What were we saying about those Mariners not being counted out against some dude named Brian Bruney? Turns out the dude had trouble commanding the zone and promptly gave up three straight hits to Franklin Gutierrez, Chris Woodward and Kenji Johjima to bring one run home.
Then, a sac bunt and intentional walk later, Russell Branyan delivered the bases-loaded sacrifice fly to left to tie it up 5-5.
Sean White now on to pitch. What a game!
7:49 p.m.: All that work by the Mariners, only to lose on an Alex Rodriguez home run? Heck, I could have written that script four hours ago and saved us all some time. Anyhow, A-Rod took Chris Jakubauskas deep to left — and I mean DEEP — with a runner on to make it a 5-3 game, the Yankees leading.
The way the Mariners have played tonight, I would not count them out just yet. But they’ve got some work to do. With Mariano Rivera looming, they’d better get that work done right now in the eighth against some guy named Brian Bruney.
7:10 p.m.: Brandon Morrow had every opportunity to go the regulation five innings, but came up short when third base umpire Mike DiMuro failed to call out Jorge Posada on a checked swing. DiMuro has already rung up two Mariners on similar checks tonight. Seen that happen in this ballpark before. Anyhow, Posada wound up walking to end Morrow’s night on 98 pitches and load the bases with two out for Hideki Matsui.
But Chris Jakubauskas came on to pitch and got a fielder’s choice grounder to escape the inning.
So, we’re still tied 3-3 after five innings of a game with plenty of drama and dragging on like a playoff contest.
Joba Chamberlain is back out there for the Yankees in the sixth. Not sure that’s a good idea, the way he’s been missing the strike zone. One of these innings, the M’s will stop chasing pitches and he’ll dig himself a real big hole.
This will probably be Seattle’s final chance to do it, though, since his pitch count is up at 86 and the New York bullpen is active.
Command issues prevented Morrow from having a better result tonight. Five walks in five innings is too many. He was otherwise dominant at times and gave up only the one earned run. So, another Morrow start, another bullet dodged and one more step along his road to development. He threw more pitches tonight than he had previously.
6:45 p.m.: It wasn’t pretty, but the Mariners finally took advantage of a wild-looking Joba Chamberlain and scored twice in the fifth to tie it, 3-3. Ichiro got the whole thing going by legging out an infield single on a ball Chamberlain should have cut off, but allowed to roll to the second baseman.
Ichiro then stole second, and third base. He scored on a single to right by Russell Branyan. That’s the Ichiro I remember from 2001. A multi-threat, with his legs destabilizing the pitcher.
Think the Mariners aren’t timing Chamberlain’s slow delivery?
Even Jose Lopez, choppy strides and all, stole a base off him that inning. And that proved big as Lopez came around to score the tying run on a Franklin Gutierrez bloop single.
Brandon Morrow now has to hold the Yankees in the fifth and hope the Seattle bullpen can outduel New York’s. That should happen — on paper. But who knows?
6:31 p.m.: Brandon Morrow and the Mariners were fortunate to give up only one run in the fourth inning and now trail 3-1. Morrow walked two batters to load the bases with none out. But he got a huge popout on Nick Swisher, then a Melky Cabrera fielder’s choice grounder that scored the run, but became the second out of the inning.
Morrow then fanned Derek Jeter to end the inning.
Believe it or not, despite the run, that was a huge finish by Morrow. He limited the damage to really the minimum possible and still kept Seattle in the game. He’s up to 70 in his pitch count now, so I doubt he goes beyond five tonight. But the M’s are still alive and now have to stop stranding runners and actually do something against a pitcher who has not looked his sharpest.
6:07 p.m.: Many of you have noted that Yankees starter Joba Chamberlain looks a little wild tonight. That he does. In fact, if not for some questionable calls on balls and strikes and a couple of checked swings, Chamberlain might be in a whole lot more trouble than he is at the moment.
It’s 2-1 for New York after three innings. Chamberlain has given up the only earned run in the game — a homer to left center by Ronny Cedeno (!) that cut New York’s lead in half in the third inning. But the Mariners then left two men on. They had two on the previous inning before a Kenji Johjima double play grounder on the first pitch and stranded another guy in the first inning.
Can’t keep doing that. Have to be smarter and swing at better pitches than some Mariners — hello Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Sweeney — have done.
5:43 p.m.: Adrian Beltre is already missed tonight as a double-error by replacement Chris Woodward in the second inning has given New York a 2-0 lead. Brandon Morrow yielded a pair of seeing-eye grounders for singles to start the inning, then gave up a soft grounder to third by the slow-running Hideki Matsui.
Woodward charged the ball and had time to make a play. But he juggled the exchange from his glove to his hand, then compounded the problem by throwing the ball away at first base. Woodward gets the first error for juggling the ball and (in theory) enabling Matsui to make it to first safely regardless of the throw. The second error comes because the throw allowed the runners to move up. Everyone was safe, a run scored and Jorge Posada moved from first up to third on the play.
That became big one out later when Melky Cabrera delivered a sacrifice fly to left center. A nice running catch by Franklin Gutierrez, but a second unearned run scores on the play.
Woodward then had a hard shot by Johnny Damon deflect off him. Fortunately for the Mariners, the ball went straight to shortstop Ronny Cedeno, who gunned the ball to first base for the inning’s final out.
Not Woodward’s finest efforts.
5:23 p.m.: Good thing Russell Branyan’s not playing third base tonight because I doubt anyone else would have snagged that errant throw from Brandon Morrow with one out and Johnny Damon at second base. They’ll tell you that a direct throw from the mound to first base can be the toughest to make because you’re standing so close to the bag. Anyhow, Morrow had real good stuff in that first inning, shattering the bats of both Damon and Mark Teixeira on the comebacker that led to the near disastrous throw.
Morrow then struck out Alex Rodriguez to end the inning. Like I said, color me impressed by what Morrow was doing out there. That Damon double was a bit of a fluke, since he got lousy wood on the ball and the flying bat distracted Branyan as the ball went by him and down the right field line.
We’re still scoreless after one.
4:27 p.m.: Brandon Morrow takes the mound against Joba Chamberlain in a battle of two former late-inning relievers converted back to starting roles while still in the majors. There is still a running debate in New York about whether the Yankees are better off served with Chamberlain in the bullpen. As for Morrow, that story is still being written. We won’t know the answer until next season at the earliest, I’d say. For now, he’s a starter and will be treated as such from tonight moving forward: no more pitch counts or limitations. Or safety nets for that matter. Succeed or fail, starting is what he’s supposed to do from here on in.
1B Russell Branyan
2B Jose Lopez
LF Ken Griffey Jr.
DH Mike Sweeney
CF Franklin Gutierrez
3B Chris Woodward
C Kenji Johjima
SS Ronny Cedeno
RHP Brandon Morrow
SS Derek Jeter
LF Johnny Damon
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
C Jorge Posada
DH Hideki Matsui
RF Nick Swisher
CF Melky Cabrera
RHP Joba Chamberlain
Ron Kulpa HP
Dale Scott 1B (crew chief)
Jerry Meals 2B
Mike DiMuro 3B