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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 16, 2008 11:00 PM

Hernandez pitches M's to win

Posted by Geoff Baker

athletics1.jpg

Fans file out of a quiet McAfee Coliseum after Felix Hernandez and the Mariners take a 4-2 win over the Oakland A's.

A vote of confidence shown Hernandez in that ninth inning when manager John McLaren sent him back out there with a pitch count at 108. But Hernandez was still hitting 97 m.p.h. on the ballpark radar gun in the eighth and the A's weren't exactly tatooing him.

"He's a fierce competitor,'' McLaren said. "I can tell you, he really wants it. That's what you like to see. You want to see guys who like to close out games and he's got that in him.''

Hernandez wanted this one when McLaren asked him about it after eight. This wasn't Baltimore, where Hernandez was working on short rest from a between-starts bullpen session and didn't have the arm strength to finish.

"In the eighth inning, he asked me 'How do you feel?','' Hernandez said of McLaren, who'd seen his starter throw 108 pitches through eight frames. "I said 'Good, I can come back. You don't take me out.' "

I counted four bloop singles out of the eight hits managed by Oakland though those eight innings. In other words, Hernandez was feeling strong. He looked strong in the ninth, closing out the victory by retiring the side in order.

Mariners catcher Kenji Johjima said the guy he saw on the mound was different from the 2007 version of Hernandez. When he fell behind 3-0 on Mike Sweeney in the ninth, Johjima thought of calling for a walk. That would have brought Arthur Rhodes into the game and the tying run to the plate.

"But he came up with good pitches on the corner of the plate,'' Johjima said. "And that's what helped us get through.''

Sweeney grounded out to end the game.

Think back to the first inning, when a pair of bloop hits had Hernandez in trouble. He rebounded to get a double-play grounder by Sweeney.

That eighth inning, with Oakland's only earned run scoring on another blooped hit, could have gone far worse. Until Hernandez snared the Mark Ellis comebacker to begin another double play.

Hernandez didn't always respond so well to bad breaks last season.

"He still gets very emotional,'' Johjima said. "That's his pitching style and I believe that's good. It's when you get too emotional that you start to lose yourself. You can't control yourself at times.''

Hernandez was in control tonight. He has been all season.

"I think that he's grown up a lot this past year,'' Johjima said.

Let's end on that note.


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Posted by Go M's

9:20 PM, Apr 16, 2008

That a kid, Felix!! Way to step up and pitch a complete game. Great win. Just what the doctor ordered for our bullpen situation.

Go M's!!

Posted by E

9:21 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Hey Geoff,

Thanks for the trip on BART and the walk across the concrete bridge. I'm a Santa Clara U. grad and took the BART from Fremont many times to watch the M's take on the A's. I think they have the fence on the side so people don't jump onto the street, not for rock-throwing kids. Once again, thanks for all of your great work!!

Posted by Nat

9:21 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Beauty!!! That was a fine performance by Felix and now we're finally back to 500!

Posted by BMSOlympia

9:21 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Felix may be turning into an Ace right before our eyes. Sure do wish we had Tim Lincecum following up tomorrow.

Posted by i heart Morse

9:23 PM, Apr 16, 2008

let's take a moment and reflect on the fact that we have the greatest pitcher in the world on our team...literally

Posted by Chris from Bothell

9:27 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Time for Duke Carlos to follow King Felix...

Posted by Pokenour

9:28 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Tim Lincecum for Morrow

That's the hidden part of our pre-game discussion with the likes of Alex, putzy, and Adam=wrong=pokenour, who all seem to be personally invested and arguing an emotionally charged juvenility in defending the failed chooses of Mariners management. We get a relief pitcher with the number 5 draft pick, while the Giants get an MLB ready starter much latter in the round. Trade Morrow, Bedard and anyone short of Felix for Lincecum.

Posted by Joey

9:40 PM, Apr 16, 2008

This performance by King Felix, plus his others so far this season, have solidified for me what I've been feeling since the off season. The Bedard trade was a bad idea. Felix is much more of an Ace/closer than Bedard, who may be on/off the DL for the rest of the season. Imagine where we'd be if we had GS closing out some of those Baltimore games for us. I hope Bedard gets it going, but Felix is a keeper. I also hope we are planning on paying the man when the time comes.

Posted by scottM

9:42 PM, Apr 16, 2008

This goes to show that McLaren listens to the criticism here on the blog and, this time, lets Felix close out his own gem.

And yet another stellar defensive performance by Raul in LF. It's starting to look like a statistical pattern.

