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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 20, 2008 3:08 PM

Mariners at Los Angeles Angels: 4/20 game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

angells3 003.jpg

3:08 p.m.: John McLaren did indeed let Miguel Batista head back out for the eighth. Batista notched two quick outs on a Gary Matthews Jr. grounder and a Vlad Guerrero flyball to right. Garret Anderson then singled up the middle and McLaren went to Arthur Rhodes in the bullpen. You know what that means here in Anaheim. A pitching change, runner on, the home side losing and time to kill? You guessed it...

angells3 014.jpg

Rally Monkey time. Where normally sane adults and their kids start waving around multi-colored capuchin monkeys while leaping about to the tune of Naughty by Nature's classic (use term loosely here) "Jump Around!" tune. Anyway, the gambit failed, because Rhodes struck out Casey Kotchman. On to the ninth.

Remember, don't forget to take your video tour of Angel Stadium down below:


2:48 p.m.: Miguel Batista is through seven innings, giving up a leadoff single to Maicer Izturis, but later fanning a pair. That's nine strikeouts for Batista so far, the most he's had since notching 11 with the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 6, 2006. Actually, scratch that. We've just been told he only has eight Ks today, which makes me feel better because I'd previously written he had only six before the two this past inning. M's still lead 4-0 as we enter the eighth. Brandon Morrow is warming up in the bullpen. Arthur Rhodes now up as well. Let's see if John McLaren allows Batista back out there, with a pitch count at 101. Batista can go into the teens once he passes the century mark. But you've also got the big power hitters coming up. I'd maybe give him a batter or two. Only two hits off him -- both singles -- by the Big Three of Gary Matthews Jr., Vlad Guerrero and Garret Anderson. Both by Guerrero.

angells3 010.jpg

2:32 p.m.: Miguel Batista is through six innings on just 89 pitches. We could see him go seven today, since he's got the bottom third of the order due up next frame. Batista went seven innings only six times all of last season, including twice in the final month. So, this is big. He's up 4-0 as we head to the top of the seventh. M's actually just went 1-2-3 in their half, so it's the seventh-inning stretch, seen above. Batista back out on the mound.

angells3 006.jpg

2:18 p.m.: Make that six strikeouts in five scoreless innings for Miguel Batista. He's dialed-in today, looking a lot more like the guy we saw in 2007. The M's needed this. They still aren't scoring runs in droves. But the pitching is giving them a chance to win. Not as many fans here today, but still a hefty 43,631 (considered a sellout despite the empty seats visible throughout the ballpark.)

2:09 p.m.: Willie Bloomquist singled to open the fifth and Ichiro tripled to right center to bring him home. Jose Lopez then cashed-in Ichiro with a single looped to right field, making it a 4-0 lead for the Mariners. Seattle could have blown the game open even wider that inning after a Raul Ibanez single put two on with nine out. But Adrian Beltre struck out, Jose Vidro tapped out to first base. Richie Sexson then worked yet another full-count walk to load the bases. Los Angeles then pulled starter Dustin Moseley in favor of right hander Darren O'Day, who gor Brad Wilkerson to ground out to second. This team does not do things the easy way on offense.

1:38 p.m.: Lots of runners stranded by both teams in the third inning. Seattle put runners at second and third with only one out in the top of the frame, but saw Adrian Beltre rap a ball to third baseman Chone Figgins -- resulting in lead runner Ichiro getting caught in a rundown and ruled out when he brokehis baseline to avoid a tag. That left runners at the corners and Jose Vidro promptly grounded out to second to end the threat.

Things gor dicey for Miguel Batista in the bottom of the frame. A leadoff infield single by Erick Aybar was erased by a double play lineout to Beltre at third. But Batista then walked Gary Matthews Jr. and yielded a single to left by Vlad Guerrero. That brought the dangerous Garret Anderson to the plate, but he swung and missed at a 2-2 offering from Batista to end the inning. This is vintage Batista today. Lots of runners, but no runs allowed so far. What he did in most games over six innings for much of last year. Still a 2-0 lead for the M's after three.

1:08 p.m.: Richie Sexson goes deep to left in the second inning after a leadoff walk by Adrian Beltre (yes, the M's actually got a leadoff guy on base to start an inning). So, it's a 2-0 game heading to the bottom of the second. Brad Wilkerson also notched an extra-base hit that frame, lacing a double just past the first base bag and down the right field line. He needs to get it going. Another guy in that latter category, Jose Vidro, looked to have teed off big on Angels starter Dustin Moseley, drilling a ball to right center. But as was the case with so many Mariner fly balls last night, this one hung up and died in mid-flight.

