Jamey Wright made it through a second scoreless inning to carry a 3-1 lead into the ninth. But he got a little help from first base umpire Marvin Hudson, who blew a call at the bag that allowed Wright to notch a second out in the inning.
With Jarrod Dyson on second and one out, Chris Getz hit a slow roller that Justin Smoak scooped up and then flipped to Wright at the bag. The speedy Getz appeared to beat the play, which would have left runners at the corners and one out. Instead, there was a runner at third and two out and Alex Gordon grounded out to end the inning.
1:17 p.m.: The Mariners just delivered their second clutch hit in as many innings, with Brendan Ryan delivering a two-run single to left field to make it a 3-1 game in the seventh, Seattle now in the lead. After singles by Justin Smoak and Miguel Olivo (snapping an 0-for-27 slump for the catcher), they were bunted ahead a base.
Ryan worked the count to 3-1, then lined a ball over the third baseman’s head.
Michael Pineda out of the game after allowing a run on three hits through six. Jamey Wright, who has not allowed a run all year — including spring training — is now out there in the seventh.
12:58 p.m.: Eric Wedge just outmanaged counterpart Ned Yost in the top and bottom of the sixth to keep the game scoreless.
Michael Pineda had issued a leadoff walk to Jarrod Dyson — reputed to be the fastest man in baseball — when Yost for some reason called for a first-pitch bunt by Chris Getz to get runner to second. I know you had big bats coming up, but why sacrifice an out without at least making Pineda throw a strike first? Or allowing Dyson to steal a bag off a righty pitcher?
So, Yost gives up the out to get the runner to second and Pineda gets out of it, watching Alex Gordon pop out softly to second base. Then, with two out, Wedge made a smart move by walking Billy Butler to get to Kila Ka’aihue. Normally, you won’t see Pineda told to walk a righty for a lefty, but Butler is dangerous no matter who he’s facing and Ka’aihue has been killing his team all season with a weak bat in the middle of the order.
The plan worked well for Wedge, as Ka’aihue grounded out to Justin Smoak at first base to end the inning.
Pineda is at 94 pitches. Looks like he might come out again.
12:47 p.m.: Seattle finally scored in the sixth inning, getting their first triple of the year, this one from Milton Bradley, just past the bag at first base. That scored Ichiro, who had doubled with one out. That evened the scored at 1-1 and snapped a 14-inning scoreless drought for the M’s.
But with Bradley at third and two down, Jack Cust, who had the count 3-1 in his favor at one point, swung at the next two offerings and missed.
Michael Pineda is now at 81 pitches to start what could be his final inning. We’ll see how it goes. If he can do it in 15 pitches or fewer, he might get to work the seventh, though, after what nearly happened last week against Toronto in the eighth, Eric Wedge might not want to push his luck.
12:35 p.m.: The Royals just took a 1-0 lead in the fifth on a double by Jeff Francoeur and an eventual sacrifice fly by Wilson Betemit. Michael Pineda had Betemit 0-2 in the count, but served up a juicy fastball right down the middle and saw Betemit give it a ride to center deep enough for the runner at third to trot home.
So, yes, that was a mistake pitch.
Anyhow, we’re in the sixth inning and the m’s, for all of their hard-hit balls today, still have zero runs on two hits. They can’t abandon their approach at this point, but it’s now 14 straight scoreless innings.
12:19 p.m.: Looks like we’re in for another bullpen battle today, with these teams scoreless after four innings. Michael Pineda logged two more strikeouts in the fourth, giving him four on the day. But his pitch count is climbing to the point where he might not be able to get beyond six innings.
The Mariners hit some Jeff Francis pitches hard the last inning, but Milton Bradley’s blast to right center was hauled in by Jeff Francoeur, while Jack Cust’s line drive was right at center fielder Jarrod Dyson.
11:43 a.m.: Solid second inning for Pineda, who issued a leadoff walk to Kila Ka’aihue, but erased that on a 5-4-3 double-play by Jeff Francoeur. Wilson Betemit then hit a hard grounder to first base, where Justin Smoak made a nice stab and then flipped to Pineda covering for the out.
The M’s got a leadoff single by Jack Cust in the second, but Smoak flied out and Miguel Olivo mis-hit a 3-1 pitch into a force out at second. Olivo was then caught stealing.
11:27 a.m.: Pineda just got out of the first inning scoreless, but needed 21 pitches to do it. He overpowered the first two hitters, Jarrod Dyson and Chris Getz, striking out both. But then he could not put lefty Alex Gordon away, watching him muscle a ball to right field for a single.
Billy Butler followed with a line drive to center, but it was caught for the final out.
11:06 a.m.: The Mariners try to salvage one game, and some dignity, from this series. Will make the plane ride home seem a whole lot shorter if they do. Might make sports talk radio and the blogs a bit more palatable tomorrow as well.
Michael Pineda takes the mound, so that provides some hope. Pineda will face a stiffer challenge today that in prior games, with four of the first five Royals batting left-handed, then a couple of switch-hitters thrown in further down in the order. But unless he swings a hot bat, there is only so much Pineda can do to alleviate his team’s struggles.
We all know the problem: on occasions when the M’s do get chances, they simply can’t score.
Seattle is just 22-for-121 (.182) with runners in scoring position, worst in the AL. This series, the M’s are 2-for-23 with RISP (.087). That’s enough to get a team’s manager to yell at the players, if you ask me.
The M’s face a starter, Jeff Francis (a fellow Canadian) today who they could have gone after this off-season. Instead, after poking around, they decided to pass after the money got a bit tight.
Seattle has scored a lowly 21 runs in 15 games versus starters this season. You read that right. Starters have a combined 1.72 ERA versus the Mariners, compared to just 5.63 for relief pitchers.
Problem is, by the time the M’s do get to the other team’s bullpen, they are often trailing by too much, or their own bullpen helps torch games.
3B Chone Figgins
LF Milton Bradley
DH Jack Cust
1B Justin Smoak
C Miguel Olivo
CF Ryan Langerhans
SS Brendan Ryan
2B Jack Wilson
RHP Michael Pineda
CF Jarrod Dyson (L)
2B Chris Getz (L)
LF Alex Gordon (L)
1B Billy Butler
DH Kila Ka’aihue (L)
RF Jeff Francoeur
3B Wilson Betemit (S)
C Brayan Pena (S)
SS Alcides Escobar
LHP Jeff Francis