Twins take first game of series 5-3

  The Minnesota Twins won the opening game of the series tonight 5-3 thus continuing the woes of the visiting Seattle Mariners. The Mariners made their first visit to beautiful Target Field filled with 40,596 loyal and enthusiastic Twins fans. Doug Fister picked-up the loss tonight thanks in part to some shoddy play by the defense behind him. Fister now goes to 3-7 on the year and appears to be getting a bit sharper but still nowhere near the guy we saw in the early going. The Twins starter Scott Baker went to 9-9 with his performance though he started out looking shaky in the first few frames. In fact the Mariners had a golden opportunity in the second inning after working the bases full with only one down before both Wilson infielders choked and the M’s came-away with 0.

  The Mariners were facing a pennant contending club that plays great defense and holds a .298 average with RISP, compare that to the Mariners who have a .236 average with RISP giving you a picture of the stark contrast in these two clubs. The Mariners did rally for three runs in the 6th inning thanks to a clutch double by Josh Wilson that drove in Saunders and Gutierrez. Branyan had one of his two doubles in the same inning and had come in earlier on a single by Gutierrez. Outside of that it was all Twins thanks to homers by Thome and Casilla.

  This year’s Twins are once again in the thick of things in the AL Central as they try to make it into the World Series after being knocked-out last year by the Yankees. The Twins are marking their 50th year as a franchise with a new stadium and a well-rounded team that gives the folks in the Twin-Cities something to be proud of. Their big slugger Justin Mourneau was sidelined today with an injury but may be back soon as they battle away in a tight AL Central race.

  As most of you know by now pitcher Roy Oswalt has been traded by the Astros to the Phillies and veteran Lance Berkman is leaving those same Astros for the bright lights of New York to wear a Yankees uniform. Apparently the White Sox are close to adding to their already powerful lineup with the acquisition of slugger Adam Dunn from the lowly Nationals. As all this is going on our Mariners appear to have a bunch of players that no one is too interested in at this point. However in August a few of our guys like Lopez and maybe Casey Kotchman could be put out on waivers allowing other clubs to finish the process of picking the last bit of meat off the carcass of our beached whale. We could have been the center of all potential trade attention still if Jack Zduriencik had not chosen to grab Justin Smoak for Cliff Lee. Smoak who is now batting .198 was not in the lineup tonight as either we were trying to showcase Casey Kotchman who went 0-5, or Smoak has another one of those mystery Mariners injuries.

  Still thinking of heading down to watch the Tacoma Rainiers tomorrow as I’d like to watch my old friend Mike Sweeney and catch a glimpse of Dustin Ackley. Hope everyone is enjoying the beautiful weather even as we watch the Mariners continue their voyage to the bottom of the Sea….

Felix fans 9 Twins as Mariners win 4-1

The Seattle Mariners have begun the post Griffey era by taking three out of four from the Minnesota Twins, winning the final game tonight 4-1. Felix Hernandez pitched a gem, mixing a wicked curve-ball in with his 96 mph fastball to keep the AL Central leading Twins off-balance and allowing Felix to pick-up his first win since April 21st. Hernandez had his swagger back tonight and struck-out 9 Twins including a rare 4 strikeout inning in the 8th after Twins slugger Joe Mauer struck-out  but reached first on a wild pitch. Felix came right back and struck-out Justin Morneau who was on fire this series and had a RBI single in the first to drive-in the Twins lone run.

 The Mariners offense collected 9 hits and 4 runs on the night to go along with 5 stolen bases against Twins starter Carl Pavano. The red-hot Jose Lopez batting clean-up, and  had the big hit of the night connecting for a 3-run homer in the 3rd putting the resurgent Mariners up for good at 4-1. Michael Saunders got the start in Left and looks like he may be up with the big club for good with a nice night at the plate going 2-3 as well as picking up a stolen base. Ichiro has been particularly pesky for opposing pitchers lately, and when he is not slapping base hits he is fouling off 10-12 pitches and running wild on the basepaths,  picking up 3 stolen bases tonight.

