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July 4, 2007 at 3:58 PM

Mariners vs. Royals, series finale

Some of you were asking why Jason Ellison wasn’t put into right field for defensive purposes in extra innings on Monday night. I explained that manager John McLaren likely wanted Jose Guillen’s bat to stay in a tie game. This time around, with the lefty on the hill, McLaren goes with Ellison as his new left fielder in the eighth inning, puts Ben Broussard at first base and takes Jose Vidro out of the game.
Of course, it’s easier to do that when you’re up 4-0. Jarrod Washburn just breezed through the eighth inning on 108 pitches. I doubt he’ll come back out in the ninth. But a very good four-hit outing by Washburn tonight when his team needed it. Angels are losing. Tigers already won. So, the M’s, if they hang on, could actually gain ground in the division despite losing this series. Angels have little offense and are in a tailspin right now.
Jarrod Washburn is providing exactly what these Mariners needed on the mound tonight. He’d retired 13 in a row before a John Buck single in the fifth, but now has a two-hit shutout going after five innings. A lot of mishit balls by the Royals tonight and that’s what Washburn provides when he’s on his game. Has notched three strikeouts as well, driving his pitch count up to 73. That’s still pretty good and he could go seven tonight if he doesn’t start yielding clusters of hits. This middle part of the game is where Washburn can sometimes run out of gas. No real reason to here though, as he hasn’t had a “stressful inning” yet and the gametime temperature was only 71 after all the rain.
Let’s see what happens. It’s still a 4-0 game, Seattle batting in the sixth.
The Angels have a 2-1 lead over Texas in the fourth, while the Tigers are trying to hang on against Cleveland, up 5-4 in the seventh.
Nothing to get alarmed about yet, but those were two very quick innings at the plate by Seattle. Six up and six down and barely any pitches taken. Quite different from the first inning. Jarrod Washburn is pitching well enough, but it’s still only a 4-0 game, the M’s leading as Kansas City comes to bat here in the third. Far too early to be coasting at this point. Not a 10-2 game like last night at this point.
Hello there “Kyle” and company. Well, that was a much better start to a game for Seattle, wasn’t it? Now ahead 4-0 after really sticking it to Brian Bannister in the top of the first. Bannister has a good earned run average, entering the night at 3.58, but he does tend to put a lot of runners on base.
Had walked seven batters in his last two outings and issued a pair of free passes in the first. Bannister nearly got run out of the park a la Ryan Feierabend that frame, but a Jose Lopez double-play grounder got him off the hook for any further damage.
Some aggressive waving around of Ben Broussard to score all the way from first base on the double to the left field corner by Adrian Beltre. Score one for third base coach Carlos Garcia on that. The M’s lead 4-0 after one.
They need this win tonight. The Oakland A’s just announced that Rich Harden will start for them on Saturday instead of Lenny DiNardo. Seattle now has to face Chad Gaudin, Dan Haren, Harden and Joe Blanton in the four games there. No gimmes on that list.
Happy Fourth of July, everyone. Hope you’re all off doing something special with your families. Actually, I hope you’re all sitting in front of your computers waiting for me to write this. There’s quite a bit of rain coming down at Kauffman Stadium with dark, overcast skies and lightning all around. The rain is going to be coming in spurts most of the night, we’re told, so who knows whether we’ll get this one in? As of right now, we’re on a 15-minute delay for the start time, so it will be a 5:25 p.m. start in Seattle.
Raul Ibanez was going to start in left field, with Jose Vidro as the DH, but that’s now been changed because the team doesn’t want Ibanez running on the wet grass with a sore hamstring. So, he’s been changed to DH and Vidro will again play first base, with Ben Broussard in left.
I spoke with Ibanez a little earlier this afternoon and he told me his hamstring still hurts him, though it isn’t like the pain he played through in 2004 when he couldn’t even tie his shoes. Ibanez hopes to get back into left field tomorrow in Oakland.
