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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

April 11, 2009 at 3:33 PM

Mariners at Oakland Athletics: 04/11 game thread

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Don’t forget our Geoff Baker Live! show event, happening on Tuesday, starting at 1:30 p.m. at The Showbox SoDo, just up the street from Safeco Field. There will be guests, prize giveaways, trivia and a live broadcast streamed over this blog. A great way to kick off festivities prior to the Mariners home opener against the Angels. Hope to see you all there.
A four-run eighth inning has vaulted the Mariners back in front by a 7-5 score, the runs coming courtesy of a two-run double by Jose Lopez and a two-run single from Kenji Johjima, both of them ripped down the left field line. An error by newly-inserted A’s third baseman Bobby Crosby opened the floodgates and allowed the M’s to load the bases with none out. Remember when Crosby used to be a good fielder? Some folks thought he was, though the defensive metrics weren’t all that impressed. Ironic, in a way, how Lopez was only in the game because Wladimir Balentien got hurt. The two big hits came off sidearming reliever Brad Ziegler, who had come on to face Lopez. Hang on tight, folks. Six outs to go. Mark Lowe comes on to replace Miguel Batista after his two innings of one-hit ball.
2:59 p.m.: Miguel Batista has come on to pitch the sixth inning. The Mariners have also taken Wladimir Balentien out of the game and replaced him with Endy Chavez in right. Balentien apparently has a sprained left wrist from that early-game play in right when he tried to catch a double. Ronny Cedeno moves from second base to Chavez’s left field spot and Jose Lopez comes into the game at second base. He’ll bat sixth in Balentien’s spot.
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2:46 p.m.: This is why it’s critical to catch every single ball you have a play on in the major leagues. Kenji Johjima failed to do that in the fifth inning, dropping a Jason Giambi pop-up in foul territory that had the catcher twisting and scrambling in the sun. No, it was not an easy catch. But the ball hit Johjima’s glove and popped out. Moments later, Giambi notched an infield single against the shift. Two outs later — instead of three — Jack Cust gets to come to the plate. One pitch later, a two-run homer is sailing over the wall in left center. A’s now lead 5-3, with Felix Hernandez at 94 pitches through five.
Got to catch those balls.
2:37 p.m.: Just like that, the M’s have tied the game 3-3 as we head to the bottom of the fifth. A leadoff walk by Ronny Cedeno was followed buy a Yunieksy Betancourt single. Endy Chavez then came an eyelash away from an infield hit on a grounder that moved both runners up. Franklin Gutierrez then laced a single to left center that brought both runners in.
Mike Sweeney blooped a ball to right for another single to put two on with one out and end pitcher Josh Outman’s day. Michael Wuertz came on in relief and picked Gutierrez off second. Gutierrez appeared to beat the rundown play and make it safely into third. But he was called out by third base umpire Hunter Wendelstedt even though replays appeared to show the tag was missed. Adrian Beltre grounded out to end the inning.
Felix Hernandez has eight strikeouts through four innings, but has also thrown 78 pitches. He needs some quick outs, or it’s a five-inning day at best.
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2:14 p.m.: Russell Branyan just hit a ball into the second deck beyond the right field wall, which you can see in the photo I’ve put just above. Another of his no-doubters, No. 2 on the season, off A’s starter Josh Outman. That makes it a 3-1 game as we head to the bottom of the fourth, Oakland still on top. The M’s have gotten some good swings off Outman today, but the balls are heading straight at fielders. I count six flyball outs and at least three were of the line drive variety. So, this game isn’t over just yet.
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2:06 p.m.: Now, that was a little more like it for Felix Hernandez. He issued a leadoff single to Nomar Garciaparra that wasn’t all that hard hit, yet still found its way up the middle. Hernandez then struck out the next three hitters — Jack Cust, Travis Buck and Mark Ellis. That;s now six K’s in three innings for Hernandez, who still trails 3-0.
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1:48 p.m.: Felix Hernandez and the Mariners trail 3-0 as we head to the third inning after Landon Powell opened the scoring with his first major league hit — a two-run double placed perfectly between the outfielders in right center. The ball was hit a long way. Ryan Sweeney then singled to left, putting runners at the coners with one out and Powell scored on a sacrifice fly well-hit to center by Orlando Cabrera.
Hernandez is now up to 48 pitches through two innings. His troubles began when he issued a leadoff walk to Jack Cust in the second inning, then rallied to strike out Travis Buck. But then, Hernandez walked Mark Ellis on four pitches to put two on with one out.
Hernandez does not have the sharpness to his pitches that he did against the Twins. This is normal for this time of year. You could tell by how the A’s were starting to really hit some balls hard in that first inning, even on the outs they made. What was abnormal was how he manhandled the Twins in Minneapolis so early on. Normally, it takes a while to build that type of arm endurance. Hernandez has come back to earth a bit today.
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1:32 p.m.: A one-out walk to Wladimir Balentien in the second inning wound up going nowhere as Kenji Johjima and Ronny Cedeno lined out to right. Let’s see how Felix Hernandez can do in the bottom of the frame.
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1:24 p.m.: Wladimir Balentien snapped his wrist back while making a lunging attempt at a one-out double to right by Orlando Cabrera in the first. Balentien nearly trapped the ball, but it rolled away when his wrist hit the ground. It looked serious, the training staff and manager Don Wakamatsu came out, but Balentien stayed in the game. He caught the final out of the inning on a flyball by Nomar Garciaparra with two on. Keep an eye on Balentien. Let’s see if the wrist swells up or if he remains in the contest as the innings progress.
Hernandez got hit hard a couple of times, once on the double and on a lineout to left by Jason Giambi. He also hit Matt Holliday while attempting to come up and in with a fastball. Not as sharp yet as he looked in Minneapolis.
But we’re scoreless after an inning.
1:14 p.m.: Felix Hernandez takes the mound this afternoon, trying to guarantee the Mariners a winning road trip.
For all those wondering, the reason FSN is not televising today’s game is because it’s a 1:07 p.m. start time, which is inside the Fox Sports Network’s national window. So, you’re either the national game — which the M’s are not — or you can’t be on telelvision. That’s why we have newspaper blogs.
Mike Sweeney had a two-out single to right in the top of the first and advanced to second on a wild-pitch, but Adrian Beltre struck out.



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