The Mariners managed to squander an inning in which they had a leadoff double by Ryan Langerhans and two walks — including one from Russell Branyan to finish off C.C. Sabathia after he’d been down 0-2 in the count.
But Jose Lopez struck out on a pitch well outside of the zone to end the inning with Seattle still ahead 6-4.
Miguel Batista did a nice job of calming things down with a 1-2-3 fifth. He’s back out there in the sixth.
6:13 p.m.: Miguel Batista is now in the game to start the bottom of the fifth after Jason Vargas yielded a two-out, two-run homer by Hideki Matsui into the right field wind tunnel in the fourth inning. That cuts Seattle’s lead to 6-4.
Vargas had given up a one-out single to Robinson Cano and has looked too hittable tonight.
The other bad news for the Mariners is that they did little to work C.C. Sabathia’s pitch count in the fifth inning. Even with a two-out single by Franklin Gutierrez only helped drive it up to 90 after Sabathia began the frame at 82.
Not very smart.
At this pace, he’s got at least one more inning. Maybe more.
5:59 p.m.: The Mariners got themselves some badly needed runs in the fourth inning to take a 6-2 lead, two of them courtesy of an Ichiro double that knicked off the glove of center fielder Melky Cabrera. Ichiro stopped running on the play, or he could have taken third base as Cabrera was slow to pick the ball up. It didn’t matter though, as Russell Branyan struck out for the seventh consecutive time to end the rally.
Earlier, a soft liner by Chris Wooward that sailed over the head of leaping shortstop Derek Jeter got the first Mariners run of the inning home. C.C. Sabathia is already at 82 pitches for the night after four frames.
Franklin Gutierrez and Kenji Johjima got the inning started with singles, giving them two hits apiece. Newcomer Ryan Langerhans then barely missed drilling a ball over the head of center fielder Cabrera. He caught it on the run, but Gutierrez took third base and would score on the Woodward single.
5:30 p.m.: Ichiro still has that “thing” going with the fans in right field here, even in a new stadium. It all began back during the 2001 ALCS, when the Yankee Stadium fans taunted him mercilessly with chants of “O-ver-rated!” followed by rhythmic clapping. They got on him in the second inning tonight when he dropped a Hideki Matsui fly ball to right field. Ichiro got an error on the play and the run scored on what was credited as a sacrifice fly to Matsui that made it 3-2 — Seattle still leading.
Earlier in the inning, a walk to A-Rod and a double by Robinson Cano was followed by a Nick Swisher sacrifice fly.
The inning finally ended when Ichiro hauled in a high fly ball to medium right by Francisco Cervelli. The fans were all over Ichiro, naturally, until he hauled it in. Just before jogging back to the dugout, he made as if to underhand the ball to some fans, but pulled it in at the last second.
The fans were not amused by the “deke” move and let him have it. He got booed a bit when he led off the third inning as well, then was cheered when he struck out. Should be an interesting night with any more balls hit his way. Also, that’s now six strikeouts in a row by Russell Branyan. If the M’s want to win this game, he’ll probably have to step up. In fact, i’ll go stronger than that. The Mariners won’t win this game if he doesn’t step up.
5:12 p.m.: Don’t spill that beer all over your new couch cushions, but the Mariners have a 3-0 lead on C.C. Sabathia and the Yankees after an inning and a half.
The Mariners displayed some power in the second inning as Franklin Gutierrez, the pride and joy of Caracas, Venezuela, took Sabathia over the left field wall. Here’s a photo, below of what Caracas looks like, for all of our South American fans. Took it when I visited there in 2006.
Anyhow, our very own Happy Caracas Day, one night after Happy Canada Day, was followed by a single up the middle from Kenji Johjima, a single to right by Ryan Langerhans — in his first Mariners AB — to put runners at the corners, and a sacrifice fly to left by Chris Woodward. So, some breathing room for Jason Vargas.
Not to mention another narrowing of the offensive gap between Gutierrez and that guy they traded to Baltimore…what was his name again?
4:50 p.m.: Jason Vargas is indeed out there on the mound, so that’s likely just insurance being kept warm in the bullpen.
Seattle has a 1-0 lead after Ichiro doubled off the glove of first baseman Mark Teixeira. With one out, Ichiro stole third off catcher Francisco Cervelli — only the seventh successful steal in 17 tries off him by runners this season. Jose Lopez then chopped a ball to the right side, bringing in the run.
That leaves Lopez just eight RBI short of his pre-All-Star goal of 55.
Seattle finally has a lead in this series. First time.
4:41 p.m.: We’re finally ready to get underway here after sitting around for a half hour with no rain in sight. Thunder and lightning all around, though, so they were clearly expecting a system might pass on through.
Chris Jakubauskas is throwing in the Mariners’ bullpen. Looks like Jason Vargas might not make his start.