They got caught with the roof open here an hour or so ago as the skies unleashed a rain-soaked deluge on the field. The roof finally closed and the Rangers are now taking batting practice, though the basepath dirt is somewhat wet and muddy.
The Mariners start today four games behind the Angels and 3 1/2 back of the Rangers. Needless to say, a win today could go a long way in deciding the whole “buyers” or “sellers” angle. Win and there’s a possibility of finishing three back at the break. Lose and the M’s could fall five back and — realistically — be on their way towards “seller” status.
These are the kinds of games the Mariners went out and got Erik Bedard for. Now, he has to do the rest, for at least five or six innings today.
I caught up with Franklin Gutierrez before the game and asked him about last night’s seventh-inning play, when he faked out baserunner Marlon Byrd on what should have been a single to center by Nelson Cruz. Byrd thought Gutierrez was about to catch the ball and headed back towards firsrt base. Gutierrez fielded the ball on one-hop and threw Byrd — who realized his mistake a split-second too late — out on a force play at second.
“It doesn’t happen very often,” Gutierrez said. “But you’ve got to try.”
The play was huge because otherwise, the Rangers would have had two on with none out in a tie game.
“You just have to raise your glove up like you’re going to catch it,” Gutierrez said.
He had no inclination beforehand that Byrd was going to buy the bluff. Byrd told reporters after the game that he had trouble picking the ball up off Cruz’s bat and thought Gutierrez was going to catch it.
“I realized it when I had the ball in my glove and saw him running back towards the base,” Gutierrez said.
It’s been a trying first half at times for Gutierrez, who has battled knee problems since spring training. Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said moments ago that Gutierrez is one of the success stories from this pre-All-Star part of the season.
“He’s really been hurt but it’s sure nice to see the adjustments he’s made over the last month or so,” Wakamatsu said.
Before, Gutierrez would push off early and drag his hip when swinging. Now, he’s staying back more and getting increased hip action into the swing.
Want to know where Ken Griffey Jr. is spending his All-Star Break? Not where you’d think. How about his native Cincinnatti?
Yep. He’s going there to watch his daughter play AAU basketball. Griffey wasn’t sure where she’d be playing until his wife, Melissa, told him the schedule.
Guess he’ll find out soon enough what fans there think about his legacy with the Reds.
Adrian Beltre has another five weeks to go in his recovery from shoulder surgery. He’ll rejoin the team in Detroit after the break and continue working out.
Here are some updates on a couple of closer types many of you have asked about.
Wakamatsu said the team is planning to activate Chad Cordero for some minor league games down in Arizona. No, there hasn’t been a real increase in Cordero’s velocity from what it had been previously. The team just figures getting Cordero in a game might cause the velocity to spike.
Jeff Zimmerman had a setback related to soreness in his arm and hasn’t pitched in a while.
Blalock, 1bByrd, lf
HP – Larry Vanover
1B – Sam Holbrook
2B – Dan Iassogna
3B – Charlie Reliford