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June 20, 2009 at 11:14 PM

Mariners truly gritted this one out

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You might have thought Adrian Beltre looked a little weak with some of those ugly swings taken earlier in tonight’s game. Well, that’s because he jammed his surgically-repaired left shoulder last night while diving back into second base while his team was hitting. Beltre’s shoulder was so stiff that he could barely lift it pre-game, yet he took batting practice, then begged into the lineup in an effort to help a shorthanded offense.
Why was it shorthanded? Well, I’m told Ken Griffey Jr. had 60 cc’s (cubic centimeters) of blood drained from one of his sore knees after Friday’s game. That’s a lot. It’s why he wasn’t in the lineup for a team already missing Jose Lopez. It’s why Russell Branyan stayed in the game after as fastball rang off his forearm with the score tied 2-2.
“To win two games in a row right now with a lot of stuff going on with this club meand a lot to us, obviously,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said afterwards. “We had some guys beat up.”
I had a nice chat with Mike Sweeney after the game and he gave me some insightful details about what’s been going on in the clubhouse the past 24 hours. About shellshocked teammates filing in to see Endy Chavez and his shattered knee in the trainer’s room, trying to keep his spirits up.
That kind of stuff leaves an impact on guys.
And then, you had the veterans setting the tone. Griffey was out there taking batting practice today despite the extent of the drainage done.
“Junior had 60 ccs drained from his knee last night drained from his knee, and that’s just one knee,” Sweeney said. “Adrian (Beltre) today, many guys would have gone ‘Hey skip, I can’t go.’ But he went out there, gave up three at-bats, but he was playing lights-out defense, sacrificing for his team.
“Russell (Branyan) same thing. A lot of guys would have taken their 1-for-3 and went to the house. but he fought, man. It just shows a lot about our team.”
And some of the fill-ins stepped up big as well. You had Chris Woodward going 2-for-3 with a walk. He’s now hitting .571 in two games.
And then Wladimir Balentien, making that great, leaping grab to end the game, snaring the ball away from fans in foul territory. Balentien told me after the game that he views this as “a great opportunity’ ‘to show what he can do. He’s been doing a ton of work behind the scenes. Now, he has to make it work on offense and defense.
“I have to show them I can hit on the higher level and play good defense too,” he said.
He really didn’t have to go after that foul ball. The D-Backs weren’t going to score four runs off David Aardsma with two out. But he did it anyway.
“The guys that are filling in for those guys just have to keep playing hard, get the job done and we will be OK,” he said.

Comments | Topics: Chris Woodward

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