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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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April 8, 2008 9:23 PM

M's finally win

Posted by Geoff Baker

rays1 027.jpg

Lots of relieved-sounding people in the visitors' clubhouse tonight as the Mariners pull off a 6-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays to snap their four-game losing streak and improve to 3-5 on the season. We talked about the work by Ryan Rowland-Smith, notching five straight outs to record his first career save and preserve Erik Bedard's first win as a Mariner.

But how about Jose Lopez and his mad dash to second on that foul pop-up? Or his relay throw to third and the way Adrian Beltre blocked the bad to prevent B.J. Upton from sliding in safely for a triple? Big plays in a big game for Seattle.

"We got sloppy and we left some men on base, but we got a win,'' manager John McLaren said.

I talked to first base coach Eddie Rodriguez about Lopez tagging on the foul pop-up. They've practiced that play in spring training and the base runner is supposed to be alert. Supposed to be "focused''. Lopez, this time, was all that. Rays catcher Shawn Riggans wasn't as he kept trying to call timeout -- taking his eyes off Lopez.

"He was standing on the bag and I'm telling him 'Watch the play, watch the play, watch the play,' '' Rodriguez said. "I think Riggans was asking for time, but they wouldn't give it to him because the ball was still in-play. I just told Lopey 'Get off, get off, get off' and when he (Riggans) turned around, Lopez took off.''

In other words, Lopez had his head in the game.

"Everybody had their backs to me,'' Lopez said. "Nobody saw me.''

Good for Lopez. He's had a rough year since last June. Maybe it's not time to give up hope just yet. We'll see. He's off to a fast start.

Brad Wilkerson finally got a big RBI hit and so did Richie sexson, whose at-bats are looking stronger and stronger as the season progresses. He feels he was pressing too hard at Safeco Field last week, trying to impress the home fans, and has eased up on the road. I asked him whether he minded seeing Raul Ibanez walked twice in front of him to load the bases.

"It's almost a move as a manager that I'd have to make,'' Sexson said with a shrug. "I hit .205 last year.''

Love the honesty. Let's not over-analyze this game. There were plenty of mistakes and it's only one win. But a win this team badly needed.

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Posted by Anna11

7:48 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Ah, it was the home opener. That's why Tampa's stands were full.

Posted by Rasmus

7:48 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Cant help but smile, as McLaren's moronic statements from a day ago, about the late inning mindset is shoved back in his face by a dominating 5 out save by RRS!

Posted by jujay

7:53 PM, Apr 08, 2008

glad to see the the bullpen gettin it done, and 13 hits is great even if 12 were singles.

Posted by Nat

7:53 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Rasmus, well, I agree with you but Mac would say that's b/c RRS had time to get into the right mindset!

Listening to Dave Niehaus say in the replay that "Wilkerson needed that." More than that, WE needed a win tonight! SO glad you were wrong, Frankie!!!

Posted by higbie

7:58 PM, Apr 08, 2008

aside from sexson tonight, our hitting with risp is pretty poor still. something that needs to get better for the m's

Posted by Frankie

8:07 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Yeah I know...I'm glad I was wrong too Nat. I hope you don't think I'm purposely bein negative. I'm just goin on past results in the last week lol.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

8:08 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Exactly, so much for a guy needing experience in a certain role! Lol! Young talent beats out veteran experience once again.

Posted by wally

8:09 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Wait! We had a second lefty in the pen the whole time? Now you tell me!

John M.

Posted by Bedard

8:16 PM, Apr 08, 2008

I just have to point out that the M's are 2-0 in games started by Bedard. Adam Jones has an ops of 556 and striking out better than one every 5 ab's :)

Just sayin' :)

Posted by Babu

8:20 PM, Apr 08, 2008

More on Adam Jones: Here is an interesting article from Tuesday's Washington Post about the Os' decision to keep Jones out of the lineup when Felix pitched, in order to "protect" him from having to bat against superior pitching. Read on:

BALTIMORE, April 7 -- Orioles Manager Dave Trembley had two things in mind when he decided to keep Adam Jones out of the starting lineup Sunday: the importance of the 22-year-old's development and the quality of Seattle's pitcher, Félix Hernández.

Jones, the centerpiece of this winter's Erik Bedard trade, has started five of six games, but Trembley didn't want to expose the inexperienced center fielder to someone of Hernández's caliber this early in this season. That line of reasoning could lead to more days off for Jones.

