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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 18, 2008 11:20 PM

M's win streak snapped

Posted by Geoff Baker

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Torii Hunter is mobbed by teammates after his game-saving catch on a Richie Sexson blast to the wall in the ninth.

Seattle made of game of it in the late-innings, survived some bullpen hijinks, but could not come all the way back in suffering a 5-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. Arthur Rhodes did a fine job of cleaning up after those two hit-batsmen by Sean Green in the seventh, then -- with Mark Lowe's help -- got the M's through the eighth. But the Angels have Francisco Rodriguez back and healthy this series and he took care of things in the ninth after the one-out single by Adrian Beltre.

In the end, this game came down to R.A. Dickey not being able to get Hunter out, or seal the deal when an escape route presented itself. I liked his chances with two on and two out in that sixth and .104-hitting Maicer Izturis at the plate. But Izturis got the hard grounder to the right side, Sexson couldn't make a diving stop and the game was effectively done.

Dickey was particularly upset with himself for not shaking off Kenji Johjima's demand for a fastball with the bases loaded, one out and a 1-2 count on Hunter with the game scoreless in the first.

"In that situation, getting the swings and misses like I was and throwing a pretty good knuckleball from the get-go, I should have just stuck with it,'' Dickey said. "But hindsight's always 20-20, I learned from it. It's kind of the learning curve of this thing. You try not to make the same mistakes twice.''

Yes, Sexson made things interesting with his second homer of the game. But too many other Seattle hitters went AWOL. It would have been quite something had the last Sexson blast gone out and given Seattle the lead.

"I thought it had a chance,'' said Dickey, watching from the dugout. "It wasn't a no-doubter, but I thought it had a chance.


So did Sexson.

"I thought I got enough of it,'' Sexson said. "I think it would have been gone. That's why his glove's got gold on it. He made a great play.''

Mariners manager John McLaren was in a pretty good mood afterwards, considering a loss that dropped his team back down to .500 at 9-9. Seattle now trails the Angels by two in the AL West.

"We showed a little character,'' he said. "We came back. We were down and we came back. We didn't get it done, but like I said, the guys battled and I saw some positives there.''

McLaren's positives included Arthur Rhodes holding things together after coming on with two on and one out in the seventh.

They also included Dickey regaining his composure after the mistake-pitch first inning and retiring 11 of the next 12. Not to mention Sexson bringing his big bat to the park and almost making a game-swinging difference.

"If you look at his Aprils, year-in, and year-out, they're really not much to write home about,'' McLaren said. "We knew coming into the season that, if he didn't come out of the box, everybody would say this is the same thing as last year. But we knew different. Just because of the way he was working, the way he carried himself in spring training. He's getting after it pretty good.''

That's about all I'll say on this game. Just one additional note on something else, McLaren told John Hickey of the Seattle PI and myself to hold off on leaving his office right away. He wanted to update us on the Erik Bedard situation from what he'd said pre-game. What McLaren confirmed was that Bedard had an MRI and that there was inflammation found.

McLaren wouldn't say what was causing the inflammation. Said he doesn't know. I asked him again if it was caused by a labrum problem and he said he didn't know.

So, in essence, we're no closer to figuring out whether that specualtive article in The Hardball Times has any meat to it. I'm reluctant to give credence to anything so speculative, especially from a publication that does not follow the Mariners daily or show up to the clubhouse, or games, on a regular basis. But that's also part of the reason I asked. In this case, it doesn't really matter whether this originated from The Harball Times or the New York Times. From an internet blogger or a journalistic institution. Doesn't matter whether there's any scientific basis to this story, or whether it's just some YouTube watcher's best guess. The story's out there. If the Mariners feel THT is out to lunch, all they have to do is say there is no labrum issue. By not simply denying it flat-out, they are keeping this thing going longer than it has to. It's a simple yes-or-no answer that's required. That's what I figured I'd try to get today. It's not rocket science. If there is no basis to any of this -- and there's a good chance there isn't -- just say so and we can all move on.

Sounds so simple, doesn't it?


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