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July 29, 2012 at 3:47 PM

Felix Hernandez and Mariners go for four-game series sweep

All that stuff I just wrote about the Mariners playing better today? Um, well, cancel that. Brandon League came on in the eighth with one out and yielded three hits and a run before leaving to a chorus of boos. Oliver Perez then came on and uncorked a wild pitch, sending both runners up to second and third base,
Eric Hosmer then singled to left to bring both runners home — two more runs tacked on to League’s line — and then a throwing error by Trayvon Robinson sent the go-ahead run to third. Thank goodness for Yuniesky Betancourt, who helped Perez out by staring at a called third strike that obviously wasn’t far enough outside the zone for Yuni to take a hack at it.
3:29 p.m.: Seattle added a pair in the seventh to go up 5-2 as Kyle Seager added a two-out single withthe bases loaded for his third hit of the game. The Royals gave the M’s a bit of a gift in that situation, opting to walk Jesus Montero to bring up a guy among the major league leaders in two-out RBI.
Royals manager Ned Yost could have upped his odds by bringing in a right-hander to face Montero in that situation, but didn’t and, well, that should pretty much be the ballgame. For the record, the Mariners have played this game much better than yesterday’s and against a more competitive-looking KC team today.
The Royals were not competitive at all the first two games and were stumbling and bumbling yesterday, but today, they have been a pretty formidable foe. Too little, too late. Felix Hernandez allowed two earned runs over seven innings, which is pretty standard for him and which left the Royals almost no room for any mistakes.
Today, their biggest one may have been Yost giving Seager a two-out RBI shot on a day he already had two hits and one really scorched lineout.

2:39 p.m.: The Mariners caught some bad breaks in the fifth inning and allowed a run to see their lead narrowed to 3-2. Felix Hernandez gave up a single to Chris Getz, then walked Jarrod Dyson on four pitches to put two speedsters on with none out. Alex Gordon then hit a flyball to center and both runners tagged up on the catch. Dyson overslid second and barely got his fingertips back on the base ahead of the tag — or so says the umpire. I dunno, looked like he was out to me. Dyson even switched his hands up at the last instant, showing that even he didn’t think he was touching the bag.
The next bad break came when Alcides Escobar broke his bat on a swing and hit a soft grounder to Brendan Ryan, who looked at the plate for a second before throwing on to first and allowing the run to score. If the bat hadn’t broken on the play and the ball was hit harder, Ryan could have had time to throw Getz out at the plate. But it rolled too softly in the grass, leaving the shortstop with only one play.
2:25 p.m.: We spoke pre-game about Trayvon Robinson wanting to make an impression while he’s up here and he did just that in the fourth inning, doubling down the left field line to bring home Kyle Seager with the go-ahead run. Brendan Ryan added a sacrifice fly later on in the inning to give Seattle a 3-1 lead.
That’s sort of what we’re talking about, the M’s needing to do some scoring over the course of a game — not just in the first two innings or the last one when they’re hopelessly behind. As we said earlier, in July the M’s had scored ablout 54 percent of their runs in the first three innings. Winds up putting a ton of pressure on the starting pitchers and bullpen when you do that.
1:51 p.m.: Felix Hernandez notched his fourth strikeout of the game in the third inning, but it was a costly one as it came on a wild pitch and enabled Jarrod Dyson to move from first to second base with two out.
Alcides Escobar then singled to left and the speedy Dyson scored with ease to tie things up 1-1. Looks like the M’s will have to score after the second inning today if they’re going to win the game.
1:43 p.m.: For the 12th time in their last 14 games, the Mariners have scored a run in the first two innings. Mike Carp just doubled down the left field line in the second inning to bring home Kyle Seager for a 1-0 lead.
The Mariners have scored 41 of their last 78 runs in the first two innings. In July, 49 of 91 runs have come in the first three innings. Given that, it’s a bit amazing the M’s have managed to play better than .500 ball. It helps when you play the Royals eight times, or teams like Tampa Bay that have an equally tough time as Seattle when it comes to scoring runs.
Kansas City came about a foot away from taking a 2-0 lead in the second when Salvador Perez scorched a Felix Hernandez pitch off the top of the left field wall. The ball was hit so hard — and Billy Butler was the lumbering lead runner — that Perez had to halt at first base with only a single.
Hernandez got a double-play grounder after that and then Brendan Ryan made yet another nice play from in the hole to his right to throw out Yuni Betancourt on a grounder.
1:05 p.m.: Felix Hernandez has looked a lot closer to his 2010 Cy Young Award form of late and there’s no reason for that to change today with the Kansas City Royals the opponent once again. Hernandez beat the Royals and their starter today — Will Smith — just 10 days ago in Kansas City.
The only thing the M’s should watch out for is that Smith actually didn’t look half bad in that game after the first two innings. If he can actually start today’s contest the way he finished off the last one, the Royals might be able to stay competitive.
But then again, there would be the whole Felix thing to overcome.
Bottom line? This is as good a chance for a four-game sweep as the M’s are likely to see again for quite some time.

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan, Jesus Montero, Oliver Perez


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