6:23 p.m.: Now that’s the way you handle your first game as a Class AAA callup. Wladimir Balentien took Cliff Lee over the right field wall for a three-run homer in the seventh inning. Sure, it’s in the too little, too late department, cutting the Cleveland lead to 8-3, but it sure ticked Lee off no doubt. Lee had been riding a 27-inning scoreless streak before that hit, the most by an Indians starter since 1981. I’m sure the M’s would have taken Lee giving up three runs over only six innings if you’d asked them about it before the game. But Jarrod Washburn and Cha Seung Baek couldn’t take care of the rest.
In case you missed it, here’s my Talkin’ Baseball segment on the Mitch in the Morning show on KJR 950 AM from this morning. You’ll get to hear all of my player move predictions that did not come true, and one or two that did pan out. I didn’t think the team would cut Brad Wilkerson completely loose today, nor keep Miguel Cairo over Greg Norton, but hey, that’s why they play the g…oh, well, maybe not. But anyhow.
5:54 p.m.: Jarrod Washburn struck out seven tonight, but bows out after just 4 1/3 innings and gives up five runs total. Cleveland scored five times in the fifth to take an 8-0 lead, with a Victor Martinez double to the left field corner scoring Grady Sizemore all the way from first base. Raul Ibanez was slow to get the ball back in. Washburn then hit Ryan Garko with his 102nd and final pitch of the night.
Cha Seung Baek came on in relief and was used for batting practice by the Indians. The first batter, Casey Blake, ripped a ball over Ichiro’s head in center to bring home a fifth run — charged to Washburn. Franklin Gutierrez brought two more runs home with a single, then kelly Shoppach doubled off the left field wall to move runners to second and third. Jason Michaels brought the fifth run of the inning home on a flyball deep to right. Baek needed 29 pitches to record two outs. Felt like the good ole’ days of watching Jeff Weaver out there. How is R.A. Dickey doing? Somebody might want to check.
5:32 p.m.: Wladimir Balentien came up with his first hit, legging out an infield single hit towards third base. Seattle got a two-out rally going in that fifth inning when Yuniesky Betancourt singled to right, putting runners at the corners. You know what? Balentien runs pretty well for a big guy. But Ichiro couldn’t come up with the big hit. Hasn’t had many this season and popped out to second base to end what could be Seattle’s last real shot against Cliff Lee. It’s early, but it isn’t. This guy doesn’t give up many runs and teams have to jump on any chances offered up. Seattle hasn’t.
5:17 p.m.: We’re through four innings and things aren’t looking all that great for the Mariners, now down 3-0. A big reason is that Cliff Lee is looking really great against Seattle hitters. Making it look too easy. He’s retired eight in a row, starting with the Wladimir Balentien double-play grounder back in the second inning.
Jarrod Washburn had been pitching very well since the first inning, retiring eight straight, but was hurt by an Adrian Beltre throwing error in the fourth on the front-end of what should have been a double-play grounder, Instead of two out and none on, the Indians had runners at the corners with none out. As bad as their offense has been, even the Tribe is going to find a way to score in that situation. Franklin Gutierrez promptly singled to left field to drive in the third Cleveland run. The Indians nearly scored again on a bloop single to center by Kelly Shoppach, but Kenji Johjima did a fine job of blocking the plate on Casey Blake as he tried to score from second. Ichiro made a strong throw and the ball wasn’t hit all that deep. But a nice job there by Johjima. Washburn is now up to 84 pitches through only four innings. So, it looks like five max for him tonight. Maybe not even that.
4:37 p.m.: Wlad the Impaler just pulled a Wilkerson in his first at-bat, grounding into a 6-4-3 double play after Richie Sexson notched a leadoff single to left. The swings weren’t nearly as good off Cliff Lee in that inning. Give Balentien time, it’s only his first game. And besides, this is it for a while where the M’s are concerned. Enough with the Griffey fantasies. It isn’t happening. At least, not any time soon. This is the team M’s fans have clamored for (mostly) and will have to look forward to moving ahead. Better get used to it.
4:28 p.m.: Not a good start for Jarrod Washburn, down 2-0 after the first inning. Washburn yielded a solo homer to Grady Sizemore on his third pitch. Sizemore does that a lot to folks. It was the 12th leadoff homer of his career. Washburn then yielded consecutive singles to Janey Carroll and Victor Martinez to put runners at the corners with none out. Ryan Garko then delivered a sacrifice fly for the second Cleveland run. Remember the big stat folks: the M’s are 0-10 this year in games in which they trail by two or more runs at any point. Wladimir Balentien bats second this coming frame.
4:15 p.m.: Did Yuniesky Betancourt swap spots with Jose Vidro in the lineup? Sure looked like it on that swinging strikeout by the guy listed as Vidro, on a pitch up over his head. Two men left on base. Nothing very “new look” so far, but it’s early. The M’s got some good swings off Cliff Lee in that inning and hit the ball well, Vidro aside.
51 Ichiro CF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
28 Raul Ibanez LF
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
3 Jose Vidro DH
44 Richie Sexson 1B
50 Wladimir Balentien RF
2 Kenji Johjima C
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
56 Jarrod Washburn LHP
24 Grady Sizemore CF
7 Jamey Carroll 2B
41 Victor Martinez 1B
25 Ryan Garko DH
1 Casey Blake 3B
28 Franklin Gutierrez RF
10 Kelly Shoppach C
8 Jason Michaels LF
13 Asdrubal Cabrera SS
31 Cliff Lee LHP