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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 8:38 PM

Mariners at Oakland Athletics: 4/16 game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

athletics1 014.jpg

If this isn't the worst seat in the house, I'm not sure what is. His date probably took one look at the seats and split. Anyhow, I hope he didn't come expecting to see Eric Chavez play, or else it's going to be a tough night all around.

8:38 p.m.: We are already in the seventh inning stretch -- believe it or not -- as Felix Hernandez continues to protect a 4-1 lead. Seattle has 11 hits already, but has done nothing to build on its lead since the first few innings. It hasn't had to do much. This Oakland offense is absolutely pathetic. Hernandez is pitching well, don't get me wrong. But the A's look like they've never seen a pitch they couldn't swing at. This is nothing like the Moneyball A's, walking their way to victory. Lots of free-swinging tonight. I'm all for it, even if it has set me back a little as I scramble to get my newspaper stuff done.

I promised you a video of today's road trip. Here it is, down below. It starts with the packed bags and me doing my Talkin' Baseball segment on the Mitch in the Morning show on KJR AM 950. After that, it's planes, trains and automobiles, literally, to get to the McAfee Coliseum. First the plane from Seatac, then the automobile (a taxi) to my hotel in downtown Oakland, followed by a train from the hotel to the ballpark, Gives you a feel for the day and the neighborhood. Tomorrow, we'll take a closer look at the park itself. Enjoy,

athletics1 003.jpg

8:00 p.m.: Seattle added a run in the third inning to take a 4-1 lead as Raul Ibanez singled and then scored all the way from first on an Adrian Beltre double to left. Some sloppy play by the A's getting the ball back in, or Ibanez was a dead duck at home. A's have looked terrible defensively tonight. Mariners got a single from Yuniesky Betancourt in the fourth, but he was thrown out trying to steal second. So, still a three-run lead for the M's as we enter the bottom of the fourth.

7:40 p.m. Yunieksy Betancourt gave a run back to the A's in the seocnd inning. There was a runner on second with two out, when Kurt Suzuki hit one up the middle that Felix Hernandez deflected with his bare hand (he's got to stop doing that, lest he give fans and coaches heart attacks). Betancourt raced in on the ball and had little chance of nabbing the speedy Suzuki at first. The runner at third, Bobby Crosby, was holding up in any case. But for some reason, Betancourt felt he had to make a terrible, rushed, sidearmed throw to first. The ball wound up skipping past Richie Sexson, enabling the run to score. A 3-1 game, M's in front, heading to the third.

7:14 p.m.: Great start by the Mariners, scoring three in the first off Joe Blanton to take a 3-0 lead. Ichiro led off with a single, then took second on a passed ball. After a Jose Lopez groundout, moving the runner to third, Raul Ibanez cashed-in the first run on a single to right. Adrian Beltre followed with a double, putting runners at second and third.

Jose Vidro then lined a ball to center, which center fielder Ryan Sweeney dove for but let get by him for a double. Yes, a second Vidro double this season. It's a biggie, because it scored two more. Felix Hernandez has some breathing room already.

The lineups:

Mariners (7-8):

51 Ichiro CF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
25 Raul Ibanez LF
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
3 Jose Vidro DH
44 Richie Sexson 1B
6 Brad Wilkerson RF
2 Kenji Johjima C
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS

34 Felix Hernandez RHP


ATHLETICS (9-6)

6 Travis Buck RF
14 Mark Ellis 2B
10 Daric Barton 1B
5 Mike Sweeney DH
32 Jack Cust LF
7 Bobby Crosby SS
15 Ryan Sweeney CF
24 Kurt Suzuki C
22 Jack Hannahan 3B

55 Joe Blanton RHP

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Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

7:10 PM, Apr 16, 2008

does anyone else feel like they're watching a high school game?

Posted by Ben

7:11 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Ichiro at 3rd? Let the sac flys begin!

Posted by Nat

7:13 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Ichiro moving on over...I so love to see Ichiro get into Blanton's head. Let's keep the offense going, boys!

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

7:18 PM, Apr 16, 2008

way to work the count wilkerson. that guy is sooooo lame.

but nice to see the m's get on the board early. i really am starting to like our 1 through 5.

