So far so good for Brian Sweeney, allowing just a single in two innings of work as the Mariners take their 5-4 lead into the seventh inning. The Mariners haven’t exactly made the most of their baserunners today and keep giving the Brewers extra outs. Two errors for the M’s and should have been three after shortstop Jack Wilson muffed a Randy Wolf knuckler in the fourth inning. That gaffe was actually ruled a hit by the hometown scorekeeper (who might have Wolf in the pool, who knows?) but it forced Doug Fister to throw all those extra pitches to Rickie Weeks.
Seattle has nine hits, along with four walks and a guy who reached on an error. So, that makes 14 baserunners, but only five runs. And that’s with two homers, don’t forget. If they lose this game, that, and the bullpen will be the reason why.
Anyhow, that’s where we are. Three innings to go.
Up above, you can watch a bit of me preparing to go on FSN’s Mariners BP show earlier this afternoon. Handed the camera off to one of the technicians before going on. He liked to play with the zoom lens a little too much, but got the basic point-and-shoot part right.
2:56 p.m.: Now comes the fun part for the M’s after Doug Fister had to use every bit of fuel in the tank just to get through four innings. It’s still 5-4 for Seattle, but Fister is done, barely surviving the fourth in which he put two on and was allowed to go well past his pitch count limit to finally retire Rickie Weeks.
Weeks was a one-man pitch-count killer today. In three plate appearances, he made Fister throw 23 of his 92 pitches on the day. That’s almost eight pitches per PA. He fouled off four two-strike pitches in the first inning, then four more in the fourth.
The only time he got on-base was in drawing a walk his second time up. But his might be the most valuable contribution we see today.
Milwaukee now has five full innings to tee-off on a depleted Mariners bullpen. Brian Sweeney draws the short straw for mound duty this inning as we begin the bottom of the fifth.
2:32 p.m.: Faster than you can say “Whoops, we blew another one!” the Mariners suddenly rediscovered their offense and put up a three-spot in the fourth to take a 5-4 lead. I have a feeling we might see a few more runs put up before this one is done, especially with Doug Fister starting the fourth at 61 pitches.
Chone Figgins drew a one-out walk and scored on a Franklin Gutierrez double to right center. Jose Lopez then came up and pulled a ball — what else? — just beyond the wall in left. So, some rare power for the M’s so far on a two-homer day and they’ve got the lead again…for now. The bullpen will be in here pretty quickly, maybe even this inning.
2:21 p.m.: Things came undone for Doug Fister and the Mariners in the third inning, with Milwaukee scoring four times on two consecutive pitches to take a 4-2 lead. Fister found himself in trouble when, with one out, opposing starter Randy Wolf doubled down the right field line. Fister then walked Rickie Weeks and all of a sudden, the dangerous part of the order was due up.
After jumping ahead 0-2 on Corey Hart, Fister let him stay alive, then saw him drill a ball to the gap in left center. Milton Bradley made a great, sliding play to cut the ball off and then a strong throw to cut-off man Jack Wilson. But the throw home by Wilson was wide of the plate, forcing catcher Rob Johnson to stretch his arm across the path of the oncoming runner. An ugly collision ensued, with Weeks scoring the tying run on the play.
Fister was backing the play up and threw to third as Hart dove in there, stretching his double by a base. The ball one-hopped third baseman Jose Lopez and got by him, allowing Hart to make it in to home plate on a headfirst slide, the error charged to Fister.
That made it 3-2 and then, once Johnson shook off the cobwebs and had his arm checked out on the field by trainer Rick Griffin, the next batter, Prince Fielder, obliterated a 2-1 offering deep beyond the wall in right center for a two-run advantage.
All the action made it seem like 10 years ago that Bradley came up in the top of the inning and launched a solo homer into the second deck in left. A lot has happened since, none of it good for the M’s.
1:55 p.m.: An unearned run in the second inning has given the Mariners a 1-0 lead as we enter the third. Shortstop Alcides Escobar bobbled a Milton Bradley grounder to start the inning off. A walk and a single loaded the bases with nobody out and a groundout by Rob Johnson produced the run.
But that was it.
Doug Fister went down swinging and — after Ichiro was hit by a pitch — Chone Figgins grounded out.
Bigger opportunity wasted.
Fister threw seven pitches to the game’s first batter, Rickie Weeks, before he grounded out. That looked like trouble, since Fister is on a pitch count, but Corey Hart gave him a gift by first-pitch swinging into an out right after that and Fister has gone on to retire four of the last five — four in a row since a Prince Fielder double in the first.
1:08 p.m.: The Mariners are a tad short in the lineup today, without Mike Sweeney, and on the mound as Doug Fister pitches his first game in nearly four weeks. The bullpen is missing David Aardsma, Shawn Kelley, Mark Lowe…this one could get ugly without a strong outing by Fister.