12:44 p.m.: Raul Ibanez grounds out (photo opposite page) to end a 1-2-3 first inning by the Mariners. A very meek first inning. The M's are giving Yuniesky Betancourt a rest today. He's had some troubles at times -- slipping and falling last night while trying to make a tough play on an infield hit -- and looks a little tired. Willie Bloomquist takes his spot.

As many of you have pointed out, Frank Thomas was released by the Toronto Blue Jays today. The Blue Jays now are on-the-hook for the remainder of his two-year, $18-million salary. Teams can express interest to Thomas during the next 48 hours, the time it will take for him to clear waivers. After that, they are allowed to discuss money with him. He can technically be had for the major league minimum this year. But I'm sure Thomas will be looking for some guaranteed money next year. That's the part that worries me.

I've been hearing, from folks in Toronto, that Thomas was not in the same physical shape this year that he was last. If that's the case, that sets off major alarm bells for me, especially when it's considered Thomas is going to be turning 40. (Actually, cancel that -- just checked with some folks who clarified the situation a little better. They said it isn't so much Thomas's conditioning, but more that the Blue Jays simply felt he'd "lost it'' over the winter. Hey, it happens to guys that age. Look at Edgar Martinez). I'm not worried about the clubhouse cancer reputation. Thomas would no doubt be on his best behavior coming over. And, as blogger Brett Miller pointed out to me in an email today, Thomas's batting average on balls put into play (BAbip) is only .159. Remember, that .290 is considered normal. It would seem to suggest Thomas has been the victim of bad luck. His walks and strikeout rates are roughly the same as they've been in the past.

These are all positive signs. That said, I'd be leery of committing too much future money to a guy who may have loaded up his body for one big payday, which the Blue Jays forked over, only to coast now that he's got the cash coming in. Or, if he's simply "lost it'' his strong numbers from 2007 won't matter at all. Thomas also seemed very interested in his 2009 option money. Why does he need the option that badly? He's got millions already. What are his motivations? These are questions I'd be asking if I was a front office type looking to take a seven (or even eight) figure gamble on a guy. It didn't take long for him to sound off this season once his playing time was cut. And don't forget, the M's are in the same option territory with Jose Vidro. You don't want to offload Vidro and his 2009 option, only to replace it with an even bigger potential money-eater in Thomas if he can't produce.

So, I'd do my due dilligence on this. Make sure there aren't any conditioning concerns or money issues outside of ego involved here (and I have no evidence there is on the money side, I'm just saying what I'd do). I'd check out some 2008 videos to see the timing of his swing, or other signs that his approach is significantly off from previous years. If there aren't and you can get Thomas for a reasonable price (significantly less than Vidro's option for 2009), I'd say go for it. But any of those other red flags come up? Take a pass.

By the way, early word on Wladimir Balentien, who slammed his knee into some concrete last night while attempting a sliding catch, is that there are no broken bones or torn ligaments. He'll be re-evaluated today, but that's obviously a big relief for the team.

The lineups:

MARINERS (9-10)

51 Ichiro CF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
28 Raul Ibanez LF
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
3 Jose Vidro DH
44 Richie Sexson 1B
6 Brad Wilkerson RF
2 Kenji Johjima C
16 Willie Bloomquist SS

43 Miguel Batista RHP


ANGELS (12-7)

9 Chone Figgins 3B
24 Gary Matthews Jr. CF
27 Vladimir Guerrero RF
16 Garret Anderson LF
35 Casey Kotchman 1B
21 Juan Rivera DH
6 Maicer Izturis 2B
44 Mike Napoli C
2 Erick Aybar SS

58 Dustin Moseley RHP


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Posted by Nay Laren

12:41 PM, Apr 20, 2008

What's this? Wilkerson's blooper and he's in right again tonight? Way to go McLaren! lol

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

1:22 PM, Apr 20, 2008

You don't want to offload Vidro and his 2009 option, only to replace it with an even bigger potential money-eater in Thomas if he can't produce.

Exactly, bring up Jeff Clement to DH.

Posted by Turbo

1:31 PM, Apr 20, 2008

How about that Turdo in shades? Weak grounder to first. lol

Posted by Mr. X

1:33 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Another "baserunning clinic" by Ichiro.

