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July 28, 2012 at 3:53 PM

Mariners edge inept-looking Royals for third win in a row

This one got a little too close at the end, considering the Mariners were in total control from the third inning on.
But the M’s settled into another of those do-nothing ruts on offense (they were outhit 10-7) after a three-run third and let the useless-looking Royals stay close. I swear, this Royals club is easily in the running for worst performance by a visiting team at Safeco Field this season and the past two seasons prior. I mean, it’s bad enough their pitchers and hitters didn’t show up for the first two games, but then today, when Bruce Chen finally turns in a big-league level outing, the rest of his team decides to put on a Little League clinic.
It all added up to a 4-3 win by Seattle in a game that was far too close and nearly wound up tied in the eighth and ninth innings.
But first, let’s not forget, the only reason the M’s still had a one-run lead after the top of the eighth was because their third run came courtesy of Alex Gordon losing a routine Kyle Seager flyball to left in the sun. That kept the inning alive for Miguel Olivo to drive Seager in with a single.
We saw Royals catcher Brayan Pena foolishly try to take second on a single to right when Casper Wells bobbled the ball. Pena runs just a tad quicker than Jesus Montero and that wasn’t nearly enough to avoid being thrown out by 10 feet.
It was costly because of an ensuing single that would have given KC two on with none out. Instead, Oliver Perez replaced Kevin Millwood, got a double-play grounder and the inning was done.
Then, you had the eighth inning where Alcides Escobar woke everyone up with a triple out of the blue to score a run and position himself on third with one out. But again, the Royals failed to execute as Chris Getz hit the ball right at a drawn-in Dustin Ackley for a huge second out with Escobar forced to hold.
The M’s were so confident the Royals would do nothing that Eric Wedge ordered Billy Butler — the only Royals hitter who has really shown up in Seattle — intentionally walked, even though he represented the go-ahead run. No problem, because Yuniesky Betancourt was up next and he hit a routine grounder to third that ended the only real Royals threat since the first inning.
The, in the bottom of the eighth, with two on, pitcher Jose Mijares double-clutched on a throw when he had the lead runner dead-to-rights at third base on a poor bunt attempt. The stumble by Mijares loaded the bases with none out and eventually enabled Mike Carp to hit a sac fly that effectively ended the game because there is no way Tom Wilhelmsen was going to blow a two-run lead the way he’s been closing.
But it almost happened. A two-out single and then Casper Wells couldn’t get to a Lorenzo Cain drive down the line in right and it wound up an RBI triple to bring Gordon to the plate with a chance to tie the game.
Wilhelmsen fortunately got Gordon to ground out to first and the M’s collectively went “Whew! How the heck did we almost blow that?”

Anyhow, we’re back to the usual problem. The Mariners have now won six of eight, so on-the-surface everything appears rosy.
But it’s so tough to gauge how things are really going because, truth be told, they really didn’t play all that well today and yet still won because their opponents are — for lack of a better word — inept.
So, I suppose I’ll say what I have up to now: enjoy the wins because they haven’t come all that often this season. Enjoy the sweep when Felix Hernandez caps it tomorrow because short of a trade that swaps out this entire Royals team overnight, there is no way they are beating Felix tomorrow.
Then, hope the M’s can up their game a little when an MLB-caliber opponent shows up next.
I know that sounds harsh. But I’d be misleading you all if I tried to spin today’s game as anything real good.
The M’s looked good for one inning — the third — and were otherwise pretty sub-par at the plate.
Kevin Millwood looked OK in what could be his final Seattle outing. He actually didn’t give up any earned runs, which will help if the M’s are looking to deal him.
Brendan Ryan had a great game on defense and for me, he was the highlight of the day for both teams. Trayvon Robinson got his first hit and stolen base, so he’s happy. Probably very happy Ryan didn’t crash into him as they both went after that fifth-inning popup.
A nice crowd of 32,111 showed up, the weather was comfortable and the fans got to go home happy.
Oh yeah, and the M’s will likely finish July with a winning record thanks to six — and soon seven — wins over the Royals. So, that all helps if you want to avoid a 95-loss season.
Other than that, I can’t spin this thing as any more. Sorry, folks. Enjoy your Saturday night.

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan, Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero


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