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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 26, 2008 8:32 PM

Oakland Athletics at Mariners: 4/26 game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

ath0426 015.jpg

8:32 p.m.: Arthur Rhodes did his job tonight, bailing the Mariners out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning. A nice start by Erik Bedard, who threw 6 2/3 shutout frames, leaving with two on, two out and a 3-0 lead. Sean Green came in and walked Jack Cust to load the bases -- not what his team needed in that situation. But Rhodes comes through with the strikeout on pinch-hitter Ryan Sweeney, flailing badly at a 1-2 pitch low and away. Mike Sweeney finally put Oakland on the scoreboard, tagging Brandon Morrow deep to left with two out in the eighth. So, it's now 3-1. If you're going to give up a homer, doing it with a three-run lead, no one on and one out to go until J.J. Putz isn't the worst time.

Mariners manager John McLaren (pictured below), as we mentioned earlier, is growing tired of waiting for his hitters to produce. The season is now almost four weeks old. I told you I thought mid-May might be the cutoff point for some guys, but McLaren is already trying to send a message of sorts. I asked him why Jose Vidro wasn't playing tonight and Greg Norton was.

"I want to keep Norton in the mix,'' he said. "I've talked to Jose Vidro about it. We need to get some guys going. Like I said, we're a month into the season now and if we've got to pinch-hit for people we're going to pinch-hit for people. We've gone far enough. We've given everyone an opportunity. This game is about winning. It's not about me being everybody's best friend. It's me doing best for the Seattle Mariners and for the ballclub.''

ath0426 011.jpg

7:53 p.m.: Greg Norton is quickly becoming a fan favorite here after just notching his second single of the night to drive home Adrian Beltre in the sixth. Seattle has a 3-0 lead and Norton is now 5-for-11 on the season. He won't keep that up every day, but for tonight, he's getting the job done. This team has parts it can move around. If players don't hit, they could find themselves sitting more and more. Sitting Jose Vidro for Norton was a small move made by John McLaren, but it's paid immediate dividends.

Another guy on the "Hot Seat''? Brad Wilkerson, who's hit three weak-looking grounders tonight. One of them became a run-scoring infield hit, but it was a bit of a fluke more than anything.

Erik Bedard has thrown 81 pitches through six shutout innings. Looking like the ace this team traded for. Not a bad comeback start off the DL. This should be his thoughest hitting with the middle of the order due up. Sean Green and Arthur Rhodes warming up in the bullpen.

7:31 p.m.: It's now a 2-0 game, M's still leading, after the fifth inning. Seattle added a run in the bottom of the fourth as Brad Wilkerson nubbed one off the bat handle towards shortstop for an infield hit to score Greg Norton from third. Norton opened the inning with a single, followed by a Richie Sexson double to left. Wilkerson then got the ball in play just slowly enough that shortstop Bobby Crosby couldn't barehand it. A double-play grounder by Jamie Burke ended the inning and yet another chance to score with a runner on third and less than two out.

Erik Bedard made a big pitch in the fifth after a leadoff double by Crosby and a walk to Donnie Murphy put two on with one out. Bedard broke the bat of No. 9 hitter Rajai Davis and got him to hit a double play grounder to Yuniesky Betancourt.

7:13 p.m.: The Mariners lead 1-0 after scoring a run in the bottom of the third on a Yuniesky Betancourt double and an Ichiro single up the middle. Erik Bedard had a 1-2-3 fourth inning with three ground ball outs. He's yet to allow a hit (only two walks) in the four innings. So far, other than some control issues (more due to rust than anything else I'd suspect) he seems to be throwing the ball well with no obvious pain. Truth is, this A's team can't hit. Score some runs and Seattle should take two of three with Felix Hernandez going tomorrow. It's time for the M's to end this Oakland charade. A team with a lineup as popgun as the A's have should not be 15-9. There's just no way. The pitching is OK in Oakland, but it's hardly Cy Young Award stuff.

6:47 p.m.: Three innings in the books for Erik Bedard, who has thrown 46 pitches so far -- 22 of them in the third inning. A couple of control issues, leading to a pair of walks, but seems to be handling the A's hitters quite well. We've seen this Oakland squad before. Challenge their hitters and chances are, they won't respond very competitively.

