9:52 p.m.: Just when you thought it was safe to breathe again, the O’s just took am 8-7 lead in the eighth on a leadoff homer to right by Brian Roberts off Sean Green. This Seattle bullpen is not getting the job done once again tonight. The M’s have two more innings to rectify that. My opinion? The sooner the Orioles leave town, the better things will get for the M’s. This Baltimore club just spells bad news for Seattle. Some teams are like that some years. This is one of those years for the M’s where the O’s are concerned.
A look below at a video of the some of the Latin American players for the Mariners partaking in their usual pre-batting practice ritual. The game they are playing is called “flip”. They stand in a circle and bat the ball towards one another using their glove hands. The idea at first is to keep the ball from touching the ground. But after a while, they try to get each other “out” by smacking a ball towards a player who cannot keep it in the air. They can position the ball with their bare hands by teeing it up, in mid-air, then whack it with their gloves. Anyhow, you know what they say: a team that plays together…hits together? No, that’s not it. I’m not sure.
9:45 p.m.: This wild game continues as Yuniesky Betancourt reaches on a leadoff single in the seventh and Ichiro follows with a two-run homer to right off reliever Jamie Walker. Now a 7-7 game. Hold on to your caps, this could get rough.
9:28 p.m.: John McLaren just got tossed for arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Casey Moser in the seventh inning. More importantly, the Mariners just allowed four runs that frame, two go-ahead markers coming on a double to left off the bat of Adam Jones. Some of it came courtesy of Moser, whose tight strike zone infuriated Arthur Rhodes after he appeared to have leadoff man Brian Roberts struck out. Roberts instead respoinded with a single, Melvin Mora followed with another and Rhodes then walked Nick Markakis on four pitches to load the bases with none out. McLaren came out to yank Rhodes, but stopped to jaw with Moser along the way and got tossed. Rhodes is still barking at Moser from the dugout and could be gone soon if he doesn’t stop. Look for some between-innings fireworks there.
Mark Lowe came on and yielded a sacrifice fly to left to score one run. Lowe then allowed a single up the middle by Aubrey Huff that tied it. A walk loaded the bases with two out and Jones came up. He fell behind 0-2, took a ball, then fouled off two more pitches to stay alive. Jones then drilled a ball off the left field wall that didn’t miss being a grand slam by much. An important at-bat for Jones in his continuing maturation. Umpire or not, the M’s have blown a 5-0 lead. It’s 7-5 for the O’s heading to the seventh-inning stretch.
8:59 p.m.: The Orioles just scored again in the sixth, with a controversial infield single creating the damage. Jay Payton led off with a grounder in the hole behind second that Jose Lopez made a fantastic play and throw on. The ball and Payton arrived at first at the same time. Umpire Greg Gibson ruled him safe. The replay appeared to back that up — by the thinnest of magins — but manager John McLaren went out and argued in any event. Payton advanced to second on a groundout, stole third, then scored on another infield single by Adam Jones. Now a 5-3 game as we head to the seventh. The M’s need to add some runs or things could get tight indeed.
8:45 p.m.: Baltimore has made it a 5-2 affair, heading into the sixth inning. A pair of singles by Melvin Mora and Nick Markakis — the latter of which deflected off an outstretched glove — left runners at the corners with none out. Jarrod Washburn then got a big 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Kevin Millar. The run scored, but further trouble was avoided. Washburn is done after only five innings. Those early walks ran his pitch count up too high, not to mention the Yuniesky Betancourt error that prolonged the third inning by two batters. Roy Corcoran on to pitch.
8:20 p.m.: Baltimore got a run back in the fourth on a leadoff homer to left by Jay Payton on a 2-2 pitch. That made it 5-1. The O’s then caught a break when Yuniesky Betancourt played a two-out grounder a little too nonchalantly and let it take a high hop past him for an error. Brandon Fahey then notched a two-out single to put two on, but Jarrod Washburn escaped with a strikeout of Brian Roberts.
8:15 p.m.: Seattle has a 5-0 lead after putting up four runs in the third inning and knocking starter Adam Loewen from the game. We saw some good things from the M’s in that inning, drawing walks, cashing in runners from third with a pair of sacrifice flies, not to mention a double-steal by Ichiro (pictured above, hanging with teammates) and Adrian Beltre that set up a two-run, ground-ruled double by Jose Vidro (yes, you heard right) over the head of center fielder Adam Jones. Hey, Adam Jones would have caught that. Er…oh wait, check that.
Anyhow, let’s not go popping champagne corks over the M’s just yet. While the hitters have had a hand in some of tonight’s success, the struggling Loewen played a key role as well. Some Baltimore folks I talked to before the game had an over-under pool going on him lasting just 4 1/3 innings. He beat the low end handily tonight, clocking in at just 2 2/3 frames in front of a large contingent of fans from his British Columbia. Loewen wasn’t landing many first-pitch strikes — or many strikes period for that matter. So, not exactly a tough test. But it’s a start. And an offense struggling like this one has will take it.
7:54 p.m.: More bad luck for Washburn to pitch out of in the top of the third. A pickoff attempt at second went awry as Kenji Johjima’s throw hit runner Adam Jones — who would have been dead-to-rights on the play. Instead, Jones wound up at third with one out (he’d gotten on with a double). But Brandon Fahey lined out to shallow left, with Raul Ibanez making a strong throw home. Jones held at third. After a walk to Brian Roberts, Melvin Mora popped out foul to first base. Washburn then walked Nick Markakis, who’d been just 1-for-9 off him before than fluke infield hit in the first, but rebounded to get kevin Millar to pop out to second. Nice pitching by Washburn, other than the three walks issued so far. He’s at 56 pitches through three innings already. Time to cut that down.
7:37 p.m.: Adrian Beltre went deep to left to lead off the bottom of the second inning, giving the Mariners a 1-0 lead. The count was full when Beltre took Adam Loewen deep. He got his pitch — with Loewen needing to throw a strike — and did not miss. Jarrod Washburn got into some trouble in the first inning, walking Melvin Mora with one out and then having a Nick Markakis shot deflect off his foot. Beltre tried to barehand the ball, but overran it, allowing Mora to take third. But Washburn managed to strike out Kevin Millar on a 3-2 pitch and Markakis — running on the full-count pitch — was thrown out at second. Washburn got the side 1-2-3 in the top of the second, before Beltre’s homer.
1 Brian Roberts 2B
6 Melvin Mora 3B
21 Nick Markakis RF
15 Kevin Millar 1B
17 Aubrey Huff DH
16 Jay Payton LF
55 Ramon Hernandez C
10 Adam Jones CF
12 Brandon Fahey SS
29 Adam Loewen LHP
51 Ichiro CF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
28 Raul Ibanez LF
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
3 Jose Vidro DH
44 Richie Sexson 1B
2 Kenji Johjima C
16 Willie Bloomquist RF
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
56 Jarrod Washburn LHP