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May 13, 2008 at 7:11 PM

Mariners at Texas Rangers: 05/13 game thread

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7:44 p.m.: Tough break for Seattle in the eighth inning as Kenji Johjima came about a foot away from hitting a go-ahead two-run homer, only to be robbed at the wall by a leaping Josh Hamilton. That’s the way things have gone for this team of late. One last chance for Seattle. Ichiro has a 12-game hitting streak on the line and will hit third in the ninth. Rangers still leading 3-2 as we enter the bottom of the eighth. Felix Hernandez was pulled, naturally, after the sixth. A slightly better effort from him and Raul Ibanez in the field tonight and Seattle might be leading.
A look, below, at Mariners GM Bill Bavasi watching his players taking batting practice earlier today.
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7:11 p.m.: Felix Hernandez made it through six innings, needing 113 pitches to do it, but he’s down 3-2 as we head to the seventh. Hernandez yielded a leadoff single to Gerald Laird, watched him take second when Raul Ibanez bobbled the ball, then third on a sacrifice bunt. Laird then scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Ramon Vazquez. Ian Kinsler drew the fifth Rangers walk on Hernandez, put the pitcher got a Frank Catalanotto flyout to left to end the inning. Not a great night for Ibanez in left. He’s costing the team some improtant runs tonight. Hernandez has looked better as well.
6:56 p.m.: Kenji Johjima has had a rough few days, but he’s certainly come up big at the plate. Johjima just hit a game-tying double to left off reliever Josh Rupe in the sixth inning. Seattle led off with a Miguel Cairo single and a one-out double from Raul Ibanez (on fire at the plate, if not the field) to put runners at second and third. That ended Kason Gabbard’s night. Rupe came on and issued a sacrifice fly to Jose Lopez, then the Johjima double. Rupe nearly got in a much bigger mess, walking Wladimir Balentien and Jeff Clement. But Yuniesky Betancourt lined out to center.
6:30 p.m.: Felix Hernandez begins the fifth inning at 77 pitches, trailing 2-0. Another disappointing night for him so far. He wild-pitched a runner home in the fourth inning for the second Texas run and has walked four guys in four frames. Not what the team needs out of him. When the M’s have needed their top arms to stand up and help save this season, they have largely wilted under that pressure. They aren’t banking on Hernandez offering up what he has so far the past few outings. This team doesn’t need a “King” just a No. 2 starter at the moment. Or maybe he’s the guy pitching tomorrow.
5:56 p.m.: Two moire baserunners stranded by the Mariners in the top of the third as Raul Ibanez grounds out following an Ichiro walk and a two-out single by Adrian Beltre. In other news, Barry Bonds was indicted on 14 counts of perjury today. This is a big reason why no team will touch him. You think the Kenji Johjima sideshow is big? Think again.
5:42 p.m.: Felix Hernandez was fortunate to get out of that second inning down only 1-0 after a dropped ball in left by Raul Ibanez led to all kinds of trouble. The liner had some slice to it, but it hit Ibanez’s glove as he slid to make the catch. He has to hold on to those. As a result, Brandon Boggs wound up with a double, following a David Murphy single, to put runners on second and third with none out. Gerald Laird then singled to left to score the first run. Hernandez struck out Chris Shelton for the innings’ first out, then walked Ramon Vazquez to load the bases. But his big break came when Ian Kinsler rocketed a ball back to the miound. Hernandez knocked it down, threw home for the first out, then saw Kenji Johjima throw to first for the 1-2-3 double-play.
5:35 p.m.: Seattle just squandered another of those big opportunities in the first inning. Raul Ibanez and Jose Lopez, two of the team’s hottest hitters, opened with line drive singles off Kason Gabbard. But Kenji Johjima lined out to center, Wladimir Balentien took a called third strike and Jeff Clement popped out foul down the left field line.
Felix Hernandez was victimized by an Adrian Beltre throwing error to start the bottom of the first. Leadoff man Ian Kinsler then stole second, but Hernandez retired the side, striking out Frank Catalanotto and getting groundouts on Michael Young and Josh Hamilton. To answer a question from Bum Knee McGee in the comments area, yes, Bill Bavasi does travel with the team or sends one of his assistants, either Lee Pelakoudis or Jim Na. It is standard practice for all teams to have a front office representative at their games.
5:09 p.m.: Mariners went 1-2-3 in the first inning on groundouts by Ichiro and Miguel Cairo and a flyout to right by Adrian Beltre.
Lots going on here today pre-game. Mariners GM Bill Bavasi was in a closed-door meeting with manager John McLaren and the coaching staff for quite a while. They were talking, no doubt, about the Kenji Johjima situation and other issues surrounding the club. Bavasi later had a chat with Jarrod Washburn near the dugout that lasted for several minutes. I could also see Bavasi chatting in the hallway with Antony Suzuki, interpreter for Johjima, though I didn’t see the GM actually speak to the catcher. Johjima is in the lineup today with Felix Hernandez on the mound in a rematch of the game last week that led to a brawl. Gabbard will is back on the hill for Texas, on the lookout for flying batting helmets no doubt.
As for that war of dirty words between Ryan Rowland-Smith and Ramon Vazquez last night, it turns out it was all a “he said” “she said” kind of deal. Vazquez turned to look at the center field radar (he says) to see the speed on a Rowland-Smith strikeout offering. Rowland-Smith thought Vazquez was staring at him, so he stared back. Vazquez asked him (not so politely) what he was staring at and the next thing you knew, the “F” bombs were flying fast and furiously.
The lineups:
MARINERS (15-25)
51 Ichiro CF
13 Miguel Cairo 1B
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
28 Raul Ibanez LF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
2 Kenji Johjima C
50 Wladimir Balentien RF
9 Jeff Clement DH
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
34 Felix Hernandez RHP
RANGERS (19-21)
5 Ian Kinsler 2B
27 Frank Catalanotto DH
10 Michael Young SS
32 Josh Hamilton CF
7 David Murphy RF
41 Brandon Boggs LF
15 Gerland Laird C
16 Chris Shelton 1B
12 Ramon Vazquez 3B
13 Kason Gabbard LHP

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