"The guy who needs to be protected against the better pitching in this league is Jones," Trembley said. "He's going to have his moments when he's very good; he's going to have his moments where he's going to get anxious and chase pitches out of the strike zone. And when I see that coming, whether it's an 0-for-8 or 0-for-12 or 2-for-15, I gotta get him out."

Jones went 3 for 14 in the Orioles' first four games and was 1 for 4 with a double and a run yesterday.

Trembley said he doesn't believe Jones is the type of player whose confidence will suffer from the occasional game off.

"I don't worry about Adam Jones makeup-wise," Trembley said. "I'm just thinking, let's do what's right for this guy. Let's not have him hitting .158 on May 15."

Posted by Adam

8:27 PM, Apr 08, 2008

I just have to point out that the M's are 2-0 in games started by Bedard. Adam Jones has an ops of 556 and striking out better than one every 5 ab's :)

Just sayin' :)

I just have to point out that George Sherrill is 4 for 4 in save opportunities, while the M's bullpen has already blown a couple of saves, AND Adam Jones still is hitting better than Brad Wilkerson and is under club control for six years. :)

Just sayin' :)

Posted by JBlow

8:37 PM, Apr 08, 2008

That's not much of an argument - pick a name out of a hat and they're hitting better than Wilkerson

Posted by fortheloveofsexson

8:38 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Richie -- if you're reading this, I must give credit when credit is due. Good game tonight. I must say that I see a bit of hope here ..... anyone else?

Posted by GoMariners

8:52 PM, Apr 08, 2008

You really think ballplayers waste their time reading blog comments? Check into reality.

Pretty pathetic how the Devil Ray fans couldn't let that close call go. They were booing everything after that like morons - I guess reality is upsetting to stupid people.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

9:00 PM, Apr 08, 2008

What are the odds that RRS gets three consecutive appearances now?

Posted by RichieSexsoon

9:00 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Well we do read the blogs when we are on the road (especially in Tampa where there is absolutely nothing to do) ...thanks


Posted by higbie

9:01 PM, Apr 08, 2008

well to defend the rays fans for a second, it sure looked like upton was safe. that and the guy ran from home to third without a shoe!

Posted by Zach C

9:10 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Whoe! Ichiro got on base and we scored some runs...what a concept!

Posted by sjazzdude

9:14 PM, Apr 08, 2008

That call at third was a judgement call. Going over the replay, there's no doubt that Upton was safe. The Ms were lucky the third base ref made the wrong call. However, the way Rowland-Smith was pitching, even if he were safe, the play would have been moot anyways.

Posted by antsy in anaheim

9:14 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Thank God for Sexson and Wilkerson!?

Posted by Chris from Bothell

9:22 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Things I think I know, after today -

- Mac is still not on my good side. The bullpen use today, while correct, were forced upon him by other pitcher's exhaustion. I still don't have faith he can do the right thing in-game. For example, no use of the bench at all? In a one-run game? Really? If the Ms had lost today, esp. by one run, I would be tearing my non-existent hair out over that.
- Lopez is really, really fun to watch again. That sneaky advance/steal/whatever on the pop fly was bizarrely cool. Now let's see him, Yuni and Felix pull off the hidden ball trick! And um, let's see him ignore the instructions to bunt and swing a little more often when there's only one baserunner. He doesn't have to bunt to get the job done.
- For all that I would have preferred to see Morse today (splits be damned), I don't think the controversial "Shoeless Joe" play would have happened w/o Wilkerson. I can envision Morse overthrowing to try to get the runner out himself. Wilkerson-to-Lopez-to-Beltre was the only way to get an accurate throw, fast.
- Bedard is not going to be a 7+ innings guy. But he's going to go 6ish innings in games when a lesser pitcher would implode, and keep it to no more than a run down at most.
- RRS' good performance today makes the O'F usage the last two days sting even more.
- We are watching Richie Sexson reinvent himself right in front of our eyes. He's walking more, he's getting hits and RBIs via doubles and bloop singles... it's like... it's like we're getting a taller version of the Jose Vidro we were promised we'd get when Vidro was signed. If that makes sense.
- We officially have no reliable home run power now except the occasional Beltre or Lopez shot, until/unless Raul gets going. (no, Vidro and ichiro don't count)
- I wish I had a camera, or screen capture, for the look on Joh's face when he didn't throw out that fellow in the 6th or 7th.
- Pipe dream: Ichiro, Raul AND Sexson all get their swings going just in time for Friday night's Angels game. Not just b/c I'm going to it, goodness no.
- I really want the TB crowd to return to normal size, because I really really miss that one "leather-lunged" fan (as Niehaus calls him). Y'know the season ticket holder sitting off on the 3rd base side mostly to himself, who always picks one guy on the other team to taunt. Because I knew he'd pick RIchie, just like picked Boone when Boonie was declining a few years ago.
- All apologies to Joh, who seems to be calling decent games: Free Jeff Clement.
- Tampa Bay is no longer the whipping boy of the American League. This is actually not a bad team they have here.