Felix for the Cy Young and Ibanez for a gold glove!!!

Posted by Joey

9:45 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Of course by closer I don't mean that Felix should take JJ's job, just that he can stop a slide when we need him to.

Posted by Basker

9:50 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Thanks for the hard work Geoff.


The King's new found maturity is helping him pitch like a champ... he is stepping up big time.


Some of you have gotta end it with this Lincecum crush- a handful of teams made the mistake of passing on him. Enough already!

Posted by Frito Bandito

9:51 PM, Apr 16, 2008

LONG LIVE THE KING!!!!!!!!

Posted by Pokenour

9:55 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Of course that should be "choices," sorry for the typo.

A pleasure to watch Felix tonight and see the M's win.

There is an old adage in baseball - "good pitching always beats good hitting" - so the M's are well served with Felix. He is truly King Felix and by an large we do have a good pitching staff, but it is not above criticism, particularly in the manner it is being used by McLaren.

But back to the previous line of thought, it would have been lovely to have Lincecum following Felix every fifth day. Should Bedard return, it would not be such a bad idea to trade him to the Giants with Morrow for Lincecum, but, of course, the cat is out of the bag regarding Bedard's hip. Once it was said that SF was interested in Richie Sexson, throw him in with his salary for good measure. Think it of a free agent signing only the money is in Sexon's pocket but we get a great young pitcher. Such a move might also provide relief to the logjam at 1B / DH giving Raul an opportunity at !B /DH and Wlad in left. Surely Wlad could be no worse than Wilkerson is currently performing in right. It seems if the M's can afford to have Wilkerson do nothing, then they could have just as well afforded to develop Wlad. Sometimes it is the moves made from within the club that have the best effect. At any rate, however, it would be lovely to have Lincecum going tomorrow for the M's

Posted by NB

9:58 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Felix was great!!!!

Raul hit well!!!!

He didn't field well!!!!!

These are all patterns!!!!!

Not making an error doesn't equal good defense!!!!!!!

Posted by joe

10:02 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Now that we have discovered our ACE, I wonder if we can't reverse the Bedard/Jones trade, based on the fact that we appear to have received damaged goods ;)

Posted by Mike

10:07 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Bedard will be fine, if he still having trouble in June I'll worry.

Posted by Bucs59

10:09 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Ya ScottM Im sure Mac listens to all of the wonderful comments made by you and everyone else on this blog.

Posted by Pokenour

10:10 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Nice thought Joe, I wonder if Bavasi bothered to get a "side" letter promising a "good faith" effort concerning Bedard's hip.

Posted by scottM

10:12 PM, Apr 16, 2008

When the weather warms, Bedard will light up our one-two-three punch of Felix, Erik and Silva.

A tweaked hip and so many are giving up on Bedard as a major asset for the team.

Go Huskies, but forget Linecum. That Dawg is gone.

Say, GEOFF, I received my one-of-a-kind Bedard Campaign pin in the mail today from the Times. After all the commotion, I got a big laugh out of that! Unless Bedard would sign a microscopic "E.B." on the front, forget asking him to autograph it. His face fills a button that's a whopping one inch wide. John McCain could have worn such a campaign button in North Vietnam and it would have escaped the notice of his captors.

[Of course McLaren listens to us bloggers. Otherwise what's the point of posting here.]

Posted by Chris from Bothell

10:13 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Not giving up on Bedard until/unless he goes to 60-day DL or worse.

If Vidro continues at about this pace through the weekend, I'm no longer concerned about him. Obviously the DH spot could be filled with a more productive / powerful bat, but I'll no longer think of him as part of the black hole of the offense.

Inverse for Wilkerson. Get Bloomquist back out there.

Cairo for Sexson today was... weird.

Amazing the difference in Yuni's plays, when he rushes it vs. when he actually takes a half-second to think (i.e. the doubleplay Felix started). Patience, on hitting and on infield defense, seems to pay off every time. They need Yoda in the clubhouse. "Patience. Control... you must learn control...".

Raul, I love ya, but you're only just barely getting to or not getting to those long fly balls. I don't like thinking how tired out you'll be by early July. And you woke me up for a second when you hobbled away from the wall; thought you twisted something, for a second. Please, find it in your heart to move to DH. Save those legs for generating power in september (and perhaps october?).

