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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 11, 2008 11:17 PM

Angels post-game

Posted by Bob Condotta

A happy clubhouse, as you might expect, after what was certainly Seattle's biggest win of the young season.

Still, the players know better than anyone that it only means so much this early in the season.

"We played well tonight and we got the hits when we needed it,'' said Raul Ibanez. "But it's really just one game.''

Mariner manager John McLaren said the biggest thing might have been that it was the first game of a home stand, and following a pretty disastrous 2-5 road trip.

"We needed this for us,'' he said.

A lot of other guys got what they needed tonight, as well.

Raul Ibanez had his first big game of the year with two homers, though maybe we should have known it was coming considering he is now 12-21 with four homers against Angels starter Jered Weaver. Ibanez said he had no idea why he hits Weaver so well, calling it "lucky.''

Kenji Johima got his first hit after 23 at-bats without one and also walked twice, saying later "I saw the ball well all night.'' He said he hopes this is the beginning of a turnaround.

Brad Wilkerson, who was 3-24 for the season, got the big two-out hit in the sixth that put the Mariners ahead for good.

Mark Lowe came on in the ninth to get his first save of his career and said he loved closing.

"It's just a different feeling, a huge rush, knowing your team is about to win and you are there to close it out,'' he said.

Richie Sexson got a bases-loaded walk, one of six for the Mariners for the night as they now have an AL-high 47.

And Felix Hernandez, despite some rocky moments, got his first win of the year, gutting out 117 pitches (68 strikes) allowing nine hits, four runs and three walks. He also struck out Vladimir Guerrero three times, only the fourth time that's happened to Guerrero since 2004.

The downside was the fielding --- two more errors to give Seattle an AL-high 12.

"We're better than that,'' McLaren said afterward, adding he plans to get with coaches and figure out some extra work to alleviate the problem.

McLaren said his players need to "slow down'' and "anticipate'' where they need to go with the ball.

And while it's just one game, and just one early series, as noted earlier, the Angels swept Seattle the first time the two teams met last year, setting a tone that seemed to last all season as the Angels went 13-6 against the Mariners. First impressions sometimes can tell a lot.

The two teams will be back at it at 6:10 tomorrow with Carlos Silva going against Jon Garland.

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Posted by scottM

12:09 AM, Apr 12, 2008

Great game to see live. Several incredible "highlight film" plays, exciting lead changes, and those can-we-find-a-way-to-give-the-game-away heart-stopping blunders. Give-the-game-ball-to-RAUUUUUUUUL. But my favorite play of his wasn't the two homers or RBI double. It was the great defensive adjustment on that rope hit to left field to get a KEY third out to thwart an Angel's rally. Did any of the we-hate-Raul-in-Left bloggers note that play?

Posted by AARON

12:18 AM, Apr 12, 2008

GREAT GAME...FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT. IF THEY CAN JUST STAY CONSISTENT, WITH A LITTLE MORE FOCUS IN THE INFIELD, THIS TEAM CAN BE A REAL CONTENDER!! I LOVE THE PATIENCE AT THE PLATE…THE BEST I’VE SEEN IN A LONG TIME!!!

Posted by NB

12:27 AM, Apr 12, 2008

I don't know Scott. Did you notice the double that landed five feet from Raul's plodding steps? Raul for DH!

Posted by Nat

12:53 AM, Apr 12, 2008

As you say, scottM, it was a very exciting game to be at, so glad I was there. Truthfully, until the last few ABs top of the ninth I honestly didn't know how the game would end, because the Angels kept coming back again and again. The fans were really into it though!

Posted by Paul

6:55 AM, Apr 12, 2008

Ibanez is the quintessential DH at this point in his career. It really is a debate late in a game like last night's whether or not Ibanez should be left in to play the field. Obviously you want to replace him defensively, but you could easily see the Angels evening things up in the 9th and then you want his bat for the bottom/extra innings. If he's DH, you don't have to worry about that question. And replacing Vidro...the way he's started this season, you're better off offensively no matter WHO you put in LF - although I'd go down to AAA and at least give Wlad a shot. There's not a lot of pressure to perform at this point in the season and when you're replacing a DH who generally hits 7th in the lineup and has a BA in the .100's....a good time to break in a young guy. I wish Bavasi and Mac liked young bats as much as they like young arms....

Posted by stango

6:58 AM, Apr 12, 2008

ScottM:

I love Raul. I've always liked him, even when Lou wouldn't play him much.

Raul makes great plays, BUT he really is a terrible LF, and should be our DH. One thing that doesn't show up on the box score or on the game feed is how much trouble Raul has getting to balls that most other LF's get to. Lots of singles drop in front of him that could be outs. This is only recorded as a single, not an error. The game feed certainly will never point out when he should have gotten to it.

