Yeah, I know it’s the middle of the night in Seattle. Now you know how I feel uploading videos when everyone else is asleep. Time to WAKE UP and follow the Mariners as they play the Yomiuri Giants.
The Mariners made a bunch of defensive switches in the sixth and it showed as the Giants scored twice on some ugly fielding to make it 8-3. A two-out double issued by Shawn Kelley was followed by a passed ball from new catcher Guillermo Quiroz that scored the first run. Sherrill then walked the hitter, threw a pickoff move away at first base to send the runner to second, then saw new third baseman Alex Liddi muff a routine grounder.
Later, the M’s had the trail runner caught in a rundown and threw home as the lead guy broke for the plate. Quiroz somehow missed the tag and an eighth Giants run was across.
5:01 a.m.: The Mariners are fortunate to still be in this game, trailing 6-3 as we head to the bottom of the sixth inning. Kyle Seager just lined a two-out, RBI single to left field in the top of the frame to get the Mariners closer.
Yomiuri nearly blew things apart in the fifth, loading the bases with none out against an erratic looking Lucas Luetge. But luetge rallied to get a strikeout, then a flyout to medium right in which Ichiro charged in to catch the ball and fired a strike to home plate. The runner didn’t move from third and the crowd roared its aproval for Ichiro.
Shawn Kelley came on and notched a strikeout to end the inning. Time running out for the M’s to win a game against a Japanese team. Three innings to go for them.
4:26 p.m.: It was clear Hisashi Iwakuma had nothing left in the fourth. He got rocked left and right, giving up two straight singles, another sac bunt and then a two-run single to left by Hayato Sakamoto that made it a 6-2 game. The reason Wedge left Iwakuma in there, I’m sure, is because he got a lucky second out on that single when Sakamoto tried to take second.
Wedge clearly wanted his reliever — whoever that is, the bullpens are underground here so I can’t see — to start the next inning off and conserve bullpen arms. Remember, Iwakuma won’t start the season on the roster here for the two Oakland games so you can afford to burn him up a bit rather than extend the bullpen.
Iwakuma gave up one more scorching line drive single, then got out of the inning on a comebacker. He did not look good in front of his home country’s fans. He’s fortunate to be making the bullpen on this team.
4:07 a.m.: Hisashi Iwakuma yielded a pair of singles to start the bottom of the third, then saw the runners bunted ahead a base. Iwakuma got what appeared to be a huge popout after that, but could not seal the deal, giving up a two-out single up the middle to Suichi Murata that brought home two runs for a 4-2 Giants lead.
3:49 a.m..: Seattle tied it up in the top of the third as Dustin Ackley tripled off the right field wall, with Giants outfielder Michihiro Yano crashing into it hard. Yano had to leave the game, just a half-inning after doubling home the go-ahead run.
Ichiro came up with Ackley on third, flashbulbs popping, the PA system playing “I’m Sexy and I Know It” and the crowd chanting “I-Chi-Ro!” and promptly grounded a ball to the right side that got the run home and tied the game 2-2.
3:39 a.m.: The Mariners trail 2-1 after Hisashi Iwakuma got roughed up with two out in the bottom of the second. Iwakuma yielded a hard single to right by Michihiro Ogasawara, then allowed a duble to the left field corner by Kenji Yano that Mike Carp took forever to get to.
Yano had to leave the game in the top of the third when he hit the wall hard in right field trying to get to a leadoff triple by Dustin Ackley.
3:29 p.m.: The Mariners got off to a good start, with Dustin Ackley going deep to left in the first inning But the Giants tied it 1-1 in the bottom of the frame, with John Bowker hammering one over the right field wall.
We all know the M’s got waxed by the Hanshin Tigers, who beat the Oakland Athletics a little while ago. I asked manager Eric Wedge in his pre-game news conference about how he and his coaches are balancing the need to get ready for the season with all the public appearances his squad keeps making here. You’ll see that as part of the video above, shot during batting practice today.
It’s a bit of a tourism situation for the M’s. They are all trying to take in some sights, find places to eat and adjust to the time difference here while making those appearances like you saw Michael Saunders and Munenori Kawasaki do in the prior video.
A group of other Mariners, including George Sherrill, Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak, vistied a military base earlier today as well. There was apparently a wild helicopter ride involved. Some of the guys say Ackley is better off with his feet firmly on the ground than he is in the air. They were riding him about his white knuckles — and apparently, very white face palor — by the time the ride was done.
CF Chone Figgins
2B Dustin Ackley
DH Justin Smoak
C Jesus Montero
LF Mike Carp
3B Kyle Seager
1B Alex Liddi
SS Munenori Kawasaki
RHP Hisashi Iwakuma
Bit of a different look to the M’s today. Wedge wants to rest guys like Miguel Olivo and Brendan Ryan and get young guys like Kyle Seager and Alex Liddi a longer look. Iwakuma will be allowed to throw until the middle innings, despite being a reliever now. Iwakuma won’t be used in any of the two regular season contests being played here, allowing the M’s to maximize their roster with guys they’ll need more.