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July 17, 2007 at 6:40 PM

Mariners vs. Orioles, Game 2

Well, there goes the ballgame. Eric O’Flaherty just entered the contest in relief of Felix Hernandez and gave up a five-spot to put his team behind 8-2. That’s why the really good starters in this game go seven innings. You can’t always trust the middle relievers to get it done. Seattle has been very lucky in that regard this season, but this time the law of averages caught up to them.
O’Flaherty had been 5-0 with an 0.66 ERA since June 4, but just didn’t have it tonight. You can’t walk the leadoff batter. It just sets you up for all kinds of trouble. O’Flaherty has had some first-batter issues before — much earlier in the season. This time, it just opened a whole can of worms for him.
Jay Gibbons has five RBI tonight, two of them coming on a bloop single in that seventh inning. He’d had only one previous game of even three RBI this season, that coming on July 4. Lots of numbers and stat trends going out the window tonight. Hey, it happens.
This had been quite a pitcher’s duel, with Felix Hernandez and the Mariners taking a 2-0 lead over Jeremy Guthrie and the Orioles into the top of the sixth. But Baltimore just took the lead on a three-run homer to right by Jay Gibbons on a 2-0 pitch.
Baltimore had ample opportunities to score previously on Hernandez, who had tightened up when he needed to most. He got out of that bases loaded jam in the first on a poor choice of first-pitches to swing at by Aubrey Huff. He later fanned Corey Patterson with two on to end the fifth.
Hernandez then nearly survived a leadoff double in the sixth by Nick Markakis, his third hit of the game. But he fell behind Gibbons and that’s too dangerous a hitter to have to come over the plate on.
Guthrie has done well to survive three errors made by the defenders behind him. He’s now in a position to emerge with a victory, but there is still plenty of baseball left to play. Baltimore’s fielders have to do a better job. Their baserunning and situational hitting needs work as well. This is not a game the M’s should be losing. It’s actually quite a shock to see them behind.
Hernandez may have an inning left in him, tops. His pitch count is already up in the mid-90s.
Sorry for the late post. We’re trying to upgrade the quality of the audio clips and I just wasted 90 minutes trying to link a bunch of stuff together. I am here at the game tonight, had a great chat with Jose Guillen, one of the hottest Mariner bats going He’s 10-for-21 (.476) on this homestand so far and talking with the M’s about a contract extension.
There is a mutual option on his contract and we’ll know pretty soon whether it’s going to be exercised. Guillen did not want to talk about this subject, but relented after some prodding by me. He is very worried it will sound like he is trying to cause a distraction when he has spent the entire season attempting not to be one to this point. So, remember, this is me getting him to talk.
That said, Guillen made it clear he won’t sign here unless offered a deal that extends beyond the 2008 season. After so many teams over so few years, he’s tired of being a baseball nomad and wants to put down roots.
“I want to stay in one place and try to build a nice career,” Guillen said. “I don’t want to be here for one year. I love these people and I love this town. It’s a baseball town. I love the enthusiasm of people and stuff. And the people have been respecting me here.”
Guillen’s future will be decided before month’s end. It’s a big move for the organization to contemplate. The mere fact Seattle is even entertaining keeping Guillen around long term is a sign that one of the two top outfield prospects at Class AAA, Adam Jones and Wladimir Balentien, could be gone by the July 31 trade deadline. The odds of Seattle going with two rookies in the three outfield spots seems remote at best. There is a difference between accomplishing something in Class AAA and doing it here. Contending teams do not like to break a horde of rookies in all at once.
Spoke to Horacio Ramirez today about last night’s outing. Enjoyed reading the debate amongst all of you in today’s earlier post. Some of you were debating whether his biggest improvement was in his movement or his velocity. I put the question to Ramirez and he felt it was indeed his movement.
“My ball had good life, which is important,” Ramirez said. “That’s the difference between you throwing a pitch on the outer half (of the plate) and them hitting a double, or them swinging through the pitch and fouling it off.”
Angels lost today in Tampa Bay. Send the usual thank you notes care of Ervin Santana. I don’t have to tell you what a difference winning tonight’s game could make for Seattle. Jose Vidro just hit another double, this one in the first inning. That’s three in a week’s worth of games after he’d hit nine in three months.
Felix Hernandez had the O’s load the bases with one out against him in the first, but escaped on a first-pitch, double-play grounder by Aubrey Huff. Any extra thank you notes left over after you write Santana, send them to Huff.
Again, sorry for the posting delays. Here are the lineups…
2B Brian Roberts
CF Corey Patterson
RF Nick Markakis
1B Kevin Millar
DH Aubrey Huff
C Ramon Hernandez
LF Jay Gibbons
3B Chris Gomez
SS Luis Hernandez
RHP Jeremy Guthrie
SEATTLE (52-38)
CF Ichiro
DH Jose Vidro
LF Raul Ibanez
RF Jose Guillen
3B Adrian Beltre
1B Richie Sexson
C Kenji Johjima
2B Jose Lopez
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
RHP Felix Hernandez
HP Eric Cooper
1B Andy Fletcher
2B Mike Reilly (crew chief)
3B Jeff Kellogg



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