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April 21, 2009 at 8:24 PM

Tampa Bay Rays at Mariners: 04/21 game thread

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The Mariners finally got that extra base hit they were looking for and Jarrod Washburn at last has some run support. Seattle leads 4-2 after Rob Johnson highlighted a four-run fourth inning with a triple over the head of center fielder Gabe Kapler. Hey Gabe, welcome back. Been a while since he’s played at Safeco Field, what with that stint in Japan and the NL. He was playing awfully shallow on that ball by Johnson, as well as on an additional triple by Yuniesky Betancourt that brought Johnson home.
Seattle had set the inning up nicely with a well-executed hit-and-run by Jose Lopez that sent Mike Sweeney from first to third with nobody out. The M’s nearly got another run on an inning-ending fly to center by Endy Chavez that Kapler had to make a diving catch on after again playing too far in.
I’m told the Rays have all their outfielders play the hitters shallow. Guess it works better when B.J. Upton is in center instead of Kapler. The Rays had better figure that out between innings or this could get awfully ugly.
And no, I have no idea why Ichiro was bunting with a runner on third and one out — and towards the third base side with the infield playing in at that. Feel free to write in with some suggestions for me. I’ll see if there was a missed sign or something.
8:14 p.m.:<strong>Jarrod Washburn pitched smart in the fourth inning and managed to escape it with no runs allowed. Washburn had retired eight in a row before a single by Pat Burrell and a double by Ben Zobrist put runners at second and third with only one out.
Washburn got a comebacker from Dioner Navarro for an important second out. And then, with righty hitter Gabe Kapler at the plate, Washburn got ahead in the count but did not try anything stupid — like putting a ball in the strike zone for Kapler to slug. With first base open, Washburn sort of pitched around him, knowing lefty hitting Akinori Iwamura was due up next in the No. 9 spot.
Kapler took some pitches low and drew the walk. Iwamura then hit an easy roller to Adrian Beltre for a force out to end the inning. The M’s still trail 2-1, but it could have been a whole lot worse.
8:04 p.m.: The Mariners got an unearned run back in the bottom of the first to cut Tampa Bay’s lead to 2-1. Mike Sweeney drove home Endy Chavez from second with a single up the middle. The Mariners put two on with one out in the inning after a walk drawn by Chavez (!) and a throwing error by Andy Sonnanstine on a comebacker by Ken Griffey Jr. But Adrian Beltre took a called third strike — on a pitch that appeared low and inside — for the second out of the frame.
And it’s still a one-run game in the fourth inning. We talked during today’s show about how the M’s might not catch teams off-guard with their small ball the way they’ve been doing. We saw that in the third inning as Chavez laid a textbook bunt towards the third base side, only to have Evan Longoria barehand the ball and throw him out by a whisker. Teams know what the M’s have been up to and good defensive ones will be expecting these bunts more often.
The Mariners need some extra-base hits.
7:18 p.m.: Jarrod Washburn did not fare well against righty hitters in the first inning and trails 2-0 heading to the bottom of the frame. The big hit was an Evan Longoria double that was misplayed a bit in the left field corner by Endy Chavez. That enabled Jason Bartlett to score all the way from first base.
A two-out single by Pat Burrell brought Longoria home with the second run.
Had an interesting chat with GM Jack Zduriencik while on my way back to the ballpark after taping Geoff Baker Live! this evening.
It turns out that Zduriencik made the Chris Burke trade with San Diego mainly to give the veteran utility man another shot at the major leagues.
“It was a situation where they were going to offer him a chance to be in the big leagues right away,” Zduriencik said. “With us, it was an insurance move coming out of spring training. We needed a guy who could play multiple positions, in case somebody got hurt early on. But we still have that in Chris Woodward, we have that in Matt Tuiasosopo. So, this was a chance to get him back to the big leagues and I didn’t want to stand in the way of that.”
I also asked Zduriencik about Ryan Rowland-Smith, who met with Dr. Edward Khalfayan before the game to discuss why he’s been unable to throw a baseball this past week. Zduriencik expects to speak to Khalfayan tomorrow to go over whether an MRI will be needed.

Comments | Topics: Chris Woodward

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