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August 7, 2009 at 7:00 PM

Game thread, Mariners vs. Rays, Aug. 7

9:37 P.M.: Sorry for my absence, but I’m trying to sort out this game for my story, which is due the moment it ends. This is shaping up as one of the more memorable games of the season. If Griffey hits a walk-off jack to end it — or a go-ahead blast right now — I’ll put it at No. 1.
9:11 P.M. (BOTTOM OF SEVENTH): Of course Griffey homers on his bobblehead night. I predicted to someone here before the game started he would homer in this game.
8:30 P.M. (tTOP OF FIFTH): A massive HR for Pat Burrell off the second-deck facade with one out for a 4-1 Tampa Bay lead.
7:57 P.M. (TOP OF THIRD): Hernandez got just what he needed — a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 inning. His pitch count is 60 through three. 3-1 Rays.
7:46 P.M.: (TOP OF SECOND): Well, that was a sloppy mess. Three walks, a single, an error, a stolen base and two passed balls, all good for three runs by Tampa Bay (two unearned). That’s 51 pitches and four walks for Hernandez through two. 3-1, Tampa Bay.
7:28 (BOTTOM OF FIRST)”: Russ Branyan delivers one of his classic homers — a towering blast over the center-field wall. It’s No. 25, a new career high for him. This game kind of has a festive, Opening Day feel to it.
7:18 p.m. (TOP OF FIRST): Wilson made up for his error, making a fine backhand play to get an inning-ending force at second and bail Hernandez out of a bases-loaded jam. Hernandez threw 21 pitches, which is a bit worrisome. Losing Carlos Pena to a walk after getting ahead 0-2 hurt. 0-0.
7:09 P.M.: Jack Wilson’s first chance at Safeco as a Mariner…and he boots it for an error.
Pssst…it’s not the Mariners.
The U.S. Navy Parachute Team “Leap Frogs” just completed an impressive display during the National Anthem, with four parachuists flying into the stadium in succession, the last one carrying the flag. Three landed in the target that was placed behind the pitcher’s mound, one ending up in deep right field.
There’s a huge crowd tonight because of the Ken Griffey bobbleheads, a likely sellout, so there should be some good energy going. The Rays are trying to hang with the Yankees and Red Sox, so every game is big for them. The Mariners can move within 5 1/2 games of the wild card if they win and the Red Sox lose (it’s 0-0 in the bottom of the ninth as I write this.
Rays starter Jeff Niemann was a teammate of David Aardsma’s at Rice.
Tampa Bay
Jason Bartlett SS
Carl Crawford LF
Evan Longoria 3B
Ben Zobrist RF
Carlos Pena 1B
Pat Burrell DH
Willy Aybar 2B
B.J. Upton CF
Dioner Navarro C
Jeff Niemann RHP (10-5, 3.62).
Ichiro RF
Russ Branyan 1B
Jose Lopez 2B
Ken Griffey Jr. DH
Adrian Beltre 3B
Franklin Gutierrez CF
Jack Wilson SS
Rob Johnson C
Michael Saunders LF
Felix Hernandez RHP (12-4, 2.78)



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