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September 27, 2012 at 3:01 PM

Mariners try to salvage a game in series the Angels desperately need to sweep

UPDATE 2:34 p.m.: Franklin Gutierrez has left the game in the bottom of the sixth inning, replaced by Michael Saunders in center and with Trayvon Robinson entering to play left. Gutierrez slammed hard into the wall in the fifth while making a run-saving catch.
Seattle just broke it open in the seventh inning, scoring four times off Garrett Richards to take a 7-2 lead. A pair of singles, a sacrifice bunt and then an intentional walk loaded the bases for Trayvon Robinson.
With the count 1-1, Richards didn’t get the call on a tight pitch, then couldn’t come close to the strike zone and wound up walking in a run. Kyle Seager came up next, the bases still loaded, and singled to right for another run.
Richards was hearing it from the crowd by then. Jesus Montero then hit a sacrifice fly to center to bring home the third run of the inning. John Jaso then doubled off the glove of first baseman Kendrys Morales and down the right field line to bring the fourth marker home.
Richards was finally pulled at that point, but likely too late to save the Angels today.
We said coming into the series that the Angels had very little margin for error. They’ve won five in a row but haven’t been able to pick up much wild-card ground. Now, they are about to blow a golden opportunity to move within a game of the A’s.
The way things are shaping up, today’s loss means the Angels might have to win out over the final six games to have a shot at the playoffs. Unless they can do something real dramatic the final three innings.
2:24 p.m.: Hisashi Iwakuma is helping keep the Mariners in a spoiler role of sorts to this point, with a big assist from Franklin Gutierrez. A catch by Gutierrez in right-center in the bottom of the fifth helped keep the Mariners in a 3-2 lead.
Chris Iannetta was on first base when Mike Trout drilled a line drive to deep right-center. Gutierrez made the racing catch, then hit the wall hard and went down in a heap. He still had the presence of mind to flip the ball to Casper Wells, who nearly doubled-off Iannetta, who had already rounded second and was scrambling madly to get back to first.
Without the catch, Iannetta scores easily.
Gutierrez nearly scored in the top of the fifth on a double by Kyle Seager. He was waved around from first base, but the Angels made a perfect relay back in and nabbed Guti on a bang-bang play at home. The Mariners had been fortunate to take the lead that inning when shortstop Erick Aybar dropped the ball at second base taking a throw on the front end of what looked like an inning-ending double-play grounder. Wells also looked like he never touched second on the play, though the Angels missed that.
Instead of the inning being done, the Mariners were left with runners at the corners and one out and wound up scoring on an ensuing groundout.
1:55 p.m.: We’re deadlocked at 2-2 after four innings of play. The Mariners took the lead in the top of the fourth inning when John Jaso connected for a two-run homer to right field off Dan Haren for his 10th long ball of the season in about half the PAs normally given a full-time player.
But the Angels tied it up off Hisashi Iwakuma and the defense in the bottom of the inning. A Kendrys Morales flyball was allowed to hit the base of the wall by right fielder Casper Wells — who either misjudged it or lost it in the sun — for a double.
Alberto Callaspo then hit a flare into right field for a single that tied it up.

