This has turned into a rout, after Russell Branyan hit a grand slam home run in the sixth inning off reliever Jeff Bennett to give Seattle an 11-2 lead. Franklin Gutierrez started the rally with his third hit of the game, a single. Two walks later, the bases were juiced and Branyan went deep for his 26th homer of the season and fourth career slam.
Ryan Rowland-Smith escaped trouble with a timely double-play in the top of the inning and now enters the seventh at 94 pitches. Getting through seven frames today would be huge for him and his team’s bullpen.
2:54 p.m.: Seattle just scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 7-2 lead, knocking Rays starter Scott Kazmir from the game. Kazmir had nothing today. The M’s opened the inning with a single by Franklin Gutierrez and a double from Jose Lopez. Gutierrez then scored on a wild-pitch and a Mike Sweeney sacrifice fly brought a second run home.
Adrian Beltre then legged out an infield single, followed by a walk to Russell Branyan that ended the day for Kazmir. A single by Jack Wilson loaded the bases and — one out later — a walk by Michael Saunders brought the seventh run home. All seven runs were charged to Kazmir, who threw 92 pitches over 4 1/3 innings. Yuck.
Ryan Rowland-Smith has tightened up and is striking a lot of guys out, running his pitch count up to 81 after only five innings. He needs to be more aggressive with this big lead and get through at least the sixth, No excuse to have the bullpen come in to pitch this inning. He needs to get the job done.
1:53 p.m.: Two innings in and the Mariners lead 4-2 after scoring three runs with two out in the bottom of the second inning. The highlight was a two-run homer to left by Franklin Gutierrez. What on earth has happened to Scott Kazmir? He looks terrible today and has for much of the season. Remember, he was rumored to be headed here as part of a three-way deal before the deadline. Not sure how that would have worked out long-term.
Seattle had tied the game up moments before the home run when Jack Wilson led off with a walk, was bunted over to second and scored on a two-out single by Ichiro.
Ryan Rowland-Smith has looked very ordinary and yielded a two-run homer to Dioner Navarro in the second inning. Remember, Rowland-Smith had the shaky first inning as well. He has to tighten things up. This game is far from done.
1:17 p.m.: Ryan Rowland-Smith got through the first inning without allowing a run, but really did not perform all that well and was more lucky than good. He hit a batter, gave up a long double off the wall by Evan Longoria, then walked Ben Zobrist to load the bases. Pat Burrell then tattooed a pitch, but right at second baseman Jose Lopez, who stepped on his bag to double off the runner.
Sometimes, as I said, it’s better to be lucky than good. Rowland-Smith has to pitch a bit better than that, or he’ll be in for a long day.
1:09 p.m.: This is a big outing for Ryan Rowland-Smith, who went only four innings his last time out. As we mentioned earlier today, there’s a ton of competition heating up in the back end of that Mariners rotation and guys like RRS want to leave an impression.