Took a half-hour to play the ninth inning and we’re going to the 10th after Mike Sweeney tied things up 2-2 with a leadoff solo blast off closer Brian Fuentes. Tell you what, the bullpen might be what keeps this Angels team from a World Series appearance. It is not playoff caliber. And I don’t care how many saves Fuentes finishes with.
The Mariners had runners at seocnd and third with two out, but newly installed reliever Jason Bulger fanned Ken Griffey Jr. and got Mike Carp to bounce out.
A wild pitch, an error and two walks by Mark Lowe nearly lost Seattle the game in the bottom of the ninth. But Lowe got Maicer Izturis to pop out to third. And on we go.
In case you missed the news earlier, the Mariners have indeed opted to keep Brandon Morrow in Class AAA to start that playoff game Friday against Sacramento. The Mariners want Morrow to taste some playoff action and he’s also been bothered in recent outings by forearm stiffness and a blister. So, having him face the Rangers in Texas probably wasn’t the best move after he lasted only four innings on 72 pitches versus Colorado Springs the other day.
And yes, Luke French will stay in the rotation and make his next start.
8:37 p.m.; An error by shortstop Jack Wilson on a double-play ball that would have ended the fifth inning wound up costing Felix Hernandez a run. The ball was not an easy one. It was a hard-hit smash that deflected off Wilson’s glove and through his legs to the outfield. So, it’s now a 2-1 game, the Angels ahead. The run was unearned and won’t affect Hernandez’s ERA for the Cy Young race. But he’s in tough for a win tonight and might even take a loss the way the M’s are flailing away against Scott Kazmir.
Zero hits since the Franklin Gutierrez homer in the first.
By the way, it’s a good thing Rob Johnson wasn’t trying to Beltre his way through this game sans protection, or he’d…well, he’d probably be dead. Johnson took a foul tip right off his protective cup and was down for the count for quite a while back in the third inning. But he’s staying in this one.
8:03 p.m.: Felix Hernandez must be thrilled to be out of the third inning with only one run allowed in this 1-1 game. Hernandez walked the bases loaded, then fell behind 3-1 in the count to Bobby Abreu, who then skied the next pitch to left for a sacrifice fly. But that was not the result Abreu was looking for. He was swinging for the fences, mis-hit the ball and produced the lone run where a walk would have accomplished the same thing without an out.
Hernandez got the inning-ending groundout off Vladimir Guerrero, who is making things too easy on M’s fielders tonight by not hustling up the line. Former MVP or not, those last two efforts were pitiful. Adrian Beltre bobbled his hard smash and made a rushed, high throw to first. Guerrero might have been safe with at least a half-decent run, but he did not attempt one and it cost his team a run. One of the great talents of the past decade, I still get the sense Guerrero has never shown us the whole package, from his swings at anything, his overthrows from the outfield, to his lack of hustle at times. A great ballplayer who I watched come up in my hometown. But he leaves you wanting more, I find.
7:36 p.m.: Franklin Gutierrez goes deep to right in the first inning to make it 1-0 for Felix Hernandez as he tries to keep pace in the Cy Young Award race. Two nice glove plays for Hernandez in the second inning, by Jack Wilson on a line drive and Adrian Beltre on a hard grounder. Same score now as we head to the third.