Posted by Corey Miller

1:33 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Excellent baserunning by Ichiro...groundball to the 3rd baseman and he runs!!!

Posted by Corey Miller

1:36 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Ok Batista and Wash reached 94 on the radar at Angels stadium?? I bet the LAPD would love to have that gun on the highway...tickets galore...lol

Posted by Gator Bait

1:47 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Will the real Brad Wilkerson please stand ... and look. lol

Posted by SB Kevin

1:49 PM, Apr 20, 2008

I know its vogue to pile on Wilkerson right now, but in addition to his poor hitting and throwing, I've noticed his routes to fly balls are questionable. Erratic and uncoordinated zig-zagging. There have been at least 2 instances where he has not even made it to the warning track on lofty flies that should be caught by a ML right fielder, very frustrating.

I can't even watch the game today, I am in Santa Barbara so FSNW is blocked out and the local feed is off a local LA station that only transmits to LA and OC counties. Sucks.

I was at the game Friday night and was just a few feet away from the pen while Dickey was warming up with Joh right before game time. Kenji was having a TOUGH time catching the knuckle balls, with at least one missing his glove COMPLETELY. I believe that is why he called for a fastball on Hunter in the first inning. Triple. 3 runs. Game over. Dickey admitted later he wanted to throw the knuckle there.

Hasn't there been at least one other complaint by a pitcher this year about Kenji's pitch calling? I know its the pitcher's right to shake him off, but still, Dickey is counting on the veteran to direct him properly.

I am fired up on Sexson this series! Must be a contract year.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

1:50 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Re: Ichiro - see, this is what I was harping on the other day. He's not thinking about routine plays. Longer routes than usual to the ball when fielding, and now the baserunning blunder @ 3rd. Dude needs a mental day off.

Slot him into DH and throw... um... oh, wait, we don't have a backup center fielder. Uh oh.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

1:52 PM, Apr 20, 2008

And oh by the way, can we have Sexson's glove from 2007 and his bat from this year?

Posted by Turbo Charged

1:55 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Lets put Turbo in center... show our bench flexibility. lol

Posted by Crow

1:58 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Caw, Caw, Caw, Ca.... ugh,

Posted by Corey Miller

1:59 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Now that was a nice triple...and no baserunning mistake...lol

Niceeeee

Time to break it open...a nice lopsided win will take away some of the sting.

Posted by scottM

1:59 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Finally, the batters (other than Sexson who's been great) are taking advantage of RISP. Hope they don't let up now!

Posted by Nay Laren

2:03 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Time for the Angels to save their bullpen... suppose Bad Vlad can pitch?

Posted by Corey Miller

2:03 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Sexson is going yard again...I'm calling it.

Posted by thebruin

2:04 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Its gonna be a long year for the Mariners if our own fans start harping on Ichiro.... wow.... MLB scouts say he is the best in the Majors in following categories: hitting, bat control, baserunning, outfielder, and outfield arm.

He made a mistake man, it happens... Ichiro is a phenomenal baserunner. Let it go.

Posted by Nat

2:04 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Pretty good hitting and baserunning for Ichiro this time around!

I don't mind liistening to the Ichiro complaints altogether b/c like anyone else he's not immune from criticism. And Chris, your comments on Ichiro recently have made me look at him more closely.

But the rest of you haven't forgotten his record over the last seven years, have you? As I recall except for one year he doesn't begin to warm up til May or June. And then he's the fabulous player that most of us love and admire!

Posted by Crow

2:06 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Bruin - that's what the crow said!

Posted by Corey Miller

2:07 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Look at that...ok I missed the yard call but Richie is really working the counts this year. I gotta say its great to see.

Posted by Crow

2:09 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Good eye Richie!

Posted by Nay Laren

2:10 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Now for some Gator Bait... lol

Posted by Corey Miller

2:12 PM, Apr 20, 2008

OMFG!!! I can't use any of the explitives I wanted to when describing Wilkerson because its a family blog. Lets just say he is a I&(%*^** PATHETIC EXCUSE FOR A MAJOR LEAGUER!!!

Phewwwww...ok so now thats out of the way not a bad inning...productive run production with 5 straight hits and the walk by Richie.

Posted by scottM

2:13 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Another meek offering from Wilkerson. I thought the guy was supposed to have some left-handed power. That dribbler and all those weak pop-ups are becoming an ugly routine. How much more of this will the M's put up with?

Posted by Gator Bait

2:15 PM, Apr 20, 2008

RE: Wilkerson - How much more of it must we have to put up with?