Posted by Bucs59

10:14 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Even though Bedard hasnt proven to be our Ace and after tonight there is no doubt that he isn't he still is an extremely good pitcher when healthy. I dont understand why people get so worked up over him being called an "Ace." Everyone knows that Felix is our Ace who cares what bedard is called. if we didnt have felix then we could freak out over Bedards titles. once bedard gets healthy we'll all be glad we have him.

That being said...LONG LIVE KING FELIX!!!

Posted by oregongal

10:19 PM, Apr 16, 2008

And the Angels lose. Perfect end to an almost perfect day.

Posted by Pokenour

10:20 PM, Apr 16, 2008

On Bedard's hip injury, read the doctor's analysis on the following post:

http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/fantasy/article/erik-bedard-windup-worries/

It doesn't look good.

Posted by Stevo in Oregon

10:21 PM, Apr 16, 2008

The Royals hang on and beat the Angels 3-2!!! Good job!

Great job by the King tonight and to Mac for letting him finish.

The negative...Wilkerson...please see comments from earlier thread on that one. It's not happening. I give him three more weeks to start doing something or it's over.

Posted by i heart Morse

10:23 PM, Apr 16, 2008

absolutely oregongal...nights like these are big. Scoring 4 runs in Oakland against Blanton (M's killer) while the Angels play KC...that's a steal.

Good job of hanging tough by the M's in this turbulent start to the season.

Posted by Bill

10:29 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Why would the Giants trade Lincecum straight up for Morrow?

Posted by sfmsfan

10:37 PM, Apr 16, 2008

First game I've attended this year and was everything I wanted; early lead, Felix looked great, and silent A's fans. Hopefully Silva will show me more of the same tomorrow; which seems likely based on the complete lack of ability up and down the A's lineup.

Posted by Pokenour

10:39 PM, Apr 16, 2008


Bill,

Np way the Giants would trade Lincecum straight up for Morrow, read the posts through. For the most part, they were tongue in cheek if you get such meaning - moreover, the M's passed on Lincecum to select Morrow and earlier today in the pre-game blog, we were discussing the merits of the M's move in bringing him up as well as his potential long-term contribution. So most of the recent posting was merely ironic humor.

Posted by Bill

10:57 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Gotcha. Sometimes it's hard to tell whether someone is being serious or not on here. I read this blog religiously and there are some on here who's opinions I respect (whether or not I disagree), and there are some on here who, for the most part, I don't put any stock in what they have to say.

Posted by stango

11:04 PM, Apr 16, 2008

What a great game!!

Let's sign the King to a 10-year deal!*

ScottM, I love Raul, but he's terrible out there. There's no other way to put it. The one ER charged to Felix may not have happened if we had a real OF out there in left. He should've gotten to the blooper that gave them 2 on and none out. HE WAS NOT EVEN CLOSE. Next batter DP, out of inning, if he catches it.

That's the problem: what could be an out with an avg fielder, reads as a blooper that "falls in", so no error, and thus no stat to say "See, I told you he's bad, he committed an error". Bad defense is not getting a chance to make a play because you can't move. See Sexson, Richie.

Anyway, it was a great game. Long live the King!

*I know that you don't sign pitchers (or anyone) to a 10-yr deal, so don't bother calling me an idiot (for that, at least)

Posted by oregongal

11:17 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Geoff, your tour videos are great. I've taken that BART ride and walked through the concrete several times to get to the Coliseum. Of course, that's before it was McAfee. I think it was Oakland-Alameda, back when a lot of stadiums had a local name instead of a corporate name. :(

We're back up to .500. If they can win tomorrow, they'll get the 3 out of these 4 (KC-Oakland) that I was looking for.

It would be so much easier to watch these games if I could enjoy Raul's hitting (yea!!!), without having to watch him in LF. But I wouldn't pull him out now while he's ripping the ball. He's a bit touchy.

Isn't this his last year? I'm assuming the M's will resign him, but it would be nice if they made him change next year.

Posted by sundodger in sodak

4:57 AM, Apr 17, 2008

This bodes well for the Mariners when Felix is maturing like this. If he can show this kind of stuff at different points in the season, I like the M's chances. Fabulous!

Posted by lwl

6:49 AM, Apr 17, 2008

Where can I find Tacoma's boxscores?

Spring training competion inspired Felix to be Seattle's #1 pitcher. Unfortunately Wilkerson, was given his job and look what we have.

Posted by Chuck

7:16 AM, Apr 17, 2008

Great game. Felix is King. Minor point--another error and no hits from our right fielder.

Posted by BavasiRocks

7:30 AM, Apr 17, 2008

Chuck,

The error was on Betancourt, not Wilkerson.

