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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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March 21, 2008 1:13 PM

Royals at Mariners: game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

stadium 024.jpg

Kansas City Royals (11-10):

9 David DeJesus (L) CF
13 Alberto Callaspo (S) 2B
4 Alex Gordon (L) 3B
11 Jose Guillen RF
16 Billy Butler DH
24 Mark Teahen (L) LF
7 Ross Gload (L) 1B
1 Tony Pena, Jr SS
12 Matt Tupman (L) C
----------------------------
55 Gil Meche RHP

Additional Pitchers:

45 Ron Mahay LHP
48 Joakim Soria RHP
27 Yasuhiko Yabuta RHP
66 Chin-Hui Tsao RHP
46 Leo Nunez RHP


Seattle Mariners (9-11-2):

13 Miguel Cairo SS
3 Jose Vidro (S) 1B
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
44 Richie Sexson DH
6 Brad Wilkerson RF
50 Wladimir Balentien CF
2 Kenji Johjima C
12 Mike Morse LF
23 Tug Hulett (L) 2B
----------------------------
45 Erik Bedard LHP

Additional Pitchers:

18 Ryan Rowland-Smith LHP
48 Roy Corcoran RHP
54 Sean Green RHP
57 Mark Lowe RHP

2:55 p.m.: Mike Morse finally made up for some of his recent bungling by driving a doulble to right center to bring hom Rob Johnson from second and end the day of onetime M's pitcher Gil Meche in the seventh. Morse did get thrown out by a big margin at home trying to score from second on a Tug Hulett single to center. The ball was bobbled somewhat, but waving Morse home was a poor decision. Now a 7-2 game heading into the eighth.

Was just in the clubhouse talking to Erik Bedard. He inisists he's had no troubles gripping the ball down here and that he's right on schedule for where he wants to be heading into the season. No problems, he says, other than the home runs. Says he'll only start to care about the long balls if they happen during the regular season. Wow. Maybe he can flip and switch on and off. Fans will have to hope that's the case.

My take? There is something going on down here that's causing all those balls to carry the way they are. Just because Bedard won't say so doesn't mean it's not so. We'll see once the games start to count. Until then, just hold your breath.

Sean Green did a great job in relief of Bedard, holding the Royals to just one walk over two innings.

2:28 p.m.: Erik Bedard is done for the day, having allowed seven runs (five earned) on nine hits over five innings. Of the nine hits, two were home runs and three were doubles. Sean Green is now on the mound. Mike Morse took a called third strike in the bottom of the fifth, by the way. Still a 7-1 game.

2:21 p.m.: The good news for Erik Bedard in the fifth inning? The two additional runs he gave up were unearned, thanks to a scorekeeping decision in which a laser shot that nearly de-cupped third baseman Adrian Beltre (not that he wears a cup to begin with) was ruled an error instead of a double down the left field line. Two more doubles later, the second one dropping in front of left fielder Mike Morse like a Raul Ibanez special, and it's now a 7-1 ballgame. Yikes. Well, at least Bedard lowered his ERA. Take that, cynics.

BTW, poor Morse hasn't done much to help his cause the last 18 hours or so, has he?

2:08 p.m.: Can't figure out the fans down here. They boo Richie Sexson for taking a breath, but then, in the fourth inning, they calmly ignore the fact that he had to settle for a single after drilling a ball off the left field fence. Sexson appeared to have hit a home run off Gil Meche to lead the inning off, but the ball dropped just before reaching the wall and skipped off it. Couldn't see if Sexson was doing the home run trot as he neared first, but for whatever reason, he wasn't going fast enough to try for two. Ball was hit hard, but you've got to be at second on a play like that. It cost Seattle big, since an ensuing grounder to second by Brad Wilkerson became a 4-6-3 double-play instead of a situation where the M's would have a guy on third with only one out. It's the little things like that which will cost you a season if they pile up.

2:04 p.m.: Erik Bedard did himself a favor in the fourth inning by getting the leadoff batter out on a fly ball to center. Got the next one as well. Matt Tupman then notched a single, but David DeJesus popped out to third to end the frame. Still a 5-1 game.

1:54 p.m.: Mariners made four straight outs in the bottom of the third. Tug Hulett struck out, but reached base on a wild pitch. To answer AK Mariners Fan from the comments thread (hopefully, I don't regret this), Gil Meche has also spent his entire career pitching spring training down in Arizona. Probably has learned to adjust a little bit. This is Erik Bedard's first spring outside of Florida. Or, if you think these homers are all a precursor of what's to come, get set to witness a pitcher yield 80 homers in a season for the first time.

1:48 p.m.: OK, so it's now a 5-1 game after Erik Bedard gave up another leadoff hit to begin the third inning, this time a single by Alberto Callaspo, followed by a home run from Jose Guillen. I'll say it again. There is something quirky going on with the Arizona air. There is no way Bedard gives up seven homers in 16 innings unless something is preventing him from getting the movement he needs on his pitches. Could be his grip. Or maybe the balls carry better down here. But to me, as I said, this looks like George Sherrill all over again. Not so much on the leadoff hits. Those are things Bedard can try to eliminate. But this home run parade won't be happening during the regular season. Far too much statistical evidence to the contrary over the course of Bedard's career.

1:40 p.m.: Seattle is on the board after the first three batters reached base in the bottom of the second. Richie Sexson walked, Brad Wilkerson singled to right and Wladimir Balentien added a single up the middle to make it 3-1. That's where the familiar problem of the M's failing to cash-in on chances decided to rematerialize. Kenji Johjima rapped into a 6-4-3 double play. With a runner at third, Mike Morse bounced out 5-3.

On Erik Bedard, I do think the Arizona air is causing some of his long ball problems. The guy allowed 19 home runs over 182 innings last season. This spring? Now at six home runs in only 15 frames. Off the top of my head, that equates to about 72 homers allowed over the same 182-inning season. Big difference.

1:30 p.m.: The second straight leadoff double yielded by Erik Bedard came back to haunt him in the second inning of what is now a 3-0 game, Royals in the lead. Mark Teahen laced a double down the left field line and would eventually score on a chopper fielded by third baseman Adrian Beltre. The throw home was close, but Teahen beat it. Bedard has now yielded 17 earned runs in just 15 innings pitched this spring. Bedard allowed another hit, a single, in the inning, but escaped a two-on, two-out jam by picking off Alex Gordon.

Jose Vidro, playing first base, did a nice job on that play. Gordon was hung up between first and second, but the runner at third, Tony Pena Jr., did his job by heading towards the plate. Had Pena scored before Gordon could be tagged, the run would have counted. But Vidro froze Pena in his tracks -- halfway to home -- by staring at him and cocking his arm. Instead of making a long throw, which may have allowed Pena to score or get back to third in time, Vidro ran across the diamond pumping his arm. Once close enough, he finally did throw the ball and Pena was easily tagged out in the rundown.

1:20 p.m.: Another inning pitched, another home run ball given up by Erik Bedard. We've seen this routine before. Like, all spring long. Bedard yielded a leadoff double down the left field line by David DeJesus and then, after a groundout, put a 2-2 pitch into Alex Gordon's wheelhouse and watched it vanish beyond the fence in left center. This is all very bizarre because Bedard does not have the reputation of a pitcher who gives up a lot of home runs. Wonder if this is like the troubles George Sherrill used to have in the thin and dry Arizona air? Used to give up bombs during spring training, then nothing once the regular season began.

Anyhow, it's 2-0 after an inning of play. The M's went down in order in their half of the first.

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