Mariners bats provide fireworks in 8-1 win

  The Seattle Mariners offense exploded for 8 runs against the Detroit Tigers today allowing the Mariners to salvage one game of this series with the 8-1 win. Cliff Lee pitched another great game, going 8 innings and fanning 11 Tigers to tie his personal career high. Lee, who along with Ichiro were named to the AL All-star team today, had this one in control all day allowing just one run in the first. At this point it is getting hard to watch Cliff Lee pitch knowing each outing may be his last, sort of like the uneasy feeling I had as a young sailor prior to heading off to sea and trying to shut down my affection for my woman in order to carry-on without her once I left my home port. Lee is scheduled to make a start next Friday against the Yankees prior to the All-star break where he hopefully will still be wearing a Mariners uniform.

  It was nice to see the Mariners give their starter some backing today led by Russell Branyon and Casey Kotchman who each launched 3-run cherry bombs into the stands at Comerica Park. Branyon got the start as DH today and came up with Ichiro and Chone Figgins on base in the third, connecting for his second home run as a Mariner off of Tigers starter Jeremy Bonderman. Casey Kotchman who apparently had a talk with Don Wakamatsu a few days ago pleading his case for playing time, launched his first home run since April 18th with two aboard in the fifth inning. Kotchman along with Figgins each collected three hits apiece today as part of a 15-hit barrage by the light hitting Mariners. Today’s game coupled with the 7-run outbursts against the Yankees earlier in the week feel almost like teases for a fan base that has been fed a steady diet of low-scoring affairs by the Mariners for most of the year. Today’s win sends the club home with a respectable 4-5 record from this road trip against three tough teams following a great home stand.

    Today marked the 81st game of the season and the official midway point of a year that as many of you fans know has been difficult to watch despite the relatively good ball we have been playing for the last three weeks. The Kansas City Royals are in town this week followed by another series with the Yankees where all the ex-pats from New York will be out in full force. Somehow I thought we would be in the thick of a pennant race at this point in the year rather than the usual routine of fading away into oblivion just as the sun comes out in Seattle.

   Either way I am going to hang in there and continue to write these posts till October as I grind my way through my rookie year as a Mariners blogger. I want to thank all of you who have hung with me through this voyage thus far despite all the spelling errors and sometimes odd threads of thought. If all goes according to plans I will continue to improve and upgrade this site including adding podcasts so you can hear the voice behind the curtain after the All-star break. We still have a lot of baseball left to play as the barometer starts to rise in the Seattle area with calm weather and sunshine ahead.

Happy 4th of July!

Yankees win third game of series 4-2

   The New York Yankees managed to avoid being swept by the Seattle Mariners in an afternoon game today thanks to a 2-run homer from ex-Mariner Alex Rodriguez. After losing the first two games of this series to the Mariners, the Yankees sent their Ace CC Sabathia to the mound today to stop the bleeding. Sabathia faced Ryan Rowland-Smith who managed to keep this one close through his six innings of work. Rowland-Smith gave up 5 hits today including a home run to Robinson Cano in the 4th inning with 2 out and no one on. Besides the homer to Cano who is having a MVP type season, the big Aussie pitched well despite receiving no run support from the players behind him on the field.

  Sabathia also allowed only five hits on the day silencing the Mariners bats which had been hot in this series up until this game. The Mariners only managed three hits till the 8th inning as the Yanks cruised to what looked like would be a complete-game shutout of their own. However in the 8th Josh Bard walked and moved to second on a single by Ichiro, setting the stage for Russell Branyon. The Muscle came through with a clutch 2-out single to drive in both runners tying the game 2-2. It appeared that the Mariners were back in it but for some reason Don Wakamatsu decided to pull reliever Brian Sweeney who pitched another run-free 7th, instead bringing in David Aardsma. This decision by Wak proved to be fatal as Aardsma once again choked giving up a 2-run bomb to Alex Rodriguez to seal the fate of the Mariners today. Aardsma gave A-Rod a fastball up that he dropped just over the short right field fence setting the stage for Mariano Rivera.

