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July 11, 2009 at 9:22 PM

Texas Rangers at Seattle Mariners: 07/11 game thread

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Yes, Jarrod Washburn had help from his defenders tonight. But he also allowed only four hits and a run over seven innings to the Texas Rangers. He is now two innings away from bettering his 2008 win total. A two-run homer by Rob Johnson in the seventh and a third Seattle marker that frame has given the M’s a 4-1 lead with Mark Lowe now on in the eighth inning.
Jack Hannahan had a double that inning and scored on an Ichiro single up the middle.

9:01 p.m.: What a deke move by center fielder Franklin Gutierrez in the seventh after Marlon Byrd had reached on an error. Nelson Cruz hit a broken bat flare to center that dropped in for what looked to be a single. But Gutierrez brilliantly faked out Byrd, who thought the ball was about to be caught and started scrambling back to first base.
Instead, Gutierrez fielded the ball on one hop and threw Byrd — who by then realized his mistake — out by a foot at the second base bag. It’s a force play. Byrd argued that he’d actually initially touched second before heading back to first, which would have negated the force play and required a tag out. But the umpire did not agree. Replays failed to capture the front end of the play, when Byrd said he touched the bag.
Actually, we now just had a rules clarification. Even though Byrd touched the base, the force would have been re-instated once he left second and headed back to first. No tag required.
Still 1-1 heading to the bottom of the seventh.
8:32 p.m.: Jarrod Washburn just did a great job of pitching out of a fifth inning jam with runners at second and third, two out and Michael Young up. With the count 1-1, Washburn fooled Young — absolutely blindsided him — with a 70 mph change up. He then jammed Young with a 90 mph fastball for an easy groundout to second.
In my continuing quest to help the hit counts of all fledgling bloggers, from the Midwest to the Northwest, here’s a bit of a different take on the Royals acquiring shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt. Someone forward it to Dayton Moore before he jumps off a ledge.
8:05 p.m.: Russell Branyan just gave the Mariners new life with a towering homer run — does he hit any other kind? — off the sign just beneath the Hit it Here Cafe in right field to tie the game 1-1 in the third inning. The hit was the first of the night by the Mariners off Kevin Millwood. They’ve otherwise made it pretty easy for him.
Branyan’s homer was his 22nd of the year. That’s three fewer than Adrian Beltre had for the team lead after all of last season.
Jarrod Washburn just rolled through a 1-2-3 fourth inning, though the final out was a shot to the track in left by Marlon Byrd.
7:53 p.m.: Jarrod Washburn and the Mariners now trail 1-0 heading to the bottom of the third inning. Texas opened the scoring in the third as Elvis Andrus drew a one-out walk, then came around the bases on a double to left center by Ian Kinsler. Washburn came up big to end the inning though, fanning Josh Hamilton with a runner on third.
The Mariners nearly drew first blood in the first inning after a throwing error by Texas first baseman Hank Blalock put runners at the corners with two out. But third baseman Michael Young made a nifty play on a slow grounder by Franklin Gutierrez and threw him out by a step.
Liked that hustle by Ryan Langerhans in left field in the second inning, charging down the line to play what looked like an extra-base hit off the retaining wall. Langerhans then spun and fired a strike to second base to nab Marlon Byrd.
7:11 p.m.: Ten years later, Safeco Field is still here. So are the Mariners, though they might not be around long (in this division race) if they lose tonight. Jarrod Washburn back out there for the first time since his one-hit, complete-game shutout of the Orioles. That was before the Mariners dropped three of four and found themselves in quite a pickle. Winning tonight and tomorrow would help them immensely.
By the way, the post-ASB rotation as of now will have Garrett Olson going first, then Felix Hernandez, then Jarrod Washburn, then Erik Bedard. If Hernandez starts the All-Star Game, or pitches more than an inning, they could back him off a day and flip-flop with Washburn.
And yes, Olson has surpassed Jason Vargas on the depth chart for now. Don Wakamatsu said today that he feels Olson has pitched better than Vargas. Obviously, better than Brandon Morrow as well. We’ll see four guys vying for two spots once Ryan Rowland-Smith is ready to go.
The lineups:
RANGERS (48-37)
2B Ian Kinsler
3B Michael Young
CF Josh Hamilton
DH Andruw Jones
1B Hank Blalock
LF Marlon Byrd
RF Nelson Cruz
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
SS Elvis Andrus
RHP Kevin Millwood
MARINERS (44-42)
RF Ichiro
1B Russell Branyan
2B Jose Lopez
DH Ken Griffey Jr.
CF Franklin Gutierrez
LF Ryan Langerhans
C Rob Johnson
3B Jack Hannahan
SS Ronny Cedeno
LHP Jarrod Washburn



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