Jose Lopez then failed to get to a grounder to his left by Michael Young. They ruled it a hit, but again, Lopez has to make that play. Seattle went to lefty Eric O'Flaherty after that with Josh Hamilton due up. O'Flaherty came through, getting Hamilton to pop out foul to Beltre at third. M's lead 2-1 as they begin the seventh-inning stretch.
Kazuo Fukumori is now on the mound for the Rangers, with Kevin Millwood done after six.
5:51 p.m.: The Mariners did some little things right in their half of the sixth and now have a 2-1 lead, courtesy of two runs off Rangers starter Kevin Millwood. Jose Lopez did his job after a leadoff error by shortstop Michael Young put Ichiro on first base. Lopez hit the ball to the right side on a hit-and-run with Ichiro. The ball would have gotten through to the outfield if the field was a little harder. But all the soft grass did was slow the ball up enough for second baseman Ian Kinsler to field it. An infield hit for Lopez put two on with none out. Raul Ibanez then lined a single to right that scored Ichiro and sent Lopez to third. Richie Sexson popped out to shallow center, Lopez holding. But Adrian Beltre then did a good job hustling up the line on a grounder to third that could have been a double play. Beltre reached first base a step ahead of the throw and then run scored to put Seattle ahead.
That broken-bat out Bedard got on Josh Hamilton is looking rather big right now. Bedard held the Rangers to just the one run after the error had put a runner at second with one out in the fifth. While he won't win today's game, getting Hamilton right away after that error now looks key. As we've said, the bullpen will determine today's outcome.
5:37 p.m.: Kenji Johjima threw out his first would-be base-stealer of the year, nabbing Milton Bradley after his leadoff walk in the sixth. Marlon Byrd flied out to center. David Murphy then rocketed a comebacker that popped out of Sean Green's glove for an infield hit. But Gerald Laird grounded into a 6-4 fielder's choice. Mariners head to the bottom of the sixth needing some offense in a game they trail 1-0.
Erik Bedard wound up throwing 106 pitches over the five innings. The scoreboard here was a few pitches behind. Bedard did a good job of holding the M's in it, despite being squeezed by the umpire and having problems locating some of his pitches. Only the Michael Young homer and the Murphy shot to the warning track, both in the first inning, were really hard hit. A good sign for M's fans, even if the innings given today were not enough for a No. 1 starter. More is expected from Bedard than we saw.
5:25 p.m.: Now the commentary can truly begin in ernest. Brad Wilkerson worked a nice full-count walk to start the fifth inning off for the Mariners. But Jose Vidro grounded into a 4-6-3 double-play. I'm sure some of you will have something to say about that. Any thoughts? By the way, it's snowing outside. Erik Bedard should feel right at home. I know I do. Kenji Johjima drew a two-out walk in the fifth, but Yuniesky Betancourt went down swinging at a 1-2 pitch. Seattle needs some offense, trailing 1-0 as we head to the sixth. Sean Green is on the mound, as Bedard is done after five. Only three hits allowed by bedard, but those four walks and all the full counts ensured he will not get the victory today.
5:16 p.m.: That could be all we see of Erik Bedard today. He got through the fifth inning on les than 10 pitches, surviving a leadoff single blooped to left center by Ian Kinsler. Michael Young then hit what looked like a double-play grounder until shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt one-hopped the back-end relay past Richie Sexson for an error. But with the runner on second and one out, Bedard shattered Josh Hamilton's bat on the very next pitch for a groundout. The runner held. If the M's come back and win, that could wind up being the pitch of the day by Bedard. He then got Hank Blalock on a grounder to shortstop to end the inning. Still a 1-0 game.
5:08 p.m.: First strikeout of the season by Richie Sexson was the second out of the fourth inning. No boos heard from the crowd. Sexson at least worked the count full, the second time he's done that against Kevin Millwood today. Raul Ibanez had grounded out to start the inning. Adrian Beltre lined a two-out single that dropped in front of center fielder Josh Hamilton for his second hit of the afternoon (and second by the M's). But Beltre was thrown out by a mile at second on a steal attempt. The Rangers guessed correctly and called for the pitchout. Texas leads 1-0 as we head to the fifth.
5:00 p.m.: Erik Bedard finally got a 1-2-3 inning under his belt, but it took him 18 pitches and now has him at 95 after just four innings. He trails 1-0. Bedard went full on David Murphy before notching a groundout to second. He then got a 2-2 flyout to right by Gerald Laird and struck out Ben Broussard (swinging) on a 3-2 curveball. The strikeout was Bedard's fifth of the day. But he's walked four and is in serious pitch-count trouble. Might not even get the requisite five innings in. Bullpen will be a big factor today already.
4:51 p.m.: Kevin Millwood is breezing along with a 1-0 lead after three. He set the Mariners down in order in the third, getting a groundout to shortstop by Yuniesky Betancourt, a lineout to center by Ichiro and a flyout to right field by Jose Lopez. The Ichiro out and the earlier single by Adrian Beltre are the only balls the M's have hit hard so far.