   Rivera came jogging in to do what he has become the best at, namely shutting down opposing teams to preserve leads. Up until the A-Rod bomb and Rivera’s appearance, this series did not seem like the same Yankees team we are used to. But the Bronx Bombers still have their old-guard heroes that seem to have a flair for the dramatic, as well as the killer-instinct. Despite the loss today the Mariners come away with another series win and were in today’s game right up until the end. Hopefully our boys can head over to Detroit and continue playing the sort of competitive ball that they have been playing for the past couple of weeks.

Russell “the muscle” Branyon is back!

Welcome back Russell 'the muscle" Branyon

Just got it confirmed from multiple sources that Russell Branyon is coming back to the  Seattle Mariners in exchange for two minor leaguers. The mariners sent outfielder Ezequiel Carrera and shortstop Juan Diaz to the Cleveland Indians for Branyon. Branyon is hitting 263 with 10 homers and 24 RBI’s since coming off the DL on April 24th. This move comes as a surprise and will take care of the first base issue leaving Kotchman, and Carp expendable. As interesting as it was to watch Mike Sweeney and Josh Wilson playing first I for one will be happy to see Russell “the muscle” back at first.

   It is hard to say how this fits into the plans for further trades as this will answer some of our power shortage in the lineup. Perhaps it means we will not trade Cliff Lee and Jack Z. is going to try to win this year. Very interesting development. I saw Jack Z. and Chuck Armstrong in the stands at the game today and had a hunch something was up. We shall see what else transpires in the next couple of weeks, should be interesting…..

Official press release: 

CLEVELAND, OH — Today, the Cleveland Indians announced they have acquired OF EZEQUIEL CARRERA and SS JUAN DIAZ from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for INF RUSSELL BRANYAN and cash or a player to be named later.

Carrera, 22, has spent the entire 2010 season to date at AAA Tacoma as he has hit .268 (57-213) with 24 runs scored, 6 doubles, 2 triples and 18RBI in 64 games. He has stolen 9 bases in 14 attempts this season but is currently on the AAA disabled list with a left hip pointer. Before being injured, Carrera was hitting .311 (19-61) with 6 runs scored, 3 doubles and 6 RBI in 18 games during the month of June. Prior to the start of the 2010 season, Carrera was ranked as the 15th best prospect in the Mariners organization by Baseball America.

Last year, the left-handed hitting outfielder, won the Southern League Batting title as he hit .337 (111-329) with 68 runs scored, 12 doubles, 4 triples, 2HR and 38RBI in 91 games at AA West Tennessee while being named to both the Southern League All-Star and also the Topps Double-A All-Star team. Carrera also posted a .441 on-base percentage which aled the Southern League and was 3rd best in all of minor league baseball. The Venezuelan native was named the best defensive outfielder in the Florida State League in 2008 by Baseball America. Carrera was originally signed by the Mets as a non-drafted free agent in 2005 and will report to AAA Columbus in the coming days.

Diaz, 21, a 6-4, 170-pound switch hitting shortstop, has spent the entire 2010 season to date at High Desert of the California League batting .295 (75-254) with 39 runs scored, 8 doubles, 3 triples, 7HR and 41RBI in 70 games. He has also stolen 8 bases in 10 attempts and has an OPS of .779 (.345 on-base % & .433 slg. %).

Last year, Diaz batted .311 (101-325) with 55 runs scored, 22 doubles, 5 triples, 4HR and 29RBI in 84 games at High Desert as he was named to the California League All-Star Team. The Dominican Republic native was on the disabled list from June 25-August 4th with a fractured hamate in the left hand however came back to finish the season and played for Peoria in the Arizona Fall League. He was originally signed as a non-drafted free agent by Seattle in 2006 and will report to Kinston in the coming days.

Branyan was signed by the Indians on February 24th and hit .263 (45-171) with 24 runs scored, 9 doubles, 10HR and 24RBI in 52 games for Cleveland this year.

The Indians will make a roster move prior to tomorrow’s game with the Cincinnati Reds to fill Branyan’s spot on the Major League 25-man roster.

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