A big sacrifice fly by Yunieksy Betancourt in the seventh inning gives Seattle a 4-1 lead and yes, Erik Bedard is indeed back out on the mound. As he should be. Betancourt was having a lousy day but, after a leadoff triple by Endy Chavez and a one-out intentional walk to Ichiro, did what a No. 2 hitter is supposed to do. And his team finally has more than three runs in a game. Doesn’t happen often.
Want a bit of a feel for nearby San Francisco? I shot some video yesterday on my walk from my hotel down to Chinatown for lunch. I actually filed the Guillermo Quiroz call-up blog post from the restaurant yesterday on my laptop. You won’t see that here, just about 90 seconds worth of the walk down.
4:25 p.m.: Erik Bedard is at 95 pitches through six innings and needs to come back out for the seventh. I saw some relievers starting to warm up in the bullpen, but this is where, if Bedard is healthy, he has to go the extra mile. The bullpen has faltered of late, and the A’s are not getting to Bedard. So, let’s see what happens. I predicted he’d go 110 pitches on today’s Talkin’ Baseball segment on KJR AM 950 and he’s right in line to do exactly that. That is, if he’s healthy. If not, that’s a different story and teams looking to deal for him will be taking notes, believe me, because a top-of-the-order guy is expected to go deeper.
2:14 p.m.: Russell Branyan didn’t wait for a runner to get to third base before pulling the trigger in the sixth inning, drilling a towering home run to right field on a 2-2 pitch from Trevor Cahill. There’s no doubting a Branyan home run and the crowd here certainly knew his 11th of the season was gone the moment it left his bat.
Ken Griffey Jr. had reached on an error, so it was a two-run blast and gives Seattle a 3-1 lead as we head for the home stretch. We’ve been down this road before, though. A few more Mariners runs would not hurt.
2:08 p.m.: Let’s play a game: we’ll call it “How many times can the Mariners get a runner to third base and not score?”
The M’s are 1-for-4 in that department today, including twice stranding runners there with fewer than two out. It happened again in the fifth inning as a Franklin Gutierrez double put runners on second and third with one out. But Ichiro grounded out to second against a drawn-in infield, forcing Rob Johnson to hold at third. Yuniesky Betancourt — having another awful game at the plate — then grounded out to third to end the inning. So, it’s still a 1-1 tie heading to the sixth.
Erik Bedard is pitching a fantastic game, holding the A’s to just three hits and one run through five innings.
1:11 p.m.: The A’s just tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second when Bobby Crosby tagged Erik Bedard for a home run to left. Crosby had gone a career high 72 games and 243 at-bats without a longball. But he got all of Bedard’s 1-1 pitch.
Seattle had taken the lead in the top of the inning.
Russell Branyan led off with a single and later scored on a groundout to the right side by Endy Chavez . Rob Johnson had the big hit of the inning, a double to the left field corner that sent Branyan to third with one out. The second double in as many games for Johnson, who entered with a .192 batting average. Could have been a bigger inning, but Franklin Gutierrez was called out at first base for leaving his baseline while running to the bag. The throw hit Gutierrez and the play would have resulted in a run had he not been called out.
12:48 p.m.: Ichiro led off with a double just inside the left field line to extend his hitting streak to 21 games, tying him for the fourth-longest mark in team history. He then stole third base, but probably should have tried for home as well, because the killer combo of Yuniesky Betancourt and Adrian Beltre promptly sabotaged the inning.
Our daily barrage at Betancourt begins with his lame pop out to very shallow center field, accomplishing nothing. Beltre then hit a hard grounder that was snared by third baseman Jack Hannahan, who threw to first for the out. So, another mission not accomplished.
Ken Griffey Jr. then struck out.
A half-inning of play and the same old Mariners.
By the way, Jack Cust was scratched with a sore lower back.
12:33 p.m.: The Mariners are still looking for that elusive one in a row before they can try to capture consecutive wins for the first time in over a month. They’ve got Erik Bedard on the mound today, but really, it doesn’t matter. This team has to hit and score more than three runs or fewer to give itself a solid chance.
That means no more double plays, no more falling down on the basepaths, no more stranding runners.
A last-second lineup change by the A’s, with Ryan Sweeney now in right field instead of Jack Cust.
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Ken Griffey Jr.
1B Russell Branyan
2B Ronny Cedeno
C Rob Johnson
LF Endy Chavez
CF Franklin Gutierrez
LHP Erik Bedard
SS Orlando Cabrera
C Kurt Suzuki
RF Ryan Sweeney
LF Matt Holliday
DH Jason Giambi
2B Adam Kennedy
1B Bobby Crosby
CF Rajai Davis
3B Jack Hannahan
RHP Trevor Cahill