August 6, 2009 in Sports

M’s offense gives French room to breathe

Geoff Baker Seattle Times
Associated Press photo

Ichiro Suzuki steals second, beating the tag by former teammate Yuniesky Betancourt.
(Full-size photo)

Today: Seattle at Kansas City, 5:10 p.m. TV: FSN Radio: 920 and 1080-AM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Somebody ought to tell Luke French that picking up wins wasn’t quite this easy for the guy for whom he was just traded.

A pitcher like French, fighting for a job at the back of the Seattle Mariners’ rotation, could get used to nights like this. You’d better believe Jarrod Washburn didn’t have too many luxuries like Wednesday night’s 11-6 rout of the Kansas City Royals with which to have a poor outing.

In fact, the 11 runs of support given French were only two fewer than Washburn had in his final four outings with Seattle before last week’s trade to the Detroit Tigers. And this start by French had best not be typical because his team can’t keep producing the offense, nor will the bullpen last beyond August if starters don’t find a way to get through more than four or five innings at a time.

French lasted five innings in this one, another sloppy affair in front of 27,805 fans at Kauffman Stadium who had more fun cheering a stray cat as it raced around the field in the sixth inning than they did for anything involving the home side. Jose Lopez helped put the game out of reach in a six-run fourth inning by the Mariners, collecting his first of three hits and three runs batted in.

The league-best 16th three-hit game by Lopez, who leads the team with 65 RBIs, helped overcome some shaky pitching in the early going by French. Seattle’s new lefty, acquired along with Class A reliever Mauricio Robles in exchange for Washburn, allowed five hits the first three innings, including a two-run homer by Billy Butler that tied the game 2-2.

Later, after the Mariners had erupted for an 8-2 lead, French went back out in the bottom of the fourth and served up a two-run homer by Alex Gordon that gave the Royals some hope again.

The bullpen started warming up that inning and again in the fifth when French allowed a leadoff single to Butler. But French pitched through the rest of the inning and was then pulled after five frames with his pitch count at 89.

French still outperformed the Royals starter he was facing, right-hander Kyle Davies, who set down the first seven hitters he faced but then couldn’t get anybody out. Rob Johnson began the onslaught with a third-inning double, then scored on a Michael Saunders triple.

Davies gave up another run that frame, then let six of the first seven batters he faced reach base in the six-run fourth inning by Seattle before being pulled. Jack Wilson got that inning really under way with a squeeze bunt up the first-base line that brought a run home and went for an infield hit.

Lopez finished the inning off with an RBI single against reliever Rafael Colon, then added two more RBIs in the sixth inning to make it 10-4.

“It was a nice win to get two in a row here and get back on track,” Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said. “With what’s going on with our starters right now, we need everybody to contribute and step up and take some stress off the bullpen.”

Mariners 11, Royals 6

I.Suzuki rf 522101.365
Branyan 1b 512301.263
Jo.Lopez 2b 503300.281
Griffey Jr. dh 401010.221
Beltre 3b 511000.254
F.Gutierrez cf 512000.294
Ja.Wilson ss 422101.320
Hannahan ss 100000.216
Ro.Johnson c 422010.224
M.Saunders lf 421112.222
Totals 421116935
Kansas City ABRHBIBBSOAvg.
DeJesus lf 301010.260
Bloomquist rf 512100.265
Butler dh 413310.291
Teahen 1b 500001.282
Callaspo 2b 401010.294
Olivo c 511003.241
A.Gordon 3b 523200.232
Y.Betancourt ss 400011.228
Maier cf 311011.229
Totals 38612656
Seattle 002602100—11160
Kansas City 002201010—6121

E—Davies (1). LOB—Seattle 7, Kansas City 11. 2B—Branyan (20), Ja.Wilson (4), Ro.Johnson (15). 3B—M.Saunders (1), Olivo (3). HR—Butler (12), off French; A.Gordon (2), off French. RBIs—I.Suzuki (28), Branyan 3 (61), Jo.Lopez 3 (65), Ja.Wilson (1), M.Saunders (2), Bloomquist (21), Butler 3 (52), A.Gordon 2 (8). SB—I.Suzuki (23). RLSP—Seattle 3 (Beltre 2, I.Suzuki); Kansas City 5 (Maier 2, Teahen 3). RMU—Bloomquist, Y.Betancourt. GIDP—Beltre, Butler. DP—Seattle 1 (French, Jo.Lopez, Branyan); Kansas City 1 (Callaspo, Y.Betancourt, Teahen).

French W,2-2 5944123.93
Batista 2/3 211214.47
White H,12 1 1/3 000013.20
Olson 2111225.58
Davies L,3-8 3 2/3 888126.37
R.Colon 2 1/3 422115.79
J.Cruz 2311116.17
Mahay 1100014.14

Inherited runners-scored—White 3-0, R.Colon 1-1. HBP—by Olson (DeJesus). WP—Davies. PB—Olivo. T—3:19. A—27,805 (38,177).

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