1:35 p.m.: Los Angeles took a 1-0 lead in the second inning after Erick Aybar reached on an error, stole second base and scored on a single to left by Vernon Wells that deflected off the glove of third baseman Kyle Seager.
That inning, we got an indicator as to why the Mariners put Miguel Olivo behind the plate the first two games of this series. The Angels have a lot of speed in their lineup and Aybar didn’t hesitate to swipe second and put himself in a position to score with two out and Jesus Montero behind the plate.
With Olivo back there, that hesitation does exist and runners don’t always try for the swipe. Olivo has thrown out 31 percent of baserunners this season, but you also have to factor in the number of guys who don’t even try to steal when he’s back there. It’s sort of like the best cornerbacks in football — they are rarely among the interception leaders because quartebacks have learned not to throw their way. Good football writers understand this and know what to look for in a corner.
Should be the same with those attempting baseball analysis. You have to understand the hidden basics. You’ll have less frustration when trying to comprehend things like why Olivo continues to play.
With a guy like Olivo behind the plate, it’s like a cornerback in football. The runners have learned over the years not to risk it unless it’s absolutely necessary. With Montero, or John Jaso behind the plate? A much different story. And that’s another reason why the Mariners have learned to live with the occasional wild-pitch or passed ball that gets by Olivo a little more so than with other catchers.
They’ll take that risk and then some — hoping it won’t come in the bottom of the ninth — rather than knowing that every two out walk they issue risks turning into the equivalent of a double.
Just something to think about before the next Olivo rant. I know the wild pitches and passed balls are frustrating, but there is more to baseball and catching than just those. If you want to criticize them within the context of the game strategy I just mentioned, go ahead. But most of the criticisms I’ve read tend to ignore the running game aspect, which is a critical factor when facing the Angels. So, again, those of you wondering why the Mariners keep using Olivo behind the plate have your answer.
If you’re going to do critical analysis of baseball, you owe it to the people you are criticizing and the folks who read you to have a general understanding of what goes into baseball decisions. Whether it’s for a newspaper, a TV or radio broadcast, or a free blog you write from home. If you’re putting stuff out in public, people are going to assume you understand the game. On a comment site, it’s a little different. Sort of like callers to a radio show and I’ve dealt with plenty of those. Some know what they’re talking about and others…don’t. Can’t put it any more succinctly.
But the words of anonymous commenters don’t carry much influence. When you are writing a story, column, or blog post, they do. And it helps to know the basics of what to look for before weighing in on whether you agree or disagree and riling up the masses based on stuff you don’t understand and/or can’t be bothered to learn more about.
Does Olivo let a lot of balls get by him? Yes, indeed. But the Mariners have decided to suffer along with that rather than allow a track meet to happen in front of them on the basepaths whenever they face the Angels. And to prevent that, Olivo really is the only option on a regular basis at this stage.
The Mariners need a catching upgrade this off-season while they wait for minor leaguer Mike Zunino to develop because Olivo will most definitely land a job elsewhere.
12:36 p.m.: Seattle takes the field behind Hisashi Iwakuma today, looking to salvage on game from this series. The Los Angeles Angels badly need a sweep here, having dodged the Felix Hernandez bullet last night.
Oakland is losing at Texas and a win here by the Angels could draw them within a game of the second wild-card spot. The Angels are also only two games behind Baltimore in the loss column, so multiple opportunities could open for them with a win here today.
This is the time of year where all of that payroll money spent is supposed to pay off. It has for the Tigers so far and they now lead the AL Central by 1 1/2 games. Now, it’s the Angels’ turn to take advantage of that depth they bought themselves. It’s what good teams do this time of year.
Dan Haren was supposed to be a part of that depth and he’s been hot and cold all year. Now is when the money gets earned.
The Mariners will try to prevent that from happening.
Michael Saunders rejoined the team last night from Colorado, where his wife gave birth to a daughter, Aria, the couple’s first child.
The lineups:
Mariners (72-83)
13 Dustin Ackley 2B
21 Franklin Gutierrez CF
15 Kyle Seager 3B
63 Jesus Montero C
27 John Jaso DH
17 Justin Smoak 1B
55 Michael Saunders LF
33 Casper Wells RF
26 Brendan Ryan SS
18 Hisashi Iwakuma RHP
Angels (86-69)
27 Mike Trout CF
48 Torii Hunter RF
5 Albert Pujols DH
8 Kendrys Morales 1B
6 Alberto Callaspo 3B
47 Howie Kendrick 2B
2 Erick Aybar SS
10 Vernon Wells LF
17 Chris Iannetta C
24 Dan Haren RHP

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


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