“I’m doing what I’m told to do,” he said of playing the field. “Whatever the skipper does, that’s what I do.”
Ibanez works daily at shortening his stride so that he doesn’t aggravate the hamstring injury. He figures that’s how he hurt it in the first place and wants instead to use the shorter, choppy strides when he runs the bases, or goes after balls. One of the ways he works on this is by doing daily “wall drills” where he leans against a wall with his palms and pushes down on one foot as hard as he can until the opposite one automatically lifts into the air.
“We have a tendency when we run to want to pull to run,” he said. “You want to pull your legs. And it’s the opposite. You should be pushing.”
Listen to some of my conversation with Ibanez right here.
New manager John McLaren had a chat with pitcher Ran Feierabend about his disastrous outing last night. So did pitching coach Rafael Chaves, who also chatted with the manager about the pitcher’s performance and what can be done going forward.
McLaren said he thinks Feierabend learned a valuable lesson in absorbing the thrashing. The pitcher apparently lost his cool and became impatient out on the mound when he couldn’t get his breaking ball over for strikes.
“Instead of setting up his pitches like he did before with his change-up, I think he was just trying to throw the ball over the plate,” McLaren said. ‘And as we know, location is everything to a pitcher and he didn’t have his good location. And Kansas City feasted off it.”
Dugout camera shots showed McLaren and translater Anthony Suzuki in conversation with catcher Kenji Johjima after the first inning. McLaren said he was trying to get a sense of what wasn’t working with the game plan. He got his answer thois afternoon — Feierabend simply abandoned it, threw the ball towards the plate and hoped for the best. Can’t have that. He’ll get one more chance in Oakland, mainly because Cha-Seung Baek hasn’t started throwing again and Horacio Ramirez has an injury rehab start tomorrow. After that start, McLaren will meet with team officials and figure out where to go from there — whether Ramirez will get that third rehab outing or not.
In other words, time is running out for Feierabend.
Good news for catcher Johjima, who, through a combination of ice and electronic stimulatiuon, has his finger feeling much better. He could play tomorrow night in Oakland. Listen to what Johjima told us, through translator Suzuki, on this audio clip.
Some of you have written in asking me to describe clubhouse life a bit more. Well, I can tell you today was a typical day on some fronts. Most of the players were seated on clubhouse sofas watching the Jackass II movie. Ichiro was off by himself, doing his exhaustive set of pre-game stretching exercises on a corner of the clubhouse floot near his locker. Johjima was also off by himself, listening to music of headphones. Jose Guillen, Jose Vidro and McLaren were all studying their new I-Phones to see how the features work.
J.J. Putz arrived, looking spiffy in a customn made travel suit he’ll wear to All-Star Game festivities. Putz had a rough afternoon, thinking he’d lost his credit card. Turns out it had been found by Jeff Weaver and Putz was relayed the info by phone from the clubhouse about a half-hour before his arrival at the park. Saved the closer some big worries. Weaver was toting a whole bunch of newly-bought clothes and electronic goods in a second suitcase…nah, I made that part up.
Things were a little different as players had to take turns scrambling off to the indoor batting cages to get their work in. McLaren didn’t want his players hitting in the outdoor heat, but it turns out they would not have been able to do regular BP in any event because of the rain.
Here are the lineups:
CF David DeJesus
2B Esteban German
RF Mark Teahen
LF Emil Brown
3B Alex Gordon
DH Billy Butler
C John Buck
1B Ross Gload
SS Tony Pena
RHP Brian Bannister
CF Ichiro
1B Jose Vidro
DH Raul Ibanez
RF Jose Guillen
LF Ben Broussard
3B Adrian Beltre
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
2B Jose Lopez
C Jamie Burke
LHP Jarrod Washburn
HP Tim Timmons
1B Chuck Meriwether (crew chief)
2B Alfonso Marquez
3B Chris Guccione



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