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M's unleash new bunt instrument


M's unleash new bunt instrument
The Mariners' small ball has played a big role in a start that matches the best in franchise history.

Franklin Gutierrez's bunt single in the fifth inning on Friday night was Seattle's third of the season, tied for most in the league with Detroit and Oakland.

In addition to that, the Mariners also have nine sacrifice bunts, five more than any other team. It has become a tool in Seattle's construction of runs so far this season.

"[We're] talking about pressurizing the defense, moving players base to base and putting us in a situation to drive 'em in," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. "You've got to get on base and be a little more patient with certain things."

Wakamatsu has been on teams at both extremes in terms of bunting. In 2006, he was bench coach with the Rangers, who recorded 18 sacrifice bunts. In 2007, he was the Texas third-base coach when the Rangers logged 57 in Ron Washington's first year as manager.

Running joke

First Ken Griffey Jr. slowed just a bit as he approached the plate Friday night. Then, he decided not to slide as he completed his run from first base on Adrian Beltre's double. Finally, he tried a quick little two-step to make sure he wasn't tagged.

Griffey joked later in the clubhouse with broadcaster Dave Sims about his Heisman-like move, though the stiff arm isn't actually a Baseball tactic.

Wakamatsu joked that Griffey's approach was the invisible-man routine.

"Like no one can see him," he said. "It's neat, again, to be able to watch the dugout, and [to see] the players react as he comes all the way around to score is priceless."

Notes

? Russell Branyan was not in the lineup on Saturday because his back hurt. He slid feet-first into Tigers catcher Gerald Laird in the fifth inning of Friday's game.

If Branyan's back remains stiff today, he will be held out of the lineup again. But with an off-day on Monday, Wakamatsu expects to have Branyan back Tuesday at the latest. "He's really day-to-day," the manager said.

? Endy Chavez's 10-game hitting streak ended with his 0-for-3 performance Friday night. He doubled in his first at-bat Saturday, starting a new streak. Chavez tied Alvin Davis for the longest streak to begin a Mariners career.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 21, 2009

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