Posted by BavasiRocks

9:27 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Regarding the Wilkerson assist at 3rd in the 8th:

I watched the play closely live, as well as the subsequent replays at various angles in High Definition. It certainly was close, but it actually looked like Upton beat the throw, but was out on a great high thigh tag by Beltre! Good call.

Great job Bedard, Sexy, and Wilk (defense and offense).

It sounds like you're the anti-fan, rooting for Bedard to do poorly to rationalize your position on the trade for the ace. Why can't you just root for the Mariners?

At least if you're going to impersonate someone you should spell their first name correctly.

Posted by Jordan

9:34 PM, Apr 08, 2008

BevasiRocks - Bevasi SUCKS

name one good thing hes done. besides the r. soriano for ho-ram trade (joke)?

please this guy is a joke

Posted by Adam

9:46 PM, Apr 08, 2008

It sounds like you're the anti-fan, rooting for Bedard to do poorly to rationalize your position on the trade for the ace. Why can't you just root for the Mariners?

You do know what sarcasm is, don't you?

"Why can't you just root for the Mariners?"


Posted by BavasiRocks

9:52 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Who's Bevasi?

Oh yeah, he's the guy that traded for your starting pitcher, your ace. You know, the guy who's averagjng a K / inning. The guy they packed Safeco for opening day.

Adam, I didn't see your sarcasm font. [sarcasm]text[/sarcasm].

Posted by oregongal

9:56 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Geoff, once again, thanks for your ingame comments. I missed most of the game, got home, started watching the FSN replay and they're skipping innings, like the one that included the almost triple. Grrrr.

Lopez is reminding me of "Bull Durham" (though, honestly, what in baseball doesn't), where LaLoosh gives in and says to himself on the mound, "Don't think, Meat." You want the team to run more? Jose's running. You want more patience at the plate? Jose's more patient. Hope it continues.

Yay, offense, with--you thought you'd never read this from me--a special shoutout to Sexson. Or Sexton. Or Sexon. You know, whatever Ritchie's name is. ;)

Posted by oregongal

9:59 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Oh, yeah, and also to RRS. I hope FSN shows the 9th, because I'm a little afraid you're all pulling a mean trick on me.

Posted by Maui Mariner

10:12 PM, Apr 08, 2008

oregongal, the whole bullpen experience was quite plesant today for a change.
We, the fans really needed this win........................oh and the team too.
Let's see what Wash can do tomorrow, I'm hoping for good things. Too bad the devilish Ray's fans will desert the team tomorrow but it is the middle of the week.
Go M's

Posted by Maui Mariner

10:21 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Adam, you're not getting the love today, and here I thought you were turning into one of the reasonable ones on the blog lately.
Go figure.
Frankie, thanks for the reverse/psych/paranormal/osmosis help for the team but persoanlly I will just cheer them on and hope for the best.

Posted by Bob

10:24 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Seems to me that way too much is being made by many over how “poor” the Mariners offense was last year, when it really wasn’t bad at all, and then projecting how bad it was (?) onto this year’s team. Over 162 games last year, Seattle scored only 17 less runs than Cleveland and 28 less than Anaheim, both division winners. The difference is slight. Using Cleveland, on average in 90% of the games the Ms and Indians scored the same number of runs, while in the remaining 10% of the games (17) the Indians scored just 1 more run than the Ms each game. The Yankees scored 174 more runs than the Ms and didn’t win their division; the Tigers scored 93 more runs and didn’t make the playoffs.

For SLG percentage, the Indians were at 0.428, the Mariners at 0.425 and the Angels at 0.417. OPS percentages were Indians at 0.769, Mariners at 0.762 and the Angels at 0.762. The Ms were 5th in total bases, ahead of both the Indians and Angels. The Angels had a higher OBS (because of walks) which brought their OPS up to the Ms.

What was the difference? Pitching, pitching, pitching. Why was Cleveland picked by many to take their division over the lineup-stacked Tigers? Pitching. The Ms replaced Ramirez and Weaver with Bedard and Silva. Upgrade? Ya think?

