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September 30, 2012 at 3:34 PM

Dustin Ackley sits for series finale as Mariners look to avoid sweep

UPDATE (2:52 p.m.): Franklin Gutierrez has left the ballgame with left groin tightness. He appeared to hurt himself while running the bases in the third inning. Michael Saunders in now in center, Trayvon Robinson enters the game and is playing in left field.
This is truly unbelievable to watch, but the game is still tied 2-2 in the seventh inning despite the fact the Mariners are outhitting the A’s 11-2. OK, maybe it’s not so unbelievable if you’ve watched this team the past four or five seasons, but I mean, that top of the seventh was a bit too much.
A leadoff double by Brendan Ryan, then a single by Trayvon Robinson put runners at the corners with nobody out. No problem for the A’s, though, since Casper Wells, Kyle Seager and Jesus Montero all went down swinging.
That’s been a problem of late — putting the ball in-play when needed. We saw it during that 20-strikeout game in Anaheim and we’re witnessing it again today. Poor Erasmo Ramirez is holding the A’s to just two hits through six and this is all he’s got to show for it.
2:07 p.m.: Seattle was finally rewarded for its hit barrage against Tommy Milone as Franklin Gutierrez led the third inning off with a double, Casper Wells added an infield single and then Kyle Seager singled to bring the first run home. Jesus Montero then grounded into a double play, but Justin Smoak delivered his second single of the game to tie it 2-2.
What makes this game most interesting so far is that the Mariners are outhitting Oakand 8-1 already, despite being tied. Could have a big lead with a few better-executed plays.
1:50 p.m.: Still a 2-0 game midway through the second inning after the Mariners botched a three-hit frame on a questionable decision by third base coach Jeff Datz. I’ve been on board with most of Datz’s aggressive calls this season, but I think this was just a bad decision by him to wave Justin Smoak home from second base on a scorching line drive single to right by Carlos Triunfel.
The ball was bobbled momentarily by right fielder Josh Reddick — namely because it was hit so hard — but the outfielder kept it in front of him and easily recovered. Datz has to recognize that and had time to call Smoak back and get the other runners behind him to retreat.
Also, given how hard the ball was hit and how slowly Smoak runs, Datz has to account for all of that when he sees the bobble. In other words, Reddick still had plenty of margin for error working for him and the bobble wasn’t so bad that it would eliminate his margin.
The end result spelled that part out for us. Smoak was easily nailed at the plate.
If there were two out at the time, I would have understood, but this was too big a gamble to take this early on with only one out.
1:33 p.m.: Those were two of the uglier throws we’ve seen by Mariners outfielders in a while. The Mariners trail 2-0 after an inning of play, with no help from the outfield defense so far. Yoenis Cespedes tripled to right field and the A’s waved Stephen Drew around from first base.
Casper Wells tried to throw home — it appeared, since he came nowhere near the cut-off man — but the ball wound up a third of the way between the plate and third base. So, that was the first run. Then, a rather shallow pop-up to center field by Brandon Moss had Cespedes tagging from third base.
Franklin Gutierrez probably had no chance in any event because Cespedes is so quick, but the throw from center was awful and again pulled catcher Jesus Montero well up the third base line.
So, it’s 2-0. Not the best start for pitcher Erasmo Ramirez. Not will this be the best finish to a season by the Mariners if the score holds and they go 1-5 on the trip.
Gutierrez doubled to open the game, but was stranded on second by a popout, a strikeout and another popout. What channel’s the football game on?
12:24 p.m.: This hasn’t been the best of road trips for the Mariners, who have mostly played hard but post a 1-4 record on it. Today is the final road game of the season for Seattle and Dustin Ackley will be watching it from the dugout.
Ackley went hitless yesterday, but did put some good swings on balls only to come away with nothing to show for it.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said today that he’s proud of how Ackley has held up day-in and day-out through the slumps of his first full season in the majors. But he’s giving Ackley the day off against left-hander Tommy Milone and starting Carlos Triunfel at second base.
Remember yesterday, when I talked about how the Mariners will be in the market for a backup infielder next season. Triunfel could be one of those up for the job. He’s still young enough at 22, but this will be his sixth year with the organization. He’s on the 40-man roster, so the team won’t lose him by keeping him in Class AAA.
But you don’t want to tie up a roster spot on a guy forever, so the M’s at some point soon will face decisions about Triunfel. Remember, if he’s taken off the roster, he’d have to be outrighted to the minors and could get claimed.
So, that’s why he’s getting looked at now. Like I said, you don’t want guys tying up roster spots forever if you aren’t going to use them and the Mariners have to figure out where Triunfel fits into their plans, if at all.
Franklin Gutierrez gets to take Ackley’s leadoff spot.

The lineups:
Mariners (73-85)
21 Franklin Gutierrez CF
33 Casper Wells RF
15 Kyle Seager 3B
63 Jesus Monter C
17 Justin Smoak 1B
55 Michael Saunders LF
30 Miguel Olivo DH
9 Carlos Triunfel 2B
26 Brendan Ryan SS
50 Erasmo Ramirez RHP
Athletics (90-68)
4 Coco Crisp CF
5 Stephen Drew SS
52 Yoenis Cespedes LF
37 Brandon Moss 1B
16 Josh Reddick RF
20 Josh Donaldson 3B
15 Seth Smith DH
14 George Kottaras C
2 Cliff Pennington 2B
57 Tommy Milone LHP

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


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