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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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June 9, 2008 9:31 PM

M's win...barely

Posted by Geoff Baker

bluejays0609 019.jpg

The Toronto Blue Jays loaded the bases with none out on J.J. Putz, but he gets out of it. Putz notched a 3-2-3 double-play grounder on Lyle Overbay to move a huge step closer to the escape. He then reloaded the bases by walking Marco Scutaro on four pitches, bringing David Eckstein to the plate. Eckstein then pops a 2-2 pitch to center field for the final out in the photo above. That's what you call getting a teammate off the hook. Right fielder Wladimir Balentien had muffed a line drive for an error to get the inning started. But Putz bails him out.

Putz could not seem to throw a first-pitch strike. But the M's hang on to win 3-2. They did not have a hit after the sixth inning, but five walks in the ninth and 10th, not to mention the suicide squeeze by Miguel Cairo, pushes the one run they needed across.

For those of you asking about Brandon Morrow, he's had a sore shoulder the past few days. Yes, that was my reaction as well. But we're told he's been throwing and that he should be available tomorrow. In other words, nothing serious. Sean Green was also taxed from yesterday's game in Boston, so that's why Miguel Batista came in.

By the way, that "hit'' awarded to Vernon Wells was later, rightfully, changed to a throwing error on Yuniesky Betancourt. So, Batista did not get charged with allowing an inherited runner to score. And Mark Lowe gets to earned run against.

Speaking of mistakes, Jeremy Reed was indeed pulled out of the game by manager John McLaren for getting picked off base in the sixth. It took McLaren until the bottom of the seventh to make the move, but he left little doubt why he did it.

"I pulled him out,'' McLaren said. "We talked about it before the game and stuff. I'm not trying to embarrass anybody but we've got to wake up and play the game the way it's supposed to be played.''

McLaren added: "He was picked off by a pretty good ways.''

McLaren held a pre-game meeting with his players to discuss the Jeff Pentland firing and the rest of the season.

"I just emphasized to them that we've got to get back to a situation where we can feel good about ourselves,'' he said.

R.A. Dickey, who tossed two scoreless innings for his first win since 2005, said the meeting was positive.

"I think it was well-received,'' he said. "It wasn't a brow-beating meeting. I don't want to sound corny, but it was kind of a share-your-heart meeting. We have almost 100 games left and we can do something.''

Dickey added that the clubhouse tension had been highly noticeable.

"You'd better believe it -- thick,'' he said. "It didn’t make for a fun clubhouse when you're coming in and getting your butt kicked.''

The tension was obviously eased by the win. The players were laughing, boisterous and more-relaxed afterwards. It's not that they think they won the World Series. But they at least won't have to be miserable on this one night. Miguel Cairo likely bought himself more playing time with his work on that suicide squeeze and on defense for that double-play in the 10th.

"You've just got to make sure you see the ball and put it in play,'' Cairo said of getting down the one-out bunt that final inning to bring pinch-runner Willie Bloomquist sprinting home from third. "It was a tough pitch, too. I just put the ball in-play and I'm lucky I got out in front of it.''

And be honest, with the bases loaded and none out in the 10th, weren't you all a little relieved to see Cairo scooping that grounder up for the key fielding play of the night?

"I'm not afraid to screw up,'' Cairo said, adding he never hesitated in aggressively attacking the ball. "If you're afraid, you don't belong here.''

No, Cairo isn't the greatest to play this game. But I'll tell you what: he plays it right. There's a reason he's lasted this long in the majors. Plenty of guys on this team -- young and old -- can learn from him. You rarely see him making boneheaded plays out there. For a guy with his minimal talent, he puts it to good use. The M's need more players like him -- more of their "talented" players -- to play the game the way he does. Until they do, there won't be any championship banners raised in Seattle.


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