4:45 p.m.: Still a 1-0 game, heading to the bottom of the third. Erik Bedard started off the third inning by getting Michael Young to swing at a 1-2 offering down low for his third strikeout of the afternoon. But Bedard then walked Josh Hamilton on a full-count. Hank Blalock then bounced out to move the runner over to second. After that, we had some fireworks involving Milton Bradley (who else?). A 2-2 pitch from Bedard struck Bradley on the foot. Bradley headed to first base, but plate umpire Jim Joyce waved him back, ruling (correctly, from the replays I saw) that the ball hit the dirt first. Rangers manager Ron Washington came out to argue. Bradley drew a walk on the next pitch and flung his bat as he trotted to first base on the walk. Joyce appeared to issue him a warning, getting Washington out of the dugout again. Ben Broussard was also yapping from the visitors' dugout and got a stern rebuke from Joyce. After all was said and done, Bedard struck out Marlon Byrd on a 2-2 curveball. So, no runs across, but more damage done on the pitch-count front, with Bedard needing 25 more to get out of that inning. Now at 77 on the day and we're only in the third inning.
4:30 p.m.: Mariners just wasted their first scoring chance of the season with two on and none out in the second inning. They trail 1-0 heading to the third. One thing I noticed about Richie Sexson in spring training was that he was taking his share of walks. Sexson worked the count on Kevin Millwood in his first plate appearance of the season in the bottom of the second, taking a very close pitch at 2-2 (umpire Jim Joyce evening up some of those non-strike calls on Erik Bedard from earlier) and then drawing a leadoff walk. Adrian Beltre then lined a single to left field for Seattle's first hit of the year. Brad Wilkerson went down swinging at a 1-2 pitch, doing a poor job of getting the runners over. Jose Vidro then narrowly missed a double down the right field line on a ball ruled foul as it skipped past the first base bag. Vidro eventually went down swinging at an 0-2 pitch. Kenji Johjima then popped out to second on the first pitch. So, a wasted opportunity. As I said before, not a good idea to do that against a guy like Millwood. I've seen him bounce back too many times before. None of that aggressiveness on the basepaths we'd heard about at spring training, either. Let's not jump the gun. The season is only two innings old.
4:20 p.m.: Still a 1-0 game, Texas leading, heading to the bottom of the second. Erik Bedard just found out why he's going to love Safeco Field. The first batter of the second inning, David Murphy, looked to have gotten all of a full-count offering from Bedard. But the ball died on the Safeco Field warning track and landed in Ichiro's glove. That's a home run in spring training, or at Camden Yards, for that matter. Bedard then went full on Gerald Laird and walked him.
Ex-Mariners first baseman Ben Broussard came up next and took a called third strike on a 2-2 pitch for the second out of the inning. Bedard then fell behind 2-0 on Ian Kinsler, came back with a called strike and a foul ball that evened the count, then put a pitch high to go full. Kinsler then swung at a curveball and bounced out to third base. But it was a 23-pitch inning for Bedard, now at 52 for the game after only two innings. Mariners manager John McLaren is prepared to let him go between 100 and 110 for the day, but Bedard is still in a bit of trouble and needs some quick outs the next couple of innings.
4:06 p.m.: A sputtering start offensively for the Mariners, with Ichiro grounding out to shortstop, Jose Lopez popping out weakly to shortstop and Raul Ibanez hitting a foul popout to the third baseman. A lot of mishit balls that inning. Rangers starter Kevin Millwood will do that to hitters. If Millwood makes any mistakes, the M's will have to jump on him. Otherwise, he can be very troublesome when he gets in a groove. Millwood reported to camp in better shape than he was a year ago. They are expecting a big season from him in Texas. Still 1-0 as we head to the second.
3:56 p.m.: Erik Bedard had a rough, 29-pitch first inning and trails 1-0 heading to the bottom of the frame. Bedard looked absolutely filthy in striking out Ian Kinsler, the first batter of the game, on just three pitches. Threw him back-to-back curves after landing a first-pitch strike. The curveball looked like it dropped a foot each time. Good start to his Mariners career. Unfortunately for him, the quick start didn't last. Bedard fell behind 3-1 in the count on Michael Young, then watched him take the ball the other way for a home run to right field. Air feeling a little thin and dry today. I'm kidding.
Bedard then yielded an infield single to Josh Hamilton that took a bad hop off the glove of second baseman Jose Lopez. Got to come up with those more often than not. Bedard then didn't get the check-swing call on a 2-2 pitch to Hank Blalock and wound up walking him. But he got a chopper to third for a second out on Milton Bradley, then induced Marlon Byrd to bounce out to shortstop. Too many pitches, obviously. Was squeezed a bit by plate umpire Jim Joyce, but has to economize.
3:04 p.m.: A quick lineup change to note: Kinsler is leading off for the Texas Rangers today. He has the flu, but is going to play. See the lineups on the next page. We'll be updating our game action on this front page ofr the post all afternoon. Broussard is batting ninth. How many first basemen can say that?
Up above, a view from our blogging position here at Safeco Field. The roof was opened briefly, but it began drizzling, so it's been closed for first pitch.
Here are today's lineups:
5 Ian Kinsler 2B
10 Michael Young SS
32 Josh Hamilton CF
9 Hank Blalock 3B
21 Milton Bradley DH
22 Marlon Byrd RF
7 David Murphy LF
15 Gerald Laird C
23 Ben Broussard 1B
33 Kevin Millwood RHP
51 Ichiro Suzuki CF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
28 Raul Ibanez LF
44 Richie Sexson 1B
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
6 Brad Wilkerson RF
3 Jose Vidro DH
2 Kenji Johjima C
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
45 Erik Bedard LHP
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