Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.
April 13, 2008 9:04 AM
Posted by Geoff Baker
This Angels team sure doesn't look like the 2007 version. I know many of you just love to see what's going on in the Angels' blogosphere, so here's a look at the panic in Halos Heaven.
Yes, the M's have the Angels on-the-run. I know there was plenty of hand-wringing over signing Carlos Silva to that $48-million deal. So far, though, he's delivered what I felt was his biggest asset. The ability to go seven-plus innings. That's three straight for Silva, two of those innings ranking as "quality starts'' -- including the eight frames, three runs allowed last night. This is what the Mariners envisioned when they made their off-season moves. They now have the pitching to compete. Los Angeles, with two staff aces out, does not. At least, not right now.
Aside from the debacle in Baltimore, the M's have now won three out of their first four series to start the season. That's pretty good. But do you know what would really help them now? A sweep. Why not? We went over this last year, but contending teams do find a way to put away a reeling opponent by sweeping early and often. It enables them to gain momentum and negate the opposite -- being swept. In this case, taking three in a row from the Angels would go a long way towards easing some of the pain of dropping four straight to the Orioles last weekend.
When John Lackey and -- maybe -- Kelvim Escobar return to the Angels, these pitching matchups won't favor the M's as well as they do now. Especially with Seattle staff ace Erik Bedard on the hill today. Make that No. 1 starter Bedard. He's not an ace just yet. Aces go more than six innings. Bedard has only given up four earned runs in a pair of six-inning outings. That's got ace potantial. But aces win the big ones. I expect to see the "ace'' Bedard show up today. This is the reason the M's acquired him. They need a seven-inning quality start from their No. 1 starter today.
Last year, the Mariners waited until May 25-27 at Kansas City to sweep their first series of three games or more. It wasn't until that point that the M's began to put together the type of winning stretches needed to get close to the Angels in the standings and cement their status as something better than a .500 team. This year's squad, as many of you have noted, has to take advantage of the Angels when they're down. The two teams are now even in the standings, depsite all of Seattle's early-season woes. And they have this afternoon's pitching matchup gift-wrapped for them in the form of Bedard -- the guy who is supposed to be the difference maker. This is when good teams step up. April or not.
Yes, the Oakland A's are leading the division with an 8-4 record. Is this another April mirage? We'll see. Rich Harden has yet to go on the DL (whoops, scratch that one). Anyhow, the M's can worry about the A's in Oakland later this week. For now, they have to assume the Angels are still the main target.
Vladimir Guerrero is just 2-for-8 with a double and an RBI in the two games. The M's can live with that. Gary Matthews Jr. is causing his team more harm than good as well. Good pitching can often trump good hitting. This isn't 2007, when Guerrero was hitting .500 off Seattle and always coming up with guys on base. I don't care if Orlando Cabrera only had an OPS+ of 95 last season. He always seemed to be getting on ahead of Guerrero. And he isn't around anymore. Like I said, this Angels team, at least so far, does not look the same as the 2007 version. Best for the M's to step up and sweep before Los Angeles figures itself out.