Remember when McLemore would get the wrong read on the ball, and then have to compensate by making a great running/diving catch? It's the same thing with Raul, but the exact opposite. Raul almost always gets a perfect read on the ball, he just doesn't have any mobility.

I really, really hope that we don't have this come up every time he makes a good or great play in the OF. Just because someone makes a great play, it DOES NOT MEAN THAT THEY'RE A GREAT FIELDER! There's no other way to put

Posted by stango

7:03 AM, Apr 12, 2008

...it

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

7:07 AM, Apr 12, 2008

Have you guys ever visited this site halosheaven? wow, its good for a laugh. Unlike this blog, with its pervasive pessimism and inward-looking self-reflection on the M's struggles, the angels' site basically mocks the mariners! seriously, post after post was targeted at the mariners and other angels-opponents (stupid puns like how we'll be serving them espresso and other terribly unoriginal bits). how pathetic. maybe they could take a page from our book and criticize their own terrible bullpen. i guess thats the difference between la and seattle though...

Posted by Bruce

7:41 AM, Apr 12, 2008

Great game all around (except for the errors). The bullpen seems to be getting back to last year's form. The patience at the plate is paying off. Still need more out of Kenji, Wilk, Vidro and Sexson.


For those that keep asking for Wlad, do you realize he just raised his batting avg from .125 to .200 against AAA pitching? How do you think he will do against ML pitching? He may be the future, but needs more time down there. And may be can help us for the second half push. Clemente is closer to being ready. And, as much as I like Kenji, he better find his stroke quick.


Love our pitching staff against the Angels! Go M's

Posted by scottM

8:20 AM, Apr 12, 2008

I agree that next year when the M's bring in Griffey, Raul should be pulled from Left Field. However, he shouldn't be moved to the DH, but to first base. Raul is far more athletic, defensively, than Sexson (who won't be brought back).

Let 39-year-old Griffey play the DH with Vidro gone. Balentien should be in right with Wilkerson gone. Bring in a good hitting free-agent in LF. Sexson should be released, Johjima traded (with Clement brought up). 2009 should be a good year. This year expect a roller coaster ride.

I saw the play you're talking about NB. That would have been a tough play for any left fielder to get to in the air. It didn't get past Raul. It was the type of play that, last year, Adam Jones might have dived for and seen slip past him into the corner for a triple or possible in-the-park HR.

Again, Raul in LF is far, far less of a concern for the M's right now than the 5/6/7/8 "murderer's row" of Vidro/Sexson/Wilkerson/Johjima, the brain dead fielding errors, and a shaky bullpen.

And, Stango, why shouldn't Raul's great fielding plays be brought up at least as much of those who repeat and repeat and repeat that he is sooooooooooo terrible? He is very serviceable in LF, and his range not as bad as so many insist. Did you see that great throw to the plate against the Rays? In other words, if he continually makes great plays, at what point does THAT get resected. In other words give the guy his props when he deserves them. Three RBI's and a great rally-killing catch in Left. Without RAUL last night this team is three games behind the Angels. Felix should be buying him the best steak dinner in Seattle!!!

Posted by seattlelawgirl

8:26 AM, Apr 12, 2008

tallahassee - I hope your post was tongue-in-cheek. Because if there's one thing I can't *stand* about Seattle sports fans - most current company excepted - it's how hot and cold they are. Win, and they are the BEST fans in the world. Lose, and the ballpark (or field, or arena) is empty. Can you imagine fans in Boston being like this? Or NYC?

On to the game. Lots to worry about, but also lots to enjoy from last night's game. The errors - and having an MLB-high 14 errors this early in the season - are things to "worry" about in that the team needs to figure out how to make them go away. I'm not too worried for the long-term - the one thing we all know is that numbers - ALL numbers - are skewed this early in the season. Things to enjoy? Raul's offensive production. Richie's patience at the plate. (Did you all notice he's actually hitting around the Mendoza line? Took him all season last year and he hardly made it there!) Wilkerson's long-overdue hit.

All of that to say - it was a fun, and nerve-wracking game to watch last night! I hope we see more of the good (Felix stayed calm under pressure and pitched a nice long game; Richie's patience; Brad's hit; Raul's offense; etc.) and less of the bad (errors, people!) over time. This team has so much potential, and if they get to the point where they are playing as well as they *can,* what a ride it'll be!

Oh, and eventually we'll get JJ back. I think a lot of us (myself included) underestimated what a HUGE blow to the team (not just the bullpen) his early injury would be.

Go M's!

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