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June 20, 2009 at 9:02 PM

Arizona Diamondbacks at Seattle Mariners: 06/20 game thread

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Looks like the Diamondbacks have Ron Burgandy: Anchorman working relief for them. Anyhow, Clay Zavada, a southpaw vintage 1970s throwback, at least in mustache and hair, came on to pitch with runners at the corners and none out in the seventh. Fast runners, too, with Yuniesky Betancourt at third and Ichiro at first base. Zavada, perhaps paying too much attention to the runners, promptly hit Russell Branyan on the hand with a full-count pitch to load ’em up. Branyan was in obvious pain, but stayed in the game. We’ll have to monitor that in coming days.
Ronny Cedeno then came in to pinch-hit for Adrian Beltre — uh-oh, what’s up with that? — and promptly laid down a squeeze bunt that resulted in an easy force out at the plate. If Beltre isn’t hurt, the M’s just telegraphed their intentions about as badly as if they’d announced it over the PA system.
So, a new pitcher coming in, bases still loaded with one out in a tie game.
8:50 p.m.: The Mariners haven’t done a whole lot with their seven hits and two walks tonight and it came back to bite them in the seventh. Justin Upton led the inning off by hitting the first pitch over the left field wall for a home run that has tied it up 2-2. Jason Vargas had retired 17 in a row to that point.
Outfield terror Yuniesky Betancourt was up to his old tricks in that seventh, racing back and snaring a pop-up just in front of center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, who was clearly calling him off — maybe not in Spanish, or English. Who knows? Anyhow, Gutierrez, perhaps recalling the Endy Chavez play of the night before, wisely gave way to the backpedaling Betancourt at the last moment.
8:18 p.m.: Wladimir Balentien has given the Mariners a 2-1 lead as we head to the bottom of the fifth inning. Balentien came up in the fourth inning with one out and took Billy Buckner into the left field bullpen. Not a bad way to try to stake your claim to the left field job. The Mariners are not going to give him forever this time. Balentien had an earlier single, so that’s two hits tonight.
8:04 p.m.: We’re tied 1-1 in the fourth inning after Yuniesky Betancourt led off the third with a walk. Ichiro singled after that, with a hard-running Betancourt going to third on the play. D-Backs centerfielder Gerardo Parra then overran the ball, allowing Betancourt to score on the error. Jason Vargas is breezing along now, having retired 11 straight as we head to the bottom of the fourth.
By the way, to answer some of your questions, yes, Mike Carp could play some left field in a pinch. The team wanted a bit of a look at him there in spring training and the minors but did not see enough to convince them he can play the outfield reuglarly. But they will give him some work out there for now, just to add depth.
I also asked Don Wakamatsu pre-game about what he felt was the cause of that collision between Endy Chavez and Yuniesky Betancourt. Here is his answer:
“I think it’s one of those absolute in-between balls,” he said. “I’ll give Yuni credit for catching the baseball. It’s one of those ones where if you peel off and don’t catch the ball, it’s tough to tell a player that. It was one of those wierd instances. You try to say that one goes high and one goes low. But, it was just a Bermuda Triangle out there.”
Listen to the answer right here.
7:24 p.m.: A not-too-heads-up play by catcher Rob Johnson helped the D-Backs to an unearned run in the first inning. The Mariners appeared to catch a break when, with runners at the corners, one out and a 3-0 count on Mark Reynolds, the clean-up man swung away and popped out foul to Johnson.
Things would have been fine from there. But Justin Upton, the runner at first, broke for second after Johnson caught the ball off balance. Johnson probably should not have thrown, as upton is super quick and got a great jump. The minute he released the ball, the runner at third, Felipe Lopez, broke for the plate.
Johnson’s throw wound up going to the outfield for an error. But even if it hadn’t, Upton likely would have been safe and Lopez would have scored in any event. That was one case where a pump-fake to second and maybe a throw to third might have trapped Lopez in a rundown. In any event, the M’s trail 1-0.
7:06 p.m.: Getting underway here on a chilly night that sees the Mariners going for their fourth win in five games. These guys really have to get some kind of prolonged streak going if they are to stay in this AL West race. Too many fits and starts all season. That’s nice if you want to be a .500 team, which they pretty much are. If they’re going to show something more, we’ve mentioned this a few times already, this is the place to start.
Jason Vargas is on the mound for the first time since getting rocked in Colorado last weekend. Vargas gave up seven runs over 4 2/3 innings in that affair. He hasn’t lasted six innings in any of his past three outings. So, I’m sure the M’s are hoping for some better longevity tonight against a D-Backs offense that isn’t exactly murderous.

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