Posted by Renaissance Man

2:19 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Miguel!

Posted by Nat

2:20 PM, Apr 20, 2008

scottM - re: Wilkerson, that IS a good question. I wish McLaren would give us some indication about that. Or maybe he has, and I didn't see it. ???

Batista is really pitching up to expectations today!

Posted by ethan

2:28 PM, Apr 20, 2008

RE: Wilkerson

whens the last time youve seen the Bush administration fire anyone? you simply ride out 8 years of ineffectual and incompetent individuals.

Posted by First Son

2:28 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Maybe Ichiro is just worried about having to cover too much ground - given the right and left fielder - no offense intended to Raul.

Posted by W gone

2:31 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Now that's perceptive Ethan - time for a change in that other Washington

Posted by Nat

2:35 PM, Apr 20, 2008

First son: No kidding - what a burden Ichiro must carry on his shoulders!

Posted by BavasiRocks

2:36 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Great job today Miguel! That's what I like to see out of a 5th starter!

Posted by Nay Laren

2:41 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Fingers crossed, lets hope McLaren doesn't find a way to screw this up.

Posted by Renaissance Man

2:45 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Miggie!

Posted by Batter Up!!!

2:47 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Great job Miguel Batista!!!

Posted by Turbo Charged

2:49 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Turbo in shades... maybe that pop up well get him going... whadda ya think McLaren?

Posted by Nat

2:52 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Wow, another double from Wilkerson! He's gonna have to hit A LOT more doubles though before I stop cringing every time he comes up to bat...

Posted by Nay Laren

2:53 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Pinch runner ... novel idea Mac, when did you come up with that?

Posted by Corey Miller

2:53 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Now I like that Yuni pinch run move...good job by Mac.

Posted by TimsHead

2:55 PM, Apr 20, 2008

DFA Sexson! He can't hit any more! Trade Batista! He's too old!

Oh, wait ... thought this was still last week. Never mind. My bad.

Go Mariners!

Posted by scottM

2:57 PM, Apr 20, 2008

What a perfect example of clutch VS choke. Wilkerson has two doubles today with two outs and no one on. With the bases loaded he chokes. What's so hard about the concept? His doubles contributed nothing to the run total, his choke contributed nothing to the run total. Those cheerleaders, Sims and Blowers, can applaud Wilkerson all they want for going two for two, but he contributed nothing today when it mattered.

Posted by scottM

2:59 PM, Apr 20, 2008

two for four, that is

Posted by Nat

2:59 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Wow, Batista is really dialed in - gotta give him some love today!

Posted by Nay Laren

3:01 PM, Apr 20, 2008

You got that right Scott M!

TimsHead, I do not recall anyone calling to trade Batista.

Sexson must be listening... reading the blog... it is a contract year, yo.

Posted by Corey Miller

3:17 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Wow I remember the days when I could shut off the TV with a lead in the 9th and not worry about it.

Now Im chewing my nails...come back JJ!!!

Posted by Babu

3:17 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Credit where credit is due: Miguel came through today when it mattered -- so the Ms have a chance at staying at .500, and at .500 with the Angels. What a line from the 5th starter: 7.2 innings of shutout ball against the division leaders, 8 strikeouts, only 1 walk. Go Miguel! And please please please, bullpen, don't spoil this terrific outing.

And the bench got used today! (Checking for signs of a disturbance in the space-time continuum.)

Posted by eagoldb

3:17 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Geoff, "Jump Around" is not by Naughty By Nature. It's by House of Pain.

Posted by Mr. X

3:18 PM, Apr 20, 2008

"MLB scouts say he is the best in the Majors in following categories: hitting, bat control, baserunning, outfielder, and outfield arm."

LOL

Ichiro is one of the worst baserunners on the team, so he can't be the best in the Majors at it. This isn't a new thing with him either, he led the majors in baserunning outs the other year. People have just overlooked it because he's Ichiro. Now that he's struggling in other areas, it's being noticed more (by others).

Posted by Crow

3:22 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Sit down, shut up Scioscia! Nice play Lowe!

Posted by scottM

3:23 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Lowe's quick underhanded throw for an out was more impressive, so far, than his overhanded ones to the plate.

hold on tight!

Bases loaded.

Posted by The X Factor

3:24 PM, Apr 20, 2008

X, when did you dodge that wheel, thought you were flattened for life - remember grab on with both hands and let it roll right over you.

