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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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August 26, 2008 6:39 PM

Game thread, Mariners vs. Twins, Aug. 26

Posted by Larry Stone


Yes, Tug Hulett is in the starting lineup. Jim Riggleman says he wants to keep him sharp for pinch-hitting duties. Jeff Clement is back starting after missing a couple of games with a sore knee. Yuniesky Betancourt is out of the No. 2 hole and hitting seventh. Jose Lopez is the DH.

Lopez, as we know, has a history of second-half collapses. Last year, he hit .284 with eight homers and 47 RBI in 289 at-bats before the All-Star break, and .213-3-15 in 235 at-bats afterward. He had the extenuating circumstance of having his brother die in a motorcycle wreck in Venezuela in June, which would distract anyone.

Two years ago, Lopez hit .280 with nine homers and 58 RBI in the first half, making the All-Star team. After the break, his average rose to .285, but he his slugging percentage dropped precipitously, and he had just 21 RBI.

This year, Lopez seems to be holding up better in the second half. He hit .298 with five homers and 48 RBI in 379 at-bats before the break, and is at .294 with six homers and 24 RBI in 143 at-bats after the break. His on-base and slugging percentage are both up in the second half -- despite a miserable recent road trip to Anaheim, Minnesota and Chicago in which he went 2-for-32. Lopez slugged .412 before the break and is at .462 after. His on-base was .318 before the break, .331 after. Those are encouraging signs.

"All his offensive numbers are very good, especially for a second baseman,'' Riggleman said before the game. "I hope he finishes strong and goes into the winter feeling good about himself and how good an offensive player he can be. He's still young. He can get better.''

Lineups

Twins

Denard Span RF
Alexi Casilla 2B
Joe Mauer C
Justin Morneau 1B
Randy Ruiz DH
Delmon Young LF
Brendan Harris 3B
Nick Punto SS
Carlos Gomez CF

Scott Baker, RHP

Mariners

Ichiro RF
Jeremy Reed CF
Adrian Beltre 3B
Raul Ibanez LF
Jose Lopez DH
Jeff Clement C
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Bryan LaHair 1B
Tug Hulett 2B

Ryan Rowland-Smith LHP

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