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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 7, 2008 11:11 PM

M's can't score

Posted by Geoff Baker

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Ichiro, above, reaches second base with one out on an infield single and a throwing error in the ninth inning. But once again, the Mariners failed to cash in the runner and go down to a 4-3 loss to the Oakland A's. A ton of guys left on base tonight. Double-plays, baserunning mistakes, you name it. No runs scored after a Richie Sexson homer in the first inning.

The ninth inning ended when, after a walk to Jose Lopez put two on with one out, Raul Ibanez popped out to third against Oakland closer Huston Street. Adrian Beltre then came up, looking for his fifth hit of the night. But he flied out to left to end the game.

Jarrod Washburn went eight solid innings, allowing four runs. He continues to increase his trade value with each outing. But it was all for naught on the scoreboard tonight.

"We've got to win that ballgame,'' Mariners manager Jim Riggleman told reporters. "Richie jumps us out to an early lead, Washburn pitches a good ballgame. That's just one where I feel like we didn’t put the killer instinct on them. Jump on them and get them early.''

Riggleman seemed to feel a little of what John McLaren felt on a nightly basis towards the end of his tenure. He's not losing his mind. But you could see the frustration. He's been upbeat for the first few weeks of his managerial stint. He wasn't tonight. He saw his team score one run in 15 innings on Sunday, get held to one run until the eighth on Saturday, then notch no runs after the first inning tonight.

After the game, Riggleman walked to a table where Beltre and others, including Miguel Cairo, Cesar Jimenez and Felix Hernandez were eating. A low key conversation ensued, where the topic of the Beltre baserunning mistake in the fifth inning came up. Beltre, you'll remember, had left second and rounded third on a flyout by Kenji Johjima. As Beltre was scampering back to second, he forgot to touch third and wound up called out on a double play.

Towards the end of his chat with the players, Riggleman lightly rapped his fist on the table.

"We've got to win that game, man,'' he said, turning and walking away. "We've got to win that game.''

Riggleman went out of his way to tell the media he considers Beltre one of the game's best baserunners. So, no, he wasn't hanging him out to dry. And Beltre made no excuses. He told me he's never botched a play like that one. He just didn't touch the bag and only realized it when he was called out.

As for his four hits., he said he hoped it was a sign some of his hard luck will change down the road.

"I just pray that in the second-half, things start to turn around,'' he said.

Washburn really had only the one bad inning, in the fifth. He threw a backdoor slider to rookie Wes Bankston on the first pitch and watched him belt a game-tying homer.

"Right there is a perfect example of not knowing your hitter,'' Washburn said. "I'd never faced the guy before. I didn't really know how to approach him. Usually, Oakland guys are really patient and take some pitches. I thought I'd get a nice little strike one right there, and he was on it.''

Yes, Washburn had read scouting reports on Bankston. But no, he added, those don't really help. Won't tell you the guy is going to hack at a first-pitch breaking ball. Not the same as facing him in a game. Now, Washburn knows what he's capable of. A little late, but he knows.

His team needed to score more than zero runs after the first inning. The way Washburn's pitching, he likely will have a different set of teammates in a few weeks.

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July 7, 2008 8:27 PM

Mariners at Oakland Athletics: 07/07 game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

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A shot of Jarrod Washburn warming up in the bullpen for tonight's game.

Things came apart for the M's in that fifth inning. Carlos Gonzalez led off with an infield single and made it all the way to third on a wild throw to first by Kenji Johjima. Washburn then yielded the first career home run by Wes Bankston on the very next pitch. That tied the game. Gregorio Petit then doubled to left center and scored on a single to left by Ryan Sweeney, putting the A's up 4-3.

Seattle botched a great chance to build on its 3-1 lead in the top of the frame. With two on and one out, Adrian Beltre was on second and took off, rounding third, on a flyball to deep center by Johjima. But when the ball was caught, a retreating Beltre forgot to touch third base on his way back to second. The A's threw over to third and Beltre was ruled out on the inning ending double play. Seattle has eight hits, two walks and a batter reached on an error. But only the three runs on Richie Sexson's first inning homer to show for it. Same old story.

Another thing I asked manager Jim Riggleman before the game was what his thinking was behind not trotting out R.A. Dickey in the 15th inning of yesterday's game rather than Jamie Burke. I know that Dickey threw about 100 pitches the previous day, but isn't he supposed to have a rubber arm?

Apparently, the rubber only stretches so far. Riggleman did not want to risk any injury to Dickey by using him back-to-back like that.

"If that situation was up there in September, and we were two games out of first, he would have been in there,'' Riggleman said.

In other words, this isn't a pennant race. These games only mean so much.

By the way, the team just released Anderson Garcia. Remember him? Picked up off waivers from the Philadelphia Phillies back in spring training? Had a sore arm early and was never heard from again? Well, now you've heard from him.

Continue reading this post ...

