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August 27, 2009 at 9:10 PM

Kansas City Royals at Mariners: 08/27 game thread

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Almost got those sweaters knitted for T$ in Indiana, but the Mariners will have to start swinging the bats or they will all go to waste. Seattle trails 7-2 in the bottom of the seventh after a two-run homer given up by Shawn Kelley to David DeJesus. Kelley got the first two outs of the seventh, then walked No. 9 hitter Josh Anderson. That’s the fourth home run allowed by Seattle tonight.
By the way, had an interesting pre-game chat with Michael Saunders about his recent spate of bunting. Saunders has already bunted for six base-hits since being called up back in July.
There was an intriguing U.S.S. Mariner post yesterday that questioned the wisdom of this. It suggested that, now that he’s shown he can gret a bunt down, Saunders might be better off using his limited remainder of this season trying to get used to hitting the ball to the outfield for power.
“Bunting’s a part of my game,” Saunders told me when I put that question to him, without mentioning the origins of it. “It was a part of my game before I got here and it’s going to keep being a part of my game.”
So, I guess that’s a “Nay!” vote to the shelve-the-bunting suggestion.
For me, though, the most interesting part of the discussion was how Saunders became this good at bunting. It wasn’t always the case.
Turns out, two years ago, when he was still in Class A High Desert, the Mariners identified him as a potnetially good bunter. That was at the time the Mariners had instituted a new, organization-wide p and implemented a new club policy that said anyone fitting that description — good speed, bat-handling skills — had to lay down at least one bunt per every 10 at-bats by season’s end.
“It had to average out to that by the end of the year,” Saunders said. “It sure helped me get into the repetiiton of it.”
It wasn’t just a numbers quota the M’s were after either. Saunders said that, if the situation called for it, the targetted M’s prospects were expected to lay down the bunts rather than swing for the fences — no matter how hight their power ceiling.
So far, Saunders has been laying the bunts up the first base line rather than pushing the ball the opposite way towards third. One big reason for this is that he’s been facing a lot of lefty pitchers and they tend to come off the mound in the opposite direction when they throw a pitch.
So, anyway, that’s the quick 411 on that. Sounds a bit more progressive than we ever really gave the Bill Bavasi regime credit for. You learn something new every day.

8:46 p.m.: Doug Fister might as well have left that offering to Alberto Callaspo on a tee and handed him a driver. Callaspo did indeed drive the ball — well into the cheap seats in right center to give KC a 5-2 lead in the sixth. The two-run shot was the third homer of the night given up by Fister. The Royals have had trouble throwing, catching and pitching the ball the last couple of innings, so there is still hope for M’s fans yet. Don’t go away, as they like to say in TV land. This time, though, they actually mean it.
8:32 p.m.: The Mariners trail 3-2 after five innings, but the Royals are starting to be the Royals again, so a one-run gap might not be all that much to overcome. Russell Branyan singled to right, took second on a wild-pitch and then scored on a Kenji Johjima single to left. The Royals booted the ball all over the place on that play, but nothing further came of it. Michael Saunders later hit into a fielder’s choice, but then stole second and wound up scoring on a single to left by Franklin Gutierrez.
In the top of the inning, Yuniesky Betancourt went deep to left to give KC a three-run lead. Yes, Betancourt is going to finish these four games with about two dozen hits and four home runs. He’ll make Gold Glove plays every other inning, like he did in the first. Showed more range on that play than he did the last three years combined in Seattle. Thing is, this the unofficial Betancourt World Series. If he can’t get up for these games, then baby, it ain’t ever happenin’.
Our resident blogger/commenter Pedro Calderon will be handing out the cigars at his place later.
7:28 p.m.: Seattle trails 2-0 after Doug Fister yielded a two-run homer to right field by Brayan Pena in the second inning. Fister was a half-step from getting an inning-ending double play grounder on Mark Teahen, but the latter just barely beat the throw to first. That’s how hustle pays off in this game.
Yunieksy Betancourt had an infield single that inning as well. Good inning for Cuba, where Betancourt and Pena both hail from.
The lineups:
ROYALS (48-78)
LF David DeJesus
RF Mitch Maier
1B Billy Butler
DH Mike Jacobs
2B Alberto Callaspo
3B Mark Teahen
C Brayan Pena
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
CF Josh Anderson
RHP Kyle Davies
MARINERS (66-61)
CF Franklin Gutierrez
3B Jack Hannahan
2B Jose Lopez
DH Ken Griffey Jr.
RF Bill Hall
1B Russell Branyan
C Kenji Johjima
SS Jack Wilson
LF Michael Saunders
RHP Doug Fister



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