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June 6, 2007 at 1:21 PM

Mariners go for sweep

Wow, this game went downhill in a hurry. It’s now 9-4 for the O’s, who have out-hit the Mariners 16-7 as we head to the bottom of the ninth. Daniel Cabrera finally came out of the game after eight innings, though he’d probably have worked the ninth (he threw 109 pitches) for at least a batter or two if not for those three insurance runs in the top of the frame.
That was a tough outing for Chris Reitsma in the ninth, in his first game since coming off the DL. He was forced to throw 34 pitches since the M’s had nobody else ready to pitch and were obviously sparing their relievers from further work. Reitsma allowed three runs on three doubles and a single in the inning. That short stint by Washburn forced Seattle to use three relievers today — not that bad considering they had to pick up the final 5 1/3 innings.
We’ll see how Jon Huber is doing. Looked like he was favoring his arm as he came out of the game in the eighth. All in all, the Mariners can’t complain much about taking two of three in this series. Considering they were losing in the seventh inning of all three games, the result is about the best they could expect. No ground gained on the Angels and that’s a shame.
You see what type of pitcher Cabrera can be. Gets smacked around the first two innings, then dominates the next six. Tough guy to figure out. The Orioles have been trying to do just that for years. The M’s? Well, this offense wasn’t going to carry the team forever. It’s time for these starters to stand up and start earning their paychecks. Five and six innings a night is not going to do it. That’s two bad outings in a row by Jarrod Washburn after solid work for most of the season. Seattle needs him to figure things out in a hurry because with Felix Hernandez at less than full-throttle, there aren’t any other guys in this rotation who can be a “stopper” and pick up some badly-needed innings.
The best we can say about the past two innings is that the Mariners have the Orioles right where they want them. Baltimore leads 6-4 after scoring a run off Jon Huber in the sixth. Only problem is, Daniel Cabrera’s pitch count is only at 74. He might be good for two more innings if the M’s don’t start putting some longet at-bats together.
Cabrera needed only 34 pitches to get through his last three innings. Seattle has only one hit off him since the second. This has to change if the M’s are to get that O’s bullpen back out on the mound in time.
That Jarrod Washburn “concern” just went from minor to critical in the span of about 10 minutes. Seattle now trails 5-4 after Baltimore scored five runs in the fifth off Washburn and sent his pitch count soaring well beyond the 100-mark. The Orioles are still batting and Jon Huber is now in the game. So, Washburn bows out after only 4 2/3 innings. Not what this bullpen needed.
Washburn wasn’t hit all that hard at the start of the inning. But a two-run double by Jay Payton was a missile that short-hopped the wall in left. A bounder up the middle by Chris Gomez scored another and then a double past the third baseman tied the score. And then Aubrey Huff ended Washburn’s day with a blast over Ichiro’s head to bring the go-ahead marker home.
Shocking collapse by the No. 2 starter here. The Angels blew a 4-0 lead to the Twins and are a run down in the eighth. But the M’s have to take care of business here.
Well, we seem to have gotten an answer on which Daniel Cabrera was going to be on the mound for Baltimore today. The Mariners have done a good job of not chasing pitches, forcing him to come in, then making him pay by ripping a number of balls. Now 4-0 for Seattle in the top of the third. The Orioles didn’t do themselves any favors in the top of the first inning by getting on the nerves of home plate umpire Angel Hernandez. True, he’s one of the least popular umpires among players and managers and didn’t look all that decisive on the Melvin Mora strikeout in the first inning. Mora thought the ball was foul tipped and didn’t run to first base when it got away from the catcher.
Sam Perlozzo came out to argue. A furious Mora slammed his helmet in disgust afterwards, prompting a Hernandez warning to the third baseman, whose back was turned. That got Perlozzo out of the dugout again.
Needless to say, Cabrera hasn’t been catching many breaks on ball-strike calls, nor will he, I suspect, the remainder of the day. He’s thrown 40 pitches already, only 22 for strikes. The Mariners are making him pay when he falls behind. Only concern for Seattle is the 62 pitches already heaved by Washburn. But as long as the O’s aren’t capitalizing, it’s not a serious concern. With Seattle’s bullpen, this game will be over if the score stays the same for three more innings.
Adrian Beltre is still not back in the lineup. Mariners manager Mike Hargrove figures that by sitting him again today, and with an off-day tomorrow, his injured thumb will have a better chance to properly heal.
Richie Sexson is back in the lineup, hitting fifth. Jose Vidro still at No. 6 until Beltre comes back. Kenji Johjima gets the day game off.
To answer a question from the previous post, the last time the M’s were five games over .500 came way back at the end of the 2003 season. They were 42-42 on July 3 of last season, the final time they were even at .500 in 2006.
We’ll know pretty quickly today whether the Mariners will win their season-high fifth in a row. A lot of it depends on which Daniel Cabrera shows up. If he has the M’s flailing away at his high 90s heat, it’ll be a long afternoon for Seattle. But if the patient approach pays off and they can start drilling him — as Cabrera is prone to have happen every other start — then the Mariners have a very good shot at a sweep. Cabrera is that unpredictable.
Here are today’s lineups:
CF Jay Payton
2B Chris Gomez
RF Nick Markakis
DH Miguel Tejada
3B Melvin Mora
1B Aubrey Huff
C Ramon Hernandez
LF Jay Gibbons
SS Freddie Bynum
RHP Daniel Cabrera
CF Ichiro
2B Jose Lopez
RF Jose Guillen
LF Raul Ibanez
1B Richie Sexson
DH Jose Vidro
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
3B Willie Bloomquist
C Jamie Burke
LHP Jarrod Washburn



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