Posted by Babu

7:27 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Great sign -- Kenji picking up right where he left off last night. Woo-hoo, Ms!

Posted by Ben

7:28 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Angels seem to be facing the good version of the KC Royals offense today. already 2-0 in that game

Posted by Paul

7:30 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Yuni just can't STAND to walk, can he? He'll become a much more complete hitter once he learns to take ball 4.

Great start nonetheless. I liked that made-to-order DP ball from Felix with 2 on.

Posted by Nat

7:34 PM, Apr 16, 2008

It is nothing short of amazing, that with a few exceptions, the Mariners are actually taking pitches. I was wondering if they would keep it up and they are...a very promising sign for their overall success this season.

I hope Ichiro rattles Blanton's cage every time he's on base, and I bet Ichiro is highly motivated to do so as well. I'd bet Ichi has an excellent memory...

Jeez, too bad we can't clone Felix!

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

7:42 PM, Apr 16, 2008

holding our breath waiting for felix to throw again...

Posted by Ben

7:46 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Raul is at it again

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

7:47 PM, Apr 16, 2008

the A's are 9-6, really?

Posted by mike

7:48 PM, Apr 16, 2008

2 DUMB PLAYS ON 1 PITCH. IF WE HAD A SMART MANAGER HE WOULD TEACH OUR YOUNG PLAYERS SMART MOVES, LIKE FELIX DON'T STICK YOUR BARE HAND OUT TO CATCH THE BALL LET IT GO!!!!!! AND BETANCOURT SHOULD KNOW BETTER THAN TO THROW THAT BALL AWAY WITH FELIX PITCHING. BUT WHEN OUR MANAGER IS SOOOOO STUPID HE CAN'T TEACH ANYONE ANYTHING.

Posted by Ben

7:49 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Jared Weaver is geting hit around by KC. 3-0 in the second and weaver has thrown about 50 pitches and given up 7 hits to the 5 outs he's had.

Posted by Zach

7:50 PM, Apr 16, 2008

mike, please take off your caps lock key and throw it away. thanks.

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

7:51 PM, Apr 16, 2008

wow, the sexson/wilkerson 1-2 punch can really shut down an inning can't it.

Posted by SDF Mariner

7:52 PM, Apr 16, 2008

It's nice to see Vidro and Sexson coming through in the clutch. I don't care if we're up 3 with our stud pitcher on the mound, we've got to take advantage of a runner on 3rd with no outs.

Other than that and Yuni not having a brain, we look pretty good.....

Posted by Nat

7:58 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Heh heh, since Royals are up 2-0, just took a look at HH- Angels posters all dissing the ump again. Angel fans have got to be the biggest bunch of sour grapes in mlb!

Was that a short inning for Felix or what? At this rate it should be a 2-hour game - what a fun baseball game!!!

Posted by M.J.

8:25 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Perhaps I'm reading the pitches wrong, but it looks like Felix is throwing a gluttony of fastballs in the 93 to 96 mph range. Doesn't Felix have three other above average pitches in his arsenal?

I know Felix is clipping along, but the A's aren't exactly titans of the offensive realm. They also appear to be smoking line drives that find Mariner players, so it's only a matter of time before they find fair grass or the wall, isn't it?

It looks like Felix is just throwing and not pitching, and that's going to burn him when he faces those offensive juggernauts in the east.

Posted by Nat

8:35 PM, Apr 16, 2008

MJ, Sims just said Felix was throwing a lot of 95-97 fastballs, so a little faster than what you said. But seriously Felix is dialed in, I don't understand what there is to complain about.

Posted by Batter Up!!!

8:54 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Hey MJ,

You have a complaint about the way the Big Dog has shut these guys down?

You think he can't do this to the Yanks and Soxs?

Posted by i heart Morse

8:57 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Ugh...a lead of single in the 8th inning of a close game has to come around to score.

Another one of those opportunities Mac "never" had to use a pinch runner. As always, he sits on his hands and waits for three singles to bring home a relatively important run.

Why does it seem like when we lose it's mostly his fault and when we win it's despite his best efforts to lose?

Posted by AKMarinersFan

9:01 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Oaklands offense is bad but not as bad as the Vidro-Sexson-Wilkerson trio. How much longer is this lineup going to show up?

