A’S CLOSE IT OUT — Oakland held on to win it 6-1 as the Mariners got just five hits. Seattle now 11-5-1, Oakland 11-3-1.
STILL 5–1 TO BOTTOM EIGHT —- 1-2-3 for the M’s in the eighth, including a caught looking strikeout by Figgins who is 0-3 on the night with a walk.
TOP SEVEN — M’s got nothing in the seventh and still trail 5-1 to the bottom of the seventh. Kelley pitched two scoreless innings for the M’s and has now allowed two runs in 8.2 innings this spring, appearing to solidify a spot in the bullpen.
IWAKUMA SAYS HE’S IMPROVING, FEELS FINE — We just got done talking to Iwakuma, who does not speak English so everything is through an interpreter. He said he feels fine physically and thinks he is improving with each outing.
He said he thought the issue in the first was leaving some pitches too low and not changing speeds well enough. He said he thought he did those things better his last three innings. And that was about it.
TOP SIX — Ichiro doubled over the the right fielder but that was it. Still 5-1 to the bottom of six.
BOTTOM FIVE — Good inning for Kelley, who struck out Ramirez looking and gave up just an infield hit that might have been prevented with a better throw by Noriega. Still 5-1 A’s to the sixth.
IWAKUMA’S LINE — He went four innings, allowing seven hits, five runs (three earned), one walk and striking out three. If he’d settled some nerves with his performance the last time out, he likely stirred them anew a little tonight.
TOP FIVE — M’s have now made 15 straight outs after first three guys reached. It’s 5-1 A’s heading to bottom of five. Shawn Kelley now pitching for the M’s.
FOURTH INNING — M’s were three up, three down in their half of the fourth. Iwakuma gives up a run on a walk and a single and a sac fly in the bottom of the inning. He’s maybe done with A’s up 5-1 after four. I have him at 67 pitches after four innings.
HERNANDEZ THROWS 80 — None of us in the local media made the trip to Tucson so I didn’t see Hernandez throw. But the media relations department reported he threw 80 pitches, 50 for strikes, in throwing six shutout innings allowing just one hit.
Hernandez will start again on Wednesday with the plan to get up to 100 or so and then will be off until the opener in Japan against the A’s on the 28th, though he will throw a couple of bullpen sessions in between.
THIRD INNING — Nothing for the M’s in their half as Figgins and Rodriguez struck out and Ichiro grounded to first.
It was another decent inning for Iwakuma in the bottom as he gave up a two-out double but struck out two to get out of it scoreless. Ramirez hit it a long way to left for the other out.
4-1 A’s to top of four.
SECOND INNING — Nothing for the M’s on offense in their half.
In the bottom, it was a much better inning for Iwakuma as he needed just 7 pitches to get three outs, including a double play to end it.
The runner on base was Crisp, who reached after beating out a slow roller to second.
ROUGH START FOR IWAKUMA — In a key start for Iwakuma, he got off to a rough beginning, giving up four runs on four hits in the first. It’s a little misleading as the first batter reached on a throwing error by Noriega, a minor leaguer playing with Brendan Ryan out. Then the next batter reached on a single through the hole at short with the fielders on the move to cover for the steal.
But he then gave up hard-hit doubles to Josh Reddick and Manny Ramirez and then later a single by Collin Cowgill.
Only two of the runs were earned due to the Noriega error.
TOP FIRST — M’s got a “small ball” run here in the first as Figgins walked, Rodriguez hit a broken bat blooper that got him to third and then Ichiro singled him home. Kind of like how the team is hoping it’ll play out this season (though obviously Ackley for Rodriguez). The last three batters went down easily so it’s 1-0 heading to the first in front of a big and festive crowd here at Phoenix Memorial.
PRE-GAME — We’re close to first pitch here in Phoenix as the Mariners will take on the A’s.
Here’s Seattle’s lineup:
Chone Figgins, CF
Luis Rodriguez, 2B
Mike Carp, LF
Casper Wells, DH
Kyle Seager, 3B
John Jaso, 1B
Jesus Sucre, C
Gabriel Noriega, SS
Hisashi Iwaukuma, P
With the M’s also playing a game in Tucson today, there are few other Major League players available, so the lineup above may go much of the way. The only other Major League position player expected to make the trip is C Guillermo Quiroz.
Others slated to pitch are Shawn Kelley, Steve Delabar, Sean Henn, Chance Ruffin, Bobby LaFromboise and Carter Capps.
Noriega is in the lineup with Brendan Ryan getting another day off to rest his quad, injured early in Wednesday night’s game.
Here’s Oakland’s lineup:
Coco Crisp, CF
Eric Sogard, 2B
Josh Reddick, RF
Manny Ramirez, DH
Brandon Allen, 1B
Kurt Suzuki, C
Collin Cowgill, LF
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Adam Rosales, SS
Graham Godfrey, P