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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 17, 2008 9:21 PM

Mariners at Oakland Athletics: 4/17 game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

a's2 024.jpg

9:21 p.m.: Carlos Silva did indeed go seven innings for the fourth straight time this season, needing only 98 pitches to do it after a 1-2-3 seventh. Ryan Rowland-Smith worked the eighth, with Seattle up by seven with an 8-1 lead following a two-run single by Jose Lopez in the top of that inning. Three outs to go and the Mariners will have a winning record again. Brandon Morrow will work the ninth. His first action of the season.

a's2 017.jpg

8:40 p.m.: It's now a 6-1 game, M's in the lead, midway through the sixth. Raul Ibanez has his second consecutive three-hit game here, singling home Ichiro in the top of this inning. The A's finally got a run off Carlos Silva in the fourth on a line drive to right center by Emil Brown that Ichiro and Willie Bloomquist had trouble coralling. By the time Ichiro got the ball back in, Jack Cust had scored from first and Brown was standing on third with a generously-awarded triple.

Silva is only at about 70 pitches through five, so it looks like he'll go seven innings again barring a disastrous inning.

7:58 p.m.: Seattle just put up a five-spot in the third off an erratic-looking Lenny DiNardo, who was knocked from the game. The M's forced the issue by drawing three walks in the inning, all of them in key situations. Jose Lopez and Raul Ibanez notched their second singles of the night with one out to get the rally going. Adrian Beltre then drew a walk to load the bases and Jose Vidro cashed in two runs with a single to left. Vidro looked like Kirk Gibson -- circa 1988 -- hobbling down to first base after the hit. He's obviously in a lot of pain. We'll see if he stays in the game. Not sure what the problem is.

Greg Norton then drew another walk to load the bases and Kenji Johjima took a 3-1 pitch for a ball to force in a third run and end DiNardo's night. Kirk Saarloos came on to pitch and Willie Bloomquist then hit a double-play grounder, but used his speed to beat the throw to first and allow another run to score. Yuniesky Betancourt then singled to right to make it 5-0.

Carlos Silva breezed through the bottom of the inning, despite a Norton fielding error with one out. Silva erased that on a double-play grounder by Travis Buck.

7:33 p.m.: A perfect second inning by Carlos Silva, who has retired six batters -- including four via groundouts and one on a popout. We heard last night about how the A's hitters changed their normally patient approach and swung early in the count once Felix Hernandez showed he could land first-pitch strikes. Same thing appears to be happening tonight. Here's the thing: this Oakland team can't hit. So, if you're a pitcher, just throw the ball for strikes and dare them to do something with it. There's no Nick Swisher, no Eric Chavez around to punish pitchers who put the ball over the plate. Strategy seems to be working for the M's so far.

7:22 p.m.: Raul Ibanez looked a little sluggish diving for that two-out double to left center by Daric Barton in the first. But nothing comes of it as Jack Cust grounds out meekly to second. Ibanez had one of two Seattle singles in the top of the inning -- Jose Lopez getting the other -- but Adrian Beltre struck out and Jose Vidro grounded out to third. Scoreless after one.

7:08 p.m.: Carlos Silva tries to go at least seven innings for the fourth consecutive start. Lenny DiNardo goes for the Oakland A's, facing an M's lineup in which both Richie Sexson and Brad Wilkerson are sitting out. First start for Greg Norton, taking Sexson's spot at first base.

I asked John McLaren earlier for his feelings on the infield defense so far. McLaren had opined that he felt Yuniesky Betancourt should have held that ball last night instead of making a rushed throw that eluded Sexson at first base and led to an unearned run. Feels that Betancourt and Adrian Beltre make so many spectacular fielding plays that they sometimes mess up by trying to do too much rather than just the smart thing. Something to watch for.

McLaren feels the infield D is better than what's been shown. But he blamed the cooler weather for some of the mistakes that have been made so far.

"I think basically, considering the weather and everything, we've done OK,'' he said. "We've had a couple of breakdowns. I think once the weather warms up, they'll start being the defensive club we know they are.''

MARINERS (8-8)

51 Ichiro CF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
28 Raul Ibanez LF
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
3 Jose Vidro DH
10 Greg Norton 1B
2 Kenji Johjima C
16 Willie Bloomquist RF
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS

52 Carlos Silva RHP


ATHLETICS (9-7)

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

25 Lenny DiNardo LHP

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