6:16 p.m.: Sorry about the late post. The internet feed from Safeco Field is terrible tonight. They are trying to figure out the problem. Until then, I can tell you both teams went 1-2-3 in their half of the first inning. A good showing by Erik Bedard, who needed only seven pitches to get through the first on a popout to center and two ground balls.

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Posted by Corey Miller

6:25 PM, Apr 26, 2008

Bedard looks good so far...nice speed and good movement in on the right handers.

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

6:30 PM, Apr 26, 2008

great to see bedard back. time for the ace to show up in a big way!

Posted by matt "Disgruntled Mariner Fan"

6:39 PM, Apr 26, 2008

"It's me doing best for the Seattle Mariners and for the ballclub.''

Then turn in your resignation.

Bedard looks good so far!

Posted by Corey Miller

6:50 PM, Apr 26, 2008

That last strikeout pitch...that was definately a "My #&!* dont stink" pitch...niceeeeeeeeeeee

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

7:10 PM, Apr 26, 2008

geoff,

is mac letting bedard go for the no-hitter tonight, or is he done after 7 or 8 no matter what since this is his first start in awhile?

Posted by Babu

7:27 PM, Apr 26, 2008

Tallahassee, my friend, you mentioned the no-hitter and immediately Bobby Crosby got a hit. Jinxed it! Next time, slide down the bench and don't look at or talk to the pitcher, and don't say the no-no word!

Posted by AKMarinersFAn

7:29 PM, Apr 26, 2008

Truth is, this A's team can't hit. Score some runs and Seattle should take two of three with Felix Hernandez going tomorrow. It's time for the M's to end this Oakland charade. A team with a lineup as popgun as the A's have should not be 15-9. There's just no way.

You're right Geoff, the A's have a very poor hitting team. Of course they lead the Mariners in most offensive categories....

The pitching is OK in Oakland, but it's hardly Cy Young Award stuff.

Hmmm..the A's have a team ERA of 3.18. I am not an expert like you Geoff, but I think that might be pretty good. That Rich Harden guy isn't too bad...maybe even Cy Young stuff?

Posted by Ben

7:42 PM, Apr 26, 2008

Geoff, i think it may be time that you just ignored all posts from readers including me... what do you say? I like reading your updates and analysis, but the arguments that go on between the posters can be awful at times.

The world seems to be ending for most people here... people need to relax.

Posted by scottM

7:54 PM, Apr 26, 2008

With the Angel's losing, can the M's hold on and get to within 3 games back of both the A's and LAAngels?

Is Bedard for real? Tonight, YES!

Is Norton for real? Tonight, YES!

Posted by rc

7:56 PM, Apr 26, 2008

Where is everybody?

Posted by KC

7:59 PM, Apr 26, 2008

Can anyone remember a ball that Brad Wilkerson has hit hard yet this season? Usually when a guy has a lousy average, at least he hits the ball hard right at someone occasionally. Seems like all he hits is weak ground balls and routine pop-ups.

Posted by Batter Up!!!

8:05 PM, Apr 26, 2008

Say what you will Geoff; it is your blog. I'm more than happy to see Mac's comments tonight. However, if you keep sending Sexson & Wilkerson up there what you are going to get is exactly what you have been getting, Nothing!!! Oh you may get a hit and even a dinger every now and then but you are going to have .200 hitters. You are right about diversification being a good thing. So let's diversify the offence before it's too late.

Very nice work by Bedard!

Posted by Jeff

8:05 PM, Apr 26, 2008

What! Greg Norton a fan favorite? Quick, get Vidro back in there. We don't want a veteran to get a complex and actually think he might lose his job, do we?

Posted by xarmyguy78

8:26 PM, Apr 26, 2008

Wow nice catch there by Raul in the 8th

Posted by Dan Mellen

8:31 PM, Apr 26, 2008

Damnit, Geoff. Do you ever say anything other than "Bill Bavasi is perfect. Every move he makes brings me closer to the realization that there is a God and Bill Bavasi is his name?" Bedard's making an okay first start back from the DL, but he's not pitching like "the ace this team traded for (of course, for an ace to be worth what this team traded, he'd probably have to be God)." If he's gonna be our ace, he needs to get his strike outs back up and his walks way down. Of course, his groundballs are high and he's been tough to make hard contact against. It's not a bad start, but he needs to get his walks down. Not every team sucks this much. Some of them will take advantage of these walks.
Geoff, will you ever say anthing negative about a move Bill makes? I've seen you discuss the team struggling, but I've never seen you say that Bill actually caused the struggles by doing a shitty job of putting this team together. What's up with that?

