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March 31, 2009 at 4:12 PM

Jakubauskas, Branyan star in rout

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There wasn’t much more Chris Jakubauskas could do today as he tries to convince the Mariners to take him north. Jakubauskas gave up a lone run over five innings, needing just 61 pitches to get through the Cleveland Indians en route to a 12-4 win.
“We have a tough decision,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said moments ago,.
I asked Wakamatsu what will play into that decision.
“I think you’ve got to look at history and what he’s done in spring training,” he said. “And then, make the right decision.”
Jakubauskas spent four-and-a-half years in independent league baseball before the Mariners signed him in 2007. He’s a former hitter, who, when his bat bottomed out in college, reverted to pitching again for the first time since high school. Now, he’s one head-nod by Wakamatsu and company away from heading to the majors.
“I was thinking about that a couple of days ago and I didn’t want to get my mind dwelling on how this was a huge start,” Jakubauskas said. “Obviously, it was for me. My last one of the spring. I wanted to keep it the same as I kept it all spring. Going through the same routine and trying not to think about it. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t a little bit, but I tried to get myself out of that real quick and just focus on throwing five strong innings again today.”
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Russell Branyan hit a pair of long home runs off Indians left-hander Scott Lewis.
Branyan has not hit lefties well this spring. He’s had limited exposure to them in the majors, though he did OK in the minors. So, he wanted to show the coaching staff he can stay in there against southpaws. He actually went to the team’s video coordinator today and had him pull footage of his prior at-bats versus lefties this spring.
After studying the footage, Branyan decided to stay back more during his at-bats, preventing him from over-committing to pitches too early.
Today, it worked.
“A game like today is a product of staying back, seeing the ball good and letting my swing work for me,” Branyan said. “I’ve been a little antsy on lefties. I’ve really been chasing a lot of pitches early in the count, getting in a hole. But today, after that first at-bat I felt like I saw them pretty good, worked the count a little bit better and had better results.”
Branyan is now tied with Mike Wilson for the team lead in home runs with seven.
Brandon Morrow came in to work the ninth and fell behind 3-0 in the count to the first hitter, then battled back for a strikeout.
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But the next hitter, veteran Tony Graffanino (photo below) took him deep to left for a solo homer. Morrow watched the ball clear the fence (above), then walked Jamey Carroll, but got a lineout to first base that resulted in an inning-ending double-play when Carroll was caught off the bag.
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Wakamatsu noted the obvious command issues Morrow had, but added that he conserved his pitch couint enough that he’ll be used again tomorrow in a minor league game. The M’s want to see Morrow go back-to-back before deciding whether he’ll head north with the team.
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