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Mariners blog

Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

March 2, 2007 at 11:51 AM

Mariners off to quick start

All that musing below about Jose Vidro and what does he do? He goes out in the first inning and, with two out, muscles a ball into center field for a single. Raul Ibanez stepped up next and drilled a full-count fastball from Chris Young over the wall in right field for Seattle’s first home run of the spring
Make that 3-for-3 for Ibanez this spring, counting Thursday’s exhibition totals. Bryan LaHair just added a double for the Mariners, before Ben Broussard flied out to the warning track in right center. So, it’s 2-0 for the M’s heading into the bottom of the first and the spring debut of Felix Hernandez.
**********FELIX THROUGH THE FIRST INNING****************
Nobody got much wood on anything Hernandez offered up and another fantastic play at first base by LaHair likely saved a run that would not have been much-deserved. The inning began with leadoff hitter Marcus Giles rolling a grounder about 30 feet up the third base line that Adrian Beltre couldn’t barehand. With Giles on first with the infield single, Hernandez shattered the bat of second Giles brother, Brian, into several tiny pieces. But the ball manged to shoot into a tough spot between the mound and first base, leaving LaHair to make a terrific stab — the second day in a row he’s done that. LaHair then barely beat Giles in a race to the bag.
With a runner on second, Adrian Gonzalez bounced out to shortstop, the runner moving to third. Hernandez then walked Josh Bard on a full-count offering before retiring Russell Branyan on a liner to center. That last ball by Branyan was the hardest hit of the inning for the Padres, leaving it 2-0 for Seattle heading into the second.
*************************KING STILL ON TOP**************************
The balls were hit a lot harder off Hernandez in the second inning, with Paul McAnulty blasting a 1-0 pitch over the right field fence to get San Diego on the board. Hernandez began the inning by getting Khalil Greene to whiff at a high fastball for the first out. After the McAnulty homer, Jack Cust ripped a ball to the warning track in left that Ibanez had some trouble hauling in in the bright sun. Hernandez then walkled Adam Shabala before snaring a Marcus Giles comebacker and throwing to first for the out. The ball actually bounced off Hernandez’s glove, drawing some “ooohs” and aahhs” from the crowd, and rolled off to the side before he picked it up and made the out.
So, all in all, an OK, if not great outing for the “King”. One run allowed on two hits and two walks with a strikeout. It’s only March 2…
The Mariners did a lousy job of baserunning in the top of the inning after a single — yes a hit! — by Rene Rivera. With Ichiro at the plate, Rivera then broke for second and was easily thrown out to end the frame. Somebody miss a sign? Sure looked that way. So, it’s still 2-1 heading into the third.
******************A COUPLE OF POSITIVES***************************
It’s still 2-1 for the M’s heading into the fourth inning and Seattle has already begun making substitutions. Beltre logged his first hit of the spring in the third, a nice single ripped to right field. He then advanced to second with one out on a wild pitch, before the rally fizzled when Vidro grounded out and LaHair struck out with the runner on third.
Ryan Feierabend took the mound for Seattle and — after issuing a leadoff walk to Brian Giles — showed us his pickoff move hasn’t changed and nabbed the runner leaning off first. The Padres went in order after that, as did Broussard, Willie Bloomquist and — sigh — Rivera in the fourth. Rivera at least did hit his second hard ball of the day, lining one into the first baseman’s glove.
Hernandez is done with his conditioning, so we’re off to grab him for an interview.
**************SCORE TIED 2-2 THROUGH SEVEN***************
The bad news for Mariners fans is that Julio Mateo gave up the tying run in the fifth inning, allowing a double to center by Marcus Giles that scored Adam Shabala from first base. Sean Green just got through the seventh unscathed, so we’re still in a 2-2 situation.
Arthur Rhodes brightened things up considerably for Mariners fans, enjoying a hassle-free 1-2-3 sixth. Rhodes got Royce Huffman to fly out to center, Luis Cruz to pop out to the catcher and then fanned Paul McAnulty to end his one-inning stint.
Hernandez was feeling good about his outing in the clubhouse, having just had his contract automatically renewed by the team. His daughter, Mia, was also at the ballpark, so that contributed to his good mood. He joked about not being fat this spring, saying his 226-pound weight is giving him a smoother release on his pitches and left him feeling stronger than at this time a year ago.
*************FINAL SCORE: PADRES 3, MARINERS 2********
It looked like the first day of Cactus League play in the eighth inning as three Mariners converged on a pop fly to shallow center by Luis Cruz. No one called for the ball and it dropped in for a double that scored the game’s decisive run. Jon Huber took the loss despite pitching well, fanning the first two hitters of the inning before allowing a single and hitting a batter to bring Cruz to the plate.
CF Adam Jones didn’t get a good read on the ball and failed to call off either SS Gookie Dawkins or 2B Michael Garciaparra. Manager Mike Hargrove said afterwards that his team still has some work to do on pop-ups as the spring progresses.
The earlier baserunning play involving Rivera in the second inning turned out to be a delayed steal. Rivera and the M’s had second baseman Marcus Giles fooled on the play, but SS Greene picked him up and covered the bag for the easy out. Dawkins was later thrown out on a straight steal attempt of second, leaving the Mariners still looking for their first swipe.

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