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April 9, 2012 at 7:27 PM

Mariners take on Yu Darvish, World Series finalist Rangers

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Just a reminder that you can also follow along at my @gbakermariners Twitter feed.
Erasmo Ramirez is turning in a relatively solid performance here to keep the Mariners within striking distance at 8-5 as we head to the seventh inning.
Ramirez gave up a solo homer after coming on in relief of Hector Noesi, but just completed his third full inning of relief with nothing more allowed on the scoreboard. In fact, Ramirez has retired seven of the last eight batters he’s faced.
Yu Darvish somehow nearly made it through the sixth, but an Ichiro single — his third hit of the game — ended the pitcher’s night. Alexi Ogando came on to face Justin Smoak with two on, but Smoak struck out to keep it a three-run game.


6:53 p.m.: The unbelievable thing here is that Yu Darvish is just three outs away from qualifying for a victory after that 42-pitch, four-run first inning. The Rangers saw Mitch Moreland crank a two-run homer off Hector Noesi to end his night on 85 pitches in three-plus inninggs of work.
Erasmo Ramirez came on to make his MLB debut and yielded a solo homer over the center field wall by Josh Hamilton. So, Seattle trails 8-5 and, as mentioned, Darvish needs one more inning under his belt to be in-line for victory when it once looked like he could not escape the first inning.
6:35 p.m.: Hector Noesi is now officially having a worse night than Yu Darvish. Both guys have given up five runs in this 5-5 game as we head to the fourth. But Noesi has thrown 76 pitches to only 74 for Darvish.
Considering Darvish had a 42-0 lead at one point, that’s saying something.
The only good news for the Mariners is that they could be losing. Josh Hamilton was called out at the plate on a fielder’s choice even though replays appeared to show that Miguel Olivo did not apply the tag. Hamilton was livid.
The next batter, Nelson Cruz, hit a three-run homer to left. Absolutely obliterated the ball.
Bad news for M’s fans (I mean, worse than the Cruz homer?)? Brendan Ryan had a shot at a double-play with Young batting. Young isn’t the quickest up the line and my first reaction was surprise that Ryan would throw home with a 5-2 lead rather than try to get his pitcher out of the inning. Ball wasn’t softly hit or anything. Mariners getting a bunch of baserunners and hits, but so far, not doing the little things needed to win.
5:56 p.m.: The Mariners were swinging early and often against Yu Darvish in the second inning, resulting in quicker outs but also some hits. Both Ichiro and Kyle Seager ripped doubles to right field, making it 5-2 for the Mariners.
But the big test now will be to see whether Hector Noesi can economize on his pitches. If not, the Japanese media throng that came here to see Darvish might wind up getting a dose of Hisashi Iwakuma.
5:52 p.m.: So, some 42 minutes later, we’ve finally completed the first inning with Seatte up 4-2 and Brendan Ryan wishing he’d stayed asleep on that bad neck of his. Mariners manager Erc Wedge said pre-game that Ryan might not be 100 percent recovered from that stiff neck and he didn’t look good botching the back end of an easy double-play grounder by Adrian Beltre in the bottom of the first.
That throw, which pulled first baseman Justin Smoak off his bag, allowed the Rangers to keep batting and Michael Young and Nelson Cruz hit RBI singles to cut Seattle’s lead in half. Not Ryan’s best inning, after that poor at-bat allowed Yu Darvish to wiggle off the hook.
Hector Noesi looked awful that inning and was fortunate not to give up a three-run homer to Josh Hamilton, which hooked just wide of the right field foul pole.
Noesi threw 32 pitches in the inning.
5:33 p.m.: Not quite the debut that much of Texas and the entire country of Japan was expecting from Yu Darvish, who threw 42 pitches in that first inning and saw Seattle score four times to take a 4-0 lead. Scott Feldman was warming in the bullpen by the time it ended with the bases loaded and — to be honest — Darvish might have thrown 50 pitches had we seen better at-bats in the end from Brendan Ryan and Chone Figgins.
Ryan looked terrible in swinging at some pitches out of the zone after Darvish had just walked Munenoria Kawasaki to load ’em up. Figgins then swung into a first-pitch groundout. In other words, they had him on the ropes and let Darvish walk away. Then again, they had him on the ropes and pummeled him pretty good. Darvish might not be long for this night.
Great at-bats prior to the last two, as Figgins took a four-pitch walk to start the game. Then, after Dustin Ackley struck out, Ichiro blooped a single between three fielders in shallow left, Justin Smoak singled hard to right field to load the bases and Kyle Seager singled to bring two runs in. Michael Saunders then walked and Miguel Olivo singled to make it 3-0.
The Kawasaki free pass made it 4-0 and Seattle had the chance to run Texas right out of the building early, but the final two ABs snuffed that. So, we’ll see what happens. Four runs usually isn’t enough to beat these Rangers, but it’s one heckuva start by the M’s.

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan, Chone Figgins, Hisashi Iwakuma

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