Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.
April 10, 2008 11:50 AM
Posted by Geoff Baker
11:50 a.m.: A disastrous seventh inning by the Mariners, who give up five runs and now trail 7-0. I have no problem with John McLaren allowing Miguel Batista to start the inning at 100 pitches. He's trying to spare his bullpen for the Angels series (and just spare it for the sake of sparing it given what we've seen since last week). Batista is capable of going well over 100 pitches and was still pitching well when he had to leading up to that point. The problem, after two opening singles, is what happened next. This probably wasn't the best place to soft-land Eric O'Flaherty, but Ryan Rowland-Smith had been used back-to-back days and let's face it -- if he wants to keep his job, O'Flaherty will have to start getting guys out. He didn't do it this time. Hit the first batter he faced to load the bases, putting himself behind the eight ball when he could least afford it. O'Flaherty then yielded a single to right that eluded Richie Sexson. Mike Morse made a poor and ill-advised throw home in a bid to nab the second runner. All that did was allow the two other baserunners to move up a bag. O'Flaherty got a gorundout, then intentionally walked Jonny Gomes with first base open to load 'em up.
Roy Corcoran came in. Unflappable to this point in the season, he walked pinch-hitter Justin Ruggiano on four pitches to force in another run. Mike DiFelice then blooped a single to right to cash in two more. And that, my friends, is likely the ballgame. With just two hits heading into the eighth, the M's were likely cooked in any event. Het, a Miguel Cairo sighting. He'll make a pinch-hit appearance to start the eighth. First appearance all year. Good thing they kept that extra position player on the bench.
By the way, J.J. Putz threw today on flat ground for eight minutes at a distance of about 90 feet. He'll see doctors in Seattle when the team returns there and they'll decide on the next step in his recovery from that rib injury.
Hey, want to take a tour of Tropicana Field? Not the kind they give you from the stands with guides and stuff. We'll do much of it from field level, where I'll show you the artificial playing surface here. We'll actually walk across the field, over to an aquarium where fans get to pet live Rays in a tank beyond the wall in right center. Check it out on the video below.
11:26 a.m.: A nine-pitch, 1-2-3 inning by the Mariners. Can they make softer outs? I doubt it. Jose Vidro grounded out to third, Mike Morse did the same to shortstop and Kenji Johjima -- plummeting like a satellite through the atmosphere -- tapped out to third. We'll see if Edwin Jackson comes back out. He's at only 89 pitches. The Rays have righty Dan Wheeler and lefty Trever Miller warming up in the bullpen. Maybe they get a two-inning crack at the relief crew. If I'm manager Joe Maddon, I'm tempted to ride the starter a little longer. Eric O'Flaherty warming up for the M's. Miguel Batista begins the inning at 100 pitches. No, O'Flaherty hasn't regained his situational lefty role. The M's are trailing.
11:22 a.m.: That was a big run the Rays just scored in the sixth to take a 2-0 lead. Miguel Batista had used the tandem of Nathan Haynes and Mike DiFelice to escape two previous innings with runners on base. Almost did it again with Jonny Gomes on second base after a double to left center. Got Haynes on a gorunder to firs, Gomes taking third. But DiFelice came through with a single blooped to right center. M's have to at least work Jackson's pitch count this inning and try to get it up to 100 or more. That way, they'd have roughly a two-inning crack at the Tampa Bay bullpen.
11:15 p.m.: The M's just allowed Edwin Jackson to cruise through the sixth inning on 80 pitches total so far. They didn't get their second hit of the game until a two-out single to right by Raul Ibanez. Richie Sexson promptly popped out foul to end the inning. Not looking good so far. Miguel Batista got out of the last inning with a runner on third when Mike Morse made an awkward-looking, lunging catch in right. Still a 1-0 game, Rays in the lead, with time running out. If the M's had been a little more patient that last inning, they might have run up Jackson's pitch count a little. Their best hope now could be to drive him from the game via attrition and hope the Rays' bullpen implodes as it can usually be counted on to do -- Troy Percival or not.
