Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.
March 20, 2008 7:02 PM
Posted by Geoff Baker
Nice to be at home for a "road" game. That's what happens when you share the same stadium as the team you're playing. This might be the nicest night of the spring down here. A pleasant 78 degrees as the sun goes down. The anthem singer just finished, so we're about to get underway.
Just to keep things interesting, we've thrown in some "Sights and Sounds" above. Richie Sexson isn't playing tonight, resting a sore shoulder. But he got his conditioning workout in with trainer Alan Wirtala. The pair have to dodge some flyballs in the outfield, as they're doing this stuff during BP. At one point, Wirtala asks pitcher Erik Bedard to watch their back for them (meaning, to shag any flies headed straight for them). Enjoy the diversion.
10:02 p.m.: The M's loaded the bases with none out but failed to score in the top of the 10th. Greg Norton led off with a single, then pinch-runner Charlton Jimerson was safe on a ban-bang play at second on a grounder by Tug Hulett. Jamie Burke then laid down a perfect bunt for an infield single to load the bases with none out. Yuniesky Betancourt flied out to shallow right, with Jimerson wisely holding up at third. That brought Mike Morse to the plate and he hit a chopper towards second baseman Oscar Robles, who tagged Burke for one out, then made a shovel toss to first to nab Morse. A great play by Robles, who realized he had no shot at throwing Jimerson out at the plate.
9:55 p.m.: Well, if you're going to blow a lead, you do it in style. San Diego scored a run in the eighth and then Chase Headley took Eric O'Flaherty deep to left center (home run swing pictured above) with a two-run shot in the ninth. The homer came with one out. Mike Morse then badly misjudged a two-out flyball down the line in right field and allowed it to become a triple. But O'Flaherty survived and got out of the inning with the game still tied 6-6. They're going to play one final inning now to see if anyone can break the tie. Nice outing by O'Flaherty one day after being annointed George Sherrill's replacement as the situational lefty. Oh well.
9:06 p.m.: Adrian Beltre singles to bring Ichiro home from third base, which he'd stolen moments earlier. Now a 6-3 game midway through seven. During Ichiro's at-bat, he lined a ball into the stands that struck a small boy in the chest area. The child appeared to be knocked out by the ball, but eventually began to move around and got a huge round of applause from the crowd. Not sure where he is right now.
By the way, did anybody catch this piece of writing from Jeff Sullivan over at Lookout Landing? Fantastic.
8:46 p.m.: Another run by the Mariners puts them up 5-3 heading to the bottom of the sixth. Jose Vidro, doing things right tonight, opened with a single and then pulled off a delayed type of steal that fooled catcher Josh Bard and caused him to make an awful throw. So, a rare stolen base for Vidro, who later scores on a Yuniesky Betancourt single.
8:35 p.m.: Still a 4-3 game, M's in the lead, as we head to the sixth inning. Good job by Miguel Batista thus far, limiting the damage despite the six hits off him in five innings. His back doesn't seem to be an issue this time. One thing manager John McLaren said before the game is that he'd like his final roster to be in-place before the team heads off to San Francisco for the final weekend of spring training. That means we should pretty much know everything a week from now. McLaren doesn't like cutting guys when the rest of the team is about to board a plane north to start the regular season. He's seen a few players left blindsided by such moves and finds them unnecessarily cruel.
My highlight of the night thus far is seeing Brad Wilkerson throw out Josh Bard at first base after a single to right field. Bard rounded first and was thinking of going to second, but slowed and began to head back. Strong throw by Wilkerson nailed him.
Just a note to Resin in the comments thread, the first time I noticed your comment about Raul Ibanez's defense was about three minutes ago. MLB has new rules stating that I'm not allowed to update a blog more than once every half inning. So, I'd already written my Ibanez rant and had to wait to post it for a good 10 minutes as the Padres kept prolonging the third. Not a big deal, but I don't want any of you thinking I'm Ibanez's protector and need to be prodded into anything. I'm well aware of his shortcomings. But I appreciate you keeping me on my toes. You're a regular contributor and I appreciate the feedback.
