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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

August 28, 2007 at 5:36 PM

Mariners vs. Angels, Game 2

Not sure what to say. The Angels scored four runs in the top of the eighth to take a 10-6 lead off Brandon Morrow and Rick White. A key play in that inning was the call at second base by umpire Jerry Meals on the Gary Matthews Jr. stolen base attempt. Matthews appeared to be out by a good distance, though the replay I saw was unclear as to whether a tag had actually been applied (it was the CF camera and the runner was shielding the footage from the tag attempt). If Matthews is out right there, then the ensuing double by Kendry Morales doesn’t get anyone home. Maybe Morrow then gets out of the inning unscathed. Maybe not. We’ll never know. All we do know is that, with two out, he walked Reggie Willits, then yielded a single to Orlando Cabrera that loaded the bases.
White came in to face Vladimir Guerrero and got the broken bat grounder he needed. But the ball shot through into left field and two runs scored. Another then scored on a single to right by Garret Anderson. All four runs are charged to Morrow. Barring a miracle rally in the ninth, the M’s are about to experience their toughest defeat in years.
ICHIRO TIES IT
Moments like what we just saw are why Ichiro, right now, is my pick for team MVP. Yes, I like J.J. Putz, but he isn’t involved in the games every night. Ichiro just has multiple hit game after multiple hit game and I think we tend to take them for granted after a while.
Well, he just delievered big-time here in the seventh, hitting a single up the middle off Justin Speier to score Yuniesky Betancourt to tie it after the latter’s one-out double. I told you Speier and the Angels bullpen in general are both vulnerable. I wouldn’t bank on them handing Seattle the game, but it’s now tied 6-6. Ichiro just got thrown out by a football field on a steal attempt. Was it a hit-and-run gone astray? We’ve seen that before with Jose Vidro up. The pitch was way inside and Vidro didn’t swing. Ichiro was DOA at second. Inning now over. Tied heading into the eighth. How are your heart rates?
ANGELS UP 6-5
For those of you about to jump all over me about bunting with nobody out, let me just say that the theory goes out the window when Orlando Cabrera and Vladimir Guerrero are the two guys due up next. The plan nearly backfired when Sean Green struck out Cabrera, but Guerrero just doubled the go-ahead marker home to make it 6-5 for the Angels. Stunning. Thing is, Jeff Mathis might have scored from first on the double anyway, so not sure what the bunt actually did, but anyway, we’ve got more important things to discuss now — like the M’s blowing a 5-0 lead in their biggest game of the year.
As for walking Guerrero intentionally, the thing is, then you’ve got Green facing a lefty in Garret Anderson with two men on. You don’t want that matchup. You could have had Brandon Morrow face Anderson, but then one rookie mistake and you’re down by three instead of one. It will be interesting to hear the reasoning on that sequence post-game.
Three innings still to go. The Angels bullpen has been very suspect of late, but the Mariners have been lifeless since the first inning. The ballpark is subdued at best right now. The fans appear to be in a state of shock. Got to admit, I am too.
GAME NOW TIED
If the goal was to get out of the fifth inning with the lead, then Eric O’Flaherty didn’t get the job done. He yielded the sacrifice fly to Garret Anderson on an 0-2 pitch and Vladimir Guerrero made it to third on the throw — thanks to a botched call by umpire Gary Darling. That’s two nights in a row. Adrian Beltre looked to have tagged Guerrero in time. O’Flaherty did get out of the inning from there, so if the goal was to minimize the damage, he did.
But we’re all tied up at 5-5 in the bottom of the sixth. A leadoff single by Raul Ibanez to start this inning off was just the second Seattle hit off Dustin Moseley since the first inning. You don’t want to lose this game if you’re the M’s. On so many levels, you don’t. Yes, it’s only one game. But right now, it just got as large as a mountain for Seattle. Not for the Angels, just the M’s. If the Angels come back to win this one, they may never look back. It feels like the chapter of a World Series season being written for them tonight.
If the M’s want to change that, they have to wake up and get something going. Here’s the guy to do it — Justin Speier now on the mound for the Halos. Speier has struggled of late. Dustin Moseley leaves with two out and a runner on second, having completely dismantled the Seattle attack. M’s will be thrilled that he’s leaving.
WEAVER DONE
Time to start getting worried, I suppose. Orlando Cabrera just singled up the middle to drive in Jeff Mathis to make it a 5-4 game. Mathis had doubled to right center off Weaver to get things going. But the real crusher blow, knocking Weaver out of the game, was a Vladimir Guerrero double to center. Ichiro did a great job getting the ball in quickly, but there are now runners at second and third and only one out.
John McLaren made the right move getting Weaver out of there. The Angels look like they’ve picked up on something.
But I don’t know about this. He’s brought lefty Eric O’Flaherty in to pitch to lefty Garret Anderson. Not sure I’d do this. I think I’d walk Anderson to load them up and have someone pitch to Maicer Izturis. Anderson is hitting .315 off lefties, but is 0-for-5 versus O’Flaherty. Let’s see what happens.
ANGELS CREEP BACK
Somebody had better wake these Mariners up and fast. They’ve fallen asleep since the first inning and now, a pair of solo homers by Gary Matthews Jr. and Kendry Morales have narrowed Seattle’s lead to just 5-3 as we head to the bottom of the fourth.
The Angels seemed to have picked up something off Weaver. Matthews had drilled a ball foul towards the upper deck in right before his home run blast to right center. Two pitches later, Morales hit a monster shot to right that Jose Guillen barely moved on since it was clear the ball was out.
This is not good. Forget about getting Ben Broussard and Adam Jones playing time tonight. The M’s have a game to play.
ANGELS ON THE BOARD
