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Giambi the spoiler


Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki is greeted in the dugout after hitting a solo home run.
 (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki is greeted in the dugout after hitting a solo home run. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Kirby Arnold Everett Herald

SEATTLE – Mike Hargrove already had seen Jason Giambi nearly shatter the café glass with a long home run in the fifth inning Monday night.

He’d seen Matt Thornton hang a slider that Giambi belted to nearly the same place in the sixth, a three-run homer that gave the New York Yankees their first lead in what would become a 7-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners.

When Thornton walked Bernie Williams on the next at-bat, Hargrove had seen enough.

The Mariners’ manager marched to the mound not to remove the young left-handed reliever, but to deliver a message. In essence, Hargrove gave Thornton a nose-to-nose, finger-to-the-chest, old-fashioned butt-chewing.

“I’d rather not talk about it,” Hargrove said. “But I did get it off my mind.”

Soon after, the Yankees continued their old-fashioned butt-kicking.

That episode – the home run and walk, not the lecture – began the undoing of the Mariners in a game they led 4-0 after four innings.

Giambi’s sixth-inning jolt gave the Yankees a 5-4 lead, which they increased with more power two innings later. Alex Rodriguez hit a leadoff homer in the eighth off Julio Mateo and, two outs later, Matt Lawton connected for a solo homer off George Sherrill.

The game wasn’t all the Mariners lost.

Willie Bloomquist, who became the Mariners’ regular second baseman after they cut Bret Boone in early July, injured his left hamstring while running to first base in the fourth inning.

He left the game and, if the injury is severe, could miss a significant amount of time with just 32 games remaining.

“He said it felt like a cramp,” Hargrove said. “If I was to guess, I’d say he pulled a hamstring.”

The injury was the beginning of a quick about-face in a game the Mariners controlled through four innings. Pitching was the key to all the good and bad the M’s experienced.

Ryan Franklin had held the Yankees to one hit and barely a hint of scoring, while the Mariners jumped on Yankees starter Mike Mussina early and often.

Ichiro Suzuki homered on Mussina’s second pitch for a 1-0 lead in the first inning; Mussina walked home a run in the third inning; and the Mariners loaded the bases again in the fourth and converted.

Suzuki’s fielder’s choice grounder brought home a run, and Willie Bloomquist did the same to make the score 4-0.

Bloomquist, while straining to reach the base on his final stride, felt the hamstring unravel.

Moments later, it happened to the Mariners’ lead.

Franklin had allowed only Alex Rodriguez’s leadoff infield single in the second inning and cruised through the third and fourth with ease.

Giambi led off the fifth with his 24th homer this season, and Franklin followed it by walking Williams. Then he appeared to have collected himself, striking out Lawton while catcher Miguel Ojeda threw out Williams trying to steal second.

With two outs and the bases empty, Franklin couldn’t keep it that way. Jorge Posada doubled and Robinson Cano singled, cutting the Mariners’ lead to 4-2.

Franklin escaped the inning on Derek Jeter’s ground-out, but two walks in the sixth got him back in trouble.

“For whatever reason, he started nibbling,” Hargrove said. “He started falling behind, walking people and they started hitting him. Plain and simple.”

Hargrove decided not to let Franklin try and get out of the sixth, bringing in the hard-throwing Thornton to face Giambi.

He threw two breaking pitches, one for a strike and one for a ball, then tried to get another past Giambi. He hung it, and Giambi again drove it off the windows of the Hit it Here Café.

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