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

May 25, 2007 at 4:49 PM

Mariners vs. Royals, Game 1

Take a deep breath, everyone. Yes, that was Mike Hargrove, pitching coach Rafael Chaves and a team trainer heading to the mound in the sixth inning. Yes, that was Hernandez getting pulled from the game. I don’t think he’s hurt. In fact, he seemed mighty ticked off at being pulled. But the Mariners have been watching for things like a change in arm slots during games since he’s come off the DL and they might have spotted him doing something.
Hernandez did give up a walk that inning. He also sent a ball whizzing past the head of pinch-hitter Esteban German — freaking the latter out more than anything as he hit the dirt. Obviously an accidental wild pitch. Them he gave up a very hard triple and double to bring home the first runs of the game for Kansas City. I’m sure the Mariners are simply being overly cautious with Hernandez right now. He looked like he was telling them he was fine and wanted to continue. We’ll keep you updated when we get further word.
HERNANDEZ, M’S MOTORING
Now, that’s the Felix Hernandez we all know. The same Gil Meche, too. But back to him in a moment. Hernandez is through the same five innings he notched in his last outing. The difference is that he’s averaging about 13 pitches per inning tonight instead of 20. He’s struck out five, instead of the nine he had last week. But he’s also given up zero runs instead of the two in his loss to the Padres and should be out there two or three more innings. Possibly more.
This one is in the bag. It’s 10-0 for the Mariners with no out in the top of the sixth and the extra-base hits keep coming. Seattle has two homers and a season-high seven doubles. Meche looked like he did so often for the Mariners — disappointing. He apparently left the game with stiffness in his lower back after only 4 1/3 innings. But the way he was getting knocked around, he would have been pulled even if pain-free. Meche gave up a career high 11 hits, retiring only 13 batters. No telling how big a factor the injury played, but he was not the same Meche who entered the night with a 2.44 earned run average.
So, that’s 22 runs in the last 15 innings for the M’s. One more double and they tie their season-high. Nice to see Hernandez get some run support, unlike those first two wins he notched completely on his own.
GARCIA IMPERSONATOR
Felix Hernandez versus Gil Meche in the opener on Paul Splittorff bobblehead night at Kauffman Stadium. Got my own Splittorff doll alongside me, glasses and all, as I write this. But I’m holding out for a Cookie Rojas bobblehead. They don’t hold that giveaway until August and I’m hoping my Splittorff will have gained some street value by then so I can swap it for a Rojas. He was the bench coach in Toronto under Buck Martinez a few years back. Ran into him in an airport in Detroit two years ago, haven’t seen him since. Might see him here in K.C. Anyone want my Splittorff? I’ll settle for just a cookie.
Whoops! Just been informed that tomorrow is Splittorff night. They just give us media types these dolls a day ahead of schedule so we can all write glowing previews in tomorrow’s papers. Sorry for the misinformation but I still want a cookie.
Raul Ibanez is finally back in the lineup tonight. Horacio Ramirez, as you know by now, is on the DL. He won’t even fly back to Seattle until Sunday, then see the team doctor after that. He says his arm felt better today than it did last night on the airplane. Not surprising, considering things tend to swell up on planes. But anyway, it won’t be Jeff Weaver replacing him on the mound. Weaver needs at least one more bullpen session and then a simulated game or rehabilitation start in the minors before the team even contemplates such a move.
So, look to Class AAA. I like the idea of Ryan Feierabend coming back up. We’ll see what happens.
The players had a little fun at third base coach Carlos Garcia’s expense in the clubhouse a little while ago. Jose Lopez emerged from the trainer’s room, surgical tape wrapped around his body — arms taped to his side so he couldn’t move them.
On his jersey, he’d taped the number 13, which is Garcia’s number. The idea being that this particular Garcia wouldn’t be waving anyone around third. Garcia took the joke in stride, but has clearly been shaken by the past 24 hours or so and the criticism sent his way.
“We’re all, as coaches, going to get fired in this business some day,” he told me with a shrug as he sat in the dugout and discussed the job of coaching third. “If you know you’re eventually going to get fired, the only thing you can do is keep going out there every day, doing your best at full speed. That’s the only way to go.”
Here are the lineups:
KANSAS CITY
CF David DeJesus
2B Mark Grudzielanek
RF Mark Teahen
DH Mike Sweeney
LF Shane Costa
3B Alex Gordon
1B Ryan Shealy
C John Buck
SS Tony Pena
RHP Gil Meche
SEATTLE
CF Ichiro
DH Jose Vidro
RF Jose Guillen
LF Raul Ibanez
1B Richie Sexson
C Kenji Johjima
3B Adrian Beltre
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
2B Jose Lopez
RHP Felix Hernandez
And Ichiro takes Meche deep on his second pitch of the game for a 1-0 Seattle lead. An 18-game hitting streak for Ichiro. If this was early April, with Hernandez on the mound, the game would already be over. Ichiro’s 24th leadoff homer ties Lou Brock for 15th all-time. Meche just walked Jose Vidro. I’ve seen this pitcher somewhere before.

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