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April 9, 2008 at 6:17 PM

Mariners at Tampa Bay Rays: 4/9 game thread

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6:17 p.m.: Jamie Burke finally gives the Mariners the breathing room they’ve needed, blasting a three-run homer to left off J.P. Howell to make it 7-1 in the eighth. Burke also did a nice job of blocking the plate in the seventh inning, tagging out Willy Aybar, who was trying to score on a single to left field. I didn’t think the M’s had a shot at Aybar, but Raul Ibanez made one of his better throws and Burke took care of the rest. Seattle will try to win two in a row for the first time this season. A nice, seven-inning effort from Jarrod Washburn, who’s now out and being replaced on the mound by Ryan Rowland-Smith.

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5:34 p.m.: Seattle now leads 4-1 heading to the bottom of the sixth, The M’s got a run that inning, but again, it should have been more. If they wind up losing this game, they’ll be regretting all of these missed opportunities. Richie Sexson drew yet another full-count walk, then Brad Wilkerson doubled — yes, you heard right. A single to center by Jose Vidro — yes, you heard right again — brought the run home. But with runners at the corners and no out, Jamie Burke popped out and Yuniesky Betancourt grounded into a first-pitch double-play. This team does not do things the easy way.
5:21 p.m.: Adrian Beltre just unleashed a solo blast into the left field seats with two out in the fifth to give the Mariners a 3-1 lead. The M’s need to create some separation with the teams they play. All of these one and two-run games are wreaking havoc with the pitching staff. We’ll see if they can build on Beltre’s homer from here. For Chris from Bothel, the leather-lunged fan you refer to is named Robert Szasz and I wrote a feature on him when I was with the Toronto Star. Szasz is actually a transplanted Canadian from Ontario. He used to get on Eric Hinske like crazy. I wonder what he does now that Hinske is with the Rays? Anyway, I looked for him earlier. He’s not here tonight. Maybe tomorrow.
5:11 p.m.: The Mariners have a 2-1 lead after four innings, but could do with some additional runs. The M’s left two on in the fourth after a walk and a two-base error on a Jose Vidro fly ball to right. But Yuniesky Betancourt grounded out to end the inning. Tampa Bay nearly tied the game in the bottom of the fourth, with Jonny Gomes reaching on an Adrian Beltre fielding error and Willy Aybar doubling into the left field corner. That put runners on second and third, but Shawn Riggins tapped one back to the mound to end the inning.
4:53 p.m.: Jarrod Washburn gave a run back in the third, allowing a leadoff double to deep left center by Justin Ruggiano. He was sacrificed to third base, then scored tagging up on a deep fly to left by Akinori Iwamura. The Rays seem to be hitting a lot of deep fly balls of Washburn. He’d better be careful with these guys. It doesn’t take much for the ball to carry in this ballpark. M’s lead 2-1 after three.
4:49 p.m.: That third inning started better than it finished for the M’s, who scored a pair of runs to take a 2-0 lead, but looked like they were about to put up more. Jamie Burke — getting the nod tonight so Kenji Johjima can rest and figure out bhis early hitting problems — and Yuniesky Betancourt opened with singles, then Ichiro doubled to right field to score the first run. There were runners on second and third, still with no out, at that point when Jose Lopez hit a flyball to right. The M’s showed good aggressiveness in each moving up a base as Betancourt scored and Ichiro went to third. But then Adrian Beltre struck out — the big rally killer that inning — and Raul Ibanez grounded out. Good start, but could have been better.
4:37 p.m.: Great defense from third baseman Adrian Beltre that second inning, barehanding a slow hopper by B.J. Upton and throwing the speedster out at first base. Jarrod Washburn gave up a two-out single that trickled through the left side, but got a Shawn Riggans fielder’s choice grounder to end the inning. Seattle went 1-2-3 in the second, Richie Sexson striking out in another full-count at-bat and Brad Wilkerson and Jose Vidro grounding out. Still scoreless.
4:26 p.m.: One inning in the books already and there’s no score. A two-out base-hit by Adrian Beltre was all the m’s could manage, as Raul Ibanez popped out to end the inning. Jarrod Washburn got the side in order in the bottom half. Washburm is 10-3 with a 2.69 ERA lifetime in 15 starts against the Rays, the most wins he’s collected against any team. He’s 5-1 with a 1.99 ERA at Tropicana Field.
Far fewer people at this game than the one last night. Why, it looks like…a Rays home game. Here’s some news from today. J.J. Putz threw on flat ground from a distance of 60 feet. He hopes to throw again tomorrow, probably from the same distance. He’d like to get it up to 90 feet, then throw off a mound. Both Putz and manager John McLaren say they’re taking the cautious approach to the rib injury, rather than an aggressive one.
“If you’re not (ready) and there’s a flare-up, it’s not just a setback,” Putz said. “It’s a week or two setback.”
No. I wouldn’t expect him back a week from today, when he’s eligible to come off the DL. The team and Putz are being cuatious about their expectations on a return. In part, because they don’t know. A rib can feel great one day, drive you crazy the next. The good news? Putz can finally sneeze without pain.
The lineups:
51 Ichiro (L) CF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
28 Raul Ibanez (L) LF
44 Richie Sexson 1B
6 Brad Wilkerson (L) RF
3 Jose Vidro (S) DH
15 Jamie Burke C
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
56 Jarrod Washburn LHP
RAYS (3-4)
1 Akinori Iwamura (L) 2B
13 Carl Crawford (L) lF
23 Carlos Pena (L) 1B
2 B.J. Upton CF
31 Jonny Gomes DH
16 Wily Aybar (S) 3B
9 Shawn Riggans C
10 Justin Ruggiano RF
8 Jason Bartlett SS
21 Andy Sonnanstine RHP



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