Last night, we told you that “Peanut Man” Rick Kaminski had suffered a brain aneurysm. Unfortunately, Kaminski, 67, died earlier this morning at Evergreen Hospital. Mariners president Chuck Armstrong put out this statement moments ago: “On behalf of everyone at the Seattle Mariners, our deepest sympathies go out to Rick Kaminski’s partner Candy, his family, his many friends, and fans. Rick was a fixture at Seattle sporting events for as long as I can remember. His speed and accuracy with a bag of peanuts was matched by his quick wit and smile. He always seemed happy to see you, even if he was meeting you for the first time. Rick loved what he did and the fans loved him for it. He will be sorely missed at Safeco Field as well as Peoria, Arizona, where he got in his ‘Spring Training’ along with everyone else.”
Finally, three weeks to the day when this 17-game losing streak began, the Mariners caught some breaks in the seventh inning and generated the kind of five-run outburst so often missing. They were aided by the Yankees booting the ball around a bit, but did get key hits when needed to take a 7-1 lead. No, that’s not a misprint.
Ichiro doubled with one out and then took third when third baseman Eduardo Nunez crossed in from of Derek Jeter on a Brendan Ryan grounder. Jeter’s throw was late, putting runners at the corners. Dustin Ackley then hit a slow chopper to second, but the flip to the bag by robinson Cano was wild, allowing a run to score and putting two on base after the error.
Justin Smoak walked to load the bases and Adam Kennedy struck out. But then, the key hits were delivered on a three-run double by Mike Carp and another double by Franklin Gutierrez. That’s four more runs. A 7-1 lead instead of 3-1. What a difference-maker. No garbage time runs there. For almost the first time in three weeks, the M’s came up with some hits when it really was going to matter.
11:46 a.m.: Felix Hernandez gave the run right back to the Yankees in the bottom of the fifth, but still has a 2-1 lead after a bases-loaded, one-out jam. Hernandez got Derek jeter to fly out to center to bring home one run on the sacrifice. But then, with the count full and runners on second and third, he fanned Curtis Granderson.
That was huge because Mark Teixeira was on deck. Could have been game over with one swing. As it is, Hernandez has about two innings of pitches at most in him. So, we’re going to see a rusty Brandon League and at least one other bullpen arm if the score holds. in other words, the M’s need to add on. Regardless of what Hernandez does from here.
11:32 a.m.: Seattle scored again in the fifth to go up 2-0, but it was only one run after loading the bases with nobody out. Brendan Ryan popped out but then Dustin Ackley singled down the left field line. Brett Gardner did a terrific job of cutting the ball off and made a strong throw home to nail a sloth-like Josh Bard trying to score from second.
Justin Smoak grounded into a fielder’s choice to end it.
Missed opportunity? Last year’s Felix Hernandez was money with a 2-0 lead. This year’s version? Jury is still out.
11:24 a.m.: Still 1-0 for the M’s as we enter the fifth inning. Felix Hernandez gave up a two-out single to Robinson Cano in the fourth and an error by left fielder Mike Carp sent the runner to second. But Hernandez got the groundout he needed to escape trouble.
Not impressed by Phil Hughes of the Yankees. Hard to believe the hype he’s gotten based on what I’ve seen on the mound so far.
11:02 a.m.: Felix Hernandez now has a 1-0 lead midway through the third inning. Ichiro singled with one out, stole second with two out and then scored on a Dustin Ackley triple to right center off Yankee starter Phil Hughes. The Mariners have had leads before during the 17-game losing streak. Let’s see what Hernandez does with this one.
10:40 a.m.: Seattle got some runners on the bases in the second inning after a two-out single by Mike Carp and a walk issued to Franklin Gutierrez. But Jack Cust — one of the veterans Eric Wedge is looking for more from — flied out to center.
So, still scoreless midway through the second.
Felix Hernandez walked a pair of Yankees in the bottom of the first inning, but got out of it on a Robinson Cano groundout.
10:04 a.m.: This might be the M’s best chance to end this streak before things get close to all-time record-setting. They are only four losses away from the AL record and have Erik Bedard going on Friday, coming off the DL. If he can go more than five innings, it would be highly impressive.
Hernandez has been unbeatable against the Yankees, especially in New York. But to be honest, he’s come up just a bit short in some “big” games already this year. This is as close to a playoff game as he’s going to get this year and maybe for some time unless he’s traded next winter.
His club really does need him to up his game today. Just being “good” won’t cut it. The M’s need the guy they saw last summer when a Cy Young Award was at stake. If not, loss No. 18 in a row will be sure to follow.