7:17 p.m.: A dramatic comeback by the Mariners is now on-hold as J.J. Putz blows a one-run lead in the 10th inning to make it 2-2 heading into the 11th.
Seattle had scored the tying marker in the ninth, then took the lead in the 10th on a Richie Sexson solo homer to left field. It was the 300th homer of Sexson’s career and his 100th as a Mariner. Seattle could use a few more from him, but he’s off to a better start in that department than last season. At six already. We had a long discussion about him this morning and what he needs to do going forward. This was a start. It also was not one of those worthless homers hitters can get in blowout games. This one definitely mattered. A big one for his team.
But Putz yielded one-out singles to Ryan Garko and Franklin Gutierrez in the bottom of the 10th. Garko took a wide turn at second and looked like he’d have a strong shot at third. But he pulled up and went back to second. The fans booed, but it became a moot point when Putz walked Asdrubal Cabrera on five pitches to load the bases. Putz then walked Grady Sizemore, also on five pitches, to force home the tying run.
Putz rallied atrong from there, striking out Casey Blake and David Dellucci with the game on the line. But he’s now blown two saves — as many as he had all of last season. He’s had only one save opportunity since coming off the DL and hadn’t thrown in six days since almost blowing that 5-1 lead in the ninth against Oakland. He’s rusty and needs more work.
As promised, down below, take a video tour of Progressive Field. I’ll walk you through the streets of Cleveland to the ballpark, where we’ll stand in the bleachers by the left field foul pole, up underneath the centerfield scoreboard where a lone drummer plays during games and over in Heritage Park. a place where they pay tribute to Indians and baseball Hall of Famers. Also where they post the names of the top-100 Indians of all-time as voted by fans. Enjoy.
A look above at Jeff Clement, making his first start at catcher tonight, hanging out in the dugout as the team prepares to begin its pre-game stretch.
6:31 p.m.: Miguel Batista is breathing a sigh of relief, off the hook for a loss after his team scored a run in the ninth to tie the game 2-2. The way that run was scored left plenty to be desired, but they all count. Ichiro led off with a single, took second on a one-out wild pitch, then broke for third on a steal attempt. The throw by catcher Victor Martinez was a good one, but it went off the glove of third baseman Casey Blake and rolled into foul territory down the left field line. Ichiro scored easily. It wasn’t pretty, but the M’s will take it. Adrian Beltre notched a two-out single, then stole second with Jose Vidro batting. But Vidro flied out to centre on a 3-2 pitch. Batista is out of the woods loss-wise, but the M’s will need another run or his night will have still been wasted. It’s the second blown save of the series by Cleveland closer Rafael Betancourt.
5:55 p.m.: Well, there you have it. Miguel Batista had some balls hit hard off him tonight, but got out of jams when he had to, and is now through seven innings with only one run allowed. But he trails 1-0. You get the feeling that if the Indians score again, the M’s will be 0-12 in games when they trail by two or more. But it’s still only one run. This is probably the inning the M’s have to do something. No, I’m not a fan of the Indians bullpen. But I’m less of a fan of the M’s ability to pull one out in the ninth if they’re trailing.
5:20 p.m.: Miguel Batista breezed through a 1-2-3 fifth, with help from Richie Sexson, racing in to catch a short pop up by Asdrubal Cabrera, then lunging to his left for a nice stab of a shot by Grady Sizemore behind the bag at first. Sexson got up and threw to a covering Batista in time to end the inning. Will this be another night where a seven-inning “quality start” goes down the tubes? Still 1-0.
5:15 p.m.: We’re already in the bottom of the fifth and the M’s trail 1-0 after Miguel Batista yielded doubles to Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner in the fourth. Hafner tried to score on a single to center by Ryan Garko, but Ichiro cut him down with a nice throw. Jeff Clement did a fine job of taking away the plate and applying the sweep tag.
Seattle is doing nothing offensively yet again. Wladimir Balentien is 0-for-2 with two strikeouts. Clement is 0-for-2 with the popout and a groundout. Jose Vidro has grounded out twice to first base.
4:53 p.m.: Remember that Miguel Batista “discover” we’ve been talking about? Well, he’s got five strikeouts through three innings so far and has yet to allow a hit. We talked last week about how Batista hinted he’s now hiding the ball better. After I wrote that, somebody who knows the game watched Batista on TV and told me he seems to be short-arming his delivery. I’ve paid closer attention tonight and it certainly does look like that. Watch him next inning and let me know what you think. Whatever it is, we’re scoreless through three innings. The offense has a single in every inning so far, with Ichiro getting one last frame, but all of them have come with two out.
4:38 p.m.: So far, so good for the Miguel Batista-Jeff Clement battery, which has two scoreless innings under its belt. Batista has walked a batter in each inning, but also has three strikeouts. Survived a scare in the second when, after a leadoff walk to Jhonny Peralta, he saw Travis Hafner rake one to the deepest part of the ballpark in center. But Ichiro pulled it in and Batista avoided trouble after that.
Clement popped out foul to third base his first time up in the top of the inning. A two-out single by Richie Sexson wound up going for naught.
4:20 p.m. : One inning in the books here already, with each team getting a two-out baserunner but going no further. Raul Ibanez, who entered 13-for-23 with two homers lifetime off Indians starter Paul Byrd, lined a single to center with two down in the top of the frame. But he was later caught stealing to end the inning.
Miguel Batista got a lineout to right by Grady Sizemore, then fanned Casey Blake. He walked David Dellucci on a full-count pitch, the came back and struck out Victor Martinez. A pretty good start for Batista tonight. A warm night for baseball, with gametime temperature at 75, which is 28 degrees better than it was two nights ago.
51 Ichiro CF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
28 Raul Ibanez LF
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
3 Jose Vidro DH
44 Richie Sexson 1B
9 Jeff Clement C
50 Wladimir Balentien RF
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
43 Miguel Batista RHP
24 Grady Sizemore CF
1 Casey Blake 3B
20 David Dellucci LF
41 Victor Martinez C
2 Jhonny Peralta SS
48 Travis Hafner DH
25 Ryan Garko 1B
38 Franklin Gutierrez RF
13 Asdrubal Cabrera 2B
36 Paul Byrd RHP