The stars of this game were Felix and Vidro.

Posted by Grandson

7:39 AM, Apr 17, 2008

Without a doubt, Grandma is my hero. I love you Grandma!!

Posted by byebyeSexson

7:49 AM, Apr 17, 2008

In the five game planner I see this, "LH Adam Loewen (0-1, 76.32)."

Wow, that's some era! Maybe Richie and Wilkerson can get going in that game.

Felix is The Ace but I will be glad to have Bedard back.

Bloomquist, Wlad, Morse (when he is off the dl), there must be someone who can hit 250 and play rf. Maybe put Richie out there and move Raul to first...

Beat the Halos! Yea Silva!

Posted by eastcoast

8:11 AM, Apr 17, 2008

First (+'s) - congrats to Felix on an amazing game. It's not often I find myself that relaxed while watching a M's game. The AB vs Sweeney in the 9th was fantastic. There were two close calls that didn't go his way. Did he implode? No - he composed himself and did the job. Simply awesome.

Second (?'s) - echoing other statements, we must have SOMEONE, ANYONE who can play RF and supply a little offense. What about Norton? I seem to remember him being more of a 1B.. can anyone comment on his OF abilities/defense? And re: Wilk, he is a career .248 hitter so he is only mildly underachieving.

Thirdly (-'s) - (sarcasm to follow) I must apologize to everyone for referring to the M's as a free-swinging team. Their new-found patience at the plate was clearly evident last night while watching Joe Blanton toss 8IP of 12 hit ball (end of sarcasm). There was some serious hacking going on last night, particularly when the M's found themselves ahead. Several 1st pitch swings, several not even near the strike zone (Yuni with 2 on!!). Maybe it wouldn't lead to more runs, (although I think it would), but we certainly would have made the A's use their pen. It would also be nice to see the M's develop a killer instinct. That game should have been long over by the 7th-8th innings.

Posted by scottM

8:25 AM, Apr 17, 2008

Stango. My comment about Raul being a gold glove left fielder is tongue-in-cheek. However, I think his fielding is more than adequate. He stays within himself, makes the most of the range he has, takes good angles, and throws well enough for the position. Oakland's CF dove for a ball last night that scored two runs. Raul would have caught it on a bounce limiting the damage to one run. That guy has the better range, Raul plays smarter.

Last night Raul made a fine catch in the eighth or ninth. Did you notice Felix pump his fist over that. I keep seeing him make far more good plays and expected plays than poor ones.

Raul's defense is much, much, much less a concern for this team than, in order:

1. Bedard's health
2. Vidro's anemic bat
3. Wilkerson's anemic bat
4. JJ Putz's ribs and closer's resolve
4. Lopez's concentration at 2nd
5. Lack of home runs up and down the order (except for Raul)
4. The fifth spot in the rotation
5. Richie (like last night) reverting to swinging at balls out of the strike zone.
6. McLaren's odd use/overuse of the bullpen
.
.
.
99th. Raul's LF defense

Posted by scottM

8:37 AM, Apr 17, 2008

As for the M's brass reading the blogs, you just never know. Last year, mid-season, when our starting pitching struggled, I mentioned "what about Carlos Silva as a potential free agent signing for '08?"

For the record, Bavasi didn't call me and ask if I thought $48 mil over four years was a reasonable offer, but the Silva is on the team isn't he?

Would McLaren have left Felix in the game in the ninth, if he hadn't taken so much heat from bloggers and reporters after the bullpen blew it in Baltimore? Hard to say, but you never know.

Posted by Full Count

8:37 AM, Apr 17, 2008

King Felix, great job......Thats a way to start a road trip.
good luck boys.

Posted by coove

8:49 AM, Apr 17, 2008

Raul Ibanez is the worst fielding LF in the league. If you can't see that, you know nothing about outfield defense. And if you need more proof, there are numbers out there that show how few balls he actually gets to that are hit to left field. He costs the Mariners more runs than he provides by his putrid defense... it doesn't take a genius to see he should move to DH and Vidro should be fill-in, spot starter, Pinch hitter player...

Posted by Why Not?

8:56 AM, Apr 17, 2008

Did the M's keep their receipt for Bedard?
Can't we return him?

Posted by Grandson

9:04 AM, Apr 17, 2008

Without a doubt, Grandma is my hero. I love you Grandma!!

Posted by K-Man

9:11 AM, Apr 17, 2008

Felix was spectacular. His change-up was making A's hitters walk away shaking their heads. And he's only going to get better!

