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May 29, 2007 at 8:00 PM

Mariners vs. Angels, Game 2

Just what I feared. The M’s have let Santana make it through seven innings. Angels have Scot Shields warming up, then K-Rod to finish things off. A three-run deficit. The fat lady hasn’t sung, but I’m sure Bartolo Colon’s twin sister is clearing her throat someplace. Not sure what happened after that first inning. A lot of quick swings. Ervin Santana certainly threw more strikes, and the Mariners simply could not hit them. Jose Lopez tried working the count in the second inning, took three straight strikes and was punched out.
When a pitcher gets rolling like that, you either hit his hittable pitches or you lose. M’s haven’t done it. Ryan Feierabend pitched very well here tonight, much better than Horacio Ramirez has looked on the road. Had the Angels off-balance and bore down with runners on base. He’s earned another go and just got the first two outs of the seventh inning. A new career high for innings pitched. He’s coming out and Sean Green is in.
We had been moving right along here in Anaheim, with both teams scoring a run in the first inning. But the Angels just scored a pair in the fourth to take a 3-1 lead on a two-out, two-run homer by Shea Hillenbrand. The inning began in a bad way, with Ichiro losing a Robb Quinlan fly ball in the lights and letting it drop several feet behind him for a leadoff double. In a game like this, such mistakes (or bad breaks) can be huge. Ryan Feierabend got the next two outs, but couldn’t put Hillenbrand away.
The Mariners had Ervin Santana on the ropes in the first inning, with a run already in, the bases loaded, one out and Kenji Johjima having worked the count to 2-1. But Johjima hit into an inning-ending double play, leaving the M’s with just the one previous run scored. For me, that’s the play of the game so far. Santana has been a different pitcher since and retired nine of the last 10.
Seattle has to get the bats going the next couple of innings before the bullpen comes in for the Angels. The Mariners worked the count very well in the first inning, not so well since. Santana threw as many pitches the last three innings combined as he did in that first. You don’t want him to go seven with this bullpen waiting because the Angels don’t blow many eight inning leads. Better to get to the sixth and seventh inning guys to have a shot, down by two.
The M’s have already walked Vladimir Guerrero intentionally on two occasions tonight. It didn’t matter much in the first inning, as Quinlan singled to score the lead runner from second, while Guerrero was thrown out at third to end the threat. But it worked big time in the third. The Angels had two on with one out and Guerrero up, when Feierabend picked off the runner at first base. With the bag open, Guerrero was walked intentionally and Gary Matthews Jr. popped out to the pitcher.
We asked Mike Hargrove before the game whether he’d thought about walking Guerrero intentionally every time up, given his .565 average against Seattle with three homers and eight RBI in 23 at-bats.
“I’m tempted to,” Hargrove said. “But I’m not sure that you can walk him. He and Ichiro hit pitches that us normal human beings can’t.”



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