Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.
July 28, 2008 7:20 PM
Posted by Geoff Baker
Ichiro steps into the batter's box to open tonight's game, needing just two hits to notch 3,000 for his combined career in the major leagues and Japan. He wound up grounding out to second base in his first at-bat, the only one of the first four hitters who failed to reach base.
Check out Buster Olney's latest blog post on the Jarrod Washburn situation. We discussed this situation this morning, about how the M's could, in fact, work to deal Washburn to another club making an equal offer just to stick it to New York for the brinkmanship. Olney is quoting an NL executive saying they'd do it because the M's are upset with how aspects of the talks have played out in public. I don't know if I agree with this, though. I mean, it's the major leagues. We've talked before about how secretive the M's are compared to other ballclubs. Not every team operates this way. And team executives in a media market like New York aren't going to clamp down on all leaks to the media. Won't happen. Doesn't even happen in Seattle, as we saw with the Erik Bedard deal and the two-week blow by blow leading up to that being completed. Yes, the Yanks are most likely putting stuff in the local media to pressure the M's into a deal. It's called big league baseball.
Then again, it works both ways. The M's could also put the fear of God into the Yanks by leaking a story of their own, or simply by putting it out there to other executives so they can tell a story. That the M's would eat money in a deal for Washburn with another club and stick it to New York. In other words, the M's can try to squeeze the Yankees. Fun and games.
So, back to this game, it took Cesar Jimenez three batters to blow the lead for Felix Hernandez, but Adrian Beltre just tagged Frank Francisco for a go-ahead solo blast in the eighth. His second multi-homer game this season, 18th of his career. Seattle leads 6-5. Going to be a wild ride to the end. Hang on.
Hope none of you were betting on "blue" tonight. He (or she, or it) got body-checked big time by red into the side wall, prompting gasps and groans from the crowd.
Not the best night for Mike Mussina of the Yankees, either, giving up six runs in five innings, not to mention two home runs. The bullpen came in after that and Adam Jones hit a grand slam. He has five RBI so far tonight. It's 11-0 for the O's in the sixth inning. Guess the Yanks don't need pitching after all.
Have a look at a round of BP taken by Josh Hamilton of the Rangers, filmed earlier today:
Game time temperature is 101 degrees, so it will be a chore for either starting pitcher to get very deep tonight. We'll probably learn a little more about Felix Hernandez in this one. He's come through with some big games in extreme heat.
6:57 p.m.: Ichiro just notched hit No. 2,999, a triple into the right field corner in the seventh inning. He wound up stranded at third. We'll see if he gets another at-bat. Felix Hernandez did indeed get through the sixth inning, an economical 1-2-3 with a strikeout, a groundout by Ian Kinsler and a flyout to left. A very strong effort from him after the fifth-inning mistake by Kenji Johjima. That was impressive. Cesar Jimenez is now on, trying to protect a 5-4 lead.
6:36 p.m.: For M's Fan in Exile, in the comments thread, yes, Jose Lopez has hit fifth -- against lefties. The M's are facing a righthanded pitcher tonight.
Kenji Johjima may have just cost Felix Hernandez a chance at going six innings. Hernandez appeared to be out of the fifth inning at 96 pitches on a strikeout of Brandon Boggs. But Johjima let the ball get by him and Boggs took first base on the passed ball. Could have been standing on second by the time Johjima tracked the ball down. Six pitches later, Hernandez was finally out of the inning.
No, the Rangers didn't score. But the biggest thing is, extending the inning means Ian Kinsler -- with two doubles off Hernandez already -- gets to bat in the sixth. I don't think Jim Riggleman lets him face Hernandez. He's due up second.
As I type this, Raul Ibanez just clocked a monster 422-foot homer to right center off Scott Feldman to put Seattle back on top 5-4. So, Hernandez is positioned for the win. I'm sure we see him in the sixth. Just not sure for how long.
6:16 p.m.: The Rangers just tied it, 4-4, off Felix Hernandez in the fourth inning. A leadoff walk to Gerald Laird -- the second of the game issued by Hernandez -- was followed by a sacrifice bunt and an RBI double to left by Ian Kinsler. Hernandez is in pitch count trouble as well and will be hard-pressed to go six. This is where we'll see that grit we were talking about. If anyone can find a way to get through the next two innings in this sweltering heat, it will be Hernandez. His team will need it. I don't like Seattle's chances if we get too late with the score tied. These are some lethal, fastball-hitting Rangers. They can do damage to the Putzes and Morrows, not to mention the Greens and Lowes.
The Mariners had an excellent chance to score in the fifth as Bryan LaHair and Yuniesky Betancourt singled to put runners at the corners with none out. But Ichiro lined out to third and Jeremy Reed hit into a 1-6-3 double-play.
6:01 p.m.: Felix Hernandez is getting a workout here tonight. He still leads 4-3 as we enter the fourth, having given up a pair of hits and a run in the third inning. The Rangers had two on with two out when Brandon Boggs drilled a single to right that could have brought the tying run home. But the ball was hit too hard and Ichiro gunned a throw back in. Hernandez then struck out Chris Davis on three pitches to escape further trouble, but it's been a long hot night of work for him thus far.
5:30 p.m.: Bryan LaHair just made up for that unearned run he cost his team, drilling the first home run of his career off Scott Feldman in the second inning to put Seattle ahead 4-2. It was a 404-foot blast over the center field fence. Ichiro got robbed of hit No. 2,999 at the end of the inning, appearing to beat the toss to first base on a close 3-1 play. But he didn't get the call. Well, maybe in Japan he did. I'm sure. Not here in Arlington.
By the way, Rangers shortstop Michael Young is now out of the game. We don't know what type of problem he's having but that's now him and Hank Blalock out. This lineup has lost some potency.
5:25 p.m.: Texas just roared back with two runs of its own to make it a 3-2 game, Seattle still leading, as we head to the second inning. One of the runs was unearned, coming on an error by first baseman Bryan LaHair. Ian Kinsler led off with a double to left field that gave Raul Ibanez some trouble. Michael Young singled just out of Yuniesky Betancourt's reach to drive in the run. Then, Felix Hernandez attempted a pickoff move to first base and LaHair flat-out botched it, letting the ball get by him. Young advanced to second, took third on a groundout, then scored on a fielder's choice play at second.
5:09 p.m.: Seattle scored three runs off Scott Feldman in the first inning, all of them coming on an Adrian Beltre homer that bounced off the top of the right field wall -- just 356 feet away -- and over it. It still counts as a three-run blast after Jeremy Reed drew a walk out of the No. 2 hole and Raul Ibanez singled. So, it's 3-0 after a half inning.
51 Ichiro RF
8 Jeremy Reed CF
28 Raul Ibanez LF
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
4 Jose Lopez 2B
9 Jeff Clement DH
2 Kenji Johjima C
39 Bryan LaHair 1B
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
34 Felix Hernandez RHP
5 Ian Kinsler 2B
10 Michael Young SS
32 Josh Hamilton CF
21 Milton Bradley DH
7 David Murphy RF
41 Brandon Boggs LF
19 Chris Davis 1B
15 Gerald Laird C
12 Ramon Vazquez 3B
39 Scott Feldman RHP