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April 10, 2009 at 9:12 PM

Mariners at Oakland Athletics: 04/10 game thread

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UPDATE (9:45 p.m.): Carlos Triunfel fractured his tibia sliding into second base during tonight’s Class AA game. No further details, but obviously, this is a major setback for one of the team’s top prospects.
Chris Jakubauskas got tagged for a pair of runs in that sixth inning, but the Mariners still have a 5-4 lead. A leadoff walk and blooped single,followed by a fielder’s choice, left runners at the corners and one out when Roy Corcoran entered in Jakubauskas’s place. Corcoran gave up an RBI double to Matt Holliday, then a walk and a sacrifice fly to right by Nomar Garciaparra. He then walked Jack Cust, but got out of the inning on a fielder’s choice grounder by Kurt Suzuki.
We told you earlier that M’s manager Don Wakamatsu was a popular, local-boy-makes-good type of coach here with the A’s last season. See video of him before the game, below, talking with some diehard A’s fans up behind the visitors’ dugout during the team’s pre-game stretch.

8:46 p.m.: That’s 1 2/3 scoreless innings tossed so far by Chris Jakubauskas in relief of Ryan Rowland-Smith. Seattle leads 5-2 as we enter the sixth inning, largely because Jakubauskas has calmed things down a bit. A big catch down the line in foul territory in right field by Ken Griffey Jr. helped Jakubauskas get out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth.
8:11 p.m.: For anyone wondering, Ryan Rowland-Smith is now at 75 pitches through three innings of play. He did a little better in the third, but still yielded a leadoff single. A nice catch in shallow center by Yuniesky Betancourt on a blooped ball spared him further damage. Not a big fan of the team’s offensive approach so far as Seattle hits in the top of the fourth. A lot of quick outs other than that five-run flurry, which resulted from broken bats and well-placed balls more than anything. This is still a 5-2 game and not time for the M’s offense to go to sleep.
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7:56 p.m.: Good thing we mentioned those four errorless games. Anyhow, that’s long done tonight with two errors by Seattle the first two innings. The M’s are fortunate to have a 5-2 lead after two because Ryan Rowland-Smith is not hitting the strike zone tonight and came an inch away from Orlando Cabrera tying the game with a grand slam on a ball he instead fouled straight back after RRS fell behind 3-1 in the count.
Instead, he wound up hitting a sac fly to left one pitch later.
Adrian Beltre opened the floodgates a little with a throwing error after a leadoff double by Jack Cust. Beltre nearly killed Russell Branyan by throwing the ball into the path of the oncoming baserunner. I watched Cliff Floyd shatter his wrist in the early 1990s trying to catch one of those. Branyan wisely pulled his arm back at the last minute and only took a glancing blow. Seriously, another half-second and his season might be done already. Anyhow, RRS issued two walks after that, the latter loading the bases for Matt Holliday. But he survived the inning by getting Holliday to ground into a fielder’s choice.
The bullpen was limbering up that inning. RRS doesn’t look like he’ll be much longer for this game. Unless, of course, he starts pitching better.
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7:42 p.m.: The Mariners just nickeled and dimed Brett Anderson for five runs in the second inning and a 5-1 lead. Didn’t see that coming. Anderson needed only six pitches to get out of the first inning, then got a quick flyout from Adrian Beltre to start the second. But then…a walk drawn by Ken Griffey Jr. and a single to second by Jose Lopez past a diving Mark Ellis at second base. Russell Branyan then shattered his third bat of the season, but the ball blooped its way into left for another hit to load the bases. Kenji Johjima then rolled one through the left side of the infield for an RBI single to tie the game.
Yuniesky Betancourt delivered the inning’s hardest hit ball, a bullet lined over the head of left fielder Matt Holliday for a two-run double. Endy Chavez then followed with a two-run single to right, off the glove of a diving Ellis. Maybe it’s me, but the A’s infielders seem to dive a whole lot without coming up with much.
7:32 p.m.: The A’s lead 1-0 after an inning, but I thought Ryan Rowland-Smith did an excellent job of keeping a bad situation from getting out of hand in that first inning. With a runner of first base after a one-out walk, Jason Giambi chopped a ball to RRS’s right. The pitcher picked it up, spun and threw to first. But it was a horrible throw, about five feet off target to the left of first baseman Russell Branyan. The ball then bounded int foul territory and let me tell you, it’s a huge area in this park.
I was standing on the field with GM Jack Zduriencik before the game and he couldn’t get over how much room there is in foul ground here. “If the catcher lets one get by him, the runner goes first to third every time,” he commented.
Same deal here. The runner on first base actually made it all the way home by the time the ball got back in. And the hard-chgging Giambi, looking like he might keel over at any moment, made it all the way to third. Not a great start. RRS then walked Matt Holliday and looked to be headed for serious trouble. But he regained his composure and got a huge popout to second by Eric Chavez for out No. 2. Nomar Garciaparra then flied out to center.
7:04 p.m.: We’ll see Ryan Rowland-Smith make his season-debut tonight against a 21-year-old Brett Anderson.
The lineups:
MARINERS (2-2)
LF Endy Chavez
CF Franklin Gutierrez
DH Mike Sweeney
3B Adrian Beltre
RF Ken Griffey Jr.
2B Jose Lopez
1B Russell Branyan
C Kenji Johjima
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith
ATHLETICS (2-1)
CF Ryan Sweeney
SS Orlando Cabrera
DH Jason Giambi
LF Matt Holliday
3B Eric Chavez
1B Nomar Garciaparra
RF Jack Cust
C Kurt Suzuki
2B Mark Ellis
LHP Brett Anderson
Let’s see, each team has a Sweeney and a Chavez. If Ichiro was here, you could have a battle of Suzukis as well.
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