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July 22, 2007 at 9:41 AM

Mariners vs. Blue Jays; series finale

Felix Hernandez gives up a solo homer to Gregg Zaun in the sixth and is now out of the game, with Brandon Morrow on to start the seventh. Not a good showing by the M’s today, either on the mound or at the plate. They’ve been one-hit through seven innings by Roy Halladay. Like we said at the start of the series, this is a different Toronto team at home than on the road. Saw some of the power in this game. The defense, other than a gem of a throw from a sitting position by Yuniesky Betancourt, has been awful.
Whether it was the miscommunication on the bunt play in the fifth, with Richie Sexson running in and Jose Lopez not covering first, or Hernandez failing to back up Kenji Johjima on an awful throw home by left fielder Jason Ellison on the Rios single, this has not been a contending team on the field today. Seattle has now gone 21 consecutive innings without a run. This will be the seventh time in 10 games since the All-Star Break that the M’s have scored four runs or less. There should be at least a couple of alarm bells going off. Maybe not five-alarm bells, but one or two.
Angels are up 2-0 in the third inning.
Lots to talk about here after a tough bottom of the fifth inning for the M’s and Felix Hernandez, who now trail 5-0 after Toronto put up a five-spot that frame. The entire inning turned on two decisions, the first by manager John McLaren, who opted to intentionally walk Lyle Overbay with runners at second and third with one out. Not sure I’d load the bases up in a scoreless game to face Alex Rios, one of Toronto’s top power hitters. You want to keep runners off the bases with three straight power guys due up. I know McLaren liked the matchup with Rios and it nearly worked out. But once Rios grounded a ball through the left side, scoring two runs, there were two on for Troy Glaus, who pounded the first pitch over the left field wall for a three-run homer.
Two pitches, five runs.
The second decision that turned the inning was a non-strike call by plate umpire Chad Fairchild on a 1-2 pitch by Hernandez that appeared to catch the outside corner and had Rios frozen stiff. Fairchild didn’t give Hernandez the call and the pitcher, predictably, as we mentioned earlier in this post, lost his cool on the mound. Kenji Johjima had to go out to settle him down. The dugout kept chirping at Fairchild. When Rios squeezed his single through the infield, McLaren lost it in the dugout, screamed at Fairchild and got tossed. McLaren then came out of the dugout and engaged in one of the better, one-armed verbal dressing downs of an umpire I’ve ever seen. Thought he was going to accidentally punch Fairchild in the face every time he jabbed his one working arm out.
This game is pretty much over. Roy Halladay is at only 64 pitches through five innings and Seattle is showing no signs of offensive life. In all my years covering him since he became a 19-game winner in 2002, I can’t remember Halladay blowing a lead like this when he’s got things so under control.
What a tough series to lose. This Toronto team was pretty down after Friday night. Richie Sexson is looking like more and more of a black hole in this lineup. Something will have to be done to generate some more offense. Adam Jones coming up soon? You’ll have to stop asking me because I would have made the move two weeks ago.
Seems like these two clubs are always locked in a pitcher’s duel, doesn’t it? Felix Hernandez and Roy Halladay are scoreless heading into the bottom of the fifth. Hernandez has allowed only two hits, but battled some command issues at times. Halladay has given up only one hit, a leadoff double by Adrian Beltre in the second inning, after which the M’s did a terrible job of moving the runner over. Two straight popouts by Ben Broussard and Richie Sexson. That’s no good. You have to get a grounder to the right side if you’re Broussard. Sexson? Not much else I can say on that subject.
This offense has to kick it into gear. I don’t know that Hernandez is going to keep things scoreless. He was spotting his fastball well early on, not so much since, though he froze Troy Glaus with a nasty slider to end the third inning with two on.
Thanks “cut” down below, I did fix the Felix Hernandez audio link. Hear McLaren talk about how Hernandez “dropped a couple of conejos” during his dugout tantrum. On to the post…
Some lineup changes to tell you about if you’re already up bright and early on a Sunday morning to witness today’s stellar pitching matchup: Felix Hernandez vs. Roy Halladay. Mariners want and need to take this series while the Angels are experiencing such turmoil. No home runs in 14 consecutive games for Los Angeles, with the M’s breathing down their necks.
“We’re in a position today to get the series and that’s what we’re tying to do every day,” Mariners manager John McLaren said.
McLaren went on to talk about a chat he had with Hernandez after his last start, a loss to Baltimore in which he blew his cool after giving up a three-run homer to Jay Gibbons.
So, what exactly did Hernandez do in the dugout when he blew that stack? Hear McLaren tell it right here.
So, here are the changes we told you about: Raul Ibanez is the DH today, Jose Guillen also gets a rest with Ben Broussard heading to right field and Jason Ellison getting the rare start in left. Ichiro will be safe today with Ellison out there, though I doubt Halladay would shove anyone.
Adrian Beltre gets bumped up to clean-up, but just for now. Jose Vidro sits.
McLaren explains here that because of the hard turf at the Rogers Centre, not to mention the upcoming heat-fest and doubleheader in Texas, he had to give some guys a rest.
The lineups:
TORONTO (47-50)
LF Reed Johnson
1B Lyle Overbay
RF Alex Rios
3B Troy Glaus
CF Vernon Wells
DH Frank Thomas
2B Aaron Hill
C Gregg Zaun
SS Royce Clayton
RHP Roy Halladay
SEATTLE (54-40)
CF Ichiro
2B Jose Lopez
DH Raul Ibanez
3B Adrian Beltre
RF Ben Broussard
1B Richie Sexson
C Kenji Johjima
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
LF Jason Ellison
RHP Felix Hernandez
HP Chad Fairchild
1B Rick Reed (crew chief)
3B Chuck Meriwether
3B Tim Timmons



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