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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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July 3, 2008 11:13 PM

Better opposition tonight

Posted by Geoff Baker

tiggers0703.jpg

Look, I don't mean to negate everything the Mariners had accomplished the past two weeks under Jim Riggleman. But tonight's 8-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers showed us this team still has a long way to go. The Tigers, at 42-42 coming in, are the only .500 team the Mariners have laid eyes on since facing the Boston Red Sox a month ago. Even closer Todd Jones, pictured above, who gave up two runs in the ninth, wasn't going to blow the 8-2 lead he had going into the final inning. He's bad, but not that bad. Fernando Rodney came on to get the final out with the tying run on-deck. But still, this was a different night from the get-go.

In other words, Riggleman sure hasn't seen the likes of the Tigers. Not unless they were wearing the uniforms of the Padres, Blue Jays, Mets and Braves.

"That Detroit ballclub is just a very aggressive, good hitting club,'' Riggleman said afterwards. "That lineup there, you've pretty much got to be on top of your game to shut them down.''

A different team faced tonight. A winning one. From the AL. Not the best of teams -- at least not yet -- but one that is now winning more than it loses.

And the M's? Well, they looked like the M's.

Carlos Silva needed 100 pitches to survive five innings. The offense left seven runners on the first four innings when it was still a game -- five of those by Richie Sexson alone. Even when they did things right, like Raul Ibanez getting a double in the seventh, it gets undone by him slipping and falling when he had to retreat to second on a Jose Vidro lineout.

Silva did not come out to talk to reporters after the game. Few Mariners did. Jose Lopez was one of them.

Lopez had tried to throw Curtis Granderson out at home on a hard grounder. Against any other baserunner, he might have had a play. Not that baserunner. Instead of taking a sure out at first and being down 3-2 with two out and none on, Lopez's late throw kept a runner on with only one out. I'm not saying Carlos Silva would have done better than the three straight singles he yielded after that, but you never know. Silva did yield them, of course. Two more runs scored. It was a 5-2 game and pretty much over at that point.

Lopez was caught in a no-man's land positioning-wise. He wasn't in close enough to nab Granderson. Nor far back enough to automatically concede the run. Told me he was off-balance.

"Lopez made a heck of a play,'' Riggleman said, but then added that "if he had to do it over again, he would have conceded the run and just gone to first.''

Anyhow, this team was down 8-2 heading into the ninth. A lot of other stuff happened besides Lopez.

This bullpen has been very stingy of late. But the first batter it faced in the sixth connected for a home run off Mark Lowe. That was the first of young Michael Hollimon's career.

Yes, that kind of night for the M's.

Lowe was one of the players who did come out after the game. The entire bullpen showed its face. Arthur Rhodes and J.J. Putz make sure of that. Raul Ibanez was there, but the media is tired of forcing him to be team spokesman after every loss. R.A. Dickey, Jarrod Washburn. No, they didn't pitch tonight.

You get the picture. Same M's, a lot of the same problems. On and off the field. Team Pelekoudas plods along. he's yet to make a player move, Maybe he thought that 8-4 stretch was for real? I doubt it. Especially after tonight.

Maybe they'll win the next three and shut me up. This Tigers bullpen is bad enough toi give them a game. But for tonight, I didn't see anything from the M's to show me they're cured. You can't keep taking doses of the Braves, Mets, Padres and Blue Jays. Eventually, you have to face some halfway decent teams. And this one made the M's look bad. Plain and simple.

Oh yeah, Ichiro got his 1,700th hit. He had three singles in the game. He was out at his locker, too. As after every game. Hope you enjoyed the game tonight. Gotta run. Get to do this again first thing tomorrow.


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Posted by GripS

10:36 PM, Jul 03, 2008

Pretty much thought they were cured there for the first couple innings. I though Silva might be turning around. But no..... good ol Silva falls under pressure.....again.

Too bad we didn't have Cairo and Bloomquist hitting out there tonight. Might have seen a win.

Posted by It's Time

11:12 PM, Jul 03, 2008

Please let Richie go.....Please!

Posted by Miles

11:12 PM, Jul 03, 2008

We'll see how things develop, but I actually think the team is playing decently enough now. The Tigers aren't exactly a .500 team when you consider the bad start they got off to - they're really a much better team. So, I don't expect the M's to win this series, but with solid starting (not Silva), they have a decent shot at many teams.

Posted by Scott

11:25 PM, Jul 03, 2008

As long as we have the worst record in baseball, though, I would think that winning a series against ANY team would be a step in the right direction.

