One of the bigger lessons being given at this morning’s workouts was on how not to get picked off base by a left handed pitcher. Yuniesky Betancourt — not to mention Ichiro — has been having quite the misadventures on the basepaths of late. The deception that a lefty pitcher brings can be far more difficult to pick up on thatn a righty. So, the M’s had groups of left handed pitchers come over to a back field to work with some of the team’s would-be basestealers.
You’ll hear guest coach Rich Amaral address the group, then manager John McLaren say he used to look for “body language” of runners as a bench coach more than anything else.
3:55 p.m.: Anyone catch M’s president Chuck Armstrong going for that pop-up from his seat behind home plate. When’s the last time you saw that? Doubt we’d see Howard Lincoln do the same, but you never know. Anyhow, it’s still 8-4 for the Brew Crew here in the ninth. I’ve been downstairs waiting on Felix Hernandez. He took his time getting out, as he sometimes does. Nice to be 21 and carefree, I suppose. Although Hernandez did seem a little distressed about his performance. Went 4 1/3 innings, yielding five runs on seven hits (and two home runs). Didn’t blame the wind. Said he simply kept falling behind too often. Couldn’t spot his fastball enough. His slider was working a little better, as was his change-up. But the hitters weren’t swinging at that, he said.
Apparently, they were waiting on his fastball. Pretty smart, those Brewers.
3:20 p.m.: It’s now an 8-4 game, the Brewers having added three runs in the top of the sixth. Gabe Gross crushed a solo homer to right center off Chris Reitsma and then, two singles later, Arthur Rhodes took the mound with runners at the corners and one out. Rhodes struck out the first batter, Lance Nyx, but then yielded a two-run double by Joe Dillon that was socked over the center fielder’s head. Rhodes got out of the frame with a strikeout and has looked OK so far this spring, despite the Dilllon hit.
Seattle went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning. Mark Lowe is now on the mound for the M’s.
2:55 p.m.: For the second time today, the M’s stranded a runner at third base with nobody out. Tug Hulett was at third and Jamie Burke at first base in the fifth inning when Yuniesky Betancourt popped out. Ichiro then reached on a fielder’s choice, with Hulett getting hung up between third and home and tagged out. With two out in the inning, the ball popped out of the catcher’s glove and Burke appeared to get hung up between second and third deciding what to do. Ichiro started to run to second, thinking Burke was headed to third. But when Burke stopped and headed back to second, Ichiro was caught in a rundown and thrown out.
Milwaukee took a 5-4 lead in the top of the inning. Felix Hernandez issued a one-out walk and was pulled. Chris Reitsma came on and gave up a single and a walk to load the bases. Cory Hart (him again) then scorched one that appeared headed into left field. Third baseman Miguel Cairo knocked the ball down with a dive, but that was it and the run scored. Reitsma then turned an inning-ending 4-6-3 double-play.
2:23 p.m.: Add on another home run to Milwaukee’s total, with J.J. Hardy ripping a Felix Hernandez pitch over the left field wall. The wind had nothing to do with that blast. So, we’re all tied up after 3 1/2 innings. Ben Sheets is out of the game for Milwaukee. Seth McClung now on to pitch.
2:13 p.m.: The score hasn’t changed after the Mariners stranded a runner at third with none out in the third inning. Mr. Clutch reached on an error, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch, then stood there as jose Lopez grounded out weakly to the right side. Jamie Burke walked to put runners at the corners, Yuniesky Betancourt flied out to shallow center and Ichiro tapped one back to the mound.
Felix Hernandez gave up a two-out single in the top of the inning, his sixth hit allowed, but erased the runner on a fielder’s choice by Mr. Sunglasses (at night).
1:54 p.m.: Still a 4-3 game heading into the third. Felix Hernandez gave up two more singles in the second inning — now five hits on the day — but escaped serious trouble when J.J. Hardy was caught stealing. Hernandez fanned Rickie Weeks to end the inning. Mariners have seven hits on the day, but stranded a pair with two out in the second when Brad Wilkerson struck out.
Jose Vidro had reached on an infield single, then did a nice job going from first to third — something the M’s have preached down here — on a single to left center by Richie Sexson, his second hit of the day.
1:33 p.m.: First team to 25 wins. It’s now 4-3 for the Mariners after just one inning as Raul Ibanez connected for a two-run blast off Ben Sheets. Richie Sexson then reached on an infield single, Brad Wilkerson got on when first baseman Eric Munson flubbed a grounder, and my own “Mr. Clutch” came through with an RBI single. That’s my new nickname for Miguel Cairo because I know how much some of you love it. Jose Lopez struck out on a pitch two feet from his bat, but Jamie Burke singled to center to bring in the go-ahead run.
By the way, if you thought the wind was blowing out yesterday, you should see it today. Anything hit to left or left center? Look out. That’s where both of today’s homers and a very long Joe Dillon double wound up going. Three of the Seattle runs that inning were earned. Sent nine men to the plate. Nice to see the Hulett clan checking in down below.
1:17 p.m.: Felix Hernandez is completing the 1-2 punch with Erik Bedard, having already yielded a two-run homer to Cory Hart to fall behind 3-0 after a half-inning. Couldn’t see whether Hart had sunglasses on, but I could swear I saw him tell Hernandez to “never surrender!” as he rounded the bases. Ah, Cory Hart, shades of my native Montreal. Accent on “shades”.
A change in the Milwaukee lineup from what I posted earlier. Same
23 Rickie Weeks 2B
25 Mike Cameron CF
27 Joe Dillon LF
2 Bill Hall 3B
1 Cory Hart RF
13 Eric Munson (L) 1B
7 JJ Hardy SS
14 Gabe Gross (L) DH
18 Jason Kendall C
15 Ben Sheets RHP
51 Ichiro Suzuki (L) CF
3 Jose Vidro (S) DH
28 Raul Ibañez (L) LF
44 Richie Sexson 1B
6 Brad Wilkerson (L) RF
13 Miguel Cairo 3B
4 Jose Lopez 2B
15 Jamie Burke C
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
34 Felix Hernandez RHP
20 J.J. Putz RHP
33 Chris Reitsma RHP
53 Arthur Rhodes LHP
57 Mark Lowe RHP
62 Cesar Jimenez LHP
The shot above is what it looked like when I left Scottsdale Stadium yesterday evening. I liked the mountain in the backdrop. Nice desert scene.