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August 27, 2007 at 5:37 PM

Mariners vs. Angels, Game 1

So, that missed tag by Jose Lopez is followed by a run in the fourth, with the Angels adding two more in the sixth off Miguel Batista to make it a 6-0 affair. Batista did get through six, which is big because I sense the M’s figure this game is pretty much done and will want to spare the bullpen. The way John Lackey is pitching tonight, that fourth run in the fourth inning was pretty much the back-breaker. This is starting to look like one of those offensive funks this team is prone to falling into.
Batista hasn’t looked good at all tonight. Half of the 10 hits he’s yielded have been for extra-bases and that pretty much tells you the story. It’s one thing to say the Twins were locked-in last week. But I’m wondering if there isan’t something teams are picking up on. Batista usually gives up walks and singles. Not so many extra base hits. It’s one of the things he works hard at limiting and this Angels lineup is not exactly one of the more potent ones in the league. Come to think of it, Minnesota’s wasn’t all that great either.
So, it’s now 6-0 heading to the seventh. Batista is done and Ryan Rowland-Smith is in the game. A big egg laid by Seattle thus far.
That was just a terrible play at second base involving Jose Lopez in the fourth inning. Not because the umpire blew the call in ruling Gary Matthews Jr. safe at second on a bloop double. I don’t think he blew it. No, it was terrible because of the non-aggressive way Lopez tried to apply the tag. He did little more than lower his glove down, figuring Matthews would slide into it. Matthews changed plans, apparently (from what I saw) deked Lopez out and made it in safely when the throw had him beat by a mile. This is the type of play that got Lopez in trouble earlier this month. You cannot blow an out like that with a half-baked tag attempt. You have to be more aggressive. That was inexcusable in a big game like this. It could wind up costing his team.
Garret Anderson has been a one-man wrecking crew thus far, driving in a pair of thrid inning runs with a double to the right field corner. Miguel Batista was fortunate that no other runs scored on him that inning. Anderson moments earlier had barely missed blooping a ball the opposite way down the left field line. Had he succeeded, then the Angels would have scored three since the bases were loaded with two outs and all the runners were on the move. The ball bounced a half-foot foul and Anderson later doubled to the other field. The play was ruled dead when a fan touched the ball, forcing Vladimir Guerrero to halt at third.
Batista not at his best tonight. He’s gotten some grounders that he needs, but also a few too many hard hit balls. Shades of Minnesota at times. This is not the same guy we saw for the past two months. He’s giving up the big hits with men on base, something he prides himself at not doing.
The good news for M’s fans is, it’s only 3-0. But you can’t give the Angels many runs more from here and hope to beat John Lackey.
The Angels have struck first. Garret Anderson just tagged Miguel Batista deep to right center on an 0-1 pitch to lead off the second inning. Anderson has been in a groove of late after spending much of the year on the DL. Had that 10 RBI game last week and now hits his 10th homer of the season here. So, it’s 1-0 for the Angels.
Manager John McLaren just did his best to pump his team up for this series, getting tossed in the bottom of the first after going out and arguing with plate umpire Gary Darling that Ichiro had foul-tipped a third strike that bounced in the dirt. Darling disagreed, McLaren returned to the dugout and was ejected seconds later by third base umpire Jerry Meals.
McLaren then stormed out to confront Meals, bringing the crowd to its feet by towering over the diminutive ump, gesturing forcefully and screaming at him. It took several more moments before McLaren returned to the dugout to a loud ovation from the fans. He’s fired-up. But he’ll be watching the rest of the game on television.
Seattle looked sharp defensively in that first inning, with Jose Lopez and Yuniesky Betancourt turning a quick 4-6-3 double-play even though baserunner Reggie Willits had broken for second on the pitch to stay out of a twin-killing. That’s how you know the defense is on its toes. Lopez did a great job of getting the shovel relay over to Betancourt at second. Vladimir Guerrero flied out to shallow right from there. So, Batista is out of the first after the leadoff single by Willits.
No batting practice for the Mariners here today, with the team having gotten into town just before 2 a.m. Believe it or not, that was actually earlier than they expected. There is already an atmosphere of excitement building inside the ballpark. Down in the clubhouses, both teams are doing their best not to play this series up too big.
“It’s not so big that you’ve got to lose perspective of where you are in the season,” Mariners manager John McLaren said.
Hear some McLaren audio on the series here and again here, talking about Jose Guillen, new media darling of the Mariners.
The M’s were trying to stay loose. Third base coach Carlos Garcia was practicing his putting with a golf club down at the far end of the clubhouse. J.J. Putz even came over and took a swing to show him how it was done.
Willie Bloomquist had a photo of a fishing expedition by him and some M’s in Baltimore a few weeks ago. Was trying to get folks in the clubhouse to figure out which one of them was holding the largest bass that had been caught.
Guillen was holding court with the representatives from both Seattle and Los Angeles by his locker. The LA folks wanted to know whether he’s turned over a new leaf and stuff. Guillen didn’t take any of the bait thrown his way about the Angels. Paid manager Mike Scioscia another compliment. Said he respects the other team. All nice and political. You can tell he’s up for this game. Wants to get out there very badly.
“You the new team leader?” bench coach Mike Goff called out jokingly to Guillen from behind the throng of notepads and microphones. “You our new team leader?”
Inside Guillen’s locker sat a bottle of Kosta Browne Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley (that’s in California, not Russia) given to him by Goff as a gift to try out. Guillen says he isn’t much of a drinker, but enjoys some good wine from time to time.
Over in the Angels dugout, manager Scioscia was also playing down the importance of the series as best he could.
“There’s going to be more of an impact if you win or lose but it doesn’t change the challenge,” he said. “The challenge is to bring your game to the field and play well.”
Hear some Scioscia audio right here.
The lineups are out: No Chone Figgins for the Angels. Nor Casey Kotchman. Both have messed up hands and may miss the entire series other than pinch-running duty. Big break for the M’s there. Hear what Scioscia had to say about them and some others, like injured catcher Mike Napoli.
DH Reggie Willits
SS Orlando Cabrera
RF Vladimir Guerrero
LF Garret Anderson
3B Maicer Izturis
CF Gary Matthews Jr.
1B Kendry Morales
2B Howie Kendrick
C Jeff Mathis
RHP John Lackey
SEATTLE (73-55)
CF Ichiro
DH Jose Vidro
RF Jose Guillen
LF Raul Ibanez
3B Adrian Beltre
1B Richie Sexson
C Kenji Johjima
2B Jose Lopez
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
RHP Miguel Batista
HP Gary Darling (crew chief)
1B Larry Poncino
2B Bruce Dreckman
3B Jerry Meals

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