Call it the final game before Cliff Lee’s return, and if Seattle wins today it will get to Lee’s first start with an 11-11 record.
To do that, they’ll have to face a former Mariner, Gil Meche, and pitch to four Seattle alumni in the Kansas City lineup – Scott Podsednik, Jose Guillen, Willie Bloomquist and Yuniesky Betancourt.
It’s Ryan Rowland-Smith’s last chance of 2010 to win the first April game of his career, and might well be the last career appearance here of Mike Sweeney, who spent 13 seasons as a Royal.
Lineup news? Sweeney is the DH, Milton Bradley has moved up to fifth in the lineup and it’s Rob Johnson’s turn behind the plate.
- Ichiro doubled, Chone Figgins walked and Meche appeared to be in troule. Turned out, he wasn’t – retiring Franklin Gutierrez, Jose Lopez and Bradley without allowing Ichiro to leave second base.
- Ouch! David DeJesus hit Rowland-Smith’s fourth pitch of the game for his 11th career leadoff home run. In the first, Kansas City 1, Seattle 0.
- Sweeney walked and went to third base on Casey Kotchman’s single. Rob Johnson grounded into a double play, but Sweeney scored. In the second: Seattle 1, Kansas City 1.
- Johnson walked to start the fifth ining and Jack Wilson doubled him to third base. Ichiro beat out an infield single, Johnson scoring. Figgins tripled home two runs. In the fifth: Seattle 4, Kansas City 1.
- Rowland-Smith has worked five innings in an economical 68 pitches. Meche, meanwhile, has thrown 93 pitches – meaning the sixth is likely is final inning.
- Sweeney singled, Kotchman doubled him to third and the Kansas City infield played in. With one out, Wilson flied out, scoring Sweeney. In the sixth: Seattle 5 , Kansas City 1.
- After giving up a one-out single to Podsednik, Rowland-Smith hit Billy Butler with a pitch. Two on, one out – Rowland-Smith got Guillen on a fly ball, he wild-pitched both runners up a base and walked Alberto Callaspo to load ‘em up. Jason Kendall popped up, but the ball fell into shallow right-field, two runs scoring. Mitch Maier tripled home two runs. Brandon League replaced Rowland-Smith. After six: Seattle 5, Kansas City 5.
- Bradley led off the eighth with a double. Sweeney grounded out, but advanced Bradley to third base. Justin Hughes in to pitch. Kotchman walked. Johnson flied out, scoring Bradley. In the eighth: Seattle 6, Kansas City 5.
- Mark Lowe pitched the eighth, and was hitting 99 mph on the Royals radar – with a 91 mph slider. Shortstop Wilson ranged deep in the hole, then made a fabulous throw to get Kendall for the third out. Look for it on ESPN’s Top Plays tonight.
- Ichiro singled, his third hit – and is now batting .330. Figgins flied out. Robinson Tejada in to pitch. Gutierrez struck out for the fourth time. Lopez singled Ichiro to second base. Bradley walked to load ‘em up. Sweeney, in what might be his final career at-bat in Kansas City, grounded out. In the ninth – David Aardsma time! – Seattle 6, Kansas City 5.
- Ground out, fly out, strike. Save No. 8 for Aardsma. It’s a final, and the Mariners are at .500 headed home – Seattle 6, Kansas City 5.