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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 28, 2008 11:04 PM

Silva lining

Posted by Geoff Baker

padres0628 030.jpg

Yes, this season is lost. And yes, the Mariners spent $48 million over four years to bring in Carlos Silva. But the guy does give you seven innings when he's clicking. And tonight he was. Silva notches his first victory since April 17 in Oakland, a 4-2 win over the San Diego Padres.

Another save for Brandon Morrow, ending the game in the photo above by striking out Khalil Greene on an 86 mph change-up. Morrow had apparently shaken off catcher Jeff Clement's previous two calls for a changeup and gone fastball. The last time, he shook off a fastball and went changeup. Think that crossed Greene up just a little bit? That he wasn't guessing fastball there? Hey, that tuition to send Morrow to UC Berkeley wasn't wasted. It's the first time he's notched saves on consecutive nights. The ninth inning wasn't without drama, as Morrow yielded a one-out single to Kevin Kouzmanoff. But Morrow escaped.

The M's needed more of these types of outings from Silva. He threw only 87 pitches over his seven innings. Got lucky at times, but recorded the outs when he needed to.

"He was more like what we saw the first two, three weeks of the season,'' Mariners manager Jim Riggleman said.

Silva told us he didn't allow himself to become consumed by frustration during his long winless stretch. But Riggleman sensed maybe a different -- even tougher -- emotion.

"He's a pro and he's got pride,'' Riggleman said. "His pride's been hurt a little bit. I think it was important for him.''

Silva talked about what he did differently tonight. The biggest change was in his command. Remember this morning, when I mentioned the command issue in regards to Jarrod Washburn? When I said that command has less to do with walk ratios and throwing strikes and more about location? Well, listen to Silva.

"You've got to throw strikes, but you've got to make your pitches,'' he said. "Always, I throw strikes, but I don't make my pitches that way (like he did tonight). It's two different things.

"It's hard. It's not easy. It's hard because on this level, when the other team knows you're going to be around the plate, if you don't make your piutches and you don't hit your spots, you're going to get hit hard. And that's what's been happening to me. So, I have to hit my corners. When I don't hit them, I'm going to be in trouble because they know I'm going to throw strikes.''

And that, folks, is why walk rates and strike ratios are not always the best way to measure the command of certain types of pitchers. Not pitch-to-contact guys whose goal is to get the ball put into play, only not as hard as the hitters would like.

Anyhow, lesson over. The M's won a game. Two in a row. Life doesn't get any better than this. Not this season, anyhow.


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