Posted by Corey Miller

3:24 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Ok here we gooooooooo

Posted by Nay Laren

3:27 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Johnny Mac, you think you can give it away?

Posted by i heart Morse

3:27 PM, Apr 20, 2008

i like the move for Morrow. you gotta face Vlad with a power righty...might as well be a fresh arm. let's see if it pans out...

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

3:27 PM, Apr 20, 2008

where's eric o'flaherty when you need him...

Posted by Nat

3:29 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Mr. X Been reading your anti-Ichiro comments for years on this and other blogs - your bias against him is VERY apparent. Can't take what you say seriously in this regard-

C'mon, Brandon!!!

Posted by Nay Laren

3:30 PM, Apr 20, 2008

IHM - Let him - Lowe - walk two and then you put yourself into this position - who said a few walks doesn't matter.

Posted by Frankie

3:32 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Someone kill me...

Posted by Nay Laren

3:34 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Mac - Wasn't it Lou who said "throw strikes, get outs!"

Or Dizzy Dean - "Bases on Balls will kill you."

Posted by Batter Up!!!

3:37 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Huge Win..........

Posted by fish93

3:38 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Anyone miss JJ yet, and how much longer until Balentine comes up for Wilkerson

Posted by Nay Laren

3:38 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Miggie, Miggie, Miggie!

Got one in Anahiem - who whimpered today?

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

3:39 PM, Apr 20, 2008

that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we are fans.

Posted by i heart Morse

3:39 PM, Apr 20, 2008

big, big, big time pitches by RRS...he looks outstanding in pressure situations.

gotta give credit to Mac for setting up the right (if obvious) mathups.

Posted by Chuck

3:39 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Lowe left in too long--thanks Mac

RRS comes through. Yeah!

Posted by Nat

3:40 PM, Apr 20, 2008

RRS - my hero!!! I would call that clutch!

And even better, NO win for the Angels today!

Posted by SB Kevin

3:40 PM, Apr 20, 2008

I say Silva spends the off day tomorrow training the bull pen how to throw strikes.

Posted by Mr. X

3:41 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Saying that Ichiro has lead the majors in baserunning outs isn't "anit-Ichiro", it's a fact. Good baserunners don't do things like that. Ask any objective baseball person, and they'll tell you that baserunning is one of Ichiro's few weaknesses (besides power and leadership)

Nice to meet you, Nat. It's always good to meet my silent fans.

Posted by scottM

3:41 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Again, clutch VS choke.

Clutch: can you say Ryan Rowland Smith in down under over and outback!!!!!

Take note, Adam.

Posted by Nay Laren

3:41 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Mac - setting up the right and obvious matchup - just stick with your wild closer and you have to go to someone who can get the job done - RRS

Credit for nothing

Posted by The X Factor

3:44 PM, Apr 20, 2008

X - silent fans cause you're a ghost and you know what that means - getta...

Posted by Nat

3:48 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Mr. X - just sayin- you've documented your feelings about Ichiro extensively over the years. Always struck me as some kind of ballplayer envy.

Ichiro's a five-tool player, and I love watching him play, even moreso when he's in full season MO, so why would you call me a fan of yours?

Way to come back today, boys!

Posted by Mr. X

3:53 PM, Apr 20, 2008

I don't have any "feelings" about Ichiro. I just call it like I see it. He's just not my type of player. Nothing personal at all. If it's any consolation, he's doing much better than my 2nd favorite Mariner. (Johjima)

I'm just calling you a fan, because you're talking about what I've done on different forums, and I've never encountered a "Nat" on the other 2 Forums that I used to participate in. What else would you call another person who says "I know your work" when you've never heard of them before. A fan.

Posted by The X Factor

3:57 PM, Apr 20, 2008

You can call me Johnson, you can call me Dick, you can call me Peter, you can call me... or is that what I call you?

Fan ... G.... L....

Posted by Mr. X

4:05 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Oh by the way, 5 tool players have power. "Batting practice power" doesn't count.

Posted by The X Factor

4:07 PM, Apr 20, 2008

X - The wheel of life is rolling get on or is that under it.

Posted by thebej

6:19 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Morrow vs. Linnicum(sp)! Local guy makes good somewhere else! Mariners sure can pick 'em!

Posted by Nat

7:03 PM, Apr 20, 2008

glmuskie- I missed the post-game. What did Batista say?

Posted by hewvis

10:59 PM, Apr 20, 2008

naughty by nature didn't sing jump around

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