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July 7, 2008 6:01 PM

Hernandez to start Friday

Posted by Geoff Baker

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Greetings from Oakland. The travel here would have made a good video. My Alaska Airlines flight was over an hour late, forcing me to go from the San Francisco Airport directly to the ballpark, suitcase and all. I'm staying in San Francisco this time and had hoped to fly in there, drop the bags off at the hotel, then hop the rapid transit train to here. But nope. This is what flying in the U.S. has come to these days. The system just isn't reliable. Not if you need to be somewhere at a precise time, without several hours of flexibility. Good job everyone, keep up the splendid work.

On the positive side, I had a nice conversation with my cabbie as he sped at 85 mph up the freeway towards Oakland, trying to avoid getting caught in rush-hour traffic. He asked me what Seattle was doing for power and whether Jay Buhner was still with the M's. Told him nothing and no. But I had a good laugh.

On to baseball, Felix Hernandez is to start on Friday in Kansas City. You can see Hernandez, above, getting set to audition as an extra in Pirates of the Caribbean IV. No, no, he's just finished a workout with trainer Rick Griffin. Anyhow, he goes Friday, Carlos Silva tomorrow, then Miguel Batista, then R.A. Dickey. Erik Bedard could go on Saturday or Sunday depending on how his shoulder feels. If not, Ryan Rowland-Smith will start in his place. Read Rowland-Smith's latest blog post on right here.

I asked Mariners manager Jim Riggleman whether he's tempted to just rest Bedard until after the All-Star Break.

"That's certainly a possibility,'' he said. "But it's going to be determined by how he feels and the doctor.''

Riggleman and the team will keep apprised of how Bedard's shoulder feels.

"If it's a little achy, I think we'll probably end up doing that,'' he said of skipping Bedard in favor of Rowland-Smith.

By the way, if Jarrod Washburn goes out and gets lit up for seven runs over three innings tonight, I don't want to hear from any of you. The question isn't whether Washburn can sustain this pace the rest of the year. I don't care if he does or doesn't. This team's biggest trade deadline question is whether a team out there feels Bedard can do better than this pace (of the past six weeks) moving forward for the final two months of 2008. If they feel he can't do it, or might not, then the trade returns likely won't be substantial. If the M's do get something significant back, it will be because a team is either desperate, or actually does think he can turn things up a notch this season. Simple as that. The Washburn comparison was made to show that Bedard's actual results have been no better over a six-week span. Not to advocate Washburn as the better choice. To show what the M's are up against in perhaps needing to change some perceptions if they wish to deal Bedard and get some returns back.

Anyhow, Jeff Clement is back in at DH tonight, so many of you will be happy about that. Richie Sexson is in there as well, batting fifth. I know many of you -- most of you -- won't like that.

Continue reading this post ...

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July 7, 2008 7:02 AM

Sabathia going, Bedard next?

Posted by Geoff Baker

Good morning to all of you. A huge thanks to Jose Romero for hanging in for yesterday's marathon. Did a fantastic job with all those multiple blog posts. Tough game yesterday, in a series where the Mariners did indeed decide to show up after a lousy opening night loss to the Detroit Tigers. Same old problems scoring runs, but at least the pitching did make itself felt over the final three games. No, I would not have pitched Arthur Rhodes on a sore arm either. Not when the team, if it has any smarts, is just weeks away from dealing him. Brandon Morrow went through the whole "sleeping on the arm wrong" problem a few weeks back. It sounds funny, but a pinched nerve, or whatever, from sleeping is the same as getting it from throwing. Had Jim Riggleman sent him out there and seen Rhodes get hurt, botching his team's chance to pick something up in a deal before the July 31 trade deadline, that would have been negligent on this team's part. Sorry, I know it's tough to swallow for fans who followed all 15 innings yesterday, but these games are meaningless. Dealing Rhodes and picking up something in return is more important to the big picture.

Speaking of which, some of you likely already know that C.C. Sabathia is about to be traded by the Indians to the Milwaukee Brewers for three prospects. The centerpiece of the deal is said to be Matt LaPorta, a Class AA outfielder who was Milwaukee's first-round pick last year. Next on the list is Class AAA lefty starter Zach Jackson, who I know from his days in the Toronto Blue Jays system. Jackson was dealt to Milwaukee by Toronto, along with Dave Bush and Gabe Gross, for Centralia's Lyle Overbay at the 2005 winter meetings. Bush and Gross are both in the majors (Gross in Tampa Bay) now, but Jackson was thought to be the best player going to the Brewers in that deal. Was thought to be a "can't miss'' arm at the time. He was in Class AA back then, so now, at age 28, he obviosuly hasn't "hit'' the big leagues full-time yet, though he's appeared in 10 career games at that level. Such is the prospects game.

The third prospect is Class A right handed pitcher Rob Bryson, a 31st round pick from 2006. Another player will also reportedly be included.

So, that's a premium prospect, a onetime premium prospect who should be big-league ready soon and some filler.

Sabathia was the top lefty on the market. Teams like Philadelphia and Tampa Bay had been after him. What does this mean for Erik Bedard? Well, conventional wisdom has it that he should become the next most coveted lefty starter out there. I agree with that. But can the Mariners expect to haul in what the Brewers just did? That depends. On Bedard.

Continue reading this post ...

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