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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 29, 2008 6:36 PM

First sweep of the year

Posted by Geoff Baker

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Forget about that two-game broom job the Mariners did in Oakland more than two months ago. Real sweeps involve three games or more. This was a sweep. Pulled off in convincing fashion, with a 9-2 victory over the San Diego Padres. Yes, it was only the Padres. Yes, they are truly awful. Maybe even worse than the Mariners. But in a season like this one, a team takes what it can get. The M's finished off today's rout with a solo homer by Jeff Clement. Maybe that was the swing that gets his bat going? Who knows? All I know is, the M's pounded out 18 hits today. When you do that, you tend to win. Even when 16 of those hits are singles.

Erik Bedard wasn't ace-like. But he gave his team a chance to win, 94 pitches or not. Ichiro came through with the five singles. Two of them got important rallies going.

"I felt today, that...keeping myself in good balance was very important,'' Ichiro said. "That was something that was very key to today's game, to my performance.''

By "good balance" he meant not dwelling on past failures.

"This is more towards the mental game,'' he said. "I had no hits yesterday, 0-for-4. And I come out today with a 5-for-5. If you (media) guys ask me if I had a technical or mechanical difference in my swing, I didn't have a mechanical difference. But the important thing is to keep myself in-between, out of the two games that I had. Because it makes a big difference as a result, when you look at the numbers.

"But obviously, it's not.''

Ichiro was hitting just .234 since switching back to right field. But with the five hits, the average has soared up to .314. Overall, he's at .297, up from .286 at the start of the day.

I asked Bedard whether he was getting tired in the sixth inning, considering how he kept falling behind the hitters.

"That was pretty much it,'' he said, nodding in agreement.

Bedard added that his back wasn't bothering him any more. But manager Jim Riggleman wasn't about to take a chance at using him against right handed masher Kevin Kouzmanoff. He instead went to Sean Green and got the groundout he needed.

The win was Bedard's first since May 28.

Riggleman was pleased with the 6-3 road trip and Seattle's first three-game sweep since last September.

"We just feel like we're playing pretty good baseball,'' Riggleman said. "And just trying to win the game. Not getting ahead of ourselves, nothing like that. Just win the game. Make every pitch, every play count. And I think the guys are doing that. They're focusing, giving it a good effort.''

It's about time. Only took half a season. Maybe it took playing the Padres? Or the NL? We'll know more this week. Roy Halladay is pitching against Seattle tomorrow night, with Dustin McGowan on-tap in the series finale. Not to mention that mish-mash of Seattle relievers "starting" the middle game. Then, the Tigers are on-deck.

In other words, it gets tougher from here.

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