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August 28, 2009 at 8:31 PM

Kansas City Royals at Mariners: 08/28 game thread

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Felix Hernandez was one strike away from getting out of the fifth inning, but then Mitch Maier golfed a ball over the wall in right for a two-run homer. That makes it a 5-3 game, the M’s still leading.
I don’t have to spell out the implications for Hernandez’s ERA in the Cy Young race, do I? Every run counts for him. Not a good development.
There was a merry-go-round of changes here in the fifth inning, with the upshot being that Russell Branyan is now out of the game. We’re told he tweaked his back on a check swing and will be re-evaluated tomorrow. Jack Hannahan has moved to first base, Bill Hall from right field to third, Ryan Langerhans from left to right and Michael Saunders, who is now in the game and batting in Branyan’s No. 4 spot, is in left field.
Feels like the National League. That’s some flexibility the Mariners now have as far as juggling players around. Wow. Have not seen that many moves at once from an American League team, well, ever in my 12 seasons of covering two of them.

8:24 p.m.: Looks like Felix Hernandez might get himself that elusive 13th win tonight. Seattle just scored a run in the third and two more in the fourth on a Josh “Hack” Wilson single to left field. So, it’s now 5-1 for Hernandez and the Mariners.
The fourth inning began with a Mike Sweeney single to left — his second hit of the game — followed by a Bill Hall blast that nearly cleared the wall in left. Instead, it went for a double to put runners at second and third. Wilson then singled to left to bring in both runners.
7:51 p.m.: Felix Hernandez was handed a two-run lead to start the third inning, but gave a run right back to the Royals on a double past the first base bag by David DeJesus. That brought home Josh Anderson, who was lucky to still be on base after appearing to get thrown out trying to steal second following a leadoff single. Replays showed he was out, but he was ruled safe and then came trotting around third on the double.
So, the M’s now lead 2-1.
Seattle scored both runs in the bottom of the second inning.
Mike Sweeney scored the second of those, looking just as excited in doing so as Yuni Betancourt (a.k.a the Yuni Bomber) did in going deep against his former M’s team last night. Seeeney was at third base with one out when Josh Wilson chopped one back to the mound. Pitcher Brian Bannister looked Sweeney back (not good enough, though) to the bag, then threw on to first. But Sweeney broke for the plate and made it with a headfirst slide. Sweeney leaped up and pumped his fist in celebration.
The inning began with a perfect bunt single up the third base line by Russell Branyan. Yesterday, when I was chatting in the clubhouse with Mike Saunders about bunting, Branyan walked by and made a funny quip. I asked Branyan how his bunting compared to that done by Saunders and he laughed. “It’s not even close,” he said. “I wouldn’t call it bunting.”
Guess he was understating things a bit.
Anyhow, Branyan and Sweeney both advanced on a wild-pitch and Branyan then scored the game’s first run on a groundout by Bill Hall.
7:05 p.m.; Felix Hernandez gets to try to pad his Cy Young numbers tonight against one of the worst teams in baseball. Hopefully, for his sake, he has better luck than Doug Fister. At least we know he throws a little harder, in case there’s a repeat of last night’s “angle” woes.
The lineups:
Royals (49-78)
DeJesus, lf
Maier, rf
Butler, 1b
Jacobs, dh
Callaspo, 3b
Teahen, 3b
Olivo, c
Betancourt, ss
Anderson, cf
Bannister, rhp
Mariners (66-62)
Gutierrez, cf
Hannahan, 3b
Lopez, 2b
Branyan, 1b
Sweeney, dh
Hall, rf
Josh Wilson, ss
Langerhans, lf
Johnson, c
Hernandez, rhp
HP – Paul Emmel
1B – Gary Darling*
2B – Todd Tichenor
3B – Bruce Dreckman



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