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April 24, 2009 at 9:43 PM

Seattle Mariners at Los Angeles Angels: 04/24 game thread

Erik Bedard nearly went seven innings, but had to settle for 6 2/3 after striking out Howie Kendrick on his 108th pitch of the night. No sense blowing out Bedard’s arm, with his team ahead 8-3 in the seventh. Bedard allowed just the two earned runs as Shawn Kelley retired the final batter of the inning with a runner on second. This game has been dragging on the past few innings. We were getting spoiled with all of those games going 2:30 or so, but this one is headed past three hours unless something dramatic happens. Looking like a lot of aces on this starting staff at the moment. By the way, the Mariners entered tonight with a 3.01 staff ERA — the best in team history after 16 games of any season.
Oh yeah, add six more strikeouts to Bedard’s season total, now at 29. That’s two more than Felix Hernandez, and second only to Zack Greinke’s 36 atop the AL leaderboard.
8:58 p.m.: Rough inning there for Erik Bedard and the defense, giving back three runs in what is still a 7-3 game, M’s in the lead, as we head to the sixth inning. Bedard’s pitch count got taken up to 83 in that inning, so I’m not sure he’ll get much beyond six frames tonight. It will depend on how aggressively he attacks the hitters in the sixth and whether or not they try to wait him out. He’s got the middle of the order coming up and you don’t want to be laying too many fastballs down the middle if you can help it.
8:40 p.m.: It’s an early Christmas in Navan, Ont. for Erik Bedard and his family and friends as he just saw the Mariners score as many runs in the fifth inning of this game than Seattle had in any of its prior seven contests. Yes, a huge six-run inning has given the M’s a 7-0 lead and knocked Angels starter Shane Loux from the contest. The key hit, for me, was an opposite field single by Endy Chavez that put two on with none out after a great at-bat. Ken Griffey Jr. then followed with his second hit of the night to load the bases and Adrian Beltre finally unloaded with a two-run double to left center.
From there, some cheap bloopers fell in, a wild-pitch got away and allowed Russell Branyan to score — and the rout was on. You can sense the mood in the stadium here. These Angels fans are getting antsy, restless, you name it. And it has little to do, I suspect, with this one night. The M’s are now in a commanding position to go 4 1/2 games up on their division rivals, with a guy making his ML debut on the mound for the Angels tomorrow and red hot Jarrod Washburn going on Sunday. And it’s only the third week of the season.
7:55 p.m.: Two of the big guys in this Mariners lineup, Adrian Beltre and Jose Lopez, couldn’t get it done in that third inning. There were two on with one out when Beltre hit a lazy fly ball to right field. Then, with the bases loaded, Jose Lopez got some good wood on the ball, but hit it right to right fielder Sarge Matthews Jr. Still a 1-0 game, heading to the bottom of the third with Erik Bedard at 30 pitches so far.
7:29 p.m.: Sometimes, when a team has been going as badly as the Mariners have on offense, even a guy coming back off an injury can feel like an impact trade. Russell Branyan gave the Mariners that feeling in the second inning, jumping on the second pitch he saw from Shane Loux as sending it soaring over the wall in left center to give Seattle a 1-0 lead.
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Branyan hasn’t played in a week and his status was still in doubt right up to game time as the M’s wanted to see how he felt after BP. Looks like he’s fine. Branyan’s hitting seemed contagious when Jose Lopez and Rob Johnson followed with one-out singles. But then, with a hit-and-run play on, Franklin Gutierrez swung and missed and Lopez was easily thrown out at third. Gutierrez can usually get the needed contact in that situation but the pitch was high, Gutierrez wound up drawing a walk, but then Yuniesky Betancourt, swinging at — you guessed it — the first pitch, lofted a routine fly ball to left for the final out.
So, the Mariners lead as Erik Bedard heads out for his second inning of work.
7:18 p.m.: And Erik Bedard counters with a 1-2-3 bottom of the first, retiring the Angels on 11 pitches compared to seven by Shane Loux in the top of the frame. Could be looking at another 1-0 or 2-1 affair here tonight. Loux is just throwing the ball over and daring the Mariners to hit it someplace.



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