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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

oak0707 029.jpg

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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