Posted by i heart Morse

9:06 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Crown Him...that was huge!

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

9:07 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Mac costs the teams runs on a daily basis thanks to his "mental" errors. Can't wait to see what he does with the bullpen tonight. I'm in a foul mood over Bavasi knowingly trading for an injured pitcher. I noticed no one picked up on how the M's admitted they were aware of Bedard's injury.

I can't recall who I was arguing with back when we traded for Erik, but I pointed to Bedard's mechanics as a serious injury concern. I even linked a great site that used good old fashioned scouting to evaluate his mechanics that opposed the opinion by local blogs that claimed Bedard was the best pitcher since Randy Johnson.

Posted by Nat

9:10 PM, Apr 16, 2008

I don't want to see Sean Green or Arthur Rhodes out here in the 9th. But Lowe: yes.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

9:14 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Other than that and Yuni not having a brain, we look pretty good.....

Best shortstop in the American League. You and Geoff are spoiled.

Posted by Pokenour

9:15 PM, Apr 16, 2008

I Heart Morse,

"Eyes open," your assessment of McLaren's management is right on, he seems to be a mere spectator with no idea of strategy in trying to manage a win.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

9:16 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Go Felix! Our true #1 starter.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

9:18 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Love hearing the Oakland sewer deafen with silence.

Posted by Pokenour

9:18 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Complete game - congratulations Felix! You have to win in spite of McLaren's managerial brilliance.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

9:18 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Alright, King Felix!

Posted by Batter Up!!!

9:19 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Complete Game!

What a concept!

Great jobFelix!

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

9:21 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Felix is the franchise player.

Posted by Adam

9:28 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Best shortstop in the American League.


Defensively? No. That would be Adam Everett, who might be the best defender alive.


All Hail Felix, by the way. The most talented pitcher in the game.

Posted by MJ

9:28 PM, Apr 16, 2008

Felix's box score looks amazing, undoubtedly. However, I remain inherently skeptical that he can throw that many fastballs against the Yankees and Red Sox and get away with it.

Hitting is timing, pitching is throwing off that timing. I think he just overpowered a weak lineup.

Posted by kingk

10:39 PM, Apr 16, 2008

You did see him 1 hit Boston last year didn't you? Mac sucks, Raul is slow Felix wasn't that gfeat...Some of you sound like idiots

Posted by MJ

10:51 PM, Apr 16, 2008

kingk,

I think you're missing my point.

Felix overpowered the Oakland A's lineup through overwhelming them with his fastball. That worked during this game, in part because Oakland's lineup leaves a bit to be desired.

He most certainly utilized the depth of his arsenal to a greater degree against Boston last year.

My problem with this game is that it'll convince him to become over reliant on his fastball again.

The Red Sox, Tigers and Yankees will not stand and the batter's box and take meager hacks at fastball after fastball.

The superficial results of this game look great, in part because the Athletics weren't able to do much tonight with his fastball.

Don't think that will happen every night. If Felix took the mound with his stuff and the same pitching approach as Greg Maddux or Brian Bannister?

He could easily toss zeros up in both the runs and hits column.

It's like watching someone drive a Dodge Viper without ever leaving second gear.

Impressive? No question. But oh, the capability for so much more is there.

Posted by kingk

2:43 AM, Apr 17, 2008

Well then why don't you think he can approach them with more breaking pitches and still dominate?I gotta think Stottelmyre will have a good game plan for them...
...He threw quite a few breaking balls in key spots although he was relying on his fastball like you said...I am not too worried about his approach though...A scout mentioned in Jayson Starks column 2 days ago was commenting on Felix as not throwing his fastball enough!! Go figure

Posted by Bob Loblaw

7:38 AM, Apr 17, 2008

Another great video! Thanks for doing these. I predict your car service guy is the next psuedo celebrity in Seattle.

And this: "I don't know why they would do that in such a nice neighborhood" -- hilarious.

Posted by Adam

7:56 AM, Apr 17, 2008

kingk - Yes, Raul is slow.

Posted by steve

4:45 PM, Apr 18, 2008

For the M's to win the division, the team must get much better offense from the right field position! Either Balentin or Clement would fill that void!

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