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May 9, 2009 at 6:47 PM

Seattle Mariners at Minnesota Twins: 05/09 game thread

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Adrian Beltre just hit his first home run of 2009, so if you had May 9 in the pre-season pool, go collect. And also keep on going straight to Las Vegas and put bets on any predictive thing you can find. The solo shot off Matt Guerrier makes it a 9-6 game in the eighth. Three hits by Beltre tonight. Just a triple needed for the cycle. Yeah, sure.
6:37 p.m.: Pretty impressed by Denny Stark’s ability to throw 35 pitches in an inning without giving up a run. That’s very tough to do. Anyhow, he got through the sixth, but the Mariners went 1-2-3 in the seventh and are running out of time to do anything in what is still a 9-5 game. The last time the Mariners lost six in a row was, of course, not too long ago. Just last September, in fact, as they were about to drop a cool dozen. Will this year’s squad match that feat this month. I’ll tell you what, we’re a long way from that happening, but the M’s had best not waste another Erik Bedard start tomorrow. They’ve got three in Texas coming up, then the Red Sox visiting after that, followed by the Angels. Make it six straight tonight, then seven tomorrow and anything’s possible.
6:06 p.m.: I called that 6-4-3 DP by the way. Plenty of witnesses. Also called it on pitch No. 2. Someone asked me why not on the first pitch? Easy, I told him. After that fourth inning fiasco, the M’s had actually hired professional snipers to train their crosshairs on Betancourt and threated to have them fire away if he offered at the first pitch again. But once he took that first one, all bets were off. His patience level usually — with rare exceptions — lasts one pitch.
5:55 p.m.: Felix Hernandez was pulled after four and Sean White could not get the job done in the fifth. He yielded a leadoff walk — never good — then a hard hit single to left and a cannon blast, 427-foot homer high and deep to left that gives the Twins three more runs to pad their lead to 9-5.
The good news for the M’s is that they just chased Francisco Liariano after five innings and have a dude named Ayala coming into the game in relief. Too bad his first name’s Luis. Anyhow, they did knock Liriano out, which isn’t bad when you consider he retired the first nine guys. But the M’s face an uphill climb yet again. They needed Hernandez to be Hernandez tonight. Didn’t happen.
5:40 p.m.: Ichiro is being the catalyst he has to be so far tonight, while Jose Lopez finally delivered something more than a bloop single and Adrian Beltre finally delivered — period. For the second inning in a row, Ichiro reached base, this time on an infield single to start the fifth. Lopez followed with a double down the left field line to score Ichiro from first base and cut the Twins’ lead to a pair. Beltre then lined a solid double past the outfielders and to the center field wall to bring Lopez around and make it a 6-5 game, Seattle still trailing.
But Beltre helped take Francisco Liriano off the hook by getting himself thrown out trying to steal third. He had the advantage in a rattled pitcher and a lefty one at that, which makes it tougher to hold the runner on second. Wladimir Balentien was up and had fanned twice already, so he was trying to make it easier to get the run in. But he didn’t execute and was thrown out. Balentien grounded out. Felix Hernandez is done…Sean White in the game.
5:27 p.m.: The Mariners drew within a run, but an Adrian Beltre throwing error in the bottom of the fourth gave the Twins a marker right back. Beltre has looked sharp with the glove tonight and made another fine stab behind the bag. But after holding runner Michael Cuddyer at third, his throw was nowhere near first base and the two-bag E5 has really put his team behind the eight-ball now. Denard Span added another run on a sacrifice fly, so the Beltre play may have cost the M’s two runs in what is now a 6-3 game.
Sean White is warming in the bullpen. This could have been Felix Hernandez’s final inning.
Hernandez was visited by the training staff at one point and it looked like his sore ankle might again be bothering him. Hernandez has been hit awfully hard tonight.
Yuniesky Betancourt picked another of his usual bad times to swing at a not-so-great first pitch and ended a three-run rally with the bases loaded in the fourth. Seattle had drawn to within a run at 4-3 on a Kenji Johjima single, following a two-run homer by Mike Sweeney, when Betancourt came up with the sacks full. Francisco Liriano must have read the scouting report because — wonders never cease — he seemed to know what type of pitch to throw in that situation. Go figure.
5:08 p.m.: Mike Sweeney just got the Mariners on the board with a long home run to left field with Ichiro aboard after being hit by a pitch. So, it’s now a 4-2 game in the fourth. Francisco Liriano had retired nine in a row before hitting Ichiro, Sweeney then unloaded, snapping a streak of 12 consecutive scoreless innings by the Mariners. The two runs equals Seattle’s output of the past 30 innings.
4:57 p.m.: This game just took a dramatic turn for the worse for the M’s, as Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau hit back-to-to-back homers off Felix Hernandez to make it 4-0 after three innings. Jason Kubel nearly made it three straight long balls until Franklin Gutierrez hauled in his blast at the lip of the center field wall.
Nine up, nine down for the M’s hitters. If they don’t get something going in the next inning or two, you can pencil in that sixth straight loss because Francisco Liriano is toying with them.
4:41 p.m.: This is what happens to slumping teams, unfortunately. What can go wrong, so often does. in this case, a routine fly ball to left fielder Wladimir Balentien got lost against the white dome here. Instead of an out, it turns into a double for Denard Span. An ensuing walk, a wild pitch and a Joe Mauer double past the first base bag later, the Twins have a 2-0 lead.
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Six up, six down for the M’s offense so far. Felix Hernandez did a good job of limiting the damage after Mauer’s hit, or the score could have been worse as we head to the third.
4:08 p.m.: Let’s see what this offense can do. It’s got Wladimir Balentien in the heart of the order. Adrian Beltre as well, so we’ll see how that works out. Russell Branyan gets bumped back because there’s a tough lefty on the hill, so the middle of this order might be up against it tonight.
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