When Bedard gets back, he will be our 3rd-best pitcher.

Note to those folks who still believe that McClaren took him out in Baltimore. Felix took himself out in Baltimore because he was gassed. This time, Felix left himself in, and Mac agreed.

Wlad is doing very well at Tacoma. If Wilkerson hasn't got it going in a few weeks, I'll be surprised if we don't see a promotion.

I miss JJ. Go M's!

Posted by scrapiron

9:27 AM, Apr 17, 2008

At the beginning of the season the Mariners began discussion with Felix about a long term contract. Any news on how that is going?

Posted by markus

9:35 AM, Apr 17, 2008

Why does Mac sub Cairo in for Sexson on defense, but he has yet to do the same for Ibanez. In my opinion, Ibanez is more of a liability on defense then Sexson is. I just don't get things like that that Mac does.

Posted by thatgirl

10:36 AM, Apr 17, 2008

Poke, that report on Hardball Times re: Bedard is pretty scary. Thanks for the link.

O-gal, Raul's bat is HOT and I agree with your assessment on his 'being touchy'. I would hate to see his rhythm and / or psyche bothered by being pulled for defense.

Regarding Wilkerson....beep! - your times up....get Vlad now.

Posted by jonathanb

11:12 AM, Apr 17, 2008

lincecum is such a battler, its funny how we lost on that pick. seemed like at the time licecum and morrow were pretty equal, with morrow maybe seeming more like the horse.

having seen a lot of lincecum pitch at uw, i knew what he had in terms of intangibles. that dude goes after hitters. morrow just has some nastiness that worked at the college level but doesnt have that high level gamesmanship lincecum brings in addition to some nasty stuff.

its nice to see richie hitting. and rauls defense recently has been with complete fearlessness. good to see. this bedard thing is obviously worrisome, but honestly i would be surprised if adam jones is ever better than a .260 hitter with range in the OF. and I could be VERY wrong on this, but that is my take

Posted by Mark in Kirkland

11:16 AM, Apr 17, 2008

I was really glad the way Felix shook off the training staff after stabbing at that come-backer with is throwing hand.
True sign of a gamer, he seemed like he would have shaken off the training staff even if that ball had ripped his thumb off!

Posted by Walrus

11:34 AM, Apr 17, 2008

I am confused.
If Raul is a consumate veteran and one of, if not the only true leader on this team...why would he lose his rhythm by getting benched late in games for defense, or sitting a game here and there against tough lefties so one of the bench players could actually play, or worse yet, having Raul pulled for a pinch hitter late in a game against one of the leagues toughest left relievers who he historically not done well against in similar situations.
Or to consider the flip side to this, how does Raul expect to remain a TEAM leader with credibility if he refuses to be a team player when the game is on the line????

Posted by Adam

11:40 AM, Apr 17, 2008

If Raul would pout about moving to DH to the point that it would hurt his offense, he should be traded. He would be putting himself ahead of the team.

And believe there is some truth to that, if I remember some of his comments from last year correctly.

So perhaps this "great teammate" aura around Raul is a bunch of bull.

Posted by coove

11:58 AM, Apr 17, 2008

Raul has been playing fearlessly bad defense... I'll give you that...

Posted by kinkk

12:33 PM, Apr 17, 2008

Granted Raul is not the greatest fielder but to say he cost moire runs than he provides? he gets 100 rbis and his d costs us more tan 100 runs?? It's getting harder and harder to read your stupid drivel day after day...no win is good enough...

Posted by coove

1:18 PM, Apr 17, 2008

almost any decent MLB hitter would drive in 100 runs batting 3rd with Ichiro as the lead off hitter. Raul is an above average hitter, but as long as he continues to play OF, he is uttimately hurting the team.

If you were referring to me constantly posting drivel, I don't think I have made more than 2 posts on this blog before today... (I usually just read the blog, but today I was moved to post, but I probably will choose to not post anymore if my comments are going to be called drivel)

And the whole "be happy with a win" argument is just dumb in my opinion. What's wrong with wanting to see the team I've been a fan of for 30 years do what's best for the team?

Posted by James from Walla Walla

1:55 PM, Apr 17, 2008

Coove,

I dare say Manny Ramerez is a worse LF than
Ibanez.
His throws from the outfield have been on the money.
Through out runner at home and has kept a number of player from taking 2d on a single.
Is play is average to below average, I like his hustle. I truely hope he takes over at DH sooner than later!!

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