Don Wakamatsu had said before the game that he wasn’t going to use Shawn Kelley in any seventh or eighth inning nailbiters — that he was going to ease him back into things after a nearly two-month absence. Well, he might have forgotten what he said in that eighth inning because there was Kelley, giving up a two-run double off the Green Monster in left field by former Mariners farmhand Nick Green that’s tied this game up at 5-5.
Sean White, who clearly looks gassed, walked a batter and allowed a single to put two on with one out. Kelley came on from there, saw Jacoby Ellsbury hit a ball to the left field warning track, then yielded the double.
The problem here is, Wakamatsu has seven relievers on the team, but only a handful he can trust late. Roy Corcoran isn’t heading out there to protect any leads and Miguel Batista was used quite a bit last night along with Mark Lowe.
That left Chris Jakubauskas, but you need the long reliever ready the next two days.
I know, it’s not an optimal situation. One problem is Corcoran, a guy taking up a spot who isn’t being used. Another is White, who has not looked right his past few outings and has thrown more big league innings than anyone expected this year.
This one might not have the happy finish some were expecting.
Also, in case you missed it earlier, our video tour of the new Yankee Stadium is on the next page.
5:40 p.m.: Felix Hernandez had retired 13 of his last 14 batters faced before Mark Kotsay managed a two-out double off him in the sixth. Jacoby Ellsbury then hit a hard grounder to Russell Branyan’s right and the first baseman wound up bobbling the ball on what was ruled and infield hit. The two hits were the first Hernandez had given up since the second inning, but he escaped the jam when former Mariners farmhand (from 2007) Nick Green took a 96 mph fastball straight down the middle with the count full.
The 4-2 lead is still intact. That fan had better have an escape route out of here.
Actually, I just spoke to GM Jack Zduriencik on the phone. He was sitting two rows behind the guy who caught the ball.
“They got up and left about an inning ago,” he said.
Guess he’ll live to tell the tale.
5:10 p.m.: They might need the Bartman cops to perform security here in a few minutes as the Mariners have a 4-2 lead in the fourth and locals are not happy with a male fan who reached out and caught a foul popup with his baseball cap. Boston third baseman Kevin Youkilis was trying to snare the Ryan Langerhans popup, but the fan beat him to it.
And oh, did the Red Sox pay. Langerhans promptly doubled off the center field wall, then Rob Johnson doubled him home with a two out shot off the foul pole in left (the Mariners love that pole tonight. It runs up along the side of the Green Monster). Ronny Cedeno then cranked a ball 400-plus feet over the center field fence and off a back wall before it ricocheted on to the field. Counts as a two-run homer.
So, yes, the Mariners have given Felix Hernandez a lead. The fans are booing the guy who caught the ball with his cap, chanting “It’s-all-your-fault!” several times. Somewhere in Chicago, Steven Bartman has about 0.001 percent of the heat taken off him.
If I was that guy, sitting in Fenway’s expensive seats beside the Mariners dugout, right now (well, I wouldn’t be, but let’s just pretend) I’d try to avoid any obvious use of a cellphone or eating of any shrimp or sushi dishes within plain sight of some of the larger beer drinkers in his vicinity. Oh, and no trying to start a “wave” either. Could get ugly.
4:53 p.m.: Seattle is on the board in a 2-1 game but needed a double and two singles in the third inning to get the lone run across. A leadoff double by Rob Johnson was followed by singles from Ichiro and Russell Branyan to score the run. But the disappointing part came when Jose Lopez and Ken Griffey Jr. both popped out to infielders with two men on. They are the meat of the order guys on this team and the ones you want up there.
Griffey has now stranded three runners in two at-bats, two of them in scoring position.
4:29 p.m.: Felix Hernandez had never given up an earned run at this ballpark, a stint spanning 15 innings and two starts. Well, he’s now down 2-0 after an inning of play and did not look all that sharp in the opening frame. Hernandez gave up a one-out infield single to Kevin Youkilis. But his real trouble began with two out. He looked tentative in facing David Ortiz and walked him with the count full. Jason Bay then smoked a ball over the right field fence on one hop for a ground-ruled double that scored one run, then uncorked a wild pitch that brought the second one scampering home. Not a good start.
Jose Lopez had a two out double in the top of the first but Ken Griffey Jr. grounded out softly.
4:02 p.m.: Wonder how many of you are actually paying attention to this game? I hear it’s a very nice afternoon in Seattle. Warm and sunny. It’s muggy and sort of sunny here, though it won’t be for long as night descends. We get Felix Hernandez going tonight, trying to keep his team in this AL West race and establish himself as a surefire Cy Young Award contender. Oh, there’s also that All-Star Game thing. No pressure.
And yes, all the red caps worn by both sides tonight are in tribute to U.S. military veterans.