But, now that we're back in the AL, we're quickly going to be back on the 100-loss pace. Maybe there will be a 1B with power that we can draft with the No. 1 overall pick....

Posted by Bill

11:26 PM, Jul 03, 2008

Do you not like your job? Are you unhappy?

Posted by 6killer

11:34 PM, Jul 03, 2008

well, when your cleanup hitter has a.590 OPS you aren't gonna scare your opposing pitcher much leass beat em.

Posted by 6killer

11:38 PM, Jul 03, 2008

oh yeah and when your Starting Pitcher is nicknamed "Buffalo" and virtually looks bigger than an actual Buffalo, ya probably aren't gonna win

Posted by LeoG

11:56 PM, Jul 03, 2008

I was at the game tonight and the M's continue to make mental error after mental error. Sexson bails out Verlander in the 1st by swinging at the first pitch after a four pitch walk. Lopez thorws hame as Geoff describes. Down 6-2 with men on first and second Lopex swings at shoulder high first pitch and popps out; doesn't wwait to let Ichiro try to steal second nor to work the pitcher. Raul's iditotic baserunning error.The list goes on. This is discipline, and smarts. At a pro level it is pathetic.

Posted by Bums

5:24 AM, Jul 04, 2008

I get the feeling the Tigers loves playing the Mariners.

At this point, the only player moves I would like to see are guys getting sent out via trade. There is no use giving Sexson, Vidro, etc. paid vacations. This team is going nowhere and the first pick would be nice.

Not sure what the heck you do with Silva. Figuring they probably do not have much of a chance next year it is alright for him to stay and give up runs night after night. But, if they plan to be "competitive" by 2010 he has to go. Ugh, the nightmare of Bavasi.

Posted by greyguy

6:15 AM, Jul 04, 2008

I don't get the logic that results in Vidro hitting 4th. He's hitting .220. He has no power. Even if you believe that he is going to snap out of his slump and play like he did last year at any moment, he only hit 6 hrs all of last year.

Beltre should be hitting 4th.

Posted by byebyebyebyebyebyebyebyebyebyebyebyebyebyeSexsonbyebyebyebye

7:34 AM, Jul 04, 2008

Give someone else a chance!

byebye

Posted by faithful

7:45 AM, Jul 04, 2008

My guess is Lou is hoping to get something out of the rejects so will not to outright releases until after July 31. But by mid August we should no longer be suffering with Sexson, Vidro, Washburn, Bedard, maybe Batiste and probably Beltre. I'm guessing among them is the cause of most of the locker room disruption. Problem is that there is now and with them gone definitely no veteran leadership other than possibly Raul. Good teams need somebody like Edgar, Jeter, Pudge, etc that all respect, who play well, timely and hard and aren't backward about asserting themselves.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

7:53 AM, Jul 04, 2008

Perhaps players should be given incentives in their contracts based on number of locker appearances?

Posted by Nat

8:48 AM, Jul 04, 2008

I hate to pick on someone when they're down, BUT-
after listening to Silva rant to the media earlier in the season about certain unnamed members of his team letting the team down, it seems pretty lame that he couldn't come out and face the media - you know, to man up regarding his pitching performance last night? Just a thought.

Posted by Top pick in 09 draft

9:00 AM, Jul 04, 2008

Team looks to be playing harder under Riggleman but as Bums states in his post, this season is already lost and moves need to be made with an eye towards being competitive again in 2010. Pelekoudas looks to be just a caretaker but moves should be made involving Raul, Washburn, Bedard, & possibly Beltre while they all have decent trade value. No point in putting Sexson & Vidro in the lineup every game as neither has any trade value whatsoever and only a fool thinks they have a future with this organization. The huge drop in radio rights should be a slap in the head to Mr. Yamauchi and if he continues to own the team, he must realize Lincoln and Armstrong both need to be retired. Hopefully Mr. Y will decide, as rumors persist, that it is time to sell the club to Chris Larson. Padres have already tanked the season with an eye towards getting hometown pitching phenom Strasburg with next year's #1 pick.

Posted by downonstrikes

9:03 AM, Jul 04, 2008

Mariners of past have been challenged by the better teams, giving it their all. This team just rolls over for everyone excepting those they are rivaling for the cellar. The front office needs to get it's collective head out of the sand and begin acting now. Enough all ready. And having your clean up man be weak is so ridiculous. Even in little league you put your best power man in the 4th slot. I don't get anything going on this year. Nothing. Well, except bobblehead nights, which must be a wonderful cash cow.d

Posted by Nat

9:12 AM, Jul 04, 2008

Jeff from LL wrote a 4th of July preview for a 2009 lineup, and I like it a lot - not the least of which is because I've come around to the idea of keeping those same players in the last few weeks, myself.

http://www.lookoutlanding.com/

For those of you who are adament about blowing up the team, you'll want to ignore this.

