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June 25, 2007 at 5:37 PM

Mariners vs. Red Sox, Game 1

What a fifth inning for the Mariners, scoring five runs to take a 6-2 lead into the sixth and knocking starter Julian Tavarez from the game. The big at-bat of the inning came from Jose Lopez, driving a 1-2 pitch into left field for a two-run single to put Seattle ahead. With two out and the bases loaded, Kenji Johjima then drew a walk against reliever Kyle Snyder on a full-count offering to force in another run. I liked the way Johjima fought off that breaking pitch before the walk, lining it foul down the third base line. For a guy who sits on the fastball, he sure can hit the breaking stuff with two strikes when he needs to. Not every hitter can do that.
That walk was then followed by another to Adrian Beltre to bring home another important add-on run. Important, because Jeff Weaver won’t be in this game very much longer.
Weaver threw too many pitches in the fourth, then had a very quick fifth inning to keep his pitch count at 96. Weaver has been effective tonight, but, as we pointed out, the Red Sox can drive a pitch-count up quickly. I will say this about Weaver, though, he has pitched quite a game for the Mariners. He has neutralized a solid group of Boston hitters, keeping them off-balance for all five of the innings he has worked. I really can’t remember any of the balls being hit too hard off him. Weaver has worked out of two bases loaded jams, in the third and fourth innings. That is making a difference in this game so far.
Jeff Weaver looked brilliant the first two innings, changing arm angles and throwing fastballs in the 90 and 91 mph range consistently, to retire six of seven batters. He allowed only an infield single through those frames, breezing through the second inning on only 10 pitches.
But things came unhinged a bit in the third inning. Weaver hurt his own cause by throwing away a sacrifice bunt attempt. He tried for the lead runner, Coco Crisp, at second when he really didn’t have a solid shot. It was a poor decision and an even worse throw. The resulting error put runners at second and third with none out and both scored on a single to center by J.D. Drew that second baseman Jose Lopez couldn’t handle. That made it 2-1 for the Red Sox, but Weaver showed something in getting out of the inning with no further damage. There were runners at the corners with one out when he fanned Manny Ramirez on a 2-2 pitch, then walked Kevin Youkilis to load the bases. But he got Mike Lowell to pop out foul to end the threat in what could have been one of those blowout innings.
Seattle opened the scoring in the second when Richie Sexson, finally heating up, stroked a leadoff double and wound up scoring on a Kenji Johjima double play grounder. So, there you have it. A one-run game. So far, so good for Weaver, I’d say. He hasn’t been hit all that hard and was the victim of his own throwing error. But this isn’t the guy we saw getting smacked around by Boston in April. Weaver looks must improved so far. We’ll see how that 33-pitch third inning impacts him the rest of the way. He’s at 63 pitches so far. These Red Sox are not the Pirates. They know how to work a count and knock a pitcher out early even when he’s throwing well. The next inning will be big. Some of Boston’s lighter hitters due up and Weaver needs another quick inning to have a shot at going six tonight.
Big test for Jeff Weaver tonight against the Boston Red Sox. Already a large number of Boston fans inside the ballpark, which could make for a hostile environment if Weaver can’t get it done. The Cleveland Indians beat the Oakland A’s 5-2 tonight, so the M’s are 3 1/2 back in the wild-card standings. Sorry for not posting a little earlier, but we’ve been trying to make new additions to the blog that — because of technical difficulties — we were not able to implement as planned tonight. I’ll get into it more when we get new software installed, supposedly later on this week. Until then, you’re stuck with just little old me watching Weaver pitch.
Here are the lineups and — in response to a reader request — I’ll include the umpire rotation as well.
RF J.D. Drew
2B Dustin Pedroia
DH David Ortiz
LF Manny Ramirez
1B Kevin Youkilis
3B Mike Lowell
C Jason Varitek
CF Coco Crisp
SS Julio Lugo
RHP Julian Tavarez
CF Ichiro
2B Jose Lopez
DH Jose Vidro
1B Richie Sexson
RF Ben Broussard
C Kenji Johjima
3B Adrian Beltre
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
LF Willie Bloomquist
RHP Jeff Weaver
HP Jim Reynolds
1B Gary Cederstrom
2B Brian Knight
3B Tim Welke
Just some FYI, Jose Guillen is obviously still sidelined but manager Mike Hargrove says he could be used as a pinch-hitter tonight. Hargrove says it’s up to Guillen when he’s ready to get back in.
Jon Lester won’t be starting for the Red Sox in tomorrow’s game, with lefty Kason Gabbard getting the call instead. Lester is still in Class AAA and got lit up today in his worst outing yet, going only 4 1/3 innings and yielding eight runs on nine hits for Pawtucket against Louisville. The Bosox are not entirely pleased with his progress as of yet.



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