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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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August 4, 2008 10:58 PM

The Miracle at The Safe

Posted by Larry Stone

Well, I can't say I saw THAT coming.

In fact, I was crafting a story angle on the surprise resurgence of the Twins -- some of which I touched upon earlier -- when the seventh inning happened. That led to some mad scrambling to re-cast my story, which is one of the fun parts about covering baseball for a morning newspaper. That's the truth -- there's a big adrenalin rush when you have to furiously scramble to re-do your story right on deadline, which happens enough times a season to keep you honest.

Not surprisingly, the big talk in the clubhouse was about Raul Ibanez. No, he wasn't trying to match Fernando Tatis, the only player in history with two slams in one inning (1999, for the Cardinals, against the Dodgers). This quote, in fact, is classic Raul. I asked him if he was thinking about Tatis when he came up with the bases loaded again in the seventh after unloading his first grand slam:

"Actually, I was thinking the opposite,'' he said. "I was thinking smaller -- stay to the big part of the field and don't try to do too much. The likelihood of doing that (another grand slam) was not too great.''

OK, on to Batista. Yes, he was awful. With Ryan Rowland-Smith pitching six strong innings for Tacoma, you've got to think a change is coming. Riggleman was asked that very question after the game, and he gave a non-commital answer:

"We have been and will continue to monitor how he (Rowland-Smith) is doing. We want to get him up here, but we have no timetable on it. We'll keep discussing it.''

Seems to me they need to end the discussion on both Rowland-Smith and Brandon Morrow and make it happen. This is the time of year for examining the future. Mel Stottlemyre pulled Morrow into his office after the game, reportedly to go over some options of his eventual transition to the rotation. Before the game, Riggleman pulled back a little from his comments of Sunday. It seems he might have spoken out of turn when he said, rather definitively, that the team wanted to move Morrow into the rotation once Putz re-claims the closer job.

"I've been more aggressive talking about it than I probably should have,'' he said. "It might be soon, but it might not be as soon as I was alluding the other day.''


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August 4, 2008 6:28 PM

Mariners vs. Twins, Game thread, 8-4

Posted by Larry Stone


So it's Aug. 4, and the Mariners are finally playing the Twins for the first time this year. That's some bizarre scheduling. They play them nine times in the next three weeks, so they'll make up for lost time.

The fact that the Twins come to Safeco in first place in the AL Central is a testament to their organization. After losing Johan Santana and Torii Hunter (not to mention Carlos Silva -- insert your own joke), most people expected the Twins to be a non-factor. I can't remember where I picked them, but it sure wasn't for first or second. But they have developed a pretty good young rotation, one that figures to be much better if Francisco Liriano continues to pitch as well as he did yesterday. They have two superstars to build around in Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, a great closer in Joe Nathan, and a lot of players who -- some of you are going to hate this expression, but I really think it's apt with the Twins -- know how to win.

Jim Riggleman was talking before the game about the "Twins way," and I think there's somthing to that. The current manager, Ron Gardenhire, learned under Tom Kelly, who was a brilliant teacher of fundamentals. Kelly won two World Series in five years before hitting lean times. Gardenhire told me today that he runs his team exactly the way Kelly used to, stressing fundamentals and effort and moving runners up and all those things that every team gives lip service to, but the Twins seem to be able to pull off. (And yes, they've had some great players, too. I recognize that). Whatever they're doing -- and give I give a lot of credit to frmer GM Terry Ryan, who retired after last year, and a was a master at drafting and acquiring young talent) -- they've been remarkably successful. This is Gardenhire's seventh season at the helm; he has four division titles in the previous six years, and could add another one this year. The Twins are doing something right.

Meanwhile, the Mariners decided to change Erik Bedard's throwing schedule, not because there's something wrong with his shoulder after 30 tosses yesterday. It's more because there wasn't. Bedard didn't throw today, as originally planned. Instead of going two days throwing, one day off, the Mariners switched to an every other day schedule this week (Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) and will re-evaluate after he throws Saturday.

"He's feeling so good, we don't want to increase the intensity,'' Mariners trainer Rick Griffin said. "We don't want to push it too hard and have it flare up again.''

Lineups

Orioles

Denard Span RF

Nick Punto 2B

Joe Mauer C

Justin Morneau 1B

Jason Kubel DH

Delmon Young LF

Brian Buscher 3B

Brendan Harris SS

Carlos Gomez CF

Glen Perkins P

Mariners

Ichiro RF

Willie Bloomquist CF

Raul Ibanez LF

Adrian Beltre 3B

Jose Lopez 2B

Jose Vidro DH

Bryan LaHair 1B

Kenji Johjima C

Yuniesky Betancourt SS

MIguel Batista P

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