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March 18, 2009 at 8:01 PM

Mariners at Kansas City Royals: 03/18 game thread

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Yuniesky Betancourt is putting on a show tonight, having tripled home Ronny Cedeno in the sixth inning to make it a 7-2 game. The triple came on the first pitch Betancourt saw. He’s seen a grand total of six pitches in four at-bats tonight, swinging at five of them. Two of them went for a home run and a triple. If he can keep doing that all year, he’ll be fine. Otherwise, there’s some work to do. But there’s nothing wrong with swinging at the first pitch, to answer Pedro Calderon from the comments thread, if the pitcher is going to send you a fastball and you do something with it. Not sure why Robinson Tejeda would do that with Betancourt given his previous ABs tonight. Maybe he forgot to read the scouting report.
Jarrod Washburn got two outs in the sixth inning, then was pulled with two on. Miguel Batista came on and yielded a single, but the trail runner was thrown out at third before the lead guy crossed the plate. So, Batista catches a break and Washburn finishes with only two runs allowed. A nice outing by him, despite the two homers allowed. Washburn tends to give up solo homers. But if they’re only for one run, it doesn’t bother him as much as the multiple-run blasts do.
To answer a question in the comments section, I think the team is giving Betancourt some lattitude given how he’s coming off a hamstring injury. But he has to start seeing more pitches, yes. I think Betancourt starts the season as the everyday shortstop, but if this stuff continues, he could lose playing time to Ronny Cedeno.
Some better plate appearances from Wladimir Balentien tonight, despite a poor swing on a 2-1 pitch in that fifth inning. The ball broke low and well off the plate and was not very hittable. He tried to check his swing but couldn’t. Still, he wound up drawing a walk.
In his previous ABs, he singled to right field on a line after working the count to 3-1. In his next AB, he tried to bunt for a hit but was thrown out as Grienke scooped the ball up to his right. Not the best bunt. A rather easy play for the pitcher.

Don’t forget to watch the replay of today’s Geoff Baker Live! show up above.

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7:29 p.m.: Seattle has a 6-2 lead after five innings of play. Yuniesky Betancourt has seen just five pitches in three ABs tonight, but he hit the first pitch of the fifth inning over the left field wall to give Seattle a three-run advantage. Adrian Beltre and Russell Branyan then notched back-to-back doubles to bring the sixth Seattle run across.
The Mariners had grabbed a 4-1 lead in the fourth when Rob Johnson doubled and Mike Wilson crushed a Zack Grienke offering over the center field wall. Mike Jacobs then demolished a pitch from Jarrod Washburn and sent it into the right field bleachers in the bottom of the frame to cut the lead to 4-2.
Washburn, by the way, struck out Jose Guillen for the third time tonight in the fifth. The photo above shows Washburn throwing a strikeout pitch to Guillen in the first inning.
6:54 p.m.: The Mariners now lead 2-1 after three innings, scoring twice in the top half of the third. Mark Teahen then hit his fourth homer in three games, to dead center, off Jarrod Washburn in the bottom of the inning.
As for the Mariners rally, Ronny Cedeno laid down a nice bunt to the left of Zack Grienke with a runner on second with none out. Cedeno actually beat the play out for an infield hit, ducking around the attempted tag and making a lunging slide into first — tagging the bag with his hand. Mike Wilson had led things off with a double and advanced to third on the play. I like what I’ve seen from Cedeno this spring. He’s versatile, and would be able to back up third base in a pinch.
Anyhow, Franklin Gutierrez promptly singled up the middle to bring a run home. The speedy Cedeno took third on the play, then scored when Yuniesky Betancourt grounded into a 6-4-3 double play on the second pitch he saw from Grienke (yes, he swung at the first pitch as well and fouled it off).
That’s four pitches seen by Betancourt in two ABs tonight, swinging at three and hitting into the double-play and a popout. Just in case you’re keeping score. The double-play saved Grienke, since five of the inning’s first six batters reached on hits — with Betancourt the only one not to do so and accounting for a pair of crucial outs. Mike Sweeney and Adrian Beltre singled after the double-play, but with no one left on base, the damage was muted.
Russell Branyan took a called third strike to end the rally.
6:21 p.m.: Old friends Jarrod Washburn and Jose Guillen hook up, above, with Washburn delivering the strikeout pitch on the onetime Mariners right fielder. A pair of strikeouts for Washburn in the opening frame after yielding a leadoff single.
The M’s went 1-2-3 in the top of the first. Yuniesky Betancourt saw two pitches in his at-bat against Zack Grienke, taking a called strike, then swinging at a ball that looked like it might hit him.
5:46 p.m.: A warm, sunny late afternoon here in Surprise, Ariz. as we get set to play this evening’s game between the M’s and Royals.
Back in Peoria, I chatted with Tyler Johnson, who felt better after his latest bullpen session today. “I’m not rushing anything,” he told me. “I just want to feel good and be ready to start the season.”
Brandon Morrow also came out of his latest bullpen session feeling good. He’ll throw a simulated game on Friday.
Wladimir Balentien in today’s lineup. Let’s keep an eye on his pitch selection.
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Seattle Mariners (8-9-1)
21 Franklin Gutierrez CF
7 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
5 Mike Sweeney DH
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
30 Russell Branyan 1B
25 Wladimir Balentien LF
32 Rob Johnson C
61 Mike Wilson RF
3 Ronny Cedeno 2B
56 Jarrod Washburn LHP
Kansas City Royals (11-6-3)
2 Coco Crisp CF
24 Mark Teahen 2B
9 David DeJesus LF
11 Jose Guillen RF
17 Mike Jacobs 1B
16 Billy Butler DH
4 Alex Gordon 3B
14 John Buck C
1 Tony Pena, Jr. SS
23 Zack Greinke RHP



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