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

June 5, 2007 at 8:14 PM

Mariners vs. Orioles, Game 2

This place is really rocking now, as I’m sure “Jim’s” pad is after Yuniesky Betancourt delivered the game-tying single and Ichiro the go-ahead double in that huge seventh inning. What a turnaround for a second straight night. I mean, yes, this Baltimore bullpen isn’t very reliable. But having a script go almost exactly the same two nights in a row? That’s great if you’re a Mariners fan.
The signs were there that this could happen, maybe even more so than last night. Seattle had multiple baserunners in the first, third and fourth innings without scoring. The M’s had 10 runners left on in the first six innings. But come on. Letting the Mariners load the bases with none out? That’s asking for trouble. Seattle didn’t need much plate patience on that Kenji Johjima walk in the seventh, since Danys Baez threw four pitches nowhere near the strike zone.
But we talked earlier about how the M’s were struggling to get hits off Oregon City native Brian Burres. The only true hope at the time was knocking him from the game relatively early, which the M’s did by running his pitch count up to 111 through 5 2/3 innings. That’s five walks by the Mariners on the night.
Notice how I’m writing as if the game’s already won? That’s because the Mariners are 27-0 when they take a lead into the eighth inning. Brandon Morrow mowed the O’s down in the eighth, now it’s J.J. Putz’s turn in the ninth. This is what a “money” bullpen does for you. What a huge win this will be for Seattle. Only a game behind Detroit in the wild-card race and still within 5 1/2 of the Angels. The AL West is going to seriously improve its image by week’s end.
M’S DOWN 4-1
Got that last post in just in time because Burress went out and yielded three very legitimate two-out singles in the fifth inning to get Seattle on the board. I think the Mariners should just go into every inning with two out, because that’s the way the M’s seem to score most of their runs. Cha Seung Baek just got pulled from the game after 5 2/3 innings. He leaves with a man on second and two outs. Seattle is getting outhit 9-4 but it’s still just a 3-1 game.
To answer a question from below about Felix Hernandez throwing a lot of first-inning fastballs, that’s simple. The coaching staff believes that for Hernandez to be successful, he has to spot his fastball early and have everything else naturally flow off that. Land that fastball and it sets up the breaking stuff. Many a successful pitcher has stuck to that philosophy. The difference I’ve seen lately is that Hernandez isn’t spotting his fastball. He keeps missing his spots. Admitted to it last night. All the stuff getting hit is up in the zone. If he’s spotting everything and the stuff is down and still getting hit like rockets, then you have a problem and maybe re-visit it. But that hasn’t happened of late.
Hey, Hernandez isn’t the only big-name pitcher struggling after a long layoff. Check out what happened in this game. No, not the Devil Rays bullpen, we all knew that was a disaster when the Mariners played Tampa Bay two weeks ago. I mean check out what happened to Roy Halladay in this game. Happens to everyone.
Mariners now down 4-1. Someone threw a ball away at first base. Ask “Jim” what happened, I was too busy typing. (A joke, folks. A joke). Anyway, Betancourt just notched a single to center a half inning later, giving him a 17-game hitting streak.
OK, OK, I looked long and hard and came up with something positive to report on the Mariners. When was the last time you saw them getting one-hit, but working the opposing pitcher this hard? Poor old Brian Burres has already thrown 73 pitches through just four innings. The reason? He’s allowed six baserunners, despite the M’s not even having a legitimate hit off him yet. Burres has walked three guys, hit another, saw third baseman Melvin Mora throw a ball to first that wound up caught by a member of the Washington Huskies women’s softball team seated about 30 feet away (in other words, a throwing error), and then there was the Ichiro “hit” that wasn’t.
So, it’s still a 3-0 game, O’s in the lead. But Burres might not be around much longer. Get this Baltimore bullpen in the game and you never know.
As my colleague, Shannon Drayer of KOMO radio fame, just quipped when I bumped into her getting a Diet Pepsi moments ago: “Who’s that guy pitching out there? Why, it’s (Yankees rookie) Matt DeSalvo!”
Translation: The Mariners don’t do anything offensively against pitchers they haven’t seen before. She’s right on that count tonight. So far, anyway.
Only 19,287 at the game tonight. The folks who stayed home haven’t missed much.
M’s DOWN 3-0
Not much good news to report on the Mariners front so far, with Seattle trailing the Baltimore Orioles, 3-0, heading into the fourth. Cha Seung Baek had his usual first-inning struggles, giving up a pair of runs. In eight previous starts, 9 of the 28 runs he’d allowed came in the first inning. So, at least he’s consistent. His modus operandi is to be very stingy after that. Let’s see. Baek allowed another run in the third inning on the second double of the night by Kevin Millar.
At least the Mariners finally got a hit in that third inning, an infield single by Ichiro. It should have been a routine groundout, but first baseman Millar made the mistake of trying to beat Ichiro to the bag. Actually, it was first base umpire Angel Hernandez who made the mistake, since Millar beat Ichiro by a step. But Ichiro was ruled safe and the M’s later got two on when Miguel Tejada bobbled a certain double-play grounder and only got one out. But Raul Ibanez flied out to end that threat.
No real zip in this new-and-improved lineup so far. The bottom five guys in the order are 0-for-5 so far. Remember, Yuni Betancourt has a 16-game hitting streak. If you forgot, I’m sure “Jim” will remind you. Just kidding, “Jim” but that comment of yours this morning deserves kudos for sheer effort and length. Clocked in at 919 words. Longer than my game stories.
The only thing close to good news for the M’s is that the Tigers are losing to the Texas Rangers, 6-4 in the seventh. But the A’s and Angels are both winning. So, the M’s could wind up the night a game out of the wild-card hunt. Or, they could be 6 1/2 out in the division race and tied for second-place (or is that third-place? Depends on whether the glass is half-empty or half-full) with the A’s.



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