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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

May 3, 2007 at 3:58 PM

Mariners vs. Red Sox

Don’t look now, but the Red Sox just brought Brendan Donnelly in to pitch. Jose Guillen is standing on first base. Not much between the two of them if one wants to charge the other. Richie Sexson is standing on second, but I wonder if Donnelly would make some throws over to first just to bug Guillen? Nah, he wouldn’t. This game isn’t over yet. That last fly ball by Kenji Johjima looked to be leaving the park until the wind knocked it back down.
Donnelly got out of the inning. Chris Reitsma now on to pitch the bottom of the seventh. Wonder if he’ll go parts of two here, with George Sherrill coming in to face David Ortiz in the eighth if he gets a turn up? We’ll see. Great job by Julio Mateo in settling down a Marienrs team that showed signs of coming apart. Did his job tonight.
Give credit to the Mariners for hanging in this one. It’s now 7-7 in the sixth after Seattle scored a pair in the fifth to tie things up. Jose Guillen gets huge credit on the tying run for screening shortstop Julio Lugo as he ran by him from second to third on a Yuniesky Betancourt grounder. Lugo was obviously distracted by Guillen’s gamesmanship and made a hasty throw to first that pulled a leaping Kevin Youkilis off the bag. The play resulted in a hit for Betancourt and an RBI. Julio Mateo replaced Horacio Ramirez to start the bottom of the inning and had a bit of an adventure, but managed to get out of it with no damage. That’s big, because with Chris Reitsma slotted to work the eighth and Brandon Morrow the ninth, somebody had to get through the fifth, sixth and seventh. This keeps the M’s in-line with what they were hoping to do tonight. One more inning out of Mateo would help greatly.
Daisuke Matsuzaka faded badly in that 22-pitch fifth inning and thus made it through only five frames before being pulled. His struggles helped undo some of the early damage the quick-swinging Mariners inflicted on themselves with a lack of plate discipline. In the end, Dice-K walked five. Mariners are actually in decent shape right now if they can get through another Mateo inning.
No, this Red Sox offense looks nothing like those sputtering Edsels we saw from Oakland, Kansas City and Chicago. Horacio Ramirez just gave up a two-run homer to namesake Manny Ramirez and is down 7-5 in the fourth. He’s now at 85 pitches and Mike Hargrove finally got someone up in the bullpen seconds ago. The pitch to Ramirez was a terrible 1-1 offering. Ramirez just sat on it like he was taking BP and everyone in the ballpark knew it was gone the moment bat met ball. The amazing thing was, just prior to that, the Mariners were being outhit 8-2 yet remained tied at 5-5. Not any more, since the hit count is 10-2 in Boston’s favor, though it’s still just a two-run game. This one isn’t over yet. Matsuzaka may not make it beyond six. Remember as well, there’s no Mike Timlin in the Red Sox bullpen tonight. Now 11-2 in hits after a Mike Lowell single. Brutal job by Ramirez, just brutal.
Not sure what to make of what I just saw the past inning from the Mariners, both on offense or on the mound. We’ll start with Horacio Ramirez, who just gave back all the runs and is tied 5-5 after entering the second inning with a 5-0 lead. Ramirez is very lucky he’s not trailing by a run or two, since Julio Lugo badly misread a bloop single and wound up stopping at third base. He never got any further, since Yuniesky Betancourt made a terrific play on Manny Ramirez’s shot towards the hole behind second and launched a 6-4-3 inning-ending double-play.
What was Ramirez doing in issuing a leadoff walk to Kevin Youkilis with a 5-0 lead? I know Youkilis is the so-called “Greek God of Walks” but at least make him get a hit if you’re going to put him on. Pitch to the guy for crying out loud! And walking Dustin Pedroia on four pitches? Are you kidding me? Pedroia might be the worst hitting infielder in the majors. Anyhow, Ramirez had already caught up to Matsuzaka in pitch count by the time the inning ended. Considering Matsuzaka spotted him a 35-pitch lead, that’s pretty impressive.
Which brings us around to the offense. I could not believe my eyes when, after making Matsuzaka throw 35 pitches in the first, the Mariners saw only five more pitches in recording their first two outs of the second. Can’t anybody come up with a strategy? Physically walk over and tell the guys: “Hey, if we make him throw even 15 more per inning, this guy will be done by the fifth!” Apparently, that’s asking too much. Matsuzaka needed just 10 pitches to escape the second inning and 10 more in a 1-2-3 third. So, he’s now at 55 through three frames. Loads better than 35 through one. If he lasts seven innings, the Mariners have no one to blame but themselves.
Well, the first round of Ichiro-Dice-K is in the books. Ichiro fouled off the first pitch, took three straight balls, fouled off another pitch, then drew a leadoff walk. Not a bad start for the M’s. Ichiro went 0-for-4 the first time he faced his countryman last month.
And Ichiro promptly stole second base, giving him a new AL record of 41 consecutive swipes. Ichiro had shared the record with Tim Raines, who did it with the White Sox from 1993 to 1995. Vince Coleman has the major league record of 50 straight steals.
Matsuzaka just walked the bases loaded with none out. Yikes! He has thrown only five of his first 17 pitches for strikes. What a chance for the M’s to give Horacio Ramirez a boost before he even takes the mound…and they took full advantage, scoring five runs to take a 5-0 lead. Break up those Mariners! Jose Guillen broke up the “no-hitter” with a two-run double to right after Matsuzaka had issued three walks and hit a batter (Richie Sexson). Throw in two errors by shortstop Julio Lugo on a grounder and a blooper, and an RBI fielder’s choice grounder by Raul Ibanez, and you’ve got a 35-pitch inning from Matsuzaka and a commanding lead for Ramirez and company.
Speaking of Ramirez, Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez got the second out by making a showboating “basket catch” that got a rise out of the crowd. The Fenway faithful had been booing shortstop Lugo moments earlier when he dropped a blooper to shallow left. So, that’s five runs on only one hit so far. Gotta like that ratio if you’re an M’s fan.
Here are the lineups on a fantastic night, weather-wise, at Fenway Park. What a difference from Ichiro-Dice-K I. The Red Sox just placed reliever Mike Timlin on on the 15-day DL with shoulder tendinitis. They’ve called up pitcher Davern Hansack from Class AAA to take his roster spot. J.D. Drew is also missing tonight’s game. Are things falling Seattle’s way, or what? In Boston’s case, they truly are falling.
SS Julio Lugo
CF Coco Crisp
DH David Ortiz
LF Manny Ramirez
1B Kevin Youkilis
3B Mike Lowell
C Jason Varitek
RF Wily Mo Pena
2B Dustin Pedroia
RHP — Daisuke Matsuzaka
CF Ichiro
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Jose Vidro
LF Raul Ibanez
1B Richie Sexson
RF Jose Guillen
C Kenji Johjima
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
2B Jose Lopez
LHP — Horacio Ramirez



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