.Don’t give up on the Ms offense. That Johjima, Wilkerson and Vidro are hitting well below their career averages means that, statistically, there will also be a period when they should hit well above their averages. All have been consistently good hitters and there is no reason to think that will not continue. Walks could certainly improve from last year. Hopefully, that’s one early trend that will continue (5 more tonight).

It’s a good thing they play 162 games rather than just the first 7 that many seem to think describes this team. The Ms are not one of the elite offensive teams, but then, by definition, there can only be a few of those. The question is if the combination of offense and pitching makes the Ms a playoff team. I still think it does, with 154 games left to go.

Posted by Adam

10:27 PM, Apr 08, 2008

I think I'd feel kind of weird if I started getting love...

It was pretty fun to watch RRS make McLaren look like a fool tonight. I guess RRS had the right mind-set after all, right Mac?

Nice to see some breaks go our way tonight. We hit a bunch of singles that found holes, and Upton was safe, but we were due for some breaks.

Oh, and what happens to Corcoran when JJ gets back?

Posted by Nat

10:39 PM, Apr 08, 2008

No, oregongal, you really did miss a great game- both frustrating and exciting! I had a feeling it would be like this tonight b/c of the makeup of the young TB team and the weeklong frustration of the Mariners coming together making it the best game I've seen yet, could hardly drag myself away to make something for dinner.

chris from bothell- once again your comments are spot on, and yes, Lopez is making the game fun again! Good to see that it looks like Richie's coming around, and RRS was -dare I say- almost dominating?! I'll be at the game Fri with friends as well, and here's hoping the games will continue to be lively! For a few days this week I was thinking the Angels game might be a real drag...

Posted by BavasiRocks

10:42 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Actually Adam, Upton was out, clearly.

Posted by Maui Mariner

10:47 PM, Apr 08, 2008

That is a good question Adam.
I was surprised when Corcoran was still in camp late. He didn't seem very impressive but he has pitched well so far when it counted this season.
It seems like we are still in a learning peroid. Let's hope someone takes the fast track and things start clicking. Maybe just in time for the Angels?

Posted by Nat

10:57 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Adam, Corcoran: I would like to keep him around. He pitched well and he certainly doesn't seem to have any fear.

Maybe Mac will take a gander at a 12-man BP now, sending Cairo, no probably not Cairo, but maybe Jimerson (sp?) back down to AAA.

Cairo doesn't strike ME as much of a security blanket but apparently Mac does. Go figure.

Posted by shortbus

11:01 PM, Apr 08, 2008

I can't believe anyone is bragging about Bedard after today's 5 run, 6 inning performance against an average offense. I guess Bedard starts slow, but today's performance sure isn't what we traded away the farm for.

And using Wins as a stat when talking about pitchers is ridiculous. There is hardly a more worthless stat in baseball. (RBOE for a hitter?)

Posted by out

11:12 PM, Apr 08, 2008

i guess i have to go with the majority that upton was safe, but i thought that beltre's block was enough to get the tag on...

Posted by FuKell

11:58 PM, Apr 08, 2008

oh my god, it's time to bring up the young talents already! so what if the M's win one game. The mariners still look like a train-wrecked out there. They still left a lot of runners on base. Send to Joh to AAA to work his things. Bring up Jeff!. or Send Jamie Burke to Tacoma and let Joh back Jeff up. Bring up Val to play on the left field and bench Vidro. or trade him, joh and wilkerson for a good hitter. We need help guys.?

Posted by Adam

12:37 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Actually Adam, Upton was out, clearly.

Uh, no, he was not.

Posted by aaron

2:04 AM, Apr 09, 2008


Posted by Notor

6:30 AM, Apr 09, 2008

For what it's worth, and contrary to popular belief the Mariners offense so far this season has not been awful. In fact, it's been above league average, the hits have been coming, they just haven't been coming with men in scoring position.

That is a mostly random occurence, and if we keep up this level of production, eventually those hits will start coming at the right times. We have an even better chance of that now that the batting order is a little less insane.

And with the Angels quickly imploding due to injury, we have a legit shot at winning the division. I wouldn't count them out yet, and I wouldn't count the A's out either, but the playing field in West is looking pretty dang even right now.

