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August 5, 2009 at 10:20 PM

Mariners bats erupt, provide run support for shaky-looking Luke French

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Tell you what, Luke French should get out and party like it’s 1999 because he isn’t going to see run support like that too often. The Mariners erupted in a six-run fourth inning and kept adding on for an 11-6 win over the Kansas City Royals. Another long game that never really seemed safe for the visitors.
But 11 runs gives you plenty of room for shaky pitching.
“I’ll take that any day,” he said.

French put a lot of runners on the first three innings, yielding five hits and a walk. He also showed a propensity for not holding leads with the firmest of grasps, giving up his pair of two-run homers when he’d just been handed leads of 2-0 and 7-2.
He’s had a long week I’m sure. Told me his wife had to pack their things and drive from Detroit to their home in Colorado, then on to Seattle to meet up with him on Friday. He’s been on the phone with her a lot, making sure she’s OK. So, let’s not get too rough with him.
But some things will obviously need to be addressed between starts. He left a lot of pitches up in the zone and got away with some stuff.
“It felt like my first start all over again,” he said of the nerves.
His pacing was also thrown off. He likes to work quick, but not as fast as he was going at times in this one.
“I try to work quick,” he said. “But sometimes it works against me. I start going too fast and then start working against myself.”
He says he’s starting to recognize it and now knows when to step off the mound and compose himself.
The Mariners took advantage of a sloppy Royals defense and were aggressive on the basepaths all night. When you play aggressively like that, bad defensive teams like KC tend to make bad defensive plays.
So, full credit goes to the Mariners for jumping all over a last-place team with too many shortcomings to name.
“It’s probably one of the most aggressive games we’ve played on the basepaths,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. “I thought we really ran the bases aggressively tonight and that’s a good sign.
At one point in the seventh, the sad-sack Royals threw the ball all around the diamond on one play, but couldn’t get anybody out. With Jack Wilson on second, Rob Johnson singled to canter. Wilson held at third, but the throw back in from center missed the cutoff man and Johnson headed for second.
The throw there was nowhere near in time to get Johnson and Wilson, in the meantime, broke for home. Wilson beat that throw to the plate and then Johnson took off for third and also beat the throw to that bag.
The crowd booed at the Little League defensive display by the Royals.
About the most fun those fans had was when a stray cat hopped the rail and landed in the visitors’ bullpen. The cat apparently went after bullpen coach John Wetteland and had him cornered — at least, according to Shawn Kelley. That’s kind of why none of the pitchers wanted to go near the cat.
It then scaled the eight-foot bullpen fence and headed on to the field, where it did a tour of the diamond and then headed to the Royals bullpen in right. It got a loud ovation for its efforts when finally hauled in by attendants.
So, a second straight win by the M’s, this one a bit easier than last night.
I’m a bit worried about the bullpen, though. That’s nine innings worked already in the first two games here, not to mention the 12 1/2 frames picked up by relievers in the four games played in Texas. There was an off-day in there as well, so that helps, but the starters have to go more than four or five innings at a time or there will be big problems when these guys start playing winning teams again
Wakamatsu wasn’t pleased with that 29-pitch effort by Miguel Batista and noted that Sean White’s outing was huge after that. White pitched out of that bases loaded jam left by Batista in the sixth, with the score still 10-6.
“He threw 29 pitches in one inning,” Wakamatsu said of Batista. “That’s not really what we’re looking for from our bullpen when we’re getting only five innings out of our starters.”
He added: “With what’s going on with our starters right now, we need everybody to kind of contribute and step up and take some stress off of some of the other pitchers in our bullpen.”.
For now, they won. It’s now a 3-3 road trip.



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