  The Paper Boy Josh Wilson continues to tear the cover off the ball and raised his average to .308 tonight with 2 more hits. I am not sure when and if Jack Wilson is coming back, but Josh Wilson has earned a spot in the line-up somewhere even if it means moving him  to first for the struggling Kotchman. The catchers situation may be coming to a head soon with both Bard and Moore getting closer to being healthy.

  The Mariners brought up Chad Cordero to fill the roster spot for Griffey. This move gives us 7 guys in the bullpen and some insurance in case Aardsma doesn’t come back to his 2009 form as the closer. Other than that we will pretty much have to work with what we have and actually this series showed a club on the upswing. For what it is worth after winning this series  the Mariners picked up a game in the standings, and we are now 6 games back with the Angels coming to town for the weekend.

  I want to thank everyone who has stopped by in the past 24 hours to read my post on Ken Griffey Jr. I hope you stick around, for though this past day has been an emotional one for us here in Seattle with the Ancient Mariner sailing away, it looks  like the rest of the crew are sticking their oars in the water and giving it their best. I am hoping to put together a more in-depth article on Griffey and the team he lead in the 90’s. Love to hear any thoughts you may have on that golden era of Mariners baseball.  And as much as I love  good sea stories, lets not forget our new crew who deserve our support just like we gave the old salts.

Fister proves he is human,Mariners lose 5-4

Doug Fister came into this game tonight with the  best ERA in the AL, but tonight he got tagged for 3 homers by the Minnesota Twins and the Mariners couldn’t quite catch up and lost this one 5-4. The sun came out this afternoon and it was actually pleasant at the Safe when I joined 19,795 other fans on this Memorial day. A color guard from the various branches of the service were on hand to commemorate the veterans from previous conflicts and to honor those still in active duty. The Twins fans were out in full force as well, cheering on their club complete with signs, jerseys and ya-sure ya-betcha midwest accents.

  Justin Morneau picked up 3-hits including a couple doubles to move his average to .377, but it was the long-balls by Cuddyer, Kubel, and Young that killed us tonight. Fister gave up all three dingers with 2-outs including back-to-back homers in the 4th which provided all the runs the Twins would need. This could prove to be a rough series for the Mariners as the Twins are hot and focused on getting back in the play-offs after getting knocked out by the Yankees last year.

  On the positive side of things Figgins and Lopez each picked up a couple of hits and scored three of the four Mariners runs. Josh Wilson continued to deliver and boosted his average to .300, going 3-4 with a RBI. It looked as if our boys might pull it off in the ninth when Lopez opened the frame with a double and the Paper Boy delivered a single up the middle to pull us within one run. Wakamatsu brought in Griffey to pinch-hit which got the crowd on its feet, only to be let-down when he grounded out. Casey Kotchman also got into the game and hit a hard grounder to first which turned into a  double-play that killed the rally and sent us all home.

For some reason Rob Johnson got the start tonight behind the plate and went 0-3, which was disturbing in light of Eliezer Alfonso’s 3-4 debut yesterday. It appears that the Mariners want Rob Johnson to be the everyday catcher no matter how bad he plays or how well the other catchers perform. Ryan Rowland-Smith came in to relieve Fister and looked out-of-place and shaky before being pulled for Brandon League, League got the Mariners out of a first and third no outs jam in the 8th to keep this one close.

  Both Oakland and LA won today so we lost ground in the AL West.  Fister and Vargas have pitched way over their heads thus far and reality began to set-in tonight. It does appear that Figgins and Lopez are waking-up, but Bradley and Sweeney were both cold as May in Seattle tonight. Anyway we will be playing the Twins three more games this week so we will have plenty of chances to make-up for this loss.

  I was just informed that the Mariners have called up Garrett Olson and Sean White to replace Jesus Colome and Kanekoa Texeira in the pen. Not sure if this move will solve all the problems but at least it will be a start. I look for more moves this week.

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