12:43 p.m.: Felix Hernandez is pulled after eight innings of scoreless, five-hit ball with six strikeouts. Two of the first three hitters due up this inning are lefties, so the M’s have Erik O’Flaherty out there to try to nail it down. Hernandez was at only 97 pitches. If this blows up on the Mariners, expect John McLaren to hear about it for weeks.
Listen to this part of the national anthem played here earlier. When they get to the “Oh say does…” part, the fans here tend to do something a little unique. What do you think about it? I tend to have mixed emotions. Part of me thinks it’s OK, the other part thinks it’s not cool to appropriate your team name into the Star Spangled Banner. I don’t like having to stand for anthems prior to games with players from a multitude of countries. And I think, if you’re going to make people honor America, you should honor it by sticking to the anthem the way it was supposed to be played. I mean, if not, why not just play the team fight song? But the other part of me doesn’t care, because I don’t take this anthem thing all that seriously. At hockey games, they’ll start clapping and cheering all the way through the anthem if it’s a big game. What do you think?
In case you missed it last night, here’s a look again at Camden Yards and the pressbox, filmed yesterday when it was much warmer and the sun was out. Enjoy for now.
11:50 a.m.: Jeremy Guthrie did indeed come back out for the sixth after the M’s let him slide by in the fifth. But Guthrie made a mistake on an 0-2 pitch to Raul Ibanez and saw it swatted into the right field seats. Ibanez’s first homer of the season makes it 2-0 for the M’s heading to the bottom of the frame. Felix Hernandez enjoyed a 1-2-3 fifth inning and starts this frame at only 52 pitches. Remember Jarrod Washburn on Friday night? He was at 61 pitches through two. Big difference.
12:12 p.m.: Felix Hernandez walked a pair of batters in the sixth, but Kevin Millar lined out to shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt. Hernandez threw 22 pitches that inning, but is still at only 74 and should get through at least seven innings today. What a lift for his team. Still a 2-0 game as we finish off the seventh-inning stretch and the playing of God Bless America. No “O’s!” cheers during that rendition. The Mariners went 1-2-3 in the seventh against Jeremy Guthrie, who recovered nicely after that first inning of 30+ pitches. How he got through seven is anyone’s guess, though the free-swinging M’s did help a bit.
11:38 a.m.: Felix Hernandez logged his fourth strikeout to start the fourth inning, then, after a single up the middle by Aubrey Huff, got a 3-6-3 double-play from Luke Scott to carry his 1-0 lead into the fifth. Good outing by Hernandez so far. Just what his struggling offense needs. This could be Jeremy Guthrie’s final inning. We’ll see if the M’s work the count on him.
11:34 a.m.: Another leadoff runner gets wasted as Brad Wilkerson draws a walk, then gets thrown out trying to steal second. I’m going to guess that it was a hit-and-run play, though Jose Vidro did not make contact in whiffing on what looked like a ball over the plate. Wilkerson got the green light with two strikes the other night and was thrown out on a similar play. But it was a first-pitch attempt this time, so we’ll stick with the hit-and-run theory. Vidro flied out to left and Jamie Burke grounded out to end the inning.
Felix Hernandez had a 1-2-3 third, so it’s still 1-0 for Seattle heading to the bottom of the fourth.
11:20 a.m.: Well, the M’s broke the scoring ice in the third inning and lead 1-0. It looked like they’d find another way to mess up a two-on, none out situation after Ichiro and Jose Lopez opened things up with singles. Raul Ibanez then hit into a 4-6-3 double-play and Jeremy Guthrie seemed poised to be let off the hook. But Richie Sexson then lined one into the left field corner for a double to open the scoring. Adrian Beltre lined a sharp one to right after that, but it was right at Nick Markakis.
11:12 a.m.: Felix Hernandez gave up a pair of singles in the second inning, but a nifty 6-4-3 double-play turned on Guillermo Quiroz, the former M’s farmhand, got him out of trouble. Three strikeouts for Hernandez thus far. On the offensive side, a two-out single by Jamie Burke went for naught as Yuniesky Betancourt flied out to right. Still scoreless heading to the third.
10:57 a.m.: A wasted first inning by the Mariners as Raul Ibanez notches a two-out single, followed by a Richie Sexson walk. But Adrian Beltre struck out to end the inning in a rather poor-looking at-bat. I wouldn’t want to miss to many more early opportunities against Jeremy Guthrie today. He can make teams pay if they let him off the hook.
Felix Hernandez gave up a two-out single to Nick Markakis in the bottom of the frame, but struck out Kevin Millar to end the threat. Hernandez’s second whiff so far keeps it scoreless heading to the second.
10:36 a.m.: A cool, windy, wet day here so far. Temperatures are only expected to reach a high of 50, but it feels much lower than that today. a light rain is still falling. They announced a gametime temperature of 52, which is ridiculous. Weather sites say it’s 47 and feels like 45 with the wind.
Erik Bedard supposedly feels better. He must, since he threw a bullpen session about an hour ago. We’ll have an update ln his progress after the team evaluates him. But he isn’t going today, as you know. No changes to the lineup, other than Brad Wilkerson being back in right field and hitting sixth. Jamie Burke also gets the nod over Kenji Johjima, since it’s a day game after a night affair. The M’s have to start hitting today. Their last 12 runs have come via homers. The situational hitting has lacked at times.
To answer Lance in the comments thread, the back-to-back lefties will be a temporary situation. Manager John McLaren said this morning that he will try to remedy that as soon as an opportunity presents itself, like an off-day or a guy needing some extra rest. For now, though, you’re right, it’s going to be an inconvenience.
51 Ichiro (L) CF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
28 Raul Ibanez (L) LF
44 Richie Sexson 1B
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
6 Brad Wilkerson (L) RF
3 Jose Vidro (S) DH
15 Jamie Burke C
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
34 Felix Hernandez RHP
1 Brian Roberts (S) 2B
6 Melvin Mora 3B
21 Nick Markakis (L) RF
15 Kevin Millar 1B
17 Aubrey Huff (L) DH
30 Luke Scott (L) LF
16 Jay Payton CF
24 Guillermo Quiroz C
2 Luis Hernandez (S) SS
29 Jeremy Guthrie RHP
HP Tom Hallion
1B Brian O’Nora
2B Paul Nauert
2 Jerry Crawford (crew chief)