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Mariners blog

Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

May 29, 2009 at 11:00 PM

Jose Lopez finally comes through for the Mariners

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If you look in the photo, you can make out Endy Chavez being interviewed by Brad Adam of FSN. We told you what Chavez did tonight, running hard on that hit-and-run with Franklin Gutierrez, then delievering that big sacrifice fly in the sixth that scored Russell Branyan.
And just to the left in the same general area, you can see Lopez being interviewed for Spanish-language television. I want to talk about Lopez tonight because I’ve been real hard on him this year — as was needed, because he is not having a good season.
It turns out, that bunt play in the sixth inning was executed on his own. The team allowed him to swing away, but he’d had a rough time doing that of late and decided to give himself up for the good of the team. That’s what he told me when I asked him about it.
And look what happened next. Perhaps he was feeling so good about the bunt, which enabled Chavez to get Branyan home on the sac fly, that he took some pressure off himself. Next time up, Lopez took John Lackey deep and ended his night.
That was a big fifth run, too, given how two Angels reached base in the ninth. Almost didn’t happen, as the ball glanced off left fielder Juan Rivera’s glove. Moments earlier, Rivera had electrified the crowd by robbing Branyan of a homer.
“I knew he was getting close,” Lopez said of Rivera. “It was almost the same play. When I saw Rivera jump at the warning track, at the wall, I said ‘Oh my God! He has a chance to make it!’ ”
But he didn’t.
Jason Vargas confirmed what we suspected. He had an easier time pounding the zone with a 3-0 lead. That was his game plan going in and the multiple-run cushion takes pressure off because you aren’t afraid of making a mistake or two.
Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu seemed pleased overall with the situational hitting. He was proud of Lopez for bunting on his own. That was something the team preached in spring training. When you’re struggling to score runs, getting back to the basics doesn’t hurt.

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