The Mariners caught a break in the bottom of the sixth as Russell Branyan was called safe at third after barreling into Erick Aybar covering the bag. Replays showed Branyan’s foot never touched the base before he was tagged by Aybar. Instead, he was called safe and scored on a sacrifice fly by Franklin Gutierrez that makes it 8-6 for the Angels as we head to the seventh.
9:06 p.m.: The good news is, Brandon Morrow is no longer giving up gopher balls in the ninth inning. He’s doing it in the sixth now. Bad news is, they all still count. Kendry Morales got him deep to center this time, giving the Angels an 8-5 lead as we head to the bottom of the sixth. Morrow also yielded a two-out single to Chone Figgins.
Only thing looking “straightened out” about him so far is his fastball.
Russell Branyan also messed up a rundown that inning by dropping the ball as he tried to tag Figgins out. The play didn’t wind up costing anything except a few more Morrow pitches, which he probably benefitted from in getting some more work in.
8:44 p.m.: Ken Griffey Jr. just singled a run home in the fifth to cut the deficit to 6-5. Still four innings to go, so it’s far from over. I think Jarrod Washburn is done and we may see Brandon Morrow to start the sixth.
8:34 p.m.: We mentioned in the last update that Jarrod Washburn is not the greatest fifth inning pitcher. In fact, it’s been his worst inning of any this season, with opponents sporting an on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS) of 1.027 off him heading into the game.
It showed again this time as the Angels scored five runs to take a 6-4 lead. Juan Rivera tagged him for a solo homer after Washburn appeared to have him struck out on a prior pitch ruled a ball. Kendry Morales then singled and Howie Kendrick doubled to put runners at second and third with one out. Washburn then struck out Chone Figgins but Erick Aybar chopped an infield single to bring home a second run.
Washburn then walked Bobby Abreu to load the bases and Torii Hunter doubled past a lunging — but not diving — Ichiro in right center to bring three runs home and give the Angels a lead. Terrible inning by Washburn across the board.
8:14 p.m.: Russell Branyan just made up for that dropped pop-up by swatting his 10th home run of the season. Yes, he’s already at double-digits. So, it’s now a 4-1 lead for Jarrod Washburn and the Mariners as we head to the fifth. This is a big inning for Washburn. He typically has trouble in fifth innings and is facing the lower part of the order. He has to get through these guys unscathed, preferably starting the sixth off with the No. 9 guy.
7:59 p.m.: The Angels are on the board, scoring with two out in the third inning after first baseman Russell Branyan failed to squeeze a foul pop-up at the dugout with two out. He nearly tumbled down the steps, losing his balance near the top, so there was a fair degree of difficulty there. Chone Figgins, kept alive in the at-bat, promptly doubled off the left field wall to bring the run home from second.
And the Mariners promptly reverted to bad habits in a seven-pitch bottom of the third. That’s not what it will take to win this game. They had worked John Lackey well the first two innings, running up his pitch count. But they just helped him off the early hook.
So, the M’s take a 3-1 lead to the fourth. Lots of baseball still to play.
7:44 p.m.: Make that a 3-0 lead after two innings for the Mariners after a three-base throwing error by catcher Mike Napoli. Kenji Johjima led the second off with a bunt single, then Franklin Gutierrez punched a single through the right side. Yuniesky Betancourt then bunted both runners up — I hate that strategy this early in a game, by the way — before Napoli threw a Ronny Cedeno ball away at first base.
Napoli had a double in the top of the inning, but a strong throw by Wladimir Balentien, who barehanded the carom off the left field wall, ended up nabbing the runner after he over-slid second base.
7:26 p.m.: Seattle has drawn first blood in this showdown with a division rival that has ace pitcher John Lackey going tonight. Jose Lopez and Ken Griffey Jr. stroked one-out singles to put runners at the corners and then newly-installed clean-up man Wladimir Balentien worked the count full and drilled a ball fairly deep to left for a sacrifice fly.
So, it’s a 1-0 lead for the Mariners after one.
Jarrod Washburn retired the side in a 1-2-3 top of the first.
May 18, 2009 at 9:10 PM