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May 15, 2009 at 9:54 PM

Boston Red Sox at Seattle Mariners: 05/15 game thread

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Wow, this game sure has turned. Mark Lowe looked as good as I’ve seen him in the while. He did give up his obligatory baserunner on a walk, but also struck out Rocco Baldelli and Jason Varitek. So, the Mariners still lead 5-4 and all they have to do now is bring the closer out to wrap things up. Uh, what’s that? Oh…yeah, right. Anyhow, I’m thinking David Aardsma this time. We’ll see. Start practising those breath holds.
Another run or two here would be good if you’re the Mariners.

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Once again, thanks to all who wrote in to ask questions during today’s live show. I understand the video was a little choppy, but it was our first remote attempt and we’re working on it.
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9:19 p.m.: Not sure what Jon Lester was doing in that sixth inning and it may have cost him this game.
The Mariners now lead 5-4 after Ichiro belted a two-run homer to right field with two out in the sixth, electrifying this crowd of 34,952. It’s the fourth two-homer game of Ichiro’s career and his first since July 30, 2005. But this four-run eruption by the Mariners almost didn’t happen.
Lester had a possible inning-ending double-play ball tapped his way by Yunieklsy Betancourt with two on, but then seemed to freeze on the mound once he had the ball. Lester looked at third, then stared at second, where he had an almost certain out had he made throw. But he didn’t and then almost failed to get Betancourt out at first base on a bang-bang play. The indecision cost him at least a run, possibly two, as Franklin Gutierrez singled up the middle to bring both runners home to narrow the gap to one. Lester then fell behind 3-1 in the count to Ichiro and that’s a big mistake.
Lester is now done after 5 2/3 innings, the M’s having worked him for 104 pitches. Do you know who’s looking good? Chris Jakubauskas. He went six innings and allowed three earned runs. Is now positioned for the victory. Sean White has come on to work the seventh.
Ichiro finally got the M’s on the board with a solo homer to right in the fifth inning, The blast came on a 2-0 pitch and Ichiro got all of it. In the prior inning, Yuniesky Betancourt drew his second walk in two plate appearances. Looks like he got the message. He did make that fielding error on a routine glove play in the top of the fifth, but the ball did come up at a strange angle off the dirt at the last second, so I’ll give him a pass on that. Mariners still trail 4-1 as we go to the sixth, but Chris Jakubauskas is holding them in there after a rough start.
8:13 p.m.: Another fundamental play wasn’t executed by the M’s and it cost them two runs in the third inning of what is now a 4-0 game. Chris Jakubauskas let the Red Sox load the bases with none out, then — with Denny Stark warming in the bullpen — caught Rocco Baldelli looking at a called third strike. Julio Lugo then hit a potential double play ball to Yuniesky Betancourt, who threw to second for one out., But the relay by Jose Lopez bounced in the dirt and rolled away for an error. Lugo likely would have beaten the throw anyhow, but the poor quality of it allowed that added run to score, So, more failure to execute.
i spoke to Wladimir Balentien earlier today about his continued solid hitting, especially going the opposite way to right center. Balentien just doubled to lead off the fourth inning of a 4-0 game, Boston in the lead. It was the third straight game in which Balentien has doubled and fourth time in his last five contests. He pulled this double to left but the going the other way part has been no fluke, he told me, since it’s something he’s been working on in batting practice all season.
“When I hit in the cage, me and A.C. (hitting coach Alan Cockrell) have a lot of drills we’ll do in the cage,” he said, “During BP, (manager) Don (Wakamatsu) told me he doesn’t want to see me pull the ball, so i’ll be there hitting center to right field, all those kinds of things. Little things I’m putting together every day to get better.”
Balentien entered tonight hitting .293 with a .787 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. His ability to go the opposite way, especially when facing right handed pitchers, will go a long way towards determining whether he becomes a more everyday player.
8:01 p.m.: The Mariners trail 2-0 after two innings, largely because the Red Sox have come through in key situations while the M’s continue to struggle. With two out in the top of the inning, Chris Jakubauskas yielded a single to Chris Bailey. Jacoby Ellsbury then delivered his second extra-base hit of the night — a triple to right center that brought in the second Boston run.
Seattle then wasted a leadoff double from Russell Branyan in the bottom of the inning. It wasn’t Yuniesky Betancourt’s fault either as he worked the count full and took a one-out walk in his first plate appearance since being benched two games. After Kenji Johjima grounded out to the left side, failing to advance the runner, Franklin Gutierrez struck out and Ichiro flew out to center. This is getting real old, real fast.
7:37 p.m.: I will say that the Mariners at least worked the count a little in the first, forcing Jon Lester to throw 22 pitches. But with Ichiro on third with one out after a leadoff single, Mike Sweeney took a pitch that looked low and outside. Plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth called it a strike for out No. 2. Sweeney did not like the call and made his point vocally. Adrian Beltre walked, but Wladimir Balentien flied out to end the inning. Still 1-0 for Boston as we head to the second.
7:23 p.m.: Chris Jakubauskas tries to make a case to remain in the starting rotation tonight, taking on one of the league’s best teams.
Jakubauskas is off to a rought start, already down 1-0 after a half inning. Jakubauskas gave up a leadoff double to left center by Oregon native Jacoby Ellsbury, then saw J.D. Drew hit a one-out, broken-bat single to open the scoring. Jakubauskas then issued a walk to put two on with one out, but did a nice job pitching out of it with a popout on Mike Lowell and a fielder’s choice grounder by Rocco Baldelli.



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