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September 2, 2012 at 3:26 PM

Mariners try to avoid sweep at the hands of the Angels

The Mariners still lead it 2-0 as we head to the eighth inning. Hisashi Iwakuma has tossed a gem today, allowing just three hits over seven innings while striking out six and not walking any.
Iwakuma will start this eighth inning having thrown 93 pitches. The bullpen is already warming up so he probably won’t have a very long string if anybody gets on.
Jered Weaver was not as sharp, especially after taking that line drive off his pitching shoulder in the fifth. Weaver stayed in the game but recorded outs on only two of the next five batters — walking two others and giving up a single.
He left after 5 1/3 innings, having given up the two solo homers, eight hits and registering three strikeouts against four walks. The last time Weaver allowed more walks than he had strikeouts came two months ago to the day against Cleveland.

2:40 p.m.: Carlos Peguero just gave Seattle a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning with a solo homer to right field. The towering blast was the second homer in as many innings given up by Weaver, who, moments later, got nailed on his throwing shoulder by a Dustin Ackley line drive.
Weaver took some warmup tosses afterward, but remained in the game.
So, the Mariners have given Hisashi Iwakuma some run support. Let’s see whether he can keep this pace up. Iwakuma got three quick flyouts to end the top of the fifth, the last one on a racing catch by Trayvon Robinson down the left field line in foul territory.
Robinson toppled into the stands after making the grab, earning him nice applause from the crowd.
2:25 p.m.: Jesus Montero sure has Jered Weaver’s number. Montero took Weaver over the wall in left-center for a solo homer in the fourth inning to give Seattle a 1-0 lead.
That’s the fourth home run by Montero in eight career at-bats against Weaver, three of those blasts coming in the past three weeks.
Hisashi Iwakuma continues to pitch well. He allowed a one-out double to Albert Pujols in the top of the fourth, but got out of it with a groundout and a strikeout on Mark Trumbo, Iwakuma’s sixth K today.
2:07 p.m.: We’re still scoreless three innings in, though both teams have had their chances. Hisashi Iwakuma llowed an infield hit to Erick Aybar in the third, then saw him steal second and take third on a Dustin Ackley error.
But with none out, Kyle Seager snared a Maicer Izturis shot to the third base bag and caught Aybar in a rundown situation. Aybar was tagged out, with Izturis taking second on the play.
One groundout later, Izturis made it to third on a wild-pitch, but then Iwakuma struck out Mike Trout to end the threat.
Seattle nearly scored in the second when Carlos Peguero lined a single to right field with Jesus Montero at second. Montero was waved around and would have scored if not for a poor slide in which he tried to go around catcher Chris Ianetta and stick his hand over the plate at the last instant.
Montero was ruled out — I’m assuming he never touched the plate — by plate ump Alan Porter. Looked to me like Ianetta never made a tag, either, but only one guy is going to get the call in that situation and the catcher did this time.
1:33 p.m.: Much better stuff from Hisashi Iwakuma two innings in than he was showing last week in Minnesota early on. Iwakuma has retired six in a row, three via strikeouts and two on grounders, to keep it scoreless heading to the bottom of the second.
A good sign for Iwakuma is that he keeps jumping ahead of the hitters early on and then, when they do make contact, they keep fouling balls off or mis-hitting them into the field of play. When Iwakuma is on, square contact is rare. When he’s off just bit, the balls start flying out.
12:36 p.m.: Another sunny, yet cool day here at Safeco Field as the Mariners prepare to take on the Los Angeles Angels at 1:10 p.m. PT, looking to avoid a three-game sweep. That won’t be easy with Jered Weaver on the mound, but the Mariners did manage to score three off him in seven innings three weeks ago to end his summer-long win streak.
Weaver has fallen on some tougher times since, having yielded five runs — four earned — against a struggling Boston team last week. The Angels managed to pull that game out but certainly can’t afford a let-up from their staff ace today as they try to keep pace on the wild-card front.
This is the stuff you can’t underestimate and why September will be a tough month for the Mariners schedule-wise: they are facing teams that have something to play for and that can’t afford to let-up at all.
Big difference from playing teams with little to gain. Seattle’s offense needs to step it up big-time today because the results of the past several games will not be enough to win more than they lose going forward.
The Mariners, for all of their second half winning, have barely improved at all on the offensive side.
First-half: .230/.291/.358
Second-half: .234/.294/.368
That’s batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, for anyone not familiar with the triple-slash-line readouts.
Don’t forget, many of those numbers were compiled with the weather at its Safeco Field warmest and against opposition decidedly lacking on the mound. Yeah, the Mariners have gone 28-19 over that stretch, so that’s better.
But if we’re looking ahead to the next four weeks, this offensive output will have to pick up or the wins will dry up very quickly. Especially with some pitchers in both the rotation and bullpen looking like they’re starting to show the wear of a long season.
Hisashi Iwakuma is one of those pitchers. If he comes out today pitching the way he did in Minneapolis the other night, the Angels will likely make quick work of him. So, he’ll have to be more consistent at spotting his fastball in order to set up his splitter.
Mariners lineup:
Mariners (64-70)
13 Dustin Ackley (L) 2B
21 Franklin Gutierrez CF
15 Kyle Seager (L) 3B
27 John Jaso (L) DH
63 Jesus Montero C
17 Justin Smoak (S) 1B
12 Trayvon Robinson (L) LF
4 Carlos Peguero (L) RF
26 Brendan Ryan SS
18 Hisashi Iwakuma RHP

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan, Dustin Ackley, Hisashi Iwakuma


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