Chone Figgins is under the weather and was a late scratch from the line-up. Luis Rodriguez will start in his place. The lineup has a different feel to it with Jack Cust and Milton Bradley also getting a night off.
Part of it is the matchup with Ranger starter Colby Lewis. Cust has struggled against Lewis. In his career, Cust is just 1-for-12 with one RBI and four strikeouts against Lewis. Bradley is 0-for-9 with six strikeouts.
Figgins has been hitting better of late. On April 22, he was batting .162, but over the last 10 games he's hit .317 (13-for-41) with six runs scored and has raised his batting average to .217. Obviously it needs to be much higher, but Mariners manager Eric Wedge believes he's on the right path.
"His contact has been better," Wedge said. "His barrel to the ball is a little more consistent. I think he's easing into the right direction. We are seeing more line drives and hard ground balls. That's his game."
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Talked a little with Chris Ray, Tom Wilhelmsen and Dan Cortes before the game. They had been kind of forgotten souls in the bullpen. But both Ray and Wilhelmsen got in work last night after not throwing since April 23.
Ray threw one inning, giving up a run and walking two hitters. Obviously, he felt a little rusty. It was the longest he'd ever gone in between appearances from the bullpen in his career.
"I felt good," he said. "I was a little bit off. I've been working with Carl (Willis) in the bullpen trying to get the life back on my pitches. I feel like it's starting to come along."
What he's looking for is the late movement to his fastball. He's been throwing hard, but the ball has been pretty straight.
"It's one thing to throw 95, but it's different to be 95 and have that late life," he said.
Ray said he's been throwing bullpens to stay sharp, but it's not the same as game repetitions.
"It's not even close," he said. "It's night and day. You go out there do the best you can and get some consistency when you get the chance."
Ray started the season as the set-up man for the eighth inning and basically pitched himself out of the role by walking batters, giving up too many hits and runs and having no command with his pitches.
"We've been playing a lot close games and I haven't earned the opportunity to be in those games with the way I pitched early in the season," he said. "I have to take my innings when I can get them."
Wilhelmsen looked pretty solid, throwing a shutout inning on Wednesday night. He did walk the second batter he faced, but came back to get out unscathed.
"It felt good, I felt rested," he joked. "I would like to throw more offspeed to work, but you have one inning to work with you want to get in and get out."
Cortes still hasn't made an appearance with the Mariners since being called up. He last threw on April 22 with the Rainiers against Colorado Springs.
"It's been about 11 days," he said. "You just gotta keep your focus and make sure that all your work and all your repetitions fr0m playing catch and throwing bullpens will transfer out onto the field."
Cortes said he's thrown two bullpen sessions since being called up. The rest of the time, he conditions and waits and tries to pay attention during the games, going over in his mind what he would do in certain situations.
"I'm thinking it my mind, this is what I would do," he said. "As the game goes on I catch myself going into my motion, and practicing my delivery in certain situations to certain hitters. You have to do all my homework and prepare and have a plan to get guys out."
Cortes has done everything he can to prepare for when he goes in, there is only one thing he might not be able to control completely prepare for.
"The only thing is the nerves of being in a big crowd might hit me, I just have to block out everything and stick with my guns," he said.
- Ichiro RF
- Luis Rodriguez 3B
- Adam Kennedy DH
- Miguel Olivo C
- Justin Smoak 1B
- Ryan Langerhans LF
- Jack Wilson 2B
- Michael Saunders CF
- Brendan Ryan SS
LHP Jason Vargas (1-2, 5.45 ERA)
- Ian Kinsler 2B
- Elvis Andrus SS
- Michael Young DH
- Adrian Beltre 3B
- Mike Napoli 1B
- David Murphy LF
- Yorvit Torrealba C
- Mitch Moreland RF
- Julio Borbon CF
RHP Colby Lewis (2-3, 5.70 ERA)