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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 8, 2008 10:03 PM

M's lose really quickly

Posted by Geoff Baker

Not much to say about this game, a 2-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics in which the M's tallied just two hits. A Richie Sexson double in the fifth and a Miguel Cairo single in the sixth. Justin Duchscherer went the distance on 105 pitches, allowing just two hits. Faced only 30 batters.

Game time was one hour, 49 minutes. That's the shortest game time-wise the M's have played all year. It was only 10 minutes slower than the team's quickest game ever on the road.

The Mariners have scored just four runs in their last 33 innings. They've tallied zero runs in their last 17 frames. This game was so fast, I don't even have time to put up a post-game photo. Sorry about that. You didn't miss much.

Three losses in a row by the M's. More tough luck for Carlos Silva, who needed only 94 pitches to get through eight innings. That's back-to-back complete games by starters. But it doesn't matter. Well, it might matter a bit in the long run. Here's why.

Silva has been working all year to figure out why his sinker isn't working the way he'd like. It isn't sinking much. That's a big reason why he needed 100 pitches to get through five innings against the Tigers last Thursday.

It turns out, Silva made a between-starts mechanical adjustment. Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, an ex-sinkerballer himself, felt Silva was squeezing the ball too hard. So, instead of holding his hands up near his chest as he began his windup -- which Silva felt caused his arms to press together and his fingers to grip the ball tighter -- he held them at waist level tonight.

"We've been trying so many things,'' Silva said of the work he's done between starts with Stottlemyre. "We've been working so hard.''

Silva had even apologized to Stottlemyre after one recent loss, figuring all his hard work had been wasted by a poor outing.

Silva needed a few innings to get used to the mechanical change tonight. Unfortunately for him, that's when all the game's runs were scored. But a team needs to score to win. That's not his fault. By the middle innings, though, he felt as relaxed on the mound as he has all season.

And now that he's got a complete-game under his belt, Silva hopes he can be more like the pitcher the M's thought they were getting when they signed him to that four-year, $48-million deal.

"Five innings, 100 pitches, that's not me,'' Silva said.

Silva has thrown a team-high 112 2/3 innings this season, so the longevity is there. It's just the quality of some of those innings that's been lacking. Take Silva's innings and Erik Bedard's stinginess over short periods and you'd have the perfect ace.


For the moment, manager Jim Riggleman has had consecutive complete games tossed by Jarrod Washburn and now Silva.

"I don't know of a situation where a starter's thrown two complete games in a row and you lose both of them,'' Mariners manager Jim Riggleman said. "You might get one of those a year, but certainly not two in a row.''

Well, they've got 'em.

We know, this offense needs work. A lot of work. For now, Riggleman -- unable to hit for his team -- is just looking for clean games. He got one tonight. The M's didn't blow chances to win this game, unlike in Monday's opener. They didn't really have any chances to blow. Duchscherer was outstanding. He threw strikes early in the count, but mixed his pitches well. He'd throw the odd 94 mph fastball to keep the M's honest, but was more pitcher than thrower in this one.

On Seattle's part, they didn't give away chances to the A's either. Hey, it's a start. It's all he's looking for at the moment until this team makes some moves and figures out who's going to be on the team moving forward.

"We want to take care of the little things,'' he said. "The details of the game. And when we do and the hitters start hitting, we'll start winning games.''

Silva will be a part of this team moving forward. With his contract, he'll be here a long time. So, any progress on that front is poisitive news for the team.

The rest of it? You've got to score to win. Not much trickier than that.


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