10:50 a.m.: Miguel Batista has been falling behind hitters all day. It finally cost him in the fourth, when his former Toronto teammate, Eric Hinske, launched a 3-1 pitch into the right field seats to make it 1-0 for the Rays. First hit allowed by Batista today. Batista gave up an ensuing base hit to right by Jonny Gomes, which edged just past first baseman Richie Sexson's glove as he ranged to his left. Batista then rung-up Nathan Haynes on a 1-2 pitch, then got a groundout to the shortstop on Mike DiFelice. On to the fifth. Remember how I said that last inning might come back to haunt the M's? It's haunting them right now. They have to start getting those runners home when they make it to second with no out, or to third with less than two out. This has been going on since the season began and it's costing the team games.
10:42 a.m.: Another on of those big chances squandered by the M's in the fourth. Adrian Beltre got an infield hit that rocketed off the glove of first baseman Carlos Pena. Raul Ibanez then drew a walk to put two on with none out. But Richie Sexson grounded into a 6-4-3 double-play. A very routine one at that. Jose Vidro then hit a sinking liner to left that Carl Crawford made a diving catch on. One of those innings that could come back to haunt this team.
10:32 a.m.: As one of you mentioned, the only way anyone's gotten on base today has been via walks. Three issued by Miguel Batista and two by Edwin Jackson so far. Batista yelded a one-out walk to Akinori Iwamura in the third, but rallied with groundouts on both Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena. Jose Lopez had to be quick on the Crawford grounder to second because the Rays outfielder is so quick. One of the quickest in the league from home to first base, aside from Ichiro.
10:22 a.m.: Kenji Johjima looked lost on that strikeout to begin the third inning. Yuniesky Betancourt popped out to center swinging at the seccond pitch for out No. 2. Ichiro drew a walk, but did not steal second base to position himself for an RBI. I thought he was supposed to steal 80 this year? Jose Lopez took a fair number of pitches for him, but then wound up striking out. Five strikeouts by Seattle in just three innings. No score heading to the bottom of the third.
10:15 a.m.: Miguel Batista is having some early command issues, but it hasn't cost him yet. Batista issued a one-out walk to Jonny Gomes, then fell behind 2-0 on the next batter, Nathan Haynes. But Haynes popped out to shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt -- the second such out in the inning. Mike DiFelice then grounded out to end the frame.
Seattle got a baserunner in the top of the inning when Richie Sexson drew yet another walk. That was with one out, but Jose Vidro popped out harmlessly to left. Sexson took second on an ensuing wild pitch by Edwin Jackson, but Mike Morse struck out with the RBI opportunity. Still no score.
10:00 a.m.: The Mariners went 1-2-3 against a quick-working Edwin Jackson in a top of the first that took only three minutes to play. Miguel Batista walked the first batter he faced on four pitches in the bottom of the inning, but rallied with a groundout, a strikeout and and a flyball to center by B.J. Upton. Scoreless heading to the second. Kenji Johjima is back in the lineup after the big night last night by Jamie Burke. We'll see if Johjima can build on his .080 batting average.
9:46 a.m.: The Mariners go for the series sweep here, with Miguel Batista opposing Edwin Jackson. Mike Morse gets the start in right field. Mariners manager John McLaren wants to give Brad Wilkerson's knees a rest after two games on the artificial surface.
51 Ichiro (L) CF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
28 Raul Ibanez (L) LF
44 Richie Sexson 1B
3 Jose Vidro (S) DH
12 Mike Morse RF
2 Kenji Johjima C
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
43 Miguel Batista RHP
1 Akinori Iwamura (L) 2B
13 Carl Crawford (L) LF
23 Carlos Pena (L) 1B
2 B.J. Upton CF
32 Eric Hinske (L) 3B
31 Jonny Gomes (DH)
37 Nathan Haynes (L) RF
20 Mike DiFelice C
8 Jason Bartlett SS
36 Edwin Jackson RHP
Kind of like having breakfast in front of the big-screen TV, isn't it?