Posted by scottM

10:34 AM, Jul 04, 2008

Haiku #10


Let Go of Vidro
Sexson is an Infection
Change our Direction

Posted by headliner

10:40 AM, Jul 04, 2008

either someone is pulling rigglemans string to play vidro and sexson.......or, he's the second coming of mclaren.

Posted by scrapiron

10:41 AM, Jul 04, 2008

Your first baseman is being paid $14 million to drive in runs and is now hitting .113 with RISP. Raul Ibanez (who can play first base) is hitting .314 with RISP. Free Balentien! (LF)

Your DH (cleanup hitter!) has 1 home run and an OPS of .689. Victor Diaz at Tacoma has 12 home runs and an OPS of .861. Free Diaz!

Both of these moves can be made without making a single trade and at little cost. The thought that giving Sexson and Vidro playing time will somehow increase their trade value is ridiculous. Play the youngsters. I'll pay to see "potential" over "has been" any day, even if they struggle.

Watching the new enthusiastic Mariners create rallies only to watch Sexson and VIdro kill them time after time is getting old. Move on.

Posted by scrapiron

10:45 AM, Jul 04, 2008

Hey Geoff, I got an idea. Why not post the "best of" each day's blog in the Times? You know, the well thought out posts, not the "he sucks" types of posts. That would get more visibility into the good discussions here and drive traffic as well. Just a thought.

Posted by scottM

10:45 AM, Jul 04, 2008

A strong second to Nat's posted link at 9:12. In addition to the demand of Haiku #10, written by a brilliant poet, this rebuild strategy IS the pragmatic and logical approach for how the M's should move forward:


http://www.lookoutlanding.com/

Posted by scrapiron

10:50 AM, Jul 04, 2008

Top pick -
Trade Washburn. Yes.

Trade Raul. Only if you get a first baseman back in a deal, the cupboard is bare at first.

Trade Bedard and Beltre. No. I don't want a rookie GM making this major of a deal. I would only make this deal if someone gets desperate and gives us more than we gave up to get them. Let the new GM use these guys as the big trade value to build the new M's.

Posted by scottM

10:51 AM, Jul 04, 2008

Hey, SCRAP, don't you think if GEOFF simply highlights the best Haiku's on this Blog, the numbers of hits will increase dramatically? I think so.

A Mentally-Ill-Troll-of-the-Week award might help, too.

Posted by Ziasudra

11:20 AM, Jul 04, 2008

On the Granderson score, the real problem was that Silva payed absolutely no attention to the runner. He let him take a lead larger than he should, and then used a slow delivery. Much of that run was Silva's fault rather than Lopez.
And, I agree with many who question Riggs refusal to sit Sexson and Vidro - why does he think Mac was fired inthe first place?

Posted by Lance

11:40 AM, Jul 04, 2008

Of course this team has a long way to go, Geoff. Isn't that kind of stating the obvious?

But, it's unfortunate that you seem to want to view the glass half-empty, instead of half-full and then let your writing reflect that negative view.

Shouldn't the focus be more on how far this team has come, and is going, and how it can get there, instead of simply saying it has a long way to go based on one game? Especially since this team is going to start changing its face as the necessary dismantling begins to happen, anyway.

I hope your pining over McLaren's firing isn't going to cloud your view of this team's future, or its present for that matter.

Posted by Walla Walla Girl

12:00 PM, Jul 04, 2008

I just read the lookoutlanding post (see Nat of 9:12 and scottM of 10:45) and believe that's the right plan for the Mariners. Let's do it. (I'd still like blow up the front office, though.)

scottM, Haiku #10 (10:34 a.m.) is one of my favorites!

I hope Sexson and Vidro have today off (and the rest of the year too). Happy 4th!

Posted by oregongal

12:07 PM, Jul 04, 2008

Ichiro by himself still makes the games watchable for me, though there are still a few (very few) other players I enjoy. I wondered about how often he faced the media, since his quirky quotes are widely distributed, I didn't know if he just popped out occasionally to amuse, then went away.

I miss watching him magically appear on my TV screen in front of corner outfielders who should be making the catch, but I'm happy to have more speed in the outfield.

Posted by bobbyk

2:43 PM, Jul 05, 2008

say geoff, you wouldn´t say it, but you bet it made a heck of a difference (on the whole game), lopez not going to first!

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