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April 28, 2009 at 6:45 PM

Seattle Mariners at Chicago White Sox: 04/28 Game 2 thread

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A big night for Russell Branyan so far, collecting another double for his third hit of the game. Branyan then scored on the third hit of the game by Yuniesky Betnacourt after being advanced to third by Wladimir Balentien (I’ve liked his approach in this doubleheader each time he’s come to the plate).
It’s now 6-0, Mariners leading, as we head to the seventh. Two great pitching efforts for the M’s today, this one a three-hitter by Felix Hernandez. Looks like the M’s are headed for a split and a 13-8 record.
6:12 p.m.: Danks a lot, John! The Mariners haven’t hit like that in, oh, I’d say a month. No, I’m kidding, they did it in Anaheim last weekend, but it’s been a while since they’ve had consistency. With one run their last two games combined, this 5-0 lead after 3 1/2 innings is something this club had been looking for. Better fundamentals in this second game, from that Ichiro stolen base, to Wladimir Balentien getting a run home in the fourth on a sacrifice fly to right field. Russell Branyan keyed the inning with a double on yet another shattered bat — I believe it’s his fifth in two weeks. Sent all but the handle flying about 100 feet towards the second baseman. The ball went down the right field line to put runners on second and third with no out. Balentien then got the run home.
And it could have been a lot worse for Chicago.
Danks later yielded a single to Yuniesky Betancourt and a walk to Jamie Burke (you know you’re in trouble when that happens) to load the bases for Ichiro with one out. Ichiro then grounded into a frielder’s choice at first base, with the throw nabbing the runner at home. Endy Chavez grounded out to end the inning after that.
5:36 p.m.: As I was saying, that Yuniesky Betancourt is one heck of a hitter. I’ll tell you what, the M’s needed an extra-base hit by somebody. A three-run homer is a nice way to go, making it 4-0 for the Mariners in the second inning. Betancourt, you’ll remember, barely missed hitting a three-run go-ahead blast in the seventh inning of Game 1. Now, he does it in game 2, barely clearing the bullpen wall, but getting it over just the same.
By the way, here are some interesting stat tidbits on Chris Jakubauskas, courtesy of Mariners PR assistant Jeff Evans.
He threw the 39th CG in Mariners history with two or fewer allowed, the last of those being Felix Hernandez’s effort in Boston two years ago.
It was the first two-hit, complete-game loss in the majors since Carlos Zambrano on June 16, 2007. Anthony Reyes had one in a five-inning affair on June 27, 2007.
It was only the third two-hit complete-game loss in club history, with Mark Langston throwing a nine-inning one in 1987 and Glenn Abbott an eight-frame affair in 1981.
Bobby Madritsch had the last one by a rookie, back in 1994. This was also the 47th all-time complete game by an M’s rookie.
The Mariners are now 63-6 lifetime as a team when allowing two-hits or fewer. It was their first such loss since 2001.
5:25 p.m.: A much better start for the Mariners, up 1-0 after an inning of play. I liked that decision by Ichiro to steal third base with one out. It’s a high percentage play, since the Chisox have trouble throwing runners out. And I’m not sure Ichiro would have scored on that hard-hit single to center by Mike Sweeney had he been on second and not third base. Adrian Beltre then hit into a double-play and — I will repeat — he needs to pick it up. Now, not in mid-May, or the second half.
5:11 p.m.: Second game of today’s double-header is about to get underway. But what a first-game pitched by Chris Jakubauskas. He might never have results that good again in his career. Eight innings of two-hit ball. Unfortunately for him, one of those was a double down the line by Paul Konerko, bringing in the game’s only runs in the fourth inning, on a ball Jakubauskas admitted to leaving up in the zone.
“It was just one of those things,” he said. “I knew I’d missed my spot. he’s been doing this a long time, a lot longer than me. He’s not going to miss that ball. And he didn’t.”
But Jakubauskas certainly had a rhythm going early today. His rhythm was thrown off his last time out and he really struggled against the Rays. This time, he retired 10 in a row, gave up the Konerko hit — “the only pitch today I would take back” — then put the final 13 hitters away as well. It helped, he admitted, that his hitters were swinging into quick outs and getting him back on the mound before he could cool off. Not what he wanted, though. Instead, he was just pleased he kept himself in a groove by not trying to outthink himself on the mound.
“It’s big,” he said of getting in a proper rhythm. “The more guys in a row I can get out, pretty much it starts with strike 1. Once I get 0-1 it’s a lot easier for me because then hopefully they can put the ball in-play the next two or three pitches, which they did today.”
Jakubauskas, reflecting back to his days as a college hitter, also tried to take full advantage of the 39 degree game time temperature and accompanying wind.
“Absolutely,” he said. “It’s cold. When I used to hit, I didn’t like it when it was cold because your hands get cold. But they were taking the ball on the outer half and Rob (Johnson) and I sat out there the whole game. Every once in a while, we came in, but they still were swinging at it in. I definitely used the wind to my advantage out in right. I knew I could get away with balls out over the plate on the outer half, have them pop it up and it wasn’t going to go anywhere. Because (Josh) Fields got a hold of that ball in the first and it didn’t go anywhere.”
The lineups:
Mariners (12-8)
RF Ichiro
CF Endy Chavez
DH Mike Sweeney
3B Adrian Beltre
2B Jose Lopez
1B Russell Branyan
LF Wladimir Balentien
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
C Jamie Burke
RHP Felix Hernandez
White Sox (10-9)
CF Brian Anderson
3B Josh Fields
LF Carlos Quentin
RF Jermaine Dye
DH Paul Konerko
C A.J. Pierzynski
1B Wilson Betemit
SS Alexei Ramirez
2B Brent Lillibridge
LHP John Danks

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