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July 5, 2010 at 9:57 PM

Kansas City Royals at Seattle Mariners: July 5, 2010 game thread

You know, I keep hearing that the Mariners would rather get some young position players back instead of more pitching in a Cliff Lee deal. I can understand that sentiment. This team has enough fourth starters and could really use some offense. Even with Russell Branyan back in the fold. He may not be here next year and even if he is, one guy who can hit is not enough.
The Mariners saw Branyan reach on a leadoff walk to start the bottom of the eighth, then Jose Lopez added his second double of the game to put runners on second and third. Franklin Gutierrez then struck out on a checked swing.
After an intentional wall to load the bases, reliever Robinson Tejeda fanned pinch-hitter Milton Bradley, then got Jack Wilson to pop out.
Still tied 4-4 as we head to the ninth. This game should have been over by now.

9:37 p.m.: Brandon League just turned this night on its ear, ruining another potential victory for Felix Hernandez by giving up two runs in the eighth. So, it’s a 4-4 tie and the Royals have seemingly come out of nowhere to rise from the dead.
Hernandez had gone seven innings, allowing just two earned runs, and left with a 4-2 lead.
But League just couldn’t find the strike zone. He yielded singles to Jason Kendall and David DeJesus, with the lead runner going to third. A sac fly by Billy Butler gave the Royals one run. Then, Jose Guillen hit a single up the middle, just past a diving Jack Wilson. The lead runner once again took third on the play. League, trying for a DP ball, fell behind 2-1 to Alberto Callaspo, then saw him single to center to tie the game.
So, there you go. Garrett Olson and Brian Sweeney did a good job of cleaning up League’s mess, but not in time to save the win for Hernandez.
On the Cliff Lee front, you can all go to bed. My contacts in Minneapolis assure me nothing will happen tonight.
8:53 p.m.: So, we head to the bottom of the sixth with Felix Hernandez now on top by a 4-2 score. Hernandez had a three-run lead to start the sixth, but then saw Billy Butler double to left center to score David DeJesus all the way from first base.
Seattle regained the lead in the bottom of the fifth when Michael Saunders doubled and later scored on a single by Chone Figgins. Moments later, Russell Branyan homered to make it a three-run game.
Tough not to notice the difference Branyan has made to this offense in just one week since he began playing here again. The crowd hardly seemed to notice the first time he came up to bat — greeting him with a smattering of applause — but they sure cheered when he went deep. Seriously, though, when players and pundits knock the fans here, it’s for stuff like that. Or like last year, when Ken Griffey Jr. got about a 20-second ovation when he came to bat for what might have been the final time. Twenty seconds? You kidding me? That general lack of awareness about stuff is what separates some of the fans in this city from those in more established baseball towns. Yeah, it hurts to hear it, but it is what it is. Until it changes, the perception of the fans here will remain the same. That this is a “soft” market.
8:27 p.m.: My contacts in Minneapolis tell me that nothing between the Mariners and Twins appears to be imminent where tonight is concerned. So, you can all probably start breathing again. Was hoping for a deal tonight, as my prediction on my Talkin’ Baseball segment on KJR AM 950’s Mitch in the Morning show was a July 5 deal. That was made weeks ago and would have looked great on tomorrow’s 8:30 a.m. segment.
Now, I just look like a dolt who doesn’t know anything yet again. Sigh.
Anyhow, back to the game. The Royals scored a run in the fourth inning to tie things up 1-1.
David DeJesus led things off with a bloop single, took second on a groundout, then had to stop at third on a single up the middle by Jose Guillen. DeJesus actually backtracked towards second as the ball was hit, then continued on to third. No matter, since a sac fly by Alberto Callaspo brought him home.
On to the bottom of the fifth we go.
8:03 p.m.: Still a 1-0 game, Mariners leading, as we head to the bottom of the third. Felix Hernandez issued a one out walk in the top of the inning, but quickly erased it on a 5-4-3 double-play grounder by Jason Kendall.
Still no word on the rumored Cliff Lee deal with the Twins. Lee is still in the dugout, so while talks between the M’s and Twins may be “interesting” as some have described it, they are clearly not done because the pitcher would have left the dugout by now. Yes, you can assume that Wilson Ramos would be part of any deal with Minny. The big question is who else would be in there.
I’d suspect the Mariners would want something better than just Kevin Slowey as a second piece. And the Twins, with Joe Nathan hurt, would likely want another piece as well — like a David Aardsma or a Brandon League. I just can’t see this happening in the original Lee for Ramos-Slowey et al. that was initially rumored. Not enough in that one for the M’s. And if Seattle wanted more, they might have to throw in something else. My theory, anyhow.
7:39 p.m.: The Mariners lead 1-0 after Jose Lopez hit a two-out double off the wall in left center to bring home Ichiro in the first inning. The big news, of course, is the rumor that Cliff Lee has been traded to the Minnesota Twins. That came from a Detroit radio station a few minutes ago, but has been shot down by a Twins source quoted by another media type. We’re trying to spot Lee in the dugout but can’t see him from the angle I’m at. Obviously, if we hear anything, we’ll tell you.
UPDATE 7:41 p.m.: Scratch that. Just saw Lee in the dugout. He’s still here.
6:52 p.m.: Nice to be back at Safeco Field on what seems to be somewhat of a summer evening. Still might need my jacket later on, but at least the sun is out. Felix Hernandez goes for the Mariners tonight. Call me nuts, but I still think Hernandez has a shot at something far better than an appearance in the All-Star Game.
I still think he has a shot at the Cy Young Award.
Don’t laugh. Now, a big part of my theory involves Cliff Lee getting traded to the NL. Because Lee has been the better of the two so far and if he keeps this up, he could be a runaway Cy Young winner. But if he goes to the NL, it’s wide open. The other part of my theory involves voters forgetting for a moment that Francisco Liriano’s FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is more than a run lower than his ERA. Because if ERA is all they look at, Hernandez’s is better.
My theory also involves Hernandez pitching more the way he has the last six weeks as opposed to the first six.
The lineups:
LF Scott Podsednik
C Jason Kendall
RF David DeJesus
1B Billy Butler
DH Jose Guillen
3B Alberto Callaspo
2B Mike Aviles
CF Mitch Maier
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
RHP Felix Hernandez
RF Ichiro
2B Chone Figgins
DH Russell Branyan
3B Jose Lopez
CF Franklin Gutierrez
1B Casey Kotchman
C Rob Johnson
SS Jack Wilson
LF Michael Saunders
RHP Brian Bannister

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