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March 7, 2007 at 2:59 PM

Giants 5, Mariners 4: Final score

This is sort of what colleague Steve Kelley was referring to in today’s tongue-in-cheek column that has the entire blogosphere in an uproar. Late-inning losses in spring training are meaningless unless the regular closers and set-up types are the ones finishing them off.
The Mariners had a one-run lead heading into the ninth inning of this one when Class AAA pitcher Cesar Jimenez couldn’t come back out to pitch the second of his scheduled two frames. Jimenez had fanned two in a 1-2-3 eighth, but his arm felt sore and the M’s were forced to go with their minor league back-ups in the ninth. That quickly became a problem as Jason Mackintosh allowed a one-out single to center by Justin Leone.
Things went from bad to worse after that as right hander Byron Embry, 30, signed as a minor league free-agent this winter, watched Leone steal second, walked Dan Ortmeier, then gave up a tying single to right by Kevin Frandsen that left runners at the corners. But the day would get really bad for Embry when he allowed another single up the middle, by Clay Timper, to put the Giants ahead. San Francisco then put a hit-and-run play on, but Embry didn’t seem to realize it as he snared a Luis Figueroa comebacker, spun and fired to second.
The throw was nowhere near in time, everybody was safe and a sheepish-looking Embry was yanked with the bases loaded and still only one out. Seattle got out of the inning, but the damage was done.
The Mariners got the tying run on in the ninth on the third single of the day for Ben Broussard with one out. But Jamie Burke popped out and Yuniesky Betancourt hit into a first-pitch fielder’s choice that ended it.
Manager Mike Hargrove was philosophical about the loss, explaining the situation with Jimenez that forced him to use arms he didn’t want in the game. So, nobody was fretting too much about the 1-6 start to Cactus League play. Hargrove is giving second baseman Jose Lopez a day off tomorrow and will ease him back into action gradually. Hargrove said Adrian Beltre’s sore shoulder was likely caused by too much bat swinging this spring. Remember, Beltre laid off early swining last November, waiting instead until January to start his heavier cage work. Wonder if that had something to do with it? Beltre is day-to-day.
Bonds left the park in the fourth inning after shaking Felix Hernandez’s hand, hugging Yuniesky Betancourt and blowing kisses to the Seattle dugout. He hopped into a car, driven by an unidentified person and sped off. So, to sum things up, the day began a lot more interestingly than it ended.
As “Lance” commented down below, the work of 6-foot-9, 256-pounder Kam Mickolio, the pride and joy of Wolf Point, Montana (though he now lives in Bozeman), was worth a brief mention. He replaced Embry with the bases laode, one out, and blew some fastballs by Scott McClain for a strikeout. He then got Guillermo Rodriguez to hit a soft liner to second to end the threat. A nice day’s worth in an otherwise somber ninth for the M’s.



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