Posted by Husky Fan In New York

6:51 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Oh come on, Bedard only gave up 3 earned runs due to Beltre's error. For a guy who was scratched from his previous start and is on a new team, giving up 3 earned runs in 6 innings (4.50 era) is fine with me. He kept his team in the game and got the win, what more do you want? His ERA is now 3.27, not bad at all.

The great thing about this year is that we have options if guys like Johjima and Vidro/Wilkerson continue to hit far below their career averages, principally in Clement (C/DH) and Morse/Balentin. Except for possibly Morse, the other two weren't ready and are (or very close to it) now.

Posted by Chuck

6:51 AM, Apr 09, 2008

We went out and got a guy that can stop a losing streak before we get to seven. Six innings, 3 earned runs and six hits. That's what I'm talking about!

Posted by sjazzdude

7:37 AM, Apr 09, 2008

McLaren needs to start utilizing the bench players. It's apparent that Beltre's play is showing wear, as is Lopez, Sexson and Wilkerson.

I would like to see Morse, Bloomquist or Jiminez in the lineup with Clement as a possible DH sub. However, McLaren has stated that he prefers to stick with his regular starters, so I guess they won't be playing anytime soon.

How does he expect to consistently win with fatigued players? The season is pretty long and he needs to utilize everyone on the 25 man roster. Besides, the odds of Morse, Bloomquist or Jiminez getting that eighth or ninth inning pinch-hitting base hit goes down because of the lack of playing time.

Posted by Mr. X

7:45 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Interesting article on Jones. I wonder if Trembly is also burping him after every meal, and wiping his fanny with aloe vera wipes to prevent chafing, or whatever the aloe vera wipes do. Pathetic. Well, at least they have an extra pinch runner on the days when Jones has to be sheltered from a team's top 2 pitchers, for his own good. It reminds me of the time when Jeremy Reed was platooned and still hit .217.

Mealy-mouthed Mac is beginning to get on my nerves. I would never make it as a beat reporter, that's for sure.

Posted by byebyeSexson

7:57 AM, Apr 09, 2008

for the love of Sexson, Yes, me too on your comment: "Richie -- if you're reading this, I must give credit when credit is due. Good game tonight. I must say that I see a bit of hope here ..... anyone else?"

Best thing I see is his improved patience, now getting better pitches and more walks.


Posted by Adam

7:59 AM, Apr 09, 2008

ERA is a really dumb way to judge a pitcher, especially in Bedard's case. The Pena and Upton runs were unearned, yet Bedard put them on in the first place with walks. Why shouldn't he be responsible for them scoring?

Posted by byebyeSexson

8:07 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Oregongal, I think his name is Richie!

He is doin' better.

"Sexson. Or Sexton. Or Sexon. You know, whatever Ritchie's name is. ;)"


Posted by Husky Fan In New York

8:10 AM, Apr 09, 2008

So if a player makes an error instead of getting an out and allows the runs to score when the base-runners should've been stranded, it's the pitchers fault? Ha!!!!!!! A pitcher's ERA shouldn't be penalized just because he walked a guy or two.

There's a reason why ERA exists, why ERA is compared to runs allowed, as well as a W-L record. It simply paints a more accurate picture of how a pitcher is doing.

Posted by Full Count

8:30 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Good to see them win. Richie will win most improved player of the year in MLB what a pant load......That poor dude is struggling just to keep up. Its like a train wreck I want to look away, but I can't.

Posted by Griffey24

8:35 AM, Apr 09, 2008

I'll give you props for actually POSTING your feeling that we were going to lose. About time someone made a negative prediction before knowing the outcome rather than saying later, "I KNEW we were going to lose when...". And more props for owning up to it rather than disappearing off the blog.

At the same time, don't take credit for the W by suggesting you jinxed them into it. :-)

Posted by Elimno

10:02 AM, Apr 09, 2008

The headline should be: "Lopez has great game - almost makes up for blowing it the other day"

Posted by BavasiRocks

11:01 AM, Apr 09, 2008

[i]Uh, no, he was not. [/i]

Uh, yes Adam he was. I saw it in HD. Geoff Baker attested to this above: " Or his relay throw to third and the way Adrian Beltre blocked the bad to prevent B.J. Upton from sliding in safely for a triple?"

Truthfully, did you watch the game in HD? You may have heard of it. High Definition is now available at a store near you.

Posted by baseball_saves

11:54 AM, Apr 09, 2008

I just love to watch Bedard pitch. Anyone who doesn't think he's the real deal just doesn't get it. By the middle of the year we are all going to be hoping for a contract extension and I think Bavasi is thinking the same thing.

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