Paging “Angels of Bellevue”…your team just scored a run…where are you?
A throwing error by Jose Guillen just allowed Howie Kendrick to score all the way from first omn a single to right by Jeff Mathis. That was one of those “look how strong my arm is” throws Guillen should have held on to. He had no chance at Kendrick, going from first to third, but showed his arm off anyway and one-hopped the ball to Adrian Beltre, the ball bouncing away and enabling the Angels to get on the board. Now a 5-1 game, runner on second with no out here in the third.
SANTANA HITS THE ROAD — HARD
Score it a first-round knockout for the Mariners, chasing Ervin “Road Kill” Santana after just a third of an inning with five runs on two triples, a double, a single and two walks. Adrian Beltre tripled to right field to drive home a pair, then scored on a single to center by Kenji Johjima. It’s 5-0 for the M’s and Dustin Moseley is now on in relief.
The crowd is really into it tonight, getting on Santana big-time as he made the walk-of-shame from the mound to the dugout, the sounds of “Hit the Road Jack” playing on the in-house PA system. Santana managed only one out. Guess who it was? Yes, Richie Sexson on a grounder to first. If stuff doesn’t change for him tonight, I’d sit Sexson tomorrow and give Ben Broussard a start against the right-handed Jered Weaver. A Jose Lopez type of one-day rest and then take it from there.
GUILLEN MAKES IT 2-0
The team’s August MVP, Jose Guillen, just crushed an Ervin Santana pitch to right center for a two-run double. It was hit so well that even Jose Vidro managed to chug around to score all the way from first base. So, it’s 2-0 for the Mariners. A big start in a big game. Santana has allowed a triple, a double and two walks to the first four batters. M’s would help themselves a lot by capitalizing here and putting up some more runs.
WEAVER WORKS OUT OF JAM
A good start for the Mariners in getting out of that two-on, one out jam with a strikeout on Garret Anderson and a double-play as Kenji Johjima throws out Orlando Cabrera at third after the Angels started the runners. Willie Bloomquist had some trouble out there that inning on the knuckleball pop-up to shallow left by Cabrera that dropped in front of him for a single. Vladimir Guerrero then hit a broken bat flare just out of Bloomquist’s reach for another single. But Jeff Weaver pitched out of it and Ichiro just led off the bottom of the first by drilling Ervin Santana’s first pitch to right center for a triple.
Yankees just won 5-3, so they are 1 /12 back of the M’s.
LOPEZ SITS
A beautiful late afternoon at Safeco Field as we get set for likely the most important game of this series and season. Lose this one and the Mariners face the possibility of getting swept. If that happens, forget about the AL West race. It will be done. If you want to challenge me on that, go ahead. Yes, I’ve told you a lot of series were huge, even that one back in May. I’ve stopped reminding you all about how the M’s could have moved to 1 1/2 games back of the Angels instead of 3 1/2 like they wound up after dropping a late-May series finale in Anaheim. Well, low and behold, here we are in late-August — three months later — and the M’s have gained an entire half-game on the Angels.
And that’s with Seattle playing some of the best baseball in the majors over that stretch. A whole half-game. Without ever catching up on the Angels. Yes, the standings have fluctuated, but that’s where we are now. Anyone still want to argue the importance of these next two games? They are very important for the M’s if they want to stay in this thing and, by extension, keep up the pace needed to contend for the wild-card.
New York is tied with Boston in the fifth inning right now. The Yankees are two back of Seattle.
Mariners manager John McLaren felt that his team was ready to go last night. He figures the M’s got shut down by a good pitcher, John Lackey.
“It was a big game, it was a packed house,” McLaren said. “Everybody was pumped up. For whatever reason, we don’t match up against Lackey. We have to find some way to beat Lackey.”
As some of us expected might happen, Jose Lopez is on the sidelines tonight. McLaren went out of his way to shield Lopez by saying he planned to rest him in any event and had thought of doing so even before that terrible tag attempt in last night’s fourth inning.
“The matchup doesn’t feel good,” McLaren said, noting that Lopez is only 2-for-15 lifetime against Angels starter Ervin Santana. “I’m not down on Jose or anything. I had thought this coming into the series. I may do something tomorrow because there’s a couple of guys who don’t match up well tomorrow.”
Hear the McLaren audio right here.
McLaren did say he will talk to Lopez about the missed tag. He said he didn’t want to make a big deal out of it and will prefer to leave it at that.
My view? Nothing wrong with sitting Lopez for a game. He does have to earn his playing time, like everyone else. Richie Sexson has more years than Lopez and his mistakes are physical, not mental. I don’t want to get in a whole Sexson debate right now. You know where I stand on it: I felt he should have been platooned back in early July, but the team has hung on this long, so it might as well see where things go from here now that his bat has shown signs of life. And yes, it has shown those. One hitless game does not merit a benching.
Lopez’s confidence won’t get destroyed by sitting him one night. If it does, some serious questions will have to be asked. But this way, he gets a rest, can think about the level of play that will be required come September, and hopefully get back to doing what he did in the first half.
Here are the lineups:
LOS ANGELES (77-54)
LF Reggie Willits
SS Orlando Cabrera
RF Vladimir Guerrero
DH Garret Anderson
3B Maicer Izturis
CF Gary Matthews Jr.
1B Kendry Morales
2B Howie Kendrick
C Jeff Mathis
RHP Ervin Santana
SEATTLE (73-56)
CF Ichiro
DH Jose Vidro
RF Jose Guillen
LF Raul Ibanez
3B Adrian Beltre
1B Richie Sexson
C Kenji Johjima
2B Willie Bloomquist
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
RHP Jeff Weaver
UMPIRES
HP Larry Poncino
1B Bruce Dreckman
2B Jerry “Quick Draw” Meals
3B Gary “Sound of Silence” Darling

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