7:58 p.m.: So, what to make of that Jose Lopez at-bat in the third inning? Ichiro had led off with a double and Lopez was asked to bunt him over to third. Lopez missed on his first two bunt attempts and then, swinging away, laced a ball just inside the first base bag and down the right field line for an RBI single. Looked like a late swing to me. Big reason the ball got past first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who was playing Lopez to pull the ball. Optimists will note it as an RBI in the No. 2-spot for Lopez. Me? Not convinced. Sorry.
Raul Ibanez singled, with Lopez taking third on the play. The second sacrifice fly of the night by Jose Vidro then put Seattle ahead 4-3.
7:45 p.m.: OK, so, for the first time all spring, my eyes did see Raul Ibanez just cost his pitcher a double (and ultimately, a run) on an Adrian Gonzalez fly ball to left. The ball was off the end of Gonzalez's bat, but it hung up in the air long enough that a good defender in left would have made the play. Ibanez seemed to get a poor jump on the ball, but as hard as he ran, he could not catch up to it.
Miguel Batista got a groundout after that, the runner holding at second. But Jody Gerut then singled up the middle to bring home Gonzalez and make it a 2-1 game. Yes, what we just saw from Ibanez will happen at times this season. He's not a Gold Glove defender out there, I know. You know. Anyone who read this blog, or any other this winter knows that. In my book though, to coin some hockey parlance, Ibanez is all evened-out in the plus-minus so far tonight. Cost his team a run that inning, but scored one in the first.
Some might blame Ibanez for costing Batista an even bigger inning, since he went on to give up a double to left center by Scott Hairston that tied the game up. Josh Bard then hit a flare single to left that put the Padres ahead 3-2. No, it isn't all Ibanez's fault. But what we saw this inning is definitely the negative side of what he brings to the table in left. I think his offense makes up for plenty of it, more so than some of Ibanez's critics. But there is a downside and we just saw it.
7:24 p.m.: Nothing wrong with that first inning by Miguel Batista. Got the quick results he wanted, notching a long flyout to left by Brian Giles, a strikeout on Tadahito Iguchi and a groundout to shortstop by Kevin Kouzmanoff.
7:15 p.m.: Quick start for the Mariners, who now lead 2-0 after a half-inning with some sloppy San Diego fielding helping out. Ichiro led off with an infield single that third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff could only knock down. That came on the first pitch of the night. After a flyout by Jose Lopez, Raul Ibanez singled up the middle, putting runners at the corners.
Adrian Beltre then hit a double-play grounder toward Tadahito Iguchi at second. But Iguchi bobbled the ball for one error, then threw wide of first base for his second error on the same play. That allowed a run to score and put runners at the corners with one out. Jose Vidro then hit a fly ball to right that became a sacrifice fly when Ibanez trotted home from third.
A look above at some of the fans taking in some pre-game grub in the stadium concourse area. Down below, once again, are the lineups.
Seattle Mariners (9-11-1):
51 Ichiro Suzuki (L) CF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
28 Raul Ibanez (L) LF
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
3 Jose Vidro (S) 1B
6 Brad Wilkerson (L) RF
15 Jamie Burke C
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
43 Miguel Batista RHP
41 R.A. Dickey RHP
48 Roy Corcoran RHP
49 Jake Woods LHP
59 Eric O'Flaherty LHP
San Diego Padres (10-9-1):
24 Brian Giles (L) RF
10 Tadahito Iguchi 2B
5 Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B
23 Adrian Gonzalez (L) 1B
3 Khalil Greene SS
33 Jody Gerut (L) LF
12 Scott Hairston CF
28 Josh Bard C
57 Justin Germano RHP
21 Heath Bell RHP
41 Kevin Cameron RHP
51 Trevor Hoffman RHP
59 Jared Wells RHP
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