Posted by Frito Bandito

8:34 PM, Apr 26, 2008

"What! Greg Norton a fan favorite? Quick, get Vidro back in there. We don't want a veteran to get a complex and actually think he might lose his job, do we?"
Fear not my friend. As strange as it is, on this team, a hot bat will actually get you sat on the bench. (Ask Morse) We'll be seeing Norton in the line up again sometime in late May/early June.

Posted by Batter Up!!!

8:37 PM, Apr 26, 2008

Gee, a DH with a swing extending the lead. What a concept!

Posted by Jeff

8:38 PM, Apr 26, 2008

I feel bad for Norton. That clutch double will probably get him sent down to A ball somewhere.

Posted by HummBaby

9:02 PM, Apr 26, 2008

Here's an idea to get Wilkerson's bat out of the lineup, as long as Mac insists in leaving the veteran in right field. Let the pitcher hit for himself, and the DH (Norton) can hit for Wilkerson. :-) Don't laught...I'm sure it would be an improvement.

Posted by Choska

9:19 PM, Apr 26, 2008

4 weeks into the season and they are figuring out that Vidro and Wilkerson can't hit.

The Ms management are, relative to the vast majority of people in Seattle, extremely well paid.

Yet I knew that Vidro and Wilkerson couldn't hit by reading USS Mariner, for FREE, and picking up a copy of LAST YEAR'S Baseball Prospectus at Half-Price books.

Today's game changes nothing. We still got taken to the cleaners in that trade which will cripple this organization for the next 5 years.

Posted by dawn2

9:35 PM, Apr 26, 2008

Today's brilliant pitching performance by Bedard was almost blown by Putz's poor performance. Thank Heavens for Greg Norton (and McLaren's sound decision to bench Vidro) to insert more pop and timely hitting into the middle of the previous inept Mariners' lineup. Let us hope that McLaren continues to ride the hot bat of Norton and bring in Jeremy Reed or Ballentine to replace ineffective Brad Wilkerson. Time has run out to continue with the void in the middle of the Mariners' lineup.

Posted by kingk

12:23 AM, Apr 27, 2008

Bedard's making an okay first start back from the DL, but he's not pitching like "the ace this team traded for (of course, for an ace to be worth what this team traded, he'd probably have to be God)." If he's gonna be our ace, he needs to get his strike outs back up and his walks way down.

Great analysis asshole..what were you watching?

Posted by kingk

12:25 AM, Apr 27, 2008

Today's game changes nothing. We still got taken to the cleaners in that trade which will cripple this organization for the next 5 years

Hey Nostardamus That's just stupid

Posted by kingk

12:30 AM, Apr 27, 2008

Todays performance by Bedard was subpar if we had anybody else except Mcaren and that terrible pitching coach Mel Stottelmyre....if only we still had Adam Jones and Sherrill and the 3 minor leaugers we would be 24-0...Morons i am so sick of your BS
Even after a performance like that We have to hear your whiny crap... save it

Posted by Chris from Bothell

8:14 AM, Apr 27, 2008

"This game is about winning. It's not about me being everybody's best friend. It's me doing best for the Seattle Mariners and for the ballclub."

Who is this guy and what has he done with John McLaren?

Here's hoping the correct actions back this up. So far so good, from this game - not just Norton but seeing Burke in there as well.

And it's a very good thing that Bedard had the As as his game to shake the rust off, and not a better-hitting team.

Posted by Corey Miller

11:24 AM, Apr 27, 2008

Ok someone call Geoff and wake him up....I am in need of my fix before the game...lol.

Geoff I hope this doesnt range in the too personal businness but what is your typical day during the week and weekend like when you have to cover the Mariners?

I look forward to reading your blogs and following the game threads so I am just trying to figure out when you usually post before the games. I would hate to go get my fix from the P.I....LOL

Thanks!

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